Appointment of Keidanren Vice Chairs
An unofficial decision was made at today's Meeting of the Chairman and Vice Chairs on the candidates for vice chairs of Keidanren to be newly appointed at the General Assembly this year (on June 1).
Vice Chairs Sumi, Tomita, Katanozaka, and Sugimori are due to step down with effect from the date of the General Assembly. An unofficial decision was made to replace them with Akiyoshi Koji, Chairman of the Board, Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd.; Tsuyoshi Nagano, Chairman of the Board, Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc.; Nobuhiro Endo, Chairman of the Board, NEC Corporation; Hideki Kobori, President, Asahi Kasei Corporation; and Koji Nagai, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nomura Holdings, Inc. As a result of this unofficial decision, there will be 19 vice chairs.
All candidates were selected based on an overall assessment of their personal character, knowledge, management skills, and achievements in their respective industries, as well as maintenance of a balance among a wide range of industries.
[In response to a question about diversity of vice chairs] The vice chair candidates are executives from Japan's leading companies, and all of them are achievers. Although we do not necessarily have to prioritize women, we are always conscious of diversity issues. We will continue to actively appoint suitable candidates to vice chair positions regardless of gender or age.
I believe the number of new infections is now reaching its peak, since the nationwide effective reproduction number is approaching 1. However, the number of severe cases is likely to keep increasing for a while, and measures that prioritize preventing the spread of infections will inevitably need to be extended for a certain time. Even if they are extended, I hope that the government will minimize restrictions on social and economic activity.
Prime Minister Kishida has instructed relevant ministers to increase the number of vaccine booster shots to one million a day. Vaccination should be speeded up to swiftly suppress infections, and the business community will cooperate in these efforts through workplace vaccinations. In readiness for the future, I would like to ask the government to strategically assemble a national stock of vaccines and test kits.
As Omicron becomes the dominant strain in Japan and abroad, I have doubts about keeping our borders closed. We conduct business in the global economy, and major restrictions on overseas travel have immense impact. This goes beyond immediate business. Looking to the long term, if inbound travelers to Japan, including international students and artists, continue to decline, Japan's attractiveness in the eyes of those overseas will dwindle, and I fear this could harm the national interest. I urge the government to reconsider current border measures.
Economic Security Bill
Business leaders recognize the need to appropriately assure security for the economy as well as the nation as a whole. The government plans to legislate in four areas: supply chain resilience, safety and reliability of core infrastructure, public-private technical cooperation, and concealment of patent filings. As well as guaranteeing as much corporate activity and economic freedom as possible, the recommendations of the government's advisory committee should consider alleviating the burden on business operators. The government plans to legislate based on these recommendations, and I expect the bill to be passed in the current regular Diet session.
We are monitoring the situation with serious interest. Any actual invasion of Ukraine by Russia would cast a shadow over crude oil and natural gas supplies and prices, causing severe impacts on the Japanese and global economies. I hope that the situation will be peacefully resolved through dialogue.