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Land prices in commercial areas in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya rose for the first time in 15 years, backed by an improving economy and active real estate investment, a government survey showed Thursday.

The land prices rose 1.0 percent in the Tokyo area, 0.8 percent in the Osaka area and 0.9 percent in and around Nagoya, according to the annual report by the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, which surveyed prices as of Jan. 1 at 31,230 designated locations nationwide.

Land prices in residential areas in Tokyo, Nagoya and central parts of Osaka and Kyoto also rose. The data provide a clear sign that the three major urban areas have emerged from long-running land price deflation, real estate industry officials said.

But real estate prices for the country as a whole, including both residential and commercial, fell by an average of 2.7 percent, marking the 15th straight annual decline.

The average nationwide land price for commercial areas has dropped to levels last seen around 1970, while that for residential districts has fallen to the 1986 level.

The rate of decline, however, was smaller than the previous year’s decreases of 5.6 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively.

In all areas excluding the three large metropolises, land prices in commercial districts fell by an average 5.5 percent, while those in residential districts slipped 4.2 percent, with the rate of decline falling for the second straight year.

Prices of commercial plots in prime urban areas rose strongly, with Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward gaining 11.1 percent, its fourth straight yearly increase.

Prices were also up in many commercial districts in the Osaka and Nagoya areas.

The Nagoya area saw especially strong price gains due to the strength of the local economy. It had eight of the country’s top 10 spots in terms of growth in commercial land prices.

Residential land prices were weaker, however, falling by 0.9 percent in the Tokyo area, by 1.6 percent in the Osaka area and by 1.3 percent in the Nagoya area.

Residential land prices in the city centers rose, climbing by 2.2 percent in Tokyo’s 23 wards, by 1.7 percent in Osaka’s central six wards and 1.4 percent in Nagoya as a whole.

All of the country’s top 10 residential areas in terms of land price increases were located in Tokyo’s Minato and Shibuya wards.

In addition to the stronger prices in the three major metropolitan areas, real estate saw gains in Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima and Fukuoka.

Land prices for commercial plots in Sapporo rose 2.1 percent and those for residential areas inched up 0.1 percent, both of which were the first increases in 15 years.