With uncertainty hanging over prospects for the U.S. economy, Japan, despite recent signs of bottoming out, may face difficulties achieving a full-scale recovery, according to a business school dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Japan has traditionally recovered by strong exports-led growth. It’s not clear whether global demand drives that now,” Richard Schmalensee, dean of MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said recently in an interview with The Japan Times.

A sluggish U.S. economy would slow growth in the rest of the world, including Europe and Japan, Schmalensee said. The professor of management and economics was visiting Tokyo last week as part of an Asian tour.

Showing a strong rebound between January and March, the United States appeared to be on track for a quick recovery from the recession brought on by a slump in the information technology business and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But concerns over the U.S. economy are now intensifying, with some of the recent indicators showing lower consumer spending and American high-tech firms revising downward their earnings forecasts, putting U.S. stock markets on a bearish trend.

The Japanese government declared in May that the nation’s economy has bottomed out, citing improvements in some economic indicators such as exports and industrial outputs. But Schmalensee has doubts about sustainability.

“The question is: ‘Will there be strong recovery?’ ” he said, pointing to weak domestic consumer spending as one cause for pessimism.

Schmalensee also said he has not seen any fundamental changes in Japan that could pull the nation out of its decade-long economic slump.

Rapid growth of the IT and biotechnology sectors in the U.S., which helped that nation make a strong comeback in the 1990s from the doldrums of the previous decade, was mainly led by entrepreneurs, he said.

While Japanese companies and government are promoting incubation of new businesses as part of their attempt to revitalize the economy, it seems the effort has borne little fruit.

Schmalensee said the secret to nurturing entrepreneurship lies deep in the soil.

Although business schools like MIT Sloan can help people develop their talents and can provide expertise to startup businesses, what makes them want to become entrepreneurs is “in cultures and institutions,” he said.

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