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Japan kicks off G-20 presidency with focus on aging population

  • January 17, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 4:17 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said Thursday the challenges posed by an aging population are among the key issues at this year’s meetings of the Group of 20 major economies.

 

G-20 finance deputies gathered in Tokyo for a two-day meeting that marks the start of Japan’s presidency, which will culminate in a leaders’ summit in Osaka in June.

 

At a symposium ahead of the meeting, Kuroda said ensuring economic growth and fiscal soundness in the face of a rapidly graying population is not just an issue for advanced economies.

 

“While some emerging economies in the G-20 are now seeing an increase in their young-age labor force, these countries will also face the aging problem sooner or later,” he said.

 

“I believe it is important for the G-20 members to learn from each other’s demographic conditions, institutional settings, and policy responses.”

 

Japan has the most aged population among the G-20 and is dealing with challenges including a labor force that is increasingly reliant on the elderly and swelling social security costs.

 

Other items on the agenda for Japan, which is hosting the G-20 for the first time since the forum’s creation in 1999, include global imbalances, a topic that U.S. President Donald Trump has focused on under his “America First” doctrine.

 

While Washington has raised tariffs in an attempt to shrink the large U.S. goods trade deficit, Japan hopes to push for a more holistic view that includes services trade and income from overseas investments.

 

In opening remarks at the deputies’ meeting, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said that international cooperation within forums like the G-20 has brought “peace and greater prosperity to the world” but warned that a shift toward protectionism could upend the status quo.

 

“There is a serious risk that we will revert to a closed and fragmented world. Protectionism and unfair trade practices lead to instability and perverse economic outcomes. We must renew our commitment to international cooperation and openness.”

 

At last year’s summit in Buenos Aires, G-20 leaders removed a pledge to “fight protectionism” featured in past communiques, underscoring the growing rift within the group.

 

Japan is also looking to accelerate debate on debt sustainability in low-income countries, with an eye on curbing what some consider excessive money lending by China, and on taxation of digital business activities by tech giants such as Google LLC.

 

The G-20 is composed of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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