Business leaders concerned about rising yen, hopeful of Asia’s growth – TOKYO ezine

Leaders of Japanese companies expressed concerns Tuesday that the surging yen will continue to cast a pall over the prospects for their earnings in 2011, while expecting that they can capitalize on the growth of emerging markets such as China and India.

‘‘We will have to forge ahead against the backdrop of the rising yen just like last year,’’ Canon Inc President Tsuneji Uchida said in a New Year address to his employees, indicating his wariness over recent foreign exchange movements.

The yen recently strengthened against the dollar again, temporarily drifting into the upper 80 yen level and nearing its all-time high of 79.75 yen hit in April 1995.

All Nippon Airways Co President Shinichiro Ito also said the business climate is ‘‘unpredictable amid the rising yen and the effects of the economic downtown.’‘

The leaders are also worried that individual consumption will remain sluggish this year due in part to the waning effects of government stimulus programs.

Toshifumi Suzuki, chairman of major retail conglomerate Seven & I Holdings Co, said, ‘‘The pace of recovery in consumption will likely remain slow this year.’‘

In the meantime, the managers showed expectations that they may benefit from the growth of overseas markets and their eagerness to focus on investment in such fast-growing markets as China and India.

Tatsuyoshi Takashima, president of advertising agency Dentsu Inc, said ‘‘We are going to focus on the entire Asian region including China, where high growth potential can be expected.’‘

‘‘We have a big opportunity (to grow) in the face of globalization,’’ Hitachi Ltd President Hiroaki Nakanishi said.

Meanwhile, Masahiro Okafuji, president of trading house Itochu Corp, warned that a ‘‘standstill’’ in the constantly changing global economy could simply mean a ‘‘weakening.’‘

Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and president of Internet mall operator Rakuten Co, said Japanese companies will decline unless they beat global rivals in the fast-changing Internet industry.

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