FCIJ Business Confidence Survey of Spring 2018
May 15, 2018
The FCIJ conducted the first Business Confidence survey in April 2002, based on a format developed by the Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Japan (FCCJ). This survey, conducted twice a year, is rapidly becoming a barometer of foreign business in Japan.
This, the 33rd, survey was conducted between April 18 and 27, 2018, and received 172 valid responses from members of 17 foreign chambers of commerce in Japan.
THE RESULTS AND THE REPORT
The healthy growth forecasted for the Japanese economy that started in the Fall 2016 survey, continued in this survey albeit at a slightly lower level than in the previous survey conducted in October 2017. But the respondents remain positive about the Japanese economy, for the next 6 months the index, on a scale from +2 (strong improvement) to -2 (strong decline) - was now +0.61, compared to +0.67 in October. Looking 12 months ahead, the respondents see a further improvement in the economy but slightly than forecasted in the previous survey. The index was now +0.63, compared to +0.73 in the previous survey.
The positive views on the economy was also reflected in the performance of the companies. The index for reported sales performance in the past six months was now +0.86, the highest reported since Spring 2006, compared to +0.77 the previous survey. Also the profitability growth increased slightly, now +0.65 now compared to +0.61 in October.
In the sales forecast for the coming six months the respondents were also more optimistic than in October, the index was now +0.96, the highest index since Fall 2006 (previous survey +0.93). The forecast for profitability fell marginally from the October survey, from +0.78 to +0.74.
The optimism reflected in the company performance data also clearly show that the strategies of the foreign-affiliated companies in Japan continue to be bullish. 77% (81% in the October survey) are looking for further growth and 22 % are expecting to sustain their current level. Only one of the respondents is planning to downsize and also only one respondent is considering withdrawing from Japan.
This time the survey included two alternating questions. For the European Chamber members the questions were regarding the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. As for how the agreement would affect their business, 9% reported strong positive, 42% some positive and 47% expected it not to affect. 3 respondents expected some of strong negative influence.
For others than the Europeans one question was on the effect of possible increase in interest rates on the respondents’ business. 26% was negative, 15% positive (mainly financial sector) and 47% reported that it would not affect. The second question was regarding President Trump’s announced trade policy measures and the influence on businesses would they be implemented. An overwhelming majority, 83%, expected a negative effect.
Also this time we had an open question regarding the biggest challenges in the Japanese market. The by far the most cited challenge was labor issues, mainly hiring, and retaining good, bi-lingual staff.
Download all comments from respondents:
The next survey will be conducted in October 2018. The results from that survey will be published early November 2018.
If you need more information regarding the survey, contact your chamber or the FCCJ Office.
Printed versions of the report are also available at the FCCJ Office for a modest fee.