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Okinawa newcomers buying up base lands

Date Posted: 2008-07-17

Many of the mainland Japanese immigrants to Okinawa are purchasing land on U.S. and Japanese Self Defense Forces bases as investment properties.

The privately owned pieces of land are popular investments because the Japanese government pays rental fees for their use by American and Japanese military forces. Local real estate brokers say the plots are favored investment properties because rent continues to increase despite fluctuations in the local economy.

Brokers say land plots within military installations that are not projected to be returned to private control are most popular, and draw higher sales prices. Much of the land is owned by families that have had the property for generations. The realtors say many of the several hundred properties changing hands each year happen after they’ve been inherited.

Private landowners have in recent years been demanding the Japanese government increase their rental payments or else return the land. The government has been hiking rental payments about one-half percent each year. Realtors say land plots are being purchased at prices equaling about 20-30 times the annual rental payments.

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