Japanese Economy after the Great Earthquake

Professor Motoshige Itoh

On August 29, JASH, along with East-West Center and Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, cosponsored a luncheon presentation at the Pacific Club by Professor Motoshige Itoh. Professor Itoh is the current President of the National Institute of Research Advancement, a Tokyo based Japanese think tank for economic research and policy recommendation; and former Dean of the Graduate School of Economics and Faculty of Economics at the University of Tokyo. He is also a well-known commentator for Japanese TV news and newspapers. Professor Itoh spoke on the topic of “Japanese Economy after the Great Earthquake,” making the following points: Post-earthquake there was a great demand for reconstruction. The recovery speed of production facilities was quicker than expected, as if people were working 24 hours a day. Electric shortages called for a reform in the supply system. Professor Itoh responded to a question about decentralizing the control of electricity away from Tokyo that they should shift the resources, responding that he is not entirely optimistic about this trend since the past 50 years has shown success in centralization.

Professor Itoh proposed reforms are needed for Japan’s future success such as increasing tax rates as Japan’s tax burdens are considerably less than that of Europe. He added that Japan’s social security and pension system will also need to be reformed, especially because Japan is an aging society with a lack of young workers. Professor Itoh summed up his presentation by declaring that the resilience and strength of Japan will persevere.

JASH would like to thank Professor Itoh for his presentation. We would also like to thank East-West Center for arranging this luncheon with Professor Itoh.