Opening Speech by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio at the GZERO Summit 2021
December 8, 2021
I am KISHIDA Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan. I am very gratified that, even in this virtual format, the GZERO Summit is being convened in a truly grand manner again this year. I greatly look forward to lively discussions taking place, opening up future prospects for the globe through the guidance and support of Chairman Tokura of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Chairman Sakurada of Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and Dr. Ian Bremmer.
The capitalism that humankind has created has given rise to efficiency, entrepreneurship, and vitality and has brought about long-standing global economic prosperity.
If we look back on history, capitalism has evolved by achieving a delicate balance between its benefits and drawbacks. The efforts to construct a welfare state that took place in the mid-20th century and the subsequent spread of neoliberalism were all part of the process of that evolution of capitalism.
Capitalism now calls for further evolution.
Since the 1980s, the neoliberal approach, which has become the mainstream globally, on the one hand became the driving force for world economic growth, yet on the other hand resulted in numerous harmful effects.
Disparities and poverty expanded because of overreliance on markets, while the issue of climate change became more serious as too much of a burden was placed on the natural environment.
Globally, we are in a period of rising geopolitical tensions, including between the U.S. and China, and there is an intensifying tendency towards becoming GZERO, as Dr. Bremmer points out. One essential aspect of these tensions is found in the delay in upgrades to the socioeconomy itself.
The distortions that market-biased, shareholder-biased capitalism has brought about until now have put a wrinkle in sound democracy in the forms of electoral populism and narrow-minded nationalism.
Also, authoritarian countries are exposed to the distortions of widening disparities as well as the collusive relationship between power and wealth, resulting in wrinkles in the forms of military expansion and enhanced surveillance of their citizens, among others.
It seems the idea that problems cannot be neglected any more is one held in common by the major advanced countries. A movement to seek out a new model for capitalism is now underway, with “Build back better” in the U.S. and “NextGenerationEU” in Europe.
The concept common to these policies is realizing vigorous growth and making nations and their citizens prosperous while correcting the various harmful effects that capitalism causes.
Under my initiative, the Kishida Administration has hammered out a course forward for realizing a new form of capitalism through strengthening distributions to people and through a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution, by which we make bold investments in the areas of climate change, which is also a future growth field, digital transformation, and economic security, with the public and private sectors fulfilling their roles together.
Next spring, we plan to publicly release our grand design of our new form of capitalism, setting it out for public evaluation. We will send it out to the international community and drive global discussions together with the leaders of major countries who have the same awareness of the issues.
I understand that the major topics at this GZERO Summit are (1) health security, (2) international rules, and (3) the problem of climate change.
All of these are major points at issue with regard to economic and social sustainability and are topics with an extremely high degree of affinity to the discussions on the new form of capitalism I am advocating for.
Indeed, economic and social sustainability form the very basis of my awareness of these issues.
As we respond to the risks that threaten the sustainability of our socioeconomic activities, including health security, international rules, and climate change, the public and private sectors, dividing their roles, will cooperate in creating an economic and social system that enables the nation and the citizens to become prosperous.
As a first step in that direction, I will undertake the following efforts.
First, regarding health security, acting as society as a whole, we will lower the threat of COVID-19 to the greatest possible extent. Towards that end, we will work to make vaccines, free-of-charge testing, and orally-administered therapeutics much more widespread and fundamentally strengthen the entire course of progression from prophylaxis and discovery to early treatment.
Based on our recent experiences, we have decided to invest 500 billion yen (approx. US$4.4 billion) in developing and manufacturing vaccines and therapeutic agents domestically. Through such efforts, we aim to increase Japan’s resilience while also creating seeds for new growth.
Second, regarding international rules, the important international rules called for in this era with a new form of capitalism are those in digital fields. We will lead international rulemaking towards the realization of Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT), build a free and fair economic order, and support recovery of the global economy and new growth.
Domestically, we will expeditiously stipulate principles and rules for the digital field and advance the digital transformation of society as a whole, with the newly-established Digital Agency serving as a “control tower.”
Third, regarding the issue of climate change, we will undertake a major transition that transforms climate change and other social issues common to all humankind into growth fields leading to new markets.
As we work towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and realizing 46% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, we will review restrictions on the maximum introduction of renewable energy while pushing forward with bold investments in the field of clean energy.
As we work towards converting thermal power to zero-emission generation, we will press ahead in transitioning to thermal power based on ammonia and hydrogen. We will enhance Japan’s technologies and our strengths in infrastructure and contribute to decarbonization by other nations facing similar circumstances with regard to energy, centered on Asia.
As the world’s trend towards GZERO intensifies, Japan will determinedly assume responsibility in realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) together with the U.S., ASEAN, Australia, India, and others and in making the Quad an even more fruitful group. Taking strong Japan-U.S. relations as our cornerstone, Japan will make all-out efforts to assert regional leadership as a Solution Power resolving geopolitical tensions and climate change and other global-level issues through innovation and dynamic vitality as well as the permeation of the values of being free, fair, and open.
I will end my remarks here at the opening of this meeting by once more offering my heartfelt congratulations on the holding of this GZERO Summit 2021 in such a grand fashion.