Consider earthquake resistance when buying real estate in Japan

Kumamoto Earthquake 2
An apartment building in Kumamoto City

Nowadays Japan has some of the most rigid earthquake codes, however that wasn’t always the case and older buildings may be more susceptible to earthquake damage than some buyers realise.

Picking a location

Choose a property on solid ground.

Properties on reclaimed land, flood plains, former lakes, ponds, riverbanks, rice fields, or marshes are more susceptible to collapse and tilting from liquefaction. Even newer homes may not be protected from the danger of being built on soft soil.

Building age

Choose a property built after June 1981.

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Earthquake-resistance checks on old apartments not progressing

Of Japan’s apartment buildings built prior to 1970 to older and less stringent earthquake standards, only 16% have been inspected to see whether they can withstand a large earthquake.

In February, the Condominium Management Companies Association conducted a survey of 2100 pre-1970 apartment buildings nationwide. From the individual management companies that responded, only 16% reported that a building inspection was carried out to assess their building’s earthquake resistance, and almost all were found not to meet current standards. Only 3% of the surveyed buildings had actually carried out any earthquake reinforcing work.

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Reconstruction vs. long-life maintenance. What is the fate of your apartment?

The condominium market is facing a dilemma – to rebuild or to maintain.

The Japanese Government has enacted laws promoting both long-life construction methods and reconstruction. While there is the Basic Act for Housing and the Law on Promoting the Spread of Long-term Housing to ensure and improve stable housing and to promote the construction long-lasting buildings, there are also laws such as the Apartment Reconstruction Facilitation Law to enable and support building reconstruction.

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