Japan, U.K. Economy Experts Discuss Reform of Capitalism

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Speakers discuss economic challenges for Japan and the United Kingdom at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, on Saturday.

LONDON — Prominent economists and business experts from Japan, the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe discussed the Kishida administration’s ambition to reform capitalism during the forum at the University of Oxford on Feb. 17-18.

Prof. Hugh Whittaker, director of the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies at the university in Oxford, England, who organized the conference, sounded an alarm over Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s plans to promote the doubling of people’s investment income.

He called it “a significant shift” from Kishida’s earlier pledge of an income-doubling plan for the Reiwa era, the current Emperor’s reign.

“This will probably result in a bigger, growing social gap between the people who have money to invest in investment products and people who don’t have money, so it needs to be counterbalanced by other measures,” Whittaker said.

In line with those concerns, Oxford colleague Prof. Mari Sako also addressed the issue of widening economic disparities in Japan.

“I think we have to shift away from producer-driven logic in some way,” she said. “That would help when we are thinking about returning more gains away from shareholders to workers and consumers.”

The two-day conference was titled “Reforming Capitalism, Going Digital and Going Green: Does Japan Hold Answers?” It was held as part of an effort by Oxford’s Nissan Institute to seek “shared solutions to our shared problems” in Japan and the United Kingdom.

Topics on the agenda at the conference included issues related to cost of living, digital transformation and environmentally sustainable growth, among the myriad challenges that Japan and the United Kingdom face today.

Participants included George Hara, a former special adviser to the Cabinet Office of the prime minister of Japan, and Prof. Hiromi Yokoyama of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo.

Free and open to the public, the audience was a mix of students, scholars and businesspeople.

The Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, established in 1981, is a central hub of academic research on Japan in the United Kingdom. It regularly organizes events to promote dialogue among government, industry and academia.