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LACK OF SPACE FOR PARKING HURTS JAPAN CAR SALES

Japan's once-booming auto dealers face a difficult roadblock: a lack of parking spaces.

The severe land shortage in Japan's major cities is hurting new car sales because of laws requiring car owners to have parking spaces, a report by the Tokai Bank says.The report says sales have declined since early 1991, when the Garage Law was revised to require all new car owners in Tokyo and Osaka to prove they have spaces.

New car registrations this February were down 5 percent from February 1991, statistics show.

Meanwhile, prices of parking spaces have skyrocketed. In Tokyo, a monthly space can cost more than $225 and people may wait years for a space.

The National Police Agency says there are about 160,000 more cars than spaces.

Repeat violators face a $1,500 fine or up to three months in prison.