The average land price along select major streets in Tokyo rebounded for the first time in 13 years, growing 0.4 percent from a year before to 458,000 yen per sq. meter as of Jan. 1, the National Tax Agency said Monday.

Nationwide, the average land price fell 3.4 percent to 112,000 yen, extending its downtrend to a 13th straight year, the agency said. Still, the margin of decline was the smallest since 1993, when the 13-year slide began.

Among prime tracts, the land in front of stationery store Kyukyodo in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district remained the most expensive for the 20th straight year at 15.12 million yen per sq. meter.

Although the price of land there is 9.9 percent higher than a year ago, it was still 60 percent lower than the 36.50 million yen it was valued at during its peak in 1992.

The tax agency assesses land values at 410,000 locations across Japan to determine the “roadside land price,” which is used to calculate inheritance and gift taxes each year.

The results of the 2005 assessments could indicate land prices in urban areas are starting to halt their decline. Declining land values have been hounding the economy since the asset-inflated bubble economy collapsed in the early 1990s.

Among the 47 prefectures, Tokyo was the only area where the average price rose, according to the agency.

But the margin of price drops narrowed in 29 of the 47 prefectures, whereas it widened in 16 prefectures, down from the previous year’s 25.

Akita Prefecture saw the widest margin of decline at 12.8 percent.

By region, the margin of decline narrowed to 0.8 percent from 2.7 percent in the greater Tokyo area, consisting of Tokyo as well as Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures.

The margin of decline narrowed to 4.5 percent from 7.7 percent in the Osaka region, which comprises Osaka as well as Hyogo, Kyoto and Nara prefectures.

It narrowed to 2.1 percent from 6.0 percent in the Nagoya region, which apparently saw some benefits from the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture, among other factors.

The number of prefectural capitals where expensive land fell by more than 20 percent dropped to two from five the previous year.

Meanwhile, prices in some prime, big-city locations kept rising due to large redevelopment projects.

Locations that saw big price jumps in percentage terms included a piece of land in front of the Marunouchi Building near Tokyo Station, which soared 18.2 percent.

Other similar locations included a business street in Nakamura Ward, Nagoya, that rose 9.3 percent, and a business street in central Fukuoka where land prices rose 5.9 percent.

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