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Japan

Japan has been gradually returning to normal, seeing almost as many local tourists as usual in sightseeing places during the Golden Week holidays as the country reopens to foreign visitors. However, many Japanese business people are still cautious when it comes to travelling abroad.

The Yen’s value has fallen by 14% in the last two months owing to the widening US interest rate and the increasing trade deficit, leading to inflation in various commodities and foods. Largely due to booming metals prices, most domestic companies in this sector have been enjoying a superb financial outcome.

Copper scrap exports in March recovered to above 20,000 tonnes, driven by aggressive sourcing from China. Against expectations, exports to Malaysia remained around 3000 tonnes despite the country’s new import measures. The high copper price has forced some major domestic tap part manufacturers to shift the alloy composition of their products internationally from copper-based to zinc-based.

Aluminium scrap exports exceeded 30,000 tonnes in March for the first time in a year, pushed by lower demand from domestic consumers who supply their products to the automotive industries, some of which are still not operating fully. New car sales in Japan fell by 15% in the first four months of this year when compared to the corresponding period in 2021.  

The local stainless steel market is being led by exporters, mainly to South Korea. This is not being followed by local mills which, despite higher LME prices, are adopting a wait-and-see attitude towards what will happen on the London exchange.