The Foreign Chambers in Japan (FCIJ) is an informal organization comprised of foreign chambers of commerce and business groups in Japan mainly for the purpose of information exchange and enhancement of the activities of the component organizations.

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 31st, survey was conducted between April 12 and 21, 2017, and received 296 valid responses from members of 19 (record number) foreign chambers of commerce and business organizations.

Participating organizations included the ACCJ (American Chamber), ANZCCJ (Australian and New Zealand), ABC (Austrian Business Council), BCCJ (British), BLCCJ (Belgian-Luxembourg), CCBJ (Brazilian), CCCJ (Canadian), FCCJ (Finnish), CCIFJ (French), DIHKJ (German), GrCCJ (Greece). IJCC (Irish), ICCJ (Italian), NCCJ (Dutch), NoCCJ (Norwegian), SACCJ (South African), SpCCJ (Spanish) SCCJ (Swedish) and SCCIJ (Swiss Chamber).

Across the board, this survey shows further improved sentiments compared to the previous survey conducted in October 2016. The respondents remain more positive about the Japanese economy, for the next 6 months it is expected to continue to grow - the index, on a scale from +2 (strong improvement) to -2 (strong decline) - was now +0.40, compared to +0.10 in October. Looking 12 months ahead, the respondents see a further growth, and on a higher lower level forecasted in the previous survey. The index was now +0.55, compared to +0.27 in the previous survey.

The reported performance of the companies continued to improve and on a clearly higher level than in the October survey. The index for reported sales performance in the past six months was now +0.70 compared to +0.34 the previous survey. Also the profitability growth increased, now +0.66 now compared to +0.38 in October.

In the sales forecast for the coming six months the respondents were also more optimistic than in October, the index was now +0.87 (previous survey +0.63). The forecast for profitability also grew slightly stronger than in the October survey, from +0.54 to +0.75.

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% (72% in the October survey) are looking for further growth and 19% are expecting to sustain their current level. Only 2% is planning to downsize and 1% of the respondents are considering withdrawing from Japan.

This time the survey included two alternating questions. The first was about the hiring policies where 46% reported that they were going to hire additional staff during the next 12 months, 46% expect no change and only 6% plans to reduce their work force.

The second alternating question was regarding BREXIT for Europeans and TPP for the others. As for BREXIT, a large majority (65%) thinks it is bad both for Britain and the EU. In addition, 13% think it is bad for Britain but good for EU. As for a bilateral trade agreement between US and Japan, instead of TPP, 35% suggested it is bad for both, 20% that it is good for both. Only 3% thought it is good for Japan but bad for US, 18% good for US but bad for Japan.20% had no opinion.

This time we also 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 staff.

To download the full report, click below:
FCIJ Business Confidence Survey Report - Spring 2017 (PDF 2.9 Mb)

The report also includes commentary from Dr. William Schrade.
Dr. Schrade is a part-time lecturer at the University of Maryland University College, Adjunct Faculty

Download all comments from respondents:
Comments to Reasons for Changes in Business Performance (60 kb)
Comments to Strategies in Japan (19 kb)
Comments to Giring Policy coming 12 months (17 kb)
Comments on BREXIT (18 kb)
Biggest challenge/hurdle in Japan (37 kb)
General Comments (20 kb)

The next survey will be conducted in mid-October 2017. The results from that survey will be published late October 2017.

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.

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