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Taking Land: Compulsory Purchase and Regulation of Land in Asian-Pacific Countries

October 2001

Citation: 31 ELR 11184

Issue: 10

Author: Tsuyoshi Kotaka, David Callies, and Heidi Guth

The government use of compulsory purchase and land use control powers appears to be increasing worldwide as competition for useable and livable space increases. The need for large and relatively undeveloped space for agriculture and conservation purposes often competes with the need for shelter and the commercial and industrial development accompanying such development for employment, product production and distribution, and other largely urban uses. The free market does not always—some would say often—result in a logical and equitable distribution of land uses and attendant public facilities necessary to serve the use of land. One function of government is therefore to regulate the use of private land for the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens, and to help provide roads, water, sanitation, and other public facilities, as well as schools, parks, airports, and the like. Accomplishing the former—regulation—is generally done in accordance with some form or level of plan. Accomplishing the latter often requires the exercise of compulsory purchase powers, providing public land or interests in land in order to construct such public facilities or infrastructure.

The Asia-Pacific region and its rapid urbanization has generated a need for both land use control and use of compulsory purchase powers. The same rapid urbanization and the need for accompanying public facilities has generated areawide interest in the mechanics (rather than the theory) of compulsory purchase and related land use control mechanisms. While there are certain commonalities among the 11 countries that form the basis of our comparative study, there are differences as well, some of them (such as the ratio of public and private land ownership) fundamental. The purpose of our study was to summarize the principal compulsory purchase and land use control systems in the 11 countries that make up the basis of our comparative study, and to attempt to draw some parallels and note some differences among them. However, any comparative study of law and administrative practice is bound to be somewhat general if truly comparative. Our study was no exception.

This Article is taken from the introductory chapter to Taking Land, an edited collection of case studies forthcoming in 2002 from the University of Hawaii Press. Research, which extended over five years, was made possible by the generous support of the Hanshin Expressway Compensation Center and its principal officers, Kiyoshi Chubachi and Yoji Shimizu. The materials regarding practice in the 11 countries that form the basis of our comparative analysis were drawn from interviews with various officials together with substantive essays on each country, authored as follows: Murray Raff, Australia; Zhan Xian Bin, China; Anton Cooray, Hong Kong; Tsuyoshi Kotaka, Japan; Won Woo Suh, Korea; Grace Xavier, Malaysia; Glenys Godlovitch, New Zealand; William Ricquier, Singapore; Chen Li-Fu, Taiwan; Eathipol Srisawaluck, Thailand; and David Callies, United States. Tsuyoshi Kotaka is Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, Meijo University and Professor Emeritus, Osaka City University; LL.B., LL.M., LL.D., Ritsumeikan University. David Callies is the Benjamin A. Kudo Professor of Law, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii; A.B., DePauw University; J.D., University of Michigan; LL.M., Nottingham University. Heidi Guth is a student at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, Class of 2002; B.A., 1991, Yale University; M.A., 1995, University of Montana. This Article will also appear in the Asia Pacific Law Review (forthcoming 2001).

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