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Executives' Comments  Press Conferences Chairman Nakanishi's Statements and Comments
at His Press Conference

July 9, 2018

Damage from Torrential Rains in Western Japan

Flooding and mudslides from torrential rains focused in western Japan have claimed the lives of over 100 citizens. I extend my sincere condolences for those who lost their lives and my sympathies to all who have been impacted by this disaster. Keidanren will call on members of its One-Percent Club to provide assistance and relief. Although the full economic impact from this disaster is not yet clearly known, the flooding and mudslides damaged communications and power infrastructure and cut access to Hiroshima Airport. Many new cars at car dealerships were also inundated with flood water. Given the extent of the damage, the final cost is likely to be substantial.

The Great East Japan Earthquake prompted many companies to move forward with efforts in business continuity planning (BCP). Business continuity plans comprise measures to protect the continuity of critical business operations from potential threats including, but not limited to, natural disasters. They cover a broad range of countermeasures and actions, including the restoration of supply chains. I am hopeful that companies impacted by this latest flood disaster will do everything they can to respond in line with their business continuity plans.

The Conference on Co-Creation of Society 5.0

In the interest of bringing about the creation of Society 5.0, a challenge of top priority for Keidanren, today we inaugurated a Conference on Co-Creation of Society 5.0 together with its affiliated subcommittees. Sector-specific studies aimed at translating the Society 5.0 vision into reality will not attain the goal of creating a new society on their own. It will be necessary to pursue a range of activities, including cross-sectoral discussions concerned with the shape that Society 5.0 will take and recommendations based on their outcomes. Although undue levels of attention have been focused on digital technologies, we still need discussion and debate on a broad range of related issues with the understanding that the structure of society is destined for change. We want to present a vision for a new society that is safe and secure.

Specifically, the sharing and utilization of data will be key. Data is an asset, but no matter how advanced our efforts in data-sharing become, we will still face the question of how to best utilize the shared data. That is a major question.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

We will announce a collection of case studies that demonstrate how corporate activities are making contributions to the SDGs, and will set up a special website to provide public access to that information. We have already collected information on as many as 170 examples or case studies of this kind from Keidanren member-companies. Additionally, we have selected and placed into a brochure some examples of how Keidanren itself is helping to achieve the SDGs through its Society 5.0 initiative. We plan to utilize this brochure along with the collection of corporate case studies to publicize Keidanren's efforts in UN meetings and other forums.

Responding to Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act

Keidanren has presented the U.S. Department of Commerce with an opinion paper on investigations under Section 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion act that are concerned with automobile imports. Furthermore, we are ready and willing to present our views on this matter in public hearings, if invited to do so. We are concerned that the imposition of additional import duties will have a broad-ranging impact, and are prepared to appeal to individual U.S. states to voice our concerns.

In the opinion paper we submitted to the Dept. of Commerce, we pointed out that Japanese companies have contributed to employment growth and other favorable trends in the U.S. economy through their investments. If additional duties are imposed, the repercussions will seriously impact not only Japanese firms but also U.S. consumers mainly in the form of climbing prices. They will also directly impact the business activities and lives of car dealers that handle Japanese automobiles. Our paper utilized data based on statistics from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce itself to highlight concerns about the severe impact that additional duties will have on the U.S. economy. Furthermore, it discussed how unilateral trade actions of this kind may undermine the ability to predict future trends and lead to a decline in corporate incentives to invest. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act was originally intended to deal with matters of national security. It is difficult for us to understand how Japanese automobiles might impact the national security interests of the U.S. Keidanren has also touched on this point in its public comments.

Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement

The proposed EPA between Japan and the EU incorporates provisions for high-level content, and if signed, will be a highly significant achievement. It is important to demonstrate to the world a stance that favors free trade. Last year brought major achievements in the realm of international trade policy. The TPP 11 reached an agreement in principle on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and negotiations on the Japan-EU EPA entered the finalization stage. This year as well, efforts to implement a regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) have shown headway, setting the stage for an agreement in principle before the end of the year. In 2018, Japan has followed through on its efforts from the previous year to help build a multilateral framework for free trade. It will be fantastic if this turns out to be the year that Japan demonstrates its initiative as a leading member of the international community.

Today, the world is in need of new rules that are adapted to trends in digital technology. The TPP 11 and the Japan-EU EPA integrate rules on ways to utilize intellectual property and cooperate while competing to that end. This is a huge step forward. We anticipate that these rules will facilitate the creation of the next-generation international order.

Issues in Quality Control

Nissan Motor recently announced that it has uncovered instances of misconduct involving exhaust gas emissions data. While we do not yet have all the details, we deem this continuation of problems since last year with Nissan's product quality to be a serious matter, and Keidanren plans to act in earnest on it.

Issues in quality control should not be interpreted as a purely localized assembly-line problem, but rather as a challenge for management. No company can claim that it follows legitimate management practices without a clear understanding of conditions in its workplaces.

Executives' Comments