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Housing starts in Japan fell in fiscal 2000 by 1.1 percent from the previous year to 1.21 million units, the government said Friday.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said housing starts using public loans declined sharply as the interest rate on these almost matches private loans, given the Bank of Japan’s low interest rate policy.

The figure was within the ministry’s expectations for the reporting fiscal year, which ended March 31, and projections for housing starts for this fiscal year are around the same number.

During fiscal 2000, the ministry said starts of owner-occupied houses fell 8 percent to 437,789. Among these, starts using public loans fell for the first time in three years, dropping 28.6 percent to 192,277.

Starts of houses for rent fell for the fourth straight year, by 1.8 percent to 418,200, while those of houses for sale rose 11 percent to 346,322 for the second straight year of gain.

For March alone, housing starts fell 1.4 percent from a year earlier to 94,829 for the third straight month of decline, the ministry said.

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