Exports build strong economy

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While the country’s strength in cars and electronics is well known, its dominance in fishing, accounting for 15 percent of the global catch, is not. The country however must import at least half of its food needs and most of the natural resources needed to drive its industry.

Key features of the economy are the cooperation between manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and banks which form close-knit groups called keiretsu, and strong trade unions leading to highly unionized factories.

While economic growth in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s has been considered “spectacular” – 10 percent per annum at its peak – it has slowed in the last two decades, so much so that Minister of State for Economics and Fiscal Policy Ota Hiroko declared that Japan’s economy can no longer be considered first class. 

The gloom continues with analysts saying that growth has come to a stop, as business confidence falls over slower demand from the US – Japan’s largest export partner – due to that country’s own economic problems.