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  • Tokyo's coach drivers spent February

  • bombarded by a better parking manners leaflet campaign.

  • A fussy push to spare the capital from

  • a supposed road-clogging surfeit of foreign tourists

  • But will it be the traffic wardens or the Bank of Japan

  • that clears the streets first?

  • The congestion peril may be exaggerated

  • but the underlying numbers are not.

  • Japan's inbound tourism boom continued to pace last year

  • with the visitor tally coming in just shy of the 20 million mark.

  • A quarter of those were from Mainland China.

  • 107% increase over 2014.

  • analyst at an era predicted another 22% gain

  • in overall tourist number by the end of 2016

  • And see the total surpassing 30 million by the time the Tokyo Olympics open in 2020.

  • Even more striking is the rising tourist spending, up 71% in 2015

  • and at 3.5 trillion yen,

  • now ranked in value alongside some of Japan's most famous export industries

  • auto parts, steel products, and electronic components.

  • Brokers sighting benefits for retail, transport, and property sectors

  • heavily pitch the tourism story in their efforts to convince reluctant global fund manages

  • to pile back into Japan's stock market.

  • The fly in the ointment here is the yen

  • and the tendency of more bullish observers

  • to under estimate the price sensitivity of Chinese shoppers

  • at 120 yen to the dollar, a Cartier watch was cheaper in Tokyo than in Seoul or Hong Kong

  • according to sales staff in Tokyo's Ginza district

  • the math still work at current levels of 113 yen to the dollar

  • but start to fall apart if the Japanese currency heads much higher

  • Since the Bank of Japan's negative rates announcement in January,

  • the yen has flatly defied the governor's gambit and strengthened.

  • Some now expected it to break 110 yen to the dollar over the next couple of months

  • After 3 years supporting the economics story with its weakness

  • the yen supply and demand fundementals changed last year.

  • argued analyst of J.P. Morgan

  • Retained corporate earnings abroad of being repatriated and investment trusts,

  • the board record 17 trillion yen in overseas assets last year

  • [but] are expected to start on winding some of that.

  • The BOJ's two-day policy meeting ends on Tuesday, and very few economists expect it to move.

  • Currency markets are on a hair trigger,

  • but so too are Mr. and Mrs. Zheng of Guangzhou,

  • currently planning where to go this summer.

Tokyo's coach drivers spent February

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