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

September 4, 2023

Supporting Consumption of Domestic Marine Products

The government's discharge of Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has prompted countries including China to completely halt imports of Japanese marine products at present, and Japan's fisheries are facing a grave situation.

Keidanren, especially through its Committee on Recovery and Restoration, has steadily worked to clear up rumors, expand consumption of local products, and restore industries in the aim of assisting recovery in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake as well as facilitating the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The reaction by China and other countries is thus extremely regrettable.

Various parties must unite to overcome the current difficulties. I urge the government to swiftly resolve the situation through diplomatic efforts. Naturally, the business community will also roll out activities in support of fisheries operators. I call upon all our member companies to proactively back Japan's marine products through steps such as serving them in staff cafeterias and at meetings. To launch such efforts, the menu at today's luncheon for the Keidanren chairman and vice chairs actively incorporated domestic marine products. I was reminded just how delicious and safe these products are.

(In response to a question about support measures for domestic fisheries operators) I am very encouraged by the government's support package announced on September 4, which amounts to around 20 billion yen, and I expect it to be an effective measure. More broadly, much can be done and there is plenty of cause for hope. For example, another effective measure will be for overseas visitors to Japan to sample the local food culture, savor our marine products, and share their actual experiences.

Discharge of ALPS Treated Water into the Sea

It is vital to reaffirm the key point that this is not simply treated water, but water treated by an Advanced Liquid Processing System. ALPS treated water has been meticulously treated with advanced technologies, and as noted in the IAEA report released in July 2023, its safety is assured scientifically, ethically, and objectively. The high safety levels and the reasons behind them need to be communicated patiently and carefully within Japan and internationally. Such information will convince people and give them a real sense of safety, fostering peace of mind for everyone domestically and abroad.

Measures to Ease Energy Price Volatility

(In response to a question regarding the decision made on August 30 to continue measures to ease volatility in fuel oil prices and electricity and city gas charges) It is likely that this decision considered the impact of sharp rises in energy prices on people's lives. Especially at a time when a virtuous cycle of wages and prices is beginning, the government should take necessary steps to address extreme energy price hikes, and its decision is consistent with this approach.

Minimum Wage

(In response to a question on views of Prime Minister Kishida's announcement on August 31 of a plan to raise the nationally weighted average minimum wage to 1,500 yen by the mid-2030s) My view is that the government has set a mid- to long-term minimum wage goal in the aim of achieving the virtuous cycle of growth and distribution that the Kishida administration is targeting. There are two key points for minimum wages: one is discussion in Minimum Wage Councils comprising government, labor, and management representatives, and the other is appropriate increases that consider the three elements of workers' cost of living, workers' wages, and the ability of ordinary businesses to pay wages. The government's plan re-emphasizes these points. It is essential to consider minimum wage increases in tandem with support measures to raise employers' ability to pay wages, taking full account of the views of SMEs and organizations that represent them. I have high hopes that the government will introduce and expand support measures that help to enhance productivity through advances such as digitalization.

In the aim of improving transaction terms and encouraging appropriate price pass-through, Keidanren will continue its efforts to expand the number of companies participating in the Declaration of Partnership Building initiative and assure and improve its effectiveness.

Business Mission to China

(In response to a question about reports of a business mission to China comprising representatives of Keidanren, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Japan-China Economic Association scheduled for January 2024) Dialogue must not be neglected, especially at a time when a range of issues, including political and economic matters, exist between our two countries. Prospects for resolving such issues will become more remote if dialogue fades. In the past, business dialogue has continued even when political relations between Japan and China have been strained. I am proud to say that this has contributed to not only bilateral relations, but also the world as a whole. In the current situation, it is likely that China wants to maintain an open economic door and exchange views with the Japanese business community. Visiting China after a gap of four years and four months will be a meaningful achievement, and both sides must communicate their enthusiasm when they meet. Although factors such as hostility between the US and China are creating a difficult environment, if the subject of economic security arises, I would like to convey the Japanese business community's thoughts on working together to build a free and open economy while preserving the "small yard, high fence" principle. Keidanren also plans to engage in dialogue with Japanese and Chinese businesspeople and former senior government officials in a summit of Japanese and Chinese CEOs and other prominent figures. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China, and I hope that exchange between our two countries will make great advances.

Strike at Sogo and Seibu Department Stores

(In response to a question on views of the strike at Sogo and Seibu department stores) This is a matter for individual companies, and I would like to refrain from commenting on pros and cons.

I was profoundly impressed by the deep concern that members of the labor union showed regarding the impact of the strike on customers and local communities, who are important stakeholders. Based on such consideration by the labor union, I sincerely hope that the union and management sides, including the new parent company, will thoroughly discuss the issues and reach an agreement that suits both labor and management.

Executives' Comments