Taro Aso At Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School’s Center on Japanese Economy and Business recently hosted a special lecture event featuring Taro Aso, Japan’s deputy prime minister. The session took place on April 19th in New York, shortly after Aso had hosted the US vice president Mike Pence in Tokyo for a bilateral economic dialogue.

Some highlights below:

  • He said that Japan has actually undergone a quiet revolution over the past two decades, despite the prevailing “lost decades” narrative.
  • Areas where Japan has made particular progress include the female labour participation rate, which has increased by over 10 percentage points since 1987, and corporate governance, with companies now increasingly focused on shareholder returns (and less on “wining and dining”).
  • At the same time, the social fabric of the country has held together and Japanese people have been “graceful” despite periods of hardship.
  • Key challenges include the growing welfare problem as well as how to motivate and create more opportunities for Japanese youth who are extremely risk averse in nature.
  • He said there was no quick fix for the country’s finances and that the central bank would not resort to the underwriting of public debt to fund government spending. In his view, this would undermine the independence of the Bank of Japan and market confidence in monetary policy.

You can find the video coverage of the event below: