By Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to the authorities and the people of Japan for welcoming me during my visit over the last few days. I always enjoy coming back to Japan. I have had the honor of meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Finance Minister Jun Azumi and Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa, and other senior officials, as well as women leaders and university students.
In my meetings, we discussed the outlook for the global economy and the implications for Asia, and Japan, of the ongoing crisis. Lasting stability requires coordinated action to address public debt issues, repair the financial sector, and achieve inclusive growth that creates jobs.
We also discussed the Japanese economy, and in particular its remarkable resilience in the aftermath of the March 2011 Great East Japan earthquake. While the recovery is now well underway, Japan’s economy remains vulnerable to a range of risks related to high public debt, a rapidly aging population, and low growth.
I expressed strong support for the government’s plan to gradually raise the consumption tax, which was recently approved by the Lower House of the Diet. It is critical that it be implemented as planned, as it is an important step toward putting Japan’s public finances on a sounder footing. We agreed that this should be complemented by further structural reforms, supportive monetary policy, and fiscal consolidation, all of which can be key ingredients for growth.
I had a fascinating discussion with Japanese women leaders, including on how to increase the participation of women in the labor force in Japan, which has great potential to raise and maintain growth. I also met with some wonderful students at Keio University and talked about leadership and global citizenship in our increasingly interconnected world.
I visited the main venues for the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, which will be held in Tokyo in October this year. All 188 member countries of the IMF will come to Japan to discuss the global challenges facing us today and global solutions.
Again, it was my great pleasure to return to Japan and I would like to thank the Japanese people, as always, for their warm hospitality. I look forward very much to coming back for the Annual Meetings in October.