Religion and Beliefs
Shared tenancy of flats and houses skyrocketed in popularity in the late 1990s in urban areas in Japan although previously, households made of unrelated people had been less common in Japan than among European countries, even among youth. As young adulthood becomes prolonged and due to ongoing economic recession, these new kinds of shared households must be seen as market-driven, obeying the stronger initiative of operating companies more and following the voluntary collectivity of residents less.
More collective and less commercialised forms of shared households, such as collective houses, social apartments and homeshares, have been introduced by non-profit organisations (NPOs). Homeshares mark a relatively new kind of project intended to promote intergenerational reciprocity and collectivity, which is defined as unrelated people sharing a living arrangement, where household responsibilities can be shared, or services can be exchanged for a reduced or free rent.
However, homeshare programmes that begun in Japan in the 2000s have started having trouble matching unrelated youth and elderly individuals. NPOs have had to cope with a severe scarcity of rooms available for unrelated people, because many elderly do not wish to let their sons’ or daughters’ vacant rooms for rent.
This paper explores family norms and roles in Japan hindering homeshare projects, using data from semi-structured interviews with representatives of nine homeshare NPOs in Japan. This situation could be understood as a haunted mansion wherein an apparently vacant room is not vacant because of the norm of endless parental responsibilities.