Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking at a Reuters Newsmaker event, says Japan's demographics incentivize the country to boost productivity. Fred Katayama reports.
Japan's known for its rapidly aging and shrinking population, but prime minister Shinzo Abe said the demographics are a bonus, not an onus. Speaking at Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, Abe said he's not worried even though Japan's working population had lost 3 million people in the last three years. SOUNDBITE: SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Japan may be aging. Japan may be losing its population. but these are incentives for us. Why? Because we will continue to be motivated to grow our productivity." (09":32:23) He said Japan would do that by investing in digital technology, robots and artificial intelligence, among other things. Columbia Business School professor emeritus Hugh Patrick welcomed the optimistic tone. SOUNDBITE: HUGH PATRICK, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL (ENGLISH) SAYING: "He was really bullish on the future of Japan which I think that kind of statement is really necessary because too many Japanese and too many foreigners who look at Japan have been rather pessimistic about the future." Abe also welcomed the Bank of Japan's policy shift announced Wednesday aimed at fighting deflation and encouraging bank lending. The central bank said it would now target interest rates on long-term government bonds instead of just buying bonds.