In a news conference on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed the next steps that he feels the country should tackle towards regaining economic superiority. Abe said that Japan needed to awaken “sleeping opportunities”, including investing heavily in the underutilized sector of women in Japanese society and leveraging on the country’s advanced technology.
Many feel that the jury is still out on “Abenomics”, the premier’s strategy of weakening the yen in a bid to finally conquer years of deflation, and then boosting public spending to stimulate demand. While critics have been quiet so far – most saying that while it hasn’t been bad, it hasn’t been too good as well – Abe is bullish about his economic strategy. Weakening the Japanese yen’s value against the U.S. dollar and other major currencies is the main tenet of the strategy, where the environment will be better for an export-driven Japanese economy. Together with handpicked Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s nous for ending deflation and Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, Abe can only look at the improvement that has happened since he swept into power in December. “Comparing now with four months ago, isn’t the atmosphere much brighter?” Abe said.
Abe also feels that the country’s economy can benefit a lot from the women in Japanese society, a sector that has had low productivity over the years because of circumstances in the corporate environment of the country. The job milieu is harsh on Japanese working women, Abe said, as long working hours and a shortage of childcare facilities discourage women from contributing to the economy. Abe says that Japan just cannot afford this luxury, especially with a population that is dominated by the elderly. “The reality is harsh,” Abe said. “For most women it is a choice between either having a children or a career.”
Lastly, Abe plans to leverage on the country’s advanced technologies, doing “economic diplomacy” and seeking out partnerships with developing nations who need the infrastructure and know how that Japan can provide. His upcoming visits to Russia and the Middle East are proof of this strategy. Notably, Japan’s relations with Russia are on the up, with signs towards economic cooperation after long periods of chilly diplomatic ties, mostly over a long-standing territorial dispute. But driven by their complementing needs — Russia has abundant gas reserves while Japan has technology and manufacturing know how to offer – both countries seem willing to gloss over the dispute at the moment.
[via Washington Post]
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