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Short Japan Over Its Business Culture: Ex-Olympus CEO

Matt Clinch | News Assistant
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Japan has a miserable future ahead of it without radical changes to the business climate, the former chief executive of camera and medical equipment maker Olympus has told CNBC.

Yoshikazu Tsuno | AFP | Getty Images

Michael Woodford, who was fired in October 2011 after he highlighted irregular payments made by the firm, said a poor business attitude and ethos is endemic throughout Japan.

"There's a great engineering class in Japan but there's a lousy management class," he said. "They're bureaucrats, they don't understand the basics of business, closing what's weak and investing in what's strong."

Woodford, who settled his claim for unfair dismissal back in June, is about to publish a book, "Exposure: Inside the Olympus Scandal: How I Went from CEO to Whistleblower."

Japan's demographics are notoriously skewed towards an aging population. It may be the world's third largest economy but its people are growing old at a faster rate than any other country in the world. Nearly a quarter of the population is above the age of 65 according to World Bank data, and the country has a negative birth rate.

"How are they going to pay that down? I would short Japan," he said.

Woodford, who said he is still a huge admirer of the country, has devoted himself to spreading the message that Japan needs to clean up its act if doesn't want to see a "terrible decline and demise." Japan's debt-to- ratio currently lies at around 230 percent after several decades of stagnation, a figure that's the highest in the world, dwarfing that of Greece and the U.S.

(Read More: Can Japan's Elderly Become Its Growth Engine?)