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Fearing ghost towns, Japanese cities ban high-rise condos

Suburban areas risk spike in empty houses if residents gather in city centers

A high-rise condominium in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture: Living in city centers is a new trend among the Japanese.

KOBE, Japan -- Panoramic views and walking-distance commutes are just some of the advantages that have made high-rise condominiums in city centers popular among the Japanese. But Kobe sees them as potentially disruptive to city planning and will introduce a sweeping ban on such construction projects in July 2020.

Kobe is determined to prevent "tower mansions," as they are known in Japan, from absorbing the residents of the city's more suburban areas and leaving them abandoned as ghost towns.

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