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Productivity — it’s the magic word. Japan’s future prosperity depends on it. Whether you are discussing the economy with global central bankers, corporate leaders, policy makers, or just debating with your friends, sooner or later everyone agrees that, yes, Japan must raise productivity. After all, in its simplest form, economic growth is derived from the combination of growth in the population and growth in productivity. So in Japan, since the population is going down, all the hard lifting will have to come from productivity.

The good news is that Japan is about to have a big productivity boost. Why? Because after years of under-investment, Japanese companies are finally beginning to make the necessary investment in both human and physical capital. And yes, you need to spend on both humans and machines to get truly sustainable productivity growth. Smarter machines need smarter operators.

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