Tetsushi Kudo, a 50-year-old office worker, bought a one-ounce gold coin this month for the first time. With stocks slumping and zero percent interest on savings, he says it won’t be the last.
“I want to buy gold every year as a birthday present for my daughter,” Kudo said at a store in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district where he made the 162,000 yen ($1,600) purchase. “She will thank me for the gift when she grows up because gold will have value wherever she goes.”
Individual investors like Kudo drove a 60 percent jump in sales of the precious metal in June from May at Tanaka Holdings Co., the operator of Japan’s largest bullion retailer, as the yen’s rebound against the dollar made it more affordable. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party scored a convincing victory in July 10 upper house elections, confidence in his economic policies is flagging. A July 2-3 Asahi newspaper poll showed 55 percent of those surveyed support a new direction versus 28 percent for maintaining course.
The yen’s 17 percent gain this year is a reflection of Japanese investors fleeing from overseas markets due to pessimism about global growth rather than confidence in their own economy. Gold sales more than tripled at Tanaka’s shops on June 24, when the Japanese currency jumped to an almost three-year high against the dollar after the U.K. decided to exit the European Union. Japan’s Topix stock gauge dropped the most in five years the day after the Brexit referendum, while 10-year sovereign bond yields tumbled further below zero.