A handful of articles offering insights into how the world’s No. 3 economy keeps ticking along, and how it might be tweaked to work that bit better:
- Heizo Takenaka, a former government minister and an adviser to PM Suga, has a big idea: Japan needs a universal basic income. Only thing is, as Philip Brasor notes in Media Mix, Takenaka’s version of UBI looks a bit different from the industry standard, and some pundits are worried that it could widen inequality. Also, as Kyodo reports, the stability-loving Japanese public may need a lot of convincing about the merits of such a radical idea.
- In another Media Mix column, Brasor looks at the government’s perennial obsession with boosting home ownership, even in the middle of a pandemic. Where does this leave the humble renter — who is on average more vulnerable to the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis than the average homeowner? In the worst cases, potentially homeless.
- “U.S. President-elect Joe Biden can learn a lot from Japan,” argues Jesper Koll. “Japan is the global best-in-class for balancing both income growth and income distribution. The result is not just extraordinary socioeconomic stability, but also strong resilience against the temptations of divisive populism — a la Donald Trump.” Intrigued? Read on.
- “Over the coming decade, Japan will get economic tailwinds from a force never before experienced in economic history anywhere on this scale: The country’s gigantic stock of record household savings will become unstuck. Japan’s famous ¥1,800 trillion worth of ‘goldfish stuck in jelly’ will finally be freed.” But … how? Through “demographic destiny and death,” writes Koll.
- Zombie companies walk among us, writes Brad Glosserman. Like their namesakes, zombies feed off the living. They are companies that should close their doors but don’t, cannibalizing healthy businesses, depriving them of customers and income. And if there’s a ground zero for the zombie contagion, Japan might be it.