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The average price of land fronting main roads dropped for the ninth straight year in the 12 months to Jan. 1, falling 6.2 percent to 137,000 yen per sq. meter, the National Tax Administration said Friday.

But the margin of decline, based on data at the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry from some 400,000 locations nationwide, shrank 0.8 percentage point from the previous year’s 7 percent, the administration said.

The so-called roadside land price is used to assess inheritance, gift and landholding taxes for 2001.

Land prices rose in prime locations in big cities, such as Tokyo’s Ginza and Omotesando shopping districts, a spot in front of JR Nagoya Station and Fukuoka’s Tenjin central district, but prices continued to decline across most of the rest of the country following the burst in the early 1990s of the asset-inflated bubble economy.

Omotesando enjoyed the largest climb in value in areas covered by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, rising 4.3 percent to 2.94 million yen per sq. meter, thanks to a number of foreign fashion houses, including Louis Vuitton and Benetton, opening outlets.

A plot of land in front of the Kyukyodo stationery store in Ginza was the most expensive in Japan for the 16th straight year at 11.84 million yen, an increase of 1.4 percent and the first gain in three years.

The average land price failed to rebound in all 47 prefectures, with Nagasaki marking the largest dip, at 11.1 percent, followed by Osaka’s 10.2 percent and Chiba’s 10 percent. The margin of drop contracted in 20 prefectures, the same number as last year.

The decline rate lessened to 5.7 percent from 7.2 percent for the greater Tokyo area — based on Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures — and to 4.2 percent from 4.8 percent for the Nagoya area, comprising central Aichi Prefecture and part of Mie Prefecture.

But it widened to 9.8 percent from 9.6 percent for the Keihanshin region, covering parts of Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto and Nara prefectures.

In other regions, the rate shrank to 5.3 percent from 6.3 percent.

The most expensive land price in prefectural capitals fell in 46 prefectures, the sole exception being Tokyo. It tumbled by more than 20 percent in three cities — Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, by 22.4 percent, and Nagano and Kochi both by 21.4 percent — as it did the year before.

The nationwide average of urban land prices was down 10.4 percent to 1,062,000 yen per sq. meter for commercial areas, 6.6 percent to 68,800 yen for industrial regions and 3.7 percent to 103,000 yen for residential locations.

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