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No.15
Economy, KUDO_Yasushi, Nos.13-15  Mar. 3, 2013

(NO CONFLICTS DESIRED) Japan and China Can Ill Afford to Be at Loggerheads

As China is gradually recovering its confidence as a major power, Japan has come to feel threatened by it both economically and militarily. While this is taking place in the context of China’s rapid economic growth, one wonders if the general assessment of the Chinese economy is an overestimation? In a recent discussion, Mr. Toshiya Tsugami and Mr. Tomoo Marukawa, both experts on the Chinese economy, were divided over the economy’s potential for growth. Meanwhile, they shared the view that both Japan and China are faced with various inherent problems in their respective economies and that they cannot afford to be wasting time in being at odds with each other over the issue of the Senkaku Islands.... [Read more]

No.11
Economy, No.11  May. 26, 2012

CONSUMPTION TAX – NO SENSE OF CRISIS AMOUNTS TO A TRUE FINANCIAL CRISIS

The financial crisis in the euro zone has evolved into an actual economic crisis as a result of the credit contraction it incited. The European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to a certain extent delayed the inevitable with their emergency assistance, but this crisis will not be resolved unless the European Union fundamentally reforms the economic and financial structures at their core. For Japan, the crisis in the euro zone is not just fire on the opposite riverbank. This is because Japan’s government debts, including those of central and local governments, have surpassed those owed by Greece’s governments at the epicenter of the euro zone crisis. Japan’s government debts currently total around 200% of the country’s domestic product (GDP). Moreover, social security and related expenses are likely to continue rising in Japan... [Read more]

No.11
Economy, No.11  May. 24, 2012

THE BANK OF JAPAN'S EFFORTS TOWARD OVERCOMING DEFLATION

Photo : Shirakawa Masaaki

Introduction It is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to speak to you today at the prestigious Japan National Press Club. This is my third time speaking here, having initially done so in May 2008 — my first public speech after becoming Governor of the Bank of Japan — and then again in May 2010, around the time when the European debt problem triggered by the crisis in Greece started to overshadow the global financial markets. Given that today happens to be just a few days after the Bank implemented measures to further enhance monetary easing, this is my first opportunity to provide a thorough explanation of this latest policy decision.... [Read more]

No.11
Economy, No.11  May. 22, 2012

JAPAN ACQUIRES A STRUCTURAL TRADE DEFICIT AND LOOKS SET TO HAVE A CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICIT IN 2015

Photo : Kanno Masaaki

In 2011, Japan posted its first trade deficit since 1980. Was the deficit a temporary phenomenon? And will it move back into surplus from 2012? It is true that a decline in exports caused by the disruption to supply chains associated with the Great East Japan Earthquake and the flooding in Thailand, combined with an increase in imports of alternative energy, were significant factors for the trade deficit in 2011. In 2012, the trade balance will improve as supply chains return to normal, although it is questionable whether nuclear reactors will resume operation.... [Read more]

No.11
Economy, No.11  May. 21, 2012

TOP MANAGERS DEBATE THE CONSUMPTION TAX ISSUE — No TIME FOR DELAY? OR ARE THERE THINGS TO DO BEFORE TAXES ARE INCREASED?

The Noda administration has released a plan titled “Comprehensive Reform of Social Security and Tax”, which includes measures such as increasing the rate of consumption tax. They appear to be determined not to concede an inch, but their approach has come in for much criticism. Japan’s budget deficit is clearly in crisis. Looking at opinion polls on the question of raising taxes, the public are expressing a certain degree of understanding with regards to the issue itself, but are opposed to the way politicians are going about it. In a time of crisis, the attitude that leaders adopt is crucial. With this in mind, last year I interviewed two of Japan’s top business leaders. Two men who are well-known as two of the most capable managers in Japan, whose companies have overcome adversity under their strong leadership. They come from completely... [Read more]

No.10
Economy, No.10  Mar. 27, 2012

BANKS’ HOLDING OF BONDS OBSTRUCTS JAPAN’S GROWTH

Amid a declining loan-deposit ratio (the ratio of outstanding loans against outstanding deposits), Japanese banks have been increasing their holdings of Japanese government bonds. The three mega banks alone held as much as approximately ¥100 trillion of both short- and long-term government bonds as at the end of March 2010. JP Bank held ¥147 trillion worth of bonds. The reasons why Japanese banks are increasing their holding of Japanese government bonds include the following: (i) Demand of corporations for financing has been contracting, as the corporate sector has been a financial surplus sector since 1998,... [Read more]

No.10
Economy, No.10  Feb. 8, 2012

DON’T FEAR HOLLOWING OUT–TRANSFORMING INTO AN INVESTMENT NATION Will SAVE JAPAN

From GDP to GNI In Japan, economic policy discussions are no longer capable of providing us with dreams. The country is full of gloomy storylines: population decline, ongoing deflation, social welfare difficulties, the incessantly strong yen, and stalled growth. People are also not interested in pursuing the subject of change as they are caught in the grips of past success stories. Things are decided in a trickling way, as if people are thinking that, “at least for now this is all we have to do.” Japan is currently facing many thorny problems, ranging from short-term challenges such as how to recover from the earthquake... [Read more]

No.10
Economy, No.10  Feb. 7, 2012

TIME TO RECREATE JAPAN THROUGH GREEN AND SILVER INNOVATION

Japan Echo Web: Could you tell us about the background for considering revitalization of Japan? Komiyama Hiroshi: When I consider the revitalization of Japan, I look at Japan’s historical position. Japan was a world industrial power in the sixteenth century. From the seventeenth century industrialization paused, while institutions and culture developed.... [Read more]

No.10
Economy, No.10  Feb. 5, 2012

PRIORITIZING THE MAINTENANCE OF LONG-TERM, COMPREHENSIVE, AND OPTIMAL COMPETITIVENESS

(i) Japanese firms have become extremely pessimistic about the outlook for their businesses, reflecting concerns over the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the unprecedented strong yen. Managers often make the wrong decisions when they are in excessively bearish mood. If they start developing dual supply chain systems, which will result in higher costs, or if they make hasty decisions to shut down domestic plants only in the pursuit of short-term gains, companies may lose the capability of long-term balanced growth. When facing emergency situations, it is necessary to minimize additional costs, transfer design information to other plants, and develop structures in which the status of suppliers can be monitored efficiently.... [Read more]

No.10
Economy, No.10  Feb. 3, 2012

JAPANESE BANKS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO SAVE THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

The financial sector has reached freezing point More than three years have passed since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008, and it has been two and a half years since the U.S. economy–which was hard hit by the collapse–bottomed out of its economic downturn. During these periods, despite difficulties in dealing with nonperforming assets, major financial institutions in Western countries have somehow managed to cope with the crises, aided by public money and business restructuring. However, they have not fully recovered. Indeed, their ailments appear to have exacerbated by the fiscal crisis in Europe, which began in Greece.... [Read more]