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

March 9, 2020

Novel Coronavirus: Impact and Response

Efforts to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus infections are now in a crucial phase, and the business community is also doing its utmost. As part of these endeavors, from February 28 to March 4 Keidanren conducted a follow-up survey on the status of efforts by its member companies. Telecommuting has been implemented or is planned by about 70% of respondents, and staggered working hours have been implemented or are planned by more than 90%. A further 20% or so of respondents are currently considering implementation of telecommuting, and many companies are proactively putting in place measures to prevent the spread of infection.

The novel coronavirus is having an extremely severe impact on markets. There are concerns about the transportation and tourism sectors, cash flow problems for SMEs, and other issues. The impact will worsen the longer infection continues to spread, and business may stagnate worldwide. The length of contagion is related to the extent of its spread and each country's sense of urgency and response. The nature of this economic downturn differs from the Lehman Shock. When that crisis struck financial institutions' balance sheets had already been damaged, whereas the balance sheets of both financial institutions and corporates currently remain sound. This time the cause is the spread of infection due to an unknown virus, and every effort is being made to control the contagion as quickly as possible. Thus the priority is to deal with the novel coronavirus, and the public and private sectors must work together and do all they can to conquer it as swiftly as possible. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Abe, the government is taking a range of steps not only to prevent the spread of infection, but also to reinforce border controls, support parents and guardians affected by temporary school closures, and implement emergency economic measures.

Announcement of Vice Chair Candidates
and Vice Chair Candidates of the Board of Councillors

Today new vice chair candidates and vice chair candidates of the Keidanren Board of Councillors were provisionally nominated, to be formally appointed at the General Assembly meeting on June 2.

Current vice chairs Tsuyoshi Okamoto, Ken Kobayashi, Kunio Ishizuka, and Takeshi Kunibe will step down on that date. Four new candidates have been put forward: Yasuhiro Sato, Chairman of the Board, Mizuho Financial Group; Masanobu Komoda, President and CEO, Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd.; Jun Ohta, Director President and Group CEO, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group; and Tatsuo Yasunaga, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Current Board of Councillors vice chairs Kuniko Asano, Naoki Izumiya, and Shusaku Nagae, will step down at the end of their terms of office, and Yasuhiro Sato and Masanobu Komoda will also step down in conjunction with their appointment as Keidanren vice chairs. Eight new candidates have been put forward: Ken Kobayashi, Chairman of the Board, Mitsubishi Corporation, who will step down as Keidanren vice chair with effect from the General Assembly meeting in June; Hideo Ichikawa, Chairman of the Board, Showa Denko K.K.; Yoshihisa Suzuki, President & Chief Operating Officer, Itochu Corporation; Kazuhiro Tsuga, President, Panasonic Corporation; Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO, Sony Corporation; Yumiko Noda, President, Veolia Japan K.K.; Noriko Takeuchi, President, Congrès Inc.; and Mitsuru Izumo, CEO, Euglena Co., Ltd.

For Keidanren to represent the Japanese business community and be an organization for discussion of its future direction, diversity of personnel is essential. New appointees to Board of Councillor vice chair positions include women and start-up executives, and we intend to continue appointing a diverse range of people as Keidanren officers.

Implementation of Society 5.0

Realizing Japan's high economic growth by implementing Society 5.0 has been my top policy priority since my appointment as Keidanren chairman. Our policy proposal "Society 5.0—Co-creating the Future" issued in November 2018 showed that realization of Society 5.0 would open up a bright future for Japan, but implementation of digital technology is essential to achieve this goal. Further discussion is required to accelerate responses to digitalization and turn them into corporate strengths. Keidanren will work to resolve specific issues such as data-related rule-making and governance, and to lead the world in these areas.

Post-Earthquake Reconstruction

It is exactly nine years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, yet reconstruction is still under way in damaged areas. Japan needs to go beyond simply restoring the damaged areas to their pre-disaster state, and devise reconstruction plans that candidly reflect the ways in which the world has changed over the last nine years.

Energy Issues

Energy is indispensable for humankind to survive and flourish, and we need to secure future sources of energy. At the same time, we face major challenges in protecting our home the earth, in other words, dealing with the issue of climate change. In a sense, nuclear power is a product of human intelligence. We should again discuss ways of utilizing nuclear energy technologies.

Executives' Comments