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

November 19, 2018

Acceptance of Foreign Workers

Proposed revisions to the Immigration Control Act aimed at facilitating the acceptance of foreign workers are consistent with the views and policies of Keidanren. We hope they will be carefully deliberated, approved, and enacted as quickly as possible.

Japan needs to become a nation known for diversity. If it cannot, it will find itself increasingly isolated, economically as well as socially. Even if it does lay the groundwork to open its markets further, that alone is not going to lead to a rapid influx of foreign nationals eager to work in Japan. That is because Japan's labor market poses certain high hurdles to entry, including the language barrier as well as our traditional ways of life.

Creating an environment conducive to the acceptance of more foreign workers is not something that any individual company can do singlehandedly. Institutional frameworks for acceptance must be built at the national and local government levels. This will also demand improved understanding and acceptance from entire communities and their residents. To give a single example, learning how to properly sort and put out the trash is even a challenge for many newcomers to Japan. We want to see thorough deliberations by the Diet on this legislation to ensure that all of the issues surrounding the acceptance of foreign workers are brought out and discussed in full.

Spring Labor-Management Wage Dialogues

In January 2019, the report of the Keidanren Special Committee on Management and Labor Policy will be issued underlining the position of the business community on labor-management negotiations next spring. Discussing comprehensive issues each spring from a general perspective between labor and management is worthwhile. However, at the individual company level, it is also important that workers and management hold serious discussions that take their company's business results into account. That is what labor-management negotiations are for. Although these negotiations traditionally have been referred to as a "labor offensive," something seems out-of-place with that expression.

Keidanren has called on companies with climbing income to take proactive steps toward boosting wages. That in turn has encouraged labor and management representatives at many companies to hold serious negotiations and work out new wage scales. This will continue to be our approach going forward.

Employment of Older Persons

Japan has a growing population of healthy seniors, many of whom are in need of opportunities to exercise their abilities through meaningful employment. However, it is questionable whether general rules can be put into place for this purpose, given the differences between individuals and the varied business conditions that affect individual companies. While some people hold the view that seniors should work later into life, others feel we cannot rejuvenate the labor force without setting age limits for managerial posts or imposing similar limits of that kind.

Trade Friction between the United States and China

Tensions between the US and China on issues in trade and commerce appear set to become drawn out. It is highly unlikely that US President Trump and Chinese President Xi will reach any immediate breakthrough. Although the Japanese economy presumably will feel an impact, it probably will not be too harsh. Keidanren has been a consistent advocate for the promotion and sustenance of free trade. Although certain trends antagonistic to that goal have come to the surface, we are determined to stick by our position and reaffirm the importance of free trade. Many companies today are running value chains of multilateral scale. They will likely pool their wisdom and come up with measures to counter these recent protectionist trends.

Japan is a resource-poor country. It is impossible for our economy to operate without free trade. Japan has maintained amicable economic ties in a variety of forms with many other countries and has made sustained contributions to the international community. This is Japan's business model, with economic growth premised on free trade. It is imperative that we continue to promote the multilateral system of free trade. Specifically, it is crucial that we build ties with more countries that share our values together with the benefits of free trade. The US business community essentially holds the same view. Japan will continue to seek dialogue and cooperation with not only the US but many other countries, including Canada, Mexico, and members of the Asian community. ASEAN member-states in particular have been closely watching to see how their economies will be impacted by the trade war between China and the US, as well as how Japan itself will respond. Japan should strive to meet their expectations.

Education-Related Issues

I have always been perplexed by the criteria used to differentiate between courses of study in the humanities and the sciences. Although not easy, I think the lines separating course requirements in the humanities and the sciences should be removed. For example, it just seems weird that students in the humanities are not expected to study any math. Unless Japan acts to harness all of its wisdom and foster the creation of a knowledge industry in the years ahead, it ultimately will be doomed.

Bringing Expo 2025 to Osaka

If Osaka is chosen to serve as the host for Expo 2025, the whole country will need to be involved in the drive to put the Expo into motion. The business community will of course expend its fullest energies to help make that happen. Keidanren has assumed its responsibilities and worked to bring the Expo to Osaka. We hope to receive good news from the BIE General Assembly this week.

Executives' Comments