Executives' Comments Press Conferences Chairman Yonekura's Comments at His Press Conference
Looking Back on 4 Years as Chairman
Great East Japan Earthquake
Less than a year after assuming the chairmanship, the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. Keidanren launched a task force immediately after the disaster and engaged in activities to help people in affected areas. These activities included (1) calling for donations, (2) lobbying for permits for the passage of emergency vehicles on expressways to transport fuel and relief goods, (3) securing land, sea and air distribution routes based on cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and our member companies, and (4) opening hotlines with the governors of prefectures affected by the catastrophe to reinforce join work with them. Although I believe what we have done bore fruit, there remain things to do. Even now, more than 260,000 people live in temporary housing. I hope the government will make stronger efforts toward urban reconstruction on a large scale.
Future City Model Projects
Based on our firm belief that companies which play major roles in the economy should promote innovation with more eagerness and without hesitation, we have embarked on "Future City Model Projects" in 11 urban areas across Japan. Engineering innovation has been advanced in various fields such as the environment and medical care through the experimental projects using state-of the art technologies.
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPSs)
I visited foreign countries very often to urge the start of negotiations for economic partnership agreements (EPAs) such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Japan-China-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Japan-EU EPA.
As for the EPA with the EU demanding the elimination of Japan's nontariff measures, Keidanren made a proposal to European leaders to gain momentum. German Chancellor Merkel, British Prime Minister Cameron and European Council President Van Rompuy accepted our proposition that sector-to-sector dialogue should be launched. European industries also supported the framework. And the EPA negotiations has begun.
I hope that strong political leadership will make a basic agreement on the TPP without delay.
Enhancing Agricultural Competitiveness
The Keidanren-Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) Joint Working Group compiled concerted approach between the business and agricultural sectors.
Keidanren also released 292 cases of activities to activate the agricultural, forestry and fisheries industries by our 150 member companies and organizations.
Agriculture plays the important role of stable food supply. It is important to help Japanese agriculture become a growth industry attractive for potential young farmers through activities to overcome challenges such as aging agricultural population, lack of farming successors and the spread of deserted arable lands.