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Secretary-General Gurría, thank you very much for such a gracious introduction. I had the honor of welcoming you to Tokyo last month, and today we have come to meet again in Paris. I am extremely pleased that we were able to reconfirm the deep bonds of friendship between Japan and the OECD.
The average worker in Japan faced a tax burden on labour income (tax wedge) of 31.6% in 2013 compared with the OECD average of 35.9%. Japan was ranked 23 of the 34 OECD member countries in this respect.
Mr. Angel Gurría was in Japan from 6 to 10 April 2014 to commemorate the country’s 50th anniversary of membership of the Organisation. The OECD Secretary-General was received in Audience by Crown Prince Naruhito, and held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Abe, to whom he presented the report “OECD Better Policies Japan - Advancing the Third Arrow for a Resilient Economy and Inclusive Growth”.
50 years ago Tokyo was just emerging on the global stage as a world class city, as host of the 1964 Olympics. This was the same year that Japan joined the OECD. At this time, Japan was a nascent industrial power. Today, Japan is one of the largest economies in the world, with GDP per head of around $50,000 and close to $1 trillion of exports of goods and services, said Angel Gurría.
OECD analysis shows that income inequality has been on the rise in most OECD countries since the 1980s, which often means growing exclusion in the labour market, lower intergenerational social mobility, and greater polarisation in educational and health outcomes.
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After two decades of low growth and persistent deflation, Japan is showing signs of renewed economic dynamism. But to regain its primacy as a leading economic powerhouse and raise the well-being of its citizens, Japan needs a structural reform package to narrow the productivity gap with leading OECD countries, notably by increasing the labour participation of women and older citizens.
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Analysis for Japan from OECD trade facilitation indicators that identify areas where countries can improve border procedures, reduce trade costs, boost trade flows and reap greater benefits from international trade.
Nuclear energy provides society with a secure supply of low-carbon, baseload electricity that enables our economies to function. But of course, safety must be the first priority, without exception. Following Fukushima, international efforts have focused on enhancing nuclear safety to enable our economies to continue enjoying the electricity that nuclear power can provide, said OECD Secretary-General in Japan.
This learning experience is an important model for other countries recovering from natural disasters as well. It demonstrates how they can best invest in their most precious resource – their young people!