Executives' Comments  Press Conferences   Chairman Sakakibara's Statements and Comments
at His Press Conference Following the Keidanren Summer Forum

July 22, 2016

Summer Forum Round-up

This year's Keidanren Summer Forum was the largest since the first Forum was held in 1980, and 39 business leaders engaged in intensive and highly productive discussions. Deft chairmanship by Keidanren Vice Chair Hiroshi Tomono ensured meaningful and lively debate. I will broadly communicate the shared understanding, Keidanren's view, reached by participants.

Japan is now at a crucial point in ending deflation, steadily revitalizing its economy, and putting the country on track to achieving an economy with GDP of 600 trillion yen. I urge the government to focus wholeheartedly on the economy as the top priority. The business community is fully aware of the role companies play as drivers of economic growth, and will cooperate closely with politics as it devotes all its energies to revitalizing the Japanese economy.

Economic Policy

As a short-term economic policy, the government should spend boldly to stimulate demand, boost consumption, and encourage capital investment. Over the medium to long term, it is important to pursue a growth strategy in the aim of achieving an economy with GDP of 600 trillion yen. As a key pillar of its growth strategy, the government must trigger a fourth industrial revolution that will realize the kind of super-smart society envisioned in the "Society 5.0" concept, which is the primary goal of the Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016. Implementation systems that unify the public and private sectors and adequate budgets are absolutely necessary.

Bold, comprehensive economic policies are anticipated. I am aware that there have been various media reports about the scale of such measures, but the crucial factor is how much government expenditure can be injected into the economy. I would like to discuss this point.

Society 5.0

Triggering the fourth industrial revolution and promoting the Society 5.0 concept are core elements of the Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016, and the public and private sectors need to work together with a view to creating a new society. Keidanren has already released a proposal on achieving Society 5.0, "Toward realization of the new economy and society", and will communicate our views. The concept of Society 5.0 is the creation of a new smart society that helps to resolve social issues rather than making simple productivity improvements. To create such a society, we must eliminate barriers in five areas: ministries and agencies, legal systems, technology, human resources, and public acceptance. Keidanren will work in unison with government to disseminate the Society 5.0 concept throughout society.

Energizing Regional Economies

Invigorating regional economies is another important issue. Prime Minister Abe has indicated that the Japanese economy cannot be revitalized without energizing the regions, and the business community shares this view. Keidanren activities aimed at energizing regional economies focus on Regional Economic Forums and the Committee on Regional Economy.

Regional Economic Forums provide opportunities to exchange views with regional business groups throughout Japan on the current state of regional economies and key economic development issues. Forums were held in seven locations last year, building a useful platform for invigorating regional economies. We will continue to reinforce interaction and cooperation with regional business organizations through Regional Economic Forums.

Chaired by Keidanren Vice Chair Nobuyuki Koga, the Committee on Regional Economy has been highly active since it was launched in June last year. Mr Koga communicates the views of the business community in the government council on regional economic development. Keidanren has drawn up an Action Program for Energizing Regional Economies, and the Committee on Regional Economy is taking the lead in its implementation. Keidanren is directing the overall Action Program, and its member companies are taking voluntary initiatives. We have called on companies to strengthen specific activities in accordance with their own circumstances. For example, our members are collaborating with municipal start-up promotion councils throughout Japan to encourage the launch of new businesses in the regions, creating favorable environments for start-ups, and supporting efforts to match regional SMEs with major corporations. Keidanren is also facilitating collaboration between the business and agricultural communities and encouraging the flow of corporate personnel to the regions.

The Summer Forum succeeded in fostering a shared sense among Keidanren executives that energizing regional economies is a vital issue for our organization.

Economic Partnerships

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) plays a pivotal role in Japan's growth strategy, and is an essential element of systemic infrastructure for determining common trade and investment rules in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. Swiftly bringing TPP into force is important not only for Japan, but also the other member countries. From this perspective, Japan needs to take the lead in approving the agreement, and the heads of four business groups recently visited Prime Minister Abe to deliver a proposal requesting rapid achievement of this goal. The prime minister indicated his clear intent for Japan to quickly approve TPP as a cornerstone of growth strategy and urge the US to also promptly ratify the agreement. Swift approval by Japan is likely to support ratification by the US before the end of President Obama's term of office. When a Keidanren business mission went to the US on May 22-28 this year and visited the Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Department of Commerce, they indicated that they would make every effort to achieve ratification of the agreement during President Obama's term. Although this will be no simple matter, I believe they are proceeding in this direction.

TPP is the first priority among many economic partnership agreements and free trade agreements. I would also like the government to aim for agreement on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement before the end of the year. In Asia, it is important to make steady progress on the two mega-FTAs currently being negotiated: The Japan-China-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. As an immediate priority, I would like the government to focus on these mega-FTA negotiations.