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

February 13, 2024

National Finances

(In response to a question on views of the national debt—which is the sum of government bonds, borrowing, and the present value of government-guaranteed debt— reaching a record high of approximately 1,286 trillion yen as of December 31, 2023) Fiscal consolidation is crucial. In line with the government's goals, the challenge is not the actual amount of debt, but stable reduction of the debt-to-GDP ratio. Based on the concept that the economy forms the foundation of government finances, the government must conduct dynamic economic and fiscal management that aims for fiscal consolidation over the medium to long term, rather than focusing solely on single-year revenue and expenditure.

Social security expenditure accounts for a particularly large proportion of Japan's public finances. The government needs to establish a social security system oriented to all generations through integrated reform of taxation and social security.

Child and Childcare Support Allowances

(In response to a question about media reports that establishment of a child and childcare support fund will impose a national burden of just under 500 yen per person per month in the form of additional medical insurance premiums) Without knowing the basis for calculating the national contribution, it is difficult to comment on its level. However, as a prerequisite, the government needs to start creating a social security system oriented to all generations without delay to eliminate younger generations' uncertainties about the future, so that wage increases flow through to consumption. However, since such reforms take time, I can understand the government's haste on child and childcare support in the short term.

Since the government's policy is that all generations should bear the cost of providing financial resources for the child and childcare support fund, the system will levy contributions via additional medical insurance premiums from not only the working-age population, but also older persons. The government has stated that through government expenditure reforms, no substantial burden will be imposed. I hope that as well as steadily implementing such reforms, the government will adequately explain them through discussion in the Diet and foster public understanding.

Nikkei Average

(In response to a question on the main causes of the Nikkei stock average temporarily exceeding 38,000 yen on February 13 and other recent highs) There are many factors behind these highs, including excessive yen depreciation, expansion of inbound tourist consumption, capital inflows due to the economic slowdown in China, and the Tokyo Stock Exchange's request for companies to implement "management that is conscious of cost of capital and stock price." The current stock market rally is not necessarily an indication of Japanese companies' capabilities. I expect that high valuations of Japanese stocks will soon become more consistent with economic trends.

Optional Separate Surnames for Married Couples

(In response to a question about the need to introduce a system of optional separate surnames for married couples and prospective Keidanren activities in this regard) I agree with the introduction of a system of optional separate surnames for married couples. I have heard of women experiencing problems when travelling abroad due to inconsistency between their maiden name and the registered family name shown on their passports, and of women's pre-marriage research achievements not being recognized after their names changed upon marriage. I urge the government to introduce such a system as a priority measure to promote women's active participation in the workforce and diverse work styles. Keidanren is examining the issue with a view to announcing its policy recommendations in the first half of fiscal 2024.

Political Funding

(In response to a question on the series of measures taken by the LDP to address the political funding issue) Compliance with the rules set out in the Political Funds Control Act is a prerequisite. In addition, rules to ensure transparency in political funding also need to be reviewed.

(In response to a question about party factions) Public attention focuses solely on personnel and money, but factions study and take responsibility for policy. If reforms are to be made, I hope that politicians will make a clean break from the current system of factions and aim to create new policy groups. I would like to see deeper discussion within parties about the specific nature of factions.

Employment of Older Persons

(In response to a question about the reaction to a statement by Yoshitaka Shindo, Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization, that Japan must create a society where its older people, who are healthier than those in many other countries, can continue to work. The statement, made on a television program aired on February 11, triggered concerns about whether older people would be forced to work by increases in the retirement age.) I am not sure that Minister Shindo directly referred to raising the mandatory retirement age. His statement was not intended to suggest that all older people would be forced to work, but rather to encourage the creation of an environment that makes it easy for healthy, willing older people to continue working if they are motivated to do so. To achieve such an environment, it will be necessary to ensure equal pay for equal work and introduce diverse systems for regular employees including limited duties and work locations.

Support for Ukraine

(In response to a question about the need to lower the Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel alert for Ukraine—which currently stands at the highest "evacuate and avoid all travel" level for the entire country—to promote reconstruction support by Japanese companies)

Many Japanese companies have determined internal rules effectively prohibiting business travel to countries with level 3 or 4 alerts under MoFA's four-level travel advisory system. Japan needs a mechanism for permitting exceptional travel, similar to those adopted by the UK and South Korea. I urge the government to establish such a mechanism in response to the spirit demonstrated by Japanese companies courageously seeking to support Ukraine.

Irregularities at Daihatsu

(In response to a question regarding Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd.'s new management structure announced on February 13 in the wake of irregularities) Japanese manufacturing has earned trust and credibility for the quality of the products it supplies, its attentive service, its adherence to delivery deadlines, and its compliance with laws and regulations. Trust and credibility take time to earn, but can be lost in a moment. Companies are social entities and cannot do business without society's trust and social credibility. Keidanren's Charter of Corporate Behavior highlights the importance of compliance. Now is an appropriate time to reaffirm this crucial requirement.

Osaka-Kansai Expo

(In response to a question about the statement made on February 9 by Kansai Economic Federation Chairman Masayoshi Matsumoto that the construction industry had been uncooperative in building Expo pavilions) This statement must have come from his strong desire to ensure the Expo's success. Yoichi Miyamoto, chairman of the Japan Federation of Construction Contractors, has said that the construction industry is actively striving to ensure the success of the Expo, which is a national project. Both men share the same desire to make the Expo a success no matter what.

(In response to a question on Expo operating expenses) Expo operating expenses will basically be covered by income from ticket sales. To meet the sales target of 23 million tickets, the organizers aim for advance sales of 14 million tickets and are urging businesses to purchase half of this amount, that is 7 million tickets. While monitoring sales of advance tickets to the general public, Keidanren will conduct PR and other activities to promote sales. The Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition will hold quarterly meetings to manage operating expenses.