The average price of land along select major thoroughfares was down this year for the 12th straight year, the National Tax Agency said Monday.

As of Jan. 1, the average price of such land had fallen 5 percent from a year earlier to 115,000 yen per square meter. But the margin of decline, based on appraisals by the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry at about 410,000 locations across Japan, narrowed from the previous year’s 6.2 percent, the agency said.

Tax authorities will use the so-called roadside land price to assess inheritance, gift and land taxes for 2004.

Meanwhile, land prices in prime big city locations continued to rise due to large-scale redevelopment projects. The price of land in the Marunouchi business district in Tokyo, for example, rose 5 percent, and that of a shopping district in Naka Ward, Nagoya, was up 1.5 percent.

But average land prices in all 47 prefectures fell from a year earlier. Yamanashi Prefecture saw the largest decrease at 11.1 percent.

The margin of decline in average land prices in 25 prefectures was wider than that seen the year before.

The average in Tokyo fell 1.5 percent, but the margin of decline narrowed for the fifth year in a row.

A piece of land in front of the stationery store Kyukyodo in Tokyo’s Ginza district continued to be the most expensive in Japan, for the 19th straight year, at 13.76 million yen per square meter. That is up 8.2 percent from the previous year.

The prices of the most expensive land in prefectural capitals rose in Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka, while those in Sapporo, Kyoto and Osaka remained unchanged.

However, the most expensive prices in five prefectural capitals, including Akita in Akita Prefecture and Kofu in Yamanashi Prefecture, fell more than 20 percent.

In terms of regions, the rate of decline narrowed to 2.7 percent from 4 percent for the greater Tokyo area, including central Tokyo, and Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, and to 7.7 percent from 8.7 percent for the Osaka region, comprising parts of Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto and Nara prefectures.

It also narrowed for the Nagoya region, comprising central Aichi Prefecture and part of Mie Prefecture, from 6.5 percent to 6 percent.

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