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The GPIF, or Government Pension Investment Fund has just selected its next president, according to a spokesman on Tuesday at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Currently, the president is Norihiro Takahashi, but from April 1 (the start of FY2020), Miyazono Masataka will become the new GPIF president. Previously, Mr. Miyazono was the president of the Pension Fund Association, Tokyo, meaning that he certainly has experience in that area. Pension Fund Association, Tokyo controls...

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Coronavirus has now spread to dozens of countries around the world. Italy has had over 600 deaths per day from it, and Iran is another epicenter. Cases in the US are surging, especially in Louisiana. Japan was one of the first countries to get coronavirus, but has managed to keep the number of cases relatively low (a little bit over 1,000 on Japanese soil, and about 400 or so more on the Diamond Princess cruise...

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The Japan Rental Housing Management Association has recently launched a “Landlord Cost And Profit Insurance (Rental Management Support) Plan” for members of the association in cooperation with Tokyo Marine Nichidō Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. In the event of an unfortunate incident such as a lonely death, suicide, or death related to a crime (e.g. murder) in rental housing (which are collectively called “jikobukken” in Japanese [事故物件]), this will cover the rent loss and restoration costs...

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First, a definition: “recruitment rent,” or (募集家賃, boshū yachin) is rent for a property currently on the market. Therefore, it excludes properties that are already being rented. For example, if there is a building with three units, and two of them have been renting out for years for ¥30,000 a month with tenants who plan to continue renting, and one of them is currently on the market, listed at the real estate agent’s office for...

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COVID-19 has wrought havoc on stock markets worldwide, having resulted in a drop of over 29% in the S&P 500 in less than a month (meanwhile, real estate investors are sitting pretty; the values of their investment property and the rents they receive have been largely unchanged). It’s getting to the point in which central banks around the world are trying to bail out the economic victims of COVID-19 (also known as “novel coronavirus”). Some...

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A common issue that travelers to Japan face is that they end up with a massive pile of coins. Japanese coins range from ¥1 (slightly less than $0.01) to ¥500 (~$4.68), so unless you make a conscious, daily effort to give cashiers, vending machines, etc. change that is as exact as possible, you’d soon have dozens of coins in your wallet, and then maybe even need another container… What if Japan had a ¥500 bill...

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It’s that time of the year again: cherry blossom season! Cherry blossoms (sakura, 桜) bloom across most of Japan, starting in the tropical/subtropical areas down south, then working their way up to the temperate areas, and finally, they reach cold Hokkaidō (and its outlying areas) last. This year, the best cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo will be on the weekends of March 20-22 and March 28-29. The predicted best cherry blossom viewing time is March...

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The Building Group announced the results of a survey on March 11, of office building market conditions in major areas of the six major metropolises (Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Sapporo, and Sendai) for February 2020. The survey targeted office buildings with a vacancy rate of 100 tsubo* (330.579 square meters) or more of standard floor area and office buildings with rental contracts for estimated amounts of 100 to 300 tsubo (991.736 square meters). The average...

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The Japan Housing Finance Agency announced on February 2 the applicable interest rate for the “Flat 35” (purchase type of mortgage) that would be provided by the financial institution in March. The interest rate for a borrowing period of 21 years or more (in which the buyer pays at least 10% down, with the financial institution financing the rest) now ranges from 1.240% (down 0.040% month-on-month) to 1.870% (down 0.070%). The most frequent rate offered...

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Recently, in Saitama (the prefecture directly north of Tokyo), the weather was rainy, but it was a very odd type of rain. It was a black rain. In some country/countries, “Black Rain” is a code word meaning “very heavy downpour,” for example, in Hong Kong, but in this case, this was not just figure of speech. The rain was actually the color black! The black rain came at night, days after a very violent lightning...