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Japan land prices mark smallest fall in 4 years -govt
* Strong yen, Europe debt crisis weigh on land prices
* Rebuilding in quake-hit areas helps slow price falls
TOKYO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Land prices in Japan fell by an average 2.7 percent in the year to July 1, the smallest decline in four years, though the strong yen and the euro zone debt crisis weighed, a government survey showed on Wednesday.
There was some growth in land prices supported by tax breaks on housing loans and activity by real estate investment trusts (J-REIT) in big cities, the land ministry said.
"The real estate market shows a recovering trend but an impact from the uncertain outlook due to the strong yen and the European debt crisis is being seen in land prices," the ministry said.
Rebuilding efforts in northeast coastal areas devastated by last year's earthquake and tsunami helped to slow declines in land prices in those areas, the survey showed.
The fall in average prices for land compared with a 3.4 percent decline in the previous year. It was the smallest decline since a 1.2 percent fall in 2008.
A fall in the average price of residential land narrowed to 2.5 percent compared with a 3.2 percent drop the year before. That was also the smallest fall since a 1.2 percent drop in 2008.
The average price of commercial land fell 3.1 percent, following a 4.0 percent fall the year before, also the smallest decline since a 0.8 percent slip in 2008.
The pace of decline in three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka almost halved to 1.0 percent from a 1.9 percent decline the year before.
In areas hit by last year's disaster, land prices in Miyagi prefecture dipped 0.6 percent from a 3.8 percent fall the year before, and those in Fukushima prefecture fell 3.2 percent following a 5.4 percent decline the previous year. (Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Eric Meijer and Michael Watson)
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