• Jiji

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The government said Friday that it will set up a panel of experts to discuss issues related to the acquisition and use by foreign groups or entities of land that is important to the country’s national security.

The panel will discuss creating an integrated way of managing information on the owners of land plots, including those near Self-Defense Forces bases, and how they are used.

Based on a report the panel will compile by the end of this year, the government will submit related legislation to next year’s regular session of the Diet to be convened in January.

The panel will comprise seven members, including Doshisha University professor Nobukatsu Kanehara, who served as assistant chief Cabinet secretary under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The group will hold its first meeting on Monday.

At present, central government bodies, such as the Justice Ministry, the land ministry and the Forestry Agency, and local governments separately track information on the acquisition and use of land by foreign groups. The experts will consider setting up a new panel of related ministers to manage such information in an integrated way, sources familiar with the matter said.

Land adjacent to SDF bases and nuclear power plants, as well as sources of water and islands near Japan’s maritime borders will be subject to the envisaged integrated information management system, according to the sources.

An office set up in the Cabinet Secretariat in July is combing through related surveys conducted by central government agencies in the past and records held by local governments.

In September 2013, the issue of a South Korean group buying land neighboring a Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture, was raised at the city’s assembly.

Similarly, the case in which a forest in the city of Tomakomai, Hokkaido, was acquired by a Chinese group was reported at a meeting of the assembly of the neighboring city of Chitose in June 2014 as the land is near the Air Self-Defense Force’s Chitose base.

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