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18th May 2018 – Japan Still Can Not Shake Off Deflationary Economic Risk

Japan core consumer price inflation slowed in April for second month. Central Bank of Japan is trying to encourage price inflation towards its 2 percent target with repeated difficulty.

Insipid price inflation will prevent the removal of quantitative easing QE for several more years.

23rd April 2018 – Japan 3 Trillion Yen Trade Surplus

2017 second year of trade surplus with rest of world. Big drivers of trade surplus is automobile exports to USA.

16th March 2018 – Japan EU UK and Brexit

Japan business representatives, Japan Business Council in Europe JBCE, want Japan’s deal with European Union EU to apply to Britain during the transition period, yet to be agreed between EU and UK.

8th March 2018 – Japan Economy Grows 1.6 Percent Last Quarter 2017

Japan reports annualised economic growth rate of 1.6 percent in Oct-Dec quarter of 2017 driven be strong domestic consumer demand and private investment.

2nd March 2018 – Fight Against Deflation Continues

Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, says the government and central bank must continue to work together to end deflation.   Japan has struggled with deflation for decades.

2nd March 2018 – Japan Jobless Rate Hits 25-Year Low

Japan’s unemployment rate fell to a 25-year low in January and the number of job vacancies in Japan is at a 20-year high according to the Japanese government.

Japan’s unemployment rate fell to 2.4 percent in January, down from 2.7 percent in December.   There are currently 1.59 jobs to every job applicant in Japan, which is highest ratio since January 1974.   Yet wage inflation in Japan is disappointingly low for the Prime Minister’s liking.

Japan is experiencing its longest continuous economic expansion run since the 1980’s yet inflation is stubbornly unhealthily low.

21st February 2018 – Japan Government Confirms Economy Continuing To Recover Slowly

Japan’s government assessment of economic prospects for Japan is that it will continue to improve, but slowly.

Japan’s economy has grown for 8 straight months, the longest continuous expansion since a 12-quarter growth run between April-June 1986 and January-March 1989.

  • Share prices close to highest in 26 years
  • Corporate profits are near all-time high
  • Business investment rising
  • Exports growing
  • Domestic demand is sustaining solid but slow growth

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants big businesses to increase wages by at least 3 percent in 2018 to sustain and speed up business growth in Japan, but big business leaders in Japan aren’t responding to his vision of growth.

20th February 2018 – Japan Set To Make Major Change To Immigration Policy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reportedly ordered his top advisory panel to consider ways to increase foreign workers to alleviate Japan’s growing skills shortage.

“I want to be able to show some direction on accepting foreign workers by the summer,” Abe said at a meeting of the Council of Economic and Fiscal Policy.

The change of policy could affect both high-skilled and low-skilled foreign labour.

Labour shortages have already resulted in the shortening of operating hours or a scaling back of operations in some industry sectors.

17th February 2018 – Japan Doesn’t See Shortage Of Workers As A Problem.   Japan Sees A Shortage Of Workers As An Opportunity To Massively Increase Japan’s Productivity Per Head Of Population

Japan is trying to alleviate skills shortage not through immigration, but by innovation and making the most from the population already there or to be born.

Japan has made it easier for Japanese workers to work longer by changing the pension arrangements and restricting immigration to make it easier for people already in Japan to find work.

Japan plans to reward people for working longer than 65 up to 70.   Older retirees will receive bigger pensions.

Restricting immigration does exacerbate  the skills shortage problem and potentially increase wages.   However, wages aren’t increasing fast enough for the Japanese Prime Minister so wage inflation would be welcomed not feared.

The skills shortage problem is actually an opportunity – an opportunity to be more creative and innovative with mechanisation and automation.   If Japan can be even more innovative and creative it will develop new equipment, machinery and ways of doing things that will make Japan super productive per head of workers.

Increasing productivity is the holy grail for countries at the moment.   Improving productivity increases the wealth of the nation and the quality of life, assuming everyone’s skills are upgraded to adapt workers to the new 4th Industrial Revolution working environment.

Whether Japan will be able to continue with its highly restrictive immigration policy is debatable.   A lot will depend on how innovative the Japanese can be over the next decade or so.

The demographic time-bomb Japan is facing is one of, if not the greatest, threats to Japan’s long-term future prosperity and security.   Its aging population may not have enough workers to deliver all societal needs, particularly those that have retired.   The demographic crisis is made worse by the fact that Japan has the world’s highest life expectancy and births in 2017 fell to lowest since records began a century ago.   There will be fewer people living in Japan in future, but most of them will be retired.

Most Japanese companies require full-time employees to retire at just 60 

16th February 2018 – Japan’s QE Unlikely To Shrink Any Time Soon

Japan has reappointed central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda for another 5 years and appointed a reflationist philosopher as his deputy.   Abenomics is more likely to expand rather than contract.

The appointment demonstrates at least two things.   Firstly Japan is going to keep money really cheap until well into the next decade.   Secondly, Japan has the means and power to reduce the value of the yen to maintain exports and balance of trade surplus, should it choose to wield it.

USA, UK and Eurozone are all either reducing QE or manoeuvring to reduce QE to curb inflation and/or return economic environment to more normal.   Japan however, if anything, will increase QE.   Japan certainly will not reduce QE as it struggles to release itself from the grip of deflation and stagnation.

With negative interest rates and massive money printing over 5 years, Japan still can’t shake off the spectre of deflationary pressure on its economy.   Prime Minister is determined to hold his present course and the recent central bank appointments are confirmation of that.

Increasing QE would help to head off rising value of yen, but its hard for Japan to make money cheaper than it already is and Japan needs to put more effort into other, additional, economic strategies to lift Japan out of the doldrums.

16th February 2018 – Japan’s Government Tries To Talk Down Rising Value Yen

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga implied the Japanese government would intervene to stop the value of the yen rising.

The recent rising value of the yen threatens Japan’s valuable export market and balance of trade surplus should it continue upwards against the USA dollar and other currencies.   The yen’s value against the dollar has risen over the last 12 months and around 6 percent since the start of this calendar year.

14th February 2018 – Japan’s Longest Growth Run Since Tech Bubble

Economic growth for Japan in the final quarter of 2017 was 0.5 percent and was part of Japan’s economy longest continuous economic growth period since the 12-quarter run between April-June 1986 and January-March 1989.   The Japanese economy has now grown for 8 successive quarters.   Japan’s growth is being drive by mainly global demand and exporting rather than domestic growth and demand.

Japan, like USA and UK, is under strong pressure to increase wages to attract and retain employees largely due to shortage of skilled labour.   Jobless rate in Japan is less than 3 percent.

Unlike the UK, for Japan rising wages could finally lift it away from the deflation cycle risk its been stuck in for decades.   However a tight labour market in Japan has not yet fed through into significantly higher wage rises, despite even the Prime Minister calling for companies in Japan to increase wages around the 3 percent mark.

Japanese central back has managed to keep the growth going by making money in Japan incredibly cheap and easy to grab.   Interest rate in Japan is minus 0.1 percent.

7th February 2018 – Japan Wages Fall Despite Prime Minister Calling For Wages To Rise Faster

Wages of Japanese workers fell in December at their fastest rate in 5 months.

Japan has struggled to shake off the spectre of deflation for decades and decreasing wages is likely to further exacerbate attempts to return Japan to full health economically.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants employers to give Japanese workers at least a 3 percent wage rise in 2018 to help boost the economy and hit his healthy inflation target of 2 percent, but Japanese employers aren’t responding well.   If Japanese trebled their current wage increase settlement’s with their employees it would still fall short of the Prime Minister’s preferred wage increase this year.

2nd February 2018 – Japan’s Economy Growing For 8th Straight Quarter

Japan’s economy is expected, by Reuters poll, to grow in the final quarter of 2017 for eight straight month which if correct will be the longest period of economic expansion of Japanese economy for 30 years.

The Japanese economy is currently growing at an annualised rate of around 2.5 percent.

22nd January 2018 – Japanese Manufacturers Confidence Level Jumps To 11-Year High

Confidence among Japanese manufacturers jumped in January to an 11-year high in a Reuters Tankan poll.

18th January 2018 – Australia and Japan On Asia Pacific Trade Deal

Australia and Japan are both committed to signing the Asia Pacific trade deal by March 2018.   The new trade deal will replace the planned Trans Pacific Partnership TPP before USA pulled out.

11 countries will sign the new Asia Pacific trade deal including Canada.

17th January 2018 – Prime Minister Wants Businesses To Increase Wages By At Least 3 Percent

He has been backed up by the business lobby for Japan’s biggest companies, Keidanren.   Vice-chairman Keidanren, Yasumi Kudo, says that it is important to raise Japan’s wages to push up consumerism to push up inflation to push up corporate earnings.   If employees don’t get the money to spend neither will corporates.

For several years now Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has been calling on businesses to increase wages faster to try to get Japan out of its deflation spiral.   Abe’s goal is to make sure consumers keep spending.

5th January 2018 – Higher Wages In Japan In 2018

Japan Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says the Japanese government has laid the ground for higher wages in Japan in 2018.   Companies in Japan should start increasing wages faster in the spring of 2018.

26th December 2017 – Japan’s Inflation Increases In November.

Japanese inflation is however still rising at less than half the rate targeted by the central bank.

20th December 2017 – Is Japan’s Government Policy Framework Sustainable?

The Bank of Japan’s BOJ holdings of government debt rose to a record high in July-September.   The BOJ held $4 trillion of government debt at end of September 2017.   This reflected around 40% of all government debt and is hardly spreading the risk.

Despite the Japanese government’s assertion it wants to reduce QE, the new record figures show an increasing concentration of debt that will be difficult to ease.

29th October 2017 Safety Review In Japan

Japan’s acclaimed control of business functions is looking a little poor and even sleazy in recent years.   Business management scandals have been mixed with scanty health and safety practices.

Examples of deteriorating bad working practices include Subaru and Nissan vehicle manufacturers.   Japan is not on its own when it comes to seedy business management.   One only needs to the cross-industry failures of air bags and emission scandals.

This global malaise of the way businesses do things may have come from the need to cut costs after the financial crisis started in 2007-08, but there is no longer an excuse for failing to invest in the skills and risk-awareness culture of businesses in Japan, or indeed any part of the world.

20th September 2017 – Japan Exporting At Fastest Rate In Nearly 4 Years in August

Japan is benefiting from stronger global economic growth.   August was not a one off.   Japan has been exporting more all year.

The USA and China are Japan’s favourite export destinations, taking the bulk of Japan’s exports.

28th August 2017 – Japan’s Economy Strengthening

Japan’s economy is growing well in recent month’s, according to Japan’s government.

Japan’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in more than two years in the second quarter.   The economy is growing at 4% year-on-year.

According to Japan’s government, Japan has been expanding since December 2012 and will match the second longest postwar expansion in August.

19th August 2017 – Japan’s Consumer Price Rises Good For Japan’s Economy

Japan consumer price rises over consecutive month’s is great news for an economy that has struggled with deflation for so long.   However Japan is still far away from good healthy inflation level.

Japan has for many years pumped cheap money into Japan’s economy with little effect on inflation.   That maybe changing.   If it is, it’s good thing for Japan and the global economy.

5th June 2017 – Japan Services Sector Growing At Fastest Rate In Nearly 2 Years

Markit/Nikkei Japan Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reports Japan’s services sector is very healthy.

The index for new business rose to a four year high in May.   Japan business confidence reached its highest level since mid-2013.

28th January 2017 – Lack Of Inflation Still A Problem For Growth In Japan

For decades, Japan has struggled to push up inflation to a “healthy” 2%.   Massive monetary easing has only had limited improvement towards the goal of injecting more inflation and boosting Japanese economic growth.   The spectre of deflation raised its ugly head again in the last quarter of 2016.

5th January 2017 – Services Sector At 11-Month High

Business activity in the Services Sector in Japan reach a new high in almost a year.   Markit/Nikkei’s Services Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) indicated continued business growth in December 2016.   New business expanded at its fastest rate since July 2015

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