News from Japan

  1. The lessons of Japan’s lost decades

In Tokyo, shops have become fashionable. Where Chilean brands reigned and little more today, it is easy to find a wide variety of Californian, South African, Argentine, New Zealand wines but, above all, European wines. “People come in to buy a couple of bottles to take home and take it with cheese, they also import,” explains Shuichi Naruse, the director of the supermarket chain Meidi-Ya in the leading shop of the group, in the neighborhood of Hiroo. And, of course, now that the trade agreement between Japan and Europe has led to a drop in tariffs on these products, “people have been encouraged to consume,” Naruse admits, reviewing the state of the store before opening time. The Japanese Foreign Ministry has invited three European media outlets, including the country, to learn about the impact of the EU-Japan trade agreement on the economy.

  1. Japan raises VAT to pay for health and pensions by two points

Japan will apply a two percentage point increase in VAT from Tuesday to 10% to cover the growing indebtedness caused by the aging population affecting its public health and pension systems. This is the second increase in this indirect tax in recent years and has created confusion among the Japanese. The previous VAT increase was in 2014 when it went from 5% to 8%.

The Government of Shinzo Abe has adopted this new measure with the utmost caution after a postponement two times since its initial date scheduled (October 2015) for fear of shedding, even more, the ailing national economy and has developed a broad range of measures to mitigate the unwanted impact on the domestic consumption.

Prime Minister nipón stated that the objective is “to guarantee social security for all generations, from children to the elderly,” and pledged to increase benefits for low-income pensioners and to build more public day-care centers. Abe added that his government “will pay close attention” to the possible negative impact of economic growth on the economy and is prepared “under any scenario,” in statements to the NHK State chain.

  1. South Korea and Japan shake up the board Asian

Japanese beer in Seoul is scarce these days. Few Korean tourists travel to Tokyo. Exports fall on both sides. South Korea has removed Japan from its white list of preferred trading partners, as the neighboring country did two months ago. The dispute over historical roots and modern reasons that these two allies drag has left bilateral relations at their lowest point in decades. But it shows no signs of falling and threatens to leave global economic and security consequences.

The relationship between the two partners has never been comfortable. Stand that territorial disputes and, since the times of the colonization, the Japanese (1910-1945), the wounds of the war. In general, these problems tend to be experienced with higher intensity when South Korea has ruled nationalist or progressive presidents, and with less tension when conservative leaders have ruled.

  1. Preliminary talks with the United Kingdom on Brexit

The concern about the effects of the UK’s departure from the European Union is also in Japan. So much so that the Tokyo government has already opened preliminary talks -legally London cannot start any trade negotiations until the Brexit materializes – with the British authorities, “even at a technical level,” admit government sources, for a future trade agreement between the two countries. “We cannot prejudge the future of the negotiations, but there is no doubt that the basis for such negotiations will be the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Japan,” these same sources underline. So it can happen in the face of increasing uncertainty, companies like Toyota, Nissan or Honda have already started to move most of its assembly lines outside the Uk, as well as companies engaged in the field of industrial machinery.