Daily Archives: March 8, 2010

Sitting in his office in Tokyo last week, a senior official pointed to a recently published volume called “Japan Rising”. “I look at that book every now and then to cheer myself up,” he said. It is easy to understand why. Right now, Japan has got that sinking feeling.

Continue reading “Japan edges from America towards China”

During my week in Japan I kept being asked – “what are your impressions?” So here they are, my top four impressions of Japan.

1. Policymakers and economists have been seriously freaked out by the Greek crisis. I lost count of the number of conversations in which Greece came up within the first five minutes. The reason for Japan’s concern is obvious. Japan’s gross debt-to-GDP ratio is even higher than that of Greece. If we are now entering a period of sovereign debt crises, then Japan is clearly vulnerable. Or is it? There were some analysts who argued that the Japanese situation is quite different from that of Greece, largely because 95% of the country’s debt is owned by the Japanese themselves, so the country is much less vulnerable to a sudden withdrawal of foreign confidence. Others suggested that the Japanese government is gradually soaking up the country’s accumulated savings and so a crisis will hit quite soon. I’ve no idea who’s right – but here is an admirable summary of the debate by the FT’s Mure Dickie. Read more