The number of minpaku private lodging properties in Japan posted the first decline on a monthly basis after a continuous rise since the 2018 enforcement of the new minpaku law, a survey by the Japan Tourism Agency showed Wednesday.

The number of minpaku properties stood at 21,176 as of May 11, down from 21,385 as of April 10, the survey showed.

The drop reflected a plunge in the number of foreign visitors to Japan amid the spread of the new coronavirus.

Minpaku operators lend the whole or part of their housing units to users for a fee. The new law, enforced in June 2018, made such services legal if operators make a report to local governments.

Thanks to an increase in the number of foreign visitors, the number of minpaku properties had risen, but travel restrictions and voluntary business suspensions amid the coronavirus pandemic have hit the minpaku business.

The agency surveys the number of minpaku properties every month.

Newly reported minpaku business starts came to 420, but 629 operators reported closures, meaning the number of minpaku properties fell by 209.

Meanwhile, the number of minpaku service users in February-March came to 175,495, down 42.4 percent from 304,620 in December-January.

The number of domestic users rose slightly, but that of foreign users tumbled more than 60 percent.

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