Land minister to double up on water conservation

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to make land minister Akihiro Ota double as a minister in charge of water conservation under a new law designed to protect Japan's water resources, government sources said Monday.

Along with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Ota will serve as deputy chief of a new task force involving the whole Cabinet that will deal with water policy.

The task force, to be headed by Abe, will be responsible for mapping out a basic plan to protect and properly administer rivers, forests and farmland as well as coordinate policies and measures among the relevant government offices and agencies.

The law, enacted in late March, was drafted by a bipartisan group of lawmakers working on water-related reforms in response to the increased purchase of forest areas by foreign investors, raising concern about rampant development.