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  4. May this be a year of hope and recovery from the COVID-19 crisis

Executives' Comments  Speech by Chairman May this be a year of hope and recovery from the COVID-19 crisis -- New Year Message from the Chairman of Keidanren --

(Provisional Translation)
Chairman, Keidanren

Last year, the world was struck by a huge disaster, in the form of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The global economy fell into recession, bringing into stark relief the social and economic disparities that had advanced under capitalism. Although Japan managed to avoid an explosive outbreak of infections, thanks to the prompt response of national and local governments, and the cooperation of individual citizens and companies, people were forced to make major changes to their day-to-day social and economic activities.

In order to make 2021 a year of revival from COVID-19, the government and the private sector must combine their strengths and start by doing everything in their power to balance measures to prevent infections with economic recovery. Additionally, using the ". The new growth strategy" that we released in November last year as our new guidelines, Keidanren will accelerate our efforts toward Society 5.0 for SDGs, as we continue to work to establish sustainable capitalism.

Key to this will be digital transformation (DX) and regulatory and systemic reform. The COVID-19 crisis exposed the lagging pace of digitalization in fields such as government administration, healthcare, and education, and the vulnerabilities that stem from overconcentration. For Japan to survive in the post-coronavirus era, in addition to concentrated investment in digital transformation in all areas across the economy and society, it will be necessary to carry out a fundamental review of existing regulations and systems, remaking them on the premise of developing, implementing, and disseminating digital technology. With the revitalization of regional economies in mind, there is also a pressing need for regulatory reforms, to support more widespread use of technology and services that will allow people to access services remotely and without the need for face-to-face contacts: for example, by making online healthcare diagnosis and medication advice permanent, and by introducing greater flexibility into management of working hours.

Measures to achieve green growth will also be important. As we work toward the target of carbon neutrality (net zero carbon dioxide emissions) by 2050, as announced by Prime Minister Suga, in addition to accelerating the shift toward next-generation energy and electric power systems, the constant creation of revolutionary innovations will also be essential. Working as one with government, the business community must utilize the Challenge Zero framework and redouble our efforts to achieve this goal.

The coronavirus crisis has widened divisions in the world, and it is essential that we work to reconstruct a free and open international economic order. While taking care to secure economic security, we will work to strengthen cooperation on a private-sector level through dialogue with business communities in countries and regions around the world and at the World Economic Forum and similar venues, creating the momentum that will allow Japan to exercise leadership.

This year marks ten years since the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster. I sincerely hope that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be an occasion filled with hope, conveying a convincing message of reconstruction and revitalization of the Tohoku region and national and international recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

I hope we can look forward to your continued support and cooperation.

Executives' Comments