Editorial: With economy improving, need to address labor shortage

December 17 , 2017

The Japanese economy is in full recovery mode, and the numbers prove it. According to the Bank of Japan’s short-term economic survey (known as “tankan”) conducted every quarter, companies both large and smaller report business has been as good or better in at least a decade. And while this boom can be attributed to a strong global economy and resulting export surge to some degree, the economic policies adopted over the past five years by the coalition government in which the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito are partnered, have loomed large as well.

Several metrics point to the turnaround. Take GDP, for instance. It reached a record high of 5.43 trillion yen this year, up more than 500 billion yen since 2009, when the then-Democratic Party of Japan assumed power, and is projected to rise another 10 billion yen in 2018. The stock market has also remained bullish from 2012, when the current ruling coalition unseated the DPJ, with the market rising from the 8,000-yen mark to a figure approaching 23,000 yen. Meanwhile, wages—another ruling coalition priority—have increased over four successive years.

All this has helped fatten household pocketbooks in the process.

Granted, numerous challenges remain. One of the most pressing in this recovery cycle is the growing labor shortage. The coalition government is aiming to redress the situation by lowering taxes on corporate income for those firms that spend on capital investment or hiking worker wages. Another initiative is to incentivize companies to upgrade their IT systems by offering sizeable government assistance, thereby boosting overall productivity.