[TOKYO] Japan's nationwide commercial land prices rose for the first time in eight years in 2015, driven by expectations that growing demand for hotel and retail spaces would boost property values, a government survey showed.
Prices rose 0.9 per cent last year after staying flat in 2014, according to the annual survey by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
The upturn was driven by expectations that a surge in foreign tourists would create further demand for shops and hotels, the ministry said. A weak yen currency and the government's push to boost tourism brought Japan a record 19 million foreign visitors last year, 1 million shy of its end-decade target. "The land market in Japan's core cities showed a steady improvement," said Tomoaki Takahashi, director of the ministry's land price publication office.
Commercial land prices in four core cities - Sapporo, Sendai and Hiroshima and Fukuoka - jumped 5.7 per cent in 2015, accelerating from 2.7 per cent in 2014.
Prices in Japan's three biggest metropolitan areas - Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya - rose 2.9 per cent in 2015, after rising 1.8 per cent in 2014.
Japan's commercial land prices rose at a much faster pace during the so-called "bubble" era, increasing as much as 21.9 per cent in 1987.
But a spot in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district rose to 40.1 million yen (US$360,222) per square metre in 2015, the highest ever, the ministry said.
Nationwide residential land prices fell 0.2 per cent, their eighth consecutive annual decline, the data showed, while residential land prices in the four regional cities rose 2.3 per cent, the third consecutive annual gain.
Residential land prices in the top three metropolitan areas rose 0.5 per cent in 2015, compared with 0.4 per cent in 2014.
The ministry surveyed land prices for 25,270 locations nationwide.
The 10 biggest rises in residential land prices were dominated by locations in the northern island of Hokkaido. Prices in the famous Niseko ski resort rose the most in Japan with a 19.7 per cent gain.
Osaka's popular Dotonbori shopping district gained the most among commercial spots in Japan with 45.1 per cent, as the area continued to attract tourists, the ministry said.