Japan govt OK’s 58 sensitive sites subject to law regulating land use

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Maritime Self-Defense Force Coastal Defense Group Tsushima headquarters, right, in Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture, is seen in this 2013 photo.

A government panel approved in a meeting on Tuesday 58 locations in 10 municipalities in Tokyo and four other prefectures as sites subject to a law regulating the use of land that is important to national security.

It was the first time the government has presented candidate sites to the council set up to examine the use of such land.

The government plans to designate the 58 sites as areas subject to the Law on the Review and Regulation of the Use of Real Estate Surrounding Important Facilities and on Remote Territorial Islands, based on opinions from the local governments hosting them by the end of the year.

The law enables the government to designate as “watch zones” land within an about 1-kilometer radius around Self-Defense Forces and other important facilities as well as remote islands near national borders. With the classification, the government will be able to survey the status of the use of such land.

The government will also designate areas around particularly important facilities and other remote islands near national borders as “special watch zones” where prior notification is required for the sale and purchase of land in those areas.

The four prefectures are Hokkaido, Aomori, Shimane and Nagasaki.

As candidates for watch zones, the government at Tuesday’s meeting presented 29 locations, including the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Camp Izumo in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, and Tsushima Island in Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture.

The islands that will have watch zones are all inhabited.

Watch zone designation is slated for areas around Japan Coast Guard facilities and areas that are a base point for territorial waters and other boundaries.

A total of 29 locations were presented as candidates for special watch zones, including the Air Self-Defense Force’s Nemuro Sub Base in Nemuro, Hokkaido, the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Coastal Defense Group Tsushima in Tsushima and Oshima island in Goto, Nagasaki Prefecture.

The islands slated for designation as special watch zones are either uninhabited with privately owned land or have restricted access. The designation will cover the entire island.

A focus is on whether to designate Kuba Island — one of the five Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture and which is privately owned — as a special watch zone. However, it was not among the candidates sites this time.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the government presented criteria for the selection of remote uninhabited border islands for the designations, such as the “difficulty to see the island and know its status.”

The government is cautious about designating Kuba Island, with a senior Cabinet Office official saying, “[The island] is being monitored by relevant administrative bodies.”

Officials plan to eventually designate more than 600 locations as areas subject to the law’s regulations.