The earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent nuclear reactor leaks of March 11, 2011, led to the temporary departure of many Tokyo area residents, foreign and Japanese, for other parts of Japan, or overseas destinations. Japanese companies with facilities all over the country were able to relocate employees to Kansai, for example, or farther south. Some smaller foreign companies moved to hotels and temporary offices in the same places, but others took a hard look at the risks and rewards of maintaining their Japan operations.
Listening to the expatterati at the time, you’d think there was not a foreigner left in Tokyo, but like their Japanese counterparts and colleagues, the foreign community drifted back once it appeared the situation at Fukushima Daiichi was (relatively) under control. Some people left for good, of course, but for the most part those were people on contracts scheduled to end later that year, who accelerated their departure dates.
“Ultimately around 90 percent of people came back,” estimates Steve Burson, President of the H&R Group and Vice-President, ACCJ Chubu. “The neighborhoods that have always been popular with the expat population remain popular,” he says. “Outside of those areas, however, there are lots of opportunities for good deals.”
In addition, Burson says, Yokohama is a booming housing market, thanks to a strong oil and gas industry. He notes that serviced apartments are especially hard to find now in Yokohama, because the supply was was small to start with, in comparison with Tokyo.