- Vice Chair Candidates for the Board of Councillors
- Post-Earthquake Rebuilding
- Spring Labor-Management Wage Dialogues
- Energy Issues
- Labor Shortages
- International Linear Collider (ILC)
- Japan-South Korea Relations
Vice Chair Candidates for the Board of Councillors
I have provisionally nominated new vice chair candidates for the Keidanren Board of Councillors. Current vice chairs Kyohei Takahashi, Shigeharu Suzuki, Toshiaki Egashira, and Masahiro Okafuji will step down at the end of their terms of office, with effect from the next Keidanren General Assembly meeting. Current Board of Councillors vice chairs Koichiro Watanabe, Kuniharu Nakamura, and Hiromichi Shinohara will also step down in conjunction with their appointment as Keidanren vice chairs.
Six new candidates have been put forward: Shunichi Miyanaga, President and CEO, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.; Masakazu Tokura, Representative Director and President, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.; Yasuyoshi Karasawa, Representative Director and Chairman of the Board, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co., Ltd.; Fumiya Kokubu, President and CEO, Marubeni Corporation; Yoshinobu Tsutsui, Chairman, Nippon Life Insurance Company; and Takashi Hibino, Chairman of the Board, Daiwa Securities Group Inc. These candidates have been selected on the basis of character, knowledge, management skill, and leadership in their industries. Realizing Society 5.0, reforming social security systems, and fiscal consolidation are key challenges in these fast-changing times. The new lineup of Keidanren officers will continue to address these issues.
Basic social infrastructure has been restored, but economic and industrial rebuilding is not yet complete. A range of measures is still required, such as reinforcing our industrial base by enhancing national resilience. Japan as a whole needs to address this rebuilding process, and the private sector has a major role to play. It is vital to steadily push ahead with efforts to stimulate regional industries and build communities. As we move forward, this will require measures that extend our strengths rather than merely treat symptoms.
Spring Labor-Management Wage Dialogues
Attention has focused on labor's demands for wage increases and management's responses, but working style reform and rectification of disparities are also important issues. I understand labor unions' aim of making industry-wide demands in an effort to gain higher wage levels. At the same time, management naturally tries to improve treatment of employees and working conditions. Keidanren has called for wage increases and comprehensive improvements to treatment of employees, and regards pay scale increases as one option for achieving these goals.
Discussion of nuclear power needs to be based on long-term, all-encompassing perspectives on the future of Japan, the earth, and humankind rather than emotive, one-sided arguments. Looking ahead 100 or 200 years, nuclear power will be necessary. It would be commendable to meet all of Japan's energy needs with renewable resources and still have internationally industrial competitiveness, but this challenge is quite difficult. What would happen if development of new renewable energy technologies were to be unsuccessful? We need to discuss a grand design for the future of electric power, and put in place measures to secure diverse sources of energy. This is likely to require considering some form of incentives to encourage electric power R&D and investment. Japan will not be viable without such efforts.
Labor shortages are a cross-sectoral issue linked over the long term to reform of working styles and the social security system, population decline, stimulation of domestic industries, education, and other challenges. While addressing each of these individually, we also need to think about the big picture. Measures taken within particular government ministries and agencies have their limits. Comprehensive collaborative efforts involving national and local governments, industry, and academia will be crucial.
International Linear Collider (ILC)
I welcome the ongoing debate over hosting the ILC in Japan. At the same time, this is a difficult issue, partly because funding has not been secured for the project. No international R&D organizations are headquartered in Japan. Since Japan has strengths in the target technologies, hosting the ILC is worthy of consideration if funding issues can be resolved.
Opinions on Brexit are divided in the UK, not only between the cabinet and parliament, but also within the cabinet, the ruling party, and the opposition, and this complex situation creates an uncertain outlook. As the UK is a mature nation, I hope that it will ultimately settle the matter, but hearing about growing likelihood of a "no deal" outcome leaves businesses with no option but to prepare for the worst. Companies such as automakers that export to the continental Europe from production bases in the UK will not be able to continue business if tariffs are levied on both exports and imports. Moreover, circumstances such as logistical backlogs would have immense impacts. Such critical economic threats prompt me to reiterate my call to avoid a "no deal" outcome at all costs.
Japan-South Korea Relations
Although Japan-South Korea relations must not be aggravated, in reality they are strained. In times such as these it is essential to maintain private-sector dialogue. Japan and South Korea have strong economic ties. Business leaders in both countries seek good bilateral relations, and I share this desire with Korean business leaders.