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Labor reform can be game changer for Japan’s economy: IMF chief

  • November 8, 2017
  • , Kyodo News , 7:43 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — The head of the International Monetary Fund said Wednesday that Japan’s efforts to promote labor reform can be a “game changer” for the economy and lift growth.


Speaking at a seminar in Tokyo, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said demographics and productivity pose major challenges for Asia, and that Japan’s commitment to boosting female labor participation is a good example of how these can be addressed.


“Japan has some of the world’s richest policy experiences, from being Asia’s original emerging market to being at the forefront of policy innovations, to managing demographics and improving productivity trends,” Lagarde said.


There is still “room” for expanding access to child care services, reducing long working hours and ensuring equal pay for equal work, the IMF chief said, adding such efforts can be “a game changer for the Japanese economy.”


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sought voter approval of his plan to increase spending on child care and education in the House of Representatives election last month.


Since taking office in 2012, Abe has been encouraging more participation by women in the workforce as Japan’s population is expected to age further.


In October, the IMF raised its global economic outlook for 2017 and 2018. It projects 3.6 percent growth this year and 3.7 percent next year.


“The situation is a lot better,” Lagarde said of the state of the world economy.


During a meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso, Lagarde said Japan’s economy is in very good shape after six straight quarters of growth, while touching on the need for more reform, according to a Japanese official.


The Washington-based body has been calling for Japan to proceed with structural reforms to attain longer-term growth.


Lagarde visited Japan for the 20th anniversary of the IMF’s regional office in Tokyo for Asia and the Pacific.

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