TOKYO: Business leaders in the globe's second largest advertising economy are not famed for the brazen egos and high-profiles maintained by their US and European counterparts.

In the main, the opinions and prognostications of Nippon's top commercial Shoguns are reserved for stockholders and the major investment banks.

From time, to time, however, the gods abseil from the summit of Mount Fuji (pictured above) on the rope of a business opinion survey to share their views with ordinary mortals.

According to the latest biannual study, conducted June 1-15 by national daily newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, more than half the leaders of Japan's one hundred largest companies are optimistic about the economic outlook for 2008 and beyond.

Fifty-five per cent of those surveyed said they believe economic growth will continue upward from the index point of 18 reached last November.

Analysts believe their optimism stems from a general feeling that the nation's largest businesses have adequately dealt with three main problems of excess equipment, heavy debts and overstaffing.

They also share the view that economic growth is steady and unlikely to worsen abruptly.

Comments Fumio Sameshima, president of Taiheiyo Cement: "[Growth] is not spectacular, but it appears to be steady. We don't expect a sudden downturn."

But lest anyone accuse the Shoguns of over-optimism, most tempered their upbeat assessments by voicing concern as to the US economy (75%), the rising costs of oil and raw materials (42%) and the stability of the current Chinese goldrush (20%).

Data sourced from The Asahi Shimbun (Japan); additional content by WARC staff