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SURVEYS SHOW TOKYO'S REPUTATION FOR HIGH PRICES IS RICHLY DESERVED

Exorbitantly priced cantaloupes, outrageous rental costs, mind-boggling golfing fees and stiff parking charges. Tokyo's reputation as a high-priced city is world renowned.

And if a couple of recent surveys are any indication, it's all true.Japan's leading financial newspaper, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, pub-lish-ed the results of a survey Friday on international prices at an exchange rate of 81 yen to the dollar.

In Tokyo, for example, getting into a taxi costs 650 yen ($8.02) compared to 162 yen ($2.00) in New York and 130 yen ($1.60) in London. A liter (0.26 gallons) of regular gasoline goes for 100 yen in Tokyo compared to 30 yen in the Big Apple and 68 yen in Britain's capital city.

Want to play golf? Expect to shell out a whopping 25,000 yen ($308.64) to tee off in Tokyo versus a mere 2,200 yen ($27.16) in New York and 2,600 yen ($32.09) in London.

A Big Mac is more than double the cost in Tokyo than New York.

"I don't think most people can even really imagine the cost of living here, especially those who haven't lived here before," says David Spievack, vice president at the marketing research firm JMRB Customer Satisfaction Measurements, noting that for "obvious reasons" his company only quotes prices in yen to customers.

Those "obvious reasons" refer to the plunging value of the dollar against the yen in recent months, something that one might think would provide a golden opportunity for Japanese companies - supermarkets, fast food restaurants, taxi companies and so on - to cut prices with lower import costs or benefits from them.

Prices for some imported products - such as cars, handbags and jewelry - have come down but many price reductions seem to be short-lived. The general suspicion is that someone is pocketing the difference between the dollar's value of around 200 yen at the end of 1985 and its drop to around 80 yen now.

If apparent price rididity qualifies as the "eighth wonder of the world" to some, the sheer level of prices is enough to spur consumers to keep their wallets in their pockets.

Another survey by Daiichi Kangyo Bank Research Institute found that the cost of living in Tokyo is about twice as high as New York. With Tokyo equal to 100, the survey found that food prices in New York scored 38, housing costs 57 and medical and insurance expenses 31. Only in one area - education - were the price levels the same.