japan Gold Market

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Japan has evolved as a major market for gold for fabrication and investment since trading was liberalised in 1974. But the gold business in Japan has much earlier origins. Gold mines in Japan in the 17th century exported through the Dutch East India Company to East Asian countries. Tokuriki Honten, still an important refiner and fabricator, traces its history back to 1727. Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo, the leading precious metal refiner and trader, was established in 1885.
Actual mine production is limited. The only significant mine is Sumitomo Metal Mining's Hishikari on Kyushu island, opened in 1985, with output between seven and eight tonnes (0.25-0.26 million oz) annually. The Japanese market is supplied, therefore, both by imports of bullion and by-product gold from imported concentrates.
Total gold demand in Japan ranges between 200 and 275 tonnes (6.4 – 8.8 million oz), embracing jewellery fabrication, electronic and industrial uses, dental applications and physical bar investment . Japan is the world's foremost user in electronics, using over 100 tonnes (3.21 million oz) in 2000 according to GFMS (although this fell sharply, to around 70 tonnes or 2.25 million oz, in 2001 on the back of the slowdown in global demand). Japan's use of dental gold in 2001 was around 21 tonnes (675,000 oz) according to GFMS. Physical bar hoarding is also much higher than in other industrial countries, and is an anonymous way of holding wealth outside of the banking sector. GFMS estimate that it averaged just under 60 tonnes (1.9 million oz) over the past decade and exceeding 100 tonnes (13.2 million oz) in 1999. The first few months of 2002 saw a surge in Japanese hoarding demand due to fears about the health of the banking system.
It is also the custom in Japan for companies to give gifts of 24 carat ornaments such as teapots, saki cups, vases and chopsticks. The gold tea ceremony room at the Moa Art Museum in Shizuoka Province used 50 kilos (1,607 oz) for teapots and cups, plus gold leaf for its walls.