A second major factor influencing future urban development, possibly less certain than the first but following directly from it, is that it seems unlikely that the future will see significant increases in land prices, at least not on the scale seen during the last century. Much more likely is that land prices will remain stable or continue to decline gradually, partly because of slower economic growth, but primarily because of the declining population. If such land price stability does come about in Japan it will represent a profound change to the Japanese political economy, with particularly strong impacts in urban areas. During most of the post-war period one of Japan’s most enduring myths, upon which the whole structure of the land development industry and much of the rest of the economy has been built, is that land prices would always rise (Noguchi 1992b). Any investment in urban real estate, no matter how optimistic, and any investment in urban fringe land development, no matter how remote, would eventually be paid back by rising land values. This pervasive belief was, of course, self-fulfilling up to a certain point, but equally obviously could not last forever. The land myth had a number of pernicious effects on urban development that may change in future. First, it seems likely that as future expectations of enormous land price increases are accepted as less and less likely, inner urban land that was farmed or held vacant primarily for speculative purposes will have to be put to uses which yield higher returns, even if simply to pay rising taxes. Further, land development schemes in very remote locations may begin to receive more scrutiny, if only by banks and other lenders who see increased risks in such development. Both of these possibilities, if they occur, would serve to reduce the degree of new urban sprawl in the metropolitan areas, and might begin to encourage consolidation in existing built up areas.