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Regional Economic Report (Summary) (April 2008)*

  • 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.

April 18, 2008
Bank of Japan

According to reports from each of the nine regions in Japan, growth of the economy as a whole was slowing recently, mainly due to the effects of high energy and materials prices, although there were some regional differences. 

Exports continued to increase.  Corporate profits leveled off, albeit at a high level, and business sentiment became cautious, mainly due to the effects of high energy and materials prices.  In this situation, the pace of increase in business fixed investment became slower in many regions.  Private consumption was firm as a whole in a situation where household income continued rising moderately, although there was some weakness.  Housing investment, however, remained at a low level, although there were signs of recovery.  Under these circumstances, production was recently flat. 

Assessments showed that regional differences remained: Tokai and Kinki described their economic activity as expanding gradually albeit at a slower pace, while Hokkaido described it as continuing to be somewhat sluggish.

Compared with the assessment in January 2008, at the time of the last branch managers' meeting, eight out of nine regions revised their assessments slightly downward as some sluggishness was observed in corporate activity such as production and business fixed investment.  Meanwhile, Hokkaido maintained its previous assessment. 

Table : Regional Economic Report (Summary) (April 2008)
Region Assessment in April 2008 Revision of
assessment
from the
previous
meeting
Assessment in January 2008
Hokkaido Economic activity continues to be somewhat sluggish. Unchanged. Economic activity is somewhat sluggish.
Tohoku The economy seems to have stopped recovering. Slightly downward. The economy as a whole continues to recover gradually.
Hokuriku The economy is slowing. Slightly downward. The economy is recovering gradually, although there seems to be some sluggishness.
Kanto-Koshinetsu The economy is slowing slightly. Slightly downward. The economy is on a moderate expansion trend.
Tokai The economy is expanding gradually, although the pace of growth has become slower recently. Slightly downward. The economy is expanding gradually.
Kinki The economy is expanding gradually, although the pace of growth in some economic activity seems to be slowing. Slightly downward. The economy is expanding gradually.
Chugoku The economy continues to recover as a whole, although there seems to be some weakness. Slightly downward. The economy continues to recover as a whole.
Shikoku Economic recovery has become somewhat sluggish. Slightly downward. The economy continues to pick up gradually.
Kyushu-Okinawa The economy seems to have stopped recovering. Slightly downward. The economy continues to recover gradually.

Private consumption was gradually increasing in the Kanto-Koshinetsu region.  Many other regions reported that it was "firm" or "flat."  Meanwhile, Hokkaido reported that it was "somewhat sluggish."

There were reports that at large retail stores, sales of apparel, general merchandise, and accessories seemed to be somewhat sluggish, while sales of food were solid.  Sales of household electrical appliances continued to be favorable, particularly for digital appliances, such as flat-panel televisions.  Recent sales of passenger cars were flat, after picking up assisted partly by the introduction of new models.  Meanwhile, travel expenses remained steady on the whole, mainly in domestic travel, although there were regional differences. 

Compared with the previous assessment of private consumption, Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku, and Tokai revised their assessments slightly downward.  

A number of regions reported that business fixed investment increased at a slower pace, albeit remaining at a high level, reflecting recently sluggish corporate profits.

Compared with the previous assessment of business fixed investment, Hokuriku, Kanto-Koshinetsu, Tokai, Kinki, and Shikoku revised their assessments slightly downward. 

Production was picking up, increasing, or on an increasing trend in the Hokkaido, Hokuriku, Kinki, and Shikoku regions.  Kanto-Koshinetsu, Chugoku, and Kyushu-Okinawa reported that it was flat or solid.  Meanwhile, Tohoku and Tokai reported that it had recently been declining or seemed to be falling back slightly.  

By industry, in processing industries, although there were regional differences, production of electronic parts and devices and transportation equipment had recently become sluggish partly in reaction to the relatively large increase in the second half of 2007.  Production of foods also seemed to be sluggish.  Trends in materials industries still varied: production of iron and steel, and paper and pulp remained solid, while materials used for construction -- namely, cement, ceramics and glass, as well as lumber and wood products -- and textiles showed sluggishness. 

Compared with the previous assessment of production, Hokkaido revised its assessment slightly upward, while Tokai revised its assessment downward and Tohoku, Kanto-Koshinetsu, Kinki, Chugoku, and Kyushu-Okinawa revised their assessments slightly downward. 

As for employment, regional differences remained.  Kanto-Koshinetsu, Tokai, Kinki, Chugoku, and Shikoku reported that it continued to improve or that the ratio of job offers to applicants was relatively high, while Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku, and Kyushu-Okinawa reported that it remained flat or the improvement became modest. 

For household income, Tohoku, Kanto-Koshinetsu, Tokai, and Shikoku reported that it was gradually increasing, improving, or recovering.  Hokuriku, Kinki, and Chugoku reported that it was around the previous year's level, firm or remaining flat.  Meanwhile, Hokkaido reported that it was "sluggish," and Kyushu-Okinawa reported that it seemed to have stopped recovering. 

Compared with the previous assessment of employment, Tohoku, Hokuriku, and Kyushu-Okinawa revised their assessments slightly downward.  As for household income, Tohoku, Hokuriku, Kinki, and Kyushu-Okinawa revised their assessments slightly downward. 

Table : Regional Economic Report (Summary) (April 2008)
Region Private
consumption
Business fixed
investment
Production Employment and income
Hokkaido Somewhat sluggish. Solid. Picking up gradually. The employment situation remains flat.
Household income is sluggish.
Tohoku There seems to be some sluggishness, although it continues to be generally firm. Maintaining a relatively high level. Declining recently, albeit remaining at a high level. The employment situation has been somewhat sluggish recently.
Household income continues to improve gradually, but uncertainty regarding future developments is increasing.
Hokuriku Flat. Seems to have recently come to a pause, partly due to its high level so far. Continues to increase. The improvement in the employment situation has become modest.
Household income is around the previous year's level.
Kanto-Koshinetsu On a gradual increasing trend. Recently flat, albeit at a high level. Recently flat, partly in reaction to a relatively large increase in the second half of 2007. The employment situation continues to improve.
Household income continues to increase gradually.
Tokai Firm. Remains at a high level, although the pace of increase has become slower. Seems to have recently fallen back slightly. The number of full-time employees is increasing, reflecting the high level of production.  The ratio of job offers to applicants is at a high level.
Household income is improving.
Kinki Firm. Increasing as a whole, although there seems to be signs of slowing. On a gradual increasing trend, although it has been more or less flat recently. The employment situation continues to improve.
Household income is on a steady trend, although there seems to be some sluggishness in wages.
Chugoku Remains generally steady, although there seems to be some sluggishness. Maintaining a high level recently. Remains solid on the whole. The ratio of job offers to applicants continues to be at a relatively high level, albeit with a slight decrease.
Household income remains more or less flat.
Shikoku Firm as a whole. Maintaining a relatively high level recently, mainly in manufacturing, but is projected to decline in the future. Increasing gradually. The employment situation continues to improve gradually.
Household income is recovering gradually on the whole.
Kyushu-Okinawa Firm. Increasing. Flat. The employment situation seems to have recently stopped recovering.
Household income seems to have recently stopped recovering.

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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