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No.61, Economy  Oct. 16, 2020

Challenges to Power Source Optimization (I): Ensuring that a Broad Range of Choices, Including Nuclear Power, Are Available

Kashiwagi Takao, Distinguished Professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology   Key points Stable supply is the most important energy policy Play a leading role in the development of innovative technologies to promote decarbonization Choosing either renewable energy or atomic energy is not a solution   The basic policy for phasing out inefficient coal-fired power plants presented on July 3 by Kajiyama Hiroshi, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, was shocking. Japan’s energy policy is based on the “3Es+S” concept which holds that efforts should be made from the perspectives of the 3Es, energy security, the economy, and environmental conservation, based on the assumption of the maintained safety of atomic energy. The demand for electricity, while showing a temporary decrease due to COVID-19, has been increasing consistently by 2.6–3.5% globally since 1980. Global electricity demand grew to 2.7 times the 10 trillion kWh ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Economy  Aug. 26, 2020

Changing Work Styles: Increased Productivity through Health and Productivity Management

Yamamoto Isamu, Professor, Keio University   Key points Remote work ratio increases with non-routine tasks A company’s COVID-19 measures boost employee loyalty The coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to reform labor market structure   The spread of COVID-19 has led to rapid work-style changes, such as staggered work hours, remote work, online meetings, closures, and higher risk of unemployment. It is likely becoming a major turning point for changing how work is perceived as well as work styles and human resource management at the workplace. Health and productivity management is garnering attention as a managerial challenge for maintaining and promoting employee health in companies. As it has become clear that corporate work styles, such as whether remote work is implemented or not, affect employees’ risk of infection, it is probable that the need for “health and productivity management that includes COVID-19 measures” will increase ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Economy  Aug. 18, 2020

Structural changes in industries and the reduction of inequality: The world after coronavirus

Prof. Kobayashi Keiichiro

KOBAYASHI Keiichiro, Faculty Fellow, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)   Humanity’s struggle with the novel coronavirus disease may turn into a long-drawn-out war. Numerous economic estimates using a model of disease spread (an SIR model) have been published, such as in papers by Professors Andrew Atkeson of UCLA and Martin Eichenbaum of Northwestern University. They say that to minimize the sacrifice of human lives, Europe and the U.S. must continue their current strict lockdowns and restrictions on activity for another eighteen months. Similarly, a year or more of restrictions on activity—even more severe than what is enforced now—would be necessary in Japan. However, once the crisis ends, will the novel coronavirus be eradicated? One can imagine that it will become normal for people to be vigilant with social distancing and mindful of the cleanliness of their hands, in order to prevent ... ... [Read more]

No.60, Economy  Aug. 17, 2020

A Post-Coronavirus World:“Change” Is Not “Beginning” but “Accelerating”:Overcoming Short-Termism

Kojima Akira, Member, Board of Trustees, and Adjunct Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Trustee, President of Center for International Economic Collaboration (CIEC)   The coronavirus outbreak is not transient, it is bringing about major changes to international relations, national economies, corporate business, social systems, and individuals’ ways of life. Because of this, it is thought that the post-coronavirus world will enter a new stage as denoted by the new normal. However, if we view today and the future with a long-term perspective, we will notice that many of the changes that have taken place amid the coronavirus outbreak are not the “beginning” of change but rather an “acceleration” of a new major development that was already occurring before the outbreak. This appears to be especially true in Japan. Of course, there are new changes as well. Yet, there is also an ... ... [Read more]

No.59, Economy  Jul. 1, 2020

Keidanren Chairman’s strategy for overcoming the global crisis: Executives must perceive “change as opportunity”

Nakanishi Hiroaki, Chairman, Keidanren, Executive Chairman, Hitachi, Ltd. No prospect of much-needed international cooperation ―The Japanese government has acknowledged with regard to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that the global economy is now truly facing the greatest crisis in the postwar period. Nakanishi Hiroaki: The “Keidanren’s Urgent Proposal to counter Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic,” issued by Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) on March 30, also positioned the COVID-19 pandemic as a “dilemma, which is unprecedented in modern times” and then called for action, including “fiscal measures on a scale equal to or greater than the measures taken in the event of the financial crisis of 2007–2008,” saying “the implementation of additional measures, as well as providing focused support to workers and businesses who are truly in need is essential.” The worst part of it all is not knowing when or how the situation will ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Economy  Jun. 16, 2020

Coronavirus Hits Japanese Economy: An unprecedented composite crisis halting demand, supply and income

Komine Takao, Professor, Taisho University   The economic shock sparked by the COVID-19 coronavirus appears to be unprecedented in terms of its magnitude and the level of difficulty in addressing it. At the time of writing, early April 2020, the crisis is ongoing and the situation is changing from moment to moment. The whole picture is as of yet unknown. The following discusses the challenges that lie ahead of the Japanese economy based on the information that is available so far. An abrupt change in circumstances and a colossal dive The coronavirus crisis has several unique characteristics. The first is the speed of the deterioration of economic conditions. As discussed below, the Japanese economy is facing the impact of multiple negative factors. This totally changed many people’s perception of the economy. For example, the economic view of the Japanese national government stated in the ... ... [Read more]

No.58, Economy  Jun. 11, 2020

Post-Coronavirus World: Companies Should Continue to Disperse Production and Procurement

Todo Yasuyuki, Professor, Waseda University Key points: Bringing manufacturing back to Japan comes with risks Don’t fall behind the expansion of global value chains Build strong ties with mutual help with partners abroad The disorder caused by the spread of COVID-19 continues. Nonetheless, we need to look toward the “Post-Coronavirus world” amid this confusion. This paper is a consideration of what supply chains and value chains Japan ought to build in the world after the coronavirus crisis. Value chains refer to networks of economic activities that generate value, including upstream R&D and design as well as downstream marketing and data analysis, and that exist in addition to the supply chains for materials and components. The Japanese government is already taking action. The spread in China disrupted the procurement of parts, components and materials from China. This is why the government is now going to ... ... [Read more]

Economy  May. 19, 2020

The Japanese Economy is Facing an Unprecedented Crisis

Komine Takao, Professor, Taisho University   Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japanese economy is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is obvious that the economy has declined significantly, although adequate data is not available. To see how sharply the economy has declined, let’s look at forecasts of real GDP trends. The ESP Forecast Survey (on May 14, 2020) by the Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER) shows that the average of the annualized real GDP growth rate forecasts of leading economists is -4.6% year-on-year for the January-March quarter of 2020 and -21.3% for the April-June quarter. With a negative real GDP growth rate having been recorded in the October-December quarter of 2019, real GDP growth has been in negative territory for three consecutive quarters. A major economic characteristic of the corona shock is that it is the combination of a demand shock, a supply ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Economy  Mar. 31, 2020

How Japan should avoid becoming a loophole for technology leaks to China

Trump signs China trade deal but the underlying economic conflict does not end President Trump signed an initial trade deal with China. As expected, markets seem to have reacted positively to the initial agreement by the two governments. But the tariff fight started by President Trump seems only to be a surface-level conflict between the United States and China. In fact, at a deep level, there has been consistent escalation of the technological power struggle, which is growing more serious within Congress and the Washington policy-making community as a whole. More recently, Washington policymakers have redefined the strategic framework for the US relationship with China from a human rights perspective. The technological power struggle with China has become so deeply entrenched within the Washington policy community that even President Trump cannot make a deal with China easily without listening to them. Therefore, I believe ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Economy  Mar. 25, 2020

Will Fiscal Reconstruction Advance?

Ⅰ. Introduction The Japanese government raised the consumption tax rate to 10% in October 2019. Many people have criticized such tax increases, citing them as a cause of an economic downturn. However, the tax hike resulted from an increase in social security expenses associated with the aging of the Japanese population. Another source of revenue would have been sought or the control of benefits would have been requested if the consumption tax was not picked as a solution. In fact, social security benefits will expand from the current level of 120 trillion yen (the figure for fiscal 2018) to 190 trillion yen in fiscal 2040, according to a trial calculation performed by the Cabinet Office. Such an increase in social security expenses is due to the structural problem in twenty-first-century Japan called aging. It will not be all right when the economy picks up. ... ... [Read more]