While Japan shares many characteristics with the West – a democratic political system and capitalist economic system among them – one area that distinguishes Japan as an outlier is the attitude the Japanese people have toward their homes.
For many of us, in addition to the stability it provides, home ownership has traditionally been front and center in our plans for building wealth and planning retirement. In Japan, homes have a rapid depreciation cycle and are virtually worthless after 25-to-30 years; in most cases, a vacant plot would be more desirable than a plot with an existing structure. Land holds value. Dwellings do not.