The average price of land in Japan edged up 0.1 percent this year, putting an end to 26 straight years of decline since the burst of the bubble economy, the government said Tuesday, as a tourism boom spurs the construction of hotels and shops.
The average prices for all types of land, including commercial, residential and industrial, were surveyed by July 1 across the country, according to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.
The first price increase in 27 years was mostly due to gains in urban areas, as mountainous and other rural areas with falling populations saw continued declines.
“Regional areas where land prices are rising are those with transportation networks being built and other ongoing development projects to attract foreign tourists,” said Takeshi Ide, a senior chief researcher at Tokyo Kantei Co., a real estate research firm.
Average commercial land prices rose for the third straight year, up 1.1 percent from a year earlier and faster than the 0.5 percent gain logged the previous year.
Prices in the country’s three largest metropolitan regions of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka rose 4.2 percent, while those in four key regional cities — Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima and Fukuoka — jumped an average of 9.2 percent.
But in other regional cities, commercial land prices fell 0.6 percent, indicating a gap between bigger cities and minor regional ones.
“In regional areas where populations decline, commercial facilities and hospitals are closing down,” Ide said. “Polarization of regional land prices is expected to continue.”
At the peak of the asset-inflated bubble economy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, average land prices registered a record 13.7 percent climb in 1990 and were last in positive territory in 1991 with a 3.1 percent rise.
In addition to firm demand for hotels and shops, the land ministry also attributed the upward trend in the country’s land prices to declining office vacancy rates amid economic recovery.
“Real estate investments are robust as funds can be secured easily amid low interest rates,” a ministry official said.
Average residential land prices dropped 0.3 percent, but the pace of decline decelerated on solid housing demand mainly around train stations.
In the Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka metropolitan regions, residential land prices collectively went up 0.7 percent for the fourth consecutive year of increase. In the Osaka region, where the figure had remained flat for three years, prices edged up 0.1 percent.
The influence of the major earthquake that struck northern Osaka Prefecture in June was not reflected in the survey, according to the ministry.
In the four key regional cities, average residential land prices were up an average 3.9 percent.
Among the nation’s 47 prefectures, Kyoto registered the biggest increase in commercial land prices at 7.5 percent, reflecting its popularity as a tourist destination for foreign visitors.
As for residential land prices, Okinawa logged the highest growth of 4 percent, helped by the buoyant economy in the prefecture.
Akita Prefecture saw the largest falls in both commercial and residential land prices at 2.6 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.
The Meidi-ya Ginza building in the luxurious Tokyo shopping district posted the highest land price among all surveyed locations for the 13th consecutive year.
It stood at ¥41.9 million per square meter, surpassing the previous high of ¥38.9 million set the previous year.