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High-speed rail creates robust growth in property markets in Japan

TOKYO -- A new bullet train line and the prospect of further extensions of Japan's ultrahigh-speed rail network have created pockets of robust growth in property markets beyond the capital.

     A property near Nagoya Station logged the biggest gain of any commercial site in the nation's latest official land price survey, jumping more than 40% in the year to July 1. Several high-rises are going up in the neighborhood, including a rebuilt Dainagoya Building, a local landmark. A magnetic-levitation train line connecting Nagoya with Tokyo, slated to open in 2027, will only add to the station's appeal.

     With some local manufacturers relocating their offices close to the hub, demand for area real estate is holding up well, says the head of Sanko Estate's local agency.

     The survey also shows an unmistakable impact on land prices from the Hokuriku Shinkansen, the country's newest bullet train line. Open since March, it connects Tokyo with the city of Kanazawa in two and a half hours. The biggest gain in residential land prices anywhere in Japan -- 16.8% -- was in Honmachi, a five-minute walk from Kanazawa Station. New bars and restaurants began opening up in the neighborhood about two years ago in anticipation of increased bustle.

     "Not only residential but also storefront demand has risen" a local real estate agent says. "We're getting a lot of calls asking for empty store space."

      In Toyama, another stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, commercial land saw a second straight year of price growth, while residential land prices leveled off after a 0.1% decline in the previous survey. Municipal governments in Kanazawa and Toyama have helped with subsidies and other measures meant to encourage people to move to the city center, according to the land ministry, which conducts the survey.

      In the city of Fukui, which lies at the end of the next planned section of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, prices of commercial land fronting the main train station rose 0.3%. This marked the first appreciation in commercial land anywhere in Fukui Prefecture in 13 years. Although tourists still have to ride slower trains between Kanazawa and Fukui, more of them have been making the trip since the new bullet train line opened.

     But the boost from the new line only goes so far. Outside the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya metropolitan areas, just 12% of sites in the survey showed higher prices. In Akita, Tottori and Yamaguchi prefectures, not a single site, residential or commercial, went up in price in the year to July 1.

(from Nikkei Asian Review)