Bill eyed to block foreign control of water sources

Kyodo

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the main opposition force, the Liberal Democratic Party, began making adjustments Friday prior to the submission to the current Diet session of legislation aimed at preventing foreign ownership of the nation’s water resources, parliamentary sources said Friday.

The legislation to be sponsored by lawmakers of both parties aims to prevent the purchase and uncontrolled development of reservoir areas by foreign capital.

The move comes amid increased purchases by foreign funds of forest areas that serve as sources of fresh water.

The bill calls for establishing a headquarters in the Cabinet Secretariat to control water-related administration and require the government to take necessary legislative and fiscal measures.

The DPJ and the LDP plan to commence formal party procedures for submission of the bill soon, the sources said.

Adjustments by the parties have only revealed small differences, making the bill’s submission during the current Diet session highly likely. But its passage could be jeopardized if the ruling and opposition camps clash in the Diet over other issues.

The bill would stipulate that water is a precious, shared national resource, and the central and local governments have a responsibility to devise and implement water-related policies.

The fundamental law concerning the water cycle will call for proper regulation on the use of water resources, while stressing the need to maintain forests, rivers and farmland that serve as water sources.

Under the legislation, the government would be required to set a basic plan every five years to cover comprehensive water-related policies and give the Diet a progress report yearly.

The legislation does not directly refer to foreign capital, but one of the sources said, “It is clear that the bill has foreign capital in mind.”