Japan’s ‘tankan’ survey shows improved sentiment

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese manufacturers’ sentiments improved for the first time in three years, a quarterly Bank of Japan (BoJ) survey showed yesterday, as the nation grappled with stagnation worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The headline measure for the tankan, tracking sentiment among large manufacturers, stood at minus 27, an improvement of seven points from the previous survey that came out in July.

The tankan measures corporate sentiment by subtracting the number of companies saying business conditions are negative from those responding they are positive.

That measure had declined for six quarters straight, to an 11-year low, before yesterday’s report.

Sentiment among large non-manufacturers improved by five points to minus 12.

Despite some positive signs in the tankan, the numbers are still in the minus range, meaning pessimism is still rampant in Japan Inc and the world’s third largest economy has a long way to go before it’s on a solid growth track.

Worries also remain about a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Japan has never had a total lockdown, and businesses have been trying to return to normal with mask-wearing and social-distancing measures.

The pandemic has squelched overseas tourism, which had sustained economic activity in recent years.

People take elevators at a shopping building in Tokyo on August 24. Japanese manufacturers’ sentiments improved for the first time in three years, a quarterly Bank of Japan survey showed yesterday as the nation grappled with stagnation worsened by COVID-19. PHOTO: AP