This time of year always reminds me of my childhood trips to Foyles, where my mum would take us at the start of the Christmas holidays, where we could choose a few books to occupy us over the Christmas period. I loved these yearly trip, as at an early age I had a deep love of books, that would allow me to escape into different worlds.
Foyles those days had a long narrow winding staircase, where everyone would somehow superbly navigate themselves up and down, without colliding into each other. The book shelves used to be stacked and packed, where I would choose my Nancy Drew or something from the Hardy Boys – yes it was that long ago!
So, it was almost ‘back to the future’ moment when last month I helped organise the book launch for a Japanese business title that I was working on – who would have guessed that that that little girl, would one day be helping to host an author from Japan at Foyles?! Time is indeed a wondrous thing.
Takeo Harada, former Japanese diplomat and now CEO of the Institute of International Strategy and Information Analysis, a leading think tank is the author of Pax Japonica – a book that is indeed ahead of its time.
As earlier this December, Brussels and Tokyo created the biggest open economic area in the world; just as the US is walking away from multilateral trade regimes. The agreement comes as Japan exhibits 2.5% growth, the strongest in a generation. The agreement removes tariffs for Japanese cars and spare parts, while Japan opens up its public tenders to European contractors and its supermarkets to European cheese, wine, beef and pork with guaranteed names of origin.
This global headline reinforces the premise of Pax Japonica – Japan, the world’s third largest economy and largest creditor nation, has been in crisis for more than two decades. Its economy has been depressed or in recession for much of that period, its banking sector in a critical state and its public sector burdened by recurring fiscal deficits and mounting debt. Yet, Harada argues in his book that a possible future ’Pax Japonica’ – one in which Japan will overcome its paralyzing debt and once again play a leading role in global finance – can become a reality and is now unfolding.
Harada says, till now, the hegemonic role in global trade and financial markets has been assumed by the USA and China, but this is now changing; and that Japan’s role in the global economy can never be under-estimated.
To understand what is happening in geo-politics with particular reference to Japan, this book is a must read. It is published by LID Publishing.