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

November 5, 2018

Society 5.0

Today, Keidanren will announce its policy proposal for "Society 5.0—Co-Creating the Future." These policy recommendations form guidelines for action for realizing Society 5.0. The first chapter sends a strong message that, even in this uncertain world, instead of considering digital transformation as a challenge, we will work to create a bright future. Instead of simply presenting the difficulties, it proposes that we create the society of the future together. It indicates to the member companies of Keidanren directions for the business sector to follow. The second chapter describes the specifics of the challenges we will meet in the path to realizing Society 5.0. These recommendations are the business sector's declaration of action.

While some industrial sectors have deepened their debate considerably toward the realization of Society 5.0, there are other sectors where the way forward remains unclear. If we can consider digitalization in a positive light in a wide range of industrial fields, Japan's competitiveness will improve.

In the United States, an ecosystem has grown up around the creation of venture businesses and innovation. Venture businesses have sprung up one after the other, and as they have grown, those venture businesses are being acquired by large corporations through M&As and other means. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs are exiting those businesses by selling them, only to set about creating new businesses. This kind of system would not be possible without the mobility of human resources. The environment in Japan differs from that in the United States, and it would be no easy feat to nurture venture businesses in Japan to the same extent as in the United States. Based on Japan's current circumstances, in which personnel are concentrated in the large corporations, we are proposing the launch of "Dejima-like" free zones within those large corporations.

Corporate Governance

Corporate governance is the very essence of corporate management and is not something to be pursued merely because of calls to do so by the government or shareholders. If companies are to raise the quality of corporate management, they must work to strengthen their corporate governance of their own volition as a matter of course. The Corporate Governance Code has a requirement for "comply or explain," but even before that, companies must first think for themselves. After that, it is important that they constantly check their own governance against the common wisdom of society. As corporate executives, we are called to explain to various stakeholders how we intend to manage our organizations.

Regulations concerning Data

Until now, there has been insufficient recognition of the importance of data and of its value as an asset. For this reason, there had been no rules about who data belongs to and how it is to be used. However, with the considerable progress in digitalization accompanying the advances in digital technologies, there are now calls for such rules to be created. It is only natural that the government has commenced debate on the development of rules concerning data. Going forward, we will participate in that debate while maintaining a close watch on what kind of rules are developed. In Society 5.0, data will, naturally, be an asset. Rules regarding the handling of data that are highly transparent and fair will be needed.

Quality Issues

Problems concerning quality are continuing in Japanese companies. The confidence in their quality that Japanese companies have built up since the period of rapid economic growth is starting to fray. Quality control initiatives lie at the heart of corporate activity and are based on what takes place on the actual business field such as factory floor. Given the potential for these issues to cast a shadow on the trust held in Japan's manufacturing industry, Keidanren will continue to sound the warning bell.

Recycling of Plastics

Japan does produce a large volume of plastic, but it also has an extremely high recycling rate. In addition to enhancing resource recycling in Japan, it is important that we further hone Japan's technological capabilities in the recycling of plastics, an area in which Japan is held in high regard internationally, and extend them to other countries. Japan is an advanced nation in this area, and we need to promote Japan's technologies and initiatives at the G20 and other forums.

Japan-South Korea Relations

Even 70 years after the end of the war, there seems to be no end to concerns in the relationship between Japan and South Korea. It is a difficult bilateral relationship. Nevertheless, we are not facing any particular problems in our overall economic relationship. The ruling on the lawsuit by former labor conscripts is the decision of South Korea's Supreme Court, and I would ask for an appropriate response to be made through the diplomatic channels of both countries.

US Sanctions on Iran

Japan's imports of crude oil from Iran are, for the time being, not subject to the American sanctions. Iran is a country that has deep ties with Japan, not only economically, but also historically and culturally. As well as the nuclear issue, complex international relations, including the relationships between Iran and other countries, are in the background to this issue.

Revision of Membership Eligibility Rules

To realize Society 5.0, we need a wider range of companies to participate in Keidanren's activities. For this reason, we have revised Keidanren's membership eligibility rules. Specifically, the net assets requirement has been lowered from 1 billion yen or more to 100 million yen or more. It cannot be denied that many of Keidanren's members today are the traditional large corporations. It is important that we bring in a diverse range of companies, including venture businesses, and make Keidanren an organization that truly represents the Japanese business sector.