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Japanese Consumers Continue to Spend More - 2002-11-08

Japan's major telecommunications company releases figures showing a huge decline in earnings while the government reports healthy consumer spending figures.

Japan's largest mobile phone carrier, NTT DoCoMo, posted a 95 percent drop in net earnings for the first half of this year. DoCoMo says losses in overseas investments are to blame, along with slowing growth at home.

DoCoMo has tried to promote its third-generation handsets in other countries, but the strategy has run into trouble made worse by the bursting of the share-price bubble in telecommunications stocks.

However, company President Keiji Tachikawa told reporters he would continue to look for foreign alliances in Asia. The Japanese unit of U.S. coffee giant Starbucks will lose $4 million this year due to slowing sales. But the company says it will continue opening outlets in Japan, expanding to 500 from its current 416 by next year.

Some government figures released this week were healthy despite Japan's continuing economic woes. Japanese household spending increased 5.4 percent from a year earlier, which is the biggest increase in five years and the fourth straight monthly gain.

The government figures suggest that Japanese consumers are doing their part to lift Japan's economy despite uncertainty about jobs and falling incomes.