Although some positive signs are emerging, Japanese companies remain mostly pessimistic over future prospects, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said Wednesday.

MITI’s latest survey of more than 515 firms and industrial organizations nationwide has found only 22.8 percent hold an optimistic business outlook.

While 25 percent of the firms predict further deterioration, 52 percent say they expect no changes. A similar survey conducted a month earlier found 33.9 percent optimistic and 15 percent pessimistic.

The latest survey found 38 percent of the firms expecting a decrease in their payroll and 14 percent expecting an increase. Twenty-two percent predict weaker demand in private consumption while 21 percent predict stronger demand, with some firms counting on upcoming summer gift sales.

As for their outlook on housing sales, 26 percent responded with pessimism, while only 15 percent expressed hope for improvement. The latest survey, conducted earlier this month, was reported to MITI head Mitsuo Horiuchi at Wednesday’s meeting of the ministry’s regional bureau chiefs.

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