Japan and China do not always see eye to eye on politics. But when it comes to economic policy, Tokyo and Beijing have remarkably similar goal: both want to push through far-reaching changes in their economies to mounting debt and rapidly graying populations.
In China, the authorities are trying to steer the economy toward more domestic consumption and growth in the service sector. In Japan, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to pull the economy out of decades of deflation and sluggish growth.
The extent to which each country succeed will be of crucial importance, not only to Asia but in the world. China, with a GDP of about $ 9 trillion last year, and Japan, with its 5 trillion economy, the second - and third-largest economies in the world, after the United States. Much depends on whether these economic powerhouses can succeed in their overhaul in the next few years.
"You have two of the largest economies in the world firing on only one cylinder," said Frederic Neumann, joint head of Asian economics at HSBC. "This is a critical period."
Analysts and business people have welcomed the changes that have been introduced or at least announced in China and Japan in the past 18 months.
"They have recognized that they really need to do something," said Gemma Godfrey, head of investment strategy at Brooks Macdonald Asset Management in London. "Do not underestimate how important it is."
But faster growth is hard to achieve, and much of the hard work is yet to come.
In China, statistics show that the economy grew 7.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter - down from 7.7 percent in the last quarter of 2013.
And in Japan, a sharp drop in economic sentiment among supermarket managers and restaurant workers in a meter released last week, hinted at the worsening business conditions in the coming months. The European Central Bank failed to step up its efforts on economic stimulus this month but may do so later this year to offset a slowdown in consumer spending is expected to set after the VAT increase took effect at the beginning of the month.
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