June 11, 2017
OSAKA- The city of Osaka has been struggling to respond to numerous complaints about problems linked to the emerging "minpaku" business, which makes vacant rooms in private homes available as accommodation for tourists, particularly for those from abroad.
The western Japan city is one of a few state-designated special deregulation zones where minpaku services are allowed.
A ban on minpaku services will be lifted across the country when legislation to set business rules enacted on Friday is enforced, possibly in January 2018.
The private lodging services became available in Osaka in October last year. Since then, demand for the services has grown steadily.
The municipal government started receiving complains about minpaku-related problems, such as illegal service operations and deterioration in living conditions due to increasing noises and garbage, immediately after the ban was lifted.
As of the end of March, Osaka citizens had sought the city's help to solve related problems in some 900 cases.
Of the total, 672 cases were about suspected illegal minpaku operations. City officials said they had tried to get in touch with dubious operators but ended up failing to reach them in many cases. Their different efforts to track down such service providers through property owners have been blocked by private information protection rules.
"Having no means of investigation, we're up against the wall on all sides," an official said.
The official also pointed out that it is impossible to check all illegal cases because there are too many of them.
Meanwhile, 70 cases were for noises generated by guests and 46 cases for littering by them, with some cases having developed into trouble between community residents and service users.
In 2016, the number of foreign visitors to Osaka Prefecture jumped some 31 pct from the previous year to a record 9.41 million.
Forecasting a further tourist increase, another Osaka City official said, "Somehow we have to reduce illegal minpaku services so as to eliminate concerns held by our citizens." (Jiji Press)
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