As foreigner living in Japan most likely one day you come across UR (Urban Renaissance: real estate company). The reason is simple: no disadvantage as a foreigner to rent an apartment combined with good customer service, plus availability of a wide range of housing in most cities throughout Japan. No this article is not a commercial for UR, but I would like to introduce you to “kodokushi”.
During the economic growth period of the 1960s and 1970s a lot of rental buildings were set up in the major cities. As most Japanese have not moved their place of residence since then, consequently more and more old people are living in the same apartments all by themselves. A growing number of elder are cut off now from society to whatever reason. “Kodokushi” is then the Japanese word for the sad occasion, when someone had died and no one had discovered the body for a while. In the case of UR, they have reported 613 cases of kodokushi in its 750,000 nationwide units in 2008. While this number might not seem high at first, considering that most elder people who moved into their apartment decades ago and are most likely still there, which means that the number of kodukushi cases will only increase.
Not surprisingly Japanese people do not like living such a place, where someone has previously died. To make the situation even more complicated for the landlord, according to Japanese law the owner has to mention whether someone had died in the home by suicide or “kodokushi”. Now UR in Tokyo area has started with a straightforward approach: For a about half of the usual market price during a limited period “special rental apartments” are offered for those interested in a home, where the previous renter had died not according to common circumstances. Would you be interested in this kind of bargain? For me I have to confess, I am not brave enough for this kind of bargain, although having lived throughout my stay in Japan at UR apartments.
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)