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japan sunrise Richard Atrero de Guzman/NURPhoto

Is Japan’s Sun Rising?

At a time of rising populism and authoritarianism around the world, Japan stands out as a relative island of social and economic stability. And though it owes its current situation to unique economic and geopolitical circumstances, it might still have something to teach other developed countries.

TOKYO – When I participated in the Chatham House/Daiwa Research Institute conference on the post-Brexit Japan-UK relationship in Tokyo last month, it was my first visit back to Japan since my departure from Goldman Sachs almost six years ago. Prior to this trip, I had been visiting the country regularly since 1988, so it was helpful to see things from a slightly more detached perspective.

By and large, Japan in 2019 feels relatively stable when compared to other advanced economies. A decade from now, I would not be surprised if it continues to show the highest real (inflation-adjusted) per capita GDP growth rate in the G7.

True, Japan’s annual GDP growth has averaged just 1.1% so far this decade; but its declining population and shrinking workforce is already translating into stronger per capita performance. In fact, given the country’s demographic challenges, it might well be outperforming its long-term growth potential.

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