- New Coronavirus
- Spring Labor-Management Wage Negotiations
- Digital Transformation
- WEF in Davos
- Japan-UK FTA Talks
Keidanren regards the rapid spread of new coronavirus infections as a serious matter. At present, the effects on the Japanese economy are still unclear, but the level of impact will depend on swift responses. It will be crucial for the World Health Organization, governments, and the international community as a whole to ensure complete readiness and a prompt return to normality. Development of a vaccine is expected to be quick.
Spring Labor-Management Wage Negotiations
Although management and labor viewpoints differ, we share an awareness that there are issues to be resolved. Revisions to the Japanese-style employment system cannot be decided solely at the discretion of management, and will proceed based on business conditions and thorough dialogue with employees. As part of this process, we need to move forward from "Phase I" work-style reforms, which concentrate mainly on reduction of working hours, to "Phase II" work-style reforms, which shift the focus to high-added-value work styles. I would like the spring labor-management wage negotiations to be a forum for such discussion.
Small and medium-sized enterprises underpin the Japanese economy, and improving SME work environments is essential to energizing production and business activity in Japan. Keidanren has worked hard to address this issue. SMEs vary greatly in profitability, organizational composition, and other attributes, and methods of analyzing SMEs according to current definitions based on employee numbers and capital should be reviewed.
Keidanren's Digital Transformation Meeting conducts forward-looking discussions on ways of connecting digitalization to resolution of social issues. Japan's industrial structures will inevitably change in conjunction with digitalization and globalization. In the process, barriers between industries will disappear. New business types are already emerging in logistics and financial services. Our discussions also consider the significance of such changes and how to link them to economic growth for Japan.
Countries around the world share awareness of the importance of international rule-making for the digital domain, but multilateral talks in forums such as the WTO have not produced results. In this context, there is an important role to be played by gatherings like the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, where governments and business leaders can discuss matters frankly and determine de facto rules. In April this year, the inaugural Global Technology Governance Summit (GTGS) will take place in San Francisco, USA. GTGS will be a forum for serious discussion of issues surrounding data. The second summit in the series is scheduled for April next year in Tokyo, and Keidanren will cooperate with the Japanese government to contribute to international rule-making.
WEF in Davos
The two key themes at this year's WEF were climate change and multi-stakeholder capitalism. Discussion of climate change centered on the need for serious measures, particularly given the lack of agreement on ambitious improvements to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets at COP25. Varied debate on the theme of multi-stakeholder capitalism focused on reporting of corporate efforts relating to ESG and the SDGs, from both short-term and medium- to long-term perspectives.
Another major theme was the need for more earnest efforts to develop digital economy mechanisms, a topic of wide-ranging debate.
Japan-UK FTA Talks
Following Brexit, Japan needs to swiftly start negotiations with the UK on the assumption that Britain and the EU will be able to establish a new framework for trade. The government and the private sector need to cooperate in reaching an agreement based on the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement that covers the types of provisions included in the CPTPP.