Japan

Investment Insights by our experts and thought leaders

Japan Equity Monthly - November 2018

The Japanese equity market dropped in October, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) falling 9.41% and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) declining 9.04% on-month.

Japan Equity Monthly - October 2018

The Japanese equity market rose in September, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 5.55% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 6.17%.

Japan's 'Show Me The Money' Corporate Governance: Renewed Surge

After improving in the spring, the US trade imbalance is worsening again, especially vis a vis the Eurozone and China, with significant repercussions for international monetary and economic relations.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Japan Equity Monthly - August 2018

The Japanese equity market rose in July, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 1.30% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 1.12%. Stocks started the month lower amid anxiety over intensifying trade tensions between the US and China.

Uncovering Value in Japanese Equities

Global equity markets rallied throughout 2017 without any major setbacks. With volatility at extreme lows, it could be said that 2017 was an unusually fortunate year for market participants in terms of risk and reward.

Japan Equity Monthly - July 2018

The Japanese equity market was mixed in June, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) falling 0.76% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) climbing 0.65%.

Japan Equity Monthly - June 2018

The Japanese equity market declined in May, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) dropping 1.67% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) falling 1.18%.

Where Are We With Corporate Governance In Japan?

Japan’s corporate governance reforms have progressed slowly but surely and the recent revision of the code will add momentum for the unwinding of cross-shareholdings.

Forbes: Japan's 'Show Me The Money' Corporate Governance Update

Japanese profit margins continued roughly flat in the 1Q, but at a high plateau due to improved corporate governance over the past years. With global economic growth pushing up the top line, profits should continue to rise significantly in the quarters ahead.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Japan Equity Monthly - May 2018

The Japanese equity market rose in April, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 3.55% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 4.73%.

Japan Equity Monthly - April 2018

The Japanese equity market fell in March, with both the TOPIX (w/dividends) and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) dropping 2.04% on-month.

Japan Equity Monthly - March 2018

The Japanese equity market fell in February, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) dropping 3.70% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) tumbling 4.41%.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

In my view, Japan is the only major country that is going through a structural improvement in corporate governance, and, thus, deserves special attention by global investors.

Japan Equity Monthly - February 2018

The Japanese equity market rose in January, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 1.06% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 1.47%.

Forbes: The BOJ: Kuroda Again, But What's New?

The Japanese media are widely reporting that Governor Kuroda will be reappointed, which surprises very few people. Whether he wishes to finish his new five-year term is open to question, so the choice of Deputy Governor will likely be important.

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

2018 Japan Equity Outlook

With the Nikkei Index breaching the 24,000 mark, its highest level in 26 years, Japan appears to have put its “lost decade” of growth well behind it.

Japan Equity Monthly - January 2018

The Japanese equity market rose in December, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 1.57% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 0.32%.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

The implications of a surprising decline in non-manufacturers’ profit margin.

Japan Equity Monthly - November 2017

The Japanese equity market rose in October, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 5.45% and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 8.16%.

Abe’s New Bull Market in Equities and Home Values

The Case for Abenomics and global reflation leading to a TOPIX level of 2500 in two years’ time.

Japan Equity Monthly - October 2017

The Japanese equity market moved upwards in September, with the TOPIX (w/dividends) climbing 4.34% on-month and the Nikkei 225 (w/dividends) rising 4.28%.

Japan Equity Outlook: “Investing in Japan vs. investing in Japanese companies”

Investing in Japan is not the same as investing in Japanese companies. Given the increase in their overseas exposure, we believe it is a good time to revisit opportunities in Japanese companies.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

The release of the second quarter data on aggregate Japanese corporate profits confirms my twelve-year theme about improving corporate governance in Japan and how investors should not worry about the slow domestic economy.

Japan Equity Outlook: “Work style reform”

We think Japanese companies are poised for a pickup in capital expenditure, led by productivity enhancing investments.

Japan Equity Outlook - July 2017

In a survey conducted by the Nikkei in March 2017, 80% of respondent companies indicated that they were either planning or considering the implementation of productivity enhancing investments.

Improving Japanese Shareholder Returns Ahead

Our top Japanese Equity staff, including our CIO, report on how Corporate Governance remains on a strong upward trend, which should boost alpha for active managers and beta for the overall market via improvements in ROE and shareholder distributions.

Japan Equity Outlook - June 2017

In the Japanese equities market, high dividend strategies have significantly outperformed other strategies. We believe that – in a low growth, low interest rate environment where investors yearn for yield – these strategies will continue to outperform.

The Global Investment Committee remains moderately optimistic about the global economy and equity markets, while being cautious on global bonds.

Forbes: Japan's “Show Me The Money” Corporate Governance

“Last night’s release of the first quarter data on aggregate Japanese corporate profits confirms my twelve-year theme about improving corporate governance there and how investors should not worry about the slow domestic economy.”

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Japan Equity Outlook - May 2017

We believe inflation will pick up gradually in the second half of 2017, in which case the rational expectations of Japanese consumers are likely to shift towards anticipation of even higher inflation.

How would a Korean crisis impact Japan?

While highly unlikely, we examine the potential impact on Japan of a major crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

Forbes: What Was Japan's Bubble Like In 1989?

“Japan's example should always provide a guide to investors to be wary of arguments that surges in risk assets to high valuations based upon huge monetary and fiscal policy stimuli, coupled with excessive confidence, even if long-lasting, are acceptable.”

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Japan in Motion: What does the future hold?

We believe that Abenomics is working, however we feel that its success cannot be determined by viewing government policy frameworks in isolation.

Forbes: Why The Yen Should Not Strengthen In A Crisis

“Any major crisis in the Northeast Asian region, especially one involving a crisis within Japan’s borders, is likely to be handled very aggressively by the Bank of Japan (BOJ), with it bending the rule-book as much as the Fed did during the Global Financial Crisis or as the ECB has done in the past five years.”

John Vail, Chief Global Strategist for Nikko Asset Management, contributes a regular column to Forbes.com

Japan’s Inflation and Monetary Policy Outlook

Our Tokyo Fixed Income team explains its view on the Japanese labor market and its effect on consumer inflation and Bank of Japan policy.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance: 4Q update

Given the release of the fourth quarter data, we update our decade-long theme about improving corporate governance in Japan.

Global trade the key for Japan

As we start 2017, we expect the continued recovery in Japan’s economy will be driven by three factors outlined in this article.

Trump as Teddy Roosevelt

Trump certainly is non-conventional, in many ways similar to Teddy Roosevelt. Hopefully, Japan can adapt to this new reality, and instead of blocking Trump's initiatives, be able to have acceptable compromise “deals” ready.

House View: Bullish on Global Equities and the USD in 2017

Nikko AM's Global Investment Committee's 2017 Outlook — More Economic and Equity Reflation, Despite Less Dovish Central Banks

Japan Equity Market Outlook 2017

We believe that in an increasingly uncertain world, Japan’s less uncertain market will provide a compelling opportunity for serious investors.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance: 3Q update

Given the release of the third quarter data, we update our decade-long theme about improving corporate governance in Japan.

Interpreting Signals in Unprecedented Times - Japan Equity Market Outlook

No turning back — 2% inflation target not only intact but enhanced with a new “inflation overshooting commitment”

Will Japan Exit the UK?

Our UK expert on BREXIT and our chief global strategist respond to Japan’s concern about its investments in the UK.

More Radical Central Bank Policies and Implications for Stock Picking

Given how important central bank policies are for the pricing of assets, our focus has to be on what they do next. If debt monetisation were to occur, it would have significant implications for equity investing.

A deeper look into Japan and China's debt problems

The prevailing market view on the region remains negative, mainly centring on China's debt problem and general doubts about Abenomics. We focus on some aspects of this negativity from a sovereign balance sheet perspective and conclude that the potential dangers are overstated.

Japan’s “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

Given the release of the second quarter data, we update our decade-long theme about improving corporate governance in Japan.

Hitting the Mark: Can Third Arrow Reforms Benefit Investors?

Japan is a consensus-driven culture and improved corporate governance is now the consensus. There are clear signs that many companies are moving towards more shareholder-oriented management.

Japan's Election: Abe's Continued Focus on the Economy

Our Chief Strategist in Japan shares his views on political landscape and the economy.

Abenomics hasn't failed yet, but it does face global headwinds

Many are wondering if it's time to give up on Abenomics. While some of the scepticism is understandable, we believe it is too early to throw in the towel.

Brexit - Japan Equity Update

In light of the significant volatility ensuing from the results of the EU Referendum in the UK, we share our initial thoughts on the evolving situation as well as provide an update on the strategy you are invested or have an interest in and the implications of the event on the broader investment landscape in Japan.

Slowdown but No Global Recession, with EU Cohesion, but Struggling UK

Nikko Asset Management's Global Investment Committee’s post-BREXIT scenario, including market and economic targets, is on the moderately gloomy side.

Japan’s Financial State is Maintainable

Our Chief Strategist in Japan explains why Japan’s government debt situation is sustainable.

Fed rate rise most likely in September, but could be delayed until 2017

Our global rates and currencies strategist in Australia lays out his dovish Fed scenario as an alternative to our house view. In it, he expects the Fed to wait until September or later to raise rates, and states his case that the Fed’s actions do not affect US bond yields.

Abenomics is Alive and Well

Our Chief Global Strategist explains the reasons why there is too much unjustified pessimism about Abenomics.

G-3 and Chinese Economies Moderately Firmer in 2016

Nikko Asset Management's Global Investment Committee met on March 29th and updated our intermediate-term house view on the global economic backdrop, central bank policies, financial markets and investment strategy advice.

Fed in June and December, but ECB or BOJ Slight Easing

We expect June and December Fed hikes, but only mild further easing ahead for the BOJ and ECB. Meanwhile, we expect oil prices to creep higher through 2016 despite the stronger USD due to relatively firm economic developments in China and the G-3.

We expect that global equity and bond investing will be positive for Yen based investors due to Yen weakness, but for USD based investors, we are taking only a neutral stance on global equities due to a cautious forecast for US equities, whereas we are positive on Asia-Pac ex Japan, Japan and Europe. Meanwhile, we are moderately negative on bonds in each region when measured in USD terms, so we underweight them.

Japan's "Show Me the Money" Corporate Governance - March 2016

Our global strategist sheds light on how corporate profit margins are reflecting the continuing improvement of corporate governance in Japan.

BOJ Adopts Negative Interest Rates

This policy change by the BOJ is a positive in terms of maintaining and strengthening the inflation expectations that have begun to flower.

The BOJ's Bold Move is Not a Shot in a Currency War

Unfortunately for the soundness of the sleep among BOJ-watchers, Mr. Kuroda believes that surprising the market is the best way to achieve his intended result.

The Japanese Equity Outlook After the Nasty New Year Start

Our Chief Global Strategist regards Japan positively in the global-macro context and predicts that Japanese equities will outperform global equities in the first half of 2016.

Japan Equity Outlook 2016

Our Chief Investment Officer in Japan details the many reasons for optimism on Japanese equities in 2016

Abenomics Shows Power through Tax Reform

There are many concerns about Abenomics losing its power to reform the economy, but our Chief Strategist in Japan, Naoki Kamiyama, shows that the major developments in tax reform prove that Abenomics is alive and well.

The Fed was even more Dovish than Apparent in the Headlines

John Vail reflects on the Fed decision and the path forward. The Fed was even more dovish than apparent in the headlines.

US & China Economies Sturdy in 2016; So-So for EZ and Japan

Nikko Asset Management's Global Investment Committee met on December 8th and updated our intermediate-term house view on the global economic backdrop, central bank policies, financial markets and investment strategy advice.

Fed Normalization, but not ECB or BOJ

We only expect mild further easing ahead, especially as the ECB does not wish to cause a rupture while the Fed is hiking rates.

We forecast that Asia Pac ex Japan, Japan and Europe will outperform in the next six months, while the US should underperform and, thus, deserve an underweight stance vs. all other regions.

Japan's revised GDP: No Recession as Inventories Finally Realistic

Looking forward, even though inventories were revised higher, their long depletion means they remain far too low in my view, and should continue start to rise significantly in the quarters and years ahead.

The Japan Update – The Japanese Government’s Objectives for TPP

A framework agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was reached in October 2015, and the governments of participant countries are working to ratify the agreement and formally launch the partnership.

With the aim of significantly liberalizing trade within the Asia-Pacific region, and thereby boosting trade and investment among the region's countries, a framework agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was reached in 2015.

The Japan Update – Japan Inbound Consumption Continues to Grow

Inbound consumption by overseas visitors to Japan continues to grow. For the nine-month period from January to September 2015, such consumption totalled a cumulative ¥2.6 trillion (approx. US$21.7 billion), which already represents a higher amount than that for all of 2014.

Economic Disappointment in Japan Should not Worry Equity Investors

Once again, as has long been our view, disappointing macro-data should not worry investors in Japanese risk assets very much at all.

Why the BOJ does not need to ease much, if at all

There are many reasons for the BOJ to defy consensus expectations for more easing.

Abenomics 2.0: Focusing on Women’s Participation

There is an admirable effort to improve the female participation rate, but it is too early to judge whether the measures will have a major effect.

Looking at how Japanese companies fared with their April-June quarterly earnings, we can see that automobile manufacturers and major electronics producers posted large profit growth on the back of the weak yen and strong sales in the North American market.

Japan's "Show Me the Money" Corporate Governance - September 2015

We explain how Abenomics is the "icing on the cake" of corporate governance improvement over the last decade.

Economic Disappointment in Japan? Key points to remember (again)

As has long been our view, disappointing economic data should not worry investors in Japanese risk assets very much at all.

Abe administration's 2015-version growth strategy: Focus on productivity

We will be watching to see how companies respond this year to the Corporate Governance Code, specifically the twin issues of selling cross-shareholdings and improving capital efficiency.

Notwithstanding a brief rebound in yen strength in mid-June, the Japanese currency has continued its weakening trend against the U.S. dollar, with the yen recently dropping to its lowest level in over 12 years.

Japan’s nominal GDP, commonly used to gauge a country’s real standard of living, has remained mostly unchanged since the 1990s following the collapse of Japan’s asset price bubble and the onset of deflation.

Japan's “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance - June 2015

We expect that profit margins will expand further in coming quarters, driven by a large corporate tax cut and continued industry rationalizations that further prove that Japan's structural profitability trend continues upward.

The Japanese stock market has continued to rise, punctuated by the Nikkei 225 recently closing above 20,000 points for the first time in 15 years.

Japanese Overseas Equity Exposure Rising

We expect that Japanese pension funds will continue to shift their investments into risky assets in 2015.

Market isn't overheating even after Nikkei touched 20,000

The market isn't overheating even though the Nikkei stock average touched the 20,000 level, nor do we believe that overseas markets are overheating right now.

With the dollar/yen hovering around JPY120 to the U.S. dollar, Japanese stocks have recently been showing extraordinary strength, marked by the Nikkei 225 breaching the JPY20,000 level on April 10 for the first time in roughly 15 years – a level that it retook on 22 April and has stayed close to ever since.

The New Governance Code – What impact will it have on Japanese companies?

Due to the developments described in this article, there is ample room for growth at Japanese firms and much opportunity for investment success.

March Tankan Report Commentary

The March “tankan” survey results are not expected to lead to the BOJ's further acceleration of QE.

G-3 Economies Should Rebound Nicely

In sum, there certainly are some worrisome issues, as always, but we find none of them convincing enough to prevent moderate increases in equity prices.

Central Bank, Inflation, Currency, Commodity and Bond Forecasts

Central Banks: Despite firm economic growth, we believe that a negative YoY CPI through September will steady the Fed's hand.

Regional Equity and Asset Class Forecasts

Coupled with our expectation for global bond yields to rise moderately, we maintain our overweight view on global equities vs. bonds.

Japanese Equity: Improved Export Data May Indicate Turning Point for Japan

The recovery in profits by Japanese export firms should continue to attract the attention of the markets in the first half of 2015.

Japan's Successful “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance

John Vail updates his long-standing theme: Japan's Successful “Show Me the Money” Corporate Governance.

Economic Disappointment in Japan? Key points to remember (again)

The disappointing economic data should not worry investors in Japanese risk assets very much at all.

According to the 2014 Labour Survey recently released by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, total cash earnings – i.e., the total of contractual cash earnings (such as fixed monthly salaries) and other special cash earnings (such as bonuses) – of Japanese workers rose 0.8% in 2014, the first such rise in four years.

What will happen to US Treasuries if Japanese government bond yields go to zero?

In a pre-GFC and pre-QE world, zero or negative interest rates on a German, Japanese or US 10-year bond would have been considered highly implausible. However...

BOJ Indicates a Move Towards "True Core CPI" More Globally

Now that oil prices have declined, if a central bank targets its overall CPI at 2.0% for 2015, it would likely be labeled as being overly aggressive and perhaps attempting to unfairly weaken its currency.

Through the careful examination of historical data, it is possible to empirically affirm the existence of several anomalies in the stock market, even though there is not always a clear theory or explanation as to why they exist.

As of the end of September 2014, Japanese household financial assets totalled ¥1,654 trillion* (approx. US$15 trillion), representing an on-year increase of ¥44 trillion (approx. US$401 billion), or 2.7%, and surpassing the previous high of ¥1,645 trillion (approx. US$16 trillion**) recorded at the end of June 2014.

Our Regional Equity and Asset Class Forecasts

The investment world is changing quickly and 2015 should prove to be a very interesting year, but we see no reason to change our long-held positive view on global equities.

Fed "Baby Steps" and "Sneaky Sovereign" ECB QE

Recently, two major voices in the "core Fed" (Fischer and Dudley) have indicated that despite low inflation, the Fed's main scenario is to begin hiking rates in mid 2015.