Business leaders in the Kansai region have issued a warning to Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda that the yen’s slide to a six-year low is raising the cost of importing raw materials and fuel, which could spell trouble for the economy.
Firms in the city of Osaka say the higher costs are eating into their profit margins because they can’t pass them on even as sales rise, Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Shigetaka Sato told Kuroda on Tuesday.
Kansai Economic Federation Chairman Shosuke Mori said the rise in fuel costs warrants close monitoring.
“It is a source of concern, that given the recent rapid yen weakness, the negative aspects such as rising import costs will become more prominent,” said Sato, who is also chairman of Keihan Electric Railway Co.
The comments underscore the burden that the cheaper yen is putting on the economy even as it provides a tailwind for the BOJ’s effort to spur inflation. Kuroda said the exchange rate movement doesn’t pose a problem for Japan and that it’s natural for the dollar to rise against the yen as the U.S. economy improves.
Osaka and the surrounding Kansai region are home to several of the country’s largest manufacturers, including Panasonic Corp., Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd. and Daikin Industries Ltd.
Haruo Shimizu, the president of auto parts maker Exedy Corp., also urged Kuroda to implement measures to ensure a stable currency.
In recent years, companies have increasingly opted to source goods from overseas after manufacturers shifted their production offshore when the yen was strong.
But with the value of the currency in decline, this is now more costly than buying from domestic suppliers, he said.
“My request is to cooperate with the government and enact policy that takes into account long-term stability in exchange rates,” Shimizu said.
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