Millions of Single Japanese May Have no Money in the Bank

Fourteen percent of Japanese adults living alone have no money in the bank to guard themselves for rainy days, according to a survey of several thousand people by the nation’s Central Council for Financial Services Information.

The annual research by the council, which is run by the Bank of Japan, also found that 34 percent of single member households have no long-term investments or savings. If the responses hold true for all single member households across Japan, almost 2.4 million have no money in the bank and 5.7 million have no investments or savings.

The survey’s findings don’t indicate whether or not people have cash stashed at home.

The data indicate that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government still has work to do to fulfill a pledge to spread the fruits of its economic revitalization program more broadly across society. After almost four years of Abenomics, wages haven’t risen substantially, despite a tighter labor market, and household spending remains weak.

"As a stronger yen makes companies cautious about hiring, it makes sense to see a wider income gap," said Hiroaki Muto, chief economist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center in Tokyo. "I don’t see any factors that will reduce the gap."

In another survey by the council of households with two or more people, 13 percent or respondents said they have no money at the bank while 31 percent said they have no financial assets such as stocks and bonds. For those with assets, the median value dropped to 9.5 million yen ($92,200) from 10 million yen last year.

Spending by households of two or more people fell for a seventh straight month in September, according to the statistics bureau.

One factor in the decline in assets may be the fall in stocks, with the benchmark Topix index losing almost 13 percent this year and heading for the first yearly loss since Abe took office in late 2012. The yen has strengthened about 16 percent versus the dollar this year.

The Central Council for Financial Services Information surveyed on-line 2,500 one-person households of people ages 20 to 69 from June 24 to July 7. For households with two or more people, the organization received 3,497 responses from June 17 to July 26 in person and by mail.

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