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YOKOSUKA, Japan — Ever since her elderly neighbor moved a decade ago, Yoriko Haneda has done what she can to keep the empty house she left behind from becoming an eyesore. Haneda regularly trims its shrubs and clips its narrow strip of grass, maintaining its perfect view of the sea.The volunteer yard work has not extended to the house two doors down, however.

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That one is vacant, too, and overgrown with bamboo.

In fact, dozens of houses in this hillside neighborhood about an hour’s drive from Tokyo are abandoned.“There are empty houses everywhere, places where nobody’s lived for 20 years, and more are cropping up all the time,” said Ms.

Land was scarce and expensive, so the newcomers built small, simple homes wherever they could. The young workers of the postwar years are now retirees, and few people, their children included, want to take over their homes.

“Their kids are in modern high-rises in central Tokyo,” Mr. “To them, the family home is a burden, not an asset.” Japan’s birthrate has been stuck below the level needed to maintain the population since the 1970s, as young people postpone marriage and many women put off having children as they enter the work force.

Land prices in Yokosuka are down by 70 percent since their peak at the end of the 1980s.

The houses are a steal for the rare souls who will have them.

Long-term vacancy rates have climbed significantly higher than in the United States or Europe, and some eight million dwellings are now unoccupied, according to a government count.

Nearly half of them have been forsaken completely — neither for sale nor for rent, they simply sit there, in varying states of disrepair.

The government, he believes, will eventually have to cut services like water and road and bridge maintenance in the most depopulated areas. We’ll have to make those hard choices.”The most blunt solution for abandoned houses is to tear them down before they become hazards or their neighborhoods earn an irreversible reputation for blight.

But owners can be hard to track down, and are often reluctant to pay demolition costs. Haneda tends is owned by the family of Mioko Utagawa, 74, who lives a 10-minute walk down the hill. Utagawa’s husband bought it for an aunt in the 1970s after she divorced and moved here from Tokyo. The family has been paying her modest property taxes but has otherwise left the house alone.

But just one has been sold through the home bank so far, a 60-year-old single-story wooden home with a patch of garden that was listed for 660,000 yen, or ,400.

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