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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 was the thirteenth survey, conducted between October 15 and 24, 2008.

The survey is headed by a task force consisting of Aron Kremer (ACCJ), Ian de Stains (BCCJ), Neil Moody (CCCJ) and Clas G. Bystedt (FCCJ).

The survey was sent to members at 17 organizations representing about 2,150 foreign affiliated companies and received 419 valid responses.

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

As expected, due to the strong downturn in the global economy, the sentiments about the Japanese economy were much more pessimistic than in the previous survey in April 2008, and showed now the steepest drops and lowest values since the surveys started in 2002. On a scale from -2 (strong decline) to +2 (strong improvement), this survey's forecast on the Japanese economy for the next six months had an index of -0.91 (compared to -0.33 in the April 2008 survey) and for the next 12 months, -0.55 (-0.07 in the April survey).

The negative sentiments on the economy were also reflected in the reported and forecasted sales and profitability figures. Although the index for sales and profitability during the previous six months where still slightly in the positive territory (+0.10 and +0.03 respectively). For the next six months both in sales and profitability a slowdown is expected, although on a rather lower level, -0.05 and -0.12 respectively. The corresponding figures in the April 2008 survey were +0.60 and +0.47, so the drop is rather steep.

Concerning the strategies of the foreign-affiliated companies in Japan, most of them remain bullish despite the bearish view on the economy and see Japan as a market with room to expand in the long term -- 65% looking for further growth and 25% expecting to sustain their current level. The most significant change to previous surveys was that 9% reported that they are planning to downsize, whereas the figure has been only 2-3% in previous surveys. But 0% (only one companies out of the surveyed 419) are considering withdrawing from the market.

The survey also asked the respondents on their prediction of the USD-JPY rate in six months time. The average was101.1. Regarding the views on the Nikkei index in 6 months time, the forecasted average 9,522. This time two new questions were included. In the first, “How will the financial crisis affect your investment plans”, 48% reported that they will invest the same, 29% somewhat less and 10% much less. In the second, regarding the effect of the financial crises on their business, 60% reported it would have a somewhat negative effect, 19% neutral effect and 14% very negative effect.

To download the full report, click below:
FCIJ Business Confidence Survey Report - Fall 2008 (2.1 Mb)
The report also includes commentary from Dr William Schrade, Ph.D. Economics at Temple University Japan.

Download all comments from respondents:
Comments regarding changes in business performance (22 kb)
Comments regarding strategies in Japan (19 kb)
General comments (14 kb)

The next survey will be conducted in April 2009. The results from that survey will be published early May 2009.

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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