Forestry sales to foreigners drop 50% in 2019

Foreign funds have purchased a total of 163 hectares of forestry across Japan in 2019, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This is less than half of the 373 hectares that were acquired by foreign interests in 2018. There were a total of 31 transactions.

Almost 95% of the acquired land, totaling 154 hectares, was located in Hokkaido. In terms of transactions, Niseko had the highest with 9 sales, while Kutchan, Rusutsu, and Rankoshi each had 4 sales. These are popular winter sports locations and likely sold to foreign developers and individuals building holiday homes.

Only two of the transactions nationwide were from mainland Chinese buyers, including a 4-hectare land purchase in Karuizawa by a corporation and a 0.07-hectare land purchase by an individual in Shinshiro, Aichi Prefecture.

Biggest foreign buyers in 2019:

  • Samoa: 93 hectares
  • Hong Kong: 35.05 hectares
  • Australia: 13.04 hectares
  • Thailand: 8.03 hectares
  • Singapore: 6.5 hectares
  • China: 4.07 hectares
  • British Virgin Islands: 4 hectares

There was an additional 288 hectares of land sold to domestic buyers with potential links to overseas corporations. 

Since 2006, a total of 264 sales totaling 2,305 hectares of forestry have been made to foreigners. 75% of that, or 1,738 hectares, is located in Hokkaido. Japan has 25.1 million hectares of forest. 

Data is only collected for transactions that apply under the Forest Act or for land parcels over a certain size. There are no laws or restrictions against the purchase and ownership of forestry in Japan by foreigners, although a revision to the Forest Act in 2012 requires advance notice of the sale. Several prefectures also require advance notice in areas considered to be water sources.

Sources:
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Press Release, May 8, 2020.
The Hokkaido Shimbun, May 8, 2020.

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