China finally overtook Japan and became the world’s second-biggest economy, according to data released this week in Tokyo, which showed minimal GDP growth in the land of the rising sun, while its huge neighbor continued its blistering rise.
While some observers say the change in the economic world order is “purely symbolic,” others say it should act as a wake-up call to both countries – Japan to get its economic house in order, China to become more politically responsible.
And although some Japanese may gaze across the East China Sea with a touch of envy at the growing economic might of the new kid on the block, most knew that this day was inevitable for a country with more than 10 times the population of their homeland’s 127 million.
“China’s domestic expansion is very positive for Japan’s economy,” says Takashi Shiono, an economist at Credit Suisse in Tokyo. “While some Japanese people might feel kind of envious, this is a huge opportunity for Japanese companies.”
It is a view echoed by Dr. Martin Schulz, senior economist at Tokyo’s Fujitsu Research Institute: “The faster China grows, the better it is for Japan.”
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Story by Gavin Blair, The Christian Science Monitor
[Via David Barboza, The New York Times] China’s recognition came early Monday, when Tokyo said that Japan’s economy was valued at about $1.28 trillion in the second quarter, slightly below China’s $1.33 trillion. Japan’s economy grew 0.4 percent in the quarter, Tokyo said, substantially less than forecast. That weakness suggests that China’s economy will race past Japan’s for the full year.
Experts say unseating Japan — and in recent years passing Germany, France and Great Britain — underscores China’s growing clout and bolsters forecasts that China will pass the United States as the world’s biggest economy as early as 2030. America’s gross domestic product was about $14 trillion in 2009.
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Hiroko Tabuchi (Twitter) contributed from Tokyo.