- Energy Issues
- Rebuilding from the Great East Japan Earthquake
- International Linear Collider (ILC)
- Recruitment and Selection
- Japan-US Trade Talks
- Futenma Airbase
I am deeply concerned about Japan's energy situation. Eight years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, we depend on thermal power generation for around 80% of our energy. No other developed country has a comparable power source structure. The international community was sympathetic for about three years in the wake of the accident, recognizing that such a situation was inevitable after an incident of that scale. However, the tenor of opinion has now become more critical and people are questioning why Japan is burning so much fossil fuel while claiming to build high-quality infrastructure. The government's Basic Energy Plan sets a target of halving electric power generation from fossil fuels, but this will be extremely difficult to achieve on the current trajectory. Even if we strive to increase renewable energy, investment in new facilities and technologies is sluggish, and is not expected to expand beyond present levels.
If this situation continues, the high-quality electricity infrastructure that has underpinned Japan's industrial base will crumble, and energy costs will rise. Ensuring safety and securing stable energy supply, economic efficiency and environmental suitability (an approach we refer to as S+3E) is becoming a difficult challenge for us. Turning a blind eye and failing to discuss the energy picture as a whole will jeopardize the future of Japan. Rather than debating from partisan perspectives promoting or opposing nuclear power, we need a forum for overall discussion of energy issues, which are fundamental for the nation's existence.
We must get nuclear power plants working again in order to realistically increase zero-emission power generation. We also need to maintain and develop nuclear power technologies with a view to the prospect, in 100 or 200 years' time, of fossil fuels running out. We should abandon one-sided and emotive arguments, and discuss an objective vision for nuclear power. The other day, I mentioned that it might be difficult for people who connect nuclear power generation with nuclear bombs to separate the two issues. The statement was made bearing in mind that some people actually connect the two. However, I did not intend it as a reference to any specific issue or people. In any case, it was an inappropriate comment.
Rebuilding from the Great East Japan Earthquake
Although housing reconstruction is largely complete, work remains on restoring industries. In particular, false rumors have persistently damaged the reputation of agricultural, livestock, and fisheries products from the Tohoku region, and import restrictions imposed by some countries present a major barrier to full recovery. Japan as a whole needs to address this issue.
International Linear Collider (ILC)
ILC is an international project. Setting aside funding issues, it would be fascinating to take up the challenge of further exploring physics in Japan within an international framework and environment. ILC needs to produce scientific outcomes, but we can never know in advance whether or not research will produce results. If budgets and other necessary arrangements can be put in place, I would like to see Japan host this project.
Recruitment and Selection
As long as the current recruitment rules apply, no major changes will occur anytime soon. I also believe that Keidanren's decision not to set policy on recruitment and employment of new graduates commencing work in fiscal 2021 and beyond has significantly altered students' awareness of the issue. We will constructively discuss working style reform and Japanese-style employment systems.
The B20 Tokyo 2019 Summit will take place on March 14-15. Participants will discuss a broad range of policy issues and submit a joint declaration to the G20. The joint recommendations are currently being drafted, a process entailing lively debate on issues including data-handling. Free flow of data in an environment of trust is crucial to business, and the business communities of all parties share this awareness. The question is what kind of rules can be agreed, and to what extent.
Japan-US Trade Talks
Amid an uncertain outlook for friction between the US and China, it is difficult to predict the path of Japan-US trade talks. For companies, the key issue is how to build supply chains. I take the positive view that opportunities will arise to create new and different business flows. Since trade and export volumes have declined, strengthening the resilience of the Japanese economy is very important.
The aim of relocating the airbase to Henoko is to eliminate the dangers arising at Futenma and ensure safety. Although the recent referendum in Okinawa indicated clear numerical opposition to the move, it is difficult to find an alternative plan. All the government can do is continue thorough consultation to gain understanding from local residents.