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Biz leaders upbeat on Japan economy, cautious on Iran tensions

  • January 7, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 9:25 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Jan. 7 (Jiji Press)–Japanese business leaders at a New Year celebration event on Tuesday sounded upbeat on the domestic economy in 2020 thanks partly to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer while expressing caution over the situation in Iran as a new source of risk.

“The Japanese economy will expand powerfully on the back of the government’s economic stimulus measures and the effects of the Olympics and Paralympics,” Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc. <8750> President Seiji Inagaki said.

“With the approach of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, people are expected to feel positive and start consuming,” Hiromichi Iwasa, chairman of major real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan Co. <8801>, said. He brushed aside concerns that the economy will slow down after the quadrennial sporting events, saying, “Interest in Japan will rise through the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and that will bring more foreign visitors.”

Ryoichi Yamamoto, president of major department store operator J. Front Retailing Co. <3086>, expressed his hope to see a boost in demand from foreign visitors thanks to the Tokyo Games. “We want to expand sales by having customers from all around the world come to Japan many times, not putting this year as the peak (for inbound travelers),” he said.

Nobuaki Kurumatani, chairman of electronics and machinery giant Toshiba Corp. <6502>, predicted that heightened trade tensions between the United States and China will calm down. “The U.S. presidential election is scheduled this year, so (President Donald Trump) is unlikely to implement major tariff measures,” he said.

Meanwhile, SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. President Yoshihiko Shimizu said, “Oil tanker fees and insurance premiums, and oil prices may go up, potentially chilling the economy,” referring to the escalating tensions between the United States and Iran following the killing of a commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps by the U.S. military last week.

Nippon Life Insurance Co. President Hiroshi Shimizu showed strong concerns about the large risks the Iranian situation poses to the financial and foreign exchange markets.

“I’m extremely worried from the start of the New Year, due to the Iranian situation on top of the U.S.-China trade tensions and Britain’s coming withdrawal from the European Union,” Masahiko Uotani, president of major cosmetics maker Shiseido Co. <4911>, said.

The New Year celebration event, which took place in Tokyo, was hosted by three major business groups–the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry–and industry organizations

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