TOKYO, July 1 (Reuters) - Land prices in Japan’s three largest metropolitan areas rose in 2013, spurred by property investments, while prices in smaller cities kept declining, highlighting a widening divide between the biggest urban centres and more remote areas, a government survey showed.
Land prices in Tokyo rose 1.8 percent last year while Osaka posted a 0.3 percent rise, both climbing for the first time in six years.
Prices in Aichi prefecture, which includes the city of Nagoya and the headquarters of Toyota Motor Corp, rose 1.2 percent after rising 0.1 percent the year before, according to the National Tax Agency.
Land prices in rural Akita prefecture in northern Japan recorded the largest decline of 4.8 percent.
While land prices in most of Japan’s 47 prefectures fell, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, both damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, posted increases last year.
Overall, Japan’s land prices fell 0.7 percent but the pace of the decline was the slowest in six years.
Analysts say the rise in large cities has been driven by investors anticipating further price gains as vacancy rates decline and rents start picking up, suggesting strong investor confidence in the market’s revival.
Earlier this month, Japanese property developer Mitsui Fudosan Co raised more than $3 billion by selling shares to the public, saying it would use the proceeds to develop new properties nationwide.
Property investor Secured Capital Investment Management Co last month put an office tower in central Tokyo’s Marunouchi district up for sale for more than 180 billion yen ($1.8 billion), which would make it Japan’s priciest property transaction since the 2008 global financial crisis.
The tax agency assesses land prices as of Jan. 1 every year to calculate inheritance and gift taxes on properties acquired that year.
The block in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district surrounding the Kyukyodo Building, which houses an upscale stationery shop, retained the top spot as Japan’s most expensive plot of land for a 29th consecutive year, the agency said, at 23.6 million yen per tsubo, or 3.3 square meters, up 9.7 percent from a year earlier. ($1 = 101.4200 Japanese Yen) (Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Kim Coghill)