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By Hiroshi Inoue
     TOKYO (MNI) - Japan's real exports fell in May, undermining the Bank of
Japan's view that solid data in April pointed to an overall recovery in the
sector in Q2, with continued weakness in China and sluggish IT-related demand
again weighing.
     The BOJ's real export index, extrapolated from Ministry of Finance data,
fell 4.4% on month in May after rising a revised 1.5% in April. The index for
April-May period fell 0.4% from the previous quarter.
     The latest Japan trade data showed continued weak demand for chip-making
equipment across Asia - China in particular --and this continues to cause
concern amongst BOJ officials, who see a pick-up in IT-related exports as
essential for a sustained move to a recovery path for Japan.
     Officials still believe that historical IT business cycles suggest the
downward adjustment in the sector may end in the second half of 2019, as that
ties in with the average 5-to-6-month adjustment period in the industry.
     Japan's exports to Asia, accounting for about 55% of the total exports,
fell 12.1% y/y in May for a seventh straight drop. Exports of chip-making
equipment fell 40.5% on year in May, extending a fall of 27.0% in April
     0verall exports to China, accounting for about 20% of the total exports,
dropped 9.7% on year in May for a third straight fall, with the export of
chip-making equipment down 27.5% in May.
     Semi-conductor exports fell again, although at a slower pace than
previously, with sales to Asia and China down 2.7% and 3.4% respectively.
     Overall, Japan's exports -- a main driver for the economy -- fell 7.8% on
year in May for the sixth straight drop following -2.4% in April, leaving a
deficit of Y967.1 billion in May.
     BOJ officials don't expect Japan's economy losing momentum anytime soon as
domestic demand remains buoyant. But continued weakness in global demand could
soon spill over into the domestic economy.
     The BOJ will likely face a challenging assessment of the outlook ahead of
the July 29-30 meeting, when the board releases its quarterly Outlook Report.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-2175-0040; email: hiroshi.inoue@marketnews.com
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MMJBJI,MAJDS$,MMJBJ$,M$A$$$,M$J$$$,MT$$$$]
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com