1. Top
  2. Executives' Comments
  3. Press Conferences
  4. Statements and Comments of Chairman Sakakibara and Chairman Candidate Nakanishi at the February 13 Joint Press Conference

Executives' Comments  Press Conferences Statements and Comments of Chairman Sakakibara and Chairman Candidate Nakanishi at the February 13 Joint Press Conference

February 13, 2018

[Chairman Sakakibara]

The Japanese economy has left its deflationary phase behind and settled into a recovery track. Currently, it is approaching an important phase that will bring it a major step closer to its target GDP of 600 trillion yen. The nation's business sector and society continue to face key challenges in the arena of structural reform. To speed up the pace of (1) bold steps in regulatory reform, (2) reforms to the nation's social security system, and (3) fiscal reforms, we must intensify our lobbying efforts aimed at the government. Not only Japan but also the entire international community faces an increasingly complicated and uncertain international climate. It is essential that the free and open international economic order be maintained and reinforced, and crucial that Japan's business sector move ahead strongly with efforts in economic diplomacy and act to promote trade and commerce on a global level.

At this critical juncture, the time has come for Keidanren to move forward under the leadership of a new chairman. I believe vice chair Hiroaki Nakanishi is the candidate best-suited for this job. He possesses superb character and powers of insight, excellent management skills, a wealth of international business experience, and is precisely the business leader I believe best-prepared to represent Japan. He is also the man who presented us with the Society 5.0 concept, and has worked energetically to promote that concept in Japan and abroad. Keidanren views Society 5.0 as a growth strategy of the utmost importance and a matter of top priority. To put it into motion and achieve its goals, I want vice chair Nakanishi to continue serving in an important role.

Vice chair Nakanishi and I share the same policy stance. He has actively participated in Keidanren discussions and debate on major policy issues and tendered numerous proposals along the way. Many of the policies I have promoted also reflect vice chair Nakanishi's idea.

Since assuming my post as chairman, I have performed my duties with the strong conviction that Keidanren is a driving force for economic and social reform in Japan. Today more than ever, Japan yearns for innovation and reforms on many fronts, including fiscal reform, social security reform, and working style reform. Keidanren has had a role to play in tendering recommendations in reform from the business community's perspective, and in fostering steps to translate those recommendations into action. I want chairman candidate Nakanishi to take steps that will accelerate the pace of these reforms. Until I retire at the end of May, I, too, will do my utmost to that end and fulfill my responsibilities as chairman of Keidanren.

[Chairman Candidate Nakanishi]

I feel somewhat embarrassed yet also realize I must do my best. Not only has the Japanese economy finally overcome its deflationary pressures, but it is now at an all-important moment that will see it soon take new and impressive strides. Setting the stage for this new economic course will demand a web of domestic and international cooperative ties. In particular, building collaborative relationships abroad will be the key to the task of encouraging advances with Society 5.0 and other elements of the new digitization wave as well as expanding business activity.

(Reporter: How do you plan to carry on with chairman Sakakibara's vision and policies while adding some character of your own?)

[Chairman Candidate Nakanishi]

As vice chair, over the past three-and-a-half years I have been fairly active within Keidanren and voiced my views. Keidanren's actions on several important issues including Society 5.0 and cyber security reflect my perspectives and input. We have many hurdles to cross as we continue with our efforts in these areas. The Sakakibara vision was formulated with Keidanren's goals in mind, against a backdrop of political trends and relationships with the political world at that time. I was an active participant in the discussions we had during that coordination process. I will continue with the drive to put this vision into effect. I am not attached to the idea of adding anything that might be construed as the Nakanishi school of thought, nor do I have any plans to give weight to my own views or preferences. Achieving a favorable business cycle is what I view as important and I intend to do my utmost to that end.

(Reporter: Can you comment on Keidanren's involvement in political contributions?)

[Chairman Candidate Nakanishi]

Our political and business circles must not be caught up in confrontations with each other. We will not experience any conflicts as long as the political and business communities have the interests of Japan and the rest of the world in mind and pursue policies that reflect that. However, our relationships with the political world are sometimes influenced by political trends. I am not opposed to Keidanren calling for political contributions. As current policy on political contributions, Keidanren calls upon individual companies for voluntary political contributions. I plan to carry on with that policy.

(Reporter: How does the business community plan to implement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? What significance will SDGs hold for corporations? Also what importance will Society 5.0 and SDGs be assigned within the program for 2025 World Expo in Osaka as the prefecture strives to win hosting rights?)

[Chairman Sakakibara]

In November 2017 we revised our Charter of Corporate Behavior for the first time in seven years. Achieving the SDGs through implementation of Society 5.0 is one of the pillars underpinning those revisions. While showing adequate consideration for corporate ethics and social accountability, the revisions stipulate that corporations assume a leading role in finding solutions to issues burdening the international community and helping to create a sustainable society. The Charter has demonstrated the corporate sector's commitment to contributing to the solution of social issues. The policies and actions that will contribute to the solution of social issues through business activities coincide with policies and actions for the achievement of the SDGs advocated by the United Nations. To put it another way, promoting Society 5.0 will lead to the achievement of the SDGs. Our Charter of Corporate Behavior establishes action guidelines that call on corporations to make contributions from a corporate perspective with business activities that will help not only Japanese society but also international society overcome the issues they face.

I currently serve as chairman of the 2025 Japan World Expo Committee. The Expo theme, "Designing Future Society for Our Lives" strongly echoes the idea of achieving SDGs through the implementation of Society 5.0. 2025 World Expo in Osaka will provide an excellent opportunity to present to the world an image of how Japan has solved its social challenges through implementation of Society 5.0. Now that society seeks change, I would like to see Japan take the initiative and through the Expo, show the international community how it is pursuing that change. In effect, this will also enable Japan to show the world it has taken the lead with efforts to achieve the SDGs. Hosting 2025 World Expo will not only bring economic benefits and aid the revitalization of the Kansai area, but also serve as a major milestone in the quest to achieve the SDGs through the implementation of Society 5.0. For these reasons, we absolutely want Osaka to win the bidding process for the Expo.

[Chairman Candidate Nakanishi]

To boost their own sustainability, corporations will need to place SDGs at the core of their corporate activities. This is a perspective I have also detected in my conversations with CEOs abroad. In relationships with investors as well, and as shown in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing, corporate activities are not inconsistent with the solution of social problems. Moreover, the achievement of SDGs through corporate activities helps corporations build their value and provides a justification for transforming themselves into sustainable entities. We want to adopt this perspective as an important action guideline and foster deeper understanding throughout the business community.

(Reporter: What are your views on promoting plans to export nuclear power plants with government assistance?)

[Chairman Candidate Nakanishi]

Nuclear power and the energy systems that utilize it will not survive in the first place unless they are promoted by the industrial sector in tandem with government initiatives. Of course, one has to ensure the economic viability of power plants when they are at the construction stage. However, absent government involvement in the fuel procurements and management throughout its life cycles and the maintenance and management of international technologies, the nuclear power industry will not survive. All stakeholders need to indicate their views on the structure and future of this industry from their own perspective.

[Chairman Sakakibara]

Keidanren is an organization that makes national policy recommendations with an eye to the nation's future, and lobbies to have those policies implemented. It does not make recommendations regarding policy on specific issues with special consideration for any single company or industrial group. Keidanren shares its views and makes recommendations from its own perspective with the interests of only our nation in mind. That is clearly distinct from the perspective of any single company.

Executives' Comments