Economic Survey of Japan 2005: Key economic challenges facing Japan

 

What are the key challenges facing Japan?

The Japanese economy is in its best shape in a decade thanks to buoyant external demand, the progress in restructuring the corporate sector and economic reforms. Output has increased at an annual rate of more than 2 per cent since 2002 and 3¼ per cent excluding the negative contribution from the public sector. The pace of growth has been sufficient to boost employment during the past year and reduce the unemployment rate from its record high. Profit margins, as well as confidence in the business and household sectors, are at their highest levels since the early 1990s. These positive developments raise hopes that Japan is emerging from a decade of economic stagnation, although there are a number of risks to the current expansion.

Despite these favourable trends, Japan must successfully address a number of challenges in order to sustain a robust expansion and ensure rising living standards in the face of rapid population ageing:

  • Deflation remains entrenched, though at a low rate, and nation-wide land prices fell again in 2004, the 13th consecutive annual decline. In addition, bank lending continues to fall despite progress in rehabilitating the banking system. 
  • Large government budget deficits have boosted gross public debt to more than 160 per cent of GDP - the highest in the OECD area - just as Japan enters a phase of rapid population ageing, reinforcing concern about fiscal sustainability.
  • A lack of fiscal discipline at the local government level is contributing to the run-up in debt. Moreover, problems in the relationship between different levels of government prevent Japan from reaping the benefits of decentralisation more fully. 
  • A number of structural problems, including weak competition in some sectors, limit Japan's growth potential. 
  • Increasing dualism in the labour market creates both efficiency and equity concerns, while population ageing is reducing the size of the workforce.

In sum, the positive developments during the current expansion do not reduce the urgency of a broad programme combining macroeconomic and structural policies.

Return to the   OECD Economic Survey - Japan 2005 homepage

A printer-friendly Policy Brief  (in PDF format) may also be downloaded. The Policy Brief contains the executive summary and the OECD assessment and recommendations.

-------------------------------------------------------

The complete edition of the OECD Economic Survey for Japan is available from:

 

 

 

Countries list

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Angola
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bermuda
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Cape Verde
  • Cayman Islands
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • China (People’s Republic of)
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Congo
  • Cook Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • European Union
  • Faeroe Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guernsey
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong, China
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jersey
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lao People's Democratic Republic
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macao (China)
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Mayotte
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia (Federated States of)
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Montserrat
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nauru
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Niue
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palau
  • Palestinian Administered Areas
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Rwanda
  • Saint Helena
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Serbia and Montenegro (pre-June 2006)
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • South Sudan
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Swaziland
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Timor-Leste
  • Togo
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • United States Virgin Islands
  • Uruguay
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vanuatu
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Virgin Islands (UK)
  • Wallis and Futuna Islands
  • Western Sahara
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe