In order to quicken the reconstruction process in the event that an apartment building is severely damaged in an earthquake, the national government is firming up plans that would see voting ratios reduced even further.

Under the current Act on Special Measures Concerning the Reconstruction of Condominiums Destroyed by Disaster (被災区分所有建物の再建等に関する特別措置法 / 被災マンション法), 80% of apartment owners, or 4/5ths, must vote in favor of demolition and selling off the land in the event that the apartment building is seriously damaged and at risk of collapse. In normal situations where a building is not facing serious structural issues, the ratio is 100%.

However, there have been cases where getting 80% of owners to agree has been challenging, especially when many residents had to move elsewhere. The government is considering reducing the required voting ratio to either three-quarters or two-thirds. Also, there are cases where some apartment owners have moved out many years prior and cannot be contacted. In cases where apartment owners cannot be reached, the proposed revision to the Act could see their voting rights removed from the count. 

Currently, the Act requires the decision to demolish to be made within one year in the event that over half of the building’s value is lost in a disaster. This is a relatively short time frame and could be extended. 

The Act was established in 1995 following the Great Hanshin Earthquake that occurred in January of that year and was targeted at apartment buildings that were in urgent need of demolition. In 2011 and 2016 it was applied again to apartments damaged by the Great East Japan and Kumamoto earthquakes. 

A survey by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) in 2018 found that around 18% of Japan’s apartment buildings were built to the old pre-1981 earthquake codes, and 77.6% of those apartments either did not meet seismic resistance standards or had not carried out earthquake resistance inspections. 

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 30, 2022.