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Asia Economy Last Updated: Nov 26, 2013 - 8:03 AM

Japanese households with no financial assets at highest since 1963
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Nov 25, 2013 - 9:08 AM

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Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, in the Diet, the lower house of parliament, Tokyo, Nov 20, 2013

The share of Japanese households with no financial assets are at the highest since at least 1963, despite the policy of Abenomics, that was launched earlier this year by Shinzo Abe, Japan's new prime minister, with a 3-arrow targeting: a massive fiscal stimulus, more aggressive monetary easing from the Bank of Japan, and structural reforms to boost Japan's competitiveness.

Abe is seeking to end a decade and a half of deflation and while prices have risen because of rising energy costs, regular wages excluding overtime and bonuses fell 0.3% in September from a year earlier - - a 16th straight drop.

The Nikkei, Japan's business newspaper, reported that the Bank of Japan's Survey of Household Finances for 2013 shows that the average balance of assets held by households of at least two family members and excluding deposits and savings for everyday spending, fell slightly compared with last year despite a weaker yen and a jump in share prices.

The survey found that 31% of households with two or more family members do not own financial assets, up 5 percentage points from the previous year. The ratio is the highest since the BOJ began releasing the data in 1963. The ratio of single-person households with no financial assets also rose to 37.2% from 33.8% recorded in 2012.

The Nikkei said that when the ratio of zero-asset households hit 28.6% in 2011, a record high at that time, it was thought that the result reflected a delay in the survey period. The survey normally takes place in the June-July period, when summer bonuses are paid, but in 2011, it was pushed back to the October-November period due to the Great East Japan Earthquake of March that year. In 2012, the survey period returned to normal, and the ratio of households without financial assets fell to 26%.

Nearly 40% of survey respondents said the balance of their financial assets decreased because their regular incomes had fallen. Nondiscretionary spending, such as children's education costs and life events like wedding ceremonies, were also cited as a reason for a decline in financial assets by 33% of all the respondents, up sharply from 26.2% recorded in 2012.

More than a third of Japan's workforce are temporary workers with low pay and few rights.

Finfacts: Japan's Labour Market: Lifers, temps and banishment rooms

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