Recent statistics on Japan’s economic performance show a mixed bag. Good news is that the negative monthly trade imbalances of the past few years may not be a permanent fixture (to the surprise of many pundits.) The country’s exports are again nearly equal in volume to its imports, demonstrating the resilience and popularity of Japanese products and brands abroad.
Yet the fact remains that Japan’s economy at home is shrinking quickly, and the country faces a plethora of fiscal and economic challenges. Probably more than any other country of the Pacific rim, Japan must grow its business abroad to stay prosperous in the years ahead.
How can it do this?
The simple answer is by promoting its intellectual assets. Unlike the hardware products of the high growth decades – think cars and electronics, and everything that goes into them – it is today the country’s traditions and creative ideas, its soft products – the expressions of its zeitgeist – that have the best potential for leading growth abroad.
In the U.S. today, Japanese cuisine, comics, games, sports, fashion, lifestyle, decor – you name it, wherever culture and creativity live – are all enjoying solid growth. The U.S. appetite for the Japanese mind just keeps diversifying.
Hopefully, Japan will continue to make the most of this opportunity.