Japan recovery 'at least' three years off

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 March, 1999, 12:00am

Japanese economic recovery is at least three years away, according to a Western academic.

Pacific Basin Institute president Frank Gibney said yesterday economic reform would come only after political reform.

'There's not all that much wrong with the Japanese economy, as it has all the sinews and cogs of a good economy,' he told an Asia Society Hong Kong Centre lunch.

'What is needed is a political solution to a political problem.' Mr Gibney is a former vice-chairman of the Japan-US Friendship Commission and the author of numerous books on the Asia-Pacific.

He said Japan was now facing the reverse of its economic miracle.

He said that where there was once a young dynamic population, there was now an ageing society.

Where there was interactive government and business, there was now slow, crusty bureaucracy. Where there was forward-looking industry there was staid, old industry.

Mr Gibney said any signs of a recovery would be an illusion at least until the leadership - the Liberal Democrat Party led by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi - 'returned to the dark depths from whence it came'.

Japan was wallowing in a trough where consumers would not consume and the Japanese voter, having lived through prosperity, still believed the music would never end.

Mr Gibney said conglomerates were suffering from the high cost of doing business in Japan.


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