Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Land Bank in Japan – 日本の森林が買われていく


NHK broadcast the program “Close-up Gendai” yesterday reporting that foreign capitals were buying forests in Japan, which was a small shock to us typical Japanese.
In practice, Hokkaido Prefecture looked into the situation to find that some forests were already owned by British, Australian, Chinese, NZL and Singaporean capitals. Because the demand for woods in China is increasing enormously, they did some large-scale deforestation illegally in Indonesia and Russia, and the same kind of excessive development of forests by foreigners becomes a concern for us to react with uneasiness. Openness of the market is not necessarily a bad thing, and this particular issue may not be only related to foreign capitals, but it ultimately boils down to the unprepared legal arrangement and regulation with regard to the possession and the maintenance of forests being attributed highly as the fundamental social resource.
The forest grows through human hands and it requires the manpower. Nevertheless, the forestry business significantly recessed since the introduction of low-cost foreign woods, and the successors are disappearing that has caused some catastrophic situation not being able to execute such works as the proper culling. The forests are crying. If the forest owners are offered the money that is 5 times more than typical domestic value when they have lost the hope for the future, it is easy to expect that they would give up their land. Ironically, this cul-de-sac, if observed from the outside, appears as a property with high value because the woods are about the time to cut and the climate is rich with water.
I could be superficial, but I think it is quite possible to gather individual investors of small amount nationwide organizing a group to start with some small forests in practice inviting the young generation to the forestry to maintain and grow from there. It is simply a better alternative to mere selling and buying of forests by rich investors.
According to the English broker, his Chinese client bought the forest in Hokkaido as a long-term investment, and today the forest funds are attracting more attention in US along with the “green” boom. On the other hand, the forest is the fundamental factor of our country’s land preserving the woods and the water, and we must not treat it as a money-game objective like the oil or the corn as we have seen a while ago.

No comments: