The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Outlook Positive, but Weaker

By Brandi Goode

The 26th Foreign Chambers in Japan Business Confidence Survey was conducted over 10 days at the end of October. About 300 responses were received, of which the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan’s members accounted for some 30 percent.

Forty percent of the respondents are from North America, and 60 percent from Europe. Most participating companies are involved in service industries or sales and trading, and have been in Japan for over 20 years.

Overall, foreign firms remain bullish about Japan’s economy, although they are less positive than in the previous two surveys. When asked about the economic forecast for the country over the next 12 months, growth was projected, but at a much lower level than in the previous survey in spring 2014. The index is now +.42, compared with +.70 in the spring.

Sales and trading businesses lost significant confidence, with the fall index (+.25) coming in more than 50 percent lower than the spring projection (+.63). Some 55 percent of respondents in this industry category projected “no change” or “some decline” in their operations over the next year.


The reported performance of companies surveyed continued to improve, but at a lower rate than noted in the April poll. The index for reported sales performance over the past six months was +.59, compared with +.83 in the previous survey. The sales and trading category lost the most ground, slumping to +.53 from +.98 in the spring poll.

However, respondents were slightly more optimistic regarding the sales forecast for the coming six months (+.82 compared with +.79). In addition, they were positive about profitability during the same period, with this survey’s average rising to +.63 from April’s +.60.

A majority of companies (54 percent) cited their own efforts as a reason for changes in business performance. Multiple answers were permitted.

The fall survey also included three questions related to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. An impressive 89 percent of respondents saw “some positive effects” or “strong positive effects” coming out of the Games.

Meanwhile, a majority of respondents also indicated interest in participating in Tokyo 2020 promotion projects. This bodes well for the ACCJ’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics Task Force.

Full survey results can be viewed at



Brandi Goode