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Housing starts fell 7.2 percent in April from the year before to 99,556 units, down for the fourth straight month, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said Thursday.

Declines were seen in the three main categories of owner-occupied houses, homes for rent, and owner-occupied condominiums and houses built by developers for sale, the ministry said.

Starts for owner-occupied houses fell 15.8 percent from a year earlier to 34,971, down for the fifth consecutive month. Starts for homes for rent dipped 1.5 percent to 35,391 following a rise the previous month.

Starts for homes built by developers for sale were down 1.6 percent to 28,336 following a rise in February.

By region, housing starts fell 6.7 percent in the Tokyo metropolitan area and 14.1 percent in the Kinki region surrounding Osaka. They rose 0.8 percent in the Chubu region centering on Nagoya.

Starts in other regions declined 7.1 percent.

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