Recent survey on foreign ownership of forestry in Japan

A survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun has found that foreigners hold as much as 1103 hectares (11.03 million sqm) of forestry in Japan. This number, however, is thought to represent just the tip of the iceberg as there are many cases of foreigners buying land and registering it in the name of a Japanese citizen or local company.

The survey was conducted between the end of March and the middle of April. The local governments across Japan’s 47 administrative regions were asked to provide information on the number of transactions, purchase price and total area. Under the National Land Utilization Law, any transactions of land over 1 hectare must be reported to the local government. The aim of this survey was to find out all other non-reported transactions.

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West Japan also worried about foreign capital buying up forestry

In February, two men wearing sweaters visited the Uda Forestry Cooperation Uda City, Nara Prefecture. The men said they were managers of an Osaka-based business and spoke with the Co-op chairman for about 30 minutes. The chairman did not take long to determine that they were only after land with a water source and told them in no uncertain terms that he had no sellers for them. The two men promptly left.

Uda City has 18,330 hectares of forest. It is the source of the drainage system for Osaka’s Yodogawa River and the majority of the forest has restrictions over timber felling. The chairman said that although there are members of the co-op who want to let go of their land, he worries that troubles may arise if forestry falls into the hands of foreign capital.

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Foreign buyers pipped at the post on land purchases in Hokkaido

Hokkaido Prefecture will be introducing support measures that will provide funding to local cities, towns and villages so that they may purchase tracts of land that foreign investors are planning to buy.

The measures are being introduced in response to growing concern over acquisition of forestry and water sources by foreign investors with unclear motives.

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Singapore investor makes headlines after buying forestry in Gunma

Cabbage fields in Tsumagoi Village.

An investor from Singapore has been the subject of an article in the Yomiuri newspaper after purchasing 44 hectares of forestry in Gunma Prefecture. The land, which is near the source of the Agatsuma River in Tsumagoi Village, was purchased by the investor in September 2011.

An employee from the Tokyo-based real estate agency that brokered the sale said the purchase formed part of the buyer’s overall investment plan, but there was no indication that the buyer was after a water source.

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