Category Archives: BUSINESS

Foreigners buy 373 hectares of forestry in 2018

In 2018, foreign funds purchased 373 hectares of forestry across Japan. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), there were 30 acquisitions made across seven prefectures.

Hokkaido accounted for almost a third of foreign purchases, with 108 hectares sold. The largest transaction in Hokkaido was the 34 hectare purchase of forestry in Shosambetsu, Tomamae, to a private individual from Hong Kong. The land was purchased for the purpose of asset holding.

There were a number of smaller acquisitions made around the popular ski resort of Niseko, including a 3 hectare sale to a Hong Kong and Chinese pair for the purpose of building a holiday home. Of the six transactions in Niseko, 4 were made to buyers from Hong Kong and 2 were made to buyers registered in the British Virgin Islands. Rankoshi, close to Niseko, had seven sales to foreigners, of which 6 were to private individuals from Australia, Thailand, Philippines, Canada, and Macao.

Outside of Hokkaido, most of the foreign funds were purchasing land to develop solar farms. American funds purchased 258 hectares of land in Hyogo Prefecture for this purpose.

There were just 3 sales made to foreign funds from mainland China, amounting to just 7 hectares or of 1.9% of the total. Buyers from Hong Kong accounted for almost a quarter of the total land sold.

Between 2006 and 2018, a total of 2,076 hectares of forestry has reportedly been sold to foreign buyers.

Data is only collected for transactions that apply under the Forest Act or for land parcels over a certain size. Although there are no laws or restrictions against the purchase and ownership of forestry by foreigners, a revision to the Forest Act in 2012 requires advance notice of the sale of forestry to foreign interests. A further 16 prefectures in Japan also require advance …continue reading


Tokyo Apartment Sales in May 2019

The following is a selection of apartments that were reported to have sold in central Tokyo during the month of May 2019:

Building Sold Price
(USD/sq.ft) Days Listed Discount
Akasaka Tower Residence (2008)
/sq ft
74 3.1%

A 45-storey luxury apartment building with concierge, rooftop deck and cafe, library, lounges and guest suites. Despite having 521 apartments in the building, only 12 were available for sale as at the end of May 2019. 8 of those 12 units are leased to tenants and suitable for investors only. The current asking price in this building is around 2,260,000 Yen/sqm. The average resale price to date in 2019 is around 2,190,000 Yen/sqm, up 3.4% from 2018 (2,119,000 Yen/sqm) and up 14.4% from 2017 (1,915,000 Yen/sqm). This was a corner apartment on a mid-floor. It sold for 77% more than an identical apartment a few floors down sold for in late 2008 and has been the second highest reported resale in this building on a price-per-square-meter basis to date.

City Tower Azabujuban (2009)
/sq ft
60 0%

City Tower Azabujuban is located next-door to Park Court Azabu Juban The Tower. Current asking prices in this building range from 1,775,000 ~ 3,160,000 Yen/sqm, with an average of around 2,111,000 Yen/sqm. There have been 9 reported resales in this building in the first 5 months of 2019, up from 7 sales for all of 2018. The average sale price to date in 2019 is around 1,944,000 Yen/sqm, down 1.6% from 2018 (1,975,000 Yen/sqm) but up 2.0% from 2017 (1,905,000 Yen/sqm). This apartment sold for 45% more than an identical apartment a few floors down sold for in 2014.

Bancho Parkhouse (2007)
/sq ft
26 0%

…continue reading


Japan’s awakening to a multipolar world

Author: Lionel Fatton, Webster University Geneva

The world is rapidly multipolarising. Although the United States will remain the centre of the international system for the foreseeable future, the rise of China is shifting gravity towards Asia. This has resulted in growing tensions between Washington and Beijing, notably over China’s economic practices and behaviour in the South China Sea. Japan, locked between two superpowers and threatened by North Korea, is awakening to a new reality.

Japan has consequently, since the early 2010s, reoriented towards a more autonomous security policy, breaking with past practices. Nevertheless, the country continues to rely on the United States for security. Japan therefore pursues an intra-alliance hedging strategy — maintaining a robust alliance while gradually moving towards autonomous defence.

Under the traditional spear and shield alliance structure, Japan was responsible for the defence of its territory while relying on the United States for power projection capabilities. One aspect of Japan’s move toward autonomy is the duplication of these capabilities.

In December 2017, the Japanese Ministry of Defense requested funds for fighter jet-mounted long-range cruise missiles, including the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER). The defense minister then, Itsunori Onodera, justified the acquisition by citing the need to protect Japan’s Aegis-equipped destroyers, apparently referring to North Korea’s Nongo-class vessels endowed with anti-ship missiles. However, the JASSM-ER is exclusively suited to hitting targets on land. Although the missiles could be used to neutralise military assets on captured islands in Japan’s maritime domain, Japanese strategists also seem to seek capacity to destroy targets on North Korean territory.

Pushing for better power projection capabilities, the Medium Term Defense Program of December 2018 called for possessing aircraft carriers, with the purchasing of F-35Bs and refitting two Izumo-class helicopter carriers to carry the stealth jets.

Japan’s first …continue reading


Vintage apartment renovation in Shibuya gets 2,000,000 Yen/sqm price tag

A former expat rental apartment building in Shibuya’s Uehara neighborhood has been fully refurbished with the apartments now available for individual purchase. The condo-conversion is a growing trend in Tokyo where land is scarce and construction costs run high.

The former Élysée Apartment (now Proud Uehara Forest) was constructed by Takenaka Corporation in 1984 as high-end rental housing for foreigners. Nomura Real Estate Development acquired the property with the intent to demolish and build new apartments. However, they later changed course and decided to renovate the existing apartments, while also adding a more contemporary extension.

The renovation included replacing all plumbing and ducting throughout the building. Retaining walls were given additional reinforcing, while the existing exterior tiles were re-used. A third-party survey of the concrete structure came back with an estimated useful life of over 65-years, the same number that would apply to brand-new construction.

The original apartment layouts had an average size of over 330 sqm (3,550 sq.ft), with ceiling heights of 3.2 meters. Determined to be ‘too big’ for current demand, the larger units were split into smaller, easier-to-sell sizes. The subdividing up of the existing apartments, and the new wing, allowed the developer to increase the apartment count from 8 to 15.

The building when first completed in 1984.

Apartments are priced from 268.6 …continue reading


A ‘yellow peril’ revival fuelling Western fears of China’s rise

Chinese and US flags are set up for a meeting in Beijing, China, 27 April 2018 (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee)

Author: Kishore Mahbubani, NUS

Do we arrive at geopolitical judgements from only cool, hard-headed, rational analysis? If emotions influence our judgements, are these conscious emotions or do they operate at the level of our subterranean subconscious? Any honest answer to these questions would admit that non-rational factors always play a role. This is why it was wrong for Western media to vilify Kiron Skinner, the director of policy planning at the US State Department, for naming racial discomfort as a factor at play in the emerging geopolitical contest between the United States and China.

Skinner was correct in saying that ‘the Soviet Union and that competition, in a way it was a fight within the Western family’. Referring to the contest with China, she said: ‘it’s the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian’. That China is not Caucasian is a factor in the geopolitical contest and it may also explain strong emotional reactions in Western countries to China’s rise.

Take the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China as an example. Critics of China are rational and correct when they state that China has stolen intellectual property and occasionally bullied US firms into sharing their technology. But a calm, rational description of China’s behaviour would also add that such behaviour is normal for an emerging economy.

The United States also stole intellectual property, especially from the British, at a similar stage of its economic development. Equally important, when the United States agreed to admit China into the WTO as a ‘developing country’, it agreed that ‘under the WTO’s agreements on intellectual property, developed countries are under “the obligation” to provide incentives to their companies to transfer technology to less developed countries’. This is a point …continue reading