According to the Sankei Shimbun poll of major companies, slightly less than 60% of respondents said that they expect the Japanese economy will return to the pre-COVID level in or after fiscal 2022. The economy has been laboring under the weight of the novel coronavirus for the past year. Companies are taking a cautious stance on recovery and view the timing of economic recovery differently from the government, which predicts the economy will rebound in fiscal 2021. Although companies anticipate the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will boost the economy, the companies are cool-headed about the impact of the Games given that it is unclear how the COVID-19 situation will develop.
The survey was conducted from Dec. 8 through the middle of that month. A total of 116 companies responded to the questionnaire survey, which was composed of multiple-choice and free-response questions.
Of the 102 valid responses to the question about when the domestic economy will return to its pre-COVID level, about 59% of respondents said “in or after April 2022.” Asked why they gave that answer, 80% said “because COVID-19 will get under control as vaccinations are administered.”
At a press conference on Dec. 8 last year, Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Yasutoshi Nishimura said, “I would like to see the gross domestic product (GDP) return to pre-COVID levels in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021.” It looks, however, like companies think that personal consumption and economic activities in Japan will not return to normal unless COVID-19 is brought under control.
Some respondents said that they expect external demand will bolster the economy. Even amid concerns that the trade friction between the U.S. and China will intensify, some respondents said, “exports will increase” as China recommences its economic activities.
About 9% of companies said that they expect the economy will return to the pre-COVID level in the July-September quarter this year, when the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held. The survey findings suggest that companies have a certain level of hope that the Olympics will have a positive impact. A total of 70% said that the Games will offer either a “major boost” or “some boost” to the economy.