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“Landholding is everything,” the popular credo espoused by many Japanese firms, is losing its appeal as the business world shifts its attention to real earnings rather than latent real-estate profits, according to a fiscal 1999 government white paper on land released Friday.

According to the white paper, a National Land Agency survey of major companies conducted in January and February found that only 4.9 percent of respondents placed importance on asset-holdings, while 76.2 percent of respondents focused on cash flows.

The survey also revealed that 48.1 percent of respondents planned to refrain from selling real estate while seeking to promote the effective use of assets. Another 27.6 percent of respondents said they planned to sell properties.

In contrast, only 5.1 percent of the respondents intended to acquire new real estate.

Some 28.5 percent of the 3,300 companies surveyed responded.

Convenience has become a top priority for residential property purchasers and profitability for commercial land buyers. The annual paper says that people have begun to choose properties that best meet their needs since the collapse of the speculation-driven bubble economy a decade ago, and that has led to a fall in land prices.

Corporations reduced their idle land holdings by more than 30 percent in the five years from 1993 and now view leasing ;and as a more favorable option, it says.

To cope with the changes, the government should introduce a system to properly evaluate the profitability of land assets and offer information on the property market, the report says.

The white paper also shows that fewer people want single-family houses and land lots of their own. In fiscal 1997, 89.1 percent of respondents wanted to own detached houses, but the percentage dropped to 81.1 percent in a similar survey in fiscal 1999.

The white paper also refers to a survey that indicates 10.7 percent of those who had contracted to buy newly built condominiums in major cities wanted to live in their condos their whole lives.