Japan today faces the major challenge of recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake and creating itself anew. Now is the time for the people of Japan to come together in facing this challenge, working with a sense of urgency to provide support to the disaster-stricken areas and achieve recovery and reconstruction. We must also use foresight and bold vision to create a safe, secure, and vigorous new Japan.
At the same time, we must not falter in dealing with other pressing issues: Japan's rapidly aging population and declining birthrate and the intensifying global competition. While addressing the most serious issue before us, post-disaster reconstruction, we must make steady progress on the government's New Growth Strategy, construct a sustainable social security system and stable public finances, balance environmental protection with economic growth, and promote further economic integration by joining negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) at an early date and forging other economic partnership and free-trade agreements.
We believe that by bringing together our experience of overcoming any number of crises in the past and its people's wisdom, we will overcome the current crisis. Strong political leadership will be an essential for this to happen. We, Japan's business community will concentrate our efforts on measures in the five areas described below. While focusing our total strength on a swift recovery of the country, we will enhance our communications efforts both within Japan and abroad, making full use of the entrepreneurial spirit as we move forward with the creation of a new Japan.
1. Achieving Swift Recovery from the Disaster
The government and private sector must join forces to provide support to afflicted areas, help victims rebuild their lives and find new employment, and resolve the nuclear power plant accident as soon as possible. In addition to these steps, we must achieving swift recoveries of regional communities and economic bases, giving full consideration to the conditions that each location faces.
The Japanese government should put a robust framework in place for speedy reconstruction by establishing an Earthquake Disaster Restoration Headquarters and Earthquake Disaster Restoration Agency. The government should next promote broader regional cooperation, including the possibility of introducing the doshusei reforms to create a broader administrative unit encompassing multiple prefectures in the Tohoku region ahead of other regions. Additional governmental measures should include enhancing cooperative efforts between the national government and local authorities, as well as bold regulatory and systemic reforms, such as the creation of disaster restoration special zones, in order to facilitate industrial and urban reconstruction. It will also be necessary for the government and the private sector to work together to create and implement plans for regional reconstruction of industries including agriculture, forestry, fishery, and livestock.
Furthermore, strong political leadership is required in areas like the drafting of additional supplementary budgets and taking appropriate and timely fiscal measures needed for disaster recovery—even at the cost of revising the Democratic Party of Japan's "manifesto" of policy pledges—and in the creation of a national consensus on the need to bear the costs of reconstruction.
2. Steadily Implementing a Growth Strategy and Generating Employment to Create a New Japan
As economic globalization continues to deepen, and competition is becoming ever more intense, the government must steadily implement the New Growth Strategy, adjusting it as needed in line with plans for the nation's disaster recovery, together with the private sector.
To create new growth and employment, we request that the government take steps to build infrastructure that will help enhance Japan's competitiveness, to carry out regulatory reforms that will let the private sector make full use of its vigor, and to place Japan's business environment on an equal footing with its international counterparts. Other steps to be undertaken with private-public cooperation include implementing our "Future City Model Projects" which also cover reconstruction of disaster-stricken regions; the creation of social systems designed for a society with shrinking population; the construction of safe, secure residential areas and homes such as "Compact City" developments; tourism promotion; and the enhancement of the agricultural sector's competitiveness, as well as its development into a growth industry.
To support economic growth, additional cooperative efforts by the government and public sector should involve implementation of a science and technology innovation strategy and the crafting and advancement of a comprehensive strategy for information and communications technology, as well as the human resources development from the perspective of the march of globalization and expanded opportunities for talented foreign workers.
3. Implementing Integrated Reform of the Social Security System, Taxes, and Public Finances
Japan must clear away the people's fears about the future, realize a vigorous aged society, and reestablish credibility for the nation's financial standing. To these ends, we urge the government implement, without delay, a unified set of reforms to Japan's social security, taxation systems and its public finances through debate and consensus among all political parties. The government must clarify a roadmap to healthy public finances in the longer term, including ways to secure the funds needed for disaster recovery and reconstruction. It must also make the nation's social security functions more reliable and efficient, from child-raising through old age, while it works to achieve needed reforms to the nation's revenue structure, of the consumption tax as its pillar, and to swiftly implement a national ID-system.
4. Rebuilding Japan's Energy and Environment Policy
In response to the disaster, we must reexamine the nation's Basic Energy Plan and enhance the stability of the energy supply framework with the cooperation of the government and private sector. While urging nationwide discussion on these issues, we will seek to build a low-carbon society that is in harmony with the goals of economic growth.
In particular, there must be efforts to regain the public's trust by providing appropriate information in a timely manner on the nuclear power plant accident and by thoroughly investigating the accident's causes and developing measures to prevent a recurrence. We also request that the government reconsider the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in 2020; the launch of the feed-in tariff scheme for renewable energy, which requires utility companies to purchase renewable enegrgy from private generators; and the proposed introduction of a tax to cover global warming countermeasures.
Based on the Voluntary Electricity Peak-Cut Action Plan, the business community will make every possible effort to boost power supply capacity and to reduce consumption and smooth out peaks in usage. At the same time, we will work to develop and spread the use of new environmental and energy technologies, as well as to expand the range of industries participating in our Commitment to a Low Carbon Society and enhance its reliability and transparency.
5. Advancing Economic Integration with EPAs and FTAs
From the perspective of opening the nation and creating a new Japan, the government should firmly support the policy of a "Opening up the nation in the Heisei era," joining TPP negotiations as soon as possible and accelerating moves to conclude economic partnership and free-trade agreements with various partners, such as a Japan-European Union EIA and a trilateral FTA with China and South Korea. The government should also take the initiative in concluding the Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations within the year.
There is also a need for cooperative efforts between the government and private sector to promote agile international cooperation that contributes to the development of needed infrastructure overseas; to implement an Asian growth strategy centered on regional economic integration and the construction of broad regional infrastructure; and to establish international financial and capital markets with Japan at their hub.