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Policy Proposals  Comprehensive Strategy Approaches to Current Issues ( March 2019 )

March 11, 2019

1. Current Condition and Outlook of the Japanese Economy

The economic climate is continuing to recover gradually, but attention needs to be given to the currently growing risks mainly in the overseas economy. Looking ahead, we expect a similar recovery trend to continue—despite current lack of growth in corporate production activities and profits—against the backdrop of recovery in capital investment reflecting corporate earnings that remain at a high level, and the signs of an upturn in personal consumption accompanying improvement in the employment and income environments. However, attention should be paid to the uncertain outlook for overseas economies and the effects on exports caused by trade friction between the United States and China. Other issues requiring attention are trends in the Chinese economy and in the financial and capital markets in Japan and overseas, the political situation in Europe and its impact, and geopolitical risks.

2. Realizing Society 5.0

We will announce to the world our policy proposal for "Society 5.0," a society where digital transformation combines with the imagination and creativity of diverse people to solve social problems and create new value. The Society 5.0 concept—which originated in Japan—can also contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations. At the same time, we will work to realize Society 5.0 by pursuing digital transformation and diversifying in every aspect of our economy and society, and collaborating with a diverse range of entities in Japan and overseas. To this end, Keidanren will join forces to deliberate on a roadmap for realizing Society 5.0 in a variety of industrial fields.

3. Spring Labor Negotiations

At the current time, many companies are holding serious discussions with their own trade unions about the unions' demands. In this year's spring labor negotiations, the business community will again contribute to the virtuous economic cycle by taking steps to ensure that the growth in corporate earnings is faithfully reflected in wage increases and in employee treatment overall. To that end, the business community will consider multiple perspectives as it investigates the methods best suited to circumstances at each company and puts those methods into practice.

4. Reforming Working Styles and Promoting Diversity

We will help companies to implement measures addressing working style reform legislation by lobbying the government in various ways. We will also call for resubmission of the bill on expanding eligibility for discretionary working hours systems. Meanwhile, we will address the government's revision of the Act on Promotion of Women's Participation and Advancement in the Workplace, measures to prevent harassment, and its moves toward implementing the new system for accepting human resources from overseas. In another initiative, we will pursue dialogue with universities about such issues as the attributes required of human resources from now on, medium- and long-term employment, and potential reforms for university education. 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

To make economic relations with the United States stronger, we will take action at various levels to build closer communication with that country. As we do so, we will keep a close watch on progress in bilateral trade negotiations. We will also move forward with drawing up rules for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region by calling for an increase in the number of nations participating in the 11-country TPP agreement that went into effect at the end of last year. Meanwhile, we will extend and deepen our cooperative relationship with Europe through the Japan-EU EPA that went into effect in February. In terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, top priority must be given to avoiding a disorderly Brexit, the impact of which would be huge, at all costs. We will therefore ask both sides to take a flexible approach to ensure that the current situation is maintained following the UK's withdrawal and that a framework will be put into effect for maintaining a close relationship with the EU 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, 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

We will work in unison with the government and relevant organizations to ensure that the success of events such as the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and "EXPO 2025 OSAKA, KANSAI, JAPAN" becomes a catalyst for Japan's economic revitalization.

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

As the government formulates a long-term strategy based on the Paris Agreement, we will call on it to target a virtuous cycle of environmental preservation and economic growth by seeking innovation premised on multiple scenarios. Such innovation could then be used to reduce greenhouse gases globally. As another means to the same end, we will ask the government to devise an energy policy that establishes an investment environment conducive to a robust energy supply and creates a stable supply of energy at prices that compare favorably from an international perspective. The aim would be to ensure safety combined with energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental conservation ("S+3E") that takes into account Japan's own particular circumstances.

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Comprehensive Strategy