• Nowcast shows Japanese consuming more than official stats say
  • Bank of Japan is releasing its own consumption indices

Private consumption is 56 percent of Japan’s GDP, so understanding where people are spending and what they’re buying is essential to have a clear picture of what’s going on in the world’s third-biggest economy. That’s true not just for the government, but also for businesses and people.

But the government data on spending by households has long been seen as suspect, with a preponderance of older people in the survey, and under-reporting of online shopping at places like Amazon.com Inc. or Rakuten Inc.

To fill that gap, a venture firm has started using credit card transaction data to show consumption trends. Nowcast Inc., a financial-technology venture formed in 2015 out of the University of Tokyo, started releasing new consumption indicators created with JCB Co., a Japanese credit card issuer.