- Summer Forum Round-up
- New LDP President Fumio Kishida and LDP Executives
- Accelerating Digital Transformation
- Economic Policy
- Regional Revitalization
- Diplomatic Relations with the US and China
- Carbon Pricing
- Masaki Sakuyama Steps Down as Keidanren Vice Chair
Summer Forum Round-up
At this year's Keidanren Summer Forum, the chairman and vice chairs, together with the chairman and vice chairs of the Board of Councillors, met in a face-to-face setting to address key topics in their discussions. The Forum took place just as Japan reached an important turning point with the election of Fumio Kishida as the new president of the LDP. Outcomes from the two days of intense discussion were summarized in a proposal titled "Accelerating the Transformation toward Sustainable Capitalism," which sets out guiding principles for Japan.
Our proposal raised issues to be overcome and set out the direction Japan should follow, focusing on the following challenges: (1) accelerating digital transformation (DX) aimed at realization of Society 5.0, (2) generating green growth aimed at green transformation (GX), (3) developing human resources and work styles with an eye to transformation of industrial structures, and (4) managing transformation of social structures due to population decline and creating a sustainable society for Japan. Keidanren continues to adhere to a societal frame of reference and is determined to be a standard-bearer for social transformation and work towards achievement of these objectives while cooperating with the government to gain the support of the Japanese people and society.
New LDP President Fumio Kishida and LDP Executives
New LDP President Fumio Kishida has announced a strong and diverse line-up of party executives. As a team, they will provide strong support to Mr. Kishida, and I expect policy measures to be implemented steadily and speedily. Mr. Kishida has said he wants to be a leader who listens to the views of the people. I recognize that he has put together a team that will enable him to achieve this through close internal dialogue and a united approach to facing national crises.
Accelerating Digital Transformation
DX is the key to creating a society that respects diverse values, where no one is left behind. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that Japan is lagging in this regard. We must squarely deal with these issues.
The wisdom of the private sector is essential to the newly established Digital Agency, and I hope its officials will speak without reserve in their internal discussions involving the private sector. The Digital Agency is headed by the Prime Minister, and I am encouraged that it will have the function of overseeing the entire government budget relating to Japan's information systems. Keidanren will continue to support the Digital Agency to exercise its powers. With a view to establishment of a provisional commission on digital issues, the public and private sectors must cooperate closely to rapidly advance DX throughout society.
[In response to a question on economic stimulus worth tens of trillions of yen suggested by LDP President Kishida] I am aware that this shows Mr. Kishida's strong determination to rapidly revive the ailing Japanese economy, and I have high hopes for his plans. Of course, care must be taken to exercise fiscal discipline, but Mr. Kishida has a thorough knowledge of Japan's fiscal situation. Things are often a matter of timing. Progress on the important challenges of DX and GX will not be made solely on the basis of market principles, and the government also has a role to play. Mr. Kishida has stated that he wants to spread the cost of industrial policies required to achieve these transformations over several fiscal years, and I expect progress to be made. We will communicate Keidanren's ideas on economic policy.
[In response to a question on why regional revitalization was not included on the agenda for this year's Summer Forum] We constantly have regional revitalization in mind in all our efforts. For example, it is a closely related and inseparable element of DX and GX, which were key topics at this Forum. Digitalization of government is essential to DX, and regional perspectives are indispensable in advancing towards this goal. Workplaces dealing with government services, disaster response, and health handle large volumes of public data. In the course of digitalization, data platforms need to be established in forms connecting central and regional governments. In GX, too, the regions are entwined in discussion of renewable energy. Decentralized electricity systems must also be considered. In these ways, regional revitalization is largely related to our key Forum themes of GX and DX.
Diplomatic Relations with the US and China
[In response to a question on hopes for Mr. Kishida's diplomatic relations with the US and China] Mr. Kishida served for a long time as Minister for Foreign Affairs and is very familiar with diplomatic policy. In US relations, Prime Minister Abe made a major contribution to enhancing Japan's presence during the Trump administration. Prime Minister Suga adroitly continued these efforts, and has played a crucial role in relations with the G7 and the US. I sincerely hope that Mr. Kishida will carry on this approach. The Japan-US alliance is a cornerstone of Japanese diplomacy. Japan and the US also share the universal values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. I hope Mr. Kishida will steadfastly maintain the Japan-US alliance and add further strength and depth to Japan-US relations.
Japan's relationship with China can be described as competition with cooperation. China and the US are by no means opposed to one another on all matters, and both countries are economically connected to the world. The world could not function without China, and China could not exist without the rest of the world. China, along with Japan, is in the position of driving prosperity in Asia as a whole, and the entire world.
Carbon pricing is sometimes regarded as a question of whether or not to approve a carbon tax, but this is not the right way of looking at it. The essential goal of carbon pricing is to control global warming, which is a legacy of external diseconomies, through market pricing. A wide range of carbon pricing mechanisms that contribute to growth should be considered, including carbon taxes, cap-and-trade-style emissions trading schemes, and voluntary credits. At the same time, there should be deeper open discussion of mechanisms to bring about behavioral change throughout Japanese society.
Masaki Sakuyama Steps Down as Keidanren Vice Chair
Misconduct relating to quality control is a problem that undermines quality assurance, which is a strength of Japanese industry. I would like Mitsubishi Electric to take steps to prevent any recurrence of such issues, based on the report issued by the expert panel. Keidanren will also redouble its efforts to address this problem.
Mitsubishi Electric Chairman Masaki Sakuyama has tendered his resignation (effective October 1) from the post of Keidanren vice chair (including committee chairmanship), which has been accepted. Mitsubishi Electric will voluntarily abstain from Keidanren activities for a period of three months.