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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

World Economic Forum Japan Meeting 2014 - Remarks by Prime Minister Abe

Monday, June 2, 2014

[Provisional Translation]


Thank you Professor Schwab for your kind introduction. May I begin by wishing you all a warm welcome to Japan.

I am afraid that my attendance at the National Diet and other commitments have made my schedule rather tight today, and I am unable to give you all the full welcome that you deserve. For this I would like to ask for your understanding.

Come to think of it, my stay in Davos this year was also quite brief. I flew in and out on the same day with hardly a spare moment to admire my beautiful surroundings.

That said, the discussions I had with leaders across a broad spectrum of fields and the speech I delivered at the opening plenary made it an immensely stimulating and fruitful day. A little over 130 days have passed since that highly memorable Davos meeting.

Eighty days allow you to travel around the world.

One hundred and forty years ago, Jules Verne brilliantly depicted this challenging feat—universally considered impossible at the time—in his well-known novel, “Around the World in 80 Days.”

One hundred and thirty days, then, are certainly enough for our reforms to advance remarkably. I am delighted to have the opportunity to share with you today just how far our reforms have progressed.

(Reforms are moving into a new stage)

At Davos I declared that I would advance major reforms by breaking through the fixed thinking that “such reforms are impossible in Japan.”

My reforms have already transitioned into a new stage.

A bill to liberalize the electricity market passed the House of Representatives. In approximately two years, a market will be born in Japan in which anyone can generate and sell electricity freely.  Major innovations will also emerge from Japan’s liberalized energy market.

The same will be true for medical services.  People will be able to have prompt access to various advanced treatments, even within the public health insurance system.  We will create a structure that will channel patients’ unbridled hopes.

We will make agriculture a growth industry.  Towards that end, we will boldly review the various systems that have long been in place in the post-war period, including fundamental reforms to the Agricultural Commission and the Agricultural Co-operatives.

In my speech at Davos, I stated that “no vested interests will remain immune from my drill.” I will continue to increase the speed at which this “drill bit” of reform spins as I shift gears rapidly.

We will review our labor regulations, adjusting them to new ways of working appropriate for the modern era. We must make Japan a place where non-Japanese brimming with ability will find it easier to be more dynamically engaged.

This month, we will decide upon a package of such reforms as our new Growth Strategy.

At Davos I also stated clearly that “we must make the tax system for companies internationally competitive.”

In Japan, discussions on revisions to the tax system usually begin in the autumn but are not decided until the end of the year, in December.  However, upon returning to Japan from Davos, I immediately set about the task of reforming the corporation tax.  Within this month, the Cabinet will take a decision on the direction for reforms.

I also pledged to “press ahead with forward-looking reforms” to the Government Pension Investment Fund, which holds assets valued at 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars.  I am pleased to report that in these 130 days since Davos, the members of the committee that decides the Fund’s management strategy have been completely revised.

(Economic conditions are in good order)

In the space of these 130 days, a series of major happenings have taken place in Japan for the first time in many years.

From April the consumption tax rate was raised by 3 percentage points, as the first increase in 17 years. We are going to achieve concurrently the three goals of revitalizing the economy, rebuilding government finances, and reforming social security. Japan will continue steadily down this path.

At present, it appears that we will weather the adverse economic impacts of the tax increase without that much concern. I sense that Japanese consumers and corporations are more composed than they were 17 years ago.

Professor Schwab, I encourage you take a stroll around the local area this evening. You will immediately notice that Tokyo’s restaurants are just as lively as they were during your visit in November last year. Travel reservations for the summer holiday period also appear to be in better shape than this time last year.

I expect that the dip in consumption will be a temporary phenomenon.

This is all happening against the backdrop of a shift in the employment situation for the better, a rare occurrence in recent times.

Since Abenomics began, the ratio of job offers to job seekers has risen for 17 consecutive months, and now stands at 1.08 offers of employment for every person seeking work. We are seeing this for the first time in seven years and nine months.

This spring, a large number of companies took the decision to raise wages. According to a survey by RENGO, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, monthly wages have risen by an average of more than 2 percent. This is the the highest level of wage increases this past decade.

In addition, a survey conducted by Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) indicates that this year’s summer bonus is set to rise by 8.8 per cent over last year’s level, increasing to an average bonus of more than 8,800 U.S. dollars for the first time in six years. This is the highest rate of growth at any time in the last 30 years.

(Progress in EPAs)

“Through Abenomics, we will create a vibrant Japan.”

It has been 130 days since I made this pledge to you at Davos. I believe that today you have come to see just how exciting these 130 days have been for Japan.

I was in Singapore until the day before yesterday, and tomorrow I will set off for Brussels and Rome.

By making the most of the intervening day I have fashioned the opportunity to meet again with Professor Schwab and the other global leaders gathered here today.

Competition now takes place on the global stage. Japan can no longer be inward-looking. It is imperative for us to have the mettle to pursue even further growth by both interacting and engaging in friendly competition around the globe.

In the last 130 days I reached broad agreement on a Japan-Australia EPA with Prime Minister Tony Abbott during his visit to Japan.

Two weeks later, President Barack Obama of the United States visited Japan. Japan and the United States are now acting in cooperation to accelerate negotiations further on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or “TPP,” Agreement, towards the early conclusion of negotiations by the 12 participating countries as a whole.

Five days after his visit, I set out on a mission to six European countries, including the United Kingdom, France and Germany. There I called for the conclusion of an EPA between Japan and the European Union within 2015.

Moreover, our economic frontier now extends to Africa and Latin America. I will firmly push ahead with Japan’s proactive economic diplomacy, taking a panoramic perspective of the world map.


One hundred and thirty days ago I stated that I would change Japan’s economic landscape dramatically, as if rebooting the entire country.

I hope that you can now understand that Japan is clearly becoming reborn, and that it will continue to change going forward.

On their 80-day journey around the world Phileas Fogg and his companions often encountered tremendous difficulties in India, Hong Kong, and the United States.

He was, however, ultimately successful in completing the challenge. This was due in part to a little luck as well. But above all, it was their indomitable will that determined their success.

What further changes will Japan accomplish over the next 130 days? My reforms will be ongoing. Nothing will stand in the way of my will to execute these reforms.

You can definitely look forward to the further revival of Japan.

Allow me to close by wishing Professor Schwab and all of you here today a wonderful stay in Japan.

I hope you will hit the town tonight and enjoy the wonderful food in Japan, and spend a lot of money.

Thank you very much.

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