The Diet on Wednesday enacted a special law to promote the use of unclaimed land in the public interest, as more and more properties are expected to become available amid a decreasing population.

The act, to be fully put into effect by June next year, will enable the heads of local governments to give permission to applicants to use unattended land for up to 10 years for public purposes such as community halls, parks and health clinics. If the landowner shows up and reclaims the land, the property will be returned after the term of the land-use contract ends. If no one reclaims the land, the land-use period can be extended.

Given the rapidly aging population, unclaimed land lots are projected to increase, raising concerns that leaving them in their current state could hamper redevelopment plans and public works projects, as well as hinder efforts to rebuild disaster-hit areas.