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Japan is the world’s fourth largest economy. The country has one of the largest financial systems in the world. The country experienced remarkable growth after WW2, which ended with the bursting of the asset price bubble in the early 1990s. It was followed by a period known as the ‘lost decade’. Real economic growth dropped and inflation started to inch down, turning negative in the latter half of the 1990s. Fiscal stimulus and loose monetary policy were not successful in reviving the economy, but resulted in huge government debt.

The election of Shinzo Abe in 2012 has led to a reinforcement of loose monetary and fiscal policy to reinvigorate the economy. The so-called Abenomics strategy was built around three arrows: fiscal stimulus, a very loose monetary stance and structural reforms.

Progress on structural reforms needs to be further intensified to raise the economy’s potential growth and tackle significant demographic challenges. Progress has been made, for example, in increasing women’s participation in the workforce. However, one of Japan’s most serious structural problems is the rapidly ageing population. According to official projections, the Japanese population could shrink by over 25% in the next 40 years. This would have a significantly negative impact: in addition to negative effects on productivity and potential growth, for example a rise in the dependency ratio will reduce the tax base and limit the reduction of the primary deficit.