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Country Forecast Japan March 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Japan March 2018 Updater

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5370238

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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to secure a third term as president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 2018, following the party's strong performance at elections for the House of Representatives (the lower house of parliament) in October 2017. We also expect the LDP-Komeito governing coalition to serve a full term, which expires in 2021, and to remain dominant in that year and beyond 2022.
  • The threat emanating from North Korea will encourage security co-operation between Japan and South Korea, but this is unlikely to lead to a broader improvement in diplomatic relations between the two countries. A key contention is the issue of so-called comfort women (who were mostly from South Korea and forced to act as sex slaves to the Japanese military during the second world war).
  • The government will continue to pursue the broad thrust of its economic revival agenda in 2018-22. This will enable Japan to extend its span of economic growth, which by 2020 will have recorded its longest phase of expansion since the 1980s.
  • Structural reforms will prove increasingly vital in the light of the limits of stimulatory fiscal and monetary policy. We expect the government to succeed in implementing reforms in some areas, such as the electricity sector and corporate governance, but these will do little to boost GDP growth over the medium term.
  • We do not expect the Bank of Japan (BOJ, the central bank) to achieve its 2% core inflation target in 2018-22. However, amid a sustained pick-up in economic activity and concerns over dwindling liquidity in the bond market, we believe that the BOJ will move towards tapering its quantitative easing programme from 2019, and to "normalise" its policy settings thereafter. The policy interest rate will, nevertheless, remain at -0.1% until 2020, before the central bank guides it to around 0% in 2021-22.
  • We forecast that real GDP will expand by an annual average of 1.1% in 2018-22, down from 1.3% in 2013-17. Demographic factors will act as a key impediment to a more rapid rate of economic expansion.
  • Japan will post a current-account surplus equivalent to 4.6% of GDP on average in 2018-22. The primary income account will continue to record surpluses over the forecast period.






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