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

March 22, 2022

Lifting of Priority Preventive Measures

I would like to express my gratitude and pay my respect once again for the contributions of the medical workers and the preventive measures taken by the Japanese people while priority preventive measures against Covid-19 were imposed on many areas. We also ask the national and local governments to prepare for the next wave of Covid-19, as well as transition from current policies to policies that regard Covid-19 as endemic rather than pandemic in light of recent developments in Europe and America. The point is to prevent severe complications of Covid-19. We appreciate the more flexible approach of easing restrictions on people who came in close contact with infected persons. As to border measures, while the increase of the daily cap on entrants from 5,000 to 7,000 represents a step forward, we hope that all restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible to revitalize travel between Japan and other countries.

Ongoing Yen Depreciation

The yen continues to depreciate at present. The impact of foreign exchange fluctuations on companies differs from one business sector to another. While this comes as a factor that will help exporters' business performance, it translates into additional cost for companies importing energy. In any case, stability in foreign exchange rates is desirable.

Power Supply Crunch

The main reason behind the current power supply crunch is that six thermal power plants stopped operations due to the earthquake off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture on March 16, plus a sudden surge in demand for electricity caused by the abrupt plunge in temperatures. I think the issuance of the power supply warning just when we were all truly realizing the importance of stable supply of energy in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine came as a reminder of the significance of energy security. While it is essential to deal with the short-term supply crunch, mid- and long-term measures are also indispensable. In other words, it is necessary to resume the operation of nuclear power plants that have been proven to be safe and given the local community's consent while Japan works on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve carbon neutrality. It is also important to work on replacement [of existing power plants], as well as the diversification of power sources, including renewable energies.

In response to a request from the government, Keidanren issued an appeal today to its member companies, particularly those within TEPCO's service area, to conserve electricity by 10%. We ask companies with the resources to consider using their own power generation equipment to secure their power supply.

Wage Increases

I believe the spring negotiations and consultations between labor and management have made a good start, with wages being raised by over 2% for the first time in three years, according to Rengo's "First Tally of Wage Hikes in the 2022 Spring Offensive for a Better Life." (released on March 18) As I stated on March 16, when many companies announced their negotiated wage increases, there had been more substantial increases in base wages, bonuses, and allowances compared to last year and the year before last, and many companies had accepted in full their labor unions' demands, indicating that the momentum for wage increases is being maintained or even accelerated. We hope that companies whose business results have recovered to the pre-Covid level will increase their employees' wages. We will continue to call on big companies to take the lead in promoting fair transaction prices, such as by participating in the Declaration of Partnership Building initiative, to ensure that this momentum for wage increases will also extend to the small and medium-sized enterprises.

Peace Treaty Negotiations with Russia

[Asked for comments on Russia's announcement of the suspension of peace treaty negotiations] Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the cause of the imposition of economic sanctions. The Japanese government's position is that it is absolutely unacceptable to take this out on Japan-Russia relations. Keidanren shares the same view.

Executives' Comments