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

April 9, 2018

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

Company survey responses to date show that many large companies in particular are implementing higher across-the-board wage hikes than in the previous year and paying bonuses at higher rates or in full. Moreover, employee treatment has improved further overall, notably with regard to enhanced provision of measures enabling employees to care for family members and expansion of employee welfare and benefits programs. Keidanren will continue striving to ascertain the facts of the wage situation and provide information by collating wage-related data, administering questionnaires, and so on, thereby strengthening the momentum of wage increases that have continued since 2014.

3. 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.

4. Reforming Working Styles and Promoting Diversity

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. We will also seek to expand consumption and create new markets through women's involvement in the workforce ("womenomics"). At the same time, we will pursue diversity by respecting LGBT rights and making efforts to promote the active participation of diverse human resources, including younger and older people, non-Japanese people, and individuals with disabilities.

5. 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. As we do so, we will keep a close watch on developments with regard to the US trade policy. 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 the 11-country TPP agreement 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 push to ensure certainty regarding the provision of a transitional period maintaining the current situation following the UK's impending withdrawal from the EU at the end of March 2019. At the same time, we will ask for a flexible approach to enable a framework for the closest possible future relationships with the UK and the EU to be put into effect immediately after the transitional period ends. 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.

6. 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.

7. Hosting Successful National Events

The government and relevant organizations will work in unison to ensure that the success of upcoming events such as the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, and the Osaka/Kansai region's bid to host the 2025 World Expo, serve as catalysts for Japan's economic revitalization.

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