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Reflecting worsening business conditions and thinning incentives for real-estate investment, an unprecedentedly small number of firms purchased land for industrial use in the first half of this year, according to a preliminary report released by the trade ministry Thursday.Acquisitions of land greater than 1,000 sq. meters in the January-June period hit a record low of 603, falling 23 percent from the preceding six-month period, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said. Of total land purchases, 270 cases were for relocation or scrap-and-build operations involving existing facilities, not for fresh investment for expansion, a ministry official said.MITI polled companies nationwide that have bought land to build manufacturing, electric and gas utilities. Hit hard by banks’ tightened stance on lending, small firms capitalized at less than 50 million yen and medium-size companies capitalized between 100 million yen and 1 billion yen stayed away from land acquisition, with the number of land purchases dropping to 453 in January-June, down 159 from the preceding six-month period.

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