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Overall land prices in Japan fell for the ninth straight year but are declining more slowly in urban areas, the National Land Agency said Tuesday.

In the 12 months to July 1, prices for residential land dropped 2.9 percent from a year earlier, compared with 2.7 percent last year, while prices for commercial-use land fell 6.3 percent, compared with a 6.6 percent drop a year earlier, the agency said.

The nation’s three major urban areas — Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka — saw average land prices drop 6 percent for residential property and 9.2 percent in commercial areas, for declines of 0.4 percentage point and 1.4 percentage points from the previous year.

On a quarterly basis, prices in these areas rebounded slightly in the January-March quarter compared with a year before, the agency said, noting that the rise reflects a slight recovery in the long-stricken economy.

However, the agency said land prices in highly concentrated business areas such as Tokyo’s Shibuya and Shinjuku wards rose slightly or remained unchanged, while land prices in other areas continued to drop.

The polarization of land prices between areas with convenient access to transportation and those without is increasing, the agency said.

Land prices in rural areas dropped an average of 1.8 percent for residential land and an average of 5.2 percent for commercial property, nearly the same pace of decline as last year, the agency said.

The most expensive residential property in Japan was in the Gobancho area of Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, at 2.14 million yen per sq. meter, a drop of 1.8 percent from last year.

The most expensive commercial property was in Chiyoda’s Otemachi business district, at a cost of 12.8 million yen per sq. meter, or 0.8 percent less than a year ago.

The agency said land prices generally reflected the local economy in many regions.

In the Nagoya area, the decline in land prices for commercial property significantly narrowed from 11.4 percent last year to 6.5 percent, as the local economy has shown signs of a recovery sparked by automobile industries centering on Toyota Motor Corp.

In central Tokyo, industries related to information technology and foreign companies increased demand for office space, the agency said.

In Osaka, however, commercial land prices declined 11.3 percent. The local economy there mainly depends on industries such as steel and textiles, which will take more time to recover, it said.

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