Employees of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) work at the bourse in Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS file

Japan's 10-day Golden Week holiday stirs concern among investors

By Hideyuki Sano and Tomo Uetake

To mark the ascension of Japan's new emperor, the government has declared an unprecedented 10-day holiday from late April to early May, worrying investors, who say a market shutdown could cause disruption and unsettle the yen.

Japan usually has a string of public holidays from late April to early May, the so-called the Golden Week.

But this year, with Crown Prince Naruhito's being crowned the new emperor on May 1, the government made the entire period from April 27 to May 6 a market holiday.

It will be the longest break ever for Japanese stocks and bonds.

Major financial centers rarely have such long periods of shutdown. U.S. financial markets closed for six days after the attacks on Sept 11, 2001.

"It's horrifying that we can't trade for six business days. We've got to adjust our positions before the week. Hard to say exactly what I will do then, but I'll probably have to make my position neutral before the holidays," said Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at Libra Investments.

Japan's financial watchdog has told all financial institutions to alert customers about the possibility of turbulence in overseas markets during the shutdown, and to make sure their systems can cope with a flurry of activity before and after, documents obtained by Reuters showed.

The U.S. and UK central banks will hold policy meetings during the Japanese holiday; U.S. payroll data, GDP from the United States and the Eurozone, and corporate earnings around the world will also be released.

"In 10 days, we can be in a completely different world," said a currency trader at a major Japanese bank.

Currency traders at the country's biggest banks and insurers, such as MUFG Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank, Mizuho Bank and Nippon Life Insurance, are equipped to work either at home or in the office during holidays, markets players say.

But they added it might be tougher to deal with more complex products, such as derivatives, pricing of which usually requires in-house terminals.

Fund managers, meanwhile, say they will probably need to bring their positions to neutral by late April to avoid exposure to market swings.


The break also could disrupt currency trading.

Speculators with a bullish view on the yen could take advantage of the long holiday to push up the yen, traders say.

The yen has strengthened against the dollar since early October on rising concerns about a global economic slowdown and the U.S.-China trade war.

"You can move the market more easily because of low market liquidity. So those who want to move market prices, like hedge funds, will likely do so during this holiday. Therefore, the most important point is that you have to be prepared for the risk of the yen's rise," said Kyoya Okazawa, Asia-Pacific head of institutional clients at BNP Paribas.

Japanese stocks will be more volatile after the holiday, he added.

"Let's say the dollar falls from 100 yen to 90 yen during the holiday. Where should the Nikkei be after that? No one can tell exactly. It's when no one has a clear idea that markets crash," he said.

Okazawa also expects many investors will hedge such risk by buying options on dollar/yen and Japanese stocks, giving them rights, but not obligations, to trade.

"In 10 days, anything could happen. But it could go either way so you can't afford to be out of the market," said Bill Maldonado, global chief investment officer for equities at HSBC Global Asset Management.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I wouldn't be surprised if the ATM services aren't available during those ten days either.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

Companies are going to do what they have to, and those tied to international markets will have to continue to do business as usual. You'd think the government still thinks the economy is a bunch of people working in the local shotengai. Do they expect farmers not to plant crops?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Unprecedented holiday, God forbid an actuall work break, those pesky indentured workers have to make up their time off, by writing lines or working on Sunday's it has no profitable result but teaches them that they are beholden to to the company. Yatta a day of to watch an individual ride in a roofless taxi. UNPRECEDENTED holiday that alone says a lot.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Good Lord! The sky is falling!

10 ( +10 / -0 )

"In 10 days, we can be in a completely different world," said a currency trader at a major Japanese bank.

Im sure the traders will survive and live to see another day just fine.

Non story.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

GW is always such a dilemma. Beautiful weather to visit places outside of Tokyo. But the crowds and the traffic make you kinda envy the rare peace on Tokyo streets or in the trains.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Yes it is nice for people to have a work break. I fully agree.

On the other hand this is quite a legitimate concern and the points raised are quite valid. It would be better for people to take holidays spread out over the year and actually use an extended holiday period. I always encourage people working for me to do this.

Spreading out vacation time would work better and result in less crowding. The amount of services shut down for such a long period could be problematic.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The problem with those 10 days is that most people who are off will have 10 days off from work where they are unpaid. For those that can actually use vacation days, this will take up all or most of your days. That means the remaining holidays in the year where companies require Japanese employees to use their vacation days will be difficult for them.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's horrifying that we can't trade for six business days.

Case in point. Whole country needs to unplug for a bit

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Emporour? Who, what? Does his effect my life? Cup noodles price is more of a concern. Apparently Calander printers are very concerned as their market is government offices and.....? If investors are concerned, little tip...you have too much money if this is your concern. Then buy a Toyota Crown, chop the roof off and hey presto, you are a Driver of a not just a Taxi, or a Uber car but part of history.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


I wouldn't be surprised if the ATM services aren't available during those ten days either.

That's exactly what I thought...

machines do not need to take days off...when will they understand that lol

3 ( +4 / -1 )


Very valid point indeed...however in Japan everyone wants to do the same at the same time in the same place...not the most efficient way...things that should work will not work and crowds and congestion will be assured...

it's like an inverse rush-hour...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Oh, good grief! What kind of drugs are these paranoid jokers taking? It's actually only two extra days and the stock market is not going to shut down completely over that time. I guess they are afraid that millions of workers are not going to do their unpaid overtime, which will destroy the bottom line of these slave drivers.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

10 days to unsettle the Yen........

how much bubble to save the globe.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There's already normal golden week, just a couple more days won't make much difference.

The stock exchange can request for special conditions if the want to and not spread fear in public.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@spektral - thanks for your reply. I agree in principle but also have something to add to your post.

Having lived here more than 2 decades I believe Japanese people actually would prefer to take the holidays at different times (at least most people I know) however the societal pressures (primarily from work, secondarily from society) make this difficult sometimes.

Regarding other comments about the potential effects of this shut down. It is quite a long time to shut down everything (including all trading, etc.) and much can happen in a short period time. I would not underestimate such possible effects or discount what the guy says in the article. I believe the concern is valid to a degree (obviously not the end of the world).

I doubt there will be trouble getting cash from ATM/s

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"It's horrifying that we can't trade for six business days. "

The horror! The horror!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

While 10 days in a row sounds long, 4 of those days are Saturday/Sunday, which means the stock exchange is closed anyway. The same thing in any 10 day period starting on a Saturday.

And in any other year during Golden Week, there are the two weekends when the stock exchange is inevitably closed and some additional holidays during the week when it also closes. Last year, that was Monday April 30, Thursday May 3, and Friday May 4. The exchange was open only on the Tuesday and Wednesday of that 10 day period. Same story in 2017, except Monday and Tuesday were business days, and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were holidays.

In the end, we're talking about 2 extra days here. Japan can tough that out, easy.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ha ha , so deliciously delicate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Think if you all used wave pass cards like we do, you wouldn't worry about ATMs , just put a trading halt on your shares, esp Nissan, cancel the milk&newspaper deliveries and come to Australia for two weeks, no visa needed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

An island with worry’s just as lone as the location.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Likely it is a legitimate concern for market traders, and will be a point of major concern before and after the holiday but a extended period of holiday is nothing new and they will just need to hedge the risk if need be.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The main problem here is that rather than encourage workers to actually take their paid holidays, the Japanese government has decided the solution is adding more national holidays every year.

So as per usual in this country, everyone takes holidays at the same time, which is perfect for the group mentally, but less than ideal for business.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why can't Japan ever spread things out? Does everything always have to be bunched up?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why can't Japan ever spread things out? Does everything always have to be bunched up?

then companies could charge a premium during these busy season, price gouging is a national tradition in Japan

3 ( +3 / -0 )

price gouging is a national tradition in Japan

Evidence for this claim, please. I divide my time between Japan and the UK. Generally, I feel that I get more value for money in Japan than I do in Britain. British friends say the same think. Search on "rip-off Britain" to get some perspective on Japan.

As for the closing, I suppose if you are adicted to gambling, having the local casinos closed is a big deal. People with a real life will not be troubled.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

"All work and no play, make Jack a dull boy.," is a proverb. Perhaps traders should take an alternate time off.

1 ( +1 / -0 )



The cult of the Emperor that tries to sustain some medieval rituals that have become oxymorons , which


detriment real world needs & finance momentum.




-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Fixed this for you:

Evidence for this claim, please. I divide my time between Japan and England. Generally, I feel that I get more value for money in Japan than I do in England. English friends say the same think. Search on "rip-off England" to get some perspective on Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Somewhat ironic that to celebrate they leave the country

4 ( +4 / -0 )

geez, you'd think they'd be happy over holidays

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@semperfi - as a Japanese what will you do with the long holiday? I am also curious if you think this is a good idea. The worries about the financial issues are warranted (albeit it would not be the end of the world)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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