Govt sets up new organization for ‘watch zones’

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno

The government has set up a new organization following the partial enforcement Wednesday of a law regulating the use of land that is important to national security, to prepare for such matters as compiling a basic policy for the law.

The law is aimed at stopping the use of foreign capital to acquire land for unclear purposes, and will come fully into force in September. After that, more than 600 defense-related facilities are expected to be designated as areas to be regulated.

“We will steadily proceed with preparations, including the enactment of a cabinet order and the preparation of a basic policy [for the law],” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The new organization comprises about 30 members, and is headed by a director general in the Cabinet Office.

The law will designate land in a one-kilometer radius around Self-Defense Forces facilities as “watch zones,” allowing the government to monitor the use of the land and buildings on the land. It will also designate areas around particularly important facilities, such as SDF command centers, as “special watch zones,” where prior notification will be required for the sale of land that exceeds a certain size.

If acts that interfere with the function of important facilities are confirmed, the government can issue a recommendation or an order to cease and desist. Examples of such obstructive acts are expected to be detailed in the basic policy.

Watch zones and special watch zones will be designated based on the policy, and take into account the opinions of a council on the use of land that was newly established on Wednesday.