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

January 9, 2018

Provisional Nomination of Candidates for Next Keidanren Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Councillors

Today I recommended candidates for my successor and for the chairman of the Board of Councillors. The next Keidanren chairman will be Mr. Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman and CEO of Hitachi, Ltd. Mr. Nakanishi has been a vice chair of Keidanren since 2014, and has energized a wide range of our activities. He heads one of Japan's leading companies, and in addition to being a man of character and insight with superb management skills and a wealth of overseas experience, he has actively represented the business community in government forums including the Council on Investments for the Future. He was among those who proposed the Society 5.0 project with me, which will propel Japan into the future, and I recommended him as the most suitable candidate to become the next Keidanren chairman.

The current chairman of the Board of Councillors, Mr. Hiromichi Iwasa, will finish his term of office with effect from the next General Assembly meeting, and we have provisionally nominated Mr. Nobuyuki Koga, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nomura Holdings, Inc. as the candidate to succeed him. Needless to say, he has a thorough knowledge of domestic and overseas financial and capital markets, and as chair of the Committee on Corporate Behavior and Social Responsibility and the Committee on Regional Economy he has canvassed the views of a broad array of stakeholders, including citizens' groups and local communities. Thus he is a worthy candidate to head the Board of Councillors, which advises the Keidanren chairman. Both candidates will be formally appointed at the General Assembly meeting to be held on May 31.

In considering candidates to succeed me in the role of chairman, I set several conditions, including a manufacturing industry background, service as vice chair, personal judgment, overseas experience, collaboration with government, and promotion of Society 5.0. Lacking natural resources, Japan uses foreign currency earned through manufacturing exports to import much of its food and fuel. Although our industrial structure continues to change, for the foreseeable future Japan will remain reliant on manufacturing, which will continue to drive our economy. For this reason, I believe that a representative of the manufacturing industry should lead Japanese business.

Not only is Hitachi, Ltd. a large corporation, but it also makes use of cutting-edge technologies including IT and big data in its innovation, and grasps the initiative in developing new business models. It sets direction for Japanese industry, and is a leading Japanese company in both name and deed.

Since being appointed as Keidanren chairman, I have continually urged collaboration and partnership between politics and business as the twin engines of the Japanese economy. I have done this in the belief that a critical situation where Japan has spent many years battling deflation required government and business not to keep one another in check, but rather to join forces in reviving the economy. The government and the business community now share the challenge of reinvigorating the Japanese economy. Keidanren calls upon the government to take decisive action on policies required to meet this goal, and the government seeks the understanding and cooperation of the business community to the same end. The economy is picking up, but we are still in a period when we must accelerate our economic revitalization efforts. It is important for politics and business to cooperate and fulfill their respective roles.

One Year on from President Trump's Inauguration

From the perspective of the Japanese business community, there have been positive and negative factors to President Trump's first year in office. On the plus side, his pro-industry policies have helped to re-energize the US economy, and sweeping tax cuts, especially the reduction in corporate tax, will make the economy even stronger and boost America's capacity to power the global economy. Decisive regulatory reforms have been made, and we support such industry-friendly measures, including infrastructure development projects likely to take shape in the near future.

However, trade policy is an example of measures we cannot necessarily support. I was disappointed that the US withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) soon after the new administration took office in January last year. I hope that America will re-join the agreement in some form in the future. Many US businesspeople and politicians believe that TPP would benefit their country. Amid the need for international measures to address global warming, US plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement were also regrettable. Time still remains before the official withdrawal, so it will be important for us to cooperate with other countries and continue our efforts to urge US participation.

Executives' Comments