Japan: Promoting Inclusive Growth for an Ageing Society

Japan has achieved a comparatively high level of well-being: skill levels are high, unemployment is low and life expectancy at birth is the highest in the OECD. Since its launch in 2013, Abenomics has had a positive effect on the economy, and per capita output growth has picked up. However, to achieve inclusive growth and greater well-being, Japan needs to address important challenges to foster fiscal sustainability, narrow the productivity gap with leading OECD countries and manage the demographic transition. A new fiscal plan going beyond achieving a primary surplus should lay out concrete measures to raise revenues and control spending. As Japan’s population ages, using all available talent in the labour market and achieving gender equality are key to overcome labour shortages. Boosting productivity, which has been stagnant, will require increasing returns from R&D, capitalising on the digital economy, fostering the dynamism of SMEs, and reducing barriers to foreign direct investment and trade to promote greater integration into global value chains. Japan’s education system is one of the top performers in the OECD, but there is scope to further invest in teachers and schools. Finally, further action to foster green growth and environmental quality as well as effectively leveraging upcoming international sports events, such as the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020, would also boost local development and inclusive growth. The complementarity of reforms needed to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth in in an aging society makes a compelling case for a comprehensive approach.

Published on April 18, 2018Also available in: Japanese

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