Economic Seminar on Abenomics and Overcoming
the Earthquake

An economic seminar “Japan is Back: The Phenomenon of Abenomics” and “Overcoming the Great East Japan Earthquake” was held in association with a photo exhibit “Kizuna 3: Unbroken Circle” on March 13 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The speakers were Ichiro Sone, Chief Executive Director of JETRO Chicago and Akiko Nakagawa, Director-General, Trade Fair Department of JETRO Tokyo. She was head of JETRO’s Sendai office in Tohoku when the earthquake happened on March 11, 2011. Masaaki Nemoto, president & CEO of housewares maker Kodai Sangyo attended the seminar and told a story of his company to the Chicago Shimpo.

Japan Is Back

Ichiro Sone spoke about Abenomics and business opportunities for US firms in the Midwest. JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) has helped a number of US firms to enter the market in Japan.

Effects of Abenomics
* GDP growth rate of minus 3.2 % at Q3, 2012 increased to 1.1 % at Q3, 2013
* Nikkei Stock Average of 10,230 yen on Dec. 26, 2012 increased to 16,291 yen on Dec. 30, 2013
* High value of Yen to US dollar was eased. 85.15 yen on Dec. 26, 2012 became 105.30 yen on Dec. 30, 2013.
* Average unemployment rate of 4.3 % in 2012 improved to 3.7 % in Q4, 2013.
* Quarterly survey of business sentiment was greatly improved from Dec. 2012 to Dec. 2013.
An index number of minus 3 became plus 18 at large firms, minus 5 became plus 9 at medium-sized firms, and minus 12 became plus 3 at SMEs. It is the first time in 22 years that more than a half of SMEs expressed positive business sentiment.

GDP Forecast

Forecasts in FY2014 GDP growth rate are 1.4 % by Government and 0.8 % by Japanese economic forecasters.
The government is going to hike consumer taxes from 5 % to 8 % in April, and the impact of the tax hike will be temporary, and the overall economy will be strong.
Long-term forecasts for 2017 are 2.0 % by Government and 1.1 % by IMF.

Impact of Tokyo Olympics in 2020

Estimated economic effects of Tokyo Olympics are $30 billion to $200 billion. About 80 % of companies anticipate a significant increase of demand in the Japanese economy. About 33 % of companies recognized that the games would have positive effects on their business performance.

Promoting Foreign Direct Investment in Japan

JETRO has been promoting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Japan. The organization is going to double its workforce in charge of bringing FDI into Japan and bolster comprehensive one-stop support services for foreign companies.
Established in 1958, JETRO is headquartered in Tokyo with 40 offices in Japan and 73 offices in 55 countries. Eight locations in North America are in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Toronto, and Vancouver. JETRO helps foreign companies to set up an office in Japan by providing expertise, resources, and industry connections. Its services are free.
JETRO has attracted about 1,000 companies to Japan through the support of more than 10,000 projects between 2003 and 2012. During this period, the U.S has the highest number of successful investment cases with a total of 318, followed by China’s 107 and Germany’s 98.
In Tohoku area, Amazon.com has established a new communication centre, Ikea and Toys R Us have opened a new store, and GE has opened a new branch office.
More information about FDI is available at
www.jetro.go.jp/en/invest/incentive_programs.
(To be continued in the next issue.)

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Part II