Thursday, June 28, 2012

Japan’s Economy in 2012: Multiple Challenges - By Vaclav Smil

“Adding insult to injury” sounds like a lawyerly phrase compared to its painfully evocative Japanese equivalent 泣面に蜂 nakitsura ni hachi -- literally “a bee to a crying face”. But even that stinging proverb fails to convey what Japan has been through during the recent past. In March 2011 its economy, slowly recovering from the worst global post-World War II downturn, was hit by a powerful earthquake followed by a massive tsunami. That twin disaster disrupted many supply chains of Japan’s important manufacturing sector and caused a catastrophic failure of the Fukushima nuclear power plant; the ensuing fears led to the eventual shut-down of all of the country’s nuclear generating stations, limited electricity supply, increased imports of fossil energies and the first annual foreign trade deficit in a generation.