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Japanese exports fall by almost half

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Bob Moon: But some of the numbers out of Japan today are absolutely horrid. Japanese exports have fallen by almost half. Marketplace’s Scott Tong joins from the Marketplace Asian desk. Scott, if you’re a Japanese business that depends on exports, this news has got to take your breath away.

Scott Tong: I’m looking, Bob, at a chart of Japanese exports over the last year, and all I can think is when you’re at the top of the rollercoaster, and it starts by creeping down, creeping down, and then suddenly — woosh — you know, it starts to go in freefall and everybody’s screaming. And right now, everybody’s screaming, down 49 percent year over year. I mean in many ways, Japan is doing worse than the U.S. is right now, Bob.

Moon: Wow. Well, when you talk about the U.S., Japan depends a lot on exports. How much of this is the American consumer?

Tong: It’s the American consumer, but as you look at the numbers, it’s also the consumers in the E.U. and consumers in China. All of them are just falling off the table right now. And before this global recession hit, Japan and China and many of the Asian countries were more and more reliant to consumers overseas, compared to consumers at home. So when soccer moms and dads in the U.S. and Europe stopped buying, they took everyone down with them.

Moon: Well, the obvious question for anyone here is the Japanese auto industry. Is it bad there?

Tong: It is as bad as it is anywhere. Of Japanese exports, autos are two-fifths of their export market. In the last few days, Toyota, Nissan, Honda all came out and all said that their production shrank by about half compared to last year. So it goes from bad to worse out here.

Moon: The not-so-bright news from the land of the rising sun. Marketplace’s Scott Tong from our Asian desk. Thank you.

Tong: Thanks, Bob.

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