Fortunes rise the fastest for Japan's millionaires among Asia-Pacific rich

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 October, 2014, 4:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 October, 2014, 8:43am

Japan's millionaires increased their wealth at the fastest pace in the Asia-Pacific region last year as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's campaign for an economic revival drove a stock-market rally.

The nation's high net-worth individuals, defined as those with investable assets of at least US$1 million, increased their wealth 24 per cent from a year earlier to US$5.5 trillion, according to a report by the Royal Bank of Canada and Cap Gemini. The number of millionaires in Japan rose 22 per cent to 2.3 million, it said.

The country's benchmark Topix Index of stocks jumped 51 per cent last year on unprecedented monetary easing by the Bank of Japan as Abe rolled out his package of growth measures known as Abenomics. This year, the index has lost 7 per cent as investors speculate his campaign is running out of steam and look ahead to a second sales tax rise next year after an increase in April dented consumption.

China's millionaires expanded their wealth at the second-fastest pace in the region, the report showed. Their riches increased 20 per cent to US$3.8 trillion, as the number of high net-worth individuals in the nation expanded 18 per cent to 758,000.

"While equity-market performance across Asia-Pacific was mixed in 2013, strong economic growth and real estate prices in key markets drove healthy overall wealth growth," George Lewis, group head of RBC's wealth-management and insurance units, said. "Asia-Pacific is expected to continue to lead global growth and pass North America as the region with the highest high net-worth individual population by the end of 2014 and the greatest high net-worth individual wealth by 2015."

The Asia-Pacific region's total population of millionaires increased 17 per cent to 4.3 million. The growth in the number of millionaires in Japan and China accounted for 85 per cent of the total increase in Asia, RBC and Cap Gemini said.