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Policy Proposals  Comprehensive Strategy Approaches to Current Issues ( March 2018 )

March 12, 2018
Keidanren

1. Current Condition and Outlook of the Japanese Economy

The Japanese economy is recovering gradually. In 2018 economic expansion is expected to continue against a backdrop of rallying exports and corporate production activities, robust performance at companies, and improvement in the employment and income environment. However, a close watch must be kept on trends in the financial and capital markets, which are currently subject to increasing instability.

2. Spring Labor Negotiations

Amid extremely high expectations among the general public regarding wage increases, many companies are preparing for the date on which they must issue a formal response by repeatedly holding discussions between management and workers in good faith based on their own labor unions' demands. The business community will redouble its efforts to improve employee treatment, thereby strengthening the momentum of wage increases in order to escape fully from deflation and drive additional expansion of the virtuous economic cycle.

3. Recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake

Now that seven years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, the public and private sectors need to join forces to dispel Japanese consumers' persistent concerns regarding the affected region and revive its industry. Keidanren will continue to appeal to the public to engage with the affected region through such means as purchasing its products or visiting as tourists, and will also take action to generate new sales channels.

4. Realization of "Society 5.0"

We will use innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and robots, and make use of a wide variety of big data, to drive digitization of the government, industry, and society as a whole. This will enable us to achieve a "super smart society," known as "Society 5.0," which combines economic growth with solutions to social issues. To that end, we will ensure cyber security and create an environment that encourages the development of systems for utilizing data, as well as capital investment in fields that show promise of growth in the future, expansion of investment in research and development, and open innovation with universities, venture companies, and other such organizations. In addition, we will pursue specific projects involving both the public and private sectors. At the same time, we will publicize the Society 5.0 concept in Japan and abroad as a vision for a society in which the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have been accomplished.

5. Promoting Opportunity for Diverse Human Resources and Reforming Working Styles

We will step up our efforts to encourage active participation in the workforce by women, focusing on expanding consumption through women's social advancement and creating new markets. At the same time, we will respect LGBT rights and make efforts to promote the active participation of diverse human resources, including younger and older people, non-Japanese people, and individuals with disabilities. On a separate issue, the current bill on working style reform focuses primarily on setting upper limits for overtime hours, adopting equal pay for equal work, and establishing the "highly-skilled professional" system. We will push for that bill to be enacted conclusively during the current ordinary Diet session and call for resubmission of the bill on expanding eligibility for discretionary working hours systems. Meanwhile, we will expedite working style reform at companies and endeavor to improve the treatment of non-regular employees by ensuring that they are given opportunities to switch to regular employment.

6. Economic Relations with the United States, Europe, and Russia

In order to build relations with the US administration and Congress and to make economic relations stronger, we will reinforce our efforts to reach out to the parties concerned based on the outcomes of business missions to the United States and other efforts. We will also pursue progress in drawing up comprehensive rules of a high standard for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region by seeking to have an 11-country TPP agreement recently signed in Chile and put into effect soon, and calling for a future increase in the number of participating nations. Meanwhile, we will push for the Japan-EU EPA to be ratified and put into effect as soon as possible. In addition, we will ask for a flexible approach including early agreement on transitional measures to maintain the current situation for the time being in order to minimize the negative economic impact of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. We will actively participate in materializing an eight-point plan for cooperation with Russia, as well as continuing to appeal for improvement of the business environment in Russia.

7. Economic Relations with Countries in Asia

Asian countries such as China, South Korea, India, and the ASEAN nations are expected to be the driving force of the world economy. Further strengthening and developing close and mutually-beneficial relationships with these countries is another extremely important element of Japan's growth strategy. Keidanren will also engage in facilitating cooperative relations through policy dialogues with the public and private sector leaders in countries of the region, addressing fields such as the furthering of regional economic integration and the facilitation of infrastructure development.

8. Formulating a Medium- to Long-term Energy Strategy

As the government reviews its Strategic Energy Plan, we will call on it to establish a stable supply of energy at prices that compare favorably from an international perspective by ensuring safety combined with energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental conservation ("S+3E"). We will also ask for coal and other fossil fuels to be utilized efficiently, for nuclear power plants that have passed safety checks to be restarted, and for a balance to be struck between greater use of renewable energy and reduction of the public burden, among other requests. Meanwhile, we will continuously advocate the need for a strategy that takes into account Japan's own particular circumstances.

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Comprehensive Strategy