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Financial assets and home equity held by households averaged 39 million yen as of the end of November 2004, a drop of 11.1 percent from 1999, when the last survey was conducted, according to a survey by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry released Monday.

The assets include savings, securities and personal pensions, home equity including land for housing, and durable goods, including automobiles and furniture.

The ministry attributed the drop to the decrease in land for housing caused by a decline in land prices.

The latest survey, covering 54,000 households with two or more members, shows the widening gap in household assets, according to the ministry.

The index showing the gap was 3.4 in the latest survey, compared with 3.1 in the previous survey. The index is calculated by dividing the average household assets of the top 10 percent of those surveyed by those of the lowest 10 percent.

By type of asset, land for housing decreased by 18.6 percent, while durable goods dropped by 15.3 percent and home equity by 2.3 percent. Meanwhile, the outstanding balance of financial assets increased by 6.1 percent.