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SECURITY

Land purchase survey to cover 98 outlying islands

  • April 5, 2021
  • , Sankei , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

At the current Diet session, the government aims to enact a bill to restrict land use as a countermeasure against the acquisition of land that is sensitive for national security reasons. In the bill, the government envisions that 98 islands nationwide, including the main island of Okinawa, will be areas that can be designated for a land-purchase survey, multiple government sources revealed on April 4. The government has indicated that it will establish a basic policy for designating areas for investigation after the bill is enacted, and the specific criteria for designating areas will be studied in the days ahead.

 

The bill envisions that border islands and land located within about 1 km from a defense facility or the like will be designated as “monitored areas,” and the investigation of landowners and actual land usage will be enhanced.

 

Of the approximately 570 outlying islands that meet the bill’s requirements, 484 have low-water lines, which serve as the baseline for the designation of Japan’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A total of 98 of those 484 islands, including the main island of Okinawa, have privately owned land that may be transacted, and 39 of these 98 islands are uninhabited.

 

In the case of border islands, it is assumed that the coastline and the land near it will be designated, but how much of the island will be designated is a matter for further study.

 

During the coordination of views among the ruling parties that took place before the Cabinet decision on the bill, the government made a revision to the basic policy for the designation of areas, adding, “including matters to be kept in mind from an economic and social viewpoint.” This was done as a concession to Komeito. This has made it possible that some urban areas will not be able to be designated.

 

Particularly sensitive border islands and areas near facilities will be designated as “specially monitored areas,” and advance notification will be required for new land transactions. During the coordination of views among the ruling parties, the discussion leaned toward excluding the main island of Okinawa and land near the Defense Ministry building (in Tokyo). The basic policy will be decided after hearing the opinions of the experts on the “Council on the Status of Land Use.” The government aims to pass the bill at the current Diet session and bring it into force in fiscal 2022.

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