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Japan's 'sharing economy' estimated at 500 bil. yen

This photo taken in 2016 shows men riding through downtown Tokyo using a bicycle sharing service. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's "sharing economy" had an estimated market size of over 500 billion yen ($4.5 billion) in 2016, government data showed Wednesday, reflecting the rise of peer-to-peer services such as Airbnb and Mercari.

Such services, which are currently not included when calculating gross domestic product, would boost Japan's 548.7 trillion yen economy by tens of billions of yen, according to a report by the Cabinet Office.

The report breaks the sharing economy down into four categories -- space, goods, skills and time, and money. Space, including services that facilitate short-term accommodation like Airbnb and sharing of unused parking spaces, had a market size of around 140 billion to 180 billion yen.

Goods, covering online marketplaces such as Mercari Inc.'s flea market app, was worth approximately 300 billion yen, while skills and time, including crowdsourcing of tasks, stood at 15 billion to 25 billion yen.

Money, referring to crowdfunding through platforms such as Kickstarter, was estimated at 70 billion to 80 billion yen.

That places Japan's sharing economy at 525 billion yen conservatively and 585 billion yen on the high end. The government plans to begin reflecting such economic activity in GDP data in the near future.

But because GDP only accounts for the production of goods and services and not, for example, the sale of secondhand clothing or books, their effect on GDP is expected to be smaller than the market size would suggest.

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