EDITORIAL: Thatcher Leaves Indelible Lesson on How to Revitalize a Nation

The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), April 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

EDITORIAL: Thatcher Leaves Indelible Lesson on How to Revitalize a Nation


Margaret Thatcher was a female politician who not only revitalized a sinking Britain but changed the world by playing a key role in ending the Cold War.

Thatcher, who served as British prime minister for 11 years from 1979, died Monday at the age of 87.

In expressing his condolences, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said she was "a great leader who demonstrated a force of will and was a respected politician who devoted herself to her country and people."

Even today, Japan can learn many lessons from Thatcher. Her greatest achievement was carrying out drastic reforms known as Thatcherism.

She stood firm against the "British disease"--a reference to the country's recession and financial woes--by promoting a small government. She embraced privatization and took a series of deregulation steps, including the "Big Bang" that transformed financial markets. She also boldly pushed through unpopular measures such as reducing generous welfare services and streamlining the coal mine sector.

However, as her economic policy focused mainly on the financial sector, Britain's manufacturing industry waned, widening the rich-poor gap. Despite the negative impact, her reforms are regarded to have laid the groundwork for the country's economic growth from the 1990s.

Impact on Japan

In the wake of Thatcherism, the state-owned Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation and Japanese National Railways were privatized under the administration of then Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, and Japan's version of the "Big Bang" financial reforms were carried out under the administration of then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. …

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