New Real Estate ETF Expands Japan Menu

Includes: EWJ, FXY, SCJ, TYI
by: Carl T. Delfeld

I have learned to be flexible in choosing a proxy ETF for a given market. Japan is an excellent example of this strategy.

Instead of just reaching for the largest Japan ETF, the iShares MSCI Japan (NYSEARCA:EWJ) ETF, why not take a look at the broader NETS Topix (TYI)? For the last 12 months, using a Japanese yen ETF like the CurrencyShares Japanese Yen (NYSEARCA:FXY) would have been much better than suffering with Japan's sharp decline. I have also used the small cap iShares Japan ETF (NYSEARCA:SCJ) to capture the value in smaller Japanese companies that are collectively trading below book value.

This is why I welcome the launch of the industry's first Japanese real estate investment trust ETF, introduced by the Northern Trust NETS family of ETFs.

The NETS Tokyo Stock Exchange REIT Index Fund (JRE) launched on Monday marks the 16th NETS to hit the market. This new ETF makes a lot of sense due to the size of Japan's REIT market (10% of all global real estate investment opportunities) as well as the potential value it may unlock for investors.

Index Universe

reports that recent data from

Real Capital Analytics

shows positive trends in Japanese real estate in terms of transaction levels compared with other global markets. Transactions in Japan have grown 11% in the first half of 2008. Tokyo topped the list of office property sales, and Japan as a country is behind only the U.S. in the office market with $12.6 billion in transactions.