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

January 29, 2024

Joint Delegation to China with the Japan-China Economic Association

(In response to a question about the outcomes of the visit to China by the joint delegation with the Japan-China Economic Association [January 23-26] and the forthcoming challenges) In 2022, China and Japan celebrated the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations, and 2023 marked 45 years since the two countries signed the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Moreover, at the previous Japan-China Summit Meeting (November 16, 2023) the leaders of both countries reaffirmed their "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" and their intention to build "constructive and stable Japan-China relations." As the first of its kind in four years, the delegation's visit to China was therefore highly meaningful, as it provided a timely boost to such momentum.

At talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, the delegation called for the development of a transparent and highly predictable business environment and for the abolition of regulations that are not grounded in scientific or objective facts, among other requests. Informal talks with the Ministry of Commerce also saw considerably in-depth exchanges of opinion on specific topics such as the Anti-Espionage Law and the restrictions on the import of Japanese fishery products and other such items.

Of Premier Li Qiang's remarks, the following three points left a particular impression: that China (1) intends to further advance Japan-China relations under the principles of peace, friendship, and cooperation, (2) will continue to open its markets in order to contribute to the world economy, and (3) will provide a fair, secure, and stable business environment.

While this delegation's visit allowed both sides to recognize each other's assertions and differences with regard to current developments and challenges, there is not a quick fix for the various issues. We need to build on this visit by continuing exchange at every level, including in political, economic, and other circles, and ensure that both countries persistently contribute to such efforts one step at a time, with the aim of rebuilding Japan-China relations.

Spring Labor-Management Negotiations

(In response to being asked about the labor-management "gap" that needs to be bridged, the points to be asserted, and other matters related to the upcoming meeting with Rengo [February 1]) There are three points that we would like to convey at the meeting with Rengo. Firstly, we would like to confirm that labor and management have aligned their approach. Secondly, we have even greater enthusiasm and determination than last year to strive to maintain and enhance the momentum toward wage increases. Thirdly, this is truly a critical moment for achieving a complete end to deflation and ensuring structural wage increases, and it is very much our wish to accomplish these aims together.

Looking at the figures, wording and other such approaches advocated by Rengo as its principles, while there are aspects that differ in terms of the philosophies of our movements, we do not feel that there is a labor-management "gap" that needs to be bridged between Rengo and Keidanren. If anything, there is the fact that Keidanren uses the term "spring labor-management negotiations" (shunki rōshi kōshō), while Rengo uses the term "spring offensive" (shuntō). If describing the negotiations as an "offensive" is aimed at raising morale, it is our hope that labor and management will be able to launch such an "offensive" together this spring to achieve a complete end to deflation and to ensure social change that addresses the lack of progress in price pass-through.

(In response to a question about the 2024 Report of the Special Committee on Management and Labor Policy which suggests that a conceivable option for ensuring the progress of appropriate price-pass through would be to seek where necessary suitable remuneration for services that are offered to consumers free of charge) This is built on the idea of making it the social norm for prices to be assigned to good items and good services. In order to ensure that consumers accept such prices being assigned, it is necessary to ensure that they are provided with careful explanations that allow them to recognize the quality of the service. This is not something that can be done this year in just one round, but that will require steady efforts.

Monetary Policy

(In response to a question about change to Bank of Japan [BOJ] monetary policy) The BOJ surely wishes to normalize monetary policy once it is confident that appropriate inflation, of the demand-pull type, as opposed to the cost-push type, has been realized and a virtuous cycle of wages and prices has begun. While that timing is to be decided by the BOJ as appropriate, the concentrated response date (March 13) of the spring labor-management negotiations will be one key timing. Although determining whether inflation is due to cost push or demand pull is difficult, given that a gentle rise in service prices has been confirmed, the BOJ is surely gradually feeling a positive trend toward realizing a virtuous cycle of wages and prices.

Political Reform Headquarters

(In response to a question regarding his views on the interim report [January 25] of the LDP "political reform headquarters") It is commendable that the LDP has shown a definite orientation toward political stability and regaining the people's trust. I hope that in the future the government and opposition will ensure the effectiveness of such reform by persistently engaging in debate.

The Toyota Industries Corporation Certification Irregularities

(In response to a question about the announcement [dated January 29] from Toyota Industries Corporation that irregularities have been newly discovered with regards to seven of its models of engines for industrial vehicles and three of its models of engines for automobiles) This is a problem that impacts on trust and confidence in Japanese companies. Japanese companies have long been highly renowned for the quality of the products they provide, their courteous and thorough customer service, and their observance of delivery deadlines and laws and regulations. It is truly regretful that a scandal that shakes such trust has occurred. I hope that, rather than allowing corporate governance to be nothing more than a formality, internal control will be strengthened in order to ensure its effectiveness, and endeavors are thereby made to prevent future such occurrences.

Osaka-Kansai Expo

(In response to a question about the fact that Sanae Takaichi, minister in charge of economic security, suggested to Prime Minister Kishida that the Expo should be postponed given the need to prioritize reconstruction following the Noto Peninsula Earthquake) It is necessary to engage in the efforts for recovery and reconstruction following the Noto Peninsula Earthquake as the top priority, in order to help those affected to resume their day-to-day lives as quickly as possible. The aim is to hold the Expo as planned in such a way that will not hinder the recovery and reconstruction efforts.

At present, no scenarios in which the construction work for the Expo may impede the recovery and reconstruction efforts in the affected areas have been ascertained. However, if, in the future, circumstances should arise in which there is a risk of such impacts, it will of course be necessary to make adjustments with the top priority placed upon the recovery and restoration efforts. This was surely the thinking behind Minister Takaichi's suggestion to Prime Minister Kishida.