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Asia Minute: Japan’s Airbnb Challenge


What to do about vacation rentals is an issue around the state. But while Hawaii’s legislature has not been able to agree on state-wide measures, in Japan a new national law takes effect a week from tomorrow. And it’s already having an impact.

If you’re looking for a short term rental in Japan, you might want to act fast — and if you were thinking of going throughAirbnb, you may want to try another route.

Local news organizations in Japan report the number of Airbnb listings in the country has plunged by nearly 80-percent. That’s because of a change in the law coming next week.

From here on in, there are new rules for anyone offering a short-term rental — or what the Japanese call “minipaku.”

For starters, hosts will have to register with the government — which will then do fire and safety inspections. They’ll only be able to rent out rooms for a maximum of 180 days a year, and they’ll need to keep a guest registry.

Illegal rentals can be charged up to one-million yen — or more than $9,000.

And that’s just the national law, local governments can add other restrictions.

In some places vacation rentals are only allowed on weekends — in others, the owner or a representative needs to live within about 900 yards of the rental space.

Airbnb has informed homeowners it won’t list their properties unless they can prove they’ve complied with the law.

Credit Moyan Brenn / Flickr

Illegal short-term rentals have soared in Japan in recent years—along with the number of foreign visitors.

And the country’s looking for further growth in tourism. It hosts the Rugby World Cup next year…and the Olympics in 2020.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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