Japan Times: Paranoia over NJ purchases of land in Niseko etc: GOJ expresses “security” concerns


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Hi Blog.  Now we have fears about NJ, particularly Chinese, buying up Japanese land — particularly if it involves forests or water tables!  As submitter JK put it, “This just drips with paranoia of NJ and reeks of hypocrisy.”  Or as Woody from Toy Story would put it, “Somebody’s poisoned the waterhole!”  Are we now going to get “Eco” arguments now for excluding NJ? Arudou Debito


Fears growing over land grabs
Foreigners buying here; Japan may be tardy overseas
The Japan Times Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010, Courtesy JK



When the news first broke in June that a Hong Kong-based investor had two years earlier purchased more than 50 hectares of forest in Kucchan, near the Niseko ski resort in Hokkaido, shock waves ran through local residents.

Then in September, the Hokkaido government confirmed that several other parcels covering more than 400 hectares were also in the hands of foreign investors.

Since then, fears have been growing that foreign interests are increasingly buying up aquifers in Hokkaido.

“Water is apparently one of their targets, along with lumber. But trees have the ability to absorb carbon dioxide and sustain biodiversity,” said Hideki Hirano of the Tokyo Foundation and the chief researcher behind two reports raising alarm bells about the increase in foreign ownership of Japan’s forests.

Such purchases have experts worried that Japan’s natural resources or even national security could be under threat. This nation has no law regulating land purchases by foreign interests and once an acquisition is made no one can infringe on the ownership, even if the land contains natural resources or is deemed crucial to national security.

With water and food security becoming a hot topic in recent years, aggressive land purchases by foreign interests are also taking place worldwide.

Many emerging economies, including China, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, have reportedly snapped up farmland in Africa with the aim of producing crops there. Perhaps belatedly, Japan has also started investing in overseas farmland.

In Hokkaido, 29 contracts have been purchased by foreign interests, including Chinese, Australian, New Zealand and Singaporean enterprises.

It is a worrying issue not only for Hokkaido but for the rest of mountainous Japan.

Hirano said there is speculation that dozens of plots, including in Mie and Nagano prefectures, as well as on Tsushima, Amami Oshima and the Goto islands, are being targeted by Chinese and other foreign investors.

The growing sense of alarm finally prodded local governments, as well as officials in Tokyo, to start talking about ways to limit such purchases.

Last month, Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi said a local ordinance is needed to force foreign interests to report an intended land purchase before the contract is signed.

At the national level, Prime Minister Naoto Kan indicated in October the possibility of restricting foreign ownership of land where it could jeopardize national security.

Rest of the article at

17 comments on “Japan Times: Paranoia over NJ purchases of land in Niseko etc: GOJ expresses “security” concerns

  • One of my favorite kind of articles is one like this where people suddenly get concerned about things like fresh air and greenery. How about the rampant insatiable appetite for destruction that the Jgov has to destroy natural environments by making all those nice rest stops, highways, bridges and roads that go nowhere at all?!?! At least if a foreign investor buys the land, they quite possibly could put a stop to having everything paved and concreted over.

  • It amazes me that people who don’t know how the world works can be elected into office. Can we just ponder that for a little while?

  • God forbid foreigners help drive up property prices! We can all thank the GOJ for working hard to ensure that Japanese real estate owners never enjoy any return on their investment.

  • I’m just smiling like a Chesire cat about this. Aren’t these the same kind of J-folks who, as reported in Dogs & Demons, were asking some Dutchman warily about selling land in Holland to foreigners because they “might build a castle on it?” Or the same kind of J-folks now serving time in France for destroying a chateau deemed a national cultural treasure? And the same kinda J-folks who bought movie studios in California, skyscrapers in New York etc. etc. etc.

    It wasn’t a “security issue” then, why is it one now? Maybe, as Crustpunker above suggests, it will take some offshore owners to begin to reverse the awesome destruction wrought on Japan by……the Japanese! I mean, it’s not like the original landowners took any pride in the place, until someone else wanted to buy it! Great story. It made my day.

    — Links to pages in Dogs and Demons and/or other sources, please.

  • Apologies, Debito, my copy’s in storage in Germany until July. Perhaps one of your readers, better versed than I am, might oblige. I can assure you it’s all there in black and white, and not a fabrication. Merry Christmas to you, yours and to all Debito.org readers. “Illegitimi Non Caburundur!”

  • I know some people who have bought land up there in Niseko and built on it.Provided business for a local surveyor, architect, judicial scrivener, contractors etc etc.

    There are a lot of Japanese doing very, very well out of foreigners investing in places like Niseko. Not to mention the local government levies a tax each time property changes hands! The local towns around Niseko are doing very well out of foreign investors.

  • It makes it tougher to treat NJ as outsiders when they own a piece of the volcano. NJ ownership of real property makes it more difficult to paint NJ as outsiders who cannot be assimilated.

  • Actually, the same thing happened in Australia. In the 80’s, Japanese where buying a lot of real estate which led to the same kind of calls for fear of the Japanese “owning Australia” and subsequently saw the Australian Government setting up the FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board). At that time, Japan had the highest value of investment while USA investors were top in terms of land area acquired. It is ironic how the shoe is on the other foot for the Japanese now.

  • It would be great if someone can find some quotes from Japanese people in the 80s talking about this issue. They quotes should have them saying things like, “People have the right to buy land, it doesn’t matter what nationality they buyers are.” “Buying land is not bad, it’s a good thing, it brings produces tax revenues and provides jobs and stimulates the economy!” “To deny foreigners the right to buy land is racism!” Then send those videos and audio clips and written quotes to the GOJ now. 🙂

  • @Ken,
    What happened in Australia in the eighties also happened in the US in the eighties. Newspapers *regularly* ran articles about how Japan was going to “own America” if we didn’t watch out.

    Of course, the commies were going to take over the world and abolish private ownership anyway (not to mention making us all switch to occupations we hated, telling us where to live, and preventing us from visiting our families on weekends), plus all the land was going to be irradiated due to the ozone hole and underwater due to global warming, even if by some miracle we *didn’t* get wiped out by nuclear war…

  • 80s J-Quotes? Well, there is this one:

    “We are not Saracens, we do not come as invaders to sow desolation…we offer our knowhow, better quality of life, greater reliability, and the beauty of sound and image.”

    -was a full page ad in the French newspaper Le Monde after growing criticism that Japanese mass-exports of VCRs to France were seriously hurting the economy and draining foreign exchange reserves. But the Japanese have extreme difficulty in seeing things objectively when Japan is involved.


    — Not sure how this link acts as substantiation.

  • There’s complaints this week in Yonezawa, Yamagata Ken over a Singaporean buying a local mountain…

    — Link please.

  • 外国人山林買収:未確認の答弁、米沢市が陳謝 /山形
    毎日新聞 2011年1月15日 地方版



    Much more can be found through a Google search with “シンガポール” and “米沢市”

    — Then please give us the source along with your assertion next time you bring a topic up, please. Thanks.

  • Sorry, I couldn’t access Japanese sites when I posted (I only have occasional access to a computer with Kanji support). Anyway, I saw the story on local news – for future reference is that an acceptable source?

    — Understood. But unless we can verify it with a link, it amounts to a rumor. And I would prefer that those who bring up points substantiate them. Please wait to break the news when you can give us an independently-verifiable link. Thanks.

  • Well, take a look here:

    Friday, Jan. 21, 2011

    Debate starts on restricting foreign purchases of land

    Staff writer

    Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan started discussions Thursday on restricting foreign purchases of domestic land out of concerns for national security and natural resources.

    This is the first move by the DPJ after the recent purchase of plots including water-retaining forests and real estate close to national defense facilities raised concerns amid a lack of legislation to restrict such acquisitions.

    “We must talk about ways to protect the environment and security and find a certain direction,” Yasuo Ichikawa, an Upper House member and the head of the DPJ’s project team on the issue, said at the start of the meeting.

    The team will meet twice weekly and aim to conclude hearings from experts by the end of March. It may hand in a revision of the law to monitor and protect forests during the ordinary Diet session starting Monday, said Upper House member Kuniko Koda, secretariat of the project team.

    But discussions could take time because any regulation would need to avoid discouraging active foreign investment in domestic real estate, experts said.

    The move followed Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s remarks in October at the Diet, indicating the possibility of restricting foreign ownership of land that could jeopardize national security.

    (Rest of article can be found here: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110121a2.html)


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