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November 21, 2017
Problem: Japan is the most aged society among advanced economies (almost 27 percent of its people are over 65). It also faces a shortage of labor (unemployment is just 2.8 percent). Both limit the country’s growth potential. (more…)
August 10, 2017
Japan’s population is shrinking and getting older, posing challenges to the nation’s financial system. How Japan copes could guide other advanced economies in Asia and Europe that are grappling with the same trends but are at an earlier phase of similar demographic developments.
May 30, 2017
Policy uncertainty remains a challenge in Japan, and can harm the country’s economic performance according to a new IMF study. The good news is that credible plans for taxation, spending and structural reforms, as well as greater clarity about monetary policy can reduce uncertainty. (more…)
Version in 日本語 (Japanese)
Japan’s minimum wage is 798 JPY ($6.52) per hour, lower than many other advanced countries, including the United States, and among the lowest relative to the average wage (see chart). For a country that needs consumers to boost spending to pull the economy out of 15 years of deflation and reinvigorate growth, a hike in wages across the board can go a long way. (more…)
(Version in 日本語)
Everybody agrees: wages need to grow if Japan is to make a definite escape from deflation. Full- time wages have increased by a mere 0.3 percent since 1995! For example, despite its record profits, Toyota increased its base salary only by 1.1 percent last year. The average of 219 Keidanren firms managed just 0.44 percent. Clearly, an increase in base wages, colloquially referred to as “base up”, is long overdue.
(version in 日本語)
Japanese-brand cars have become everyday, household items in the United States, and it’s hard to drive in the country without seeing one on the roads. These cars may be manufactured by Japanese firms, but about 70 percent of these vehicles are actually produced in North America. Globally, in 2014, about two-thirds of Japanese cars were produced on assembly lines outside of that country. Despite the increase in overseas demand for Japanese vehicles, this hasn’t been mirrored by an expansion in investment, and the building of factories in Japan to meet that demand.
Against this background, our IMF Working Paper looks at possible reasons for this sluggish recovery of corporate investment in Japan, focusing on the role of Japanese firms overseas.
(Version in 日本語)
Take a walk in Tokyo, and you will see the sign スタッフ募集中, or “Staff Wanted”, outside many restaurants and convenience stores. These businesses often find it impossible to recruit the workers they need. According to recent statistics, for each job seeker in Japan applying to work as a waiter, there are more than three available positions. Home helpers and long-term caregivers are equally in demand. If you want to work as a security guard, you can choose from around five openings, and for some positions in the construction business the job-to-applicant ratio is over six.
Japan’s labor shortages are the result of both a shrinking population—which limits the overall pool of workers—and skill mismatches. The reduced supply of labor is one of the factors bringing down medium-term potential growth, which the International Monetary Fund estimates at just 0.6 percent. Labor market shortages are also bad for short-term growth, because they reduce the effectiveness of the monetary and fiscal stimulus that the authorities are using to try to boost demand.