30-story apartment tower in Fukuoka to be demolished

A high-rise apartment building in Fukuoka City is going to be demolished six years after it was discovered to be affected by the data falsification scandal surrounding rubber used in the base-isolation of buildings.

Residents have been left bewildered after receiving notice to move out and little explanation as to why.

The 30-story building was completed in 2006. It is located in a waterfront position approximately 2 kilometers from Tenjin Station. Back in 2013 a domestic REIT purchased the trust beneficiary rights to the building for 2.9 billion Yen. At the time it had an occupancy rate of 94.2%. On June 30, 2021, the same REIT reported the sale of those rights to an unnamed buyer for 3.74 billion Yen. The building’s occupancy ratio had dropped to 42.2%. That buyer turned out to be Toyo Tire, the company that had originally produced the defective base-isolation rubber.

Shortly after the base-isolation issue was discovered, residents were reportedly informed by the manufacturer that the rubber in the building would be replaced but heard nothing further. This month they received a notice of eviction requesting that they move out by the end of June 2022. They will receive compensation equal to 6 months’ rent and will have their deposits returned in full. 

The base-isolation (menshin-kozo) system of earthquake resistance is considered to provide the best protection against damage to buildings in an earthquake. It uses bearings or pads to isolate the building from the ground and absorb the vibrations.

Five of Toyo’s rubber products sold between 2004 and 2015 were found to be more than 10% below MLIT guidelines, and in some cases up to 50% below standards. Three of those products received MLIT certification based on falsified data. In early 2014, Toyo’s quality control officer was replaced with a new employee who noticed the inconsistency in the data. Toyo informed the MLIT of the error in December 2014. 149 of the 154 buildings affected nationwide have already replaced the rubber, but it is unusual for a building to require demolition.

Source: The Mainichi Shimbun, July 16, 2021.

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