Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should adopt policies similar to those used by former U.K. leader Margaret Thatcher to bring the world's third-largest economy out of its "lost decades" funk, says Marubeni Corp. Chairman Teruo Asada.

From a recession in 1981, the United Kingdom went on to post its highest growth rates since World War II as the late prime minister opened up state-controlled industries to domestic and overseas investors and sold off such companies as British Gas and British Telecom. Today, four of the six major companies supplying gas and electricity in the U.K. are owned by overseas utilities.

Thatcher's decision to hand over water utility management to private companies alone improved the U.K.'s fiscal balance, Asada said in an interview in Tokyo. A move by the world's most indebted nation to get the government out of the water business could open Japan to more investment and competition, he said.