Wed, Dec 20, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Lack of structural reform hinders economic growth: Japanese expert

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Political turbulence and a lack of economic reform have slowed the growth of Taiwan's economy over the past five years, a Japanese economist said yesterday.

Invited by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Makoto Sakurai, an expert in international economics, gave a speech yesterday on the evolution of Japan's economy at a forum held by Taiwan Advocates.

Sakurai said that Japan's economic bubble collapsed in 1985 and that the resulting downturn lasted 15 years.

Although 10 Japanese prime ministers attempted to implement economic reforms after 1985, their efforts and the expenditure of large sums of money achieved little effect, largely because Japan's economic downturn was caused by fundamental flaws in the nation's political and economic systems, Sakurai said.

"The unstable political situation and failed policies accounted for Japan's economic problems. I think it is a mirror for Taiwan." Sakurai said. "Taiwan has had five premiers in the last six years and has not made much progress in economic policy. It is a pity for Taiwan."

Sakurai said that Japan's economy only began to recover after former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, who took office in 2001, initiated structural economic reforms.

"I think a country that did not undergo an economic crisis would not implement real reforms," he said, adding that there was little sense of economic crisis in Taiwan.

Sakurai also said that China's booming development was likely to lead to an economic bubble.

At the low point of Japan's downturn, the country's non-performing loan ratio reached about 8 percent, while China now has a ratio of about 13 percent to 30 percent, he said.

"Judging from Japan's experience, I think it is almost a mission impossible to rebuild China's economy in view of such a ratio," Sakurai said.

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