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Japan's Consumer Confidence Up


Japan's consumer confidence is the highest since 1991 and Japan's exports registered a strong increase.

Japan's consumer confidence increased to 48.2 points in December, which covers a three-month period, and was the highest in 15 years. It has increased by 3.4 since September.

Japanese cabinet officials, who conducted the survey, say the gain is due to higher salaries, better job opportunities and the continuing recovery of Japanese companies.

But economists warn it is still below 50%, which means there still are more pessimists than optimists. Japan's exports increased by 14.2% in November from the previous year.

Auto exports rose by nearly 11% while computer chip exports increased by more than 17.5% from a year ago. As a result of increased exports, Japan's surplus in its current account - a key measure of trade in goods and services - rose 15%.

Japan's Finance Ministry said the increase was because of strong exports to the United States and China. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to search for private investors to finance its projects, including the development of spacesuits and observation satellites.

The agency needs outside money to expand its space exploration programs after years of seeing the government cut its budget. Jun Ishizuka, director of the space agency, explains the importance of the private sector.

"We are facing a critical time, so we are considering getting companies to advertise on the body of the rocket. If we get private sectors to join our space programs then there will be a lot of room for growth."

The agency wants to launch its first independent manned space flights and hopes to have a base on the moon by 2025. Japan's Ajinomoto Company will set up a joint venture in China with Xiamen Ideal Group Company.

Starting in March, the venture will produce about five hundred tons of dried vegetables for Ajinomoto soup products. Ajinomoto will use Xiamen Ideal's farms to produce vegetables such as spinach and cabbage.

The new company will be called Xiamen Ajiraku Ideal Foods Company. Ajinomoto projects it will earn almost nine million dollars from sales in 2010.

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