Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

【#223(Special)】Japan Must Enact New Law to Defend Territory

Toshu Noguchi / 2013.11.28 (Thu)

November 25, 2013

       At a press conference in the National Diet on November 25, the opposition Japan Restoration Party said it will submit a bill during the current Diet session for controlling transactions in important lands for national security. From Hokkaido to Okinawa, foreigners especially Chinese and Koreans have been buying sensitive areas close to military bases or on border islands, with no control put on such transactions. These purchases could affect Japan’s defense and lead to serious problems in the future. Not a small number of lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party support the purpose of the bill. Given Japan's national interests, the enactment of the bill at the Diet next year under the possible co-sponsorship by the LDP and Japan Restoration Party may be desirable.

Bill to ban land transactions
       A key point of the bill is that the government may designate important lands for Japan's national security as “Type 1 key national lands” and require prior reports, examinations and approvals on purchases, sales and leasing of such lands. If the government identifies any specific transaction as affecting national security, it may recommend relevant parties to suspend the transaction. If these parties refuse to accept the recommendation, the government may issue a suspension order. Any violator may be sentenced to up to three years in prison or up to 3 million yen (up to 100 million yen for a corporation) in fine.
       As Type 1 key national lands, the bill specifies sites for Japanese and U.S. military facilities, civil nuclear facilities, vicinity of these facilities, and remote border islands. Other important lands for national security may be designated as Type 1 key national lands if a new division in the Cabinet Office surveys them and a panel of experts endorses the designation.

Target is not limited to foreigners
       Another point of the bill is that not only foreigners (including foreign corporations) may be subjected to examinations and approvals of transactions.
       In fact, Japan failed to reserve control on foreigners' land acquisitions under the General Agreement on Trade in Services as part of the World Trade Organization agreements. A former government official said the government had not foreseen foreigners' land acquisition upon the conclusion of GATS in the 1990s when Japanese had been buying overseas lands through high-profile transactions.
       Therefore, any land transaction control law targeting only foreigners in Japan could be viewed as running counter to WTO agreements. The bill will subject both foreigners and Japanese to approvals on their land transactions, having no problem with WTO rules.

How long will Japanese remain peace stupors?
       In late August, I visited Tsushima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture off Korean Peninsula. Three vast lands in the vicinity of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's defense unit facility have been purchased by South Korean firms for resort development. They include a vacant lot that was just transferred to a South Korean company in June. Korean companies could sell the lands to a firm from a country more hostile to Japan.
       It is unusual for national defense facilities to be surrounded by foreign capitals. These firms could wiretap or sabotage the defense facilities. How the lands could be used by foreigners in emergency is unpredictable. How long will Japanese remain peace stupors?

Toshu Noguchi is a guest researcher at JINF and a guest professor at Takushoku University.