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Falsified documents submitted to 11 Bank Branches

A report by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on May 5, has alleged that that mortgage fraud scandal now extends to 11 Suruga Bank branches across Japan. The newspaper alleges that five companies are involved in obtaining loans from various Suruga branches that were based on falsified income statements, resulting in over-loans to borrowers. The Suruga branches that have discovered faked documents include Tokyo, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Midtown, Futako-Tamagawa, Kawasaki, Omiya, Tama Plaza, Sendai and Kyoto.

On May 7 the newspaper dropped another bombshell, reporting that the lawyers representing a group of investors had received an audio recording of a phone call that took place in April 2016 between a real estate agent and an alleged bank employee. In the recording, which was released to the public, the broker asked the bank staffer for advice on what to do if a sales agency was unable to tamper with the loan application documents. The bank staffer mentioned a company that takes on a lot of those requests. The broker then called the company in question and they confirmed that they could falsify documents. Suruga’s share price briefly dropped by as much as 11% the following morning before recovering.

Tokai Uni to rebuild modernist building on Yoyogi Campus

Tokai University is in the process of planning a redevelopment of their Yoyogi Campus in Shibuya’s Tomigaya neighborhood. The project may include the reconstruction of the No. 2 campus building – a cross-shaped modernist building that was designed by architect Mamoru Yamada and completed in 1958. Yamada was one of the pioneer’s of Japan’s modernist movement and a professor at Tokai University’s engineering department.

Revision to Building Standards Act could see extra allowances for fireproof buildings

A fire destroys a neighbourhood in Itoigawa City, Niigata in 2016.

The government is in the process of making a potential revision to the Building Standards Act that could provide an extra 10% to the building footprint ratio in quasi-fire prevention districts. The goal of the revision is to encourage the reconstruction of older, non-fireproof buildings.

Under the proposed revision, if an older building in a quasi-fire prevention district is replaced with a fireproof or quasi-fireproof building, an extra 10% may be added to the footprint ratio (called the kenpeiritsu). This would mean that a building built on a 100 sqm block of land in a zone with a 60% footprint ratio could cover up to 70 sqm of the land instead of the original limit of 60 sqm. A ratio of up to 100% is already possible for fireproof buildings built in fire prevention districts in Commercial Zones.

Artist’s atelier in Tokyo to be demolished

The residence and atelier of Iwami Furusawa (1912-2000), surrealist painter and Japan’s Dali, will be demolished. A farewell party was held in late March by local volunteers.

Furusawa made his residence in Tokyo’s Itabashi ward after WWII, building his private art studio from a salvaged barn from a nearby farm. At the time, the neighborhood was a mixture of small workshops and homes. 

New apartment starts in 2017 reach lowest level in 7 years

Apartment starts in the greater Tokyo area in 2017 reached the lowest level seen in seven years. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), apartment starts were 57,591 units, down 12% from 2016. The Ministry cites an early rush by developers to get large-scale projects off the ground in the lead up to the 2020 Olympics and difficulty in securing sites for residential developments as the two contributors to a recent slow down in residential construction.

City to purchase Lafcadio Hearn’s residence for 175 million Yen

Matsue City in Shimane Prefecture plans to acquire the former residence of writer Lafcadio Hearn for 175 million Yen (approx. 1.6 million USD). The seller is a private individual. The traditional, single-storey Japanese residence has a total floor area of 244 sqm (2,645 sq.ft) and sits on a 1,030 sqm (11,083 sq.ft) block of land located directly across the street from Matsue Castle.

Tokyo’s Koto ward to restrict development of family-type apartments to limit population growth

While some regional districts in Japan are suffering from an ageing and shrinking population, urban centers are struggling with the growing pains from an increase in the number of younger residents. In an attempt to limit the number of children in the ward, Koto in Tokyo is introducing restrictions on the development of family-type apartments. A surge in the population of young families, due in part to a boom in the construction of high-rise apartment towers in the Tokyo bayside area, is putting a strain on the ward’s nurseries and elementary schools.

Japan’s high-rise apartment market from 2018 to 2022 onwards

According to the Real Estate Economic Institute, there are currently 108,757 apartments in 294 high-rise buildings planned for completion across Japan from 2018 onwards. This is an increase of 9 buildings and 2,436 apartments from the previous survey point in March 2017.

73.8% of these apartments are centered in the greater Tokyo area, a 4.8 point decrease from 2017. Tokyo’s 23 wards accounted for a 51.1% share of the nationwide total, a 2.5 point decrease from last year. Chuo ward has the largest forecast supply with 12,514 apartments planned in the coming years, 22.5% of the total. This supply is limited to just 14 buildings, with an average of 894 apartments per building. Minato ward was in second place with 11,401 apartments planned in 33 buildings (an average of 345 apartments per building).