Japan’s Feb consumer confidence jumps

5 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

TOKYO: Japan’s consumer confidence in February jumped despite the government’s latest state of emergency to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, government data showed Thursday.

The seasonally adjusted index of sentiment among households made up of two or more people climbed 4.2 points from last month to 33.8, up for the first time in three months to mark the second-largest gain since comparable data became available in April 2013, according to the Cabinet Office, report agencies.

The reading logged the second sharpest increase on record, following a record 4.4 point gain in June last year, a month after the country’s first state of emergency over the virus, which was declared nationwide, was fully lifted.

A government official told reporters that the decisive factor affecting consumer sentiment is likely the number of virus cases rather than whether or not the country is under the emergency state.

“The average figure of daily new cases during this survey period was about 1,400, compared with some 6,000 in January, so that uplifted consumer sentiment,” the official added. The latest survey was conducted between Feb. 6 and 22.

The state of emergency was first declared in April, with people being requested to stay home and nonessential businesses asked to suspend operations.

Amid a resurgence of infections starting in November, a second virus emergency was declared on Jan. 7 for the Tokyo metropolitan region with less comprehensive measures compared to the initial emergency declaration.

After being expanded to 11 prefectures, it has since been scaled down and now only covers the Tokyo metropolitan region. It was scheduled to end on Sunday, but Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said it should be extended by about two weeks amid concerns about the recent slowing down in the decline of infections.

The Cabinet Office upgraded its basic assessment for the first time in five months, saying consumer sentiment has “remained in a severe situation, but shown signs of recovery.”