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As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks for ways to reboot “Abenomics,” he could do worse than heed the advice of Kurt Kelty. Delivering a public speech on a recent Friday evening in Osaka, Tesla’s director of battery technology captured all that’s wrong with the Japanese economy. “We need to take risks, otherwise there will be no prosperity in business,” Kelty said in fluent Japanese. “We take risks, but it seems not the case in Japan.”

Japanese are often sensitive when outsiders criticize their country, but Kelty’s criticisms couldn’t be ignored. He’s a 15-year veteran of the revered energy solutions lab at Panasonic, one of Japan’s iconic electronic companies.

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