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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 April 20 - 26  > Top 40 Japanese billionaires double value of their assets under Abe government
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2016 April 20 - 26 [ECONOMY]

Top 40 Japanese billionaires double value of their assets under Abe government

April 19, 2016
Under the Abe government, the concentration of wealth in the top 40 Japanese billionaires is accelerating. “Forbes” magazine recently released data indicating that the total value of assets held by the top 40 billionaires in Japan has more than doubled before the second Abe government was inaugurated in 2012.

The U.S. magazine in this month’s issue published the billionaires ranking. It shows that the 40 wealthiest Japanese owned assets worth a total of 12.8 billion dollars, or 15.4 trillion yen at the exchange rate of 120.3 yen to the dollar as of the end of 2015. In the ranking released in 2012, the total value of assets held by the then top 40 Japanese stood at 93.4 billion dollars or 7.2 trillion yen at the rate of 76.9 yen to the dollar as of the end of 2011. The asset value increased by 2.15 times in four years, thanks to the weakening yen created by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo with the “Abenomics” economic policy.

Although Forbes makes public no information about how it estimated the asset values of the 40 richest Japanese, presumably their fortunes consist largely in stocks. With Abenomics having pushed for a weaker yen and higher stock prices, the rich further accumulated their wealth.

On the other hand, the general public has been forced to endure financial hardships. A government survey has found that the average annual income of workers decreased by 1% to 3.77 million yen from 3.80 million yen in 2011.

As wages keep declining, many Japanese are unable to hold financial assets. A private survey has shown that 30.9% of households with two or more members have no financial assets. The percentage of households with no financial assets stood at 47.6% among single-member households. The median of financial assets held by multiple-member households was four million yen in 2015, down 5% from 4.2 million yen in 2011.

The Abe government plans to increase the consumption tax rate to 10% in April 2017. This will increase economic inequalities as the consumption tax poses a relatively heavier tax burden on the general public. The need is to change the tax system to a progressive and more democratic one.

Past related articles:
> One so-called super rich owns as much wealth as 100,000 average income households in Japan [March 30, 2016]
> Richest people double their assets in the last decade [March 12, 2015]
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