Who can buy real property in Japan?
In Japan, a natural person including Japanese and non-Japanese non-residents of Japan can own real property.
A legal entity including a foreign entity can own real property.
Land and Houses are separate entities
In Japan, land with buildings on top can be traded separately. When you buy a house, the ground below it does not automatically come together with the house. You need to buy the land as well. Registration for land with a house on top of the land will be handled separately and the certificates will be issued separately. An exception applies to condominiums, known as “mansion” in Japan.
In Japan we do not have a common law concept including “life estate”, “reversion”, “remainder”, “Joint Tenancy” nor “Tenancy by the Entirety”. “Fee Simple” or “Tenancy in Common” are the most common ways to own real property.
If one were to own real property with a co-tenant, that co-tenant, even if he or she is a spouse, does not automatically obtain the other half in the event of death. Procedures for the inheritance will be required.
There is no valid period of ownership, once you obtain “Fee Simple” in real property. In this regard, it is “Fee Simple Absolute”.
Registration of Title Transfer
When you purchase real property, a registration application for the title transfer will be normally made on the same day as the closing date. From the seller, you will receive documents such as a deed of transfer, registration identification information (type of which will vary depending on the time when the seller bought the real property), and a certificate of seal impression. You will also be required to submit your own documents such as certificate of residence etc. Once registration application is made, the Legal Affairs Bureau will issue you your own registration identification information, the submission of which will be required when you sell the property. You will also be able to obtain a registration certificate showing that you are the owner of the property. Unfortunately all of this information is available in Japanese only. Don’t worry, please ask us. We are here to assist you.
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