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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Address by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the Occasion of the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit

Friday, November 18, 2011

[Provisional Translation]

My name is Yoshihiko NODA, Prime Minister of Japan. It is a great honor to be able to present to global business leaders about the Japanese economy; where it stands now and where it is headed to for the future.

Eight months have passed since the massive earthquake hit Japan. Japanese people have been making strong efforts for recovery backed by generous support from all around the world. The infrastructure and local economy in the disaster-affected region are steadily being restored. Normal daily life has come back to most parts of Japan, including the Metropolitan area. Manufacturing industries have almost fully restored their supply chains and are fulfilling their responsibilities as global suppliers.

Regarding the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the reactors are within a steady cooling-down process and the incident is being resolved faster than we initially expected. In terms of business environment, the nuclear incident is NOT an obstacle against business in Japan any more.

Since ancient times, the Japanese have been resilient against crises. Japan is now, trying to regenerate itself by bouncing back from this crisis. I would like to take this opportunity to appeal two points to global business leaders.

Firstly, the momentum produced by promotion of recovery will strongly push our economic growth. In fact, according to IMF's forecast, the Japanese economy is expected to grow by 2.3% in 2012 and this is higher than the average growth rate among the developed economies. I think we can achieve even higher figures if we can unleash the potential of Japan, such as the dynamism of SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

This is more than just "a large recovery demand after a disaster." What we are observing is the recovery process itself creating a powerful force that drives innovation. What we are promoting under the name of "recovery" is NOT a "restoration" of the past. The core of our recovery is to take advantage of the strengths of local communities and harness them to implement, cutting-edge growth models in primary industries such as agriculture, forestry, and fishery businesses as well as the renewable energy and medical industries.

The Government of Japan is creating "Special Zones for Reconstruction" in disaster-affected regions where we will implement bold stimulus policies to attract investment, which include exemption of all corporate taxes for newly-established corporations for five years.

We welcome investment from all companies, domestic and foreign, who can be partners to promote our new recovery, and the government is trying to create the right environment as fast as we can.

Coming to the second point, I would like to emphasize that Japan, as a member of the East Asian region, is strongly determined to enhance its bonds with each country in this region. In this region with dynamic economic growth, promotion of further economic integration will benefit all countries.

Reinforcement of economic partnerships is a testimony to our bonds (“kizuna”). In order to facilitate the flow of people, goods and services in the region and create a favorable environment for businesses, Japan will press ahead with fundamental domestic reform and promote high level economic partnerships, and will take initiatives to formulate the trade and investment rules of the next generation.

Japan has decided to enter into consultations with the countries concerned toward participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which will serve as the basis for the realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). At the same time, Japan intends to proactively promote other broad economic partnerships, such as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership in East Asia (CEPEA) and the East Asian Free Trade Area (EAFTA). Japan hopes to continue to work closely with respective ASEAN countries in these endeavors.

At the Japan-ASEAN summit meeting held a moment ago, Japan announced that it will further enhance its assistance for strengthening ASEAN’s connectivity through the joint efforts of the public and private sectors. Japan would like to continue to grow with the ASEAN countries through these initiatives.

East Asian region is facing common challenges which could compromise our future development such as frequent natural disasters, pollution of air and water, global warming, constraints of energy, and steep rise of food prices. The Great East Japan Earthquake and the flooding in Thailand made clear once again that the Japanese and ASEAN economies are united by way of the supply chain. Japan will develop bonds (“kizuna”) with other East Asian countries by leveraging the technologies and knowhow it has accumulated and contributing to the resolution of these common challenges through public-private partnerships.

Japan's recovery cannot be achieved without in the bonds (“kizuna”) in the East Asian region. At the same time, the sound future of the East Asian region cannot be achieved without Japan's contribution.

The Japanese economy will rise again powerfully by going beyond recovery and will follow its path toward growth. And through innovation, Japan will continue its contribution to create a better world. Distinguished global business leaders, I would like to invite each one of you to join us in our pursuit of reconstruction. Together, let’s open the door to the prosperous future of the East Asian region.

Thank you for your attention.

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