Japan PM reveals three strategies for economy

Japan PM reveals three strategies for economy

TOKYO - The Associated Press
Japan PM reveals three strategies for economy

Abe outlines the ‘third arrow’ of his economic growth plan in Tokyo. AFP photo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outlined yesterday a sweeping blueprint for rejuvenating Japan’s ailing economy with reforms meant to bring more women into the workforce, promote industrial innovation and coax cash-hoarding corporations into investing more.

The strategies Abe sketched out in a speech form the third and most important plank in his “Abenomics” platform, which so far has focused on what he calls the first “two arrows” in his arsenal: loosening monetary policy and boosting public spending. He has promised structural reforms to underpin growth in the long run as Japan’s population ages and shrinks.

“Now is the time for Japan to be an engine for world economic recovery,” Abe said. “Japanese business, what is being asked is that you speed up. Do not fear risk, be determined and use your capacity for action.”

Without an overhaul of Japan’s bureaucracy and its agricultural, industrial and labor policies, economists say Abenomics is bound to provide only a temporary boost to growth while vastly increasing the country’s public debt burden. All agree that reforms are needed to break Japan free of the deflationary malaise that has stymied growth since its bubble economy collapsed more than 20 years ago and sustain growth in the future.

Abe pledged to raise Japanese incomes by 3 percent a year to protect consumers’ purchasing power if the government meets its target of boosting inflation to 2 percent within two years. However, his speech was short on details of how to achieve that aim after more than two decades of economic stagnation.

He also promised to raise Japan’s per capita gross national income by more than 1.5 million yen ($14,970) in 10 years. It now is about $45,000 a year.

So far the government has taken only piecemeal initiatives such as loosening controls on online sales of over-the-counter drugs. Abe intends to raise private investment in roads and to set up “strategic economic zones” where private companies will be allowed to operate public facilities such as airports.

Abe has repeatedly stressed his desire to encourage more women to work by improving access to affordable child care and extending parental leave. He also has called for improved English language instruction and loosening of labor regulations that discourage job hopping. He did not discuss details of those plans in his speech.

Abe had promised to present his reform proposals by mid-June, a month ahead of an election for the upper house of parliament that his Liberal Democratic Party is determined to win - possibly assuring Abe another three years in office.