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Travel & Leisure

Coronavirus and Olympic doubt threaten Japan's Airbnb business

Pain in $1bn minpaku industry portends economywide trouble

Japanese who rent out spare rooms or apartments are having trouble making ends meet and might not be able to stick it out until the Tokyo Olympics and an expected bonanza that is now in doubt. (Source photos by Nikkei)

TOKYO/FUKUOKA -- Akiko Yamamoto, a 32-year-old office worker from Kyushu, Japan's southernmost main island, has a side business: She rents out an apartment in Tenjin, Fukuoka, Kyushu's largest downtown area, to tourists.

The practice that Airbnb began popularizing about a decade ago has a longer history in Japan. There's even a Japanese word for it, minpaku.

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