Japan and the OECD

Celebrating 50 years of progress

©OECD

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Japan’s membership of the OECD. Japan joined our organisation on 28 April 1964, marking a significant milestone as the first Asian country to do so. 

For Japan, joining the OECD also meant regaining its rightful place among the world’s most advanced economies, following the post-war reconstruction period. The OECD was created in 1961, and for the first three years of its existence remained an “Atlantic” community, bringing together Europe and North America. With Japan’s joining, the OECD took its first steps as a globally relevant organisation. Japan brought new perspectives and policy experiences, and provided a link to one of the world’s most dynamic regions.

Japan’s accession to the OECD came at a time of unprecedented growth for the country, as the economy expanded by nearly 10% per year for most of the 1960s. The 1970s and 1980s were also marked by high growth rates, led by strong innovation in engineering, automotive and electronics sectors. The so-called Japanese miracle was to mark a generation of economists, academics and politicians in other OECD countries, as proof of what ingenuity and the pursuit of excellence in education and other disciplines could achieve. Then, in the 1990s growth slowed markedly after the collapse of an asset price bubble. This led to major challenges over the following two decades, which included dealing with deflation, social pressures and unprecedented levels of public debt. The country also faced increased competition in export markets as other Asian economies opened up and consolidated their place in the global economy.

This half century of OECD membership has witnessed many positive changes in Japan, which is now the third largest economy in the world and the second largest among OECD members. It is actively engaged in every aspect of the OECD work, and has successfully led many initiatives in areas such as innovation, skills, trade, and development aid, as well as risk management. At present, Japan plays a leading role in the OECD’s global relations with Southeast Asia. Today, Japan’s economic prospects have improved notably, accompanied by a marked upswing in private sector confidence and public optimism. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic revitalisation strategy (known as the “three arrows”) encompasses bold monetary policy, flexible fiscal policy and targeted measures to reignite competitiveness through structural reforms. These are all welcome developments. As this special edition of the OECD Observer explains, economic recovery can be sustained if public debt is reined in and associated structural reforms are vigorously pursued, particularly in the areas of competition, labour markets and gender equality. Such measures are essential to restore long-term growth and address pressing social challenges.

Japan must continue its efforts to open up its economy and more fully integrate into global value chains, through international trade and investment, but also by nurturing and fostering the innovation and creativity that characterised its expansion during the second half of the 20th century. Japan can play a larger role in the global innovation networks, building on its renowned prowess in electronics, robotics, optic lenses, electronics, and several other particularly dynamic sectors of the Japanese economy.

In this edition we also pay tribute to Japan’s rich tradition of art and architecture, whose vibrancy reaches well beyond its borders. We also highlight the country’s resilience and its inexhaustible capacity to recover and thrive in response to economic shocks and in the wake of natural disasters.

This was evident during the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011. This was the most powerful earthquake ever to hit the country, costing tens of thousands of lives and leaving wide areas destroyed. The OECD stood alongside Japan throughout this enormous tragedy, providing policy advice in the reconstruction efforts and helping the country recover from the resulting social and economic disruption.

This catastrophe also reminded us how resilient the Japanese people are. As the Japanese say: After the rain, the ground always hardens ( ). Out of this tragedy, Japan is forging a stronger, more resilient society.

This is why we are doubly pleased to have Japan as chair of the 2014 Ministerial Council Meeting (Paris, 6-7 May) and for members to have chosen “Resilient Economies and Inclusive Societies: Empowering people for jobs and growth” as the main topic for this year’s meeting. Japan has shown us that it is not only possible to recover from extremely challenging natural disasters and profound economic adversity, but to do so while emerging stronger than before. We draw a valuable lesson from these experiences on how the world economy can also “bounce forward” and recover from the worst crisis of our lifetimes.

All OECD countries feel inspired by the example Japan has set over the past half century, and Japan continues to benefit from its membership of the organisation. This exchange of visions and experiences makes progress possible. Japan’s 50th anniversary at the OECD is an occasion for us all to celebrate. Thus, I invite you to participate in the activities and events planned for the 2014 OECD Week.

www.oecdobserver.org/angelgurria

www.oecd.org/secretarygeneral

©OECD Observer No 298, Q1 2014




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Editor's choice

  • Success story. Discover the story of this young Ethiopian woman who launched a successful business in the footwear industry and became a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship.
  • Transports in Asia. The Asian Development Bank advocates sustainable transport in a continent where vehicle ownership is perceived as a sign of social success.
  • Vote for your favourite photograph! This World Bank #EachDayISee photo contest aims to display visual stories from all over the world through which people express what they would like to see changed and improved.
  • Why is investment so low in the euro area? This short IMF blog post gives you an insight into the causes of the euro-zone's drastic decline in investment.
  • Have your say! The UN wants to know what matters most to you: pick six global issues in the list and send it to the United Nations.
  • Clear air and healthy lungs: how to better tackle air pollution. From New Delhi to Accra, millions of people breathe polluted air. A new report examines the World Bank’s experience working to improve air quality.
  • The boring secret of great cities. Plenty of things make a city great but what really makes a difference originates in the structure of municipal government according to the OECD's report "The Metropolitan Century".
  • Guinea gets $37.7 million in extra IMF financing to help combat Ebola
  • Towards an international carbon pricing framework? Designing a unified international carbon pricing system could help to move towards a fully functional low-carbon global economy.
  • Putting the global economy on a more virtuous path. Current potential growth rates are well below pre-crisis levels. To avoid stagnation, governments have to put in place robust structural reforms.
  • World Water Day: 22 March 2015 For World Water Day, UN-Water identifies upcoming challenges and sets the theme for the years to come. In 2015, the theme for World Water Day is Water and Sustainable Development.
  • What drives street-based child labour?The ILO, UNICEF, Save the Children and the Lebanese Ministry of Labour launch a first-ever study assessing the scope and characteristics of the increasingly visible phenomenon of one of the worst forms of child labour.
  • No “Grexit”. Speaking to CNBC, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría says he would do everything to make sure Greece does not leave the euro. "Everybody wants Greece to stay in, everybody wants Greece to prosper and to get out of its short-term morass," he told CNBC. Watch the video.
  • engaging citizens
  • Interested in citizen engagement? The World Bank Group offers a four-week online course which aims to teach how citizens can engage in both policymaking and public service delivery.
  • 2.1 million jobs could be created in Europe by 2018 under the three-year investment plan put forward by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, according to the ILO.
  • Become involved in urban flood risk management. This World Bank two-week online forum gives you the opportunity to discuss how to preserve cities from these natural disasters with experts and development leaders.
  • Promoting decent work for migrant workers.This ILO report highlights the need to ensure decent work for migrants, which is part of the global agenda on sustainable development.
  • Composite leading indicators

Most Popular Articles

Subscribe Now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2015?

Euro crisis
Unemployment
Global warming
International conflict
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2015