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Airbnb Freezes Swathe of Japan Listings Ahead of Stricter Laws

The Tokyo Tower, center, and commercial and residential buildings stand at dusk in Minato district of Tokyo, Japan.
The Tokyo Tower, center, and commercial and residential buildings stand at dusk in Minato district of Tokyo, Japan.Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Airbnb Inc. has frozen a major portion of its home listings and guest reservations in Japan at the behest of local regulators, but promised to compensate travelers who find themselves stranded at the height of the summer tourist season.

The startup had warned hosts it would delist those that hadn’t registered with local agencies for licenses, as required by stringent new rules governing home-sharing that take effect June 15. But Japan’s tourism agency on June 1 notified home-sharing services they must cancel reservations made with unregistered listings -- a full two weeks before the deadline. That surprised Airbnb, which plans to begin notifying thousands of visitors about the cancellations, said Mike Orgill, the company’s head of public policy for the Asia Pacific.