AFTER years of Airbnb hosts operating in gray area, private rentals have finally been legalized in Japan.
Last week, the government passed a set of regulations to legalize private home rentals and home-sharing for a maximum length of 180 days a year.
The new law will require Airbnb hosts to register with local government prior to publicly listing their properties. Hosts will be subject to local regulations.
Japan is Airbnb’s biggest market in Asia Pacific, with claims the San Francisco-based company boosted the national economy by US$8.3 billion in 2016.
Prior to this, Airbnb has come under scrutiny from locals, especially about the surge of foreigners in their neighborhoods.
Due to this, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government released guidelines for home-sharing, or minpaku, thus suppressing Airbnb’s reach in Japan.
The guidelines emphasized Airbnb hosts would only be allowed to rent to guests who stay for a week or longer, only a small slice of the tourist market.
Major cities across Japan could decide to adopt these guidelines, leaving Airbnb hanging by a thread in the country.
Now that the guidelines embrace the house-sharing model, Japan’s already-booming tourism industry will be sure to flourish alongside its ambitious 40 million visitor target by 2020 and the looming Summer Olympics.
Text by Surekha Ragavan