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Demolition Bonds Spell End for Japan’s Ghost Buildings

After educating Japanese children since 1956, Kiyokawa Elementary School lies abandoned, its walls and roof crumbling because there are no longer enough pupils to fill it and the town can’t afford to demolish the building.

The school, in Shonai, Yamagata prefecture, 500 kilometers north of Tokyo, is one of thousands of derelict buildings in Japan known as “haikyo,” legacies of the boom years in the 1960s and 70s. As the populations of towns grow older or move to cities, indebted local governments have left the structures to rot, prompting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to come up with a novel solution: demolition bonds.