Executives' Comments Press Conferences
Chairman Nakanishi's Statements and Comments
at His Press Conference
- Spring Labor-Management Wage Dialogues
- Education Reform
- International Linear Collider
- Quality-Related Problems in Companies
- Six Months into My Term as Chairman
Spring Labor-Management Wage Dialogues
As part of our promotion of work style reform, we have engaged in issues such as the reduction of long working hours and equal pay for equal work. With great changes taking place in what it means to work, it is important to consider how to establish the right employment treatment and environment that will give working people a sense of reward in their work. It will be important to discuss properly in the Spring Labor-Management Wage Dialogues the questions of how to create such working environments and how to improve employee treatment to increase productivity.
Wages are a key element of employee treatment. The report of the Keidanren Special Committee on Management and Labor Policy also cites the fundamental principle of wage determination (that each company should determine wages independently, under appropriate management of total personnel expenditure, based on its capacity to pay and after frank discussions with labor unions and other relevant parties).
In terms of the management environment, corporate profits are expanding, and there are no industries experiencing a downturn. Given this situation, we could say that the management environment is favorable. On the other hand, there are developments that are counter to free trade, including the recent trade friction. Increasing the consumption tax rate is an issue of a different dimension from raising wages, but it does have the potential to place downward pressure on the economy. As these circumstances show, the future prospects for the Japanese economy are unclear. Companies will need to strengthen their corporate structure to enable them to adapt to the changes in the industrial structure. This will also mean major changes for working people. Companies will need to pursue the creation of an environment that will motivate their employees to work. It is important that companies with climbing incomes respond to these changes by taking proactive steps toward boosting wages, raising the motivation of their workers, and reinforcing their corporate structure.
From the perspective of raising consumer prices and consumption, it is only natural that the government should emphasize wage rises. Keidanren holds the same view. In the first place, raising wages is not something that companies should be doing at the government's behest. Our basic position is that the improvement of employee treatment should be pursued through discussions between labor and management. I believe that the government also understands this position of the business sector.
When we posed the problems involved in the simultaneous recruiting of new graduates, we also called for university education reform. University education has a number of problems. Companies also bear some responsibility for those problems. While at university, we want students to study the bare minimum of liberal arts and mathematics that will give graduates a good grounding as a business person. In addition, we will open up channels for the direct exchange of opinions between the universities and the business sector.
Universities have diverse functions and play important roles. They are a place to cultivate knowledge and, as such, they are an asset to society. Precisely because of this place that universities hold in society, the business sector will give them its opinions. For companies, their most important management resource is their people. The development of human resources is not something that can be completed by a single company alone. It is important that companies collaborate not just with universities, but with other companies as well, to create career-building opportunities. Recruitment is just one aspect of that. Keidanren will continue to provide its thoughts about what kind of people are needed for the development of the economy and society and what kind of skills they need to acquire.
International Linear Collider
With Japan set to host the International Linear Collider, which is an international institution, we expect to see major benefits for Japan as researchers gather from other countries and technologies are accumulated. There is great significance in contributing to the research and development of the linear collider as the host nation. Nevertheless, I am also aware that securing the funds for this project is an extremely difficult challenge.
Quality-Related Problems in Companies
There has been a spate of quality-related issues in companies since last year. We recognize this as a grave warning bell for Japanese companies. Quality is tied closely to the site of production, and it may be that a shadow has fallen over the Japanese industry's competitiveness. Perhaps the time has come for Japan to break free of the production model of its period of economic growth, which was premised on mass production. Because this question has been left untouched, a gap in awareness has emerged between the top management levels and the people on the ground. This situation can no longer be ignored.
Looking at the recent state of global politics, we can see a strong trend in which President Trump is attempting to solve everything by bringing up bilateral deals. However, unlike at the APEC Summit, the G20 Summit was able to put together a Leaders' Declaration. The fact that an agreed document was produced not bilaterally, but at a multilateral forum, is an important outcome. On the other hand, I believe that we will see progress in the creation of new rules surrounding commerce that differ from those that exist now. I should note that the problems between the United States and China are not only about trade friction; they also involve strategic factors in the form of competition between the two nations for dominance in the global market. These are very deep-seated issues. As the Chair nation of the G20, Japan will need to raise issues toward the promotion of free trade and contribute to the development of the international community.
Six Months into My Term as Chairman
Keidanren's activities cover a very broad range. In my six months, we have pursued initiatives in three key challenges (Society 5.0, structural reform, and private-sector economic diplomacy). Various things have been pointed out about the relationship between the business community and the government, but those comments are not appropriate. The public and private sectors must share the same goals and join forces to address key challenges.