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Executives' Comments  Press Conferences Chairman Sakakibara's Statements and Comments
at His Press Conference

February 6, 2017

Hopes for Japan-US Leaders' Meeting

I hope that the forthcoming meeting between Prime Minister Abe and President Trump will reaffirm the importance of deepening the political, economic, and security ties between our two countries and further strengthening the Japan-US Alliance. Japan and the United States share fundamental values and principles including freedom, democracy, basic human rights, the rule of law, and market-based economics. The meeting will be a vital opportunity for both countries to reaffirm the importance of our alliance and communicate this commitment to the world.

I hope that Prime Minster Abe will share with President Trump the enormous contributions that Japanese companies are making to the United States through our direct investments valued at more than $400 billion in the US. More importantly, these investments, directly or indirectly, have created 1.7 million high-paying jobs, contributed to the growth and innovation of the US economy, and helped expand US exports. I would like Prime Minister Abe to explain that Japan and the US have built close and mutually beneficial business relationships and that Japanese companies are committed to expand this collaboration and investments in the United States. I also hope he will clearly outline the economic and strategic significance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which we continue to believe will benefit both countries, the Asia-Pacific region and the global economy.

Economic Situation

It is crucial for Japan that rising wages should drive a virtuous economic cycle leading to economic growth, and last year real wages increased for the first time in five years, which is highly encouraging. Business performance in the first half of this fiscal year declined from the same period of the previous year, especially in manufacturing. This was partly due to the impact of exchange rates, but corporate efforts and greater exchange rate stability subsequently brought improved results for many enterprises in the second half. Such trends are likely to continue through to the end of the fiscal year, and I expect this will have a positive effect on spring labor-management wage dialogues.

Osaka World Expo Bid

If Japan hosts the 2025 World Expo in Osaka, the event will build on the momentum generated by the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and the 2021 Kansai World Masters Games to accelerate economic growth and promote tourism. Keidanren will support Osaka's bid for the World Expo. The study group established to examine the 2025 World Expo bid will issue its report in March, Japan will formally declare its candidacy once the cabinet has approved the report, and the host will ultimately be decided in the fall of 2018. Although Paris has already announced its candidacy, it is imperative for Japan to win the right to host the event. This will require the backing of not only Osaka, but also the entire country. The government, the business community, and the Osaka region need to unite in their cooperative efforts to make the bid successful.

Various synergies can be expected from taking a combined approach to the Expo bid and the development of integrated resorts potentially incorporating casinos. These are particularly attractive draws for meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions. However, casinos need to be discussed as an entirely separate issue. The Integrated Resort Law opening the way for casinos was passed last year, and legislation for its implementation is currently being formulated, but such measures should only be taken in a form that has gained popular assent following a national debate over issues such as gambling addiction, public security, and ethics.

Announcement of Vice Chair Candidates

Today I announced vice chair candidates to be formally appointed at the Keidanren General Assembly on May 31. Current vice chairs Hiroshi Tomono and Takeshi Uchiyamada will step down, effective on that date, and four new candidates have been put forward: Takashi Yamauchi, Chairman, Taisei Corporation; Kosei Shindo, President, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation; Kenichiro Yamanishi, Chairman, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation; and Shigeru Hayakawa, Senior Managing Officer and Member of the Board of Directors, Toyota Motor Corporation. Mr. Hayakawa is due to be appointed as vice chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation at the time he is appointed as Keidanren vice chair.

This will result in appointment of four new vice chairs to replace the two completing their terms of office. In selecting these candidates, priority was given to (a) increasing the number of Keidanren's vice chairs from the manufacturing sector, (b) promoting growth strategy and especially the Society 5.0 concept, which are vital issues for Japan, and (c) companies and people that can play active roles on the global stage.

Executives' Comments