How should Japan make use of vacant homes in old new towns?

Conversion to health care facilities shows correlation to population change

OMU researchers have found that transforming vacant homes into health care facilities can mean older adults don’t have to move from their neighborhood.

During Japan’s 1960-90 population boom, new towns sprouted up across the nation. These new towns were quiet residential neighborhoods of suburban areas, many of which are now shrinking in terms of inhabitants. They have become old new towns, aging neighborhoods amid Japan’s population decline, frequently dotted with vacant homes.

Dr. Haruka Kato, a junior associate professor at the Graduate School of Human Life and Ecology at Osaka Metropolitan University, examined the nonlinear relationship between population decline and the urban transformation of residences to other land-use plots in old new towns. His research group wanted to explore which land uses are effective for preventing rapid population decline in new towns in Japan.

As a result, the study of old new towns in the Osaka metropolitan area showed that population decline correlates with the urban transformation of houses into health care facilities in old new towns in Japan. This means that urban transformation from homes to health care facilities would make it possible for older adults to continue residing where they are without needing to move elsewhere.

“The validity of our findings is supported by the Healthy New Towns program in England, which aims to explore how developing new places could create healthier and connected communities with integrated and high-quality services,” said Dr. Kato. “Old new towns, which have changed from what they were, should be further transformed into similar healthy new towns for the increasing population of older adults.”

The findings were published in Cities.

Conflicts of Interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


About OMU 

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Published: 11 Jun 2024

Contact details:

Rina Matsuki

3-3-138 Sugimoto, Sumiyoshi-ku,
Osaka 558-8585 JAPAN

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Journal: Cities
Title: Urban transformation and population decline in old New Towns in the Osaka Metropolitan Area
DOI: 10.1016/j.cities.2024.104991
Author: Haruka Kato, Atsushi Takizawa
Publication date: 3 April 2024

Funding information:

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 21K14318.