Fukuoka: Japan's fastest growing provincial city appeals to overseas property buyers
Tax breaks, relaxed visa restrictions and convenient international travel are making Fukuoka property highly sought-after by foreign investors.
As Japan's real estate markets continue to improve across the board and attract increasing foreign investment, one provincial city is outperforming the rest. Fukuoka, a historic port city on the south-western island of Kyushu – home of Kumamon and less than three hours by ferry from South Korea – is drawing investors from all over Japan and further afield.
One of Japan's Special Economic Zones, Fukuoka offers housing and office rents up to 50 percent cheaper than Tokyo. Its forward-thinking mayor Soichiro Takashima has introduced incentives such as a unique Startup Visa and reduced corporate income tax to encourage international businesses to set up in the city, which is as close to Shanghai as it is to Tokyo and just a short flight from Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.
Safe haven for overseas investment
Japan's property markets have become more appealing to overseas buyers over the past year, with the country being viewed as a safe alternative to traditional markets such as London, which was rocked by uncertainty following the Brexit vote. Research by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) found that overall investment in Japanese real estate rose by 10 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2017, with transaction volumes also set to grow through the year.
Head of Research at JLL Japan, Akagi Takeshi, explains: “In this time of uncertainty, Japan’s large market size and huge stock of quality buildings are all the more appealing for foreign investors.”
Fukuoka is particularly attractive to investors due to its local and international transport connections, Mr. Takeshi added. “It is an economic and transportation hub on Kyushu Island, and the upcoming Shinkansen route in Kyushu that connects to Nagasaki will further boost economic activity in the region with Fukuoka at the heart of it.”
As the fastest-growing major city in Japan outside the capital area, Fukuoka has been tempting workers and entrepreneurs away from the larger cities for decades through its lower prices and more relaxed lifestyle. It's especially popular with younger generations, fueling high demand for rental units in the inner city that continues to drive up property prices.
It may be most famous for its tonkotsu ramen, but there's more to this seaside city than just its cuisine. With a smaller population (1.5 million) and more manageable size compared to sprawling Tokyo and Osaka, it's just a short drive to the beach or the mountains wherever you are in Fukuoka, and the city centre has its own natural charms such as family favorite Ohori Park.
The popular neighborhood Tenjin is the largest commercial and entertainment district on Kyushu, and is currently undergoing extensive redevelopment to increase its total business floor area by 1.7 times before 2024, enhancing its appeal for residents and visitors and more than doubling the number of job opportunities.
A number of law firms, media companies and other businesses have their headquarters in neighboring Akasaka, a well-connected district that's ideal for professionals and families. Fukuoka's most popular destinations are within easy reach from Akasaka station, just one stop away from Tenjin and Ohori Park on the Fukuoka City Subway and minutes from Hakata and Fukuoka Airport.