My grandmother has recently started telling everyone she owns a house in Japan (gaijin cannot own land?). In the 1950s, my grandfather was stationed in Japan. He went over by himself, acquired a house, and sent for his wife and six kids to come. The most common story my grandmother tells is this trip over there. It has several humorous elements to portray the personalities of all the kids. They stayed there for almost 3 years (typical of a deployment) and came back to the continental US. Since, the military base where they live was closed. Someone found the deed to the house and showed or gave it to her. This is what sparked the owning a house story.
abandonment: in law, voluntary, intentional, and absolute relinquishment of rights or property without conveying them to any other person. abandonment
Typically one maintains one’s rights to property by occupying or having others occupy even once in a while. Paying taxes helps as well. By just abandoning the house about 50 years ago, I am pretty sure whatever rights the deed conveys are lost.
My favorite of the stories about Japan is one about an earthquake opening a crack in the ground. The military found a number of previously unknown tunnels underneath the base. Presumably these were dug during World War II with the intent of covert troop movement during a US invasion. Its probably fortunate the US was not forced to invade Japan proper.