Japan approves bill to oversee land deals near defence bases, border islands
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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's cabinet approved on Friday a bill that will tighten oversight of land deals and land use near military facilities and border islands, reflecting Tokyo's concern about overseas security risks.
The government plans to submit a bill to parliament that requires planned purchases to be reported to the authorities when the land is deemed highly sensitive to national security. Deals in urban areas may be exempt if they affect economic activity, and the regulations will apply regardless of a buyer's nationality.
"I'm determined to pass the bill during the current session of parliament by any means," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told parliament this month.
The United States already has regulations to review property purchases near U.S. military bases and Britain is looking at one this year.
Japanese policymakers are particularly concerned about Chinese acquisitions; citizens of that country have been buying forests in resort areas, mainly in the northern island of Hokkaido, and one purchase involved land near New Chitose Airport and military facilities in Hokkaido.
Reuters couldn't reach that buyer, as local authorities didn't reveal enough information to search Japan's land registry.
Registration of property is not a mandatory in Japan and such records are incomplete, making it hard to find landowners' information.
Experts say security needs to be considered alongside free market principles.
"It requires a balance between how much the government can watch the private sector's land deals while securing private rights," said Nobukatsu Kanehara, professor at Doshisha University.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Izumi Nakagawa. Editing by Gerry Doyle)
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