The population keeps aging and shrinking, but new housing keeps getting built even though Japan has a glut of unused dwellings.

There are various reasons for this anomaly, including decades-old tax incentives that compel landowners who live elsewhere to keep dwellings, even if they are uninhabited, standing instead of razing such structures, a society that prefers new homes over used, and developers who cater to this proclivity and build housing not designed for multiple generations, rendering the value of a used unit virtually nil.

The increase in vacant dwellings, particularly run-down firetraps, has the central and local governments scrambling to address.