Currencies by Country:

What is the Japanese yen (JPY)?

Credit Ratings & Outlook

In the latest credit ratings from December 1970, Moody's gives Japan a Aa3 rating, with a stable outlook. Fitch has a negative outlook with a AA rating. Finally, S&P last issued a AA- rating, with a negative outlook.

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.

Central Bank Rate

The current central bank interest rate is 0.00%. This is the same as 2011, which was 0.00%.

GDP

In 2010 the total GDP was $5,458,836,663,870 in US Dollars, while the per capita GDP was $42,830. It grew by 4.00% over the previous year.

Unemployment

The latest unemployment rate for 2012 is 4.50%.

Consumer Price Index

The latest consumer price index for 2010 is 99.59.

Political Structure

The current head of the government is Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, and the head of state is Emperor Akihito (in a ceremonial role).

Currency Details

The yen is the official national currency of Japan, and is denoted by JPY. The Meiji government introduced the yen to replace the previous complex system of the Edo Period, where there was no fixed exchange rate between the various coins used. The New Currency Act of 1871 established the yen as the official unit of currency and moved Japan onto the Gold Standard. It was named the “yen” because of the direct translation to “round object.” In April of 1949, the yen was pegged at 1 USD = ¥360, where it stayed until 1971. At this time, however, the Bretton Woods system collapsed. This international monetary system, based on stable and adjustable exchange rates, was reluctantly switched to a regime of floating exchange rates and the value of the yen started to float as it still does today.

Moody’s Rating
Aa2, 18 May 2009
S&P Rating
AAA

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.

What does it look like?

Political Structure

The head of the Japanese parliamentary system is the Prime Minister, who to most is considered a symbol of the state rather than a divine figure. There is a Diet made up of a 500-member House of Representatives and a 252-member House of Councilors. The Prime Minister’s cabinet is elected by the Diet from within and the Prime Minister can request that new members be elected if he is dissatisfied with initial elections. There is a Supreme Court, on which judges sit for life.

Prominent Figures

Chief of State Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
Head of Government Prime Minister Yukio HATOYAMA (since 16 September 2009); Deputy Prime Minister Naoto KAN (since 16 September 2009)
Cabinet Cabinet is appointed by the prime minister
Elections Diet designates prime minister; constitution requires that prime minister commands parliamentary majority; following legislative elections, leader of majority party or leader of majority coalition in House of Representatives usually becomes prime minister; monarch is hereditary

Key Economic Factors

Industrial Production:

The IP Index, measuring trends in the output of Japanese manufacturing, mining and utilities, is extremely important for gauging the state of the economy (as industrial production and inventory accumulation are highly correlated with a large share of the variation in national output). The outlook for production is highly dependent on the strength of Japanese exports. However, an impending yuan revaluation is a key issue because this will tend to increase Japan’s ability to export to China and also boost the competitive standing of Japanese products on other countries’ store shelves.

Foreign Trade:

Import and export figures measure the value of goods shipped into and out of Japan. Exports figures (by product and destination) are usually closely followed, along with imports figures, which indicate the strength of domestic demand. Although China has been the chief contributors to Japanese export growth in recent years, the U.S. economy is regaining sway in becoming the most important market for Japanese companies. Forecasts indicate that the re-emergence of the U.S. is a very good thing for Japan. However, the U.S. will take time to have as dynamic an effect in Japanese sales as China has had in the past. Predictions are that double digit export growth figures are unlikely until China develops a renewed taste for Japanese wares.

Have additions or corrections to this material? Let us know!