Chuo-ku to remove floor area ratio allowances to curb population growth

Tokyo’s Chuo ward is planning to abolish the floor area ratio (FAR) allowances in an attempt to curb the district’s rapid population growth. Up until now, a FAR allowance of as much as 20 ~ 40% could be given to residential developments in certain zones. For example, if a developer chose to build a new apartment building in Tsukiji or Kyobashi, the normal FAR for the land might be increased from its current limit of 500% to 700%, allowing a much larger building. 

30% of old buildings in Tokyo at risk of collapse in strong earthquake

The New Shimbashi Building (c1971) poses a high risk of collapse in a major earthquake. There are plans to eventually redevelop this building into a high-rise although negotiations with land-owners are taking longer than anticipated.

On March 29, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government released data from earthquake resistance inspections on public buildings built to the old ‘kyu-taishin’ earthquake codes (pre-May 1981). A total of 251 kyu-taishin buildings, representing a third of the total, were determined pose some risk of collapse in the event of an earthquake producing a seismic intensity scale (shindo) of a 6-upper or above. Of those, 156 were found to be at high risk of collapse.

The publication of this data is the result of a revision to the Act for Promotion of Renovation for Earthquake-Resistant Buildings that was introduced in November 2013. Under this revision, public buildings used by an unspecified number of people, such as hotels and commercial facilities, with a floor area over 10,000 sqm and built to the old kyu-taishin earthquake codes are obligated to carry out earthquake resistance inspections, the results of which are made public. This also applies to old buildings located alongside emergency roads. Although the revision requires building owners to carry out inspections, there are no obligations or requirements to conduct the retrofitting.

Central Tokyo’s 3 wards to see 30%+ population growth by 2045

According to estimates by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, the population of central Tokyo’s three wards (Chiyoda, Chuo and Minato) is expected to increase by over 30% by 2045 as more and more people move to the city center. In contrast, the Tama district, which is the very western side of Tokyo and includes Hachioji, Tachikawa, and Mitaka, is expected to see a double-digit percentage drop in resident population. By 2045, Tokyo will be the only district out of Japan’s 47 prefectures to have seen an increase in population.

Tokyo’s latest flood map puts a third of city in risk zone

Flooding at Hirai Station, Edogawa-ku, following Typhoon Kitty in 1949.

On March 30, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government issued a new flood map based on a super typhoon hitting the nation’s capital. Approximately a third of Tokyo’s 23 wards, representing 212 square kilometers, could be at risk of being flooded by a storm surge. Almost all of the flood risk zones are located in the eastern part of Tokyo which is a low-lying district. Central Tokyo, with the exception of some of the waterfront districts, and the western side of Tokyo is on elevated ground and outside of the risk area.

If levees are breached, some areas in eastern Tokyo could see flood waters with a depth of over 50cm covering an area up 84 square kilometers for a week or longer. The maximum flood depth could exceed 10 meters in some zones. Sumida and Koto wards could see an average flood depth of around 7 meters.

The 1 in 1,000 ~ 5,000 year worst-case flooding scenario is based on the scale of the 1934 Muroto Typhoon that made landfall in Muroto, Awaji Island and Kobe. It caused tremendous damage in Osaka. Over 3,000 people lost their lives and 200,000 were left homeless. The typhoon brought a tide of 3 ~ 4 meters which inundated 49 square kilometers of Osaka City. The simulation is also based on the speed of Typhoon Vera, or the Isewan Typhoon, which struck the Tokai region in 1959.

Apartment prices take a dip in Tokyo Bayside island district

According to data compiled by Tokyo Kantei, the average asking prices of second-hand apartments in several districts on the manmade islands in Tokyo Bay have declined over the past two years. This is despite the hype from the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will see several facilities and the Athletes Village constructed on these islands. The report covered family-type apartments listed for sale between June and August 2017, comparing them to average asking prices in 2015 and 2016.

Kokusai-tenjijo Station Area:

Serviced by the Rinkai Line, this station is about 450 meters from the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition hall and opposite the Ariake Tennis Courts and Ariake Colosseum. A 1500-unit large-scale apartment complex is currently under construction not far from this station with completion scheduled in early 2020. Apartments in this new project have an average price of around 1,000,000 Yen/sqm. Meanwhile, the average asking price of a second-hand apartment in this district was 679,000 Yen/sqm, down 5.9% from 2016 and down 8.9% from 2015.

Commercial land prices in Japan’s regional areas increase for first time in 26 years

On March 27, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) released the Chika-Koji assessed land prices for 2018. According to the data, nationwide land prices across all uses increased by 0.7%, a 0.3 point improvement from 2017 and the third year in a row to record a year-on-year increase.Commercial land prices increased for the third year in a row with a 1.9% increase in 2018. Residential land prices increased by 0.3% in 2018. In 2017, residential land prices increased by 0.022%, showing the first increase in 9 years.

Notably, commercial land prices in Japan’s regional areas increased by 0.5% – the first increase since 1992. Residential land prices in regional areas dropped by 0.1%, although the rate of decline has reduced.

The most expensive land in Japan is the site of the Yamano Music Building in Ginza, Tokyo. The land had an assessed value of 55,500,000 Yen/sqm (approx. 48,800 USD/sq.ft) in 2018, up 9.9% from 2017 and the fifth year in a row to record an increase. This land has increased in value by 275% since 2002.

Japan’s apartment living ratios in 2017

Tokyo Kantei has issued their annual report ranking the cities and towns across Japan that have the highest percentage of condominium-type apartments as a share of total households. According to the data, 12.41% of households in Japan were living in apartments in 2017, up 0.10 points from 2016.

In the Tokyo metropolitan area, the ratio was 27.20% – the highest in the country. Kanagawa Prefecture was in second place with 22.68%.

New apartments for sale in Tokyo in 2018

Let’s take a look at some of the new condominiums that will be completed in central Tokyo this year.



Size: 75 ~ 156 sqm (816 ~ 1,681 sq.ft)
Pricing: 175 ~ 850 million Yen

Located in a hilltop position atop the Motoazabu district The 5-storey building has 32 spaciously-sized apartments and is 300 meters from the Azabu Juban restaurant street and 800 meters from Roppongi Hills. Prices range from 2,300,000 ~ 5,500,000 Yen/sqm.