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Land Use Coordination Related to Mining and Other Industries

Japanese

 Japan is a country with a large population on a small amount of land, and various industries are operated in adjacent areas. Furthermore, urban areas, riverheads, parks, and hot springs are located at many places across the country.
 In the case of the mining industry, in particular, it is usually the case that mining rights are established on land owned by other persons, which inevitably imposes geographical limits to mining sites. For this reason, it is essential to coordinate land use for the mining industry and that for the general public interest or other industries, including agriculture and forestry.
 Furthermore, when a request for review is filed concerning the certification of business or a determination by the Expropriation Commission under the Expropriation of Land Act, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism needs to follow a deliberate procedure to decide on such request.
 To ensure coordination in land use, the Environmental Dispute Coordination Commission performs functions such as designating mining prohibited areas, adjudicating on appeals against administrative dispositions for mining, etc., and giving responses to inquiries concerning a request for review under the Expropriation of Land Act.

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Designation of Mining Prohibited Areas

 It is necessary to establish a mining right on a fixed area of land called a mining site to mine and acquire minerals.
 However, mining may be prohibited in areas where protection of public welfare is given more importance than the operation of the mining industry, by designating such areas in advance
 To date, a total of 244 locations have been designated as mining prohibited areas (as of March 31, 2020). These include the Kurobe Fourth Dam (for the conservation of dams and reservoirs), the site of the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, and the area around the Kinkakuji Temple (for the conservation of historical landscape and protection of scenery), the Dogo Onsen Hot Spring (for protection of hot spring resources), and the Seikan Tunnel (for the preservation of the tunnel). The total area of mining prohibited areas is 682,820 hectares.

Number of Sites Designated as Mining Prohibited Areas

Major reasons for designation Number of sites
Conservation of dams and reservoirs 163
Protection of hot spring resources 32
Protection of scenery 22
Preservation of agricultural water facilities 9
Conservation of historical landscape 7
Preservation of tunnels 4
Other preservation 7
As of March 31, 2020 244

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Procedures for the Designation of Mining Prohibited Areas

Procedures for the Designation of Mining Prohibited Areas

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Adjudication on Appeals against Administrative Dispositions for Mining, etc.

 When intending to engage in mining, quarrying, or gravel gathering, permission or approval needs to be obtained from the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry or the relevant Prefectural Governor, etc. A person who is dissatisfied with a disposition concerning such permission or approval may file an application for adjudication with the Environmental Dispute Coordination Commission. Adjudication procedures are undertaken in accordance with those of the court. If a person is dissatisfied with an adjudication or decision rendered by the Commission, an appeal may be filed with the Tokyo High Court.

Major Dispositions for Which the Commission’s Adjudication may be Sought

  Legal basis Major dispositions
1 Mining Act (Article 133) Permission for the establishment of mining rights given by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry or the Director of the Regional Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry
2 Quarrying Act (Article 39, paragraph (1)) Approval of a rock quarrying plan given by the Prefectural Governor or the Mayor of the government ordinance-designated city
3 Forest Act (Article 190, paragraph (1)) Permission for quarrying within a protected forest given by the Prefectural Governor
4 Cropland Act (Article 53, paragraph (2)) Permission for diversion of agricultural land given by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries or the Prefectural Governor
5 Coast Act (Article 39-2, paragraph (1)) Permission for quarrying within a coastal preservation area given by the coast administrator
6 Natural Parks Act (Article 63, paragraph (1) and Article 78) Permission for mining minerals within a special area in a national park given by the Minister of the Environment
7 Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors (Article 51-34, paragraph (1)) Permission for excavation within a designated waste underground disposal area given by the Nuclear Regulation Authority
8 Landslide Prevention Act (Article 50, paragraph (1)) Permission for an act that inhibits elimination of groundwater within a landside prevention area given by the Prefectural Governor
9 River Act (Article 97, paragraph (4)) Permission for quarrying within a river area given by the river
administrator
10 Gravel Gathering Act (Article 40, paragraph (1)) Approval of a gravel gathering plan given by the Prefectural Governor or the Mayor of the government ordinance-designated city
11 City Planning Act (Article 51, paragraph (1) and Article 58, paragraph (2)) Permission for development activities within a city planning area given by the Prefectural Governor
Landscape Act (Article 73, paragraph (2) and Article 75, paragraph (3)) Disposition concerning regulations on development activities within a landscape district made by the Municipal Mayor
12 Nature Conservation Act (Article 32, paragraph (1), Article 35, paragraph (11), and Article 46, paragraph (3)) Permission for mining minerals within a special district in a natural environment conservation area or special district in an offshore undersea natural environment conservation area given by the Minister of the Environment
13 Urban Green Space Conservation Act (Article 33, paragraph (1)) Prohibition of mining minerals within a green space conservation
district imposed by the Prefectural Governor
14 Act on Special Measures concerning Conservation of Lake Water Quality (Article 33, paragraph (1)) Prohibition of mining minerals within a lakeside environment
conservation district imposed by the Prefectural Governor
15 Act on Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Article 43, paragraph (1)) Permission for mining minerals within a managed area in a natural habitat protection area given by the Minister of the Environment
16 Designated Radioactive Waste Final Disposal Act (Article 26, paragraph (1)) Permission for excavation within a final disposal facilities protection area given by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

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Procedures for Adjudication on Appeals

Procedures for Adjudication on Appeals

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Responses to Inquiries Based on the Expropriation of Land Act

 To ensure that proper administrative dispositions on land use are to be rendered in response to demand for increasingly complicated and diversified land use, the system is put in place under which the Environmental Dispute Coordination Commission responds to inquiries or grants approval in advance.
 For example, when the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism decides on a request for review filed by a landowner concerning a determination rendered by the Expropriation Commission, the Minister is required to seek opinions of the Environmental Dispute Coordination Commission in advance.

Cases related to the Expropriation of Land Act

Cases related to the Expropriation of Land Act

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  Legal basis Procedure Major target
1 Expropriation of Land Act
(Article 27, paragraph (2) and Article 131, paragraph (1))
Response to
inquiry
When the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism decides on a request for review concerning (i) a disposition for an application for certification of business or (ii) a determination by the Expropriation Commission
2 Mining Act (Article 64-2, paragraph (3) and Article 87) Approval When the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry decides in place of approval from the administrator required for mining minerals in the vicinity of a public facility, etc.
3 Quarrying Act (Article 18 and Article 30) Approval When the Director of the Regional Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry decides on the establishment of quarrying rights or the purchase of land as an alternative to it
4 Act on the Protection of Cultural Properties (Article 159, paragraph (1)) Consultation When the Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs decides on a request for review concerning a disposition for conserving a cultural property which involves the need for coordination with the mining or quarrying industry

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