• Jiji

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The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill to regulate the use of land lots deemed important to national security, such as Self-Defense Force bases and remote border islands.

The Lower House approved the bill at a plenary session by a majority vote with support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, as well as some opposition groups including Nippon Ishin no Kai.

With the June 16 end of the current Diet session approaching, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration and the ruling bloc will likely continue to walk a tightrope in deliberations on the bill, in order to have it enacted before the session closes.

The bill will be discussed at the Cabinet Committee of the House of Councilors.

The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is demanding that the Cabinet Committee secure enough time for deliberations on the bill.

However, the committee is also busy discussing a bill to amend the national public service law to raise the retirement age of central government workers to 65 from 60 in stages.

If the CDP and other parties submit a no-confidence motion against the Suga Cabinet, the schedule will become even tighter.

The security-linked land bill seeks to designate as “watch zones” remote border islands as well as areas within around 1 kilometer of SDF facilities, U.S. military bases, nuclear power plants and other important places.

Under the legislation, the government will be given authority to look into the name and nationality of owners of land lots and buildings within the watch zones and how they are being used.

The bill would allow the government to issue recommendation or order to halt radio interference or other problematic activities in the zones. Those who fail to comply will face imprisonment for up to two years or a fine of up to ¥2 million, or both.

Places deemed particularly important, such as uninhabited remote border islands and areas near any SDF base that functions as a command center, will be designated as “special watch zones,” where prior notifications will be necessary before buying or selling large land lots or facilities.

There will be over 400 watch zones and over 100 special watch zones around SDF-linked facilities.

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