National

Wealthy Japanese quickest to get richer in Asia

Bloomberg

Japan’s millionaires increased their wealth at the fastest pace in the Asia-Pacific region last year as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign for an economic revival drove the stock market higher.

The nation’s high net worth individuals, defined as those with investable assets of at least $1 million, increased their wealth 24 percent from a year earlier to $5.5 trillion, according to a report released Tuesday by Royal Bank of Canada and Cap Gemini SA.

The number of millionaires in Japan rose 22 percent to 2.3 million, it said.

China’s millionaires expanded their wealth at the second-fastest pace in the region. Their riches increased 20 percent to $3.8 trillion, as the number of people with high net worth in the nation expanded 18 percent to 758,000.

The Asia-Pacific region’s total population of millionaires rose 17 percent to 4.3 million, compared with a global growth rate of 13 percent, the report said. Their wealth expanded 18 percent to $14.2 trillion, compared with 12 percent for the rest of the world.

The growth in millionaires in Japan and China accounted for 85 percent of the increase in Asia, RBC and Cap Gemini said. The data cover people with investable assets of at least $1 million, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables.

Japan’s benchmark Topix index of stocks jumped 51 percent last year on unprecedented monetary easing by the Bank of Japan as Abe rolled out his package of growth measures. The Topix has lost 8 percent so far this year as investors speculate “Abenomics” is running out of steam.

Now they are looking ahead to a second sales tax rise next year after the first one in April dented consumption.

“While equity market performance across Asia-Pacific was mixed in 2013, strong economic growth and real estate prices in key markets drove healthy overall wealth growth,” M. George Lewis, group head of RBC’s wealth management and insurance units, said in a statement Tuesday. “Asia-Pacific is expected to continue to lead global growth and pass North America as the region with the highest high net worth individual population by the end of 2014 and the greatest high net worth individual wealth by 2015.”

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