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We demand withdrawal of bill to tighten regulation on the acquisition and purchase of land, a measure which government seeks to use to keep an eye on people, restrict private rights and even crackdown on people’s movements

Kurosawa Koichi
Secretary General
the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
May 18, 2021

The House of Representatives on May 11 began discussing a “bill concerning land-use surveys and land-use regulation for the vicinity of important facilities and on remote islands on the national borders.” The bill is intended to carry out surveillance on residents of areas near military bases and nuclear power plants on the pretext of “national security”. The bill would give the prime minister the authority to extensively carry out surveillance of the people, restrict private rights, and crackdown on the people’s movement. The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) is firmly against the unconstitutional bill, which is associated with the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, the Security Laws (War Laws), and the Law to Criminalize Conspiracy. We demand the withdrawal of the bill.

The bill would designate land located within 1 kilometer from US military bases, Self-Defense Force bases, nuclear power plants, and other facilities that are deemed important for Japan's security, as well as remote islands on the national border, as districts under the government watch. The prime minister would be authorized to order suspension of land-use with criminal punishment.

There are no legislative facts for the bill, which designates Self-Defense commands and uninhabited remote islands as special districts under the government watch. Candidate purchasers will be required to submit their name, nationality, and purpose of land use if they plan to buy a certain size of plot near the SDF command centers and uninhabited remote border islands. The Minister of State for Special Missions in charge of territorial issues, Okonogi Hachiro, has said, “Land acquisitions by foreign capital in areas near Japan’s defense-related facilities or on remote islands on national borders has for many years been questioned.” But the Defense Ministry says that two past land-use surveys near military bases since 2013 have confirmed no cases that hamper the Self-Defense Forces’ operations. We cannot understand how one can say that land deals would immediately cause a “security” issue.

In Okinawa, many people live in areas within 1 kilometer from a military base. The bill could be used to keep watch on Okinawans who are forced to shoulder a heavy burden in the hosting of US military bases and to crackdown on the people’s movement for the dismantling the US bases.

What the bill describes as “important facilities” includes “defense-related facilities” and “people’s life-related facilities” but the definition is ambiguous. The Cabinet Office explains that “people’s life-related facilities” will include nuclear power plants and important infrastructure such as airports. But it would be possible to broaden indefinitely the range of target of surveillance.

In the current Ordinary Session of the Diet, digital transformation-related bills have been enacted in defiance of strong opposition. It authorizes the Digital Agency to centrally handle personal data. There is a danger that the state’s surveillance on individuals could be strengthened. We must stop the bill.

Zenroren opposes the bill concerning land-use regulation, which goes against the Constitution’s pacifism and violates basic human rights. We will do out utmost to press for the withdrawal of the bill.

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