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Lionel Barber, FT editor
For more than a century, the Financial Times and Nikkei have acted as trusted chroniclers of globalisation. Now, as partners in a new global media alliance — the Nikkei-FT group — our two news organisations have joined forces to produce this special report on Japan and the World.
The timing is propitious. After the recent Fed interest rate rise, the world economy is moving from intense crisis management to a semblance of normality in policymaking. The focus on unconventional monetary measures such as quantitative easing is gradually making way for more orthodox, if politically sensitive, structural reforms in the labour market, services and tax sectors.
These reforms carry a special resonance in Japan. As Larry Summers, former US Treasury secretary, says in an interview for this report, Japan’s low-growth, “lowflation” economy is an example of “secular stagnation” but also a laboratory for plotting an escape via the reforms known as “Abenomics”.
Nikkei and FT journalists offer an insider and outsider perspective on Japan. Each organisation retained control over its version of the report. The common theme is that the Japanese economy is undergoing a profound shift in response to an ageing population and growing competition, especially from the rise of China. Last year, Japanese businesses began an acquisitions boom as they sought to reduce dependence on the domestic market. In the insurance sector alone, Japanese companies struck $25bn of deals during 2015. Japan Inc is going global, more than 30 years after Toyota and fellow carmakers blazed a trail in the US and Europe.
The FT and Nikkei are well-placed to follow this phenomenon. We have a global network of correspondents. Our headquarters in London and Tokyo are storehouses of intellectual capital.
Working together on projects such as this report, we believe we can offer fresh insights to readers worldwide. Without fear and without favour.
Katsuyoshi Kondo, Nikkei editor-in-chief
The Japanese economy has entered a new phase one might call “Globalisation 2.0”. The Nikkei and the Financial Times have taken a closer look at this transition — together.
While Toyota Motor and other leading Japanese manufacturers have been succeeding internationally for decades, the nation’s service sector has more or less focused on the domestic market. Yet as Japan’s population ages and shrinks, that is changing. From the restaurant industry to financial institutions, more service-oriented companies are striking out for distant shores.
Meanwhile, Japan itself is undergoing a global shift. The country this year welcomed nearly 20m foreign visitors, and the influx is having a profound impact on the economy and society. In boardrooms, the spread of western-style governance — exemplified by appointments of multiple outside directors — is helping to improve corporate transparency. And a broad agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership will further accelerate Japan’s globalisation. Nikkei and FT reporters have put their heads together to cover these trends in depth, analysing Japan from both an insider’s and outsider’s point of view.
The Nikkei and the FT have teamed up on special reports three times before. Following the birth of Nikkei-FT group late last year, we decided to step up collaboration between our journalists by giving our respective readerships Japanese- and English-language versions of certain shared stories. This is the first endeavour of its kind between a Japanese and a British news organisation, and our joint effort is already producing insightful, intriguing articles.
Both newspapers, of course, retain their editorial independence. Yet as respected business dailies with long histories, the Nikkei and FT share common values. We believe that by pooling our resources and editorial capabilities, we can deliver even better content with a truly global perspective.
We hope our readers will be pleased with the first fruits of our alliance.