Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Takashi Arimoto

【#771】Komeito Should Cooperate in Securing Sensitive Lands

Takashi Arimoto / 2021.03.11 (Thu)

March 8, 2021


The Liberal Democratic Party’s junior coalition partner, the Komeito, is growing cautious of supporting a land utilization restriction bill under consideration by the government to control foreigners’ purchases of lands important for national security. If lands on remote border islands and those close to defense facilities or nuclear power plants are continuously purchased by foreign capital, grave problems with national security will arise. The Komeito party should proactively cooperate in enacting the bill to help enhance land security and defense.

An article anticipating the present situation

Chinese fund is apparently involved in about 80 acquisition deals for lands important for national security in Japan. The deals have been identified through a survey by government agencies and reported to the Prime Minister’s Office last October, according to the Sankei Shimbun newspaper. The government is preparing for legislative actions.

The government-drafted bill designates land lots within 1 kilometer from Self-Defense Forces facilities, nuclear power plants, or other key facilities as those for monitoring and provides for imprisonment and other penalties for disobedience of official orders.

The government briefed the LDP and the Komeito on the bill from last autumn, making apparently smooth progress in promoting the bill. But a change came at the Komeito in February. Anticipating the change was an article written for the January issue of Monthly Magazine SEIRON by Hideki Hirano, a specially appointed professor at Himeji University, who has long covered the issue of remote border islands.

“As regulation moves are to begin, gossip news stories on relevant lawmakers emerge in a timely manner… and regulation initiatives are watered down… We cannot deny the possibility that ‘Invisible power’ might begin to dominate upper ranks of Japanese society as such power become increasingly stronger,” he wrote.

In fact, Kiyohiko Toyama, a former deputy secretary general of the Komeito who chaired the party’s panel on the bill, was forced to resign as lawmaker on February 1 after he was found to have paid a late-night visit to a gorgeous nightclub in Tokyo’s Ginza district, even as people are asked to avoid outings under the state of emergency declaration due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. After the resignation of Toyama who had held down cautions against the bill, cautious opinions on the bill increased within the party. While his action cannot be accepted, what Hirano terms “invisible power” has increased its strength.

In a manner to respond to such development, liberal media began to criticize the bill as reminding people of the wartime fortress zone law that had restricted access to surroundings of military ports and air stations or as toughening control in a police-state manner. In a similar development, when the then Shinzo Abe administration promoted peace and security legislation to allow Japan to exercise rights to collective self-defense in a limited manner, some of opposition parties and media organizations opposed the legislation, branding it as a war bill.

A Komeito cabinet member managing the Japan Coast Guard

The Komeito should have a strong sense of crisis regarding the issue of remote border islands. A total of five Komeito Diet members have served as minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism having jurisdiction over the Japan Coast Guard that undertakes security patrol in waters around the Senkaku Islands. The present minister is Kazuyoshi Akaba from the Komeito. In 2020, the number of days when China Coast Guard ships approached or intruded into Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands reached a new high of 333. The Japan Coast Guard is responsible for security patrol and surveillance in the waters and reporting such events to Akaba.

The Komeito cooperated in promoting a United Nations peacekeeping operation law, the peace and security legislation, and other key national security initiatives while persuading those within the party who took negative attitudes. As the movement to secure sensitive lands is growing, though long overdue, the Komeito should not water down it.

Takashi Arimoto is a publisher of Monthly Magazine SEIRON at the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.