The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

The fall 2015 Foreign Chambers in Japan Business Confidence Survey showed sustained optimism regarding business performance and the Japanese economy.

Bullish sentiments prevailed, continuing on from the fall 2014 and spring 2015 surveys.

This period’s results come from 240 responding companies, most of which have been in Japan for more than 20 years.

Overall, respondents were less positive in the fall survey than in the spring poll, despite a notable rise in short-term profitability and sales forecasts.

Of all sectors, respondents in manufacturing were least hopeful about the domestic economy over the next year. Respondents in the financial sector were most optimistic.

On the other hand, the index for sales performance in manufacturing was strong over the past six months, coming in at +0.76 versus +0.50 in the spring survey.

The index is reported on a scale from +2 (strong improvement) to -2 (strong decline).

Sales performance in the service sector topped the charts among industries for this period, at +0.90.

The service sector also reigned in the question regarding sales forecasts for the coming six months, at +1.14.

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Most respondents were slightly more optimistic about sales forecasts than in the spring survey earlier this year.

Profitability performance has also improved since the April survey. North American companies reported particularly strong results, with the index at +0.72 vs. +0.48 this spring.

Perhaps due to these figures, the forecast for profitability for the next six months also grew at a higher rate than in the spring survey.

North American companies came in at +0.86 on the index, compared to +0.71 in the previous poll. A majority (68 percent) of respondents expect at least some improvement in profitability in the next half year.

Two new questions were introduced in the fall 2015 survey, the first regarding the future of Abenomics.

Respondents still have faith in the government’s plans, as 59 percent said they believe Abenomics policies will revitalize the economy.

Just 15 percent of those polled believe Abenomics will cause long-term damage to the economy.

These results were quite similar to those reported in the Spring 2013 survey, when a question on Abenomics was also posed.

The second new question pertained to free trade pacts.

Most respondents felt both the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are good for their businesses and Japan.

Similar questions on the topic of free trade agreements were posed in the spring 2013 survey, but the sentiments this time were far more positive for TPP.

At that time, just 7 percent of respondents thought the pact would be good for both Japan and their business. Fifty one percent of respondents felt optimistic about the TPP for this survey.

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