Japanese real estate essentials: The city planning law : You need to understand before you buy a property in Japan

What is the purpose of the city planning law ?

The city planning law which is set by the Ministry of land infrastructure transport and tourism (MLIT)

exists to regulate urban development.

The law divide Japan into mainly two parts :

1.The city planning area which is regulated by the city planning law

2. The non-city planning area which is not regulated by this law

City planning area is mainly divided into urbanization promotion areas where development is promoted and urbanization restricted areas where the development is restricted.

Urbanization restricted areas consist of agricultural, forestry and fishery projects.

Urbanization restricted areas are not allowed to build residential, office and retail properties.


For example, if you want buy a land in the agricultural areas, you may not able to build your own house.

Don’t forget to check the relevant law and regulation before you purchase such land.

What kind of major regulations are there in the urbanization promotion areas ?

The law defines 12 zoning districts within urbanization promotion areas.

Of the zoning district 3 have a primarily effect on the real estate project : residential zone, commercial zone and industrial zone.

Specific regulations for each zone such as use, building coverage ratio and floor area ratio are defined by the building  standards law.


Use is very important. For example, if you want to change use of your house into restaurant,  you may have to get the

permission before you actually starts your restaurant business (depending on the size and districts)

Are there any other major city planning regulations ?

Other important zoning regulations include the fire prevention district and the semi fire prevention district where building structure must take extra fire protections (preventions)


If you want to buy a house in fire prevention districts, you need to investigate whether the house structure is meeting the standards

of fire regulations.

Scenic zone prohibits unauthorized changes of the landscape.


If you buy a property in scenic zone, most probably you are heavily restricted when you plan the major renovation or

new building in the future.

The law also regulates urban facilities such as the roads and parks which are all essential for urbanization the city planning.

The law also requires real estate developers to receive land the development permission from the local government before

they develop certain size of land.

Other Helpful Articles

Japanese real estate essentials: What kind of laws do you need to understand before you buy a property in Japan ?

Buying a very affordable condominium in Japan ?: Do the due diligence

Essentials : How is the real estate ownership registered in Japan ?

Toshihiko Yamamoto
Real estate investing consultant and author.
Founder of Yamamoto Property Advisory in Tokyo.
International property Investment consultant and licensed
real estate broker (Japan).
He serves the foreign companies and individuals to buy and sell
the real estates in Japan as well as own homes.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from
Osaka Prefecture University in Japan
and an MBA from Bond University in Australia

Toshihiko’s book, “The Savvy Foreign Investor’s Guide to Japanese Properties: How to Expertly Buy, Manage and Sell Real Estate in Japan”is now out on Amazon, iBooks (iTunes, Apple) and Google Play.
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