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Airbnb culls Japan listings ahead of new rental law

Tokyo

RENTAL platform Airbnb has suspended a large majority of its listings in Japan ahead of a new law that goes into effect next week regulating short-term rentals in the country.

The law, which will be implemented from June 15, requires owners to obtain a government registration number and meet various regulations that some owners have decried as overly strict.

"This weekend we reached out to those hosts who have not obtained their notification number to let them know that they will need this to accept any new bookings," said Airbnb spokesman for Asia-Pacific Jake Wilczynski. "We have informed those hosts that we are in the process of turning off future listing capabilities."

He declined to confirm the exact number of listings affected, but local media reports and sources put the figure at about 80 per cent of the rentals available on the site across Japan.

Mr Wilczynski said many Airbnb hosts had already obtained their registration, and others were "going through or finalising" the process.

"We are on course to register tens of thousands of new listings in Japan in the months ahead," he added.

Airbnb and other peer-to-peer rental sites have publicly welcomed the new law, saying it removes uncertainty in a sector that has long existed in a grey zone. But some hosts say it imposes onerous rental requirements, which they see as intended to favour the hotel industry.

The law limits stays to 180 days a year, and allows local governments to impose additional restrictions, with the tourist magnet of Kyoto permitting rentals in residential areas only between January and March, the low season for tourists.

The changes come as Japan works to boost already-record numbers of tourists and anticipates an influx of visitors when it hosts two big sporting events soon - the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and the 2020 Olympic Games. AFP

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