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Japanese firms more confident of recovery, poll finds

Publication Date : 09-05-2012


There are growing signs Japanese businesses are becoming more confident about recovering from the impact of last year's Great East Japan Earthquake, mainly because of rises in demand due to reconstruction projects, The Yomiuri Shimbun has found.

The newspaper conducted a survey on 118 major domestic companies in mid-April about their perception of their business conditions.

One company said its business performance was "rapidly recovering" from the impact of the disaster, while 73 others said their business conditions were "gradually recovering".

Therefore, a total of 74 firms, or 62.7 per cent of those polled, felt their conditions were improving, an increase of 10 firms from a similar Yomiuri survey in September last year.

Two companies in the latest survey said their conditions were "gradually deteriorating". This drop from six in the previous survey underscored that an increasing number of companies feel that their business is improving.

However, there were 42 companies that said their performance was "stagnant".

Responding to a question about their outlook six months hence, 90 firms, or 76.3 per cent, said their operations are expected to be "recovering gradually", and one company said it would be "rapidly recovering". The findings showed a majority of the companies surveyed think the recovery trend will last.

Fifty-eight companies said they thought business was picking up due to "rises in demand because of recovery projects put in place after the Great East Japan Earthquake."

Another 46 firms cited "recovery of the US economy" and 26 companies cited "the recovery of exports due easing of the yen's appreciation." Multiple responses were permitted for this question.

Regarding the rises in demand linked to recovery from the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe, automotive companies polled said demand for consumer products including motor vehicles has been improving as progress is being made on key aspects of people's livelihoods.

Firms were also asked to identify factors causing anxiety for their business prospects. Topping the list was the "recurrence of the yen's sharp appreciation" which was selected by 69 firms, followed by "rekindling of Europe's fiscal and financial crises," mentioned by 60 firms, and "electricity shortages and hikes in power charges," chosen by 53 firms. Multiple responses were permitted.

The firms were asked about their views of a consumption tax hike, which is a policy pursued by the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Forty-one companies said they thought the timing and amount of the hike, to 8 per cent from April 2014 and to 10 per cent from October 2015, would be appropriate.

Three firms opposed the tax increase, while 56 others declined to answer.

Fifty-three firms thought the top policy that should be pursued by the Noda administration was the "promotion of the nation's free trade through such steps as participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership" trade negotiations. Another 48 companies chose "reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake," while 42 firms picked "countermeasures against electricity shortages".


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