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Asia Minute: How is Japan Dealing with Vacation Rentals?


While short-term vacation rentals remain the focus of political debate in Hawaii, other locations are taking different approaches to the issue. That includes Japan.

It’s been about a year since Japan changed its laws about short term vacation rentals.

In Japanese, they’re called “mini-paku” and anyone offering a private rental must register with the government, allow fire and safety inspections, and agree to a cap of 180 days a year that the property will be rented. Local governments can add more regulations on top of that. For example, only allowing those rentals on weekends — or allowing rentals for fewer days in a year.

Fines can run the equivalent of about 10,000 dollars.

When these laws first went on the books last June, Airbnb said it would not deal with any home owners who didn’t follow the law – and listings plunged.

Last week, Airbnb said its numbers in Japan have come back to some 50,000 — which Reuters estimates is about 80% of previous levels.

The company did not offer figures on occupancy rates.

It’s also added a twist to its business model – listing hotel rooms along with traditional Japanese Inns or ryokan.

Japan is a very important market for Airbnb.Bloomberg reports that company has spent 30-million dollars on “strategic initiatives” in the country — including a marketing campaign to improve the image of home-sharing with those who still remain skeptical of the concept.

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