Japanese forest administration is differentiated by forest owner classification. Most of National forests are managed directly by the Forestry Agency of Japan, public owned forests by the local governments, and private forests by the individuals, companies, NGOs and so on. The national and local governments provide subsidies for planting and thinning in the private forests based on regulations and multiple functions of forests.
The “Forest and Forestry Basic Law” was established in 2001 as an alternative to the “Forestry Basic Law” established in 1964. One of the main purposes of “Forestry Basic Law” was to develop forestry in correspondence with timber demand during high economic growth periods. However, the demand for forest resources has varied since the 1980s, and Japan faced a decline in its timber self-sufficiency rate up to 2001. The “Forest and Forestry Basic Law” has been amended to reflect these changes. The basic principle of the “Forest and Forestry Basic Law” is to promote multiple functions of forests, such as watershed protection, land conservation, prevention of global warming, timber production, etc.
“Forest and Forestry Basic Plan” is published every five years under the “Forest and Forestry Basic Law”. The basic plan is the fundamental national policy on forests and forestry in Japan, in which forests are categorized into three functional types according to their primary functions:
- Land and water conservation forests
- Forest-human co-existence forests
- Sustainable resource use forests
Under the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Japan's forest governance is divided into national forests and privately and publicly owned forests. The governance structure is formed by the “Forest Planning System”. In national forests, regional office formulates regional management plan individually for each region of national forests, and each national forests are managed under that plan. In the governance of private and public forests, municipalities formulate a 10-year forest plan individually in accordance with the prefecture's 10-year forest plan, and then the private forest owners prepare a 5-year forest management plan individually referring to the10-year forest plan.