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Japan's reluctant exiles

Friday, April 08, 2011 - 02:36

Apr 8 - Investment bankers and analysts are relocating overseas to cities such as Hong Kong, while Japan deals with its nuclear emergency. Cathy Yang reports.

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Naomi Fink, an analyst based in Tokyo, finds herself in a position she could barely have imagined just a few weeks ago. She's a refugee from the crisis in Japan. SOUNDBITE (English) JEFFERIES JAPAN EQUITY STRATEGIST NAOMI FINK SAYING: "From a personal standpoint of course I'm based in Tokyo and plan to go back when the situation stabilizes." But with the situation still uncertain, she like many others is thinking of turning Hong Kong into a second home. And while they search for property, they're quickly filling up the city's hotel rooms, hotels like Ritz Carlton. And business is just getting started. It's just opened its doors to its fastest growing market, the mainland Chinese; but it also opens at a time when many expats from Japan seeking refuge from the crisis are needing places to stay here in the city for the moment." I spoke today with Joseph Tung. He is the executive director of the Tourism Industry Council of Hong Kong SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS' CATHY YANG SAYING: "and he told me the occupancy rates here have shot up to 80% to 85% this month when it's usually just around 60% to 65%." Even Hong Kong's service department chains have been inundated. The Shama apartments chain is now nearly fully-booked. SOUNDBITE (English) ONYX HOSPITALITY GROUP'S MARILYN FU SAYING: "A lot of our guests actually from Japan just started staying here from two weeks to a month and quite a few of them has asked for extending their stay because they are not sure when they can go back to Japan." Some real estate agents say rich Japanese families searching for homes could put more fire under an already overheated property market. No property firms were willing to speak on camera but Lance Allen of leading relocation expert, Santa Fe, told Reuters Insider he'd had lots of queries in visa requirements for possible transfers and relocation, and some have come through with actual movements to Hong Kong. Employers in Tokyo worry that experienced bankers may never return, but some are just waiting for the right moment. SOUNDBITE (English) JEFFERIES JAPAN EQUITY STRATEGIST NAOMI FINK SAYING: "I suppose it's the dilemma of everybody who hasn't established life at home, your routine, interactions with friends, and your hobbies and extracurricular activities. It's new here, whereas you know the lay of the land at home. It's very much that, that situation for me. As Japan grapples to contain its nuclear crisis, there's no way to gauge how long Fink and her fellow refugees may be in Hong Kong or if some will stay for good. Cathy Yang, Reuters.

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Japan's reluctant exiles

Friday, April 08, 2011 - 02:36