Japan’s new ‘Airbnb law’ a double-edged sword – Nationwide
Rental platforms like Airbnb are hoping for a boost from a new law coming into force next month in Japan ahead of an expected surge in demand for the 2020 Olympics, but experts warn it could actually hamper business in the short-term. Currently anyone renting out a room risks falling foul of the law but short-term rentals will be legalised on June 15, clearing up a legal grey area. But the new law also introduces fresh restrictions, dismaying many who rent out rooms to tourists via Airbnb or similar platforms. Would-be renters will have to register their lodgings with the authorities and the new law limits total overnight stays to 180 days per year. The new legislation allows local authorities to impose their own restrictions too.
The tourist-magnet of Kyoto, for example, has said it will only permit rentals in residential areas between mid-January and mid-March, the low season for tourist arrivals. Jake Wilczynski, Airbnb spokesman for Asia-Pacific, told AFP the new laws are a “clear sign that Japan is buying in to the idea of short-term rentals for individuals”. But many have cancelled reservations or simply taken their lodgings off the platform. Airbnb does not say how many properties on its platform already comply with the new laws but does not deny there have been some teething problems. Wilczynski said the firm was “in the process of discussing the issue with the Japanese Tourism Agency”. “We are waiting for instructions,” said the spokesman for Airbnb, which has informed its members of the legal changes.
Despite the new restrictions, there is a huge potential market for short-term rentals as the country gears up for Tokyo 2020 and the Rugby World Cup the previous year. Airbnb rentals have boomed in recent years, driven by an increase in tourism and a surprising lack of hotel infrastructure. With around 60,000 listings, Airbnb dominates the Japanese vacation rental market, even though it lags far behind many countries in Europe — France, for example, has 450,000 listings. And demand is poised to rise as Japan targets an influx of 40 million visitors in 2020 when it hosts the Summer Olympics — up from 29 million last year.
74-year-old man arrested over murder of woman in Fukuoka – Fukuoka
Police have arrested a 74-year-old man on suspicion of killing a 40-year-old woman at his house on Sunday night or early Monday morning. The suspect, Kazuhiro Tsumura, who works as a salesman for the Yomiuri Shimbun, had been missing since the body of Miki Oya was found in his apartment in Nishi Ward at around 10 p.m. Monday, Fuji TV reported. Oya’s common-law husband found the body and alerted police.
Police said Tsumura and Oyau knew each other and security camera footage showed them walking out of a pub near his apartment last Sunday night. Surveillance camera footage also showed Tsumura boarding a shinkansen train bound for Osaka on Monday morning. He was arrested at around 6:45 p.m. Thursday while walking along a street in Osaka and taken back to Fukuoka. Police said Tsumura has admitted to the crime but has so far given no motive.
Oya’s common-law husband, 45, told police that she did not come back home after saying she was just going out for a little while last Sunday night. After not being able to contact her on Monday, he alerted police who narrowed down Oya’s location to the Susenji area through the GPS in her smartphone. However, the police search was unsuccessful and the man continued looking on his own, going door to door. When he found the door to Tsumura’s unlocked, he went in and found the body of Oya. He then called 119. Oya’s body was in the kitchen of the apartment. Police said she had several stab wounds to her chest and stomach.
Radiation monitors in Fukushima broken; malfunction 4,000 times – Fukushima
Some 3,000 radiation monitoring devices installed in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear accident have been hit by glitches and other problems nearly 4,000 times, sources familiar with the matter said Sunday.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which operates the devices called monitoring posts, is planning to remove around 80 percent of them by the end of fiscal 2020 on grounds that radiation levels in some areas have fallen and steadied. But the move can also be seen as an attempt to cut costs as the government is expected to terminate by the same year a special budget account for rebuilding northeastern Japan areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis. Some local governments and residents have opposed the planned removal of monitoring posts, expressing concerns about their health.
Around 3,000 monitoring posts were installed in locations such as kindergartens and schools to measure radiation levels in the air, according to the NRA. But during the five years since fully starting the operation of the devices in fiscal 2013, the monitoring system has been hit by problems, such as showing inaccurate readings and failing to transmit data, some 3,955 times. The makers of the device and security system companies were called each time to fix the problems. Managing the monitoring posts has cost the central government about 500 million yen ($4.5 million) a year.