House prices in San Francisco rose 231% over the past two decades, London surged 441% and Tokyo rates grew only 45% in 20 years. Tokyo is how to do it?

What surprised us was the upheaval of the house next door. We knew it was a vacant house, the weeds in the mossy garden kept skyrocketing, and the curtains upstairs had never been opened. However, one day after a paper announcement, the hydraulic excavator set the house apart. By the end of next year, a 16-room apartment block will be built here.
Overnight, we live close to a construction site in Tokyo. This is not fun at all. Work site 6 days a week. If in London, Paris or San Francisco, will certainly lead to anger residents protest – a petition, warned the district no longer features, and may even make one or two lawsuits. The local election is defeated by the reduction of support from voters, and so on.
However, in our community, local residents are collectively silent. Something in the conversation with Takahiko Noguchi, director of Minato ward Planning Bureau, in Tokyo, explains why: “Japanese law does not restrict housing demolition.” He said: “Residents have the right to freely dispose of their own real estate. Therefore, residents of the district have no right to stop their development and utilization.”

Here are some incredible facts: In 2014, the total population was 13.3 million. In Tokyo, there were a total of 142,417 newly-started housing units with no vacant construction sites, exceeding the number of permits for housing construction in California (83,657) and surpassing that of the entire UK The total population of 54.3 million) the number of new starts (137,010).

The steady rise in housing starts in Tokyo is closely linked with the more unusual facts. In sharp contrast with the skyrocketing prices in western metropolitan cities, Tokyo’s housing prices have basically taken the strides. Outrageous housing prices have caused the abnormal development of Western cities: the chances of young people being opposed to the elderly, the richer wealthy, and deprived of talent flocking to good jobs.
This is not the result of a declining population. Like other countries, Japan has also experienced a wave of “return to the city.” Located in the center of Tokyo, with an area of 20 square kilometers and a huge amount of money, the total population has increased from 145,000 to 241,000 in the past 20 years, an increase of about 100,000 with a substantial increase of 66%.

In San Francisco, a total area of 121 square kilometers, an increase of about 100,000 in the past 20 years (the total population increased from 746,000 to 865,000), an increase of 12%. However, housing prices in San Francisco and London jumped 231% and 441% respectively in the past 20 years. While the population in Tokyo’s port area increased only 45% in 20 years, most of the increases were still carried out by the Bank of Japan in 2013 Due to massive monetary stimulus.
There is no annoying price hike in the streets of Tokyo because property prices have not seen much growth over the years. Buy or rent a house is not a big event in life. On the contrary, the Japanese government has continuously delivered more properties to the nation with steady improvement in quality and location.

In many countries, urban housing has evolved into the most significant social and economic issue of our time. (If more Britons move to the capital, London, will they still vote in favor of Brexit?) Therefore, it is necessary for us to study in depth why Tokyo has made such a remarkable achievement and why housing prices are maintained under the continued availability of housing Basically unchanged and can learn from what lessons.
Like most Japanese agencies, Japanese urban planning initially fully borrowed from the Western model. “Our plans are very much the same as in the United States,” said Junichiro Okata, a professor of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo.
According to different functions, the city is divided into commercial area, industrial area and residential area. Business district can be built according to the wishes of the owners themselves: One of the best things about Tokyo is the continuous construction of high-rise apartment blocks in the industrial area around Tokyo Bay. However, in low-rise residential areas, there are strict restrictions on the construction of housing, it is difficult to obtain re-planning authority.
Under the zoning plan, the landowner has a lot of power. In fact, the Japanese constitution provides that “ownership of or possession of property is sacrosanct.” Private developers can not force landlords to sell land; nor can local governments prevent individuals from developing land. If you want to build a front decorative pink shell imitation gothic castle, is entirely your own final say

In California’s coastal cities, zoning plans have paralyzed urban construction and unsustainable supply of new homes as existing owners have prevented further development. This is exactly the same as Tokyo in the 1980s.
“In the 1980s, Japan’s housing prices caused a huge bubble due to speculation. The situation is even worse than that of London and New York in the same period. Many Japanese economists condemned the planning and zoning policies in unison, referring to their role as the chief culprits in reducing housing supply Culprit. “AndrĂ© Sorensen, a professor of geography at the University of Toronto, said he wrote a great deal about Japan’s planning policies.
However, it was the real estate bubble of the 1980s that laid the foundation for future housing developments in Tokyo’s downtown area, said Hiro Ichikawa, a consultant for Mori Building real estate companies in Japan. After the property market crashed, developers only had high-priced office block plots that no one was interested in at that time.
In the 1990s, non-performing loans from real estate developers put the Japanese financial institutions on the verge of collapse. As a result, the government relaxed the property development policy and eventually ended up with the Urban Renaissance Law in 2002. The law gave a green light to the zoning plan. Office block re-planning for the residential area. “To help rejuvenate the economy from the bubble, the Japanese government has relaxed regulation of urban development,” said Ichikawa. “Thanks to the initial bubble in the property market, Tokyo will be just as helpless as London and San Francisco now.”
Aisles and public lands are not included in the condominium floor area, resulting in the higher condominium building being built within the existing zoning. The motion under discussion now allows owners to rebuild larger houses provided they have to demolish their former Earthquake standard construction of houses.

The law, which is implemented from the top down by the Central Government, allowing owners to demolish their old homes means they can quickly benefit from them. “Both the city planning law and the building law are set by the central government – even tiny details are written into national laws,” Okada said. “Local governments have little say in housing development.”
“We will not be able to protect our lives without the earthquake,” said Noguchi. “This reflects the mainstream view in Japanese society that all buildings are ready for immediate use and are easily dismantled,” Tokyo said. Another essential difference between cities. “There are still lots of old buildings in Tokyo that can increase the floor area ratio.”
Continued reconstruction is well explained why so many new housing starts in Tokyo: the net increase in housing is lower than in the past. But just like my neighbors, reconstruction usually increases residential density.
But all this has to pay the price, not the financial expenditure, and other forms of “honor.” In a nutshell, the modern Japanese cities, including Tokyo, are often overwhelmed by the visual effects of no unified coordination of the buildings, leaving little room for them. “High-quality buildings” often mean “good seismic performance” ‘.
Some of the more distant dystopian apartment buildings in Tokyo are comparable to industrial-based Siberia. Imitation Gothic Castle is not a whimsical thing: You may wish to visit the Emperor Valentine’s Hotel that is opposite Meguro Canal. The most disappointing than the suburbs of Tokyo, row after row of cheap wooden activity room.
“Japan’s planning system is completely arbitrary, and it really advocates doing nothing; and the Japanese planning system is centralization and standardization, which means it can flexibly respond to social and economic changes,” Okada said.

“On the other hand, Japan is not so good at duplicating a particular town in a particular country as it is, and it can not build a charming city like Britain or Europe.” Okada hoped the central government could significantly decentralize the local government.
However not entirely. At this level of private housing, if you “turn a blind eye” on your neighbors’ house, then Tokyo is full of innovation and beauty. Since Japanese architects are free to build houses, it is no accident that the country continues to have Pritzker Prize winners.
Japan’s urbanization – “scramble” pedestrian crossings, narrow streets, densely populated and unusually developed public transport, will undoubtedly become a model for Asia and the world over.
The most important thing is: Tokyo is fair again. The ugly building houses both the poor and the rich as well as the low-rent houses. In London and San Francisco, the beauty is shared by everyone, only some are in the slums to appreciate it, while others are indulgently pampered in the mighty luxury plane.
Robin Harding is the FT’s Tokyo office president