Balance of travel hits record high

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Yomiuri ShimbunJapan’s travel balance, or the amount foreigners spend in Japan for shopping and other purposes minus the amount Japanese spend overseas, reached ¥790.3 billion in the first half of this year — a record high on a half-year basis — according to the Finance Ministry’s preliminary report on the balance of payments announced Tuesday.

The report also showed that Japan’s current account balance in the first half of this year reached a surplus of ¥10.5101 trillion, the highest level for this period in the 10 years since 2007, before the Lehman Brothers collapse.

The travel balance remained solidly in the red for years after comparable statistics were first initiated in 1996, but finally reached a positive balance in the second half of fiscal 2014. It has since achieved its sixth surplus on a half-year basis, with the figure increasing ¥62.6 billion in the first six months of this year compared to a year earlier.

Behind the positive balance is mainly the surge in travelers from countries such as South Korea following a rise in the number of low-cost carrier (LCC) flights. The number of foreign visitors to Japan in the January-June period was 13.75 million, up 17.4 percent from the same period a year earlier. The figure was about 1.6 times the number of Japanese tourists visiting overseas, which stood at 8.4 million. In 1997, Japanese tourists abroad outnumbered foreign tourists to Japan by a factor of four.

The current account balance — an indicator of the overall state of transactions and investment income between Japan and foreign nations — increased 0.3 percent from the same period a year earlier. The expansion was mainly driven by a 2.2 percent increase in primary income — investment income on equity and investment fund shares that Japanese companies gain from their affiliated firms overseas.

The trade balance, or the value of the country’s total exports minus total imports, was in the black at ¥2.0531 trillion. The surplus narrowed by about ¥271.3 billion from the same period a year before due to factors including a rise in crude oil prices starting in the prior year.Speech

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