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Market Trends

Japan is currently in a growth phase following a long period of decline from 2004-2011. 

This growth looks to continue due to a large about-to-retire-baby-boomer demographic, strong airline capacity commitments and improving consumer confidence. Research shows Japanese youth are motivated by adventure and refreshment and Active Boomers by nature and the outdoors, which is also great news for New Zealand as these types of activities exist in abundance.


Government-industry cooperation, a strong work ethic, mastery of high technology, and a comparatively small defence allocation helped Japan develop a technologically advanced post-war economy. Two notable characteristics of the economy were the close interlocking structures of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors, known as keiretsu, and the guarantee of lifetime employment for a substantial portion of the urban labour force. Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s, averaging just 1.7 per cent, largely because of the after effects of inefficient investment and an asset price bubble in the late 1980s. Modest economic growth continued after 2000, but the economy has fallen into recession three times since 2008.

The economy has largely recovered in the two years since the 2011 disasters, but reconstruction in the Tohoku region has been uneven. Prime Minister Shinzo ABE has declared the economy his government's top priority and is pursuing an economic revitalization agenda of fiscal stimulus, monetary easing, and structural reform. Japan is making progress on ending deflation due to a weaker yen and higher energy costs, but reliance on exports to drive growth and an aging, shrinking population pose other major long-term challenges for the economy. The OECD and other leading institutions are forecasting Japan to enjoy a period of growth through to 2016.

Key Indicators

Exchange rate: JPY90.44 = NZD1 (May 2015)
Expected GDP Growth:  +1.6% 2014

Data sources:
xe.com (Exchange rates)
World Bank 

For more detailed information on the Japanese economy, read the economic analysis on New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's Japan country brief.

Outbound Travel

Japanese outbound travel began rebounding strongly in 2010 after four years of contraction. In 2011, 17 million Japanese travelled abroad, up 2.1 per cent on 2010, despite seeing outbound travel fall as much as 50 per cent in the months immediately following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan's east coast in March 2011. In 2012, 18.4 million Japanese travelled abroad, up 8.8 per cent on 2011.


In recent years, total outbound travel from Japan continues to be impacted by regional tensions and disputes that affect demand for high volume short-haul travel destinations, especially to China and South Korea. In 2013, 17.5 million Japanese travelled overseas, down 5.5 per cent on 2012 and in 2014 there was a further reduction of 3.3 per cent to 16.9 million outbound Japanese travellers.  The prediction for 2015 and beyond is for Japanese traveller numbers to increase as more Japanese retire and airlines add more international capacity.

Tourism New Zealand's research shows our target market in Japan is looking for a holiday destination where they can have fun, feel happy, refreshed, relaxed, safe and comfortable. Senior Japanese travellers are looking to be in harmony with nature, while younger travellers are seeking a sense of fun and adventure. Being active in the outdoors is a common interest across all age groups.

Airline Update

Air New Zealand has announced daily year round services between Tokyo Narita and Auckland connecting to destinations across New Zealand using the 300+ seat Boeing 787-900. These daily year round services will be supplemented by additional direct flights over the New Zealand summer season increasing direct services to up to 10 flights a week. 

Air New Zealand announced in March 2015 that it would stop flying direct to Christchurch three times per week over the New Zealand summer season and announced in June 2013 the withdrawal of scheduled direct return services between Auckland and Osaka. Air New Zealand’s focus is on growing demand to and from Japan using a consistent scheduled service, with the aim of building to daily plus services from Tokyo.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Air New Zealand opened code-share services between Japan and New Zealand in March 2012, which has significantly improved access from across regional Japan to points across New Zealand.

Singapore Airlines operates daily services from Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka to Auckland and Christchurch via its hub in Singapore.

Qantas announced in 2015 a doubling of capacity from Japan to Australia operating daily services from Tokyo Haneda to Sydney and daily services from Tokyo Narita to Brisbane. These flights all offer onward connections to New Zealand.

A number of other airlines also provide one-stop connections from Japan to New Zealand including Korean Air, Jetstar, Cathay Pacific and China Southern.

Tourism New Zealand works actively with a range of airline partners across Japan and particularly outside the Tokyo market where a range of airlines now offer daily one-stop access to New Zealand.