Alarmed by purchases of water resources-rich Japanese forests by foreign firms, a group of lawmakers will submit to the current session of the Diet a bill to help secure water resources. The move comes as foreign concerns are snapping up forests, raising apprehensions about massive water intakes.
Members of a suprapartisan caucus, including lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito, say the bill defines groundwater as a nationally valuable asset and urges the central and local governments to curb foreign purchases of such forests. Mount Yotei is the source of one of Japan's top 100 water resource areas as ranked by the Environment Ministry. A Hong Kong firm purchased 57 hectares of forest (about 12 times the size of Tokyo Dome) in the town of Kutchan at the foot of the mountain in 2008. A visit there in late January shows that the forest was left untouched.