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No.9
Economy, No.9  Jan. 30, 2012

THE JAPANESE ECONOMY AMID AGING AND DECLINING POPULATION AND FISCAL DEFICITS

The effect of Japan’s “lost decade” lingers today, nearly ten years later, and there are still few signs of convincing recovery. Faced with new challenges of recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan’s economy will likely continue to confront medium- to long-term constraints that lie ahead, including further population decline, a lower birthrate combined with population aging, and accumulating fiscal deficits. Viewing the current situation it is hard to say that deflation is under control. Advancing strength of the yen and low stock prices tied with the increasing sovereign risk in Europe and the United States are making it increasingly difficult to identify a new growth path.... [Read more]

No.Array
Economy, No.9  Dec. 8, 2011

SHIFTING TO A COUNTRY THAT INCREASES GROSS NATIONAL INCOME (GNI) INSTEAD OF GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP)

The Great East Japan Earthquake has forced Japanese companies to renew their awareness of the risks of operating in Japan. Meanwhile, the extremely strong yen, at less than 77 yen to the dollar, has become a persistent condition. Japanese companies, mainly manufacturers, are hit hard by the reduced export competitiveness resulting from the exchange rate. The yen is expected to remain strong for some time since investors have no choice but to buy yen given the euro zone debt crisis and the slumping economy in the United States. On top of this, rapid aging of society and the declining birthrate have made falling domestic demand inevitable. This has... [Read more]

No.9
Economy, No.9  Dec. 7, 2011

WORRY ABOUT HOLLOWING OUT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS – LIQUIDITY OF RESOURCES IS IMPORTANT TO QUICKLY FILL EMPTY SPACES AFTER COMPANIES LEAVE

KOMINE Takao, professor at the Graduate School of Regional Policy Design at Hosei University; Project Leader at the 21st Century Public Policy Institute

Globalization and foreign direct investment of companies We can begin to think about this from the first step. Corporate activities are globalized in two ways: international trade and direct investment. Until the 1970s, the globalization of Japanese companies was overwhelmingly centered on international trade. Japan imported energy and raw materials, which it lacks, and manufactured industrial products and exported them. Production bases were located in Japan, and the imported products centered on those Japan cannot produce domestically. Therefore, hollowing was not a topic of discussion.... [Read more]

No.9
Economy, No.9  Dec. 6, 2011

DETERMINED TO BUILD A WORLD AFTER STEVE JOBS

A messiah for users On October 5, 2011, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs passed away. The news shocked the world, indicating just how big his global influence was. Jobs was indeed a messiah for people all over the world. Products he created revolutionized the cell phone and telecommunications industries and their users. In the early 2000s, long before the release of Apple’s iPhone smartphones, everyone in Japan was using cell phones that could... [Read more]

No.8
Economy, No.8  Oct. 7, 2011

THE NATION NEEDS TO CONDUCT FISCAL POLICY REFORMS THAT CORRECT THE UNFAIRNESS BETWEEN THE GENERATIONS

As society ages, childbirth declines, and the economy globalizes, the Japanese economy and its fiscal situation have continued to stagnate and worsen since the collapse of the bubble economy in 1990. Public debt is about to reach a figure that is about 200% of our gross domestic product (GDP). And when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, the situation was exacerbated. While recovering from the quake is important, we must at the same time work on two reforms today to solve the medium- to long-term issues faced by Japan. One is a growth strategy to increase the potential growth rate of the Japanese economy, and the other is correcting the unfairness between the generations by reforming fiscal policy and social security. In terms of the latter, the politicians are currently split between being pro-tax increase and anti-tax increase, but this is ... ... [Read more]

No.7
Economy, No.7  Aug. 5, 2011

TOWARD UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURE (PART III): CAPITALIZE ON QUALITY EXCELLENCE TO STIMULATE EXPORTS

In the Tohoku region, farmland has lost its levees in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, and it will be very hard to restore its boundaries. It will also be difficult for older farmers to purchase new machinery and restart their farming operations. However, this is also an opportunity to change currently inefficient agriculture into a new form. Redevelopment of agricultural land into large-sized farm lots will increase work efficiency, open the way for introduction of new technologies for directly sowing on paddies and help reduce costs. The transition to next-generation farmers can be attained by allocating large farming lots to young farmers. Older farmers can earn land rent revenues by leasing their own farmland. Prior to the earthquake, the Japanese government was set to decide by June on whether to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also known as the Trans-... [Read more]

No.7
Economy, No.7  Aug. 4, 2011

TOWARD UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURE (PART II): NEW AGRICULTURE ENTRIES FOR BOOSTING MANAGERIAL STRENGTH

The Great East Japan Earthquake has renewed our awareness of the importance of food and energy, in addition to revealing the multitude of problems in Japan’s conventional policies. With respect to food, the myth about the safety of domestic agricultural products has collapsed, and there is now growing concern about the capacity of food supply. A large portion of the afflicted area comprises villages subsisting on agriculture and fisheries. While there is strong demand for rehabilitation centering on the agriculture, forestry and fishery businesses, doubts exist as to the viability of simply restoring the traditional form of agriculture with a poor production base and supply capacity. Now is the time to build a competitive and efficient agricultural framework. Following the examples of small European countries advanced in transitioning agriculture to an integrated industry is recommended. The Netherlands,... [Read more]

No.7
Economy, No.7  Aug. 2, 2011

TOWARD UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED AGRICULTURE (FOREWORD): BEYOND POST-QUAKE RECOVERY TO THE CREATION OF NEW AGRICULTURE

The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011 severely damaged Japan’s food supply center, which accounts for 21% of nationwide agricultural production and 25% of rice production. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), damage related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries attributable to the earthquake amounted to near 1.5 trillion yen, of which damage from loss of farmland and farming facilities was 700 billion yen. Extensive farmland was immersed, flooded, or suffered liquefaction due to the quake and tsunami, and many producers were forced to postpone or give up on planting for this year due to restoration work. Before the quake, the Kan Administration was pursuing whether or not to begin negotiations on joining the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), a high-level, free trade agreement that nine countries including the United States were... [Read more]

No.6
Economy, No.6  Jul. 28, 2011

PROPOSAL OF THREE PRINCIPLES FOR RECOVERY

The topic of revitalizing the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake has been much debated, particularly in the government’s Reconstruction Design Council. Unlike the Great Hanshin Earthquake, there appears to be a consensus that this time we should not simply “restore” the original townscape, but instead aim for “reconstruction” a new type of urban development with a long-term vision. However, when it comes to specific ideas about what this should look like, there are all kinds of conflicting opinions and there is not necessarily a clear sense of direction. Should the reconstruction be led by local municipal governments that have a good knowledge of their local areas? Or should we be thinking about reconstruction strategies for a wide area, without being bound by the framework of municipal governments? How should we deal with the problem of striking a balance between the rights ... ... [Read more]

No.6
Economy, No.6  Jun. 3, 2011

VIEWING THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE GREAT EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE

The massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the coast of Eastern Japan this past March 11 is significantly impacting the nation’s economy as a whole. This is the largest economic shock to hit Japan’s economy since World War II. The full picture is not yet clear, but I will present what is visible at this stage, including the courses and order through which the disaster’s effects will ripple, and the responses that will become necessary given our experiences in events such as the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995. I will not, however, refer to loss of human life, injuries or harm, to people themselves. This is not because it is not economically important but because it is a huge challenge that extends beyond the economic impact. When considering the effects of a catastrophe such as what we are facing here, it is important to ... ... [Read more]