社説:2012激動の年 財政再建で成長支えよ


(Mainichi Japan) January 4, 2012
Editorial: Financial world faces a year of tests in 2012
社説:2012激動の年 財政再建で成長支えよ

On Jan. 1, 2002, Europe was in a festive mood.

The year marked the first time for 300 million people in countries which had in the past fought terrible wars against each other to have the same currency -- the euro.

Who would have thought that the new currency people welcomed as a symbol of unity, stability and prosperity would 10 years later become a source of opposition, insecurity and turmoil?

The euro now stands in a precarious position.

Will trust in the currency be revived, or will the euro fail and fall?

This year is an extremely important one for financial markets, with the fate of the euro likely to be the biggest influencing factor in the financial world in 2012.


Several tests lie ahead.

Italy, which holds the key to the euro's fate, will have to borrow about 440 billion euros (about 45 trillion yen) from financial markets this year through government bond issues.

But with interest rates remaining high, just how much will the Italian government be able to raise by itself?

As things stand, a series of balancing acts await the country.

Italy's economy is the third biggest in the Eurozone after the economies of Germany and France, but if Italy seeks financial assistance like Greece and Portugal have done, European countries won't be able to handle the bailout plans they have already agreed upon.

Before reaching such a stage, members of the Eurozone must hammer out drastic measures and restore trust in the euro; otherwise the previously unimaginable prospect of the euro's demise could edge closer to reality.




In Japan, meanwhile, the basic prescription for reforming the nation's finances and social security system in an integrated manner has already been prepared. The differences between the ruling party and the largest opposition party are not that great. What remains to be done is to make decisions, steadily implement those decisions, and send a message to financial markets that Japan has finally put its back into resolving difficult economic issues.

It is often said that growth strategies should take precedence over revitalizing finances through tax increases.

But the idea that categorizing certain industries as growth industries and allocating more funds to them will boost Japan's growth potential is mere wishful thinking.

Looking to the government for insight into identifying what constitutes a growth industry, and furnishing such industries with large helpings of financial assistance are now outdated concepts.

What we need the government to do now is to remove as many obstacles to financial growth as possible while individuals and companies display their potential.

Ultimately, financial collapse must be avoided.

But if government bond prices plunge, resulting in a surge in interest rates and steep inflation, then there will be no prospects for economic growth.


To boost growth, companies and individuals need to adapt their way of thinking.

More effort needs to be put into marketing products that have not been sold outside Japan and services that have targeted only specific customers, so that new markets can be opened.

Japan has been outranked by China in terms of gross domestic product, and now stands as the world's third largest economy. People may lament the nation's decline, but third place is still an important position.

We must not undervalue the high-quality goods and services that have received a seal of approval in Japan's massive market.

When we think of Japanese exports, vehicles and electronics are usually the first things that come to mind, but there are many other things that Japanese take for granted which remain unknown in other countries.

Take food products, for example. Obesity is a serious problem in the United States and other developed countries.

Surely there is room to introduce or expand the range of processed Japanese food products and bento boxes -- which are not only well presented but also low in calories -- in those countries.

In addition to food, Japan can offer music, video games, movies and other forms of entertainment, as well as delivery services, and items such as fashion and beauty products.
The industries with growth potential in Asia are not necessarily limited to manufacturing.

However, our preconceived ideas are putting a ceiling on growth.

Last year, Japanese companies' purchases of foreign firms reached an all-time high.

This is the flipside of the strong yen that carries a predominantly negative image in Japan.

Recently small- and medium-sized companies are also said to be boosting overseas purchases.

For those companies, this helps offset declining proceeds from the domestic market, but the benefits do not stop at boosted profits.

By participating in other markets, companies can gain knowledge of new products and management methods, and get new ideas.

This, in turn, stimulates the domestic market.

For the possibilities to materialize, there must be a stable economic and social foundation free of chaos.

Providing such conditions is the greatest role of the political world, and this will be a year in which the political world will face its greatest tests.

毎日新聞 2012年1月4日 0時01分

by kiyoshimat | 2012-01-06 06:50 | 英字新聞

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