Japan’s households, firms keep saving on prolonged impact of pandemic

FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of a Japan yen note
FILE PHOTO: A Japan yen note is seen in this illustration photo taken June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

July 9, 2021

By Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s currency in circulation and bank deposits hit a record high for the fourth straight month in June, data showed on Friday, as households and companies continued to pile up savings on uncertainty over the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data highlights how Japan is lagging other major economies in emerging from the pandemic’s blow, with the government’s declaration of fresh state of emergency curbs in Tokyo expected to hurt already weak consumption.

Japan’s M3 money stock – or currency in circulation and deposits at financial institutions – rose 5.2% in June from a year earlier to a record 1.52 quadrillion yen ($13.84 trillion), Bank of Japan data showed.

The increase followed a 6.8% gain in May and was the slowest pace since May last year, the data showed.

The slowdown was largely due to the base effect of sharp rises last year, when the initial hit from the pandemic forced companies to hoard cash.

Bank deposits were up 9.3% in June from a year earlier, marking the slowest pace of increase since April last year, though the total balance – at 863.5 trillion yen – was the second highest on record, the data showed.

($1 = 109.8500 yen)

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)