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Messages from Keidanren Executives August, 2016 Becoming a Leader in Tourism

Tetsuro TOMITA Vice Chair of the Board of Councillors, Keidanren
President and CEO, East Japan Railway Company

Let me begin by offering my condolences to the victims of the Kumamoto earthquake that struck in April, as well as my heartfelt sympathy to all those affected by the disaster. As populations in outlying regions continue to shrink, all stakeholders — whether public or private, local or national — need to take strong, unified action to reinvigorate these areas. The Keidanren Committee on Tourism is doing its utmost to assist revitalization through tourism, which brings the most immediate effects.

In March this year, the Government of Japan announced the "Tourism Vision to Support the Future of Japan", followed by the "Tourism Vision Implementation Program 2016". Previous tourism policies have tended to focus on the demand-side issues, such as attraction of tourists, encouraging visitor flows, etc., but this latest policy package further emphasizes supply-side issues; such as improvement of the productivity in the tourism sector. Moreover, it sets highly ambitious targets including increasing yearly figures of overseas visitors to 40 million and spending by such visitors to 8 trillion yen by 2020.

We will not be able to achieve these goals by simply extending the same policies we have followed to date. We need to shift gears, raising our sights from creating a "Tourism Nation" to becoming a "leader in tourism". The business community needs to respond with specific action, exercising originality and ingenuity in nationwide systems to achieve visible results. As a leading railway company, one of the key players in the social infrastructure sector of Japan, East Japan Railway Company is examining and engaging future regional visions; for example, working with regions to identify, refine, and disseminate information regarding on tourism resources.

In 1954, Panasonic Corporation Founder Konosuke Matsushita wrote an article giving his views on Japanese tourism. In it, he described the beauty of Japan’s natural scenery and environment as outshining any mineral resources, and advocated measures such as the establishment of a Ministry of Tourism; espousing views that would be quite at home with the policies today. One cannot but be impressed by the clarity of his foresight. As successors to his vision, we wish to create a leading tourism nation that Mr. Matsushita would be proud of, by pooling knowledge and information from around the nation to implement a wide range of policies; further promoting tourism in Japan, and developing it into a core industry.