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Shinzo Abe - Prime Minister

Rebooting Japan

Japan alone has wrestled over the years with the bane of deflation. Deflation robs people of their expectations, turning optimists into pessimists. As I again stand at Japan’s helm, I am driven by a sense of urgency to remedy this scourge of deflation immediately.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan

One way forward will be to take advantage of our resources, which, while incredibly rich, are still largely untapped.

One long-neglected resource is our human resources, particularly women and middle-aged and elderly workers.

Other still-untapped resources are the methane hydrates and rare earths found in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is fourth in the world in terms of volume. While we are not yet at the stage of commercial viability in extracting these resources, we are perhaps only a step or two away from a breakthrough that would completely redefine Japan’s self-sufficiency ratio.

Japan’s holdings of rare earth resources may well be the equivalent of 220 years of our domestic consumption, for instance.

As Japan transitions to a stronger and more vibrant future that makes use of these and other resources, it is clear that our future lies in opening up Japan further. My push to join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is just one way in which we are pursuing a future that is more open to the world.

Japan has also bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

I am convinced that the selection of Tokyo would move the world in a positive direction, for there can be no doubt that Japan will regain the optimism that astonished the world back in 1964 when the five Olympic rings first came to the nation’s capital.

Japan’s structural challenges include a decreasing birthrate, an aging population, and its cumulative national debt.

My administration is determined to resoundingly overcome these challenges through a single-minded pursuit of growth. We have already put forward a number of policy proposals that have been met with positive reactions from not only the markets and world leaders but also from average Japanese citizens and entrepreneurs.

Still more changes are in the works.

As a nation, we stand ready to make the difficult choices that will bring strength and optimism to our economy overall and revitalize the daily lives of the Japanese people. This is how we will “reboot” Japan.

Japan, a long-established democracy, has been working to make the world a better place.

To continue the path my country has taken, my administration will pursue ways to make Japan more robust and hand a strong and vibrant nation over to the optimistic Japanese of the next generation.

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Japan 2013 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

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