Assessing Abe’s Economic Agenda: Abenomics, TPP, and Domestic Politics

It is premature to evaluate the success of Abenomics and TPP, two signature items of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo during his first two years in office, but it is possible to offer an update on his struggle with domestic opponents to make possible a breakthrough on both of these objectives. Looking back on the elections at the end of 2014, we find evidence that he was striving to solidify support for these goals. One significant political gain from his victory in the snap election held in December, which secured his LDP-led coalition government another four years in office, is public support for the implementation of “Abenomics,” especially as a means of suppressing opposition by the most powerful bureaucratic organ, the Ministry of Finance (MOF), and the most influential pressure group, the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA Zenchu). Thought to have stemmed from support for the program’s combination of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reform—the three arrows, which for Abe constitute “the only way” to overcome deflation in the Japanese economy—, the election victory has reassured Abe, his administration, and economic policy advisers of both the progress of Abenomics and its positive impact on economic growth. In fact, since Abe came to power in 2012, Japanese stock prices have doubled in value, and the yen has dropped by approximately one-third against the dollar—from roughly JPY 80 to JPY 120—, a two-pronged improvement that was expected to revitalize export industries.

The Abe government regards the TPP agreement as an important instrument to capture the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region in order to put Japan’s economy on track. As a 21st century type of economic cooperation, encompassing not only traditional market liberalization, but also various economic rules on investment and services, intellectual property rights, labor, the environment, and investor-and-state dispute settlement, TPP is regarded as a keystone for Abenomics and its trade strategy, which is urgently needed for the third arrow of Abenomics, which many experts have criticized as inactive. In fact, the attitude of protecting the sacred five sensitive agricultural products in the TPP negotiations, a position heavily influenced by JA Zenchu, is incompatible with a growth strategy, which requires reinforcement of agricultural competitiveness.

This article aims to demonstrate how Abe and his administration have promoted two major national and international economic policies—Abenomics and TPP involvement—, by delineating how they have sought to overcome resistance from the MOF and JA Zenchu, respectively. Abe’s decision to call for a snap election in the Lower House became pivotal in gaining public support for constraining the mounting influence of the tax-increase faction, represented by the MOF, and for depriving JA Zenchu of its political power. The article examines why both agendas have become significant from an international perspective, chiefly in the face of China’s regional engagement that could potentially diminish Japan’s sphere of influence. It demonstrates the inextricability of international affairs from domestic politics, a combination essential for grasping the “Abe effect” in foreign policy.

Abenomics and Its Opposition

A grave setback for the expected effects of Abenomics on Japanese economic growth has been identified in Japan’s decreased GDP in the second and third quarters of 2014, chiefly due to the consumption tax hike from 5 percent to 8 percent in April 2 following a bill enacted by the previous DPJ-led government. This negative figure led Abe to delay the second consumption tax hike slated for October 2015 in order to avoid further aggravating the recession. Since the MOF is primarily concerned with reducing the budget deficit, it persistently pursues raising this tax, partly to redress Japan’s government liabilities of more than 200 percent of GDP, higher than those of any other developed economy. Likewise, when the MOF learned that Abe might postpone the tax hike, senior officials began to enthusiastically lobby LDP politicians to support the tax increase as originally planned. What mattered in this situation was that their lobbying, cited by Japanese media as seeking to curb Abenomics,1 was so powerful that Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide, who were concerned that the second-stage hike would offset the effects of Abenomics, became cautious about the growing influence of the tax-increase faction. Abe paid renewed attention to the opinions of his key policy advisers on monetary policy, including Honda Etsuro, Takahashi Yoichi and Hamada Koichi, all of whom had been opposed to the consumption tax hike from 5-8 percent or had suggested a modest increase by 1 percent a year. Honda and Takahashi were former senior officials of MOF but never in the policy mainstream or on the path to top positions, and Hamada, economics professor at Yale, disagreed with MOF’s assertion on the total amount of national debt and instead claimed the value of assets owned by the government should be subtracted by supporting the IMF, which evaluated Japan’s net public debt in 2013 as a much lower 134 percent of GDP.2

The situation thus became a significant factor in Abe’s decision to dissolve the Lower House in order to constrain the MOF and LDP politicians convinced by it of the need for planned tax increases. Public approval of any political agenda, even if its implementation has seemed difficult, via elections has often been the last resort of Japanese prime ministers, notably exemplified by Koizumi Junichiro’s postal service privatization agenda in 2005. Winning in December deepened Abe’s political influence—his party has no rival capable of challenging its leadership—and ensured his administration a longer term, possibly until 2018. Though some criticized his decision to hold a snap election as unnecessary and unjustifiable, it was decisive in halting the looming tax hike promoted by the MOF.

After the election, the Abe administration announced a tax rate cut on corporate income by 3.29 percent for the next two years, encouraging companies to raise wages and increase domestic investment at the expense of roughly JPY 400 billion in state revenue. The decision, which faced strong opposition from the MOF and the LDP’s Tax Affairs Council, represented another effect of the election victory and a sign of the resultant smoother implementation of Abenomics, given that the cut was larger than initially proposed. The LDP’s Tax Affairs Council had long dominated decision making regarding Japan’s tax policy, and Chairman and former MFO Senior Official, Noda Takeshi, criticized Abe’s snap election as unjustifiable, indicating his fear that Abe’s election strategy would weaken the Tax Affairs Council’s influence. After the election, Noda’s claim that alternative revenue sources for the corporate tax rate cut were necessary was also dismissed. In fact, Abe and Suga, who considered the corporate tax cut necessary to encourage corporate investment and R&D, as well as to attract foreign investment, were so adamant that they even threatened to withdraw party endorsement for Noda in his constituency—endorsement vital for any party politician to win elections3—as a means of eliminating a major impediment to the realization of the corporate tax cut and, in turn, Abenomics.

Exports, Abenomics, and TPP

Abenomics is based on the trickle-down effect, which maintains that wealth distribution proceeds from bigger exporting companies to smaller local ones. Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda Haruhiko thought it significant for companies that profit by exports to use such profits for capital investment or to expand employment opportunities instead of shoring up internal reserves4. Since the total of their retained earnings exceeded JPY 3 trillion (USD 2.6 trillion), Kuroda believed that large-scale exporting companies most benefitted from the yen’s sharp depreciation, which was accelerated by Abenomics’ monetary easing scheme and was enacted as a means to raise workers’ wages in order to reflate Japan’s economy.

Yet, as Abe admitted during the election campaign, Abenomics had contributed little to less export-oriented and smaller and medium-sized enterprises, while real wages continued to decrease for 17 months on end. Opposition parties criticized Abenomics in that the weaker yen, which has spurred inflation due partly to the more costly energy and fuel imports swollen following the 2012 Fukushima disaster, would never contribute to an increase in real wages5. Abe, however, repeatedly claimed that the weaker yen contributed to the Japanese economy as a whole and that Japan should not wish to return to the high yen era of the previous DPJ-led government, during which the yen appreciated to as high as 75 against the dollar, which made it difficult for exporting companies to win price-competitions in overseas markets. In this sense, yen depreciation is clearly one of Abenomics’ fundamental principles, and, importantly, the negative effect of it has been offset by the recent plunge in oil prices, which have fallen more than 50 percent over the last half year. This move should be welcome by Abe as the rapidly declining oil price has subdued the inflation rate, causing real wages to rise, at least eventually.

Yet Abe and his economic advisors’ miscalculation of the effect of Abenomics, as Kuroda has explained, is that the weak yen does not considerably impact export volume. This situation is attributed to many Japanese companies’ development of a cross-border division of labor system, a move that began in the early 2000s when the yen became stronger and that was accelerated by the negative impact on the world economy by the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. According to a survey conducted by the Cabinet Office, the proportion of Japanese manufacturing firms that shifted part of their production bases overseas doubled due to the stronger yen in the 1990s. Yet, though the figure exceeded 60 percent in the 2000s, the rate has remained more or less unchanged since.

While the yen continued to decrease thanks to Abenomics, Japanese companies that shifted their production facilities abroad were not expected to increase exports so easily, for they would need to adjust the volume of overseas production in response to increased domestic production. These companies tended to formulate optimal production strategies in terms of location and quantity in light of careful calculations by, for instance, the availability of efficient transportation and lower wages. In this sense, the yen’s depreciation alone was not powerful enough to change production structures.

Unless the weaker yen contributed to the economic recovery through an increase in exports, the cost of imported products, would become higher, worsening corporate and consumer confidence and contradicting the objective of overcoming deflation, the most significant aim of Abenomics. In order to contribute to the economic recovery by capitalizing on the advantageous business environment caused by the weaker yen, the growth strategy, the third arrow of Abenomics, should play a key role by maximizing the private sector’s opportunity for growth. For instance, even companies, which have a well-developed overseas division of labor, can be expected to increase domestic investments if deregulation measures, such as a lower corporate tax rate or creation of a special economic zone, were introduced to make the domestic market cost-effective. This approach would encourage foreign companies to expand their business in Japan. The trickle-down effect can become attainable only when these deregulatory means are established and large-scale companies with enlarged export-led profits encouraged by the weaker yen increased domestic investment. In fact, Toyota expected to see its profits lifted by JPY 40 billion from each one yen weakening against the dollar. In contrast, electronics manufacturers, which no longer export their products from Japan, have few benefits form the weaker yen, e.g.,, the operating profits of Sony would be reduced by JPY 3 billion for each one yen drop against the dollar.

Yet, the year 2015 may witness the tide running in favor of Abenomics, as some electronics companies have announced their decisions to relocate the facilities of some reimported products to Japan. For instance, Panasonic will be shifting the production base of vertical washing machines, household microwaves, and home air-conditioners, all of which are currently produced in China, to factories in Shizuoka, Kobe, and Shiga, respectively. This move was imitated by Sharp, Panasonic’s rival, which announced its decision to relocate liquid crystal television (LCD TV) production from China and Malaysia to factories in Tochigi, as well as refrigerators made in China to Osaka. Executives of both large manufacturing companies stressed yen depreciation, as well as soaring labor costs in these Asian countries,6 as the chief factors behind their decisions, which represent Abenomics’ first arrow and signify the un-hollowing out of Japanese electrical industries.

The third arrow of a new growth strategy should be implemented given the decreasing Japanese population and the need for private companies to continue to enhance their productivity with a view to sustaining Japan’s economic growth. From this perspective, one lingering issue for Abenomics’ growth strategy comes in the form of deregulation bent on spurring companies to invest their massive cash stockpiles into more productive, profitable activities. Yet, regarding what Abe has called “hard-rock regulations,” vested interest groups remain too stubborn to change. One of the TPP’s significant functions is to gather collective pressure from likeminded states to create new, enforceable rules concerning fair competition. They would support Abe’s execution of regulatory reforms, especially concerning the most formidable resistance in the farming sector, JA Zenchu, which represents 47 prefectural-level agricultural cooperatives and maintains a gigantic insurance company and the second largest bank in Japan.

Agricultural Reform and TPP

The effectiveness of JA Zenchu as a pressure group in elections has been proven time and again. One reason farmers are considered to be powerful despite the agricultural sector accounting for little more than 1 percent of Japan’s GDP is that farmers are key in rural constituencies in terms of money, votes, and personnel (volunteers for election offices). The value becomes amplified since smaller constituencies in rural areas hold larger population of farmers than urban constituencies, meaning farmers can enjoy more relative voting power, which can be enough to make candidates lose, rather than win, the election. Therefore, the issue of trade and investment liberalization tends to draw less attention. In fact, the trade issues involving TPP did not take center stage in the Lower House election campaigns in December. The LDP touched upon TPP in its manifesto by stating merely that “the party will seek the best way which meets the national interests, based on the resolutions made by the party and the Diet,”7 while the DPJ, which initially sought to join the TPP negotiations when in power in 2010–2012, retreated from promoting a liberal trade policy in order to pull agricultural votes, claiming that Japan should be prepared to withdraw from TPP if national interests were threatened8. As a result, suspicions concerning Japan’s commitment to the successful conclusion of TPP negotiations, which should have been pivotal in the growth strategy of Abenomics, have emerged both inside and outside Japan.

In fact, stalled bilateral negotiations on market access between Japan and the United States have been the most serious hurdle for concluding TPP. If this trend continued, Japan’s strong resistance to tariff reductions or elimination in the five “sanctuary” agricultural products, including rice and raw sugar, as well as America’s resistance to proposals for the liberalization of the automobile sector, could lead to the eventual failure of the negotiations. In effect, the other participating countries have been in a wait-and-see situation due to these prolonged market access negotiations between Japan and the United States after the TPP members had come to agreement over the use of the uniformed tariff ratios approach if some sensitive products were allowed to maintain tariffs. This means the lowered tariff ratios the United States would obtain as a result of its market access negotiations with Japan would be eventually applied to the other members, allowing the United States to act as a proxy negotiator against Japan on behalf of the rest of the members.

Abe expressed his determination to carry out structural reform in his keynote speech at the Davos Forum in January 2014, mentioning “no vested interests will remain immune from my drill,”9 which was believed to target JA Zenchu. If Abe’s commitment to agricultural reforms materialized, this could give Japan an advantage in negotiations with amplified room to accept demands on agricultural concessions from its counterparts, which could then compel the other countries to comply with Japanese requests through the form of “give-and-take” rules of trade negotiations. In fact, Japan’s resistance against radical tariff reductions on some agricultural products, such as sugar, contributed to the Australia-Japan FTA shelving the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, which all other 13 Japanese bilateral FTAs, except for ones with the Philippines and thus ASEAN, included. ISDS is considered to be a useful mechanism for Japanese companies in negotiating with investing countries over the conditions, although the actual use is supposed to do the harm to the relations with the countries.10 This is in sharp contrast to the case of Australia’s FTA with Korea, for which Korea promised to eliminate tariffs on many agricultural products which Australia demanded, instrumental in allowing Korea to incorporate the ISDS clause into the FTA with Australia11.

Abe’s first challenge to JA Zenchu reform emerged as the abolishment of gentan, curtailing rice production through a reduction in the acreage of rice paddies in exchange for subsidy payments, which have functioned for more than 40 years to maintain a higher price of rice through limiting the crop. Gentan sacrifices consumers’ interests, while stabilizing rice farmers’ income, especially for small-scale, part-time farmers, who usually work in factories, retail shops, or local governments during the regular workweek. This means that the portion contributed by agriculture in their total income is rather small, and that agricultural liberalization, especially in rice, would not deprive them of a primary source of income. In fact, their annual income is slightly, but consistently, higher than that of average non-agricultural workers. Gentan can thus be regarded as a political tool for politicians to stably receive votes and funds from those part-time farmers at a time of local and national elections. The abolishment of gentan, which will be completed by 2018, would deprive JA Zenchu of massive political influence as it would lead to increased production costs of rice, causing small-scale and part-time rice farmers to discontinue farming, and, JA Zenchu, as a result, would lose not only part of its membership but also of its funding.

Abe’s next target for agricultural reform was JA Zenchu itself. In May 2014, the Agriculture Working Group of the Regulatory Reform Council, established as an advisory body for the prime minister, published its controversial review of agricultural reform, which included the abolishment of JA Zenchu. Although this proposal invited massive criticism from JA Zenchu, the Abe administration finally decided to deprive JA Zenchu of its legal authority to control and manage local agricultural organizations, meaning it could exist only as an unincorporated association. On January 6, 2015, while mentioning the abolishment of JA Zenchu in three years at a press conference, Agricultural Minister Noshikawa Koya went so far as to say that as a way of doing so, it is up to JA Zenchu to decide whether it will become a general incorporated association or merge with a similar organization. This is an unusually unsympathetic statement from a boss of the norin-zoku (agricultural tribes), a group of politicians who defend the interests of agriculture to attain votes from farmers. JA Zenchu, the organization at the apex of the agricultural cooperative hierarchy, would lose its power, thereby allowing individual member farmers and local agricultural cooperatives to compete in autonomously determining the price of their products, the choice or creation of distribution channels, and the purchases of farming implements and chemicals. Such a reform would also benefit consumers, who would be able to purchase agricultural products at lower market prices. Furthermore, Abe’s commitment to farm reform, which aims to make Japan’s agricultural sector internationally competitive, is necessary since Japan has been strongly pressured to lower, if not eventually eliminate, its long-term protection of crucial agricultural products such as beef, pork, and rice, not only in TPP but also in other regional integration frameworks.

Abe’s frequent references to radical change concerning JA Zenchu during the past year have seemed to indicate his intention to cease the organization’s function as a political pressure group. JA Zenchu has collected JPY 8 billion annually in burden charges from local agricultural cooperatives, which has been used as a primary source of funds to organize opposition campaigns against the TPP and corporate participation in farming industry. Since its potential status as a general incorporated association would bar it from legally gathering such funding, JA Zenchu’s function as a political pressure group would no longer be maintained, thereby eliminating a substantial degree of intervention by farmers into future Japanese trade negotiations.

JA Zenchu intensified its efforts to thwart the reform, viewing the snap election in December as a final chance to modify or even eliminate any measures to nullify its influence. The proposed dissolution of JA Zenchu by the Abe government initially was considered to be a five-year process, a period during which JA Zenchu could comfortably pursue self-reform. When JA Zenchu attempted to lobby vehemently against some LDP candidates during the election campaign in order to further support the protection of agriculture and oppose TPP negotiations, it was unfavorably received by Abe and his close aides, contributing to the term’s reduction.

Just as in the case of consumption and corporate taxes, as argued above, the snap election ultimately worked as a means by which Abe could display his commitment to farm reform, as he stressed in an interview with The Economist.12 In fact, Abe consistently maintains relatively high support; one of the latest polls by Nikkei, conducted soon after his win in the election, showed an approval rating of 51 percent,13 which is rather high, given that his decision to hold the election was poorly received by the public and recorded the lowest turnout in Japan’s postwar political history.

A concession Abe made for his agricultural reform is to grant an extension of time; both gentan and JA Zenchu would be abandoned in 2018, meaning that the reform effect would not be directly reflected in the TPP negotiations. Abe’s lukewarm commitment to farm reforms anticipates the continued existence of the major obstacle to Japan’s initiatives regional integration negotiations. The thorny process toward reform was already manifested in the result of the Saga prefectural governor election on January 11, 2015, where two candidates, supported by the LDP and the JA group, respectively, contested and the candidate supported by the JA group won. This is the LDP’s third loss on end in the prefectural governor elections after Shiga and Okinawa over the last year, partly indicating the lower assessment of Abenomics among local areas. Moreover, the defeat provided strong momentum to the agricultural protection faction even within the LDP, especially members within the House of Councillors whose election will be held next year, dealing a potential blow to farm reform by the Abe administration.

US-Japan Cooperation and TPP

While Abe has been endeavoring to make Japan’s economy, including the agricultural sector, more robust, the mutual concessions in negotiating TPP market access between Japan and the United States, the two largest economies in the TPP, have become vital to its conclusion. Japan is reported to be ready to make some concessions on the issues of pork and beef tariffs in response to US demands. What Japan, however, wants to gain from the United States in return for its tariff concessions is a safeguard clause which allows Japan to raise tariff rates on American beef and pork back to their original levels if imports of these excessively increased. The United States, especially the Republican-dominant Congress, is not comfortable with this Japanese request.

However, an FTA with Australia, which came into effect on January 15, 2015, ahead of any final agreement with the United States, might provide motivation to the United States to quickly compromise with Japan over its tariff reduction demands on beef and other agricultural products, thereby giving Japan an advantage in the negotiations. The United States has a 35 percent share of the Japanese beef market, while Australia maintains a 54 percent share. If only Australian beef enjoyed a lower tariff, a key benefit gained from the FTA with Japan, American beef would be at a disadvantage pricewise, and the difference in the Japanese market share would be even wider. Even if TPP negotiations were concluded quickly, it would take a long time for all countries involved to ratify the agreement and bring it into effect, so members of the American beef industry began to say “we’ll need to be prepared to be at a disadvantage for several years.” The question is whether this is politically acceptable in the United States.

Another concern in relation to the prospects of US-Japan cooperation is the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill in the United States. TPA, which delegates authority over trade negotiations entirely to the president, is necessary to ratify TPP in the US Congress in order to restrict disputes over the TPP, which all other TPP members, especially Japan, seek. Abe might face another problem when pushing Abenomics further, if the United States increases pressure to redress yen depreciation due to TPA. The American Automotive Trade Policy Council (AAPC) claims, for example, that the automobile is America’s largest export industry, and some in Congress now insist that the Obama administration should include a retaliation rule for currency manipulation in TPA. The value of the yen against the dollar, down to its lowest level in the last 40 years and expected to be further lowered after the US Federal Reserve scaled down the quantitative easing program, is arousing dissatisfaction in the US automobile industry, partially obstructing the completion of the US–Japan market access negotiations within the TPP.

China and a New Regional Economic Order

While the United States and Japan have struggled to find common ground in their TPP market access negotiations due to mutual domestic politics, China has actively promoted its regional integration strategy, finalizing FTA negotiations with both South Korea and Australia. China promised to eliminate tariffs for 85 percent of Australian goods and to raise the figure to 93% in four years and 95 percent upon its full implementation—a higher liberalization rate than 88 percent in the 10 years of Australia’s FTA with Japan, which came into effect at the beginning of 2015. The China–Australia FTA also includes liberalization of the service sector, which accounts for 72 percent of Australia’s GDP, thereby promoting Australian companies’ operations in finance, education, and healthcare services in China. Along with reducing the authorization period for renminbi transactions by Australian banks, the FTA also allows Australian companies to establish hospitals in China with 100 percent foreign ownership. China’s FTA with Australia has thus made China better prepared to participate in TPP negotiations in the near future.14

China’s remarks regarding the TPP over the past two years reveal considerable change, and its commitment to bilateral investment treaty talks with the United States and the establishment of the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone, together with FTA agreements with advanced economies such as Switzerland and Australia, suggest that China aspires to participate in developed country-type regional integration frameworks such as the TPP. Yet, China has also focused on APEC’s integration framework, the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), as a countermeasure to the TPP. In fact, references to the FTAAP have been consistently identified in official statements since APEC’s meeting in Hanoi in 2006, but any concrete roadmap was never presented. The APEC meeting in Beijing last November, however, witnessed the decision that a feasibility report on the FTAAP would be presented in 2016. Then-APEC chair China aimed to realize President Xi’s “dream” of using the FTAAP to be part of the grand design for Asia-Pacific integration, giving a cold shoulder to TPP, which the United States has attempted to promote as an economic pillar of its rebalancing strategy, targeting China. China’s recent ambivalence to TPP suggests the possibility of its future participation, a decisive move that would induce drastic change in the regional and international economic order, which can be alternatively approached through the formulation of a mechanism in which its dominance can be secured, such as the FTAAP plan. TPP would transform itself into a formidable trading bloc comprising the three largest economies in the world together, moving to establish new economic rules and norms. The Abenomics move, especially its third arrow, and Abe’s reform attitude are both urgently needed to accommodate Japan comfortably within such structural transformation in the regional economic order.


Abe has struggled to promote Abenomics and TPP negotiations by taking steps to suppress opposition to both crucial policy platforms in order to promote Japanese economic growth. The snap election in December played a prominent role in his attempt to outflank the opposition in both fields. A pivotal principle behind the reforms that Abe has pursued is providing manufacturers with more opportunities to freely and equally compete in markets, to which the weaker yen triggered by Abenomics’ first arrow of monetary easing scheme had been expected to contribute. Yet, while postponing the second consumption tax hike in 2014, Abe swore to fulfil it in 2017 in order to achieve an international pledge of turning the primary balance into a surplus by 2020. Given Japan’s primary deficit is assessed to be around JYP 11 trillion by 2020 with the implementation of the original tax hike plan, Abe definitely needs to commit Japan toward a high productivity growth strategy for this international pledge. A setback already loomed in his agricultural reform: the result of the Saga prefectural governor election partly reconfirmed JA Zenchu’s voting power in local areas, negatively affecting the intra-party deliberations on the agricultural reform bill given the nationwide local elections are approaching in April.

Amari Akira, state minister in charge of the TPP negotiations and one of Abe’s close political aids, declared that the result of Saga prefectural governor election will have no influence on the TPP negotiations. As long as Japan keeps excluding agricultural products from the TPP and other FTA negotiations, however, it fails to achieve important objectives Abe envisages, including reversing the waning regional influence of Japan while China has been assuming a more prominent role in forging the regional economic order. The US-Japan market-access negotiations will thus determine not only TPP’s potential as a dynamic economic rule-making architecture but also the degree of Abe administration’s commitment to making Japanese economy more robust and competitive.


1. Nikkei, December 17, 2014.

2. Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2014.

3. Nikkei, December 31, 2014.

4. Kuroda Haruhiko, speech delivered in a meeting with business leaders, November 25 2014, Nagoya.

5. Yomiuri Shimbun, November 20, 2014.

6. Asahi Shimbun, January 7, 2015.




10. A personal interview with a senior staff of a Japanese trading company, September 15, 2014, Tokyo.

11. A personal interview with a trade negotiator from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 15, 2014, Tokyo.

12. The Economist, December 5, 2014.

13. Nikkei, December 25, 2014.