Japan out of ‘crossroads’: Abe

Japan out of ‘crossroads’: Abe

NUSA DUA - Japan has emerged from the "crossroads" of economic stagnation, with deep reforms and a massive spending package expected to put it back on the growth track, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday.

Speaking to Asia's top corporate executives at a summit, Abe said that through his three-pronged strategy to revive the Japanese economy, he has succeeded in "breaking through the mentality of economic stagnation that had been permeating Japan".

The Japanese leader singled out his move to raise the consumption tax rate from 5.0 percent to 8.0 percent with effect from April 1 next year.

The increase is seen as crucial to shrinking the country's huge national debt and marks a major political gamble for Abe, with previous tax rises having led to the downfall of his predecessors.

Abe has also unveiled a 5.0 trillion yen (S$62 billion) spending package aimed at softening the blow from the tax increases.

"I now feel very intensely that we have emerged from this crossroads onto a path that runs straight out before us," he said in a speech to the CEO Summit, a meeting of big business held in parallel with the annual summit of Pacific Rim leaders on the Indonesian island of Bali.

"It is my belief that it is possible to revive the economy and restore the soundness of public finances in a compatible way," he said. "There is no other path forward."

Japan is wrestling with the developed world's heaviest debt burden, inflated by years of ineffective efforts to stimulate the economy through spending and soaring welfare costs in a rapidly-ageing society.

But Abe, after becoming prime minister in December 2012, has embarked on an audacious quest to haul out the economy from the doldrums though a strategy involving huge government spending, easier monetary policy and structural reforms dubbed by the media as "Abenomics".

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