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Japan posted a good trade deficit of JPY 888.8 billion in the first half 2019
Japan incurred a goods trade deficit of 888.8 billion yen in the first half of 2019, weighed down by sluggish exports to other Asian countries amid intensifying trade tensions between the United States and China. The trade deficit followed a 1.8 trillion yen deficit in the second half of the last year, according to a preliminary report by the Finance Ministry.

During the January-June period, exports fell 4.7 % from a year earlier to 38.24 trillion yen and imports decreased 1.1 % to 39.13 trillion yen. Both exports and imports were down for the first time in five six-month periods.
By region, Japan’s China-bound exports, such as semiconductor manufacturing equipment and auto parts, dropped 8.2 percent from a year earlier. Imports from China, including computers and televisions, inched up 0.1%, leaving Japan with a deficit of 2.05 trillion yen.
For the whole of Asia, including China, Japan had a trade surplus of 1.73 trillion yen, down 41.9 percent, amid declines in exports of semiconductor manufacturing machinery to South Korea.

The world’s third-largest economy recorded a surplus of 3.46 trillion yen with the United States, helped by robust demand for Japanese cars, despite President Donald Trump’s drive to cut his country’s massive deficits with its trading partners.

In the first six months of 2019, Japan saw a 239.1 billion yen deficit with the European Union amid falls in exports of ships and motorcycles.

The figures were measured on a customs-cleared basis.
Major Japanese automakers’ results for FYE March 2019
The financial results of seven Japanese automakers for the fiscal year ended March 2019 are attached herewith. Most of the figures are taken from the annual securities report, or Yuka Shoken Hokokusho, of each automaker.
Regional land prices rose for the first time in 27 years on tourist boom
Real estate
The average price of all types of land in Japan’s regional areas rose for the first time since 1992 last year, as the growing influx of foreign tourist rejuvenated real estate investment, according to the government.

In regions outside of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, the average price for land of all categories including commercial, residential and industrial grew 0.4% from a year earlier as of January 1st aided by redevelopment projects and investment in such cities as Sapporo, Sendai, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. However, land prices in depopulated areas continued to fall, underlining polarization in regional land prices in the country.

As of January 1st, 2018, the average regional land price was unchanged from?a year ealier, according to the nationwide survey by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism covering some 26,000 locations. Regional residential land prices edged up 0.2% from a year earlier, marking the first rise in 27 years, while commercial land prices went up 1.0% for the second straight year of increase. But land prices dropped at 48% of regional survey spots and remained flat in 19% of them as land price growth was mostly limited to tourist sites and areas with improved access due to redevelopment. Among the major regional cities, Fukuoka observed the largest increase in commerical land prices at 12.3%, followed by Sendai at 10.7%, Sapporo at 8.8%, and Hiroshima at 5.8%. Residential land prices rose 4.4% in the four cities on average.
Major net brokers are likely to post declined profits
Japan’s four major internet securities companies are?expected to report lower profits for the fiscal year?ended March 2017, due largely to an uncertain global political environment that has pared down trading by retail investors.

Matsui Securities’ nonconsolidated net profit is seen at about JPY 11 billion($101 million), down 25% from the previous year, while Securities’ net profit is estimated at JPY 6.5 billion, a 19% decrease. Both companies were likely hurt by a downturn in stock brokerage commissions from trading by individuals.?Monex Group’s consolidated net profit, based on international accounting standards, seems to have dropped 86% to around JPY 500 yen. Earnings were weighed down in part by increased costs from renovations of its core system.?SBI Securities’ earnings remained solid, with its group net profit apparently falling only slightly to about JPY?28 billion. Operating revenue excluding financial revenue likely hit a record. Revenue from foreign exchange margin trading commissions evidently rose and its corporate division performed well, thanks to underwriting initial public offerings.

Online brokerages have used low commission fees to boost market share and now control about 90% of trading done by individuals in Japan. Their earnings are thus greatly impacted by individuals’ enthusiasm for buying and selling stocks.But trading by retail investors has decreased every year since its fiscal 2013 peak, when hopes grew for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies, including deregulation. Stock trading by individuals shrank 16% in fiscal 2016, based on data from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Japan’?working-age population faces a sharp decline.
Japan’s working-age population is facing a steep decline, leaving the country’s future vitality precarious barring major improvements in social security and labor productivity. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research published new statistics on Japan’s population on April 10th, showing projected levels for each of the 50 years from 2015 to 2065. The working-age population, ages 15 to 64, is to plunge 40% from 2015 levels by 2065. The figure probably will drop to 59.78 million around 2040, undershooting the current count by more than 20%.

In such sectors as construction, transportation and nursing care, open positions already outnumber applicants by more than three to one. Industries that require lots of labor may not be able to sustain themselves if the population keeps shrinking at this rate, and urgently need advances in productivity or technological innovation.

Nursing care has seen progress in information technology and robotics, but the labor force numbers probably will fail to keep pace with demand nonetheless as the population ages. Some logistics industry players have adjusted their strategies to address the labor squeeze, such as by discontinuing home delivery scheduling services. But unless package volume decreases, they will have a hard time maintaining their present level of service.
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