- Proposal on Revitalizing Economic and Social Activity While Living with COVID-19
- Evaluation of Suga Administration and Election of LDP President
- COVID-19 Countermeasures
- Carbon Tax
- Situation in Afghanistan
Proposal on Revitalizing Economic and Social Activity While Living with COVID-19
I would like to take this opportunity to announce Keidanren's Proposal on Revitalizing Economic and Social Activity While Living with COVID-19, which was discussed and approved at today's meeting of the chairman and vice chairs. The proposal calls for the government to start examinations and preparations relating to three points: developing healthcare systems that enable prompt treatment, implementing proactive testing in workplaces, etc., and streamlining quarantine measures for those returning to or arriving in Japan. Keidanren will continue doing its utmost to prevent the spread of infection, in the aim of revitalizing economic and social activity while living with COVID-19.
Evaluation of Suga Administration and Election of LDP President
There may be various views of the Suga administration, but it deserves to be highly evaluated for its achievements, which include accelerating the vaccine rollout to this point and setting up the Digital Agency. The administration has certainly given a powerful boost to digital transformation (DX) and green transformation (GX). Since Japan is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and domestic and international circumstances are fluid, I think history will judge the administration appropriately when a little more time has passed, and the situation has settled down.
I hope that the next administration will speed up the flow of DX and GX, and place Japan's economic and social development on a sound footing. Turning to the situation overseas, the international community faces an array of important issues, such as rebuilding a fair and open international economic order. I eagerly await strong leadership from a prime minister with a national vision and powerful policies for realizing it.
Given these challenges, I hope that the election will spur lively policy debate on overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing DX and GX, and promoting international cooperation amid heightened geopolitical risks.
[In response to a question about an opposition party drafting its own supplementary budget] I hope the parties will debate the matter, including questions of fiscal discipline and timing.
To avoid pressure on the healthcare system, the government is actively pushing ahead with rolling out vaccines and administering neutralizing antibodies. Vaccination can certainly protect against severe illness, and vaccines and therapeutic drugs are highly effective in controlling the spread of infection. Until early November, when all those wishing to be vaccinated will have received their doses, it will be crucial to forestall any breakdown in healthcare stemming from a rise in serious cases.
Countering COVID-19 is a challenge for all of Japan, and Keidanren is deepening its cooperation with those involved, especially the government and ruling party. We will also collaborate with the Japan Medical Association, for example by providing corporate facilities. Many companies have already sought advice on specific projects.
[In response to a question about some media reports concerning approval of carbon tax discussion] Since the term of former chairman Mr. Nakanishi, Keidanren has declared that it will actively participate in discussion of carbon pricing, including carbon tax, and this stance has not changed. Since the reports were about tax reform proposals, they focused solely on carbon tax, yet carbon pricing includes not only carbon tax, but also various other methods such as emissions trading and voluntary credits, and it is not a question of approving discussion of carbon tax alone.
We have long said that appropriateness of methods and policy mixes should be examined broadly from the perspective of whether or not they lead to sound industrial policies and growth. Such consideration should be free of taboos and include the effects of time and social changes. Keidanren will also continue to discuss these matters.
Situation in Afghanistan
It is still too early to give an assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. The withdrawal of the US from the country after many years of involvement indicates that it can no longer play its former role as "the world's policeman." Through international cooperation and multilateralism, the international community will need to deal with stability and development in Afghanistan as a shared issue. Naturally, Japan will be part of this process.
People who have worked for Japan still remain in Afghanistan. The government of Japan will continue its efforts to evacuate such people from the country, and we will keep a close eye on progress.