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The land ministry is considering allowing private-sector entities, such as companies and nonprofit organizations, to use unclaimed land plots for public purposes for up to 20 years, longer than the maximum of 10 years at present, sources said Monday.

The ministry plans to include the planned extension in an envisaged bill to revise the special measures law on land plots whose owners are unknown, sources said. The amendment will be submitted to next year’s regular session of parliament.

The step is aimed at helping the private sector carry out projects using unclaimed land with greater stability and at promoting the more effective use of such land plots, according to the sources.

Japan launched a program to beef up regional welfare through the utilization of unclaimed land in June 2019, in response to an increase in such land plots due to the graying and shrinkage of the country’s population.

Under the program, prefectural governors grant the right to use unclaimed land plots with no buildings on them to such entities as municipalities, private companies, NPOs and neighborhood associations. They can be used as parks and parking lots, as well as for the construction of hospitals and cultural facilities, among other purposes.

The planned extension of the maximum period is intended to encourage private entities to establish facilities like renewable energy-based power generation facilities, the sources said.

Currently, projects to use unclaimed land plots under the local welfare promotion initiative need to be worked out on the assumption that they will be reverted to their original state after 10 years. Meanwhile, solar power facilities, for example, can be used for over 20 years.

The current cap makes it difficult for private organizations to get bank loans because of uncertainty over whether they can recover the investments and make sufficient profits in the period of up to 10 years.

The ministry plans to keep the maximum period of unclaimed land use at 10 years for the state and municipal governments, the sources said.

The use of unclaimed land can be extended even under the current system, but deposits need to be made for compensation payments in case the original owner of the land is found.

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