Yomiuri scaremongering: Foreign buyers snap up J land / Survey shows foreigners use Japanese names to hide acquisitions
Posted by debito on May 19th, 2012
Hi Blog. Whenever I make a point about the anti-assimilative nature of many of the GOJ’s policies towards NJ, one of the common counterarguments I hear is the foreigners can freely buy land in Japan (unlike in other societies), so it’s not that bad.
Well, it looks as though the recent push to keep an eye on foreign land acquisition in Japan “due to issues of national security” is still afoot. As Submitter MMD notes:
May 1, 2012
Dear Debito: Just found the article linked below on Yomiuri’s website which gives some food for thought.
The article comments on Yomiuri’s own survey in which prefectural governments were asked “about the number of land acquisitions by foreigners and the size of the land acquired” The article also includes the usual ingredients for fear mongering, starting with:
“In one example in which a Japanese name was used to disguise a land transaction, a Chinese in his 40s living in Sapporo bought 14 hectares of mountain forest and other lands near the Niseko area in Hokkaido last autumn. For this transaction, he used the name of a Japanese real estate company.”
and concluding with:
“It’s necessary to establish an ordinance on land transactions at a local level so that local governments are fully aware of the owners of land and water sources,” said Makoto Ebina, a professor at Otaru University of Commerce who participated in a discussion on the ordinance in Hokkaido.”However, as many land transactions are unclear because names are borrowed, it’s important to carefully check out each transaction,” Ebina said.
The title of the article which reads “ Foreign buyers snap up land / Survey shows many people use Japanese names to hide acquisitions” already says it all actually.
The only thing missing was a link to Ishihara’s bid for donations to buy the Senkaku islands which can be found here http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/INET/OSHIRASE/2012/04/20m4r200.htm and here http://www.chijihon.metro.tokyo.jp/senkaku.htm
Thanks MMD. One other thing I will point out is that although this has been made a fuss of before (back in 2010, particularly regarding water supply — after all, like domestic ethnic minorities were erroneously accused of doing during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, foreign buyers might poison it!), it’s ironic that now people are getting scared about foreigners buying up, say, Niseko — for that’s been going on for quite awhile, up to now a lot of Australians etc. (who for reasons unfathomable to me love snow ) making the purchases. While there were some expected grumbles from the locals, it wasn’t seen as “an issue of national security” until now.
Aha, but there you go. There are foreigners and then there are FOREIGNERS! In this case, it’s apparently those sneaky Chinese we have to fear. Gotcha. Makes perfect sense if you’re a Japanese policymaker, a xenophobe who claims that Chinese are trying to carve up Japan, or an editor at the Yomiuri, I guess. Good company to be within. And as MMD pointed out, never mind Japan’s government-level bid to buy up land the Chinese contend is theirs… Arudou Debito
Foreign buyers snap up land / Survey shows many people use Japanese names to hide acquisitions
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 28, 2012), Courtesy of MMD
At least 1,100 hectares of mountain forest and other land have been acquired by foreigners, with Hokkaido providing the lion’s share, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.
The survey discovered 63 land transactions involving foreign purchasers, but Japanese names were apparently used to disguise many of the deals, a subterfuge not recognized by local governments.
This indicates the number of deals in which Japanese land and forests are falling into foreign hands may be much larger than those found in the survey.
The survey, conducted from the end of March through earlier this month and covering all 47 prefectures, asked prefectural governments about the number of land acquisitions by foreigners and the size of the land acquired.
Under the National Land Use Planning Law, those who acquire more than one hectare of land are required to notify the prefecture concerned.
According to the survey, foreigners bought 57 pieces of land totaling 1,039 hectares in Hokkaido, accounting for 94 percent of land acquired by foreign capital nationwide.
Of the purchased land, about 70 percent was obtained by corporate bodies or individuals in Hong Kong, Australia and other places in Asia and Oceania. Corporate bodies in British Virgin Islands, known as a tax haven, were involved in 11 land transactions.
Regarding such deals, some people believe water resources are being targeted by foreign buyers. In response, Hokkaido and Saitama Prefecture introduced ordinances in March to require prior notification whenever someone tries to purchase a designated reservoir area. Fukui, Gunma, Nagano and Yamagata prefectures are considering similar ordinances.
In one example in which a Japanese name was used to disguise a land transaction, a Chinese in his 40s living in Sapporo bought 14 hectares of mountain forest and other lands near the Niseko area in Hokkaido last autumn. For this transaction, he used the name of a Japanese real estate company.
During an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, the man said he was afraid of provoking a backlash from the Japanese if he bought the land under his name. He also said he hoped to resell the land for a profit as he thought Japanese land prices had bottomed out.
A real estate agency in the Kanto region that was involved in the sale of a mountain forest to a foreign customer said: “Even though foreigners don’t aim to obtain water resources, their acquisitions could cause consternation. They feel safe if their deals are registered under a Japanese name.”
Regarding mountain forests acquired by foreign buyers, the central government said in May last year that 40 such transactions have been carried out in the five years up to 2010, with land acquired totaling 620 hectares.
“It’s necessary to establish an ordinance on land transactions at a local level so that local governments are fully aware of the owners of land and water sources,” said Makoto Ebina, a professor at Otaru University of Commerce who participated in a discussion on the ordinance in Hokkaido.
“However, as many land transactions are unclear because names are borrowed, it’s important to carefully check out each transaction,” Ebina said. (Apr. 28, 2012)