By Channel NewsAsia, 22 May 2009
TOKYO: Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, said India and China are the only countries in Asia that will not need to depend on exports to the US.
He also debunked views that the rest of Asia could have a consumer-led economy.
Mr Lee was speaking at the Nikkei Conference - an annual meeting in Tokyo attended by Asian leaders and academics.
"Asia Confronting Challenges, Pursuit of New Frontiers" is the theme of this year's Nikkei Conference.
Mr Lee is a regular guest at the forum, and on Friday, he gave his take on what some see as "common sense advice" on how to stimulate demand and boost the economy.
In the first three months of this year, Japan - the world's second largest economy - recorded its worst ever annualised GDP fall. The country also faces a fast aging population and declining birthrate - similar to the problems faced by Singapore.
Mr Lee said: "Unless you change man's attitudes, this declining birthrate will be a disaster for Japan and for Singapore. And it is happening all over Europe. So they are getting migrants from North Africa, Turkey, black Africa, Muslims, pagans, all sorts of new entrants.
"Japan doesn't want these immigrants. It is part of the culture of the country. In Singapore, if we have not taken immigrants, the economy would have become slothful."
Japan has only recently begun to hire foreign workers from Indonesia and the Philippines for jobs such as nurses and day-care workers. But Mr Lee said this will not solve the problem, and believes that immigration is a more viable, long-term solution.