Statement by IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato at the Conclusion of his Visit to Japan

Press Release No. 07/8
January 22, 2007

Mr. Rodrigo de Rato, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement today in Tokyo at the conclusion of his visit:

"I am happy to be back in Japan, which is my first stop on a three-nation visit that will include Indonesia and China. As Managing Director of the IMF, I have visited Asia two to three times a year, which reflects the importance of Asia in the global economy and the influential role it plays in the IMF. I also want to extend my appreciation to the Bank of Japan for inviting me to participate in an international symposium hosted by the Center for Monetary Cooperation in Asia on the future economic and financial, challenges facing Asia. During my visit to Tokyo, I also had productive meetings with the new government's economic team—Finance Minister Koji Omi and Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Hiroko Ota—as well as with Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui.

"Today, we can see clearly the success of the policies adopted by Asian countries since the late 1990s and supported by the IMF. Asia is the most dynamic region in the world. The roots of Asia's success lie not just in sound macroeconomic policies, but also in reforms that have strengthened its financial and corporate sectors. Looking forward, governments are now focusing on how to build on these successes in the context of continued globalization and in the face of a rapidly ageing population in a number of countries. Policy priorities include strengthening budget finances and restructuring public sectors more broadly, undertaking a host of structural reforms to improve the investment climate, and developing further the region's financial sectors. In that regard, we at the IMF strongly support the efforts to promote regional economic cooperation as a way of strengthening financial systems in Asia.

"I am also optimistic about the prospects for Japan. The economy is reaping the benefits from the far-reaching reforms of the banking and corporate sectors. Although the expansion has been more moderate recently, there is every indication that the forward economic momentum will be maintained. Strong business investment and an improving labor market should give a boost to private consumption in the quarters ahead.

"The future, however, is not without challenges. In my discussions with the authorities, we focused on the need for further fiscal consolidation to cope with Japan's rapidly aging population and deep structural reforms to promote sustained growth. These reforms will be crucial for realizing Prime Minister Abe's vision for an open and "beautiful" Japan. A strong and prosperous Japan is vital not only to improve prospects for the region, but also to contribute to global growth and stability.

"Japan, as one of the largest shareholders in the IMF, is also playing a constructive role in promoting reform of the Fund to help all member nations deal with the challenges ahead. I very much value my dialogue with the authorities today and look forward to continuing our close cooperation in the years to come."



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