Thursday, October 20, 2005


The US Embassy in Tokyo has been refusing to pay rent for its land for seven years, the Sankei Shinbun reports (full story here).

The 18,000 sq.m. site is 72% owned by the Japanese government, and the ground lease is a paltry 2.5 million yen ($21,000) per year, an unbelievably low sum for the prime Akasaka location, near the Diet Building and Prime Minister’s residence. For comparison, the British Embassy pays 35 million yen ($294,000) per year for its location fronting the Imperial Palace.

Japan gave the US a ‘lease in perpetuity’ in 1890 after buying the land from private owners, in response to the Americans’ request for an embassy location. However, the US has refused to pay since 1998, insisting that they actually 'own' the land. In the same year the Foreign Ministry had approached them about a rent hike - only the third time in around 30 years. On the two previous occasions, the Americans had also protested, only to relent after several years of non-payment.

Sounds like high time for an eviction notice.

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At 12:20 AM, Blogger Sharon said...

US refusal may stem from legal precedent indicating that the US might prevail in court regarding whether they own the property upon which the embassy sits, a/k/a "freehold", or they are merely leaseholders. Much of British real estate operates in this fashion ... imagine paying a million pounds sterling for a peoperty that reverts to the owner of the land beneath it after 20 years or so. *Gives a whole new meaning to caveat emptor!*

That being said, issues like this are how corporations think, and the US is no different than a corporation in many ways. That being said, I think they should pay the rent. I also think that the U.S. will *eventually* pay the rent, but not until all available legal remedies have dried up. Nice way to treat your friends, hmmm???


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