Asia Business Channel

Japan’s Business leaders want the country to reform and innovate

The leaders of three of Japan’s major business organizations, the Japan Business Federation, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry are calling on the Japanese government to recognize the importance of structural reforms and push forward with the innovation they say will help overcome the nation's labor and productivity challenges.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, Chairman of Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation, said the organization, will promote greater use of new digital technologies and wants closer cooperation between business, government and academia to resolve social challenges that are barriers to growth.

Nakanishi said, "Encouraging structural reforms including making the social security system sustainable and accelerating fiscal rehabilitation while maintaining the international economic order will be the main pillar of our lobbying activities."

Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, Chairman of Keizai Doyukai, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, called on the government and general public to have a sense of urgency in tackling challenges the country faces as economic growth remains slow and political efforts to carry out structural reforms have been unable to keep up with changes and advances in the global economic and technological environments.

According to Kobayashi, “Corporate managers need to seize new business opportunities more aggressively to achieve higher productivity and profitability. We need to make this year a transitional point" for politics, administration, diplomacy and corporate management.”

Akio Mimura, Chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the country's productivity has to be raised to address structural problems including labor shortages and sluggishness in regional economies. Making the most of the central government's assistance measures and cooperation with regional banks, his business group will further promote the revitalization of small enterprises.

Mimura added that, "While promoting the participation of more women, people beyond retirement age and foreigners in the labor market, productivity needs to be improved through the use of new technologies including Internet of Things, robots and artificial intelligence.”

The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry says that it will work closely with the government to help small and medium sized businesses prepare for the introduction of a more complex tax system when the consumption tax is raised from its current 8% level to 10% in October.

The government will keep the rate at 8% for food, excluding meals purchased at restaurants, and alcoholic beverages, but many companies, including small retailers, are thought to be slow or having difficulties in updating their point of sale systems to handle the different tax rates.

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