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Hot commodity in Japan: Groundwater

Japan’s flexible and relaxed rules on selling forestland along with groundwater rights are attracting many overseas investors, particularly the Chinese. Japan is the only country in Asia-Pacific that does not regulate property investment by foreigners. The forestland, together with the groundwater beneath, can be bought for a meagre USD0.60 per square metre in Japan.

The northern island of Japan, Hokkaido, accounts for the largest number of forest purchases by foreigners. China leads the purchases of Hokkaido forest and water rights with 21 transactions out of a total of 57. However, the land owned by non-Japanese investors in Hokkaido still remains small at 37 sq. km.

Investors are keen on acquiring water assets in Japan for exporting bottled water. For instance, Osaka-based Seven Yellow drills an average of 500,000 litres of water a month and exports as much as 80% of it to China, where safety of drinking water is a big issue.

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