- B7 Washington Summit
- New Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Society 5.0 and Industry 4.0
- US Presidential Election
- Japanese Manufacturing
B7 Washington Summit
Discussion at the B7 Summit held in Washington, DC on February 3-4 focused on responses to US-China antagonism and measures to prevent unfair trade. Attendees agreed on the importance of multilateral cooperation to establish a fair trading environment. To this end, participants were also in accord on promoting WTO reforms. Discussion extended to multi-stakeholder capitalism, which was a major topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and views were exchanged on corporate social contribution activities.
New Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The impact of the new coronavirus on the Japanese economy is still uncertain. We anticipate that the government will continue to take all necessary steps, including urgent quarantine measures and border controls. Government and business need to join forces in containing the virus, and Keidanren will cooperate in such efforts.
Society 5.0 and Industry 4.0
The 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan (compiled in January 2016) proposed the Society 5.0 concept with a strong awareness of Industry 4.0 trends. At that time, industry, academia, and government were working together in Germany, the US, and elsewhere on national projects to utilize digital technologies for industrial innovation.
Subsequently, Keidanren gained government assent to its idea that digital technologies were key to resolving social issues, and the Society 5.0 concept devised in Japan became a pillar of growth strategy. Society 5.0 will also contribute to delivering on the sustainable development goals advocated by the United Nations, a role that Keidanren summarizes as "Society 5.0 for SDGs." These ideas have at last reached the practical implementation stage. From the perspective of digitalization, Society 5.0 has much in common with Industry 4.0, which aims to strengthen industrial capabilities, but the Society 5.0 concept extends to transformation of industrial structures and social change on a global scale, and for this reason also links to the UN SDGs.
Many countries have recently taken positive stances on digitalization and are utilizing digital technologies in various fields. Rather than conflicting, many aspects of Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0 improve by learning from each other.
Keidanren and universities both have various opinions on the significance of internships. While some consider that one-day internships devoid of work experience fall outside the scope of internships, the purpose of which is to provide work experience, others feel that they should be recognized for credits as part of study to learn about the nature of work. At the same time, views vary on paid internships as part of graduate school courses. Keidanren discusses these issues with universities in the Industry-Academia Council on the Future of Recruitment and University Education, and would like to redefine internships in the context of tertiary education in Japan.
US Presidential Election
At present it is difficult to predict the outcome of US elections, including congressional elections. Accordingly, the US is likely to have difficulty making important decisions until the conclusion of the presidential election in November.
Manufacturing will not disappear from Japan, but it will change in the future. However, since there is a growing trend toward companies struggling to make profits from production of commodities, manufacturing executives should not hesitate to focus resources on shifting to products and services that consumers regard as offering high added value.