• Kyodo

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Land prices in Japan as of Jan. 1 declined an average 0.7 percent from a year earlier for the sixth straight yearly fall but the margin of decline narrowed from last year’s 1.8 percent, the National Tax Agency said in its annual report released Tuesday.

The survey, which covered about 339,000 points across the country and was used for inheritance tax calculations, also showed the first rise in six years in the country’s three biggest urban areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Aichi prefectures.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy mix of aggressive monetary easing, massive fiscal spending and growth strategy, dubbed “Abenomics,” helped land prices mainly in urban areas recover, agency officials said.

The Bank of Japan’s ultraloose credit-easing led to a boost in real estate investments, they said.

Of Japan’s 47 prefectures, land prices declined in 38, a decrease from last year’s 45, and the decline rates slowed in all 38 of them, while they went up in eight. In Okinawa, they showed no change.

Prices rose 0.8 percent in Fukushima Prefecture in an upturn stemming from the relocation of evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

They climbed 1.8 percent in Tokyo due to a boost in condominium construction ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics as well as redevelopment projects in downtown areas.

The highest land prices in prefectural capitals went up in 18 cities, an increase of 11 from a year earlier, and fell in 21 cities, a decrease from 32.

The agency’s report found that land in parts of Fukushima Prefecture, designated as evacuation zones in the wake of the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant, were virtually worthless.

The sharpest rise was 25 percent registered at a point in Asahikawa, Hokkaido’s second-biggest city, due to the opening of a bridge improving local access.

The highest price among the points surveyed was ¥23.6 million per square meter for land in front of stationery store Kyukyodo in Tokyo’s Ginza district — up 9.7 percent — to stay in the No. 1 spot for the 29th straight year since 1986.

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