Selected reports on Japan: news, facts, statistics, researches, descriptions, relevant to court auctions, foreclosures, real estate, investment, economy, politics and society in general

Disclaimer: FKR and do not make any warranties or claims on the expressed or implied accuracy of the information contained below.

Sep 8, 2014  GDP down in Q2CY14: Cabinet Office

In the quarter from April to June of 2014, the real GDP declined 1.8% YoY, which converted to an annual decline of 7.1%, and the nominal GDP down 0.2% YoY, annualized 0.7% decline, in the second preliminary estimates, slightly worse than the previous estimates, the Cabinet Office reported.
In a separate report, indices of business conditions in July showed a weakening economy. Composite indices with 2010 levels as 100 seemed to continue the overall declining trend from March. However, MoM the leading and coincident indices slightly improved. In the preliminary estimate, the leading index for July was 106.5, with the coincident index at 109.9 and the lagging index 117.5. In MoM changes, positive effects came from shipments of capital goods, mining productions, retail and wholesale sales, SME shipments, while negative effects came from overtime work, help wanted, power usage and shipment of durable goods.

Sep 8, 2014  PPI up in July: BoJ

In July the producer price index was 106.6, up 0.3% MoM and up 4.3% YoY, while the export price index based on yen values was 108.2, down 0.1% MoM and up 0.7% YoY, the import price index in yen at 126.2, down 0.2% MoM and up 2.8% YoY, according to the Bank of Japan. The services producer price index stood at 102.7, unchanged MoM and up 3.7% YoY.

Sep 4, 2014  Investors sell equities and bills, buy bonds: MoF

In the week ended August 30, Japanese investors bought Y478.6bn of non-Japanese securities in net,  the Ministry of Finance reported based on information provided by designated major investors. The net dispossession of equity and investment fund shares was Y4.7bn, with Y957.7bn purchases and Y962.4bn sales. Investors bought Y503.7bn of long-term debt securities in balance, buying Y8,050.1bn worth and selling Y7,546.4bn. The net sales of short-term debt instruments came to Y20.5bn, after Y269.9bn purchases and Y290.4bn sales.
Overseas investors acquired Y760.3bn of Japanese securities in net, buying Y6,284.8bn equities and investment funds, selling Y6,395.4bn to make Y110.7bn net divestment, buying Y1,917.1bn notes and bonds, selling Y808.5bn, for Y1,108.6bn net acquisitions, and buying Y3,568.3bn bills, selling Y3,806.0bn for the net sales of Y237.7bn.

Sep 1, 2014  Residential property price down in May: MLIT

Price index for residential property declined 2.6% YoY to 90.6 in May while the index for apartments rose 7.1% YoY to 116.3, in the preliminary report released by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The index for land and houses with land declined 4.4% YoY to 86.1. Indices set average in FY2008 at 100.
Separately, MLIT also announced that the housing starts in July declined 14.1% YoY to 72,880. And the total construction orders received in July were estimated to be Y6,605bn, up 8.3% YoY. And in a survey of 50 major construction companies, the total orders in July came to Y1,058.8bn, up 24.4% YoY. The difference is partly due to different statistical methods.

Sep 1, 2014  REIT higher in August: ARES

Market cap of 46 REIT issues totaled Y8,825.3bn at the end of August, according to the September REIT report by the Association for Real Estate Securitization. TSE REIT index in price return stood at 1,648.90, up 2.0% MoM, in total return at 2,815.18, up 2.4% MoM. In August the transactions reached Y462.6bn. REITs bought 23 properties for Y137.1bn, selling none. 
In September, GLP (3281) plans to acquire nine logistics facilities for Y53.8bn. Prologis (3283) will spend Y45.5bn to purchase five logistics facilities. And Japan Hotel (8985) hopes to raise Y9bn in public offering to spend the proceeds in acquisitions of two hotels in Sapporo and Naha.

Aug 22, 2014  Expected yields in Tokyo lower in Q2CY14: CBRE

Expected yields declined in Q2CY14 in office, commercial, industrial and residential sectors in Tokyo, according to the report by CBRE. Investor sentiment as indicated in its diffusion index showed some optimism in the office and logistics markets. Investments from overseas increased, as were hotel transactions.

Aug 21, 2014  Investors liked bills and other securities: MoF

In the week ended August 16, Japanese investors bought Y1,082.4bn of non-Japanese securities in net,  the Ministry of Finance reported based on information provided by designated major investors. The net acquisitions of equity and investment fund shares reached Y262.6bn, with Y828.4bn purchases and Y565.8bn sales. Investors bought Y659.8bn of long-term debt securities in balance, buying Y7,517.8bn worth and selling Y6,858.0bn. The net acquisitions of short-term debt instruments came to Y159.9bn, after Y315.9bn purchases and Y155.9bn sales.
Overseas investors acquired Y702.6bn of Japanese securities in net, buying Y6,493.6bn equities and investment funds, selling Y6,405.9bn to make Y87.7bn net investment, buying Y1,229.2bn notes and bonds, selling Y1,005.5bn, for Y223.7bn net acquisitions, and buying Y4,241.0bn bills, selling Y3,849.9bn for the net purchases of Y391.1bn.

Aug 20, 2014  Building lessors doing better than residential asset sellers and traders: Land Institute

The Land Institute of Japan released the result of its quarterly survey conducted on mail and email as of July 1 in three categories, to which 32 residential asset sellers, 70 real estate traders-agents and 26 building lessors responded. In a diffusion index with higher positive numbers as good or optimistic, the housing trade business had 1.7 for current situation and negative 10.0 for outlook three months hence, the real estate trading had 0.7 and 1.4, the building leasing had 5.8 and 0.0; in the previous survey as of April 1, the housing trade had 11.7 and -8.3 for the outlook, the residential land trade 6.7 and -3.7, and the building leasing 0.0 and 8.0. Deterioration was manifest in the number of land acquisition, visitors to model rooms, sales contracts, trade requests and sales contracts of pre-owned apartments, purchase requests and sales contracts of pre-owned houses, and purchase requests of land. Building leasing fared better than others. For the trend in vacancy, with higher numbers showing more responses of declining vacancy, it was 27.0 compared to 40.0 in April. However, 75.0% of respondents in Tokyo answered vacancy was declining, while in other regions the number was 20.7%; 72.4% answered unchanged. The rent index rose to 12.5 from 4.3; with higher numbers indicating rising trend.

Aug 20, 2014  Exports rose in July: MoF

Exports in July totaled Y6,188.6bn, up 3.9% YoY and 4.2% MoM, with a quantitative index of 94.3, up 0.9% YoY, both increasing for the first time in three months, while imports were Y7,152.6bn, up 2.3%, with the index of 108.8, down 0.4%, making up a trade deficit of Y964bn, down 6.6% for 25 consecutive months of deficits, the Ministry of Finance reported in its preliminary trade statistics. Seasonally adjusted figures were Y5,998.2bn exports, up 1.5% MoM, Y7,022.1bn imports, up 0.6% MoM, and Y1,023.8bn deficit, down 4.1% MoM. Notable increases in exports came in auto, metal processing machinery, and scientific-optical equipments. Exports rose in crude oil, LPG and petroleum products.

Aug 19, 2014  MGM interested in Tsukiji: Bloomberg

While the government hopes to legalize casino gambling, in a more politically correct expression of integrated resort, Bloomberg reports that MGM Resort International is showing interests in the Tsukiji land to be vacated by the fish market, not far from Ginza. Separately, Kekyu Corp. had on August 15 announced its intention to newly enter the casino business.

Aug 18, 2014  June constructions exceeded Y3.6 trillion: MLIT

Constructions in June totaled Y3,634.4bn, up 2.8% YoY, with Y2,223.6bn private, down 1.0%, and Y1,410.8bn public, up 9.4%, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced August 18. Private residential constructions were Y1,180.4bn, down 5.6% YoY, while the public residential constructions rose 25.6% YoY to Y50.3bn. In regions, Greater Tokyo had the most with Y1,213.4bn, down 1.0% YoY, followed by the Northeast at Y489.4bn, up 23.1% and Greater Osaka at Y462.1bn, up 4.2%.

Aug 15, 2014  Grade A offices in Tokyo at higher rent in Q2CY14: JLL

Rent of Grade A offices in Tokyo rose for nine consecutive quarters to Y32,779 per tsubo, up 1.6% from the previous quarter and up 4.1% YoY, according to the report for Q2CY14 by Jones Lang LaSalle. Vacancy rate stayed at 3.7%. Net absorption of floor for lease was 214,000 square meters. New supply was total of 222,000 square meters in four buildings, increasing the stock by 3.4% from Q1. 
For Grade A offices in Osaka the rent declined for 12 consecutive quarters albeit at lower rate to Y15,492 per tsubo, down 0.4% quarterly and down 0.9% YoY. Vacancy rose by 0.1 point quarterly and 2.0 points YoY, to 10.4%. Net absorption was negative, without any new supply.
Rent of retail properties in Tokyo rose 2.4% quarterly and 3.7% YoY to Y68,336 per tsubo, while sales price also rose by 5.3% and 9.1% respectively. Logistics properties in Tokyo saw the rental level rise by 0.7% and 1.8% respectively to Y5,963 per tsubo, supported by strong demand. And the hotel market in Tokyo enjoyed accumulated overseas visitors in the first five months of 2014 at 5.2 million, up 28.4% YoY, boosted by visitors from China and Taiwan. The domestic tourism seems to recover from the 2011/3 disaster. In the first five months five star hotels in Tokyo had RevPAR rise 19.3% YoY, with occupancy and ADR up 4.7% and 12.4% respectively.

Aug 14, 2014  More mortgages in January to March 2014: JHFA

Total mortgage originations in Q4FY13, January to March of 2014, came to Y5,844.1bn from all major lenders to individuals, up 2.9% YoY, which made the FY13 total to Y20,662.9bn, up 2.9%, according to the reports by the Japan Housing Finance Agency. The total FY13 mortgage originations by all domestic lenders excluding the Urban Renaissance Agency and agricultural cooperatives and including those to incorporated entities by public lenders reached Y20,768.4bn, up 1.9%. And the outstanding balance at the end of year, including URA and agricultural cooperatives, was Y183,328.4bn, up 1.0%.

Aug 13, 2014  Apartment sales in Greater Tokyo and Osaka regions higher in July MoM: REEI

In July the supply of new apartments in Greater Tokyo declined by 20.4% YoY, but increased by 20.5% MoM, to 4,222 units, while the average price went up 7.9% YoY and 14.5% MoM to Y55.32mn or Y771,000 per square meter, Real Estate Economic Institute reported. In the month 504 new houses were sold, down 6.3% YoY and up 29.6% MoM, at Y45.5mn, up 3.7% YoY and 2.2% MoM.
In Greater Osaka 2,016 new apartments were sold in July, down 4.5% YoY and up 19.3% MoM, at Y36.18mn and Y531,000 per square meter, up 2.7% and 6.2% YoY, but down 3.9% and 4.0% MoM.

Aug 13, 2014  GDP down in Q2CY14: Cabinet Office

In Q2CY14, the real GDP chained to 2005 prices shrank by 1.7% annually converted to negative 6.8% while the nominal GDP declined by 0.1% converted to negative 0.4% annually, in the preliminary report by the Cabinet Office: see Bloomberg for more. Domestic demand and private expenditures declined.

Aug 12, 2014  Pre-owned apartment-house sales in Greater Tokyo down in July: REINS

In July, 2,532 pre-owned apartments were sold in Greater Tokyo, down 14.6% YoY, at the average price of Y26.25mn, up 2.1%, or Y410,100 per square meter, up 4.3%, with the average floor area of 64.01 square meters and the average age of 19.71 years, through the REINS system, according to REINS East. The corresponding figures for pre-owned houses were 910 houses, down 15.3%, at Y28.66mn, down 4.5%, for the average land area of 149.42 square meters and house area of 105.44 square meters, and 20.75 years old. 
The number of pre-owned apartment sales in Sapporo was 175 in July, down 14.2% YoY, while the unit price was Y181000, up 11.1% YoY; 138 pre-owned houses were sold, down 6.0% YoY, at the average price of Y15.64mn, up 0.3%. In Sendai 90 pre-owned apartments were sold, down 1.1%; the unit price was Y251,000, up 13.1%; 47 pre-owned houses were sold, down 6.0%, at the average price of Y23.71mn, up 9.9%.
In the central region, including Nagoya, 418 pre-owned apartments were sold, down 5.4% YoY, at the average price of Y14.45mn, down 2.3% YoY and 6,3%% MoM, the unit price of Y198,400, with the average floor area of 72.86 square meters, and the average age of 21.26 years, according to REINS Central. And 313 pre-owned houses were sold in July, down 8.2% YoY, at Y18.26mn, down 4.4% yoY and down 4.7% MoM, with the average land area of 220.47 square meters, down 2.7% YoY and up 3.5% MoM, house area of 123.29 square meters, down 1.0% YoY and down 0.8% MoM, with the average age of 23.47 years.

Aug 12, 2014  PPI up in July: BoJ

In July the producer price index rose 0.3% MoM, while both the export and import price indices rose 0.1% MoM, although the YoY changes respectively were 4.3% up, 0.9% down, and 1.1% up, with indices of 106.6, 98.2, and 112.8, according to the preliminary report by the Bank of Japan. Prices went up for commercial and industrial high tension power, gasoline, gas oil, kerosene, benzene, xylene, synthetic dyes, unwrought copper, aluminum alloys, bare copper wires, sushi, box lunches, rice balls, cheese and hams, while declining for pork, polished rice, chicken eggs, planograph printed matter.

Aug 11, 2014  Information on real estate transactions in English by MLIT

In an attempt to invite overseas investors to real estate in Japan, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is providing information regarding the laws and practices of real estate transactions in Japan in English. In the initial release, the available information is on the laws related to real estate transactions in Japan, the real property registration system, flow of real estate transactions, real estate securitizations, major tax systems related to transfer of real estate, etc., and the urban land use planning system in Japan.

Aug 11, 2014  Big hot moon: NAOJ

As big as the moon may seem it is difficult to see any deformations. But the precise measurements of the deformations, comparisons and analyses, showed that the inner layer of the moon is soft and generates heat. The finding by the international team is released by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

Aug 8, 2014  Current account and trade deficits in the first half of 2014: MoF

In the H1CY14, the current account deficit reached Y507.5bn with the trade deficit of Y7,690.4bn, in the preliminary report by the Ministry of Finance. The increased exports of auto, scientific instruments and plastics were more than offset by larger imports of LPG, crude oil and semiconductors-electronics. Although the surplus from intellectual properties reached the record high at Y785.5bn, the overall deficit of services trade expanded to Y1,578bn.

Aug 8, 2014  Mild credit expansion in July: BoJ

Total loans and discount credits provided by major, regional and shinkin banks stood at Y477,239.9bn on average in July, up 2.2% YoY, while the YoY growth for the H1CY14 also was 2.2%, the Bank of Japan reported.

Aug 7, 2014  Housing starts in Tokyo down 7% in June MoM: Tokyo Met Gov't

Housing starts in the prefecture of Tokyo reached 11,011 units in June, down 7.0% MoM and up 0.6% YoY, the Tokyo metropolitan government announced August 6. Constructions of residential properties to own and live in declined 16.7% YoY, for five consecutive months of decline, to 1,511 units; similarly properties to lease rose 5.1%, for eight consecutive months of increase, to 4,758 units, and assets to sell turning upward for the first time in five months by 2.9% to 4,724 units, including 2,827 apartments ex wood or small buildings, down 1.9%, and 1,857 houses, up 10.3%. Housing starts in Chiyoda, Chuo and Minato wards declined 20.6% YoY to 446 units; ten wards with an addition of Shinjuku, Bunkyo, Taito, Sumida, Koto, Shibuya and Toshima down 1.4% to 2,426, and 23 wards down 0.8% to 8,021, the rest of prefecture up 4.5% to 2,952 units.
In Q2CY14, housing starts in Tokyo reached 33,399 units. Residential properties to own and live in declined 14.9% YoY, to 4,366 units; properties to lease rose 5.6%, to 15,241 units, and assets to sell declined 16.5% to 13,614 units, including 7,987 apartments ex wood/small bldgs, down 26.1%, and 5,531 houses, up 3.2%. Housing starts in Chiyoda, Chuo and Minato wards rose 4.2% YoY to 1,649 units; ten wards with an addition of Shinjuku, Bunkyo, Taito, Sumida, Koto, Shibuya and Toshima down 9.7% to 7,815, and 23 wards down 7.2% to 25,035, the rest of prefecture down 6.9% to 8,228 units.

Aug 7, 2014  H1CY14 supply of investment apartments up in Greater Tokyo: REEI

In the first six months of 2014, the supply of apartments for investments in Greater Tokyo rose 12.8% from the same period a year ago to 3,755 units, Real Estate Economic Institute reported. The H1CY14 supply of 83 buildings and 3,755 units compared well with 73 properties and 3,330 units supplied in H1CY13. The average price also rose to Y26.23mn from Y25.47mn with the unit price per square meter of Y1,037,000 up from Y988,000. More than half of apartments offered were priced at or below Y25mn. And the average floor area shrank a little to 25.3 square meter per unit. About 56% of total concentrated on top five areas of Koto, Ota, Shinagawa, Toshima and Minato wards of Tokyo. 
In 2013, the number of investment apartments offered for sale declined 18.1% from 2012 to 120 properties and 5,703 units; 143 assets and 6,966 units in 2012. The average price was Y25.38mn with the unit price of Y984,000; up from Y23.82mn and Y968,000 in 2012.

Aug 7, 2014  Securities investors went long: MoF

In the week ended August 2, Japanese investors bought Y1,160.2bn of non-Japanese securities in net,  the Ministry of Finance reported based on information provided by designated major investors. The net acquisitions of equity and investment fund shares reached Y246.2bn, with Y931.6bn purchases and Y685.3bn sales. Investors bought Y897.4bn of long-term debt securities in balance, buying Y7,388.9bn worth and selling Y6,491.5bn. The net acquisitions of short-term debt instruments came to Y16.6bn, after Y264.9bn purchases and Y248.3bn sales.
Overseas investors acquired Y716.9bn of Japanese securities in net, buying Y7,268.4bn equities and investment funds, selling Y7,173.5bn to make Y94.9bn net investment, buying Y1,047.6bn notes and bonds, selling Y680.1bn, for Y367.5bn net acquisitions, and buying Y3,594.5bn bills, selling Y3,340.0bn for the net purchases of Y254.5bn.

Aug 6, 2014  Economic sentiments slightly less pessimistic in July: Teikoku Databank

Economic sentiments expressed by 11,017 firms responding to a survey by Teikoku Databank improved somewhat in July with the diffusion index edging up 0.4 points from June to still sub-par 46.9. Among ten industrial categories, DIs for seven went up MoM: agriculture-forestry-fishery, finance, construction, manufacturing, wholesale, services, and others. Three industries with lower DIs were real estate, retail, and logistics. Only constructions and services exceeded 50. Regionally, the north and east were above the national average, while the south and west were below. Shikoku and Kyushu had DIs decline from June.
Real estate scored 47.4, down from 48.8 in June and 48.3 in May. Leasing businesses noted some uptrend in more visitors to new and renovated commercial facilities. Negative factors included land prices hitting a ceiling with lower trade volumes in part due to higher construction costs, and stagnant demands to which house builders shifting focus on home sales to apartments and renovations. As for the outlook, some expects stronger office demands in autumn and winter, while others voiced concerns over the consumption tax hike to 10%, and higher vacancy with a supply increase of apartments for lease as a measure against the revision of inheritance tax code.

Aug 5, 2014  Survey shows more houses and apartments supplied in 2013: MERI, REEI

Total houses supplied in FY13 reached 338,968, up 7.3% from FY12, while the number for apartments was 86,245, up 14.3%, according to a questionnaire survey in May and June with responses from 242 house related firms and 115 apartment related firms by Market Economy Research Institute Ltd. and Real Estate Economic Institute Co. 
Top ten house builders were Daito Trust Construction, Sekisui House, Daiwa House Industry, Asahi Kasei Homes, Sekisui Chemical, Misawa Homes, Token Corp., PanaHome, Sumitomo Forestry and Ichijo; supplying 239,851 houses.
For apartments, the top ten were Mitsui Fudosan Residential, Mitsubishi Jisho Residence, Nomura Real Estate Development, Sumitomo Realty and Development, Daikyo, Daiwa House Industry, Tokyu Land, Pressance Corp., Sekisui House and Tokyo Tatemono; supplying 38,826 apartment units.
In the question of the outlook for FY14, 210 houses and 103 apartment respondents planned to supply 323,193 houses, up 10%, and 69,190 apartments, down 10.3%.

Aug 4, 2014  REITs bullish in July: ARES

AUM of all REITs in acquisition price exceeded Y12tn in July, with the share of offices declining to 48%, shares of commercial and logistics facilities rising to 20% and 10% respectively, and residential asset shares at 18%, according to the August REIT report by the Association for Real Estate Securitization. At the end of July, TSE REIT index in price return stood at 1,616.95, up 1.2% MoM, in total return at 2,749.06, up 1.4% MoM. Market cap of 46 issues totaled Y8,615.7bn. In July the transactions reached Y478.9bn. REITs bought 26 properties for Y67bn while selling 2 assets for Y1.16bn; with Invincible (8963) buying 18 hotels. 
In August, Mori Hills REIT (3234) plans to raise up to Y26bn in global public offerings and acquire the 20F of Roppogi Hills Mori Tower for Y9.89bn and 25% of Ark Hills South Tower for Y19.15bn from Mori Building. The expected NOI return from two office assets is 4.0% at par with its portfolio; the acquisition prices are at 8.4% discount of appraisal values for an unrealized gain of Y2.66bn.
Kenedix Residential (3278) hopes to raise Y8.5bn in public offerings and purchase 7 residential properties for lease in Tokyo 23 wards and one in Hirakata, Osaka for about Y14.06bn in August. Global One (8958) plans to acquire Yokohama Plaza Building, an office building at the port side of the Yokohama train station, for Y17.95bn. And Japan Logistic Fund (8967) has successfully engaged prospective tenants for its Yachiyo logistics center in Chiba it is developing on its own, so when it will be completed in December of 2014 it will be fully occupied, by Toto and Hitachi Transport System.

Aug 1, 2014  Housing starts down in June: MLIT

Housing starts in June were 75,757 units, down 9.5% YoY, which convert to seasonally adjusted annual figure of 883,000 units, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Building starts for houses to own declined for five consecutive months, down 19.0% YoY, while for houses to lease it was for 16 consecutive months of increase, up 1.8% YoY. 
Separately, MLIT also reported that the construction orders received in June in its preliminary compilation totaled 6,634 orders, up 4.4% YoY; with the breakdown of 4,721 original orders, 1,674 public and 3,047 private, and 1,913 subcontracts. In addition, a survey of 50 major construction firms showed the June orders summing up to Y1,153.8bn, up 9.3% YoY, for three consecutive months of increase. Private construction totaled Y711.4bn, up 3.6% YoY, reversing the previous decline. Building in manufacturing rose 22.3% YoY, while in non-manufacturing declining by 0.1%. Orders from transport, mailing, manufacturing, IT sectors rose. Public works totaled Y378.2bn, up 62.1% YoY, for 15 consecutive months of increase.

Jul 31, 2014  Housing price down in April: MLIT

Residential property price index for April declined 4.1% YoY to 89.9, with the average in FY2008 as 100, in the preliminary report announced by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The index for land, houses with land declined 6.1% YoY to 85.3, while the level for apartments rose 5.6% YoY to 114.1.

Jul 30, 2014  Total residential units 60.63 million in October of 2013: Statistical Bureau

The total number of housing units was 60.63 million with total households of 52.46 million, as of October 1, 2013, 5.3% and 5.0% higher respectively from the figures in 2008, according to a survey by the Statistical Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Vacant housing units numbered 8.2 million, 630,000 or 8.3% more than in five years ago. The ratio of vacancy reached the highest level of 13.5%; although 12.8% excluding 410,000 second houses. Apartments increased by 6.8% or 1.41 million units from 2008 to 22.09 units. The ratio of apartment for all housing rose 0.7 points to 42.4%. The number of owned residential units reached 32.24 million, 1.92 million units or 6.3% more than in five years earlier; the ratio to total housing was 61.9%, 0.8 points higher, while the ratio of ownership for standalone houses was much higher at 92.0%. Ratios of vacancy excluding second houses were high for prefectures Yamanashi, Ehime, Kochi, Tokushima, Kagawa, Kagoshima, Wakayama, Yamaguchi, Okayama, Hiroshima, while low for Miyagi, Okinawa, Yamagata, Saitama, Kanagawa, Tokyo, Fukushima, Shiga, Chiba, and Aichi. Average floor area per housing unit was 93.55 square meters; much smaller 77.36 square meters in Greater Tokyo. Households with at least one member aged 65 or older exceeded the 20 million benchmark to 20.86 million, about 40% of the total, retaining the increasing trend, while those with 75 and older exceeded the 10 million benchmark for the first time to 11.01 million, 21.1% of total.

Jul 29, 2014  Household expenditures in June higher than May but lower than 2013: Statistical Bureau

In June an average household of two people or more spent Y272,791, 3.0% decline in real terms YoY,  1.5% increase in seasonally adjusted real terms MoM and 1.3% increase nominally MoM, according to a survey of family income and expenditure by the Statistical Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The expenditure excluding housing, auto purchase, gift and donation, allowance transfers came to Y236,460, down 3.7% real YoY, up 0.4% seasonally adjusted real MoM, and up 0.5% nominal MoM. The average real income for a working household was Y710,375, down 6.6% real, down 2.5% nominal YoY.

Jul 29, 2014  Zillow to acquire Trulia

Zillow is to acquire Trulia taking a step to take control of growing business of online real estate marketing. The move may have significant repercussions in the housing market, online platforms for real estate listings and advertisements: read more about it at Bloomberg, Reuters, MarketWatch.

Jul 25, 2014  Overall office markets in major cities solid in Q2CY14: CBRE

Vacancy rate for large logistics facilities in Greater Tokyo rose to 6.1% in Q2CY14, according to CBRE in its press release.  And there was strong demand for new facilities in Greater Osaka and Fukuoka in the quarter. CBRE also released its Q2CY14 market report for offices in major cities. Vacancy rate for Grade A buildings in Tokyo rose in the quarter by 0.1 point QoQ to 4.8%. But the rate in Osaka dropped 0.9 points to 9.4%, dipping below the 10% benchmark, while it declined 0.1 point to 3.3% in Nagoya. Vacancy rose in Yokohama. Assumed achievable rents rose in most cities; although flat in Osaka and down in Nagoya.

Jul 25, 2014  Investors bullish in the week ended July 19: MoF

In the week ended July 19, Japanese and overseas investors were both bullish; Japanese investors buying overseas securities for Y369.3bn more than sold, while overseas investors buying Japanese securities for Y843.2bn more in balance, based on reports from designated financial institutions and fund managers, the Finance Ministry announced.  Acquisitions exceeded sales in all categories. 

Jul 24, 2014  Trade deficit and import at record high in H1CY14: MoF

Trade deficit reached Y822.2bn in June with Y5,939.6bn exports and Y6,761.9bn imports, while the seasonally adjusted deficit, export and import are respectively Y1,080.8bn, Y5,892.1bn and Y6,972.9bn, according to the provisional trade statistics the Ministry of Finance released on July 24. The deficit level was a big jump from Y180.5bn in June of 2013. In the LTM however the deficits have ranged from Y804.7bn to Y2,795bn; the June level was the third lowest in the year. For the month of June, the import was the second highest since 1979, and the export fifth. 
To note among exports, metal processing machinery rose, while semiconductor and electronics, organic chemicals, and mineral fuels declined. Imports increased particularly in crude oil, petroleum products and LPG. In regions, Japan recorded a trade surplus with the US for Y477.8bn; Y52.3bn deficit with EU, Y226.7bn surplus with Asia, and Y372bn deficit with China.
In the first six months of 2014, the trade deficit recorded the highest level since 1979 at Y7,598.4bn, with Y35,049.8bn exports and Y42,648.2bn imports. The import level was also the highest since 1979 after recording the import of Y42,478.3bn in the previous six months, H2CY13.
Exports rose in auto, scientific-optical equipment and plastic in particular, while declining for ships. Imports increased in LPG, crude oil, semiconductor and electronics. The surplus with the US declined to Y2,785.1bn. Deficits were recorded with EU for Y358.1bn, with Asia for Y101.1bn, and with China for Y2,921.1bn; the deficit with Asia was the first in 32 years, and deficits with EU and China were largest since 1979. Imports from EU were also the highest, with increases in auto, LPG and scientific optical equipments. Imports from China was the second highest with computer and peripheral devices, semiconductor and electronics, communication equipments contributing among others.

Jul 23, 2014  Pre-owned apartment asking prices generally down in June: Tokyo Kantei

On July 22 Tokyo Kantei Co. released the result of its survey on offer prices of pre-owned apartments, converted to those with floor area of 70 square meters, based on its own database; in June there were 28,022 transactions in Greater Tokyo, 10,813 in Greater Osaka and 4,730 in the central region. In Greater Tokyo the average asking price declined 0.4% MoM to Y28.31mn; Tokyo down 0.6% to Y37.82mn, Kanagawa down 0.3% to Y24.18mn, but Saitama up 0.9% to Y18.49mn and Chiba up 0.7% to Y18.42mn; the latter two prefectures still showing low levels compared to earlier in the year. For the first time in seven months, Tokyo 23 wards showed a lower price, down 0.3% to Y41.63mn, albeit still strong. The central six wards had Y57.57mn, down 0.1%; the first decline since August of 2013. The city of Chiba had a continuous slide, down 0.2% to Y16.96mn. Yokohawa was up 0.8% to Y25.69mn. And Saitama City regained the Y21mn benchmark with 3.8% jump to Y21.07mn.
Greater Osaka had Y18.06mn, up 0.3% MoM; Osaka up 0.3% to Y18.44mn and Hyogo up 1.1% to Y17.64mn. After experiencing a 2.7% drop MoM in May, the city of Osaka rebounded to 0.6% rise MoM, 3.6% increase YoY, in June, to Y22.17mn. The central six wards of Osaka had relatively newer assets on average, so had a 1.9% rise to Y29.02mn; although the clear uptrend in 2012 and 2013 is weaker in 2014. Kobe saw a slow and mild decline continue with 0.2% lower price of Y17.74mn.
Central recorded four consecutive months of decline, down 0.2% MoM to Y14.67mn; although Aichi with Nagoya bounded to the uptrend with 0.4% increase to Y15.37%. Rebounding from three months of decline, the Nagoya price rose 1.7% to Y17.79mn. Three central wards of Nagoya had the price rise by 2.6% to Y21.52mn; the first rise in four months.

Jul 22, 2014  International art festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido

Sapporo International Art Festival 2014 started on July 19 to be held until September 28 under the theme of city and nature. Exhibits at Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art and Sapporo Art Museum focus on the past modernization and natural environment in Hokkaido. Contemporary artists featured are from both in and out of Japan. Noh play and Ainu traditional dance performance will be held on July 22 at Moerenuma Park in Sapporo. And there are other exhibits and events around the city of Sapporo including the underground walkway in Sapporo, and Hokusho University Sapporo. Furthermore, in conjunction with the festival, there is a stage performance by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet at Toukyu Theater Orb in Shibuya, Tokyo, from August 29 to 31.

Jul 19, 2014  June apartments for sale down in Tokyo and Osaka regions: REEI

In June, the number of apartments offered for sales in Greater Tokyo declined 28.3% YoY and 18.5% MoM to 3,503 units to record five consecutive months of decline, according to Real Estate Economic Institute. And the ratio of sales contract was 76.6%, down 5.0 percentage points YoY and down 2.3 points MoM. The average price was Y48.3mn or Y683,000 per square meter. Inventory for sales increased by 50 units from May to 3,718 units. 
Houses for sale declined 10.2% YoY and rose 6.9% MoM to 389 houses; 181 houses were sold, the average offer price was Y44.525mn, lower than Y47.548mn in May.
In Greater Osaka, 1,690 apartments went on sale in June, down 30.1% YoY but up 6.4% MoM; 76.4% were sold. The average price was Y37.66mn or Y553,000 per square meter, higher YoY and MoM. The inventory increased by 82 units from May to 1,981 units.
In the first six months of 2014, the supply of apartments in Greater Tokyo declined 20.2% from H1CY13 to 19,394 units, although the average price went up 5.8% to Y50.1mn or Y707,000 per square meter. The ratio of sales went down 0.4 points to 78.4%. Houses for sale also declined 5.4% YoY to 2,270 houses; lower numbers in Chiba and Saitama, albeit higher in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Ibaraki. Average sales ratio was 45.5%, with 1,030 houses sold. Average price was Y46.284mn, up from Y44.941mn in H1CY13.

Jul 18, 2014  Economy slowly improving: Cabinet Office

Economy continues to be on the path of slow recovery, while employment improves steadily and consumer prices ticks up slowly, albeit consumptions show some weakness, capex in an uptrend also shows some weakness, with exports at level, weak productions, and cautious corporate sentiments with a sign of improvement, according to the July economic report of the Cabinet Office. 
Staggering earned income dragged personal consumptions. Consumers, however, are getting used to the higher consumption tax, and are less thrifty in sentiment. A household survey in May showed 3.1% MoM decline in expenditures, although up 0.6% excluding housing related expenditures. On the supply side, the retail sales in May rose 4.6% MoM. A survey suggests some strength such as the number of new cars sold nearing the bottom, sales of home electronics and department store sales recovering, and travel and restaurants remaining solid.
Residential constructions are declining, while housing-for-lease starts are unchanged. Total units declined 3.7% MoM in May to the annual conversion of 872,000 units. Apartment units sold in Greater Tokyo decreased. Short supply of skilled construction workers remains an issue.

Jul 18, 2014  May constructions topped Y3.4 trillion: MLIT

Constructions in May totaled Y3,435.2bn, up 3.7% YoY, with Y2,134.1bn private, up 0.5%, and Y1,301.1 public, up 9.4%, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced July 17. Private residential constructions were Y1,165.8bn, down 1.4% YoY, while the public residential constructions rose 21.6% YoY to Y47.8bn. In regions, Greater Tokyo had the most with Y1,181.9bn, down 1.0% YoY, followed by Greater Osaka at Y450.5bn, up 5.7% and Northeast at Y439bn, up 26.7%.

Jul 18, 2014  Overseas investors net sellers of Japanese securities in the week ended July 12: MoF

In the week ended July 12, Japanese investors bought overseas securities for Y717.1bn more than sold, based on reports from designated financial institutions and fund managers, the Finance Ministry announced. Investors however sold Y26.2bn more of foreign bills than bought, Y302.1bn over Y275.9bn, while buying Y671.5bn more of notes and bonds.
Non-residents divested across the board in the week, for Y1,382.1bn in net total. Overseas investors sold Y160.9bn of Japanese equities in balance, buying Y6,411.2bn and selling Y6,572.1bn. Investors bought Y1,088.1bn of Japanese bonds and notes and sold Y1,091bn, while disposing Y1,218.3bn of bills in net, buying Y3,795.2bn and selling Y5,013.5bn.

Jul 18, 2014  Tokyo ranks less costly for expatriates: Mercer

Two cities in Africa one may not hear about so often, Luanda in Angola and N'Djamena in Chad, are the most expensive cities to live for expatriates according to 2014 Cost of Living Survey by Mercer. Services meeting the Western standard can be scarce in some locations. Tokyo took four steps lower to rank seventh. NPR story is here.

Jul 16, 2014  Greater Osaka sales of pre-owned apartments and homes down in Q2CY14: REINS

In Greater Osaka, prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Nara, Shiga and Wakayama, for three months of April, May and June of 2014, 3,926 pre-owned apartments were sold, down 7.7% YoY, at the average price of Y17.99mn, up 4.4%, through the REINS system, according to Kinki REINS. Previously sales had been growing for nearly five years. New listings in the period were 11,316 units, down 2.9% YoY, showing a downtrend in seller incentives. Prices declined quarterly, quarter-over-quarter, for two consecutive periods.
Sales of pre-owned houses were 2,663, down 5.4% YoY, declining for the first time in six quarters. But the number of new listings rose 3.0% YoY to 12,665. Average price was Y18.51mn, up 1.1% YoY. In the city of Osaka, the average price jumped 22.1% YoY to Y19.19mn.

Jul 16, 2014  Industrial output went up in May: METI

Industrial output and inventory went up in May, while shipped products and the radio of utilized industrial capacity went down, according to indices compiled by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Seasonally adjusted index of industrial output was 100.0 for May, up 0.7% MoM, with 2010 levels set at 100. Transport machinery, food and tobacco, fabric industries contributed to the rise. The index for shipments was 97.0, down 1.0% MoM, with transport machinery, chemical, general-production-business machinery, and ceramic industries contributing to the decline. Inventory index was 108.4, up 3.0%, with  transport machinery, general-production-business machinery, and ceramic industries contributing among others. The index for the radio of operation to capacity declined 0.7% MoM to 102.3, while the index for production capacity rose 0.1% to the original index of 95.3.

Jul 14, 2014  Occupancy of offices in most of major cities improved in June: Miki Shoji

In a survey of 406 office buildings for lease in the business district of Sapporo, with total floor areas of about 330 square meters or more, Miki Shoji found that the average vacancy rate in June was 8.49%, higher than 8.34% in May. In the previous six months the rate had gone down. 
In the business district of Sendai, for 353 office buildings with about 1,000 square meter floors or more, the average vacancy rate was 11.42%, down from 11.49% in May; four consecutive months of decline. Although there were some lease terminations from moving to own company offices, some IT firms expanded lease floors.
In the central five wards of Tokyo, for 2,626 office buildings with standard plate floor of about 330 square meters or more, including 23 new buildings, the average vacancy rate in June was 6.45%, 0.07 points down MoM, recording 12 consecutive months of decline. There were some major leases, offset by new supply. The vacancy rate in Chiyoda ward went up by 0.23 points to 5.52%. The average rent went up for six consecutive months; Y16,607 per tsubo, or about 3.3 square meters, up 1.40% or by Y230 YoY and up 0.64% or Y106 MoM. The average rent for new buildings was Y27,363, while the rent for existing buildings was Y16,386.
In the business district of Yokohama, for 431 office buildings, including one new building, with total floor areas of 500 tsubo or more, the average vacancy rate was 9.37%, up from 9.29% in May and April. Major cancellations and new offers stressed the rate.
In Nagoya business district, for 485 office buildings with one new, total floor area of 500 tsubo or more, the vacancy rate went down to 8.46% from 8.72% in May, declining for eight consecutive months.
In the business district of Osaka, for 833 office buildings including three new buildings, with a total floor area of 1,000 tsubo or more, the vacancy rate in June was 8.89%, down from 9.13% in May, dipping below the 9% benchmark for the first time since May of 2009. Some firms moved from own offices to leased offices.
In the Fukuoka business district, for 585 office buildings with two new, with a total lease floor of 100 tsubo or more, the vacancy rate dropped in June to 8.70% from 9.60% in May, going below 9% for the first time since February of 2008. The supply declined, for own company uses and renovations.

Jul 11, 2014  Construction orders in May higher than a year ago: MLIT

Total construction orders in May reached Y5,674.1bn, up 6.9% YoY, with Y3,840.9bn contracts and Y1,833.2bn subcontracts, according to statistical estimates announced by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on July 10. Of the contracts, orders from public institutions accounted for Y1,148.6bn, while orders from private entities were Y2,692.3bn. 
Civil engineering work had Y1,014bn, up 6.5% YoY, while construction works accounted for Y2,407.7bn, up 5.6% and machinery fixtures Y419.2bn, up 42.9%. Of private construction orders, the real estate business ordered the most with Y131.8bn, followed by the services industry at Y112.6bn and the manufacturing with Y99.2bn. Private construction orders totaled Y458,362mn, led by residential constructions at Y106,887mn, down 15.1% YoY; followed by factories-generators at Y87,888mn, up 46.1%, warehouses-logistics at Y65,732mn, up 247.6%, offices at Y50,420mn, up 17.3%, educational at Y41,012mn, down 28.3%, healthcare at Y40,659mn, down 44.6%, and retail at Y30,333mn, down 34.4%.

Jul 11, 2014  June sales of pre-owned apartments down in Greater Tokyo: REINS

In June, 2,812 pre-owned apartments were sold in Greater Tokyo, down 10.7% YoY, at the average price of Y27.43mn, up 6.6%, or Y425,200 per square meter, up 6.4%, with the average floor area of 64.51 square meters and the average age of 19.93 years, through the REINS system, according to REINS East. The corresponding figures for pre-owned houses were 1,034 houses, down 7.6%, at Y29.10mn, up 0.1%, for the average land area of 145.95 square meters and house area of 106.01 square meters, and 20.76 years old. 
The number of pre-owned apartment sales in Sapporo was 207 in June, down 8.8% YoY but up 13.7% from May, while the unit price was Y189,000, up 16.7% YoY; 145 pre-owned houses were sold, up from 112 in June 2013 and up from 120 in May, at the average price of Y15.93mn, down from Y15.63mn in June of 2013 and Y16.42mn in May. In Sendai 104 pre-owned apartments were sold, up from 94 in June of 2013 but down from 108 in May; the unit price was Y253,000, up from Y221,000 in June 2013 and down from Y255,000 in May; 57 pre-owned houses were sold, 20 more than in May, at the average price of Y20.42mn, down from Y21.42mn in May.
In the central region, roughly between Greater Tokyo and Greater Osaka, including Nagoya, 511 pre-owned apartments were sold, up 4.5% YoY, at the average price of Y15.42mn, down 2.6% YoY and 3.6% from May, the unit price of Y211,700, with the average floor area of 72.87 square meters, and the average age of 20.32 years, according to REINS Central. And 349 pre-owned houses were sold in June, up 2.0% YoY, at Y19.15mn, up from Y19.14mn in June of 2013 and down from Y19.48mn in May, with the average land area of 212.92 square meters, down 6.3% YoY and 5.5% MoM, house area of 123.33 square meters, down 0.4% YoY and up 1.9% MoM, with the average age of 23.46 years.

Jul 11, 2014  Overseas investors liked Japanese bills and notes in the week ended July 5: MoF

In the week ended July 5, Japanese investors divested from overseas securities for Y157.1bn in net balance, based on reports from designated financial institutions and fund managers, the Finance Ministry announced July 10. Investors acquired Y163.8bn of shares in equity and investment funds more than sold, buying Y920.7bn and selling Y757bn, divested Y287.1bn of long-term debt securities in net, bought Y8,875bn and sold Y9,162.1bn, and divested Y33.7bn of short-term debt securities in net, bought Y136.2bn and sold Y169.9bn.
On the other hand, non-residents invested Y2,301.5bn in Japanese securities in net; bought Y330.9bn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, buying Y7,061.3bn and selling Y6,730.4bn; invested Y301.8bn of long-term debt securities in net, buying Y1,539.9bn and selling Y1,238.1bn; and bought Y1,668.8bn of short-term debt securities in net, buying Y5,151.1bn and selling Y3,482.3bn.

Jul 10, 2014  US home sales to foreigners up: NAR

Total home sales in the US by international clients from April of 2013 to March of 2014 reached about $92.2bn, up 35% from $68.2bn a year earlier, according to 2014 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, a survey of 3,547 realtors from April 14 to May 14 of 2014 by the National Association of Realtors. International sales made up about 7% of the total sales of existing homes. Both the volume and average price of sales to foreigners were higher. Top buyers are from China, Canada, India, the UK and Mexico, accounting for about 54%; Japanese buyers took 2% share. About 28% of realtors responded had worked with international clients. Properties in Florida, California, and Texas were popular.

Jul 8, 2014  Investment incomes offset trade deficit in May: MoF

Current account surplus in May was Y522.8bn, up from Y187.4bn in April and down from Y566.6bn in May of 2013, according to the preliminary figure announced June 8 by the Ministry of Finance. The surplus was solely due to the primary income, mostly in investment income, of Y1,477.9bn, as all other balance of payment scored deficits. 
Trade deficit in goods and services was Y7444.1bn in May, with Y5,718.8bn exports of goods and Y6,394.7bn imports, and services deficit of Y68.2bn; corresponding numbers in April were Y1,440.1bn, Y5,979.6bn, Y6,760bn, Y659.7bn; and in May of 2013, Y838.3bn, Y5,608.9bn export, Y6,422.7bn import, Y24.5bn services deficit. Exports to Central and South America, ASEAN nations declined, while exports to EU nations rose; exports of mineral fuels, ships declined while exports of metal processing machinery rose. Imports from the Middle East and Oceania declined as did imports of crude oil, telecommunication equipments and coal. In services, the fee receipts for intellectual properties reached the record high of Y481bn.
In the early to mid June, exports are estimated to have reached Y3,932,048mn in FOB prices, while imports in CIF totaled Y4,733,792mn.
And in June, Japanese invested Y2,386bn in overseas securities in balance, while overseas investors divested Y2,190.6bn of Japanese securities in net: see this page for more.

Jul 7, 2014  Wall Street giants extending credits in US rental properties: Bloomberg

Cerberus Capital Management LP, Blackstone Group LP and other Wall Street firms are infusing capital into the real estate market in a form of credit to owners of rental properties for expansive investments, and securitizing the loans, Heather Perlberg and John Gittelsohn reported for Bloomberg.

Jul 4, 2014  Investors in overseas bonds fear higher rates: MoF

In the week ended June 28, Japanese investors sold Y1,051.1bn of overseas bonds than bought, buying Y4,260.5bn and selling Y5,311.6bn, while investing Y95.9bn in equities and investment funds in net, buying Y714.9bn and selling Y619bn, and buying Y111.7bn of short-term bills and selling Y106.2bn for Y5.5bn net, to make the overall divestment to Y949.6bn: based on reports from designated major investors the Ministry of Finance disclosed on June 3.
Overseas investors disposed Y259.5bn of Japanese securities in net, buying Y7,099.6bn equities and investment funds, selling Y7,132.2bn to make Y32.5bn net divestment, buying Y1,054.1bn notes and bonds, selling Y1,171.8bn, for Y117.7bn net sales, and selling Y3,136.6bn bills, buying Y3,245.8bn for the net sales of Y109.2bn.

Jul 4, 2014  Dynamical interactions of gas clouds observed by ALMA

Dynamic gravitational interactions of two or more gas cores were observed by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array to shed lights on star forming processes starting from gas clouds, possibly disproving heretofore assumed sun-like stars formed by slow contractions of gas clouds, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan announced June 3.

Jul 2, 2014  Companies less optimistic in June: BoJ Tankan

Overall business sentiments remain in the positive territory in June albeit deteriorating from March and level to worsening prospects ahead toward September, according to the Tankan survey by the Bank of Japan. The view on market demands was weak. And companies felt shortages in human resources while feeling at ease with fund procurements.

Jul 2, 2014  South Dakota town for $399K: NPR

For the money to buy an apartment in Tokyo, you can own a whole town in South Dakota, NPR reported. And it comes with a tavern, a house, three trailers and a large garage: see this listing.

Jun 30, 2014  Companies invested more in Q1CY14: Cabinet Office

In the first quarter of CY14, from January to March, Japanese corporations invested Y18.7tn in tangible assets, up 14.1% YoY, and Y2.7tn in intangible assets such as software, up 6.6%, while holding the stock of Y1,284.1tn tangible assets, up 1.5% based on 2005 prices, and Y42.7tn intangible assets, up 0.8%, at the end of March, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute of the Cabinet Office. The stock of tangible assets rose YoY for all industries, particularly at higher rates for financial and other industries, with 4.1% and 3.0% respectively. Investments in tangible assets declined for the utilities industry; while three industries turned to YoY increase from decreases in Q4CY13, manufacturing, wholesale-retail, and real estate.

Jun 30, 2014  SME sentiment worsened in May: FSA

SME sentiment deteriorated in May, according to a survey through chambers of commerce in 47 prefectures in May published by the Financial Services Agency on June 27. The diffusion index in a difference from the ratio of positive responses minus the ratio of negative responses. On average, the DI for current state was negative 22, with negative 26 for the prospect. Real estate business had negative 11 for both current and future state, with more than two thirds of respondents giving the lower sales from lower demand as reason. Construction had the only positive DI with 13 in the current state, with negative 4 for prospect. Pessimistic sentiments magnified in retail and wholesale in particular, with negative 55 for current state for retail business, negative 47 for prospect, while wholesale business had negative 34 and 43. As for funding, the construction business had the only positive DI with 4 in current state. The prospect was all in the negative territory with the average of negative 22, ranging from 13 to 34.
In the more detailed survey by the Organization for SME and Regional Innovation announced by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, for April to June, the margin of drop in the negative territory widened for all industries, from negative 11.1 to negative 23.2. SMEs mostly saw higher prices for raw materials and procured goods. The DI for sales was negative 23.1, significantly worse than negative 7.8 in the previous period.

Jun 26, 2014  Japanese population declining, with more non-Japanese population: Statistics Bureau

The total population of Japan as of January 1, 2014 came to about 127.22 million, about 225,000 or 0.18% less people than a year ago, with 125.7 million citizens, about 258,000 or 0.2% less than a year ago, according to  the population statistics the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications made public on June 20. The estimate as of June 1 came to 127.09 million. 
People aged 65 and older made up 25.2% of the total population. In a year to Oct. of 2013, the natural change as net of live births and deaths showed a decline of 231,825, while the net migration increased by 14,378. The population of non-Japanese rose by about 37,000 people. Tokyo prefecture had the largest increase among 47 prefectures, and most of it came from migratory inflows. Only eight prefectures had populations rise: Tokyo, Okinawa, Aichi, Saitama, Kanagawa, Miyagi, Shiga, and Fukuoka in order. Okinawa had the highest rise in natural population change, followed by Aichi, Shiga and Kanagawa; Tokyo had about zero natural change. On the other hand, the rates of decline were higher for Akita, Aomori, Yamagata, Kochi and Wakayama among others.

Jun 20, 2014  Japanese banks are net international creditors: BoJ

As of March 31, 2014, net overseas claims reported by banks in Japan totaled USD1,874.6bn, higher than in Dec. 2013, the Bank of Japan announced June 20. Gross overseas assets on nonbanks increased, while gross overseas liabilities from banks also increased. International consolidated claims held by banks in Japan on an ultimate risk basis reached USD3,225.3bn, an increase for three consecutive quarters; claims to the developed European region declined.

Jun 20, 2014  Some investors target small non-RC apartment buildings: Kenbiya

From May 28 to June 3, Kenbiya conducted an Internet investor survey among the members of its portal site that lists investment properties in Japanese, and received 390 responses. About a third of respondents resided in Tokyo prefecture, while four people lived overseas. On the investment property market, 39% answered that it was the time to sell, while 38% could not tell either to sell or to buy. With multiple answers, 254 people wanted to invest in an entire low-rise, small, non-steel RC, apartment building, while 192 wanted a house to let, 188 an entire steel RC apartment building, and 143 an apartment unit. Also with multiple answers, 229 wanted to invest in Tokyo, with 141 Kanagawa, 119 Saitama, 104 Chiba, and 58 Osaka, followed by Fukuoka, other Greater Tokyo, Hokkaido, Aichi and Kyoto. On investment factors, 326 focused on location, while 287 gave yield, 257 price, 173 the age of property, 126 occupancy, 116 financing terms, and 104 structure.

Jun 20, 2014  Carlyle to buy Sunsho Pharmaceutical in Shizuoka

Carlyle Group agreed to buy the entire shares of Sunsho Pharmaceutical, a contract manufacturer of health, nutrition and pharmaceutical products in Shizuoka, it announced June 19.

Jun 19, 2014  MLIT invites Taiwan cyclists to Hokkaido

Hokkaido bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will hold a five day tour of cycling in Hokkaido in September for organizations associated with cycling and media parties in Taiwan. The tour will coincide with Tour de Hokkaido from September 13 to 15 of 2014. There are more visitors from overseas enjoying cycling in Hokkaido. And the bureau hopes to lure more visitors from Taiwan. The tour is dubbed Famitrip, short for familiarization trip.

Jun 19, 2014  Overseas investors, net buyers of Japanese securities for three consecutive weeks: Finance Ministry

In the week ended June 14, Japanese investors invested in overseas securities for Y551.1bn in net balance, based on reports from designated financial institutions and fund managers, the Finance Ministry announced June 19. Investors divested Y108.5bn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, bought Y696bn and sold Y804.6bn, invested in Y638.2bn of long-term debt securities in net, bought Y5,305.5bn and sold Y4,667.3bn, and invested Y21.5bn of short-term debt securities in net, bought Y227.8bn and sold Y206.3bn.
On the other hand, non-residents bought Y503.5bn of Japanese securities in net; bought Y238.1bn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, buying Y7,390.9bn and selling Y7,152.8bn; invested Y392.8bn of long-term debt securities in net, buying Y1,278.8bn and selling Y1,124.1bn; and bought Y110.7bn of short-term debt securities in net, buying Y3,825bn and selling Y3,714.4bn.

Jun 18, 2014  Trade deficit in May: Finance Ministry

In the month of May, 2014, Japanese exports declined 2.7% YoY, the first decline in 15 months, mostly in fossil fuels, ships and automobiles, to Y5,607.6bn, while the imports also declined 3.6% YoY, the first decline in 19 months, mostly in crude oil, telecommunication equipments and coal, to Y6,516.5bn, resulting in the net import of Y909bn, down 8.3%, for 23 consecutive months of net import, according to the preliminary report disclosed by the Finance Ministry on June 18. Seasonally adjusted figures showed smaller YoY changes, with 1.2% decline in exports and 1.3% decline in imports.
Exports to the US declined for the first time in 17 months by 2.8% with auto, fossil fuel and construction and mining machinery contributing, to Y1,010.7bn, although steel exports rose 29.9% in sales. Imports from the US also declined for the first time in 14 months by 0.5% to Y611.2bn, with more imports of grains, organic chemical compounds and soy beans, and less imports of aircraft machinery, petroleum products and lumber.
Exports to EU rose for 12 consecutive months, by 14.5% YoY, to Y606bn, with auto, construction and mining machinery, electronic parts contributing but auto parts declining, while imports also increased for 20 consecutive months, by 5.7%, to Y652.8bn, with pharmaceutical, LPG, petroleum product contributing but auto declining.
Exports to Asia declined for the first time in 15 months, by 3.4%, to Y3,087.9bn, with fossil fuel, ships and organic chemical compounds contributing, while imports also declined for the first time in 21 months by 1.2% to Y2,945bn, with telecommunication devices, apparels, and LPG contributing to the decline.
Exports to China rose for 14 consecutive months by 0.4% to Y1,049.7bn with telecommunication equipments, auto and electronic circuits and devices contributing, while imports declined for the first time in 17 months by 2.7% to Y1,419.1bn, with telecommunication devices, apparels and petroleum products contributing to the decline.

Jun 18, 2014  Construction finishes higher in April: MLIT

Total constructions completed in April of 2014 reached Y3,512bn, a 6.6% increase YoY, with a breakdown of Y2,133.7bn, up 4.7%, for the private sectors, and Y1,378.3bn, up 9.7%, for the public sector, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced on June 17. In the private sector, residential constructions had Y1,189.9bn, up 4.4% YoY. And in the public sector, civil engineering and public works other than construction accounted for Y1,120bn, up 8.0%, while residential constructions of Y50.8bn showed a 28.8% YoY increase. In regions, Kanto or Greater Tokyo had Y1,219.7bn, while Tohoku or the northeast had Y450.4bn which was a 22.0% rise YoY. Shikoku, the small western island, had the least with Y94.1bn albeit with a 13.12% increase. Unfinished constructions rose to about Y26 trillion.

Jun 18, 2014  Daikyo to sell Tokyo properties to Taiwan investors

Daikyo Inc. and its group firms will promote real estate investments in Greater Tokyo by investors in Taiwan, according to the corporate news release dated June 17. The group will sell Daikyo apartments and renovated apartments with the brand name of RenoAlpha and broker pre-owned assets to Taiwanese investors. Daikyo Realdo Inc. and Taiwan Daikyo Inc. will provide comprehensive services including lease management and will hold seminars on Japanese properties to interested investors in Taiwan. The move was prompted by relatively low property prices and higher returns in Tokyo assets, as well as positive economic effects and improved infrastructures from 2020 Olympics. 

Jun 12, 2014  In the Greater Tokyo, the trade volume of pre-owned residential assets continued to decline in May: REINS

One of four organizations that manage Real Estate Information Network System, REINS for registered member real estate agents, that covers the eastern Japan, published its monthly market report for May of 2014, on June 10. The figures for the REINS website are for the Greater Tokyo area, for May of 2014, unless otherwise noted.
-Trades of pre-owned apartments declined by 14.2% YoY to 2,638 units, at Y413,400/sq. m., up 3.1%; average sale price was Y26.56mn, up 3.3%; floor space of 64.25 sq. m.; 19.85 years old. As exceptions to the overall trend, the unit price declined in Saitama.
-Trades of pre-owned houses declined by 13.2% YoY to 886 houses, at the average price of Y28.05mn, down 0.1%; average land area was 148.56 sq. m.; floor area of 104.16 sq. m.; 20.66 years old. As exceptions, prices rose in Yokohama, Kawasaki and Chiba.
-New registrations for sale of pre-owned apartment rose for the first time in 18 months by 1.7% to 12,879 units. Inventory declined by 12%, down for 16 consecutive months, to 33,842 units. New registrations for sale of pre-owned houses rose for three consecutive months by 5.5% YoY, to 5,400 houses, although declining MoM, while the inventory declined for 16 consecutive months by 6.1%, to 18,765 houses.
-In Sapporo, the trade volume of pre-owned apartment declined by 10.8% YoY to 182 units, while the unit sale price dropped 34.3% to Y113,000/sq. m. For Sendai, the corresponding numbers were up 8.0% to 108 units and up 7.0% to Y255,000/sq. m. As for pre-owned houses, in Sapporo, the volume rose by 9.1% to 120 houses, with the average price also rising for three consecutive months by 5.9% to Y16.42mn. In Sendai, the volume declined by 11.9% to 37 houses, while the average sale price declined 1.8% to Y22.42mn.

Jun 12, 2014  Japanese invested more in overseas securities, while non-residents sold long bonds in the week ended June 7: Finance Ministry

In the week ended June 7, Japanese investors invested in overseas securities for Y1,462.9bn in net balance, based on reports from designated financial institutions and fund managers, the Finance Ministry announced June 12. Investors acquired Y101.8bn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, bought Y852.3bn and sold Y750.4bn, invested in Y1,326.9bn of long-term debt securities in net, bought Y6,474.5bn and sold Y5,147.7bn, and invested Y34.1bn of short-term debt securities in net, bought Y129.3bn and sold Y95.6bn.
On the other hand, non-residents bought Y372.4bn of Japanese securities in net; bought Y343.5bnn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, buying Y7,796.1bn and selling Y7,452.6bn; divested Y129.5bn of long-term debt securities in net, buying Y1,246.4bn and selling Y1,719.3bn; and bought Y501.9bn of short-term debt securities in net, buying Y4,735.2bn and selling Y4,233.2bn. 

The portfolio account for the Bank of Japan as of June 10 shows about 2% of its Y255,713bn assets are in foreign currency assets and credits, while about 84% are in JGB, TB and other government securities. BoJ also had Y8,482.1bn of credits to overseas in April of 2014, in monetary terms, as a net balance of the total monetary currency issued and other liabilities minus the total domestic credits. In overall total, the overseas credits came to ca. Y120,697bn, down 2% MoM, and up 5%YoY.

Jun 11, 2014  Companies generally have optimistic outlook for coming months: Cabinet, MoF

Corporations generally consider the business conditions to be poor in the current period from April to June of 2014, and to improve in coming periods, according to diffusion indexes as a result of a survey as of May 15 reported by the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Finance on June 11. The survey estimated the indexes for 1,026,183 companies from 12,954 respondents; 174,986 and 3,869 for manufacturing and 851,197 and 9,085 for non-manufacturing; of capital of Y10mn or more. Business survey index is in percentage points as a difference of the number of companies that responded improving or rising expressed in the percentage share, and the number of companies that responded deteriorating or declining expressed in the percentage share.
As for overall business outlook, the companies of Y1bn capital or more for all industries had -14.6 for April to June of 2014, 13.4 for July to September of 2014, and 10.3 for October to December of 2014; corresponding numbers for companies with capital of Y100mn to Y1bn are -19.5, 9.2 and 12.2; and for those with capital of Y10mn to Y100mn, -21.5, -3.7, 1.6.
For all companies, the DI for the outlook of FY14 sales was 1.0, with 1.5 for the first half and 0.5 for the second half; with corresponding numbers for manufacturing sector as 2.2, 2.7 1.7, and for non-manufacturing 0.5, 1.0, and 0. As for the ordinary profit, the numbers for all industries are -2.3 for FY14, -7.2 for H1FY14 and 2.4 for H2FY14; manufacturing with -0.4, -7.9 and 6.5; non-manufacturing -3.0, -7.0, and 0.6. Capex including software and excluding land purchase had 4.5 for FY14, 14.9 for H1FY14, and -3.1 H2FY14; manufacturing had 10.8, 25.3, -1.3; non-manufacturing 1.5, 9.2 and -3.9.

Jun 9, 2014  GDP went up in Jan. to March of 2014: Cabinet Office

Real GDP in expenditure approach, in Q4FY13 from January to March of 2014, was Y134,683.5bn, up 1.6% from Q3 and up 3.0% YoY, with higher private consumptions and lower imports, based on 2005 prices, the Cabinet Office announced in its second preliminary report June 9. Deflator for the quarter was 89.5, slightly down from the same period a year ago. Annual real GDP for FY13 came to Y529,319.6bn, up 2.3% from a year ago.

Jun 9, 2014  In May 2014, net liabilities in international transactions in securities: Finance Ministry

In May of 2014, Japanese invested Y1,999.7bn in overseas securities in net, while non-residents invested Y2,740.9bn in Japanese securities in net, based on reports from designated major investors, Finance Ministry announced June 9. In particular, trust banks in trust accounts invested Y144.9bn in overseas equity and investment fund shares in net, while banks in banking accounts invested Y165.7bn and life insurers divested Y157.8bn. In long-term debt securities, life insurers invested in net Y256.1bn, with financial instruments firms investing Y685.5bn and investment trust management firms Y265.5bn. As for short-term debt securities, financial instruments firms invested Y126.9bn with life insurance companies divesting Y38.9bn in net

Jun 6, 2014  Individual property investors mostly content but mixed about future: Nomura Real Estate Urban Net

Nomura Real Estate Urban Net conducted a survey of real estate investors, members of, a Japanese website that lists real estate for investment, which it operates, from May 16 to May 22. The survey sample is not shown. As for the timing of investment, 42.3% of respondents answered it was the right time to invest, down 15.7 points from the previous survey, the fifth annual, in 2013 with 58.0%; 16.3% had it will soon be the time to buy, the same as a year ago; 41.3% the time to buy will not come for a while, up 15.5 points. Some optimists noted the Olympics, possibly rising prices due to higher construction costs, an economic upturn as reasons, while some pessimists gave as reasons already high property prices, an economic downturn and population decrease causing more vacancy, less attractive properties with good yield as more people invested in properties.
One year later, 51.5% of respondents thought the property prices would rise, while 9.9% thought prices would go down and 38.6% answered no change; corresponding figures for 2013 survey were 65.5%, 7.7% and 26.8%. As for the borrowing interest rate for property investment one year later, 37.1% responded the rate would go up, with 59.5% predicted it would stay roughly the same, and 3.4% down; 2013 numbers were 75.8%, 22.1% and 2.1%. As for targets of investment, in multiple answers, 71.1% wanted to invest in real estate; 43.4% stocks, 20.6% investment trusts, 26.2% REITs, 10.0% bonds, 9.9% foreign currency deposits, 9.7% foreign exchange, 4.8% others, and 8.2% none of the above which was 5.3 points up.
In the Greater Tokyo, preferred regions for investment were Shinagawa-Sengakuji area, Harumi-Kachidoki-Tsukijima, Toyosu-Shinonome, followed by Ariake-Odaiba, Nakano, Shimbashi-Toranomon; mostly in the eastern parts of central Tokyo. In the Greater Osaka, investors preferred Umekita and Abeno, followed by Sannomiya, Kamihoncho, Amagasaki.
Overwhelming 81.5% of respondents said they were happy to have invested in real estate. But only 58.9% answered they wanted to increase property investments. In multiple answers, among the advantages of property investments, 67.9% responded stable second income, with 52.6% asset expansion, 49.8% gains in cash flows, 44.9% stable retirement, 35.3% tax saving, 30.3% inheritance measure. Of the property investment portfolio, 6.8% had Y500mn or more, with 6.5% Y300mn to Y500mn, 12.5% Y200mn to Y300mn, 20.6% Y100mn to Y200mn, 21.3% Y50mn to Y100mn, 12.5% Y30mn to Y50mn, 14.3% Y10mn to Y30mn, 5.5% less than Y10mn. As for annual income from real estate investment, 9.8% had Y30mn or more, 6.8% Y20mn to Y30mn, 7.3% Y15mn to Y20mn, 12.5% Y10mn to Y15mn, 9.0% Y7mn to Y10mn, 15.3% Y4mn to Y7mn, 14.0% Y2mn to Y4mn, 12.5% Y1mn to Y2mn, 13.0% less than Y1mn. In multiple responses, 34.6% had apartment buildings, while 38.1% had low-story apartment buildings, 8.0% buildings, 41.1% studio apartments, 24.3% family sized apartment, 20.6% houses, 3.3% partially leased houses, 9.5% office and retail, 4.0% overseas properties, 4.0% others. In multiple answers also in locations, 30.8% had central five wards of Tokyo, with 41.9% other 23 wards, 8.8% other Tokyo, 16.3% Yokohama-Kawasaki, 6.5% other Kanagawa, 13.3% Chiba, 8.3% Saitama, 5.0% other Kanto, 6.8% Osaka, 4.8% Hyogo, 2.5% Kyoto, 2.3% other Kansai, 7.0% Hokkaido-Tohoku, 10.8% central, 4.0% Chugoku-Shikoku, 6.0% Kyushu-Okinawa, 3.5% overseas. Of all respondents, 12.8% had 8 assets or more while 1.8% had 7, 3.8% 6, 7.0% 5, 10.5% 4, 16.3% 3, 22.8% 2 and 25.1% one asset. In years of experiences in property investment, 12.3% had 20 years or more, with 7.8% 15 to 20 years, 20.6% 10 to 20, 23.6% 5 to 10, 15.0% 3 to 5, 20.8% less than 3 years. Of investors, 43.1% were corporate employees, while 12.0% were corporate directors, 7.5% business proprietors, 7.8% real estate business operators. In age group, 17.3% were 60 years old or above, with 14.5% 55 to 59, 20.1% 50 to 54, 16.8% 45 to 49, 17.5% 40 to 44, 7.8% 35 to 39, 5.0% 30 to 34, 1.0% 29 years old and below. In annual income, 12.0% did not respond, while 11.8% earned Y30mn or more, 11.0% Y20 to Y30mn, 10.3% Y15 to Y20mn, 10.5% Y12 to Y15mn, 12.3% Y8 to Y10mn, Y10.0% Y6 to Y8mn, 11.3% less than Y6mn. As for factors in considering property investments, with up to three answers allowed, 78.4% gave location, with 65.0% yield, 60.0% price, 26.5% years since built, 15.5% structure-earthquake resistance, 15.5% occupancy, 13.1% financing, 2.4% others, 1.7% tax saving. In multiple answers, targets of future investments, 49.3% gave apartment buildings, 47.4% low-story apartment buildings, 16.3% buildings, 33.3% studio apartments, 19.6% family sized apartments, 21.3% houses, 9.5% partially leased houses, 6.8% office-retail, 10.0% overseas, 4.3% others. As for budgets for future investments, 21.4% answered undecided, with 2.2% Y300mn or more, 1.4% Y200 to Y300mn, 4.1% Y150 to Y200mn, 9.4% Y100 to Y150mn, 7.3% Y80 to Y100mn, 10.2% Y50 to Y80mn, 11.7% Y30 to Y50mn, 21.9% Y10 to Y30mn, 10.4% less than Y10mn. With up to three choices allowed in preferred location of properties to invest, 51.7% had central five wards of Tokyo, 57.5% other 23 wards, 24.8% other Tokyo, 29. 4% Yokohama-Kawasaki, 9.4% other Kanagawa, 13.1% Chiba, 12.1% Saitama, 2.6% other Kanto, 13.1% Osaka, 8.3% Hyogo, 7.8% Kyoto, 5.3% other Kansai, 4.6% Hokkaido-Tohoku, 7.8% central, 3.1% Chugoku-Shikoku, 7.7% Kyushu-Okinawa and 7.5% overseas.

Jun 6, 2014  Monetary base expanded by less in May: BoJ

In the month of May, the Bank of Japan infused about Y18.8 trillion in purchases of JGB, TB, CP, ETF  and REIT; with Y300mn purchases of REITs. In other money market operations, it provided Y3,464.5bn in liquidity as well as one year Y700mn loan at 0.1% to support financial institutions in disaster areas. BoJ JGB holding increased by Y5,766.8bn, with Treasury discount bills also increasing by Y3,070.5bn, so the monetary base increased by Y1,084.4bn, by less than in previous three months, to Y226,619.1bn. In transactions with the government, the net underwriting of TBs declined by Y283.5bn, while sales of JGB to the debt consolidation fund under repo rose by Y6,296.5bn, and to the fiscal loan fund under repo by Y698.8bn.

Jun 5, 2014  Overseas investors net buyers of Japanese securities in the week ended May 31: Finance Ministry

In the week ended May 31, Japanese investors divested overseas securities for Y521.5bn in net balance, based on reports from designated financial institutions and fund managers, the Finance Minsitry announced June 5. Investors acquired Y277.1bn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, bought Y890.9bn and sold Y613.8bn, divested Y721.3bn of long-term debt securities in net, bought Y5,979.7bn and sold Y6,701bn, and divested Y77.3bn of short-term debt securities in net, bought Y122.3bn and sold Y199.6bn.
On the other hand, non-residents bought Y1,487.7bn of Japanese securities in net; bought Y81.7bnn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, buying Y7,656.4bn and selling Y7,574.7bn; bought Y546.4bn of long-term debt securities in net, buying Y1,868.7bn and selling Y1,322.3bn; and bought Y859.6bn of short-term debt securities in net, buying Y3,496.7bn and selling Y2,637.1bn.

Jun 4, 2014  REITs net buyers in May: AREA

In May, REITs bought 20 assets for Y133.1bn and sold 10 assets for Y9.6bn, with total market value of 45 issues at Y8,221.2bn, exceeding the Y8 trillion benchmark for the first time, while the TSE REIT index at the end of May was 1,565.02, the highest level in 2014, up 4.6% MoM, the Association of Real Estate Securitization reported in its June J-REIT issue. 
The IPO of Invesco Office J-REIT (3298) will be on June 5. Initially it hopes to raise Y41bn, acquire five office assets at Y78.6bn, earn an average return in NOI of 5.3%; Ebisu Prime Square, Harumi Toriton Square Office Tower Z, CS Tower and annex, Queens Square Yokohama, Nagoya Prime Central Tower.
Kenedix Office Investment (8972) raised Y9.87bn in public offering, half from overseas, and acquired three office buildings for Y14.66bn from affiliates: 25% of KDX Toyosu Gransquare at Y8,666mn, 5.5% estimated return, NRA of 11,797 sq. m. , 85.8% occupancy with 13 tenants, built 2008; Grace Building Takatanobaba, in Toshijma, Y3,650mn, 5.6%, 4,563 sq.m., 100%, 10, 1988; Fmix Stem Building, Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Y2,350mn, 7.4%, 5,337 sq. m., 94.7%, 22, 1999.
Hankyu REIT (9877) expects to raise up to Y7.34bn in public offering and acquire four commercial facilities for Y11.47bn from Hankyu Corp. The average return of 5.4% will improve the portfolio. United Urban (8960) plans to raise Y19.4bn and purchase an office building in Sendai for Y3.6bn. Daiwa Office Investment (8976) bought Integral Tower in Suginami, Tokyo, for Y15.22bn from Ogikubo Building, and sold Daiwa Shibuya SS Building to Tokyo Tatemono for Y3.8bn. Invincible (8963) sold seven nursing homes for Y5.4bn and bought two bed-only long-stay hotels for Y5.43bn. Sekisui House divested from Japan Excellent Asset Management, which manages assets for Japan Excellent (8987).

Jun 4, 2014  Stable supply of office buildings in central Tokyo projected: Mori Trust

The supply of large office buildings, with GFA of 10,000 sq. m. or more, in Tokyo 23 wards is expected to be stable in 2014, Mori Trust reported its research result June 3. The supply in 2013 came to 660,000 sq. m., significantly lower than 1,100,000 sq. m., the average in past two decades. Mori Trust projects the supply will recover to 930,000 in 2014, and stabilize to about 1,100,000 a year until 2017. In location, about 70% of the supply will concentrate in the central three wards of Tokyo, Chiyoda, Chuo and Minato, continuing the trend. In the three wards, rebuilding will take about 70% of the supply from 2014 to 2017, while in other areas about 80% will come from building on underutilized land.
The supply of mid scale buildings, with GFA of 5,000 to 10,000 sq. m., in Tokyo 23 wards reached 155,000 sq. m. in 2013, much higher than the ten year average. Mori Trust projects the supply will decline to 115,000 in 2014, and below average in 2015. In 2014 and 2015, about 80% of supply will be in the central three wards, particularly Minato taking 30% share.
The report also expressed a concern over a possible slowdown triggered by the higher costs of building materials and the skilled labor shortage in constructions.

Jun 2, 2014  Corporate revenues rose in Jan. to March of 2014: Finance Ministry

In the first three months of 2014, Q4FY13, pro forma corporate revenue rose 5.6% YoY to Y345,329.3bn, for 1,039,180 companies estimated from a survey of randomly selected 18,773 business enterprises excluding financial institutions with capital of Y10mn or more, the Finance Ministry announced June 2. Manufacturing revenue rose by 5.8% YoY; business and general purpose machinery saw sales decline, while revenues rose for transportation machinery, chemical and food. Non-manufacturing saw 5.6% rise; declines for IT, transportation, mail, but increases in construction, wholesale, retail and electricity.
Ordinary profit rose by 20.2% YoY to Y17,455.2bn. Manufacturing rose by 5.4%; down for petroleum and coal, IT machinery, business machinery, while up for metal, electronics machine, steel. Non-manufacturing jumped by 28.2%; down for IT, up for construction, services, wholesale and retail. Including financial institutions, making the total survey to 22,403 companies, ordinary profit rose 15.0% to Y19,867.3bn.
Profit margin was 5.1%; 4.4% in Q4FY12 and 6.5% in Q3FY13; 5.2% for manufacturing and 5.0% for non-manufacturing. Capex rose 7.4% to Y12,230.7bn; down for chemical, steel, IT machinery, IT, electric, services, up for transportation machinery, food, business machines, transport, mail, construction, real estate. Software investment declined 1.4% to Y1,137.2bn. Receivables totaled Y209,415.9bn, up 3.6%, while payables were Y161,168.2bn, down 1.8%. Short-term debt reached Y153,411.2bn, up 2.7%, while long-term debt was Y238,307.6bn, down 3.0%. Cash and cash equivalent were Y153,411.2bn, up 2.5%, with securities Y22,964.4bn, down 1.1%. Owners equity to assets was 39.3%. But including financial institutions the ratio was 18.9%.

Jun 2, 2014  Housing starts in April down: MLIT

Housing starts in April were 75,286 units, down 3.3% YoY; with seasonally adjusted annual figure of 906,000 units; however, housing starts for rental houses rose YoY for 14 consecutive months, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced May 30.
The government also disclosed that the asset total for securitized real estate and beneficiary interests in real estate trust was Y4,394bn in FY2013, up 31.4% from a year ago; securitization vehicles bought about Y3.8 trillion and sold about Y5.9 trillion. REIT acquired Y2,237bn of assets, up about 44% YoY. Of the total assets, offices took 35.8%, while commercial facilities accounted for 18.8%, logistics 17.8%, and residential 14.4%. Of 991 property acquisitions, 514 were in Tokyo prefecture; Osaka 99, Kanagawa 80, Chiba 52, Aichi 37, Fukuoka 33, and others 176.

May 30, 2014  US naval presence to expand in Asia-Pacific: Stars and Stripes

The Navy will increase the number of ships deployed in the Asia-Pacific region over the next few years, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, told an all hands call in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, May 29, Stars and Stripes reported May 30.

May 29, 2014  Wholesale and retail sales down in April: METI

Commercial sales in Japan reached Y36,821bn in April, down 3.9% YoY, with Y25,810bn wholesales, down 3.7% YoY, and Y11,011bn retail sales, down 4.4% YoY, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry preliminarily reported May 29. Wholesales declined from the level of April 2013 across the board, except the category of other merchandises had 6.8% increase and agricultural and fishery wholesales had 0.4% rise. Large scale wholesalers had Y8,378bn sales, 1.0% YoY rise; steel up 8.8%, petroleum coal up 7.3%, other machinery up 7.0%, automobile up 5.3%, and chemical up 5.2%; while pharmaceutical cosmetics had 13.5% decline, home electronics 10.2% down, nonferrous metal down 8.2%. Retails had YoY declines in all sectors; in particular machinery down by 12.3%, automobiles down 10.2%, and department stores and merchandises down 8.9%. Large retail stores had sales of Y1,466.8bn, down 6.1% YoY; department stores Y460.7bn down 10.6%, supermarkets Y1,006.2bn down 3.9%. And convenience stores had Y811.3bn sales, up 4.2% YoY.
Large (store floor of 500 sq. m. or more and with 10 stores or more) discount outlets of home electronics products, 2,453 stores, had sales of Y286.9bn in the month of April. Pharmaceutical, cosmetic, healthcare and household product chains (50 and more shops or annual sales of Y10bn or more), 13,049 stores, had Y349.6bn sales, while DIY, interior, gardening, auto and other home product sellers (10 and more shops or annual sales of Y20bn or more), 4,053 stores, had Y269.8bn sales.

May 29, 2014  Price index for residential property slightly down in February, but apartment up: MLIT

The price index for all residential properties in Japan in the month of February was 91.5, down 0.1% YoY, in the preliminary report Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism disclosed May 28. The index for apartment was 115.0, the highest level since the compilation initiated in April of 2008; 9.7% rise YoY, and 14 consecutive months of increases. The index for land and houses was 87.3, down 2.4% YoY. The average in 2008 is set at 100; based on actual transactions calculated via the hedonic regression method. The sample size was 12,619.
RegionResidential indexSample sizeLand-House indexSample size Apartment indexSample size
Greater Tokyo plus-Kanto94.54,81589.63,358111.91,457
Mid-north-Hokuriku72.528670.6267105.8 ref.19
Greater Osaka plus-Kiniki89.82,40585.61,802116.2603
West/north-Chugoku85.765783.9612133.7 ref.45
West/south-Shikoku76.133675.1308106.8 ref.28

May 29, 2014  Team Japan pushing for fuel cell cars: Nikkei

Toyota hopes to launch its fuel cell vehicles for Japanese customers as early as spring of 2015, backed by government deregulations, Nikkei reported May 29.

May 28, 2014  Mitsui Fudosan to raise more than Y300bn in public offering of common shares

Mitsui Fudosan Co. (TSE1 8801) announced its decision to publicly offer 100 million shares of its common stocks, May 27. Of the total, 67 million shares are to be underwritten and purchased by Japanese Underwriters; 28.7 million shares underwritten and purchased by International Managers; with up to 4.3 million shares optionally available through International Managers. Pricing will take place between June 16 and June 18.
The major developer belonging to a dominant corporate group expects to raise up to Y324,570.2 million and allocate the proceeds to the capital investments planned for FY14, which include in following office, retail, hotel, residential buildings for lease; Iidabashi Grand Bloom in Chiyoda, Tokyo with ca. 88,000 sq. m. of total floor space; tentatively named LaLaport Fujimi, in Saitama with ca. 185,000 sq. m. space; Gate Square in Kashiwa, Chiba with ca. 56,000 sq. m.; Sapporo Mitsui JP Building, in Sapporo, Hokkaido with ca. 48,000 sq. m. of floor space.
In the month of May, the stock price has ranged roughly within the range of Y3000 to Y3400 a share. Market value is over Y2,757 billion; the price-to-book ratio is 2.15; the price-earnings ratio given by the company is 30.38; the return-on-equity was 6.26 in FY13. And it has been paying 22 yen per share of annual dividends.

May 28, 2014  Overseas investors net sellers of REITs in Japan: ARES

REIT listings in Japan totaled 45 in April of 2014, selling Y48.4bn and buying Y1.4bn in the month with the average dividend yield of 3.7%, and the average TSE REIT index of 1,496.02, up 2.1% MoM, the Association of Real Estate Securitization reported in its May J-REIT issue. 
Nippon REIT Investment (TSE 3296) backed by Sojitz Corp., a major trading house, had a successful IPO in April, raising about Y35bn; initially with 13 office buildings and 7 residential mostly in central Tokyo. Loan-to-Value in June is expected to be about 48.4%. There are five other REITs sponsored by major trading companies: Japan Retail Fund (8953) with AUM of Y802.1bn and Industrial & Infrastructure Fund (3249) with Y180.4bn AUM sponsored by Mitsubishi Corp.; United Urban (8960) with Y486.1bn AUM backed by Marubeni; Advance Residence (3269) with Y417.6bn AUM by Itochu; and Japan Logistics Fund (8967) with Y198.9bn AUM of Mitsui & Co.
In May, Hoshino Resorts REIT (3287) plans to acquire 24 hotel properties for total of about Y18.3bn. From the sponsor, Hoshino Resort Group, it will acquire two hotels. Hoshinoya Kyoto to be bought at Y2,785mn is appraised at Y2,930mn, with 25 guest rooms with ADR of Y67,059 and RevPAR of Y49,790. Kai Kawaji in Tochigi has the price of Y1bn and the appraisal value of 1.1bn, with 54 rooms, ADR of Y23,598 and RevPAr of Y14,764. From third parties it will acquire Kai Aso in Kyushu at Y575mn, while the appraisal value is Y639mn, with 12 rooms, ADR of Y58,711 and RevPAR of Y42,149. While the three hotels will be managed by Hoshino Resort, 21 Chisun Inns will be managed by Solare Hotels & Resorts Group. Simple and casual hotels are located for easy approach by cars. The price is Y14bn, while the appraisal value is Y15.444bn, with total of 1,988 rooms, ADR of Y5,204 and RevPAR of Y4,050. To finance the acquisitions, it plans a public offering and possible third-party allocations of up to 23,000 shares to raise up to Y17.3bn; if successful its LTV will decline below 28%.
Sekisui House SI Investment (8973) plans to purchase four rental apartment buildings for Y19.3bn in May; three of them have near or above 10,000 sq. m. of total floor area. Average return in NOI of four assets is estimated at 5.7%, which is better than 5.1% yield of the existing portfolio. REIT raised about Y10.2bn through public offering and counts on additional Y510mn in third party allocations. Four buildings are located in Sumida and Koto of Tokyo, Chigusa and Naka of Nagoya; three built less than seven years ago, with one more than 14; total units of 294, 313, 66 and 183, with average occupancy rate of 93.0%.
In the first four months of 2014, all listed REITs in total bought Y590.6bn of assets, down 38% YoY, and sold Y37.8bn, down 15%. Nine public offerings raised Y160bn, down by four cases and by 40% YoY. Two IPOs had Y102.8bn. REITs issued Y70bn in bonds, up 250% YoY, and paid Y84.9bn in dividends, up 27%. In LTM to March, overseas investors sold Y51bn of REIT shares in net; and sold Y64.9bn in net in the last six months to March.

May 27, 2014  Real estate businesses generally more optimistic: Land Institute

In a questionnaire survey in April, the Land Institute of Japan received responses from 30 sellers of residential buildings and land, 67 traders of residential land, and 26 building leasing companies in major cities. For the current condition of the business as of April 1, and the prospect three months hence, the index was set at two times the number of response that said good, plus the number of mildly good, minus the number of mildly bad, minus twice the number of bad, all divided by two and the number of responses which was 123, times 100. Asset sales business gave 11.7 for the current business, and -8.3 for the prospect three months later, while the corresponding numbers in the previous survey as for Jan. 1 were 8.8 and 0.0. Residential land trading business came to 6.7 and -3.7 in April, and 9.1 and 9.1 in Jan. Building leasing business had 0.0 and 8.0, -12.0 and 4.0. 
In the residential asset sale business, the index was the number of responses that said increased or risen minus the number of decline, divided by 30, times 100; except for the inventory, it was decrease minus increase divided by 30 and 100. The number of land acquisitions was 3.4, compared to -18.2 in Jan.; the number of visitors to model room exhibits was 25.0 to -28.1; the number of sales contracts was -10.1 to -26.9; the number in inventory was 23.5 to 48.1; the trend of sales prices was 43.3 to 17.6.
In the residential land trading business, the index was set similarly. In pre-owned apartments, the number of sales requests was -11.9 in April to -5.1 in Jan.; the number of purchase request was 14.0 to 6.9; the number of sales contract was 5.2 to 8.8; the sales price was 16.1 to 14.4. In pre-owned houses, the number of sales requests was –28.1 in April to -6.3 in Jan.; the number of purchase request was 7.9 to 3.3; the number of sales contract was -4.7 to -3.3; the sales price was 15.4 to 12.7. In land, the number of sales requests was –11.1 in April to 9.4 in Jan.; the number of purchase request was 22.2 to 12.7; the number of sales contract was 6.2 to 0.0; the sales price was 14.4 to 21.9.
And in the building leasing business, the vacancy index was set at the number of response that said tending to decline minus the number of increasing, divided by 26, times 100; and for the contracted rent level trend, the number of response that said tending to rise minus the number of tending to decline, divided by 26, times 100. Vacancy was 40.0 in April compared to 12.1 in Jan; the trend of rent level was 4.3 in April and 0.0 in Jan.

May 27, 2014  Net assets in international investments of Japan rose in 2013: Finance Ministry

On May 27, Finance Ministry disclosed the balance sheet of Japan’s cross border investments as of the end of 2013. Investment assets totaled Y797.077 trillion, an increase of Y135.174 trillion or 20.4% from the end of 2012. From the change in exchange rates, the value of non-yen assets in yen rose by Y105.3 trillion. And Japanese residents bought overseas assets Y38.9 trillion in net. Assets rose for five consecutive months.
	International investment liabilities reached Y472.07 trillion, up Y106.482 trillion or 28.1% from a year ago. Non-residents acquired Y45.6 trillion of Japanese assets in net. Values of Japanese securities held by non-residents rose by Y36.1 trillion. And due to the exchange fluctuations, the yen value of non-yen liabilities rose by Y24.8 trillion. Liabilities rose for four consecutive years.
	Net cross-border investment assets were Y325.007 trillion, up Y28.692 trillion or 9.7% as a result; an increase for three consecutive years.

May 26, 2014  Solvent business terminations on the rise: Mainichi

The number of voluntary business dissolutions even with asset surplus is steeply rising, Mainichi Shimbun reported May 26. Terminations of business while still in solvency reached 28,943 cases in 2013, about double the number ten years earlier, while bankruptcies and near-bankruptcies declined to below 11,000 cases in 2013, the lowest in over two decades, according to Tokyo Shoko Research. Hidden bankruptcies, voluntary dissolutions before deteriorating to insolvency, may indicate the hardships of many SMEs not benefiting from economic upturns.

In HigashiOsaka with a high concentration of SMEs, a 77-year-old president of a company producing vinyl products closed his company in March of 2013, after about 80 years in the business. He took over the business from his father in 1963. After three years of losses, he decided to shut it down. While the prices of raw materials, crude oil rose, the firm could not transfer the rise to its product prices, eliminating the margin. Mass producing large-cap firms entered the market reducing the prices; to which his company could not keep up. He asked sub-contractors to hire his employees, about 40 in total, and to buy manufacturing equipments. He personally took on the company’s liabilities. Quitting while still able to pay the debt, he could avoid damaging others, he thought; putting the re-employment of his workers on top of his priorities. While there were other firms in his business that went bankrupt, some people told him he made the right decision.

In Osaka, a manager in his 70s took on the wholesale business of industrial machinery such as bearings from his father in 1958. He sighed and said that a udon noodles shop and a liquor shop in his neighborhood also gave up their businesses, without successors. At one time, the business recorded more than Y200mn in revenue and employed nine workers. Employees however got older and retired. He did not want to force the business on his sons. So he paid retirement funds to all of his employees and terminated the operating in March of 2014, without any debt. He still receives orders, so it will probably take about a year to liquidate. Yet he is satisfied that he got some assets left, paying employees for retirements, before falling to insolvency; he sympathizes with business owners who cannot quit because they had bank loans to repay.

May 23, 2014  Pre-owned apartment price in Greater Tokyo declined in April for two consecutive months: Tokyo Kantei

In April the average asking price of pre-owned apartments in Tokyo and neighboring three prefectures was Y28.42mn and declined by 0.7% MoM but rose by 2.6% YoY, Tokyo Kantei announced May 22. Prices were converted for apartment of 70 sq. m. In Tokyo, the price was Y37.82mn, up 0.2% MoM, up 4.2% YoY; in Kanagawa Y24.27mn down 1.3% MoM up 2.1% YoY; in Saitama Y18.44mn down 0.6% MoM up 3.4% YoY; in Chiba Y18.51mn down 0.5% up MoM 3.2% YoY. In Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Nara and Wakayama prefectures, the price was Y18.38mn, up 1.0% MoM and up 1.8% YoY; Osaka with Y18.82mn up 1.6% MoM and 2.0% YoY; Hyogo with Y17.68mn up 0.1% MoM and down 1.8% YoY. In Aichi, Gifu, Mie and Shizuoka prefectures, the price was Y14.97mn, down 0.4% MoM and up 1.8% YoY; in Aichi Y15.46mn, down 0.4% MoM and up 2.5% YoY. 
As for major cities, Tokyo 23 wards had Y41.5mn unchanged from March; Yokohama Y25.49mn down 1.4% MoM; Saitama Y20.35mn down 0.4%; Chiba Y17.24mn up 0.6%; Osaka Y22.66mn up 2.9%; Kobe Y17.66mn down 1.6%; Nagoya Y17.66mn down 0.5%.

May 23, 2014  Hotel Okura Tokyo to rebuild for the Olympics: Nikkei

Hotel Okura will spend about Y100 billion to rebuild its flagship hotel in Tokyo, located right next to the U.S. Embassy. The plan is to build two buildings, 200 meter high and 80 meter high, to start operating in spring of 2019 to welcome overseas visitors for the 2020 Olympic games: Nikkei

May 23, 2014  Carlyle’s Rubenstein remains bullish on Japan: Nikkei

David Rubenstein of Carlyle Group expressed interests in subsidiaries of large firms, and SMEs without successors in Japan, Nikkei reported. He was optimistic about the economy and the stock market, and intended to invest more. The investment field in Japan was not so competitive among investment funds. And some Japanese stocks were at discount, so there were earning opportunities, particularly in healthcare, retail sectors and industrial manufacturers with technological knowhow.

May 23, 2014  Forget zombie, come alive in this town: The Atlantic

The mountain region of Tokushima prefecture offers raw beauty of nature, but suffers from depopulation. One lady works to revive her hamlet called Nagoro: The Atlantic video.

May 22, 2014  Butter, butter, butter

The government will import additional 7,000 tons of butter starting from as early as mid-June, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced May 21.
Raw milk productions in Japan had been lower than a year before since summer of 2013. The amount of raw milk for dairy products declined, so the inventory of butter and powdered skim milk are lower. To secure stable supply of butter to be needed in autumn of 2014 and after, Agricultural & Livestock Industries Corporation will import 7,000 tons of butter, equivalent to 86,000 tons of raw milk, and 4,178 tons of powdered skim milk, equivalent to 27,000 tons of raw milk; with bidding in late-May to early-June and subsequently importing up to the end of November. Under the Uruguay Round of GATT agreement, Japan imports designated dairy products in the amount equivalent to 137,202 tons of raw milk each year; the import of the powdered skim milk is under this agreement.

May 22, 2014  Japanese investment in overseas securities rose in the week ended May 17: Finance Ministry

In the week ended May 17, Japanese investors acquired overseas securities Y1,612.3bn more than sold, based on reports from designated financial institutions and fund managers, the Finance Minsitry announced May 22. Investors acquired Y140.8bn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, bought Y961.8bn and sold Y821.0bn, Y1,414.3bn of long-term debt securities in net, bought Y6,567bn and sold Y5,152.7bn, and Y57.2bn of short-term debt securities, bought Y157.7bn and sold Y100.5bn.
On the other hand, non-residents sold Y177.9bn of Japanese securities in net; sold Y97bnn of shares in equity and investment funds in net, buying Y7,138.1bn and selling Y7,235.1bn; bought Y256.4bn of long-term debt securities in net, buying Y1,395.8bn and selling Y1,139.4bn; and sold Y337.3bn of short-term debt securities in net, buying Y4,267.4bn and selling Y4,604.7bn.

May 21, 2014  Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya office vacancy down in April: CBRE Japan

Vacancy rates in office buildings, with gross floor area of 1,000 tsubo or more and compliant with the new earthquake resistance standards, located in three major metropolises of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya declined in the month of April compared with the first quarter of 2014, CBRE Japan reported on May 20.
Vacancy rates in April compared with the first quarter of 2014 were 4.7%, down 0.4 points from 5.1% in Tokyo 23 wards; 4.3%, down 0.3 points in central 5 wards of Tokyo; 7.6% down 0.3 points in Osaka; and 7.5% down 0.6% in Nagoya.
In Grade A buildings, with typical floor plate of 350 tsubo or more and 500 or more in Tokyo, net leasable area of 6,500 tsubo or more, gross floor area of 10,000 tsubo or more, age of less than 11 years, located in and around the central 5 wards of Tokyo, Kita, Chuo, Yodogawa wards of Osaka, and Nakamura, Naka, Higashi, Nishi wards of Nagoya, vacancy rates in April compared with the first quarter of 2014 were 3.9% down 0.8 points in Tokyo, 10.4% unchanged in Osaka, 3.2% down 0.2 points in Nagoya, while average assumed achievable rents, including common area maintenance fees, were Y30,900 per tsubo a month, up 0.3% from Y30,800 in the first quarter in Tokyo, Y18,950 down 0.3% in Osaka and Y21,550 up 0.5% in Nagoya.
One tsubo is about 3.3 square meters.

May 20, 2014  April apartment sales down in Greater Tokyo, Greater Osaka regions: Real Estate Economic Institute

Apartment sales in the Greater Tokyo region in April of 2014 dropped 39.6% YoY to 2,473 units, down for three consecutive months, Real Estate Economic Institute  reported. Ratio of signing for sales in the first month of apartments going on sales was 74.7%; of 2,473 units went on sale 1,848 units were sold;  for 15 consecutive months the level exceeded the 70% benchmark; down 3.5 points YoY and 5.1 points from March.  Average price was Y48.46mn, up 2.5% YoY; Y703,000 per sq. m., up 6.4%. In April, 137 new apartment buildings were supplied, 27 more than 164 supplied in April 2013.
High rise apartment buildings of 20 stories and more were 13 buildings, 411 units, down 25.5% YoY; signing for sales 82.7%, down 3.2 points YoY. Inventory at the end of April numbered 3,581 units, down 247 from the end of March. Average size of apartment was 68.92 sq. m.
As for newly built houses that went on sales in a lot of ten houses or more, 342 new houses went on sales, down 9.3% from 377 in April 2013, down 24.0% from 450 in March 2014; 136 houses in Tokyo, 46 in Chiba, 85 in Saitama, 75 in Kanagawa, 0 Ibaraki. Of 342 houses, 199 were sold; 58.2% ratio was better than 42.7% in March. Average price was Y51.196mn, up 14.8% from Y44.578mn in March 2014 and up 13.5% from Y45.117mn in April 2013. Average prices per region were Y58.572mn in Tokyo, Y30.713mn in Chiba, Y38.027mn in Saitama, and Y65.308mn in Kanagawa. Carryover inventory from March within six months of going on sale was 927 houses.
In the Greater Osaka region, 1,222 new apartments went on sale in April; down 9.3% YoY, and down 33.9% from March; 908 units were sold, for 74.3%, down 5.5 points YoY, down 3.5 points from March. Average sales price was Y34.30mn, down 0.1% YoY ; Y491,000 per sq. m. down 2.8% YoY. Inventory was 2,039 units, down 15 from March. In the city of Osaka, the unit price went up by 8.4%. In the city of Kyoto the supply jumped.

May 19, 2014  Department stores in the central Tokyo relying more on tourists from abroad: Nikkei

The consumption tax went up in April from 5% to 8%. Retail businesses are terrified of lower sales. Grocery shops list two prices, with and without tax, to show that they have not raised their prices. Department stores in the central Tokyo, however, are doing well, thanks to tax-exempt sales to tourists from overseas, Nikkei reported. In 2013, the government broadened the tax exempt products to include cosmetics and food, in its effort to lure more inbound tourists.

Separately, Japan’s top business daily also reported that Fosun Group of China had acquired IDERA Capital Mangement, managing mostly office buildings in the Greater Tokyo region. The acquisition manifests the interests of one of the leading investment companies in China in the Japanese real estate market; and perhaps the comparative attraction of the market.

May 19, 2014  March construction Y4.55 trillion, up 10.9% YoY: MLIT

Total constructions in March of 2014 reached Y4,551.9 billion, up 10.9% from March of 2013, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced May 16. 
Private constructions totaled Y2,427.2bn, up 8.4% YoY, while public sector constructions were Y2,124.6bn, up 13.8% YoY. Of the private constructions, residential properties accounted for Y1,265.3bn, up 9.5%, and non-residential assets Y651.2bn, up 10.1%.
Regionally, constructions in Hokkaido (North) totaled Y200.9bn, up 2.2% YoY; Tohoku (Northeast) Y638.2bn, up 21.0%; Kanto (Greater Tokyo+) Y1,435.2bn, up 5.3%; Hokuriku (Mid north) Y279.9bn, up 21.4%; Chubu (Mid south) Y507.7bn, up 11.4%; Kinki (Greater Osaka+) Y567.9bn, up 10.1%; Chugoku (West, north) Y248.5bn, up 17.7%; Shikoku (West, south) Y135.4bn, up 21.8%; Kyushu and Okinawa (South) Y488.1bn, up 9.1%.

May 16, 2014  Vacancy rate in large central Tokyo offices dips below 5%: Sanko Estate

The vacancy rate in large offices in the central Tokyo declined by 0.41 percentage point from 5.38% in March to 4.97% in April, falling below the 5% benchmark for the first time since June of 2009, Sanko Estate reported in its office market report for May of 2014. The central Tokyo in this instance consists of five wards, Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato, Shinjuku and Shibuya. And large rental office buildings are those with standard lease area of 200 tsubo or more per floor, roughly equivalent to 660 square meters. One tsubo is about 3.3 sq. m.
The vacancy totaled 250,702 tsubo, or about 827,317 sq. m., in April. The total floor area available for lease was 585,719 tsubo.
Asking rent level was Y18,265 per tsubo, in April, up from Y18,172 per tsubo in March.
Shinjuku ward in particular was showing marked improvements.
As of the end of April, for large office buildings, the vacancy rates were 5.3% in the Tokyo 23 wards, 6.8% in Sapporo, 9.8% in Sendai, 6.8% in Nagoya, 8.1% in Osaka, and 6.1% in Fukuoka, while the asking rent levels were Y38,167 per tsubo in Marunouchi, Tokyo, Y11,432 in Ekimaedori, Sapporo, Y12,676 in EkimaeHoncho, Sendai, Y15,728  in Meieki, Nagoya, Y20,517 in Umeda, Osaka, and Y15,617 in Tenjin, Fukuoka. .

May 15, 2014  Land prices in Tokyo 23 wards rising: Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Research Institute

In the second half of 2013, from July to Dec., the trade price of residential land rose by 3.5% year-on-year, while the price of commercial land rose by 9.2% in the 23 wards of Tokyo, according to Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Research Institute.
The study covered residential and commercial land in Tokyo 23 wards, traded at price of Y10mn or more, with area of 30 sq. m. or more, and within 30 min. from the closest train stations; the sample size was 15,847 residential plots and 2,343 commercial plots.
Change in trade price was estimated from the change in public appraisal values times the divergence, which was measured from gaps of trade prices from max. and min. of public appraisal values in the area.

May 15, 2014  In the Greater Tokyo, the trade volume of pre-owned residential assets declined in April, but the apartment price went up: REINS

One of four organizations that manage Real Estate Information Network System, REINS for registered member real estate agents, that covers the eastern Japan, published its monthly market report for April of 2014, on May 14.  The figures for the REINS website are for the Greater Tokyo area, for April of 2014, unless otherwise noted.
-Trades of pre-owned apartments declined by 10.7% YoY to 2,785 units, at Y424,000/sq. m., up 7.7%; average sale price was Y26.88mn, up 5.2%; floor space of 63.41 sq. m.; 19.5 years old. As exceptions to the overall trend, the unit price declined in Chiba, and the volume rose in Kanagawa. 
-Trades of pre-owned houses declined by 13.4% YoY to 927 houses, at the average price of Y29.22mn, down 2.6%; average land area was 142.26 sq. m.; floor area of 106.32 sq. m.; 20.18 years old . As exceptions, prices rose in Yokohama, Kawasaki and Tama.
-New registrations for sale of pre-owned apartment declined by 2.2%, down for 17 consecutive months, to 13,408 units. Inventory declined by 14.9%, down for 15 consecutive months, to 33,909 units. New registrations for sale of pre-owned houses rose for two consecutive months by 1.3%, to 5,636 houses, while the inventory declined for 15 consecutive months by 8.0%, to 18,749 houses.
-In Sapporo, the trade volume of pre-owned apartment declined by 7.0% YoY  199 units, while the unit sale price rose by 11.3% to Y183,000/sq. m. For Sendai, the corresponding numbers were down 1.1% to 90 units and up 4.6% to Y157,000/sq. m. As for pre-owned houses, in Sapporo, the volume rose by two consecutive months by 22.7% to 108 houses, with the average price also rising for two consecutive months by 2.5% to Y15.86mn. In Sendai, the volume declined by 5.9%, the first YoY decline in the year, by 5.9% to 32 houses, while the average sale price rose for 17 consecutive months buy 16.5% to Y25.58mn.

May 14, 2014  Office rent may be on the rise

Marunouchi is the primary business district just west of the Tokyo station, along with neighboring districts of Otemachi. While the Mitsui group is traditionally strong in Nihonbashi area, Mitsubishi is strong in Marunouchi. Mitsubishi Estate plans to raise the office rent in Marunouchi by about 10 to 20%. The move may have some repercussions in the rest of office districts.
For fee, you may obtain quality information at these sites; Nikkei Real Estate Market Report, Fudousan Keizai Weekly by Real Estate Institute Co.

May 14, 2014  FY14Q1 Overview by MLIT

On Monday, May 12, 2014, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism published its monthly report for April. 
- Orders for public works in February rose for 13 consecutive months:
Construction orders of more than Y5mn from public institutions declined 0.1% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013, from Jan. to March; rose 44.7% YoY in the 2nd, April to June; rose 25.8% in Q3; rose 9.2% in Q4; then rose 11.2% in Jan. 2014, and rose 3.5% in Feb. 2014.

- Housing starts in March declined for the first time in 19 months:
New housing construction starts totaled 69,411 units in March, down 2.9% YoY; seasonally adjusted annual figures came to FY13Q1 908,000 units, FY13Q2 978,000, FY13Q3 999,000, FY13Q4 1,026,000, Jan 2014, 987,000, Feb 2014 919,000, March 2014 895,000.

- Private-sector non-residential construction starts declined in March for two consecutive months:
Non-residential construction starts in the private sector measured in floor areas rose 17.5% YoY in FY13Q1; rose 16.2% in FY13Q2; rose 9.3% in FY13Q3; rose 5.0% in FY13Q4; then rose 13.0% in Jan. 2014, declined 8.6% in Feb. 2014, and declined 8.0% in March 2014.

- Domestic and cross-border freight continued to increase across the board; trucks, trains, air and ocean transport; human traffic also increased both domestic and international; outbound tourists declined for three consecutive months, while inbound tourists continued to increase; tourism transaction amount also rose; source MLIT.

May 14, 2014  Come to Asahi Housing Fair on May 30 Fri, 31 Sat, June 1 Sun. at Tokyo Big Sight

Asahi Housing Fair 2014 will be held at the Tokyo Big Sight, West Hall 1-2 (from Kokusai Tenjijo station on Rinkai line from Shinkiba or Osaki stations, or Kokusai Tenjijo Seimon station on Yurikamome line from Toyosu or Shimbashi stations) on May 30 Friday, May 31 Saturday, and June 1 Sunday, from 10:00 to 17:00. Auction Pavilion will consist of FKR and auction concierges, i.e. real estate agents with expertise in court auctions, from Tokyo, Osaka and Kagoshima. So come and see us, if you can.
(With pre-registration on the website the entrance charge of Y2000 becomes free)

May 13, 2014  Legalized gambling in Japan

A group of legislators promoting inbound tourism has been working to legalize gambling in Japan; except the word "gambling" does not fit the bill so well, so they call it "integrated resort." In a dire attempt to spur economic growth, some local governments welcome the idea, putting the ethical concerns aside. Property prices in Osaka make it more preferrable over Tokyo in this respect. Astute investors may look for properties in other locations as well; such as Sasebo and Otaru, as Reuters reports these cities are also eager.
For more please see these sites; 
Reuter, More on gambling by Reuter,, CNBC.

May 12, 2014  Inviting entrepreneurs from overseas

The government is considering a plan to invite more workers from overseas in six strategic districts nationwhide, setting up a new immigration category. Domestic workers will also be easier to work and stay in these districts, according to the plan. It is to promote economic rejuvenations through more entreprenuers and also to assist working women. The government hopes to increase the investment from abroad. (Source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun May 12, 2014)
Nikkei Asian Review

Previously the government has also announced a longer visa term for construction workers.

May 12, 2014  Appeal denied in the North Korea building auction

Tokyo High Court denied the appeal by the General Association of Korean Resident aka Chongryon, so the compulsory sale of the property to Marunaka Holdings in Takamatsu will proceed; the winning bid was Y2.21 billion while the minimum bid was about Y2.134 billion. The sale may serve as an example of worst case scenario to study.

A note on the court system in Japan:
There are 50 district courts; one in each of 47 prefecture, except Hokkaido has four. And there are branches. Family courts that also handle juvenile cases are generally one for each district court; also with branches. There are 438 small claims courts. High courts that generally handle appeals are eight in number, with branches; Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Takamatsu, Hiroshima, Fukuoka. High court that specializes in intellectual properties is a branch of Tokyo High Court. And there is one Supreme Court, in Tokyo; only major cases are handled with the big court with all 15 justices, others are by one of three small courts with four or five justices. Outside of the court system, there are government bodies, which arguably function similarly in special situations, such in anti-trust and election; the constitution prohibits a special court. contents