Foreign land grabs near SDF sites face curbs

Kyodo

Ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers have begun to examine possible legislation to regulate land acquisitions by foreign parties near Self-Defense Forces facilities.

The party’s committee on security and land legislation will first study the purchase of land by a South Korean company near a Maritime Self-Defense Force base on Tsushima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said land acquisitions by foreign entities and individuals near defense facilities are “an important issue that concerns (national) security.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee, Abe said he plans to examine whether such purchases need to be regulated, among other related issues.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, citing the South Korean acquisition in Tsushima and the purchase by a foreigner of a condominium adjacent to the ministry, said such purchasers should be identified and watched closely.

“It is important to regularly obtain land registration data from legal affairs bureaus and exercise caution and conduct adequate surveillance,” he said.

On Friday, a Defense Ministry official briefed the LDP committee about the Tsushima deal.

“It will be a serious matter unless the state takes steps,” one committee member said.

Another noted, “It is an issue that should be considered together with measures to invigorate remote island economies.”

The committee will deliberate various related issues, including World Trade Organization rules against restricting land purchases by foreign parties.

It is chaired by House of Councilors lawmaker Masahisa Sato, a former Ground Self-Defense Force commander who was deployed to Iraq.