- Typhoon No. 15 of 2019
- Climate Change and Energy Issues
- Japan-US Trade Talks
- Social Security Reform
- Consumption Tax Rise
- Fiscal Stimulus
- Japan-South Korea Relations
Typhoon No. 15 of 2019
Typhoon No. 15 caused serious damage, and again I would like to offer my condolences to the family of the deceased and all those harmed.
Natural disasters are becoming more frequent, and we may need to accept that this is due to the impact of climate change. There is a risk that disasters of a similar scale could occur in the future. Keidanren will reinforce our disaster response efforts.
Climate Change and Energy Issues
Disaster and energy issues are interlinked with trends towards utilizing renewable energy and reducing CO2 emissions. Will feasible climate change measures targeted at 2030 or 2050 be implemented in time to resolve the issues? Intuitively, it seems that average temperatures have already risen by about 1.5°C. Typhoons have also become more powerful. Amid sluggish energy-sector investment, we will create mechanisms that enable companies to confidently invest in plant and equipment and develop technologies with forethought and vision. I believe that there is renewed and broad recognition of the need for such mechanisms. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) shares this view, and Keidanren will continue collaborating with ANRE to enhance initiatives.
Increasingly, companies in Europe and the US are declaring their target dates for achieving zero emissions. In Japan, too, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is taking action to increase the number of companies working on innovative climate change responses. Meanwhile, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) is raising the international community's efforts to resolve climate change issues to the next level.
Japan-US Trade Talks
Although tariff hikes run contrary to the spirit of free trade, as the US was willing to use them Japan faced some last-minute compromises, but it overcame these to conclude an agreement that I rate as being balanced overall.
Social Security Reform
Reform of social security systems oriented to all generations has been a key policy issue since this year's House of Councillors election. The government needs to dispel young people's uncertainty about the future and design systems that will lead to economic growth. It is vital to move ahead with system reforms while the Japanese economy is in a period of relative stability. The planning meeting on a social security system oriented to all generations is a key forum for widely discussing the issues and taking firm steps to address them. Development of sustainable social security systems will inevitably require a review of benefits and burdens. Solutions will certainly not be easy to devise, but Keidanren will compile coherent proposals based on an overview of Japanese society as a whole.
Consumption Tax Rise
At present it is difficult to predict the effects of raising consumption tax to 10%. However, considering that quite a few years have passed since the last increase, the fact that this time the rate only rose by two percentage points, and the various measures being taken by the government, I do not anticipate the kind of disruption that occurred when the rate was lifted from 5% to 8%. Nevertheless, in the event that negative impacts exceed expectations, the government will swiftly take appropriate measures, and Keidanren will monitor such responses and collaborate fully.
Painful reforms will be unavoidable in maintaining social security systems, but there is public consensus that burdens should not be postponed and shifted onto younger people and future generations. While addressing the issue of revitalizing the Japanese economy, the government will require the public to fairly share the burden, and raising consumption tax is one option for securing a source of revenue.
Expectations of fiscal stimulus seem to be building as monetary easing by the Bank of Japan nears its limits. However, since economic mechanisms themselves have changed, past forms of fiscal stimulus, which were criticized as simply promoting public works programs, may not necessarily revitalize the economy. While considering regional circumstances, Keidanren will cooperate with the Japanese government in responding to this challenge.
Japan-South Korea Relations
I do not perceive Japan's latest export controls as a tightening of regulations. Exports of shipments confirmed as having cleared inspections are proceeding.
Japan and South Korea are becoming less interdependent in terms of trade, and the scope of bilateral business cooperation is narrowing. Under these circumstances, no specific ideas for improving Japan-South Korea relations spring to mind, but both countries' business communities need to step back from debate that inflames public sentiment and calmly discuss and seek out a vision for the future that will create a win-win situation.