Japan to probe foreign ownership of agricultural land: minister

TOKYO, March 24 — Japan’s Agriculture Minister Ken Saito has said the government will investigate for the first time if there is any farmland available for sale to overseas buyers.

“We will have a good look at foreign ownership in farmland,” Saito told Japan’s upper house agriculture committee on March 23.

The nation’s Farmland Act does not permit any businesses or foreigners to buy agricultural land. So, the government has never investigated farmland sales to overseas buyers before.

Saito pointed out that Japan has heavily restricted farmland ownership, for example, the majority of shareholders have to be farmers.

“In theory, as long as farmland purchases comply with the legislation, foreign ownership of agricultural land does not exist against farmers’ intentions,” he said.

Despite the reassurances from the agriculture minister, however, and even though foreign buying is heavily restricted in Japan, there are some cases that foreigners have purchased farmland through Japanese incorporated entities.

The government will review each farmland transaction of agricultural land that has been settled since 2017, Saito said.

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