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Regional Economic Report (Summary) (October 2007)*

  • This report summarizes the reports from all regional research divisions, mainly at the Bank's branches in Japan, and is based on data and other information gathered for the Bank of Japan's branch managers' meeting held today. The English translation is based on the Japanese original.

October 15, 2007
Bank of Japan

According to reports from each of the nine regions in Japan, the economy as a whole expanded moderately as most regions remained on an expansion or recovery trend, although there were regional differences.

Specifically, the corporate sector remained buoyant as exports continued to increase, business fixed investment continued to be on an increasing trend in all regions, and business sentiment remained generally favorable although it had become somewhat cautious. In the household sector, private consumption was steady, with employment and household income on an increasing trend. Housing investment, however, had dropped recently in all regions, mainly due to the delay in construction starts affected by the enforcement of the revised Building Standard Law. Against the background of the increase in domestic and external demand, production was on an increasing trend.

Assessments showed that regional differences remained: Kanto-Koshinetsu, Tokai, and Kinki described their economic activity as expanding, while the other regions described it as being on a recovery trend or flat.

Compared with the assessment in July 2007, at the time of the last branch managers' meeting, six out of nine regions maintained their previous assessment. Hokkaido, Kinki, and Kyushu-Okinawa revised their assessments slightly downward: Hokkaido indicated a standstill in the recovery of production; Kinki reported a decrease in housing investment and a slight deceleration of growth in private consumption; and Kyushu-Okinawa pointed out a decrease in housing investment and the emergence of some cautiousness in business sentiment, mainly in manufacturing.

Table : Regional Economic Report (Summary) (October 2007)
Region Assessment in October 2007 Revision of
assessment
from the
previous
meeting
Assessment in July 2007
Hokkaido Economic activity is flat. Slightly downward. The economy is picking up gradually.
Tohoku The economy continues to recover steadily, albeit gradually. Unchanged. The economy continues to recover steadily, albeit gradually.
Hokuriku The economy is recovering gradually. Unchanged. The economy is recovering gradually.
Kanto-Koshinetsu The economy is expanding gradually. Unchanged. The economy is expanding gradually.
Tokai The economy is expanding gradually. Unchanged. The economy is expanding gradually.
Kinki The economy is expanding gradually. Slightly downward. The economy continues to expand.
Chugoku The economy continues to recover as a whole. Unchanged. The economy continues to recover as a whole.
Shikoku The economy continues to pick up gradually. Unchanged. The economy continues to pick up gradually.
Kyushu-Okinawa The economy continues to recover gradually. Slightly downward. The economy continues to recover.

Private consumption was gradually increasing or recovering in the Kanto-Koshinetsu and Tokai regions. In other regions, it was "steady," "picking up," or "flat."

There were reports that sales at large retail stores, mainly of summer merchandise, food, and designer products, were increasing, while sales of apparel seemed to be sluggish. All regions reported that sales of household electrical appliances continued to be favorable, particularly for digital appliances, such as flat-panel televisions, and for high-value-added white goods. Sales of passenger cars continued to be relatively weak, chiefly in small passenger cars, but had picked up slightly in some regions, due partly to the introduction of new models. Meanwhile, travel expenses remained solid on the whole, although there were regional differences.

Compared with the previous assessment of private consumption, Kinki and Chugoku revised their assessments slightly downward.

Business fixed investment continued to be on an increasing trend in all regions reflecting high corporate profits, driven mainly by manufacturers' investments to expand their production capacity.

Compared with the previous assessment of business fixed investment, Kanto-Koshinetsu revised its assessment slightly downward.

Many regions reported that production was on an increasing trend. Meanwhile, Shikoku and Kyushu-Okinawa reported that production was "recovering gradually" and "solid," respectively, while Hokkaido reported that it was "generally flat."

By industry, in processing industries, many regions reported that production of electronic parts and devices was strong for digital appliances, game consoles, and automobiles, while some weakness was observed in processed metals. Production of general machinery, mainly semiconductor manufacturing equipment and machine tools, and that of transportation equipment, particularly for exports, remained at a high level. Trends in materials industries still varied: iron and steel continued to be at a high level of production in many regions, in response to strong demand for automobiles and ships; chemicals, and paper and pulp maintained a high level of production; production of cement, ceramics and glass, however, was restrained mainly due to decreasing public investment; and textiles also showed weakness in production.

Compared with the previous assessment of production, Hokkaido revised its assessment slightly downward, while Tohoku and Tokai revised their assessments upward.

As for the employment and income situation, most regions reported that the employment situation continued to improve. However, there were still substantial regional differences in the assessments of labor market conditions, ranging from "the ratio of job offers to applicants is at a high level" in Tokai to an assessment that "the employment situation remains flat" in Hokkaido.

Most regions reported that household income was either gradually increasing or improving. Chugoku, however, reported that household income was "generally flat," and Hokkaido reported that it was "somewhat sluggish" partly due to the fact that firms continued to restrain labor costs.

As for income, all regions kept their assessments unchanged. As for the employment situation, however, Tohoku revised its assessment slightly downward.

Table : Regional Economic Report (Summary) (October 2007)
Region Private consumption Business fixed investment Production Employment and income
Hokkaido Continues to be flat. Increasing. Generally flat. The employment situation remains flat.
Household income is somewhat sluggish, albeit with some fluctuations.
Tohoku Steady. Increasing, mainly in manufacturing. Increasing with stronger momentum. The improvement in the employment situation has come to a standstill.
Household income continues to improve gradually as a whole.
Hokuriku Continues to be picking up, although there seems to be some sluggishness. Continues to increase, exceeding the high level of fiscal 2006 by about 10 percent, mainly in manufacturing. Continues to increase. The employment situation continues to follow an improving trend.
Household income is increasing albeit gradually.
Kanto-Koshinetsu On a gradual increasing trend. Increasing. On an increasing trend. The employment situation continues to improve.
Household income continues to increase gradually.
Tokai On a gradual recovery trend. Continues to increase. Increasing. The ratio of job offers to applicants is at a high level, and the number of full-time employees is increasing.
Household income is improving.
Kinki Steady. Increasing. Increasing. The employment situation continues to improve.
Household income is increasing gradually.
Chugoku Remains generally steady, although there seems to be some sluggishness. Solid. On an increasing trend. The ratio of job offers to applicants continues to be at a relatively high level.
Household income remains generally flat.
Shikoku Steady as a whole. Increasing, mainly in manufacturing. Recovering gradually. The employment situation continues to improve gradually.
Household income is gradually recovering on the whole.
Kyushu-Okinawa Steady. Increasing. Solid. The employment situation is improving gradually.
Household income is improving gradually.

Appendix: Prefectures Included in Each Region

Table : Appendix: Prefectures Included in Each Region
Region Prefectures
(a) Hokkaido Hokkaido
(b) Tohoku Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, and Fukushima
(c) Hokuriku Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui
(d) Kanto-Koshinetsu Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Niigata, Yamanashi, and Nagano
(e) Tokai Gifu, Shizuoka, Aichi, and Mie
(f) Kinki Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, and Wakayama
(g) Chugoku Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi
(h) Shikoku Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi
(i) Kyushu-Okinawa Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, and Okinawa

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