Japan's growing mountain of debt

As we celebrate the successes of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, the lack of cheering crowds and empty stadiums still loom in our thoughts, reminding us of COVID’s worldwide impact. The heavy cost burden of delaying the games resulted in an estimated $2.8 billion. This is on top of another $20 billion, resulting in the most expensive games to date. 

The Tokyo Olympics of 1964 had a significant impact on GDP growth throughout the investment period (proceeding 5 years) with a sharp decline post-games. Any hope that the 2020 games would yield a positive impact on GDP growth is long gone (even adjusting for the impact of COVID, the economic growth of the proceeding 5 years compared over a 60-year period) only to be topped by the global financial crisis’s impact as the worst growth record.

With Japanese investors or the Bank of Japan (BoJ) owning the majority of the nation’s debt, Japan’s monetary situation is less concerning than other high-debt countries due to its debts being 90% domestic. However, even with low interest rates, Japan cannot sustain its repayments over the long haul as debt continues to accumulate. Other than defaulting on the public, the only plausible solution will be to reduce the deficit through higher taxes and lower public spending. 

While Japan’s debt mountain is stable for now, the path ahead for the nation’s economy remains challenging.