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Wed, Apr 29, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Top business chief upbeat on Japan

OPTIMISM: Fujio Mitarai, the chairman of the Japan Business Federation, said that the world’s second-largest economy could turn a corner later this year

AFP , TOKYO

Japan’s economy has come through the worst of its biggest crisis since World War II, the head of the country’s top business lobby said in an interview published yesterday.

“Major industrialized nations are using all their fiscal and financial tools to rebuild their economies, and some signs of life are beginning to emerge,” Japan Business Federation chairman Fujio Mitarai told the Nikkei daily.

“Although the sun has not risen yet, we are finally beginning to see what is ahead. In this regard we have come through the worst,” he said.

Mitarai, who is also chairman of high-tech giant Canon Inc, said the world’s second-largest economy could turn a corner later this year.

“In the ideal scenario, the economy will hit bottom in the July-September period and grow slightly in the following quarter,” he said, while forecasting a contraction of some three percent in this business year to last month.

Recent data have sparked hopes that the slump in the Japanese economy may be easing, with exports showing signs of bottoming out.

Yesterday, Honda Motor Co forecast net earnings of ¥40 billion (US$417 million) and operating profit of ¥10 billion for the current year to last month, after the Japan’s second-largest automaker posted a net loss of ¥186.1 billion for the three months to last month, against a year-earlier profit of ¥25.4 billion because of weak sales and a stronger yen.

For the full business year to last month, Honda’s net earnings slumped 77.2 percent to ¥137 billion. Operating profit dived 80.1 percent to ¥189.6 billion.

Japan Airlines (JAL), meanwhile, said yesterday it would post a net loss of about ¥63 billion for the past year to last month, almost twice as much as expected.

Previously JAL, Asia’s largest carrier, had forecast an annual net loss of ¥34 billion.

It now expects an operating loss of ¥51 billion for the year, against a previous projection of a ¥37 billion shortfall. The airline also lowered its revenue outlook to ¥1.95 trillion from ¥1.98 trillion.

JAL blamed the worse than expected performance on a “relentless” drop in global demand for air transportation.

Japan’s top mobile operator NTT DoCoMo Inc yesterday also said its net profit slipped 3.9 percent to ¥471.9 billion for the year to last month. Overall revenue dropped by 5.6 percent to ¥4.45 trillion, reflecting the spread of new discount programs.

DoCoMo, part of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone group, expects revenue to slip further in the current year.

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