Economy expected to improve over longer term
Conducted on 16–26 October, this year’s autumn Foreign Chambers in Japan Business Confidence Survey drew 327 valid responses from members of business organisations and 17 foreign chambers of commerce in Japan.
The bi-annual survey reveals that all indicators—from views on the Japanese economy to the performance of firms and their business forecasts—declined about 15–25% from the previous survey (spring 2012).
Apart from the short-term views on the Japanese economy, all indicators were positive. The economy here is expected to remain flat for the next six months, but should start to improve slightly in 12 months’ time.
Based on respondents’ comments, concerns regarding the economy and the lower reported and forecast growth in firms’ performance largely could be attributed to external factors. These include the European debt crisis, problematic Japan–China relations and uncertainties regarding the US economy.
While sales figures were positive over the past six months, they were at a lower rate than noted in the April survey. In addition, profitability grew at a slower pace.
Respondents were less optimistic than they had been in April regarding the sales forecast for the next six months.
With the issues and uncertainties caused by the 11 March, 2011 triple disaster mostly resolved, 3/11 now is being viewed more as an opportunity than a threat. That said, the opportunities are expected to develop over a longer term than earlier predicted.
Only 7% of the respondents saw 3/11 as the main cause of change in their businesses.
Foreign-affiliated firms in Japan continue to have confident strategies. Of these, 74% (73% in April 2012) are looking to further growth, while 20% expect to sustain their current levels.
Some 4% are planning to downsize, but only 2% are considering withdrawing from Japan (five out of 327 respondents).
Two questions were included in the survey: predictions for the Nikkei index and currency rates (¥/€ for European firms, ¥/$ for others) in six months.
The next survey will be conducted in April 2013, with the results published later that month.
Full report: www.fcc.or.jp/fcij/bcs.html