Japan economic package lacks strengths, Japan ex-Premier Noda says

Japan's former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in Hong Kong on Monday the economic stimulus package launched by the incumbent leader lacks strengths and he hopes a transpacific trade deal could be reached soon.

A keynote speaker at the five-day Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference, Noda of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan told hundreds of participants the "three-arrow Abenomics" launched by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to lift Japan's economy from a decade-long slump needs to take bolder steps.

"Economic policies dependent on short-term stimulus is not effective. We know that as a lesson," Noda said. "What it would be important going forward, of course we have three arrows, is the third arrow, that is the growth strategy."

The first two arrows were monetary easing and fiscal stimulus.

"It is true that they (Abe's Cabinet) are aiming at the right targets, there is no question about that. But so far, all the arrows and all the efforts lack the strength to reach the targets," Noda said.

He said bold deregulations are needed to revive, for example, the agriculture and medical sectors of Japan.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal under negotiation by 12 countries including Japan and the United States, is vital for the regional economic prosperity since the World Trade Organization's Doha Round of talks has collapsed, Noda said, and he blamed the United States for stalling.

"Unfortunately, America seems to (be) losing the perspective to see the whole picture. (Now) without the completion of the Doha Round, we need the kind of multilateral agreement like the TPP. I would like to see the early agreement of TPP," he said.

Noda admitted Japan's relationships with neighboring countries are "very strained, but at least we don't provoke and we don't react to the provocation," he said.

Japan's ties with China and South Korea remain strained over World War II-related issues and territorial disputes, and full resolution seems far-fetched with the Abe administration's defiant attitude toward visiting the war-related Yasukuni Shrine.

"When it comes to bilateral relationship, there's always one or two issues, but still, it should not have an impact on the whole picture," he said but did not name any country.

On Japan's aging population, Noda said the burden of taking care of an elderly person was being shared by nine to 10 people 50 years ago and it has kept shrinking to three people now and soon it will be one young individual taking care of one elderly, making a comprehensive social security system urgently needed for the labor force.

"This is like you put a person on your shoulder. If you piggyback a child, it's easy, but if you piggyback an adult, that's really difficult. When I was spring cleaning in my house, I put my wife on my shoulder and it was very heavy," he joked. "Of course, we have to think about the person on other's shoulder, but you have to think about the person who shoulders as well."

The conference will conclude Friday.