The land, infrastructure and transport ministry has found that as of July 1, the nationwide average residential land prices went down 3.2 percent from a year before — the 20th straight annual drop — and average prices for commercial areas fell 4 percent — the fourth straight decrease. The trend points to the effects of deflation, although the rate of decrease in land prices in the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya areas narrowed. The effects of the March 11 quake and tsunami were also large.

The ministry said that the disasters’ effects offset the effects of tax reduction measures for households paying housing loans. It also said that high vacancy rates in office buildings and postdisaster decreases in sales at shops caused land prices to fall.

The effects of the disasters and the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are clear in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The land price surveys had to be given up at 93 points in these disaster-hit prefectures, 50 of them inside evacuation zones in Fukushima Prefecture set up after the nuclear accidents.

In Fukushima Prefecture, residential land prices fell 5.4 percent and commercial land prices 7.5 percent on average. Respective rates of decrease were 2.3 and 2.9 percentage points bigger than a year before. These figures show what effect the nuclear fiasco has had on land prices in the prefecture. The government needs to earnestly tackle the tasks of bringing the nuclear accidents under control and of decontaminating areas affected by radioactive substances from the power plant.

The land price for a spa in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, dropped 15 percent, the largest drop in commercial areas across Japan, due to a sharp decrease in the number of tourists visiting there after the nuclear accidents.

Land prices for a residential area in Rikuzen Takada, Iwate Prefecture, fell as much as 16 percent. Safe and commercially vibrant communities must be built in the disaster-hit areas. Moving residences to highlands may be necessary. In some parts of western Japan, land prices fell more than a year before because of fear of possible major earthquakes. Both the central and local governments need to move up sufficient preparations against such quakes even outside the Tohoku region.

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