Kyoto mulls tax on vacant homes to stem youth exodus
The city of Kyoto in western Japan is planning to introduce a tax on empty homes and vacation homes to boost the property market amid an exodus of young people struggling to find housing.
The new tax, the first of its kind in Japan according to the city, will target about 13,000 to 15,000 unoccupied residences in the historic city, but will exclude traditional townhouses called “machiya” which are popular among foreign tourists.
The file photo shows a residential area in Kyoto. (Kyodo)
A draft ordinance to introduce the new tax in Kyoto was submitted to the city council on Thursday. It is expected to be adopted in a regular assembly session by the end of March.
Condo prices in Kyoto are high compared to surrounding areas, with many people in their 20s and 30s choosing to move to Tokyo or neighboring prefectures, city officials said.
“Encouraging people to reside in the houses will revitalize the local economy and community, leading to cultural promotion,” Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa told a city council meeting.
Under the envisaged plan, vacant or vacation properties will fall into one of three tax brackets based on assessed value, with floor areas to be used to calculate the amount of tax due.
For example, a detached house about 30 years old in the Nishikyo district of Kyoto with an estimated value of about 3 million yen ($26,000) and about 150 square meters of floor space would fall into the lowest bracket, attracting a tax bill of about 40,000 yen per year.
If the Home Secretary approves the order after it is passed, the new tax will be introduced in FY2026 or later. It is expected to generate around 860 million yen in revenue in its first year.
While a vacation home tax is already levied in the Atami hot spring resort in Shizuoka Prefecture, the tax in Kyoto would be the first in Japan to also cover empty homes, according to the Kyoto city government. .