Gender and Land Rights Database

Japan

Land Legislation

Agricultural Land Law, 1952, amended in 1962, 1970, 1975 and 1980:
- Art. 1:  “Ownership of farmland by the farmer himself is the most appropriate form of ownership.”

- No entity other than the government shall own the following tenant land: i. tenant land located outside the municipality of the person’s address; ii. tenant land within the municipality with average area in excess of one ha, four in Hokkaido. In cases where this happens, the owner must sell the tenant land and the government may forcibly purchase the land and sell it to the tenant of other qualified party.

- Any transfer of rights in agricultural land requires the approval of an administrative agency such as the prefectural governor or Agricultural Committee.

- Approval will not be granted i. when person other than the tenant is to acquire the ownership rights; ii. when the person seeking to acquire the rights does not intend to farm the land personally; iii. when the managed area is less than 0.5 ha, 2 ha in Hokkaido, after acquisition of the land; iv. when the land leased was purchased as a result of the agricultural land reform; v. when the leased land is subleased and vi. when a decrease in productivity is evident.

- Articles. 21-22: Contracts, which prescribe payments of rent in any form other than a fixed amount of money, are null or void. Payment or receipt of farm rent in any form other than money is prohibited.
The 1980 amendment introduced exceptions to the fixed amount of a money payment. Upon receiving approval of the agricultural commission, payment of farm rent may be received in goods, such as home consumption rice, to an extent creating no obstacles to the stability of the farmer’s management.

- Article 23: The parties can claim an increase or a decrease of farm rent, in cases where the farm rent becomes unreasonable due to a rise in prices of farm, products or production costs, or by comparison with rents of similar nearby farmland. If an agreement in not reached, the party receiving the claim may pay the amount he/she retains fair until it is confirmed by a court. After the court makes its judgment, the account is to be cleared with interest added.

- Article 24: If farm rent exceeds 25 percent of the price of harvested rice or 15 percent of the price of the main crops, the tenant farmer my claim reduction in the farm rent to a sum corresponding to the indicated ratios.

- Conversion of agricultural land to other uses requires the approval of the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries or prefectural governor. Conversion that does not constitute an emergency will not be approved (13).

- The 1970 revision included the relaxation of restrictions on the ownership of tenanted farmland and on leasing regulations, the abolition of farmland rent controls, and the establishment of a system under which public corporations - known as agricultural land-holding rationalization corporations - can lease farmland to farmers looking to expand.

- The 1975 revision established an agricultural land use promotion programme providing guarantees to lenders and borrowers of farmland. Leasing rights, that expire automatically at the end of a period, agreed without applying the statutory renewal under the Agricultural Land Law, pass collectively to a pool of many farmers (20).

Basic Act on Land, 1989:
- Article 1: The purpose of the Act is “by way of providing for the basic principles on land, clarifying the responsibilities of the State, local public entities, business operators and citizens with regard to the basic principles on land, and providing for the basic matters on measures concerning land, to comprehensively promote land measures for forming normal supply-and-demand relationships and reasonable land prices while securing proper land use, thereby contributing to improved stability in citizens’ lives and the sound development of the national economy”.

- Article 3: Land shall be properly used according to the natural, social, economic and cultural conditions of its area, in accordance with the plan on land use.

- Article 4: Speculative transactions on land are prohibited.

- Article 5: When the value of land increases due to changes in its area’s social and economic conditions, the person entitled to the land shall be required to bear reasonable burden based on the profits pertaining to such increase in value.

- Article 6: The State and local public entities shall be responsible for formulating and implementing measures on land in conformity to the basic principles on land set forth from the purpose of the Act.

- Article 8: All citizens must respect the Basic Principles on Land when using and transacting in land and also must endeavour to cooperate with the measures on land implemented by the State and local public entities.

- Article 11: The State and local public entities formulate necessary plans on land use by taking into consideration natural, social, economic and cultural conditions including the future outlook of population and industry and trends of land use.

- Article 19: The National Land Council shall study and deliberate matters concerning measures on land and on use of national land in response to the consultation of the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (21).

Promotion of Use of Agricultural Land Law, 1980, amended in 1993:
- Introduced a programme for the utilization and improvement of agricultural land.

- Article 18: Provides for the formulation of agricultural land integration plans, developed and proclaimed by municipalities.
Utilization and other rights, such as usufruct rights, may be created or transferred without the authorization required by Article 3 of the Agricultural Land Law if an agricultural land integration plan is adopted by an agriculture board and proclaimed by a municipality (13).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography