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Japan Could Place Its Entire Property Registry on a Blockchain

Japan Could Place Its Entire Property Registry on a Blockchain

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are a hot topic at the moment, with cryptocoins seeing huge gains in value makaing headline news. Japan happens to be on the forefront of bitcoin adoption and the underlying blockchain technology. There’s already bitcoin ATMs at all major Japan airports, and many airlines accept bitcoin for payment.

It’s no surprise then that Japan is looking at blockchain technology to centralise and streamline its national property registry database system.

The Japanese government is reportedly planning to unify all property and land registries across urban, farmland and forested areas in a single ledger powered by blockchain technology.

According to a report in prominent financial publication Nikkei, Japan is looking to consolidate data from all government real estate databases into one viewable data record.

Scattered Data

Currently, local municipalities, as well as the justice and land ministries, each maintain their own property registries, the former for taxation reasons. Real estate companies oversee their own databases while large swathes of farmland and forested areas also see separate records, according to the report. Japan’s justice ministry estimates some 230 million plots and 50 million buildings are registered across the country.

All of the data, including collateral details and sale prices of properties, could soon be added to a government-operated blockchain ledger.

Why it’s needed

Aside from the sheer disparity between the registers, the traditional paper-reliant register is simply not updated enough to reflect the people using the property. A survey by the Justice Ministry reveals 6.6% of urban landowner records and a startling 26.6% in small and mid-sized cities as well as those in mountainous terrain, hadn’t changed in 50 years.

Furthermore, a blockchain platform will also enable data cross-referencing. As the Nikkei writes, “if a portion of the property is farmland, the user is recorded in a farmland register. Combining this with local-level data will make it easier to tell who is responsible for vacant land or buildings.”

A manual cross-reference of farmland and residential registers in 2016 found that 20% of agricultural land data was not updated following the death of the original owner wherein the property did not go on to be inherited.

Benefits

The blockchain will see multiple participants and will also be made available to the private sector, with privacy measures. The goal is to improve the efficiency of real-estate transactions, as well as aid the sale and redevelopment of a growing number of vacant properties in Japan.

The blockchain register will also benefit discussions with landowners toward redevelopment as well as public works projects in their property’s vicinity. Disaster preparation and recovery efforts will also be boosted.

Trial Planned for 2018

The new blockchain-powered register will be tested in select cities come summer 2018. If it proves successful, the Japanese government is looking at a nationwide rollout over the next five years.

Elsewhere, another plausible nation-wide implementation of blockchain technology is taking shape in the country. The Japanese Bankers Association (JBA) is pushing banks to trial money transfers over a single blockchain powered by digital currencies, a development that could ultimately replace ‘Zengin’, Japan’s national payments clearing platform operated by the JBA.

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