1. Can foreigner purchase property?

In general, person with any nationality is able to purchase property and hold the title regardless of residence.

2. Requirements

For individual, the main issue is that certificate issued by authority of the applicant home country in which name, address and others must be submitted to the land registry as well as the application and other necessary document.

3. Steps

Preparation for registration

The both parties prepare necessary things such as documents for registration.

From the Seller side

*Certificate Information of Cause of Registration(登記原因証明情報 please refer to the attachments for your reference)
*Certified copy of the company registration(会社登記事項証明書)
*Certified copy of the company's representative seal(会社代表者印鑑証明書)
*Information for Registration Identification(登記識別情報)
*Power of Attorney for the Seller's solicitor(委任状)

From the Purchaser side

*Affidavit to prove the buyer's address(住所証明用宣誓供述書)
*Power of Attoreny for the seller's solicitor(委任状)

Closing Meeting

For the settlement, the both parties and their solicitors get together at the same place. Then, each of the parties gives each of the solicitors the above necessary documents in which the title can be transferred to the purchaser. As each of the solicitors have duty that the client shall have certain intention to the transaction and the client's ID, they will ask to show the original ID (so please kindly bring the original ID).
After the documents provided, the solicitors review if all are prepared and correct. If all are ok, the solicitors provide a notice that the Parties that as all are prepared, the buyer can settle the rest of money for the Seller and the Seller provides the Title Deed and other items such as key in exchange. At that time, the title is transferred to the Purchaser.
The solicitors submit the application to the land registry upon the end of the above meeting. But you don't need to visit there because the solicitor can visit there on your half. 1 to 2 week after the submission, the new title deed is issued for the Purchaser.
Upon the completion, a new Information for Registration Identification (登記識別情報) is issued from the Land Registry. This is necessary to re-sell, make mortgage and so on.

Lastly, for non-resident, there are other 2 things to be done after the procedure. One is submitting the application to the Bank of Japan and the other one is appointing a Tax Administrator. The solicitor can do the former one on your half, but in the latter, you need to appoint someone who is a resident person.

Inheritance Matters

Will under Japan Civil Code

There are 3 types of ordinary will such as holograph document, notarized document, or sealed and notarized document.

Holograph Document

Article 968 To make a will by holograph document the testator must write the entire text, the date, and his/her name in his/her own hand and affix his/her seal.
(2) Unless, for an insertion, deletion or any other alteration to the handwritten certificate, the testator indicates the place of alteration, makes a specifically signed addition to the effect that it has been changed, and furthermore affixes his/her seal to the place that has been altered, it shall have no effect.

Will regulation is really strict and if there is any lack of necessary items, it might go to void. Esecially, in case of "Holograph Document"style, ordinal person might omit a part of necessary items by mistake and it also might cause additional disputes.
Necessary items made by "Holograph Document" style are as follows.

The entire text
The date
The name of the testator

Besides that, all must be written in the testator own hand and the document of the will must be affixed the own seal. In some dispute, heirs claimed that the will was written by the support of another heir or when the testator made the will, the testator became insane and so on. Therefore, we believe this type is not so stable.

Notarized Document

Article 969 A will by notarized document shall be made in compliance with the following items:
(i) no fewer than two witnesses shall be in attendance;
(ii) the testator shall give oral instruction of the tenor of the will to a notary public;
(iii) a notary public shall take dictation from the testator and read this aloud, or allow inspection, to the testator and witnesses;
(iv) the testator and witnesses shall each sign, and affix his/her seal to, the certificate after having approved its accuracy; provided, however, that in the case where a testator is unable to sign, a notary public may sign on his/her behalf, with supplementary registration giving the reason for that; and
(v) a notary public shall give supplementary registration to the effect that the certificate has been made in compliance with the formalities listed in each of the preceding items, sign this, and affix his/her seal.

In Japan, Notary has more power than the ones in Common Law countries like US, Canada, UK and so on. Because most of them used to be judges, procecutors and attorneies and they must belong to and are controlled by the Department of Justice.
Therefore, documents made by notaries are really stable and it is difficult to make them void. We recommend this style, but there is one issue. This type of will can be made only in Japanese language. Therefore, if a testator cannot speak Japanese, a interpriter should go to the notary office with the testator and the translation should be made for the testator.

Sealed and Notarized Document

Article 970 A will by sealed and notarized document shall be made in compliance with the following formalities:
(i) the testator shall sign, and affix his/her seal to, the certificate;
(ii) the testator shall seal the certificate and, using the same stamp as that used for the certificate, affix his/her seal;
(iii) the testator shall submit the sealed certificate before one notary public and not less than two witnesses, with a statement to the effect that it is his/her own will, giving the author's name and address;
(iv) after having entered the date of submission of the certificate and the statement of the testator upon the sealed document, a notary public shall, together with the testator and witnesses, sign it and affix his/her seal; and
(2) The provision of paragraph (2) of Article 968 shall apply mutatis mutandis to the making of a will by sealed and notarized document.
(Effect of Will by Sealed and Notarized Document Failing to Satisfy Formalities)
Article 971 Even a will by sealed and notarized document which fails to satisfy the formalities provided for in the preceding Article shall have effect as a will made by holograph document, if prepared in accordance with the formalities provided for in Article 968.

This style is not popular. Our guess of the reason is this is a bit complicated. And if no one can find the will after the testator dies, the will cannot work.