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More people favor stocks or deposits over owning land as a means of investing money for the first time since the government began a poll on the matter roughly a decade ago, according to a draft government report.

The fiscal 2000 draft white paper on land policy by the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry was submitted Tuesday to a policy panel of the Liberal Democratic Party.

The draft, which also recommends measures to thaw the nation’s frozen real estate market, will be adopted by the Cabinet in June.

It shows 38.8 percent of respondents do not believe owning land is more advantageous as an investment tool, compared with 34.2 percent who prefer real estate. It is the first time for real estate to fall out of favor since the ministry’s predecessor, the National Land Agency, began the poll in the early 1990s.

Researchers contacted 3,000 individuals and 9,000 companies to ask them to compare the attractiveness of land, deposits and equities. The response rate was 75.2 percent for individuals and 41 percent for firms.

Also for the first time, corporate respondents favored leasing land over owning it.

The results reflect the dwindling popularity of land investment. Publicly assessed land prices compiled annually by the government dropped for the 10th year in a row, according to a report in March.

Even after the collapse of the asset-inflated bubble economy, people have been slow in changing the long-held belief that land holdings are relatively worthwhile.

In the fiscal 1996 white paper, 53.1 percent of respondents saw land as attractive against 22.9 percent who did not.

In the latest white paper, 45.8 percent of corporate respondents say land leases are better than ownership against 39.3 percent who prefer ownership.

The draft recommends pushing ahead with securitization of land held by companies.

This allows landowners to sell certificates that entitle investors to yields from rents or room charges for planned office or hotel developments.

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