In line with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to bring in Japan’s female population to the corporate world to give a boost to the country’s struggling economy, more and more women are now being courted by companies to invest in stocks and equities. Interest by Japan’s women in the stock market has never been higher, and the listed companies are doing whatever they can – including giving out freebies like cosmetics, household products, and even cake – to women who are investing in stocks.
These small freebies are called yutai — which literally means preferential treatment — and they can be anything from a couple of kilograms of rice to toilet paper. And the truth is, with Japanese women, this strategy mostly works. Studies around this phenomenon have pointed out that many of the women in Japan who invest in equities are not in it for capital gain, at least not primarily. Most of them are interested in the free products and discounts that are being made available by the companies to its stockholders. 61 year old Kazuko Onami testifies to this. “I buy [stocks from] companies that are reasonably priced and give out products and discounts with their shares,” Onami said after attending a Tokyo Stock Exchange presentation, and going to a restaurant to eat for free, as this was a company whose stocks she put money on.
Apart from Abe’s drive to bring more women into the workforce, this is surely another way that Japanese women can contribute to the economic growth of the country. Kazuhiko Yoshimatsu, who works with investors and the media at Japan Exchange Group, believes that the long-term future of Japan’s stock market is reliant on women. As more Japanese women continue their working roles in society, their need for financial planning is expected to grow as well, he added. And from what the numbers show, women in Japan might actually be investing more than men. At Matsui Securities, just over 30% of all new online accounts belong to women, a record high for this fiscal year. Of these new accounts, 46% have already been used in trading in one form or another.
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