Abe Tells Wall Street Japan’s Economy Is Exceptionally Good

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Wall Street traders to invest in Japan, promising in a speech at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday that its economy will become a driving force for global recovery.

Abe vowed to conclude regional free trade talks by the end of the year and promoted Japanese products from sushi to LED light bulbs and a high-speed train system he said could link New York and Washington D.C. in less than an hour. In a second speech at the conservative Hudson Institute he defended a military spending increases and said he wants Japan to be a “proactive contributor to peace.”

Abe took office in December vowing to revive the moribund economy with what’s been dubbed Abenomics, a combination of drastic monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and regulatory reform. The economy has since seen three straight quarters of economic expansion and the Topix index has risen 41 percent this year.

“The Japanese economy that now surrounds us is exceptionally good,” Abe said in his New York Stock Exchange speech, urging traders to “buy my Abenomics.”

In separate comments yesterday on Japan’s security policy, Abe brushed off criticism of his plans for a more assertive defense posture. “We have an immediate neighbor whose military expenditure is at least twice as large as Japan’s,” he said, in a reference to China, with whom Japan is embroiled in a territorial dispute.

Defense Budget

He added that he had increased Japan’s defense budget by just 0.8 percent this year. “So call me, if you want, a right-wing militarist,” he told the Hudson Institute, where he was the first non-American to receive the group’s Herman Kahn Award, named after the physicist-turned-political commentator who founded the research organization and predicted in the early 1960s that Japan would become an economic superpower.

In response to Abe’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said today that Japan should take “concrete actions” to promote regional stability.

“The Japanese side should not create tensions and play up such tensions and stir up confrontation so as to create excuses for its military buildup and adjustments of its military policies,” Hong told a briefing in Beijing.

Abe’s speeches came before an address to the United Nations in which he will focus on the themes of women’s contribution to the economy and human rights. Abe, who also visited Canada for talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week, is then set to give a press conference in New York before returning to Japan.