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Japan's factory output posted the biggest monthly drop in two years in May as China's COVID-19 lockdowns and semiconductor and other parts shortages hit manufacturers, adding more pressure on an economy struggling to mount a strong recovery, Reuters reported. The decline also highlights the challenge the world's third-largest economy faces in overcoming supply disruptions and persistently high prices of raw materials and energy that analysts say could weaken global demand.
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Struggling Japanese auto parts supplier Marelli Holdings said Friday it has filed with Tokyo District Court for a simplified bankruptcy protection procedure under Japan’s civil rehabilitation law, the Japan Times reported. Marelli, based in the city of Saitama, is saddled with liabilities totaling ¥1.133 trillion, which makes it the second largest failure of a Japanese manufacturer since World War II only to now-defunct Takata, which left ¥1.5 trillion, according to Tokyo Shoko Research.
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Central banks around the world are raising interest rates rapidly, except one. The Bank of Japan affirmed on Friday that it wanted rates around zero, even if investors are using that as a reason to sell the yen, the Wall Street Journal reported. “It is not appropriate to tighten monetary policy at this point,” said Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda. “If we raise interest rates, the economy will move into a negative direction.” Japan’s outlier status partly reflects its less-serious inflation problem—prices rose 2.5% overall in April, compared with more than 8% recently in the U.S.
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The Bank of Japan ramped up bond buying on Tuesday as its yield cap came under renewed pressure from rising global interest rates, highlighting its difficulty in remaining a dovish outlier in a global wave of monetary tightening, Reuters reported. The central bank's resolve to keep yields low has helped drive the yen down to 24-year lows against the dollar, as investors have focused on the gap between Japan's ultra-low interest rates and expectations of aggressive hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
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Tokyo is concerned about sharp falls in the yen currency and stands ready to "respond appropriately" if needed, Japan's top government spokesperson said on Monday, issuing a fresh warning to markets, Reuters reported. The remark echoed Friday's joint statement by the government and central bank, but failed to avert a plunge in the yen to 135.22 against the dollar, the currency's lowest level since October 1998. "It's important that currency rates move in a stable way, reflecting fundamentals.
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When Japan’s leader released his economic vision Tuesday, he left out an important date. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida deleted a pledge from earlier government statements calling for Japan’s budget to be balanced by 2025. And he declined to give a date by which Japan would do something to lower its government debt, while promising to significantly increase military spending, the Wall Street Journal reported. It is a bold stance, given that the debt tops ¥1.1 quadrillion or $8.3 trillion at current rates, more than twice the size of the economy.
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Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Monday the central bank's top priority was to support the economy, stressing an unwavering commitment to maintaining "powerful" monetary stimulus, Reuters reported. Unlike its U.S. and European counterparts, the BOJ does not face a trade-off between the need to tame inflation and support the economy, as Japan's inflation remains modest and driven by temporary factors such as rising raw material costs, Kuroda said.
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Heichinrou, an iconic Chinese restaurant in Japan founded 138 years ago, became the latest establishment to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic, filing for bankruptcy protection on Thursday, Bloomberg News reported. The restaurant’s main branch, an institution of Yokohama’s famous Chinatown, began bankruptcy proceedings at the request of creditors with total debt likely exceeding 300 million yen ($2.3 million), according to research firm Teikoku Databank.
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Japan's jobless rate fell to 2.5% in April, while the availability of jobs increased, government data showed on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was lower than the 2.6% reported for March, which was also the median forecast for April in a Reuters poll of economists. The jobs-to-applicants ratio was 1.23 in April, labour ministry data showed, in line with a Reuters poll forecast and rising 0.01 point from the previous month's 1.22. Read more.
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Having long trod a similar path in tackling low inflation, Japan and Europe now appear to be taking contrasting approaches to monetary policy and the risks of rising prices, which drew warnings at this week's Group of Seven gathering in Germany, Reuters reported. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda repeated his dovish mantra on Friday, saying the recent cost-push inflation will be short-lived and will not warrant withdrawing stimulus.
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