Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan unveils emergency measures

Japan unveils emergency measures

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the body expects the impact of the virus to ‘continue for some time’. AFP

Japan unveils emergency measures

The Bank of Japan on Monday unveiled a series of emergency monetary policy measures to shore up the world’s third-largest economy, as the coronavirus pandemic threatens a global recession.

In a meeting brought forward by two days, the BoJ said it would double its annual capacity to purchase exchange-traded funds and Japan real estate investment funds, the latest global central bank to take emergency action.

The moves sent Japanese markets whipsawing, with the Nikkei-225 initially surging two per cent but then falling rapidly back into the red as traders digested the statement.

The bank said it had decided unanimously to “actively” purchase ETFs (exchange-traded funds) and J-REITs (investment funds tied to Japanese real estate) with an annual upper limit of 12 trillion yen ($112 billion) and 180 billion yen respectively.

Seiichi Suzuki, senior market analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, said: “What’s big is 12 trillion yen of ETFs buying, which means one trillion yen each month. What investor could ignore this?”

“It was quite a drastic step,” Suzuki said. “Those who wanted to buy jumped on the occasion.”

Previously, the bank was buying a maximum of six trillion yen of ETFs and 90 billion yen of J-REITs per year.

The BoJ said it would also introduce a new operation to provide loans against corporate debt and raised its annual limit for corporate bond purchases by one trillion yen to 4.2 trillion yen.

But it left its main interest rate unchanged at minus 0.1 per cent and also kept its upper limit for purchasing government bonds at 80 trillion yen.

“There have been significant uncertainties over the consequences of the outbreak of Covid-19 and over the size and persistence of their impact on domestic and overseas economies,” said the bank in a statement.

BoJ chief Haruhiko Kuroda said hours afterwards that the body expects the impact of the virus to “continue for some time”.

“There are so many uncertain factors. It is necessary that we continue to fully monitor the economic situations at home and abroad,” he added.

“Coronavirus or not, if there is downward pressure on the economy and prices, we will consider additional monetary easing measures to deal with it.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed the measures as “swift and appropriate”. He is due to talk with other G7 leaders in an extraordinary summit held via teleconference later on Monday.

The BoJ’s move followed emergency measures before Asian markets opened from the US Federal Reserve to shore up confidence and keep the financial sector running, including slashing its key interest rate to virtually zero.

The Fed made its second emergency rate cut in less than two weeks, lowering the benchmark borrowing rate to a range of 0-0.25 per cent, where it was during the 2008 global financial crisis.

The Japanese economy was tottering even before the coronavirus struck, with growing fears of a recession. “Japan’s economic activity is likely to remain weak for the time being, mainly affected by the outbreak of Covid-19,” the BoJ said.

The country’s gross domestic product for the October-December quarter contracted 1.8 per cent, with consumer spending hit by a hike in consumption tax last October from eight per cent to 10 per cent.

Concerns are growing that consumption will be hit even harder as people put off big purchases because of coronavirus fears, with the pandemic also predicted to have a huge impact on exports.

On top of this looms the possibility that the Olympic Games, scheduled to open on July 24 in Tokyo, could be postponed or cancelled.

Estimates vary on what that could cost Japan, which is spending an estimated 1.35 trillion yen on Tokyo 2020. Any change to the Olympic schedule would have a huge impact on tourism – Japan was banking on 40 million visitors in 2020.

Economists at research firm Nomura already predict a 0.7-per cent contraction in GDP for the 2020 calendar year, but warn that could be up to 1.5 per cent if the Games are cancelled.

Monday’s measures “will contribute to supporting economic and financial activities”, said the bank.


  • 12th Cambodia int’l film festival to see return of Hollywood star

    Phnom Penh is set to come alive with the magic of cinema as the highly anticipated 12th Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) takes centre stage. Boasting an impressive line-up of 188 films from 23 countries, including captivating shorts, feature films, documentaries and animation, the festival promises an

  • Brawl marrs football final as Indonesian take gold in seven goal thriller

    The Indonesian men's U22 men national football team were crowned champions of the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia, defeating Thailand 5-2 in extra time on May 16 at Olympic National Stadium in Phnom Penh. The match was marred by an ugly incident that occured in the 91

  • Bareknuckle champion wants Kun Khmer fighter

    Dave Leduc, who is the current openweight Lethwei boxing champion in Myanmar, has announced that he will travel to Cambodia this year to challenge SEA Games gold medallist Prum Samnang any time that is convenient, after their planned match later this month in Slovakia was

  • Candlelight Party disqualified from July general election

    The National Election Committee (NEC) has disqualified the Candlelight Party (CP) from contesting the upcoming general election, citing a lack of valid documentation. NEC spokesman Khorn Keomono said the CP failed to fulfil one of the three main requirements: including original documentation proving their registration

  • 1.4 billion dollar Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway due in four years

    The Government, through the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, has officially signed a public-private partnership agreement with a private company for the construction of a Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway project that will connect the capital to Svay Rieng province. The budget for the project is

  • New Law on Taxation comes into effect

    Cambodia has enacted the eagerly-awaited new Law on Taxation, which aims to improve the national tax regime’s compliance with present and future international standards and economic conditions; encourage accountability, effectiveness and transparency in the collection process; and promote investment in the Kingdom. King Norodom