land, mainichi shinbun

Disaster risks affect land prices in wake of quake disaster, typhoon, mainichi, 3/19/2015

Land prices have been fluctuating across Japan on the heels of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and other natural disasters, pushing down prices in areas that are vulnerable to tsunami and liquefaction while driving up prices inland.

According to official land prices released on March 18, land prices for the Chiba Prefecture city of Abiko significantly dropped apparently because the area suffered damage from liquefaction in the Great East Japan Earthquake and from a major typhoon. Meanwhile, land prices for the Shizuoka Prefecture city of Fujieda spiked, after the inland area was recognized to be less vulnerable to tsunami.

Among residential areas, land prices for the Fusatorimachi district of Abiko saw the country’s largest decline rate at 10.9 percent. “I have almost no customers now. After the Great East Japan Earthquake and flooding, no one moved in here,” said a 70-year-old barber in the district.

The Fusa district, which encompasses Fusatorimachi, suffered major liquefaction damage in the March 2011 quake disaster, with about 120 residences destroyed. The disaster was followed by flooding brought by Typhoon No. 26 in October 2013. A downpour with record rainfall totaling 282 millimeters pounded areas that had already suffered extensive ground sinking in the quake disaster, flooding some 400 homes. The area is now dotted with vacant lots where damaged houses were torn down, and many of the residents who moved out of the district following the disasters have no intention of returning.

In order to cope with flood damage, a pump station with a processing capacity of 7.6 times previous levels is set to go online later this month. However, measures to prevent additional liquefaction by strengthening the ground were not implemented due to opposition from residents concerned with financial burdens.

“We used to get to sell land if we lowered the prices, but we find no buyers nowadays,” said a local realtor. An official with the city’s taxation division said, “From a long-term perspective, our revenues from fixed property taxes will plummet, adversely affecting the city’s finances.”

Meanwhile, the city of Fujieda — an inland commuter town within a 20 minute train ride from the city of Shizuoka — saw its land prices rise by 0.2 percent, thanks to an influx of the population from coastal areas susceptible to tsunami. High-rise condominiums have popped up in areas around JR Fujieda Station, while further construction work is under way. Between 2011, the year when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit the country, and February this year, the city’s population increased by at least 1,500 to some 146,500 — though the population growth had continued since before that period.

A local realtor in Fujieda, however, gives a cautious view, saying, “The demand for land may dwindle after the population inflow from coastal areas slows down.” Meanwhile, the Fujieda Municipal Government is aspiring to promote an influx of child-rearing generations into the city by developing libraries and parks near Fujieda Station.

About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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