Japanese Economy is in Deep Coma
Times Online: Click Here
According to Bronwen Maddox on Times Online, Japanese Crisis resulted from extremely inefficient bureaucracy culture, lack of risk-taking, aging population, and bad governmental budget.
The article states that Japanese government (local and central) have debt over 180% of Japan’s GDP. That means, the Japanese government has to pay almost double the country’s GDP to the lenders, who are mostly Japanese citizens. So, the Japanese government is carrying the unexpectable time-bomb of national bankruptcy. Japan is the second highest in debt percentage to GDP in the world, after Zimbabwe’s 200%. However, Zimbabwe’s GDP is so infinitesimal compared to the world’s second biggest Japanese GDP. So Zimbabwe could get support from other countries, but Japan will not be able to survive the misery even if there were some supports from other countries.
The main reason for Japan’s enormous debt is the Japanese government’s bad planning for budget. According to the article, over 45% of the governmental spending was borrowed from Japanese people’s savings. This kind of spending started from 1992, so this debt accumulated for 20 years until the debt almost went up to twice the country’s GDP. United States had deficit governmental spending just like Japan, however, Obama passed the Budget Plan for 2010 to minimize the deficit and ultimately get rid of the debt. Japan is not taking any actions to minimize and get rid of debts they are carrying. Instead, the new government is increasing the deficit almost forced by its populist economic policies. If the new government does not cancel its policies and sketch a new way to get out of this misery, Japan will face more serious problem than ‘lost decades’ : a bankruptcy.
There why are Japanese government spending so much money? My answer to this question was that Japanese people did not want to use money. That is why the Japanese government has to release money to the paralyzed Japanese market. I have heard and read that many Japanese people had lack of confidence in their futures because of the prolonged economic recession in Japan (lost decades). Even if they have one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, they do not use money in fear of another economic recession. This is called leakage in economic term. So Japan is suffering from deflation because of very very low demands in domestic market. Japanese domestic markets do have money to spend, however, people simply chose not to and save it. That is why Japanese companies are having a bad time in the domestic market. To get back to the point, the Japanese government has to release money in order to get the domestic market going, or else, it will collapse.
This lack of confidence or fear about future is devastating to the economy. This once happened to Korea when it was near national bankruptcy in 1998 during the economic crisis in Asia. People feared for the future and they stopped spending but saving. This had rather devastating effect on the Korean economy. So the government had made up the mind to get help from IMF, the international monetary fund, and cold-heartedly let the lazy banks or companies to go bankrupt. The government has forced many companies and economic figures to reform. The economic reform has resulted in tons of people without jobs, however, Korea managed to get out of the trouble until 2000, which only took them 4 years to overcome the trouble.
Japan, in the other hand, did not take such daring measures to overcome the economic crisis, which started from 1992. As a result, Japan has suffered from two lost decade, and ‘is’ suffering from another losing decade. The Japanese government was not determined like the Korean government so that the economic crisis of Japan has lingered around since 1992, almost 20 years from now.
There is another factor that is aggravating the crisis in a long term. It is the low birth rate. Japan has the birth rate of 7.64 out of 1000 population, which ranks 221th in the world. It was estimated that in 20 or 30 years, there will be 45% of Japanese population with old people over 65. This will reduce governmental income from taxation and aggravate the responsibility the young people have to carry out. Thus, it will have unenthusiastic young people and there will lack of labor in the market. Every economically active young person (at 25-30) will have to take care of 2 elders. This will give disincentive to the young people to get a job. Also, it will discourage the young people not to have babies because it’ll be even more burdensome. Thus, the low birth rate gets worst. The Japanese government has to do something to give incentive for the young people to have babies. Or else, the national will fall into the abyss of low birth rate and ultimately ‘extinction’ of Japanese people.
In sum, the Japanese government has to do something. The Japanese government should first pass a new budget plan in effort to minimize the deficit, and they should pass a new law to encourage young people to have babies. Also, they should get rid of the culture of bureaucracy. Or else, Japan will confront the irremediable problem of bankruptcy.