Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics
I would like to convey my appreciation to all those who have overcome the various challenges Japan has faced and succeeded in hosting the Olympics and Paralympics in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that the Games will communicate a clear message of international unity and friendship to the world, reflecting the true Olympic spirit.
[In response to a question about Toyota Motor Corporation withdrawing its Olympic TV commercials and president Akio Toyoda skipping the opening ceremony]
I acknowledge that these are decisions for individual companies. I understand that Toyota is continuing to support athletes and provide vehicles for the event. Since first being appointed as chair of Keidanren's Committee on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Mr. Toyoda has come into direct contact with athletes around Japan, supported them, and done his utmost to generate excitement about the Games. His feelings and plans remain entirely committed to support for the athletes and the event. I was also invited to attend the opening ceremony in my capacity as Keidanren chairman, but after consideration of all the circumstances I decided not to attend, and to cheer the athletes on at home with my family as a member of the public. My absence does not change the significance and value of the event, and I fervently hope it will succeed.
[In response to a question about the resignation of Keigo Oyamada, composer for the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony]
Diversity and inclusion are Olympic and Paralympic ideals. Discriminatory statements and bullying are utterly incompatible with these ideals, and such conduct is inexcusable. Mr. Oyamada recognized this himself and resigned from his position, and I understand that the Organising Committee accepted his resignation. I would prefer to refrain from any further comment on the matter.
[In response to a question about the various issues that have been raised surrounding the Organising Committee]
The Olympics and Paralympics are only held once every four years, and Tokyo 2020 has attracted even more global attention than usual because it is being held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the circumstances, it is a fact that various issues have arisen, but I hope that all those involved will continue doing all they can to make the event a success.
New Strategic Energy Plan
Large volumes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are associated with electricity generation. With an eye to reducing GHG emissions by 46% below fiscal 2013 levels by fiscal 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, Japan should pursue the optimal energy mix from the perspective of ensuring safety, energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental responsibility (S+3E) and considering the attributes and roles of various energy sources. Renewable energy is a key source of electricity for achieving decarbonization and needs to be further deployed in the future, but large-volume introduction presents difficulties due to geographical limitations in Japan, and supplementary sources of electricity are essential because of fluctuations in output from sources such as solar-powered generation. Nuclear energy as a baseload source needs to be appropriately combined with thermal power generation, which can be adjusted according to electricity demand.
Labor and management have a shared understanding that minimum wages should be increased when earnings have risen due to improved productivity. They also agree on the importance of achieving a virtuous economic circle. The Minimum Wage Act stipulates that minimum wages shall be set in consideration of the living expenses of workers, wages of workers, and the ordinary enterprises' ability to pay the wages in the region. Additionally, in deliberating on a target, the Central Minimum Wages Council makes overall decisions based on consideration of prevailing circumstances. Essentially labor and management need to thoroughly debate how to balance these factors, but the Keidanren member abstained from voting in the Council meeting because he perceived that this aspect had not been adequately discussed. The Council's recent decision indicated a target, and deliberations are now shifting to local minimum wages councils. I hope that the amount of minimum wage increases will be decided based on actual local circumstances. I urge the government to encourage appropriate trade practices through the "Declaration of Partnership Building" framework and provide full back-up aimed at creating an environment that enables SMEs to lift minimum wages, for example by expanding digitalization and other support measures that contribute to productivity improvements.
Japan-South Korea Relations
I hope that Japan and South Korea will return to the principles of the 1998 Japan-ROK Joint Declaration as a basis for restoring bilateral relations as quickly as possible. I had expected the upcoming Japan-South Korea leaders' summit to provide an opportunity for this. Regrettably the summit has been postponed, but I understand that the two governments are proceeding to coordinate with one another in a cordial atmosphere, and both leaders have declared a positive stance towards improving relations, so I have heightened expectations for restoration of relations.