3 Arrested for Fukushima land scam

Fukushima Land Scam

Three men from Tokyo have been arrested after after being suspected of selling off otherwise worthless forestry to buyers at over 1,000 times the actual market value.

In 2013, a woman in her 70s from Aichi Prefecture paid the men 16 million Yen (157,000 USD) in cash for a little over 500 sqm of forestry after they told her that she could profit from a rise in land value as there were plans to redevelop the land into an airfield to aid in the reconstruction of the disaster-hit areas. There were no airfield plans and the actual value of the land sold was closer to 16,000 Yen (157 USD).

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Avoiding consumption tax increase too late for some

It may already be too late for some buyers looking to build their own home before the planned consumption tax increase next year. A last minute rush by buyers nationwide and a shortage in land and building materials means that some buyers will miss out on the current 5% tax rate.

A clause in construction contracts states that ‘if the contract was signed at least 6 months prior to an increase in consumption tax, the tax rate applied at the time of hand-over will be the rate in effect at the time the contract was signed‘. This means buyers must have their construction contracts signed before the end of September 2013 in order to lock-in the 5% consumption tax rate, otherwise they may be subject to the 8% rate which is scheduled to kick in on April 1, 2014.

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Google to take interior images of tsunami-hit buildings

Last month Google began to take interior photos of buildings in the Tohoku region that are scheduled to be demolished after suffering damage in last year’s disaster.

Google started in Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture on November 13. They will take 360-degree photos of 32 places across Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures and publish them on Google Maps from December.

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Residents move back into ‘completely destroyed’ building

After a year and four months of waiting, residents of “Neo Heights Kuwano” in Fukushima’s Koriyama City have been given the all-clear to move back into their apartments after the building was repaired following serious damage sustained during the Tohoku earthquake last year.

The first four floors of the building suffered damage to their exterior walls and the reinforcing inside the building’s columns had broken. This led the city to declare it as ‘completely destroyed’. As the majority of the apartment doors were jammed and could not be opened, the residents had to move out.

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Tsunami-hit homeowners to receive 80% of former land values

The coastal part of Shinchi Town before and after the March 11 tsunami

The town of Shinchi in Fukushima Prefecture will soon begin the process of buying up land in coastal areas from residents who have been displaced from the March 11 tsunami. This is the first town to announce official plans and set purchase values.

The land will be purchased at 80% of the government assessed land values (koji-chika) that were valued prior to the disaster.

There are five towns and cities along the tsunami-hit coastline, incuding Minamisoma, Soma, Iwaki, Hirano and Shinchi, that plan to relocate residents to higher ground. In Shinchi, 500 homes were fully or partially destroyed by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

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Radiation found in foundations of new home

On January 19, the Mayor of Nihonmatsu City announced that concrete used by the contractor for the recently discovered contaminated apartment building (article here) has also been used in a recently built home, and new recent reports indicate that the gravel from the quarry has been used in at least 50 homes and apartment buildings, and over 1000 different construction projects throughout the prefecture. A further 7 tons of gravel were shipped to Tokyo.

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