Osaka is recovering from Covid

Osaka’s recovery index is a comprehensive indicator of its socio-economic situation is recovering from the pandemic.

January 07, 2022

Brighter signs finally emerge in Japanese society and economy, as the country is overcoming the latest wave of COVID-19. JLL Japan Research has released the monthly recovery index − a comprehensive indicator that visualises how Japan is recovering after being hard hit by the pandemic, and comprises of six categories including mobility, demand, employment, health and sentiment. The current report focuses on Osaka’s recovery.

Since the pandemic, the city of Osaka has issued the "States of Emergency" four times. In April-May 2020, when the first "State of Emergency" was declared for the entire country, Japan’s socio-economic activities came to a temporary halt. Demand (sales of department stores, shopping centres and convenient stores) fell to 40% in Osaka, and mobility dropped to 20% of the pre-pandemic level. On the other hand, in May 2021, when Osaka’s health status reached its lowest level due to the highest number of Covid deaths, demand held up at 50% and mobility at just under 40% of the pre-pandemic level. The higher percentage suggests that Japanese society has gained experience and learned how to keep socio-economic activities during the pandemic.

In August 2021, when COVID-19 cases were the highest, demand held firm at just under 80% of the pre-pandemic level – thanks to rapid vaccination, and the domestic vibrancy during summer vacations, following the Tokyo Olympics that brought out the festive mood all over the country. Subsequently, the spread of COVID-19 stabilised, and the "State of Emergency" was lifted nationwide at the end of September. People have become more active, and the recovery trend is expected to continue or rather rise, although there is a concern about the new variant.

Figure 1: Osaka recovery index

Health: COVID cases, COVID deaths
Employment: Effective job openings-to-applicants ratio, Number of unemployment insurance recipients decided
Demand: Department stores sales, Shopping centres sales, Convenience stores sales
Mobility: Domestic flight traffic (Itam Airport), Bullet train traffic (Sanyo Shinkansen), Commuting pass sales (JR West), Hotel occupancy rate

Source: JLL Japan Research

Expectations for recovery are also confirmed in business sentiment. According to a survey by Teikoku Databank, business sentiment in Osaka has generally been on an upward trend since April-May 2020. The growth was strong compared to Tokyo, with recovery reaching its pre-pandemic levels as of July 2021. 

Positive thinking is one of Osaka's strengths, which can drive recovery during a recession. In addition, the past several-year boom in Osaka has been largely supported by inbound demand. Now, if COVID-19 subsides and foreign tourists return to the city, recovery is likely to accelerate into full swing. 

Furthermore, Osaka will host Expo 2025, and various measures are underway for its success. Its theme, "Designing Future Society for Our Lives", and the concept "People’s Living Lab", are expected to lead the evolution of the life sciences industry, one of Osaka’s major industries. Besides, it is expected to drive businesses related to smart mobility and carbon-neutral technologies. At the same time, the infrastructure development of the "Yumeshima" area, which serves as the venue for the Expo, will also intensify. 

Taking advantage of these future events, Osaka will build a sustainable and vibrant society, strengthening competitiveness by using state-of-the-art technologies in urban infrastructure and improving the quality of life for residents.