Japan’s home-sharing law gives HomeAway opening in Airbnb fight

The change will help HomeAway play to its strengths in the battle against Airbnb Inc., according to Natsuko Kimura, country manager for Expedia Inc.’s home-rental subsidiary.

The bill enacted earlier this month lets people in Japan rent out property without the risk of running into regulatory hurdles. The law limits total stays to 180 nights a year and requires that accommodation providers register with local governments. The regulations also increase oversight of absentee landlords, requiring owners to outsource property management to parties capable of guaranteeing safety and hygiene.

While Airbnb has taken the lead in Japan with 52,000 listings, HomeAway’s focus on luxury vacation properties gives the company an advantage as the market expands beyond individuals sharing spare rooms, according to Kimura. Entire homes for rent already account for about 90 percent of HomeAway’s less than 10,000 listings in the archipelago, she said.

Japan’s green light for home sharing has been accompanied by looser hotel regulations as the country struggles to accommodate an influx of overseas visitors. Relaxing rules such as the one requiring a separate bathroom for men and women could help bring new properties to the market where an aging population has resulted in about 8 million homes sitting empty.

Overseas companies aren’t the only ones sensing an opportunity: Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. and real-estates listing operator Lifull Co. last week announced plans to enter the home-sharing business. The two companies and HomeAway will hold a joint briefing next week to discuss new services and strategy.

Japan’s home-sharing market is poised for a shift away from couch-surfing toward professional services after the passage of a law regulating short-term rentals. (bloomberg.com)

Japanese production of disposable diapers declined for the first time in 15 years in 2016, mainly due to weaker purchases from visiting Chinese tourists. (Nikkei)

Struggling Japanese airbag maker Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in a Tokyo court, following massive recalls of its products around the world. (NHK)

The head of Japanese airbag maker Takata says he will step down to take responsibility for the company’s failure. (NHK)

Reward programs and discounts are an attraction for consumers, but they are not exactly a motivator to do better. In a twist on such services, some Japanese companies are introducing point systems that encourage users to be more diligent in various personal tasks and then compensate them for their efforts. (Nikkei)

A Japanese chemical firm shipped unauthorized Chinese-made acetaminophen, a painkiller used as an ingredient for cold medicines, to drug makers by mixing it with its own acetaminophen, health ministry officials said Thursday. (Jiji)

Chinese bicycle-sharing startup Mobike has set up a subsidiary in Fukuoka city in southern Japan and plans to begin service later this year, it said on Thursday. (Reuters)

Japanese virtual mall operator Rakuten said on Thursday it will open an online room-sharing marketplace now that the country is poised to lift a ban on room-sharing for travelers. (Nikkei)

Amazon Japan aims to build a team of 10,000 independent couriers in the Tokyo region by 2020 to continue offering same-day delivery service without relying on major parcel delivery companies.

Struggling Japanese electronics maker Toshiba says that it picked a government-led multinational consortium as the preferred bidder for the sale of its memory chip unit. (NHK)

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