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Good Sun Rising

As Japan's economy gets stronger, so do the funds.

Japan's made the news a lot lately--from its hot stock market to its top car brands. What this means for investors is opportunity--in small doses, of course.

Don Cassidy, a senior research analyst at Lipper, says that for the calendar year 2005, the average return for Japanese funds was 33.64 percent. "That was enough to push their previously lagging longer-period returns from minus to plus signs all the way back for 15 years," he says.

Cassidy points out that Japan's economy has turned around after a long, painful spell. Consumer and business confidence are up, corporate and banking reforms are taking place, and an expanding world economy has created opportunity for Japanese exporters.

"Finally, there is a lot of money in the postal savings accounts held by individual households [in Japan]," says Cassidy. "If or when people gain investment confidence, it could be a major boost to the local market."

If we've captured your interest, check out these funds, which each have solid three-year returns: Fidelity's Japan Smaller Companies Fund (FJSCX), JPMorgan's Japan Fund (CVJAX), T. Rowe Price's Japan Fund (PRJPX), and The Japan Fund (SJPNA). Remember, investing in any regional fund is best for aggressive investors who don't buy for life and know to keep their asset allocation to 3 percent to 5 percent of their total holdings.

Dian Vujovich is an author, syndicated columnist and publisher of fund investing site www.fundfreebies.com.

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This article was originally published in the June 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Good Sun Rising.

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