Thirty years ago yesterday one of the world’s most powerful economies hit its highest point before a collapse which led to decades of deflation, stagnation and lost asset values which have yet to be recovered. Yet that country, Japan, remains the world’s third-largest economy and its ability to produce slower, but reliable, growth may hold lessons for Ireland.
Japan is currently under the direction of its longest-serving prime minister, a record which is unlikely to be surpassed by Leo Varadkar.
It has more jobs than it is able to fill with suitable candidates, and tourism is now a primary industry with further acceleration added by an outstandingly successful Rugby World Cup and the forthcoming Olympics in 2020.
The nation’s issues include structural reform of the workforce; infrastructure improvements (although Ireland could learn a trick or three from them in respect of transport) and the significant consequences of a rapidly ageing population.
Ireland needs to grow consistently in economic power to meet demographic changes. How this is addressed in the election campaign next year should be of key interest to voters.