Executives' Comments Press Conferences
Chairman Sakakibara's Statements and Comments
at His Press Conference
- Recruitment and Employment of New College Graduates
- Population Issues
- Japan-US Relations
- The Situation in Syria and Japan-Russia Relations
- Japan-Republic of Korea Relations
- Toshiba Semiconductor Business
- New Leadership for Tokyo Electric Power Company
Recruitment and Employment of New College Graduates
Beginning with our policy for recruitment and employment of new college graduates commencing work in fiscal 2017, Keidanren set a timetable of recruitment campaigns starting on March 1 and the selection process starting on June 1. We applied the same schedule for new college graduates commencing work in fiscal 2018. Some parties commented that this schedule left students with only a short time to research companies and industries, but generally most participants welcomed the new timetable, and there was no serious confusion relating to students studying abroad or trainee teachers. In view of the overall outcomes, we decided to maintain the same schedule for the third consecutive year to govern recruitment of new college graduates commencing work in fiscal 2019.
Internships are a highly effective form of career education, and help to prevent mismatches that could result in recruits leaving after a short period of employment. Thus, it is advisable to ensure the educational effectiveness of such programs, for example by accepting students into workplaces and providing them with feedback. I have previously expressed my views on problems relating to the proliferation of one-day programs during spring break. Specifically, the handbook setting out Keidanren's policy on recruitment and employment of new college graduates noted that such programs have little educational value considering the true purpose of internships, and that companies should not conduct one-day programs as part of corporate publicity or recruitment activities. Only highly educationally effective one-day programs that accept students into workplaces, offer career education, and provide feedback can be conducted.
We will continue to examine our policy for recruitment and employment of new college graduates commencing work in fiscal 2019 and beyond. The current policy has been adopted for the last two consecutive years, and its timetable is acceptable to both universities and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The current policy is not deemed permanent, but nor will it necessarily change for new college graduates commencing work in fiscal 2020 and beyond. We will continue to examine better frameworks for recruitment and employment of new college graduates.
Finally, it is understood that the schedule set out in the policy applies only to Keidanren member companies. However, the government has requested some 450 business groups and industry associations, including Keidanren, to observe the start times in the policy and consider academic timetables. If all enterprises conduct orderly recruitment and employment activities in accordance with predetermined rules, the process will take students' academic activities into account. I will directly urge Keidanren member companies to follow the policy. We will also collaborate more closely with the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business groups to raise awareness of the policy.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, today announced new population estimates. As a result of a slight rise in the birth rate, the population of Japan will not fall below 100 million until several years later than anticipated, and this is a desirable trend. In essence, however, the issues of a shrinking and aging population remain unaltered. Recent problems with labor shortages are becoming more serious. To address these problems, we need to improve work efficiency and enhance productivity by utilizing information technology and robots, broaden the labor market base by including more women and older people and creating environments conducive to their active participation in the workforce, and make use of workers from overseas. One million foreigners, including highly skilled personnel, are currently working in Japan, but this is not enough to compensate for labor shortages.
Keidanren's position on immigration is that it requires ongoing investigation as a long-term issue. We are aware of various questions surrounding immigration, but it is essential for Japan to welcome larger numbers of foreign workers.
Keidanren has submitted its view on Brexit to both the UK and the EU. On March 29, British Prime Minister Theresa May formally notified European Council President Donald Tusk of her country's intention to withdraw from the EU. Negotiations will begin once the EU has determined its policy for the talks. Keidanren urged both parties to work towards sound and sustainable economic development by building a new partnership in the negotiations rather than focusing on outcomes for either the UK or the EU. It also asked them to ensure, as far as possible, a single market between the UK and the EU and a predictable business environment to prevent any major impact on corporate activities. It set out nine specific requests, including realizing a customs agreement that is as close as possible to the present customs union, securing regulatory coherence across a wide range of areas, and establishing a sufficient and seamless transition period.
US Vice President Mike Pence will visit Japan on April 18 and hold the first round of bilateral economic discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso. If an opportunity for dialogue with Vice President Pence can be arranged, I hope to share my thoughts with him on behalf of the Japanese business community. I intend to convey the messages that strong bilateral relations between our two countries are vital, we are highly interdependent, Japanese companies make a sizeable contribution to US employment, exports, and the overall US economy, and we should engage in forward-looking discussions aimed at further expanding bilateral economic relations.
Former Keidanren vice chair Kunio Ishihara met Vice President Pence on a visit to Indiana in June 2015, when Mr. Pence was governor of that state. The two also spoke when Mr. Pence visited Keidanren in September 2015. Many Japanese companies operate in Indiana, and Vice President Pence has sound knowledge of our country and our contributions to the US economy, having worked to build closer ties with Japanese enterprises during his time as governor.
The Situation in Syria and Japan-Russia Relations
The US attack in Syria is likely to have various repercussions for US-Russia relations. However, these will not have any direct impact on economic relations between Russia and Japan. Last year the leaders of Japan and Russia agreed to enhance business relationships by proceeding with an eight-point plan for economic cooperation, and I do not anticipate any significant effects on implementation of this plan.
Prime Minister Abe has built amicable relationships of trust with both President Putin and President Trump. He is perhaps the only world leader to have established such good relations with both presidents, and I hope that he will play a key role in global affairs.
Although current circumstances in Syria and North Korea do not alter economic fundamentals, the situation in Syria is exacerbating tensions, and North Korea is presenting practical issues. I urge the Japanese government to respond with urgency and provide the public with appropriate information.
Japan-Republic of Korea Relations
As the presidential election approaches in the Republic of Korea and tensions grow over North Korea, I welcome the recent return of Japanese Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine to his post in Seoul. With a view to reinforcing Japan-Korea business relations, Keidanren and the Federation of Korean Industries will hold a seminar on third-country infrastructure investment in Seoul in May, and a leaders' meeting in Tokyo in October. The business communities of Japan and Korea will actively share ideas to build stronger relationships with an eye to the future.
Toshiba Semiconductor Business
Toshiba's semiconductor business entails core technologies for national security, and it is vital to retain these technologies and related expertise within Japan. I understand that several moves are afoot to invest in the business, but ultimately these depend on decisions by individual companies. Such developments are encouraging, but at this stage Keidanren is just monitoring the situation.
New Leadership for Tokyo Electric Power Company
Takashi Kawamura, honorary chairman of Hitachi, Ltd., has been appointed as the new chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Mr. Kawamura has a proven track record as a highly-capable CEO, having implemented decisive management reforms in difficult circumstances during his terms as president and chairman of Hitachi, and displayed strong capabilities in turning that company around. TEPCO faces a host of challenges, including disposing of nuclear fuel at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, decommissioning the plant, compensating those affected by the accident, and reviving its own operations, and I am confident that Mr. Kawamura will apply his extensive skills to these tasks. He has the abilities required to fulfill public expectations, and the business community will support him to the fullest possible extent.