I looked but couldn't find the equivalent Japanese article.
Foreigners are buying land in Japan, particularly in Hokkaido. Buyers are from Hong Kong and Singapore, according to a survey done by Yomiuri Shinbun. But the paper notes that there are more deals that remain disguised, as many buyers use Japanese front companies for the transaction to hide their identities.
At least one Chinese buyer quoted in the article says he bought the land for speculation, because he thought the real estate market in Japan had bottomed. Well...
From Yomiuri Shinbun English (4/28/2012):
Foreign buyers snap up land / Survey shows many people use Japanese names to hide acquisitions
At least 1,100 hectares of mountain forest and other land have been acquired by foreigners, with Hokkaido providing the lion's share, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.
The survey discovered 63 land transactions involving foreign purchasers, but Japanese names were apparently used to disguise many of the deals, a subterfuge not recognized by local governments.
This indicates the number of deals in which Japanese land and forests are falling into foreign hands may be much larger than those found in the survey.
The survey, conducted from the end of March through earlier this month and covering all 47 prefectures, asked prefectural governments about the number of land acquisitions by foreigners and the size of the land acquired.
Under the National Land Use Planning Law, those who acquire more than one hectare of land are required to notify the prefecture concerned.
According to the survey, foreigners bought 57 pieces of land totaling 1,039 hectares in Hokkaido, accounting for 94 percent of land acquired by foreign capital nationwide.
Of the purchased land, about 70 percent was obtained by corporate bodies or individuals in Hong Kong, Australia and other places in Asia and Oceania. Corporate bodies in British Virgin Islands, known as a tax haven, were involved in 11 land transactions.
Regarding such deals, some people believe water resources are being targeted by foreign buyers. In response, Hokkaido and Saitama Prefecture introduced ordinances in March to require prior notification whenever someone tries to purchase a designated reservoir area. Fukui, Gunma, Nagano and Yamagata prefectures are considering similar ordinances.
In one example in which a Japanese name was used to disguise a land transaction, a Chinese in his 40s living in Sapporo bought 14 hectares of mountain forest and other lands near the Niseko area in Hokkaido last autumn. For this transaction, he used the name of a Japanese real estate company.
During an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, the man said he was afraid of provoking a backlash from the Japanese if he bought the land under his name. He also said he hoped to resell the land for a profit as he thought Japanese land prices had bottomed out.
A real estate agency in the Kanto region that was involved in the sale of a mountain forest to a foreign customer said: "Even though foreigners don't aim to obtain water resources, their acquisitions could cause consternation. They feel safe if their deals are registered under a Japanese name."
Regarding mountain forests acquired by foreign buyers, the central government said in May last year that 40 such transactions have been carried out in the five years up to 2010, with land acquired totaling 620 hectares.
"It's necessary to establish an ordinance on land transactions at a local level so that local governments are fully aware of the owners of land and water sources," said Makoto Ebina, a professor at Otaru University of Commerce who participated in a discussion on the ordinance in Hokkaido.
"However, as many land transactions are unclear because names are borrowed, it's important to carefully check out each transaction," Ebina said.