The world’s second largest advertising economy remains bearish about its short-term economic future, according to a survey of Japan’s top one hundred businesses.

Conducted every six months by leading Japanese daily newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, seventy-three of the one hundred companies polled believe the nation’s economy is “at a standstill” – compared with 71 who opined similarly during the previous survey in November.

Twenty-five of the respondents said they think the economy is “slowly declining'” or “worsening”' (20 last time, and just ten in April 2002), while one cock-eyed optimist agreed that the economy is “slowly recovering” and another that there are “some positive signs amid the standstill”. In November the Panglossians numbered two and six respectively.

The survey, conducted April 8-21, reveals increasing worries among businesses about weak personal consumption and corporate reluctance to make capital investments. It also showed declining hopes for an export-led recovery fuelled by US demand.

As to the longer term, optimism remained conspicuous by its absence. Twenty-eight of the respondents opined that a recovery will not begin at earliest until the latter half of fiscal 2004, while 24 believed it would take even longer.

The survey sampled fifty manufacturing companies and fifty non-manufacturing.

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