Can Japan’s Economy Get Any Worse? It May Soon Find Out

Businesses will also find themselves in a tough spot, particularly those in hospitality, where many small companies “made big investments, counting on the 2020 Games,” said Sayuri Shirai, a professor of economics at Keio University in Tokyo and a former board member of the Bank of Japan.

Now they may “find it hard to pay their debt,” she said, adding that if the virus outbreak “continues until the end of the year, many small companies will not survive.”

Japan’s tourism industry, which has grown increasingly important to its economy, has been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The government had estimated that the country could see 40 million visitors this year. But as countries close their borders and airlines cancel flights, that number seems impossibly far out of reach.

Last month, the number of visitors to Japan dropped almost 60 percent from a year earlier, to just under 1.1 million, according to data from the Japan National Tourism Organization. This month is likely to be even more dire.

Hiroaki Yamamoto, 56, who owns a bus company on the outskirts of Tokyo that operates tourist and commuter lines, said his business was suffering before the Olympics postponement.

Now, he said, he will also lose as much as 40 million yen, or $370,000, in revenue he had counted on from renting out his fleet during the Games.

Mr. Yamamoto thinks he’ll be lucky if he can hold out until the end of May.

“It’s like the company’s heart has stopped,” he said.

Motoko Rich contributed reporting.

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