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The land ministry will begin a model project for so-called land banks this fiscal year, aiming to appropriately manage land plots that are left unused and find new ways to utilize them through regional cooperation.

Local governments and nonprofit organizations will act as coordinators for this project to seek ways to utilize idle land plots in line with regional needs while the ministry is planning to shoulder some related costs.

With an increasing number of inherited land plots becoming wasteland across the country, the ministry hopes to facilitate the utilization of such land through the project, officials said.

The land bank system has been adopted by some municipalities, including Tsuruoka in Yamagata Prefecture. It will be the first time for the central government to introduce such a system.

Specifically, municipalities and NPOs will create land banks with local financial institutions, real estate appraisers and judicial scriveners under the land ministry project.

Land banks will provide advice to the owners of idle land plots, collect information about empty land in the region and consider best ways to manage and utilize them.

The ministry will provide up to ¥3 million per case to finance the compilation of land utilization plans and related expenses.

Land banks will mainly handle unpopular land plots that do not attract much demand in real estate transactions.

The ministry believes that such land plots could be used for parking lots, private vegetable gardens or be sold to neighbors, hoping to create new value sought by local residents.

Abandoned land plots and real estate whose owners are unknown are becoming serious issues in Japan amid a declining population and due to the complexity of the inheritance system.

The government revised the basic law for land earlier this year in line with a road map, showing a policy of working to stimulate demand for idle land plots and promoting a matching service for transactions in such real estate.

In autumn, the government will also aim to amend civil legislation provisions related to inheritance registration.

In its basic economic and fiscal policy guidelines to be compiled in late June at the earliest, the government will include a new policy goal for land utilization in 2021 and later.

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