In the worst cases, earthquakes can have catastrophic effects
on Japan’s housing supply. In March 2011, the Great East Japan
Earthquake left more than 340,000 people displaced and eventually required over 118,000 units of emergency housing across
Kumamoto is the capital city of Kumamoto Prefecture,
which is located on the western coast of Kyushu, Japan’s
southernmost major island. Despite its location far from major
metropolises, Kumamoto is the 17th largest city in Japan with
a population of 730,000, putting it on the same level as Denver,
Amsterdam and Seville, Spain.
In April 2016, two earthquakes of magnitudes 6. 2 and 7.0
over a two-day period left 31,025 homes in Kumamoto destroyed or badly damaged. Some areas of the city did not have
water for over a week.
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS LAWS
The 1947 Disaster Relief Act provides specifications for prefabricated temporary housing used during disasters, but often more
housing is needed. In some cases, including the 2011 tsunami,
these temporary housing facilities are not enough to house the
number of people displaced. In other cases, such as the 1995
Great Hanshin earthquake in Kobe, the disasters hit dense urban areas, and there is a lack of open space on which to build
temporary housing. Kumamoto is a compact city center, so it
fell into the latter case. For this reason, minashi kasetsu became
part of the law as a way to provide an alternative when temporary housing was not enough.
In Kumamoto, those without housing contacted their local
governments for documentation and then worked with real
estate companies, including those with CPM Members on staff,
to find private rental units. Ryo Yamanami, CPM, CCIM, of
IT Nice Real Estate, Inc. in Kumamoto, notes that his company
worked with around 20 families.
C E S Once a property was selected, the displaced party applied for housing through the local government, which passed on
applications that met requirements to the prefectural government. The prefecture then entered into a rental contract with
the owner of the property.
Kumamoto clearly learned lessons from the Great East
Japan Earthquake. During that disaster, the initial plan was to
have governments work with real estate companies to provide a
list of available properties, but the rules were loosened to allow
evacuees to find their own rental properties in order to expedite the process. In Kumamoto, the process began with this step
already in place.
Costs of rental units were limited to no higher than 60,000
yen ($545) per month, with an exception for families of five or
more, in which case the limit was 90,000 yen ($817) per month.
The rental agreements were limited to two years, which is the
same lease term used for prefabricated housing units.
Kumamoto Prefecture covered the cost of rent, fees associated with moving into the building, the introduction fee for the
real estate agent, home insurance, and move-in repair costs of
no more than 576,000 yen ($5,235). Tenants paid the cost of
utilities. The minashi kasetsu system can, in the end, be cheaper
than building entirely new temporary housing.
As of February this year, 30,197 people were still living in
minashi kasetsu arrangements and 9,564 in prefabricated temporary housing, with the two-year deadline approaching.
Keiko Mifune, CPM, president of Ushimaru Real Estate in
Kumamoto, has been working with some on applications to extend their stay.
Each month, several thousand rental agreements come to
term, so there has been some concern about the effects this
might have on the market, along with construction workers
completing their work and leaving the area.
KUMAMOTO EARTHQUAKE RELIEF, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Lt. Liwei Chen,
works with the Japan
Self Defense Force
to assist Kumamoto,
Japan recovery efforts
April 23, 2016