• Kyodo

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Land prices in Japan fell 0.5% on average in 2021 from a year before, down for the first time in six years due to loss in demand by foreign visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Thursday.

The data released by the National Tax Agency showed that land prices as of Jan. 1 fell in 39 of the country's 47 prefectures, with metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Aichi, and 10 other prefectures suffering a setback after rising in the previous year.

Shizuoka saw the steepest decline of 1.6%, followed by Gifu and Ehime, both down 1.4%. Many other prefectures expanded their margin of decline.

Land prices in seven prefectures rose, down from 21 prefectures last year, with the margins of increase narrowing.

Fukuoka saw the biggest rise of 1.8%. While prices in Okinawa climbed 1.6%, the margin of increase shrank steeply from a 10.5% hike last year.

Of the 47 prefectural capitals, prices fell in 22, compared to one last year, particularly at tourist spots and downtown areas usually popular with inbound travelers.

The Omiya street in Nara saw a fall of 12.5%, Sannomiya Center Gai shopping street in Kobe a drop of 9.7% and Midosuji avenue in Osaka a decline of 8.5%.

The Kokusai-dori shopping street in Naha, Okinawa, dropped 1.4% after registering the highest increase of 40.8% last year.

Land prices in eight capitals rose, down by 30 from a year before, supported by development projects. Seventeen remained at the same level.

A plot in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district, in front of Kyukyodo stationery store, marked the most expensive piece of land in the country for the 36th year, fetching ¥42.72 million ($384,500) per square meter.

But the price represented a fall of 7.0% from the year before, the first drop after rising for seven consecutive years.

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

The tax agency's annual survey of prices per 1 square meter of land facing major roads as of Jan. 1 covered about 325,000 points across the country this year. It is used for calculations of inheritance tax and gift tax.

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