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Land rights in Japan

When buying a house in Japan, understanding the distinction between freehold and leasehold land rights is crucial:

1. Freehold Land rights 所有権 (Shoyuken):

- In a freehold property, the buyer owns both the land and the buildings on it indefinitely.

- This is the most straightforward form of property ownership, similar to what's commonly understood in many countries.

- With freehold rights, you have the highest level of control and ownership over the property.

2. Leasehold Land 借地権 (Shakuchiken):

- In a leasehold property, the buyer owns the buildings but not the land itself. The land is leased from a landowner (often a government or corporation) for a specified period, which can range from several decades to centuries.

- The leaseholder pays a periodic fee to the landowner for the land usage rights.

- At the end of the lease period, ownership of the land reverts back to the landowner unless the lease is renewed (if possible).

- Leasehold properties are more common in urban areas, where land is scarce and expensive.


When considering a leasehold property, it's essential to be aware of the remaining lease term. A short remaining term can affect the property's value and the ease of obtaining a mortgage.

Additionally, if you're interested in a leasehold property, it's recommended to investigate the terms of the lease agreement thoroughly. Some leasehold properties may have specific conditions or restrictions imposed by the landowner.

Before making any decisions, it's advisable to consult with a real estate professional or legal advisor who is familiar with Japanese property law. They can provide detailed information about the specific property you're interested in and help navigate any complexities associated with freehold or leasehold ownership. Author K

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