Erica Yokoyama
For Erica Yokoyama's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan's core inflation slowed in March and an index gauging broader price trends fell below 3% for the first time in over a year, as analysts try to gauge when the Bank of Japan will move again.
BUSINESS / Economy
Apr 19, 2024
Japan’s inflation cools ahead of BOJ policy board meeting
Consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 2.6% in March from a year ago, cooling from February’s 2.8% gain.
Japan's exports grew 7.3% year-on-year in March, up for the fourth straight month, showing that the economy continues to benefit from the effects of the sliding yen.
BUSINESS / Economy
Apr 17, 2024
Japan’s exports get boost from China aided by yen tailwind
Exports gained 7.3% in March from a year earlier, with growth slightly decelerating from February’s 7.8% gain.
Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki warns he’s ready to take action in the foreign exchange market after the yen fell further past ¥154 to the dollar.
BUSINESS / Markets
Apr 16, 2024
Japan’s tepid warning on yen fuels renewed weakness ahead of IMF
The finance minister’s comments come after the yen set a fresh 34-year low of ¥154.45 following stronger than expected U.S. retail sales figures.
Real cash earnings for Japanese workers in February dropped 1.3% from a year earlier, government data has shown.
BUSINESS / Economy
Apr 8, 2024
Japan’s decline in real wages likely to keep BOJ on hold for now
The latest decline in real wages comes as growth in consumer prices accelerated to 2.8% in February, the quickest pace since November.
Japanese household spending fell 0.5% in February from a year earlier, down for a 12th straight month, indicating the impact of persistent price increases on spending patterns.
BUSINESS / Economy
Apr 5, 2024
Japan’s households continue to cut outlays as inflation hits
Outlays decreased 0.5% in February from a year ago, sliding for a 12th consecutive month.
Former Vice Finance Minister for International Affairs Tatsuo Yamasaki previously warned of the possibility of a looming currency intervention two days before Japan entered markets in September 2022.
BUSINESS / Markets
Apr 3, 2024
Ex-finance official who warned of Japan's 2022 yen intervention sounds alarm
"Officials wouldn’t have issued such strong warnings unless they were prepared.” said Tatsuo Yamasaki, a former vice minister overseeing the yen.
The Bank of Japan's tankan survey showed that large nonmanufacturers saw improvement in their sentiment with the index reaching the highest level since 1991, helped by a surge in inbound tourists.
BUSINESS / Economy
Apr 1, 2024
Japan service firms’ optimism tempered by softer factory sector
The deterioration in manufacturing sentiment partly reflects the impact from scandals among some vehicle producers.
Prices excluding fresh food rose 2.4% in March in Tokyo, slowing slightly from 2.5% in February.
BUSINESS / Economy
Mar 29, 2024
Tokyo inflation slows but stays above BOJ target
Prices excluding fresh food rose 2.4% in March from a year before, slowing slightly from 2.5% in February.
Masato Kanda, vice finance minister for international affairs, is warning against speculative moves in the foreign exchange market as the yen continues to fall.
Mar 25, 2024
Japan’s currency chief warns against speculative moves in market
"The current weakening of the yen is not in line with fundamentals and is clearly driven by speculation,” Masato Kanda said.
Consumer prices in Japan rose 2.8% in February from a year ago, with the pace speeding up from 2% in January, even though there have been pockets of weakness in consumer demand.
BUSINESS / Economy
Mar 22, 2024
Japan’s speedier inflation pace keeps BOJ’s next move in focus
Consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 2.8% in February from a year ago, with the pace speeding up from 2% in January.
Bank of Japan Gov. Kazuo Ueda speaks during a news conference in Sao Paulo in February.
Mar 7, 2024
BOJ bets swing toward March rate hike
Bets on the March 18-19 meeting are gaining traction.
The Bank of Japan in January. The BOJ is monitoring wage trends closely for signs of a virtuous cycle linking higher pay with demand-led price gains.
BUSINESS / Economy
Mar 7, 2024
Japan wage growth beat forecasts in January, in fastest rise since June
The data comes as annual wage negotiations between firms and unions are reaching their climax, with the first results expected next week.
The pickup in consumer prices largely reflected the fading impact of government subsidies rolled out last year to keep a lid on utility costs.
BUSINESS / Economy
Mar 5, 2024
Tokyo prices heat up again, supporting case for BOJ rate hike
Consumer prices excluding fresh food rose 2.5% in the capital, re-accelerating after cooling in January to a revised 1.8%.
Bank of Japan Gov. Kazuo Ueda speaks during a news conference in Sao Paulo on Thursday.
BUSINESS / Economy
Mar 1, 2024
BOJ governor says price target not already in sight
Kazuo Ueda played down the significance of Japan’s slide back into a technical recession.
Japan's exports rose to a record high in January, lifted by robust shipments of cars and chipmaking equipment, marking the second straight month of growth despite concerns about slowing global demand.
BUSINESS / Economy
Feb 21, 2024
Export growth beats forecasts, adding to momentum for BOJ policy shift
Gains in exports are a positive sign after the economy unexpectedly fell into recession in the last quarter of 2023 due to stagnant domestic spending.
Japan’s latest growth figures are set to confirm it slipped to become the world's fourth-largest economy last year.
BUSINESS / Economy
Feb 13, 2024
Japan GDP set to confirm slip to world’s fourth-largest economy
Figures for the calendar year are almost certain to show the value of output falling behind Germany’s in dollar terms.
Opening up to foreign workers may ultimately be Japan’s best hope for stemming a rapid population decline.
JAPAN / Society
Feb 7, 2024
Record 2 million foreign workers are changing the face of Japan
Opening up to job seekers from abroad may ultimately be the country's best hope of stemming a rapid population decline.
Nominal cash earnings among workers in Japan rose 1.0% in December from the previous year, government data shows.
BUSINESS / Economy
Feb 6, 2024
Japan’s wage data likely solid enough to keep BOJ policy shift on track
Nominal cash earnings rose 1.0% in December from the previous year with the help of a 0.5% gain in winter bonuses.
Akihiko Matsuura, head of UA Zensen, has called for a standard 6% increase in total wages.
BUSINESS / Companies
Feb 2, 2024
Major union UA Zensen calls for 6% pay raise to support BOJ policy shift
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is also pushing for wage gains after hikes last year failed to keep up with inflation, putting a burden on household budgets.
The unemployment rate fell to 2.4% in December, government data shows.
BUSINESS / Economy
Jan 30, 2024
Japan job market remains tight, keeping hopes for wage hikes
The Bank of Japan is watching the labor market closely as it seeks evidence of a virtuous cycle linking rising wages with demand-led price gains.


Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on