Executives' Comments Press Conferences
Chairman Sakakibara's Statements and Comments
at His Press Conference
- Rebuilding from the Great East Japan Earthquake
- Children's Insurance
- Restarting the Nuclear Power Plants
- Premium Friday
- University Reform
- Japan-Republic of Korea Relations
- North Korean Issue
Rebuilding from the Great East Japan Earthquake
Six and a half years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. As rebuilding efforts continue, the fundamental infrastructure for everyday life has been recovering. The number of evacuees has halved in the past year, standing at about 50,000 as of July 2017. Industry, on the other hand, is still only midway to recovery, and dispelling false rumors remains a major challenge. In particular, the damage from persistent false rumors has become a major drag on the industries of tourism, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries that are the region's important economy. Even in Japan, consumers are still refraining from purchasing agricultural produce grown in Fukushima Prefecture, and there are still some countries that prohibit the import of products from the Tohoku region. Eliminating the damage caused by false rumors will be the key to rebuilding the region's industry. To this end, this November, Keidanren will hold a campaign to promote the Tohoku region. We will call on our member companies to encourage greater consumption of products from the affected regions and to promote tourism to Tohoku.
Firstly, regarding the name of this concept, "insurance" refers to making an allowance for some kind of risk, so there are problems with the notion of considering the raising of children as a risk and covering that risk with insurance. Further, the only beneficiaries would be households with children, so there are issues with balancing the benefits and burdens of such a system for households that have finished raising their children and households that do not have or cannot have children. The proposal is to raise social insurance premiums by 0.1% to fund an allowance of 5,000 yen per month for children who have not reached school age. Although this would be of some assistance to raising children, it will not be a fundamental solution to the various problems surrounding child-raising. The notion of implementing such a system without adopting income restrictions is also problematic. I believe that subsidies-in-kind, such as provision of childcare services, have a higher priority in society. My view is that the debate around this kind of policy and the notion of affluent company owners giving up their pensions are of different dimensions. The latter notion is aimed only at building momentum and will not become a true source of funding. Moreover, the decision to give up a pension will be based on the individual's own free will. It is not something that we can call on each other to do and have everyone step into line.
Restarting the Nuclear Power Plants
For the nuclear power plants to be restarted, it is first important that they pass an examination by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which is said to be the strictest in the world. Once that has been achieved, we hope that the understanding of local governments and residents can be obtained and the power plants can be restarted. I have heard that Units 6 and 7 at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant will undergo NRA examination this week. I hope that they will pass the examination and that the local government and residents will give their understanding, thus paving the way for the early restart of the power plant.
Six months have passed since Premium Friday began, and it is now time to undertake a general review of the initiative. Premium Friday continues to be promoted in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area and some other regions such as Shizuoka, but on a national level, there are still regions where it has hardly penetrated at all. In the Tokyo area as well, the kind of enthusiasm seen previously appears to have waned. The last Friday of the month was chosen for Premium Friday as it was thought that holding it after the day monthly wages are paid would boost consumption. However, some have expressed the opinion that the end of the month coincides with busy times such as the closing of accounts. If the initiative is to be reviewed, the end-of-the-month timing will also be part of that review.
Educational reform, which includes equal opportunity of education and university reform, is one of the Government's most important policy challenges. For example, in a society with a shrinking population, there needs to be debate on the state of university student intakes, not just in Tokyo but across the entire country. University reform is needed to improve the quality of higher education in Japan.
Japan-Republic of Korea Relations
My view is that the issue of compensation claims related to conscripted labor were resolved by the Agreement on the Settlement of Problem Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Cooperation Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (1965). I hope that this issue will be dealt with appropriately based on the agreement reached between the governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea.
North Korean Issue
North Korea has pushed ahead with missile launches and nuclear tests. These pose a serious threat not only to Japan, but to global security, including that of Northeast Asia and the United States, and must not be tolerated. The Japanese Government has already made a variety of responses, and I hope that it will work in close cooperation with the relevant nations, including the United States, the Republic of Korea, China, and Russia, and with the United Nations to make a resolute response.