Business / Economy

Outlook in Japan dimming amid coronavirus outbreak: 'economy watchers' survey


The business outlook of workers with jobs sensitive to economic trends worsened in January as fears about the global coronavirus outbreak weighed on sentiment, government data showed Monday.

The “economy watchers” survey covering taxi drivers, restaurant staff and other jobs close to the average consumer, showed the diffusion index, which gauges the outlook for economic conditions in the coming months, worsened to 41.8 from 45.5 in December, falling for the second month in a row, the Cabinet Office said.

The pace of the slide grew from the 0.4-point fall logged the previous month. A reading below 50 signals that more respondents reported conditions were worsening rather than improving.

However, the coincident index on current conditions rose to 41.9 from 39.7, improving for the third straight month. The office cited the easing negative impact from the consumption tax hike in October.

“The economy has shown weak movement in its recovery,” the office said, maintaining its assessment.

A hotel worker in western Japan surveyed said both foreign and Japanese tourists are declining, apparently due to coronavirus fears.

The viral outbreak hit inbound tourism during the Chinese New Year period in late January.

A clerk at a home appliance shop in the same region said demand from foreign travelers is falling.

The Cabinet Office polled 2,050 workers from Jan. 25 to 31, drawing responses from 1,837, or 89.6 percent.

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