Japan’s LNG shielded from Europe price spike for now

Japan’s reliance on fixed, long-term contracts for its natural gas supply should limit the impact on consumers of the recent surge in gas spot prices currently being felt most acutely across parts of Europe.
Tom Learmouth Japan Economist
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Japan Economics Weekly

Restrictions may not last long, key Shunto approaching

With restrictions this week expanded to cover most of Japan’s economy, and surging infections already starting to cause staff shortages in some industries, GDP is only likely to tread water this quarter. But based on experience elsewhere, the Omicron surge may only last another couple of weeks before staff shortages ease and countermeasures start to be lifted again. Meanwhile, reports suggesting that Toyota’s labour union – sometimes seen as a bellwether in wage talks – will seek a sharp rise in bonus payments at this year’s Shunto could be an early sign that wage growth will pick up this year in line with PM Kishida’s wishes.

21 January 2022

Japan Data Response

Japan Consumer Prices (Dec. 2021)

Consumer price inflation reached a two-year high of 0.8% in December, but with energy prices set to fall back, we think that it will peak around 1% by mid-year.

21 January 2022

Japan Data Response

Japan External Trade (Dec. 2021)

Exports were broadly stable in December after a sharp rebound in November. We think they’ll continue to recover at a decent pace this year as external demand for capital goods continues to rise and motor vehicle exports resume their recovery once Omicron waves subside.

20 January 2022

More from Tom Learmouth

Japan Chart Book

Next PM will benefit from vaccine booster

The race to become the new LDP leader – and with it PM – formally began on Friday. With Delta cases plunging and the vaccination rate having caught up with many other advanced economies, whoever wins should be able to lift domestic restrictions and ride a strong recovery in Q4. Kono is by the far the most popular of the four candidates with the LDP-supporting public and, along with Kishida, currently has the most support amongst LDP lawmakers. (See Chart 1). Ishiba Shigeru – a rival to Kono in the popularity stakes who announced last week that he will not stand – is backing Kono, as is outgoing PM Suga. Ex-PM Abe’s long-term rival Ishiba has criticised Abenomics for favouring corporate profits over wages, and Kono appears to have absorbed some of his new supporter’s thinking in demanding this week that “we must shift our focus toward boosting household income, from corporate profits”. Kono has suggested a lower corporate tax rate for firms that distribute a high share of their income to their workers. And like all the other candidates, Kono has pledged to compile a stimulus package – to focus on renewable energy and 5G – which would provide another tailwind to the recovery over the coming months. We expect output to return to pre-virus levels in Q4 and to return to near its pre-virus path around the middle of next year.

20 September 2021

Bank of Japan Watch

PM frontrunner Kono may favour sharper taper

Dug in for an extended hold, the Bank of Japan won’t alter its major policy settings at its September meeting. Further ahead though, PM Suga’s successor – to be elected in two weeks’ time – may look towards prodding the Bank into shrinking its balance sheet.

16 September 2021

Japan Data Response

Japan Machinery Orders (Jul. 2021)

The rise in machinery orders in July and optimistic projections for August and September support our view that business investment will rise strongly again across Q3. And private investment should continue to rebound in Q4 and into next year as vaccines allow domestic restrictions to be lifted.

15 September 2021
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