• Kyodo

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Land prices as of the beginning of this year were 1.6 percent higher on average than a year before, up for the fifth consecutive year, supported by a rise in development projects and foreign visitors, government data showed Wednesday.

However, it is likely the prices will experience a downturn if the economy continues to weaken due to the fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The data released by the National Tax Agency shows that land prices climbed in 21 of the country’s 47 prefectures, with Okinawa seeing the steepest rise at 10.5 percent, helped by robust demand for inbound tourism, followed by Tokyo at 5.0 percent and Miyagi and Fukuoka prefectures at 4.8 percent.

Land prices in Yamagata and Yamaguchi prefectures rose for the first time in 28 and 25 years, respectively, according to the data, which covered about 320,000 sites for calculation in inheritance and gift taxes for 2020.

But Tadashi Matsuda, a chief researcher at the Real Estate Economic Institute, said, “It is certain the situation will worsen even in those areas due to the spread of the coronavirus.”

He said the situation may become more severe than the years following the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s.

Land prices fell in 26 prefectures, with the rate of decline narrowing in 19, according to the data. Toyama saw a bigger fall than a year before, down 0.3 percent, while the prices in Hyogo, where they remained flat in the previous survey, decreased 0.1 percent.

Of the 47 prefectural capitals, prices rose in 38, up five from a year earlier, with a plot on the Kokusai-dori shopping street in Naha registering the highest increase at 40.8 percent.

Those in the cities of Aomori, Nagano, Gifu, Tsu in Mie Prefecture, Matsue in Shimane Prefecture and Tokushima rose having previously been flat.

Eight remained at the same level, with Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, the only city to experience a downturn.

A plot in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, in front of Kyukyodo stationary store, fetched a record ¥45.92 million per square meter, making it the most expensive piece of land in the country for the 35th straight year.

The plot’s record price was renewed for the fourth consecutive year, but it only saw a 0.7 percent rise from a year before.

Niseko Kogen Hirafusen street in the town of Kutchan in Hokkaido, a popular ski resort for foreign visitors, recorded the sharpest price rise for the sixth consecutive year at 50.0 percent.

Land designated as evacuation zones in parts of Fukushima Prefecture following the 2011 nuclear disaster continued to show no value in the data.

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