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Economy

Japan's per capita GDP ranking rebounded slightly in 2016

Yen-dollar rate a key factor in recent years

Cherry blossoms in full bloom in Tokyo during spring.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan ranked 18th among 35 developed economies in per capita nominal gross domestic product in 2016, two spots above where it placed the year before, largely due to a strong yen inflating the figure in dollar terms.

Japan's per capita GDP rose 12.7% last year to $38,968, according to data published by the Cabinet Office on Friday. This is the first time the figure has grown in four years.

Overall nominal GDP came to $4.94 trillion. This amounted to 6.5% of the world's total, up 0.6 percentage point from the year before.

Japan's per capita GDP was second among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in 2000. But since then the country has been falling on the list. The weaker yen against the dollar between 2013 and 2015 accelerated this trend. The rank of 20th in 2015 was Japan's worst since tracking of comparable data began in 1994.

Although Japan recovered slightly in the rankings last year, that too is mostly due to fluctuations in the foreign exchange market. The yen strengthened by 11.2% against the greenback in 2016. This, in turn, lifted Japan's economic activity in dollar terms. In yen terms, Japan's GDP per capita grew just 1.1%.

Many smaller countries, such as Luxembourg and Switzerland, have consistently ranked higher on the OECD list in recent years. But populous, emerging powers like China and India are quickly starting to catch up.

According to data from China's statistics bureau and the World Bank, China's per capita GDP roughly quadrupled in the decade through 2016 to $8,124. India's doubled to $1,709.

(Nikkei)

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