Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo
Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 12:30 - 13:30
Japanese stocks and corporate earnings are up and the yen is down. But wage growth is weak and structural reforms, again, are over the horizon. And the economy is back in a recession. That sums up the economic situation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces as he enters his third year in power.
Massive monetary easing by the Bank of Japan and fiscal stimulus were Abe's first two planks of his so-called "three arrows" policy to get the nation out of its decades-long economic stagnation. The first two, which boosted share prices and weakened the yen, were relatively easy. But the third one focusing on structural reforms – the one that will make or break Japan's growth prospects as the population ages and shrinks – will test the mettle of the Abe administration.
A key member Abe's main policy-making panel, the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, Motoshige Ito will come to the Club to explain the nation's current growth outlook and how the government plans to improve it. That includes the third arrow of structural reforms, including proposals to revamp labor laws, improve corporate governance and break the farm lobby's stranglehold over the nation’s agricultural sector.
Itoh is a professor at the Graduate School of Economics at the University of Tokyo and was the Dean of the Gradual School of Economics from 2007 to 2009. He currently serves on the government's Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, and received his B.A. from Tokyo University and Ph.D. from University of Rochester, both in economics. He has written extensively about political economy and published more than 40 books.