Global Economics Monthly: Japan: Continuity and Change
March 26, 2013
I arrived in Tokyo for the first time thirty years ago this month, expecting to spend six months studying Japanese and seeing the world. Both Japan and I have changed in the three decades since. Yet whenever I visit Tokyo, it’s the continuity that strikes me most. For all the new buildings, fashions, and cell phones there is a comforting sameness about the Japan of 1983 and the Japan of 2013.
But this month there is a palpable sense of discontinuity in the air. With Prime Minister Abe’s firing of the third “arrow” of his economic strategy on March 15 by announcing his intention to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), major change may be coming to Japan. This will be uncomfortable for many Japanese
and there will likely be losers. But change is essential if Japan is to regain its economic strength and confidence to reinforce its leadership role in the world.