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  • Japan Times: Housing glut resulting in more assistance for NJ renters, e.g., Japan Property Management Association

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 20th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Debito.org Reader Kevin submitted this Japan Times article (thanks!) on how The Japan Property Management Association, which covers more than a thousand real estate agencies, is offering information to NJ renters and recourse to fearful landlords. They’re even suggesting hiring NJ to bridge communication gaps! Bravo. If you’re in the market for new digs, check this association out and give them your business.

    After all, one of the first nasty things a NJ experiences is the pretty ubiquitous housing discrimination in Japan — where a renter can be refused by the mere whim of a landlord, and tough titties if that landlord has a “thing” about foreigners (due to, say, envisioned phobias about “differing customs”, “communication troubles”, or just plain visceral xenophobia). Sadly, there is no way, outside of a courtroom (which will probably, experience and word-of-mouth dictates, not rule in the NJ’s favor unless the landlord changes his or her mind AFTER a rental contract is signed). ‘Cos, as y’all know so well, there ain’t no law against racial discrimination in this part of the world.

    One more thing, and this is a tangent but I’m feeling chatty today:  Before we get all Pollyanna and flout any economic theories that “the marketplace will correct all if left to its own devices” (i.e. Japan’s housing glut is forcing the buyer’s market to find ways to be more accommodating to NJ), remember that there is no way economics is going to “fix” illogical or irrational behavior, such as fear and hatred of foreigners or other races that exist in every society.  If anything, as seen in the course of the Otaru Onsens Case, bathhouse managers (and apologist bigots like Gregory Clark) have even made economic arguments to justify the status quo (“our customers don’t want to take baths with foreigners, so we have to give them what they demand”; some even created flawed surveys of customers to “prove” it, which got widely reported by an unanalytical Japanese media (page down to “False Summits Dec 1999“).  In any case, the market CAN break down (in classic cases like farmers dumping surplus crops in the ocean to keep the market price up), and needs laws to govern it.  In this case, laws against the effects of the dread mental disease that is xenophobia.

    Anyway, again, bravo Japan Property Management Association.   JT article about them follows.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    Housing glut opens door to foreign tenants
    By MIZUHO AOKI Staff writer
    The Japan Times: Saturday, May 15, 2010 (excerpt)

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100515f2.html

    As the country’s foreign population keeps growing and the declining birthrate and oversupply of housing result in more and more vacancies, it is time for real estate agents to create a more welcoming environment for foreign customers, according to people who work in the business.

    “Housing discrimination against foreigners still remains in Japan today. . . . We have a lot of vacant housing that needs to be filled. And there are many (foreigners) who want to rent housing in the country,” Noriaki Shiomi, vice deputy chairman of the Japan Property Management Association, told a forum in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday. “What we must try now is to gain knowhow to smoothly accept foreign customers.”

    Efforts to provide foreigners access to rental housing have become increasingly important amid the surge in vacancies in recent years due to oversupply and the shrinking population, according to the association…

    According to a survey conducted by the association in 2003 on 275 landlords nationwide, over 60 percent of landlords said they worried about dealing with foreign customers when there is a problem because of difficulties in communicating. Over 50 percent of landlords also said they were concerned about differences in customs relating to living.

    “What landowners want to know is that when something happens, they will have support from real estate agencies,” said Ogino. “In other words, if the owners know that the agencies will deal with foreigners when they have trouble, many are willing to rent out their properties to foreigners.”…

    The Japan Property Management Association provides printed guidebooks and DVDs in Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese designed to help foreigners gain basic knowledge of searching for and renting housing. They can be found at the association’s member real estate agents.

    The guidebooks explain step-by-step procedures for renting apartments, including tips in visiting real estate agencies, explanations of contracts and the rules of everyday life.

    In addition to the booklets and DVDs, the association said another key for the industry to become more accessible for foreign customers is to hire foreigners.

    Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100515f2.html

    ENDS

    8 Responses to “Japan Times: Housing glut resulting in more assistance for NJ renters, e.g., Japan Property Management Association”

    1. Matt Says:

      Good news, I guess. The impetus behind it though is to help Japanese property owners during these difficult economic times. NJ rights have always been a non-issue during Japan’s more prosperous times and, even now, I somehow feel maddened even though this issue is finally being looked at. Perhaps because the angle of it all seems to be not because it is unfair to the NJ, but because it can help the housing economy. Anyway, NJ actually helping the Japanese economy is an idea that certain Japanese may come to discover, so this can obviously be a good thing.

    2. Joe Jones Says:

      I am looking for an apartment in Tokyo at the moment, and there are far more options now than there were when I last looked two years ago. Besides lower rents and more vacancies, landlords are also being much more cooperative. Half of my inquiries in 2010 resulted in a landlord bluntly telling my agent “no foreigners” or “permanent residents only,” but that hasn’t happened to me once this time: the only black mark was seeing one faxed-over property listing in the Asian-heavy Okubo area that prominently stated “外国籍不可,” so I didn’t press the case.

    3. feitclub Says:

      Lovely idea, but as of today they are woefully under-connected in the Kansai area outside of the major cities. Still, if things are really on the rise, perhaps that will change in time.

    4. sri Says:

      In 1995 I worked for a real estate company and one of my clients was an ambassador of a fairly rich and stable African country to find a property for lease for their residence. The embassy would pay in advance for the year and their budget was 20,000,000/yen per month. This is how a lot of embassies pay.
      He was declined for being black more then 20 times. Eventually after about 18 months he found a place in Nishi Azabu.
      If the ambassador liked a place, the realtor would call the owner and after a couple of days we would get a call back with an apologetic sucking through the teeth sound.
      The realtors really did try as they work on commision but a couple of owners asked me “makkurodesuka?”.

    5. sri Says:

      @飛日空,
      I`m not in that business now and wonder myself. All African nations face this same problem here and I suppose elsewhere in Asia.
      To be fair, its not all racism. Economically weak countries do have coups and budget problems and are sometimes late in payment for the second year. Also diplomatic immunity prevents real estate owners from fast redress incase of a non payment as the Gaimusho lawyers will intervene on behalf of the embassy. To the landlords, one problem from a economically weaker country is a risk attributed to all such countries. Word gets around fast in this highly connected group of wealthy landlords.
      The African ambassoadors dont make a fuss in the media about these inconveniences as it`s not in their best interests. There is other businesses in play and they keep it quiet to maintain their own image. Individually they do not have much leverage.

      Economy dictates a penalty to racism but this elite class could afford to pay it in the 90`s.
      Rentals should be getting easier now I would guess.

    6. Tom R. Says:

      Weren’t we hearing about Japan at the crossroads in the 80s? Whats any different in that argument now?

      Just my opinion but the only real change that’s going to occur isn’t from pressure from the outside but an internal one. Until then Japan Inc. will just keep muddling along.

      Debito is a needed internal voice of change in Japan. If any change is going to occur in the future it will be because of efforts of people like him.

    7. yosomono Says:

      Whatever happened to the bill that should abolish discrimination on the housing rental market.
      (See original article below.)
      This bill was discussed on the Japanese Culture Channel Sakura as well.
      (video here: http://video.aol.ca/video-detail/-/3294764483)
      The commentator calls it “favoring foreigners and discriminating Japanese” 外国人優遇日本人差別.
      Is this a right wing channel by the way? In the background during the show I see compound phrase:草莽崛起 (sōmōkukki) which I found translated as Pride of Japan, but original means: 在野の人よ立ち上がれ (Common people, arise!)

      Anyway here is the original article from the Kokumin Shinbun, 25 April 2010

      “Bill that makes it impossible (for landlords) to refuse foreigners”
      Public housing terms are easy on foreigners, strict on Japanese. In the prefecture Saitama there is a housing complex stacked with Chinese. A bill that should secure a stable residence position for tenants by regulating duties of the ‘Rent Guarantee Companies’* and the procedures for collecting rent, is currently being discussed in the Diet. By which refusing to rent one’s house to foreigners will be regarded as a discriminatory act punishable by law. If one requests the rent he is entitled to and gets sued for “intimidation” he can be jailed for up to two years or fined for up to 30.000.000 yen. The foreigners suffrage bill of the DPJ, handing out family allowances to foreigners as well and on top of that the ‘human rights protection bill’ will turn Japanese into complete slaves (of the foreigners).

      *These are companies to whom the tenant pays a monthly sum of 30 to 90% of his normal rent and who pay (i.e. guarantee) the landlord the rent he is entitled to in case someone stops paying the rent or suddenly leaves with a few months of unpaid rent due.

      p.s. About the translation. As you might have noticed I am not a native speaker of English, so please forgive me if some iwakan arises when reading it. I normally translate Japanese to Dutch and German and just added an English translation as a quick reference for people who visit this blog and haven’t mastered the Japanese language enough to read the article in its original form.

      國民新聞 平成22年4月25日(日曜日)

      外国人の入居、拒否は不可の法案

      公営住宅の入居条件が日本人に厳しく、外国人に甘い。埼玉県のある団地は中国人でひしめいている。
      今国会で「賃貸借人の居住安定を確保するための家賃業務保証業の業務の適正化及び家賃等の取立て行為の規制に関する法律案」が審議中である。これによって、外国人に家を貸すことを拒否すると差別行為として罰せられる。家賃を催促して「脅迫」と訴えられると懲役二年以下または三百万円以下の罰金刑。
      民主党政権の外国人参政権、外国人にも支給する子供手当、さらに人権擁護法案で日本人は完璧に”奴隷”になる。(http://kakutatakaheri.blog73.fc2.com/blog-entry-2185.html)

    8. yosomono Says:

      Can anyone please provide me with an update on the bill mentioned in my last post.
      I am writing an article on discrimination in Japan and I would really like to know if the bill got passed, was rejected or is still under discussion.

      Thank you all in advance.

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