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

November 11, 2019

1. Current Condition and Outlook of the Japanese Economy

The economic climate is showing some weakness in areas such as exports and production, while business confidence is currently declining, reflecting such factors as the slowdown in China and other overseas economies and the increasing trade friction between the United States and China. On the other hand, the fundamentals that support domestic demand remain solid. Looking ahead, we expect the gradual recovery trend to continue against a backdrop that includes signs of an upturn in personal consumption accompanying improvement in the employment and income environments, as well as steady capital investment. However, attention should be paid to the uncertain outlook for overseas economies in light of the increasing trade friction between the United States and China, to export and production trends, and to developments following Japan's consumption tax increase. Other issues requiring attention include the effects of successive natural disasters, movements in the financial and capital markets in Japan and overseas, the political situations in Europe and the United States and their impact, and geopolitical risks.

2. Realizing Society 5.0

We will publicize our policy proposal for "Society 5.0" in Japan and overseas, seeking to spread awareness of this proposal for 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 expedite the practical implementation of 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 and enact measures for realizing Society 5.0, including the restructuring of industry.

3. Energy and Environmental Issues

We will urge the government to undertake institutional reform aimed at creating a sustainable electrical power system and making renewables into Japan's main sources of power. Such reform would contribute to the government's efforts to establish an investment environment conducive to a resilient energy supply and create a stable supply of energy at prices that compare favorably from an international perspective. The overarching aim of such efforts is to target safety combined with energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental conservation ("S+3E") that takes into account the overall domestic and international situation, as well as Japan's own particular circumstances. In addition, we will take steps to achieve a virtuous cycle that balances environmental considerations with growth. This will include calling for progress with climate change policies focused on making the Paris Agreement workable and internationally equitable, and promoting private-sector-led innovation founded on long-term strategy. We will also urge the government to prevent confusion during the enactment and implementation of institutional reform making it mandatory to charge for plastic shopping bags in stores. We will call for time to be allowed so that store operators can prepare for the change and consumers can be informed about the new system.

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 deliberations on guidelines for the revised Act on Promotion of Women's Participation and Advancement in the Workplace and the revised Act on Comprehensive Promotion of Labor Policies (measures to prevent harassment), as well as 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 as part of 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 even stronger, we will take action at various levels to build closer communication with that country based on agreements including the recently signed US-Japan trade agreement, while calling for such agreements to be put into effect promptly. We will, moreover, monitor policy trends relating to US-China relations and sensitive technologies. 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. Meanwhile, we will extend and deepen our cooperative relationship with Europe through the Japan-EU EPA. In terms of the UK's withdrawal from the EU, we will request action to prevent confusion and negative effects in light of the result of the coming general election. 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 the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics leads to the revitalization of Japan's economy and its subsequent growth.

8. Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, and Building National Resilience

In light of the major natural disasters that have occurred in recent years, Japan needs to do all it can to not only help those caught up in disasters and rehabilitate the areas affected, but also to prevent and mitigate disasters, and to build national resilience. Targeting further improvement in Japan's level of resilience, we will urge the government to ensure steady progress in executing its Fundamental Plan for National Resilience, and to promptly decide on the necessary measures, including measures to make better use of digital technologies and pursue innovation. At the same time, we will encourage companies to also take action.

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