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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 January 24 - 30  > JCP calls for introduction of government program to subsidize rent payment
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2024 January 24 - 30 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP calls for introduction of government program to subsidize rent payment

January 24, 2024

Amid a prolonged cost of living rise, voices calling for the creation of a subsidy program on housing rent payments have been increasing mainly among single persons, as shown by the fact that Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Tamura Tomoko last December in the Diet demanded that the government introduce a rent subsidy program.

The government has long implemented a housing policy aimed at promoting home ownership, which only works to support house manufacturers. The government leaves the supply of housing to the private market. The share of low-rent public housing in total housing units in Japan stands at 3.6%. In the Tokyo Metropolitan area, the competitive rate for public rental housing exceeds tenfold. The government has left the issue of high private rental prices untouched.

In a survey on seniors living alone, a non-regular worker in his/her 40s said, “I’m wondering if I can afford the rent when my income decreases. This is my biggest concern about the future. I want the government to provide rent support for single persons.” In the same survey, a female regular worker in her 50s said, “I’m struggling with a heavy rent burden. I want to move to a cheaper rental unit, but it is difficult for older women like me as providers are reluctant to take on elderly tenants. I hope the government will introduce a rent subsidy program and a system that enables single women to live in public rentals.”

It is often said that single-person households whose housing costs surpass 30% of their monthly income are forced to spend less on food, utilities, and other essential expenses.

When looking at other countries, for example, in the U.K. which is known for its high rents, the government spending for rent support accounts for 1.4% of the total expenses. In France, after the war, a system to ensure housing for people was established as part of policies to secure people’s livelihoods. Even in the U.S., the federal government has a rent subsidy program.

In contrast, in Japan, the budget allocated for rent support is less than 0.2%. In addition, there is less assistance given by the government to people living in rental housing without a rent subsidy program. Housing assistance for households on welfare makes up a large portion of government expenditure on housing.
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