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Tea Leaves

In Japan, Airbnb is rubbish

Cultural quirks pose a threat to short-term rentals

Japan has imposed new requirements under which homeowners can rent out their properties for only 180 days a year and must register for a license.

Airbnb has grown since 2008 from a tiny Silicon Valley startup into the world's most popular short-term accommodation rental platform, with 5 million lodging listings in 81,000 cities and 191 countries -- and a valuation of more than $30 billion. In the process, it has generated controversy or even uproar in many countries.

In Asia, officials have traditionally taken a "blind eye" approach to informal economic activities. This owes much to innate familiarity with the principles of what the West now calls the "shared economy." I've seen the informal economy over many years in Asia, from the swapping of goods and services to backroom startups that fly under the regulatory radar.

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