The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Japan's key fiscal challenge is to put public finances on a more sustainable footing. This paper investigates the macroeconomic implications of alternative fiscal strategies for Japan using the IMF's Global Fiscal Model. The results suggest that: (i) an adjustment package that achieves primary balance through lower social transfers and government spending and a higher VAT is the most viable option and has a smaller negative impact on growth than other fiscal measures; (ii) achieving primary balance is not sufficient to stabilize the net debt ratio; (iii) prefunding future aging costs provides greater long-term benefits compared with less front-loaded strategies; (iv) tax reform involving shifting from corporate taxation to consumption taxation could mitigate the short-term output losses associated with fiscal consolidation; and (v) the spillovers to the rest of the world from consolidation in Japan are positive in the medium term, but modest.