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Last Update : Friday, Jul 10, 2015

JapanGov Weekly

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Saturday, Jul 4, 2015]

Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting and Other Events

[Provisional Translation]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the Seventh Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting and other related events held in Tokyo.
The Prime Minister welcomed each country’s leaders, and then attended a commemorative photo session.
Afterwards, the Prime Minister attended the Seventh Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting, and then held a joint press announcement with the leaders of each country.

In addition, the Prime Minister also awarded commemorative gifts to soccer teams from Japan and each Mekong region country.

In his opening address at the summit meeting, the Prime Minister said,

“I am very pleased to be able to welcome you all and hold the Seventh Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting today.
Peace and stability in the Mekong region, a key region for land and sea transport, is extremely important for Japan. Furthermore, with its continuing strong economic growth, the Mekong region is a growth partner for Japan with a bright future.

Here, on the verge of the inauguration of the ‘ASEAN community,’ I would like to review the achievements of the ‘Tokyo Strategy 2012,’ and have a frank discussion for the formulation of a new strategy toward ‘high quality growth’ in the Mekong region.

Over these past three years, steady results have been made in Japan-Mekong cooperation based on the ‘Tokyo Strategy 2012’ under the three pillars of 1) Enhancing Mekong Connectivity; 2) Development Together; and 3) Ensuring Human Security and Environmental Sustainability.

We have already achieved the full transference of the approximately 600 billion yen of ODA support announced three years ago to be offered over the following three years. This shows Japan’s strong resolve.

Over that time frame, in terms of the first pillar of enhancing Mekong connectivity, Japan has supported ‘high quality infrastructure’ development in each country, including projects for the Neak Loeung Bridge in Cambodia, National Road No. 9 and the Vientiane International Airport in Laos, the development of Thilawa in Myanmar, railways in Thailand, and the Noi Bai International Airport in Viet Nam.

Concerning the second pillar, toward the development of the region, over the past three years, the number of Japanese companies with presences in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar has doubled, and thanks to the relaxation of visa requirements, the number of visitors to Japan from ASEAN reached record figures last year. We have also worked hard to actively support cultural and personal exchanges, as well as Japanese language learning.

Toward the third pillar, that of ensuring human security, at the end of last year, we had valuable discussions on the improvement of urban environments and disaster measures at the Third Green Mekong Forum.
We will also steadily follow up with the ‘Sendai Declaration’ and ‘Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030’ agreed upon at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

The development of Japan-Mekong cooperation is important to regional stability. Japan welcomes the initiatives of each country for democratization, efforts toward the restoration of democracy, national reconciliation, the rule of law, and human rights.

I commend initiatives for regional human rights issues such as the Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean held in May in Thailand. Last month, Japan announced an additional US$3.5 million of support.

In the seventy years since the end of World War II, Japan has exerted every effort as a peace-loving nation for peace and prosperity in Asia. We will continue to contribute to movements toward peace building and democratization across Asia. Based on the path we have taken, Japan has hoisted the banner of proactive contribution to peace based on Japan’s principles of international cooperation.

Last month in Tokyo we held a high level seminar on peace building for the first time, and I am grateful for the contributions from the Mekong region.

The ‘Tokyo Strategy 2012’ has produced good results. We have entered a stage that will see Japan-Mekong initiatives advance to an even higher level.

Lastly, I am aware that there are leaders who have been able to make time to visit regional areas of Japan this time. It is my hope that you will experience the charm of Japan’s regions, which are full of diverse cultures, history, and nature, and that this will contribute to further regional exchanges and exchanges among our peoples in the future.”

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Friday, Jul 10, 2015]

Keynote Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at The Economist Japan Summit 2015

[Provisional translation]


Dominic Ziegler, Anton LaGuardia, Andrew Staples, Chris Clague, ladies and gentlemen, I am very much honoured to be back here speaking to you for a second consecutive year.

Quite a number of things have happened in between.

At the end of last year, I called a snap election, asking the voters to endorse Abenomics. One year ago, it was beyond my wildest imagination that such a thing would come to pass.

Our ruling coalition succeeded once again in winning a sizable number -- more than two-thirds -- of seats in the Lower House. Fortunately, I am joining you here today as the incumbent, not as an ex-, prime minister.

My policies of Abenomics garnered a clear mandate from the voters, which was most helpful.

Carrying out reforms

I will accelerate my Growth Strategy at an even greater pace. I will all at once break through the regulations, systems, and conventions that are like solid bedrock and have hindered Japan’s growth for many a year.

Dubbing the Diet session that's been going on since January “the Session to Carry Out Reforms,” I have put forth a variety of bills to do just that.

Well, I see some of you look surprised.

You might have thought that in Japan they are preoccupied not with the economy but with the national security debate.

I appreciate your continued interest in Japan, and thank you for closely following what the Japanese press have to say.

But, ladies and gentlemen, truth be told, “No news is good news.”

Take a look at the net earnings of TSE-listed companies. They've surpassed, for the first time in history, 20 trillion yen -- that's 163 billion U.S. dollars.

The ratio of job offers to seekers hit a 23-year high, and just as it did last year, this past spring Corporate Japan yet again raised wages by more than 2 per cent.

Last year, we had a dip in the economy. That was to do with the hike -- by 3 percentage points -- of the consumption tax. And I know some of you were duly worried. If you look at the picture now, corporate profits are on the wax. Those profits are getting cycled back into growth of jobs and wages. Call it a virtuous cycle of economy, which has finally been set in train. At the moment, the economy is growing at an annualised rate of 9 per cent.

The 2014 fiscal year also saw our tax revenues hitting a 21-year high of 54 trillion yen, which was roughly 4 trillion yen larger than our budget estimate. For fiscal 2015 we were able to put forth a budget aiming at halving our primary deficit. Last month we also compiled a concrete plan in order for us to achieve fiscal consolidation over the next five years.

See, our economic policies have stopped providing a point of contention. Little wonder the opposition stopped debating Abenomics. The more they discuss it, the greater value they will have to admit in the improved numbers and figures.

Indeed, on economic policies, deliberations at the Diet have faced little resistance. Already passed and made into law includes the Energy Market Reform Bill, which liberalises the markets for power and gas utilities, the bastions of oligopolies for the last 60 long years. Our health insurance will undergo reforms due to the bill the Diet also passed.

Also for the first time ever in the last 60 years, the Nôkyô, or agricultural cooperatives, will be transformed because the bill to change their structure already passed the Lower House and is now being discussed by the Upper House.

Two and a half years ago, the “Three Arrows” I had launched met a great deal of controversy at the Diet. The media debated them day in and day out. I have flown twice, just like Clark Kent, on the cover of The Economist. Well, it's been a while, regrettably, though.

No news of late is actually good news. Abenomics is in fact picking up acceleration, a point I would like you to take home today.

The Growth Strategy

Beginning last month, more than 2,000 publicly traded companies have adopted the Corporate Governance Code. Over the last two years, the number of companies appointing independent non-executive directors has roughly doubled. As for the Stewardship Code, which we acquired by learning from the UK, 191 institutional investors have adopted it as of now.

It is incumbent upon us to strengthen corporate governance and change the mindset of Japanese executives, who will no longer be forgiven for continuing the kind of management that is inward-looking or risk averse.

A new mindset to be embraced should encourage the people in Japan to look beyond their home country at the far wider world, and set sail vigorously into the rough waters of international competition. -- That fundamentally sums up my own belief that is at the base of my Growth Strategy.

Over the past two and a half years, the number of employed workers has increased by one million people, and I am happy to report that more than 900 thousand of them are women.

Meanwhile, the number of female board members of listed companies is now increasing at a pace of six times the former figures.

Without women, and indeed, without non-Japanese human resources, we can no longer contend on the global stage.

It will also be necessary to introduce more diverse and flexible work styles and raise our labour productivity. We shall also rigorously take advantage of ICT, robots and other new technologies.

Komatsu, the second largest earth mover manufacturer in the world, is a case in point. I had a chance to go see its newest plant the other day, and learned that the electricity costs, plant-wide, had been slashed by as much as 90 per cent in only five years by employing cutting edge technologies. The plant will achieve what is called net-zero energy usage sooner rather than later.

We are now in an age in which robots make robots. To see how it's come about, you need only go inside a plant of Fanuc, the world leader in industrial robotics, where you scarcely see any human beings at work.

Please remember that for our Growth Strategy there is a key concept of carving out our future through a revolution in productivity.

Let me tell you that this past spring while I was in the U.S., I visited MIT and Silicon Valley. I saw tinted windows that generate electricity. I witnessed further evolution of social networking services.

Big data and artificial intelligence were giving birth to ever-newer kinds of businesses. Springing out, I should say at a breath-taking pace, was a whole variety of hugely imaginative ideas that were almost jaw-dropping, and convinced me that Japan should also run fast and catch up to their pace in order to continue growing in a sustainable way.

It holds true that also in Japan there are any number of SMEs shining with brilliant ideas and technologies. The fact also remains that they are the ones that have long supported Japan’s manufacturing prowess.

My hope, though, is that they are not content with being merely national champions, but rather, ever keener to exploit their entrepreneurial vigour. With that in mind, we have launched a new project under which we will select 200 businesses over the next five years and send them off to Silicon Valley.

By competing neck and neck with some of the world’s topmost players there, they shall aim at becoming world champions.

Preparing the investment climate

I would also like more and more world-leading companies to come set up shop in Japan.

I am of a belief that they will first of all create more jobs, and even more importantly, they should serve as splendid stimuli for Japanese companies.

Not so long ago, when asked to name an overseas destination for investment, multinationals would say that they should go to China.

Some of the polls of late show, however, Japan outranking any other destination as a host for R&D investment. Come spring next year, the apple logo will touch down in Yokohama, Japan, where the iPhone manufacturer will open an R&D centre, the first ever in Asia.

Since I took office in December 2012, the amount of FDI into Japan has increased to more than ten times its previous level. But this is far from sufficient.

If you look at what we have introduced such as Special Provisions for Companies Conducting Field Testing, National Strategic Special Zones, and other regulatory reforms, our toolkit is out there for you to exploit.

Should there be any institutional barriers, we will remove any and all of them. Moreover you now have a designated State Minister who, as an elected official equipped with political power, listens to, and helps resolve, your company-specific concerns and does so in a swift fashion. So rest assured.

What's important is to turn Japan into an investment destination that anyone, regardless of nationality, should find attractive. Japan must outperform other nations as the most business-friendly country. Otherwise, we could not expect growth in investment even from the Japan-based companies, for globally, competition only intensifies.

Towards that end we decreased the effective corporate tax rate by 2.5 percentage points beginning this past April. By April next year, we aim to make that rate cut reach a minimum of 3.3 percentage points in total, and preferably more, compared with the rate in place till the end of this past March.

We will press forward with corporate tax reform by reducing the effective corporate tax rate down into the twenties over the course of several years, bringing it to a level that compares favourably in the international context.

Taking steps beyond Japan

Beyond this, Japan will amply broaden its windows towards an open world. Japan is determined to be a hub for creating a free, fair and dynamic economic zone for the entire world.

As for the negotiations for the TPP, with the passage of the trade promotion authority in the U.S. Congress, the finish line has come within reach.

In any negotiation, it is the last one inch that is the most challenging, of which I am fully aware. Still, it is incumbent upon the joint leadership of Japan and the U.S. to bring the negotiations to the earliest conclusion.

As regards Japan-EU EPA negotiations, both parties have agreed to accelerate the process, aiming at reaching an agreement by the end of this year. Japan is also determined to play a major role towards an early agreement on the RCEP.

As globalization progresses and our mutual interdependence deepens, it is ever more necessary for countries to work more closely hand-in-hand, aiming at enhancing the stability of the global economy and financial systems.

Japan will continue to make its utmost efforts going forward in cooperation with the countries of the G7 as well as Asian countries.

Regarding the recent developments in Greece, we will closely cooperate with the G7 countries and cooperate towards the stabilization of the Euro area economy as we monitor the progress of consultations among the relevant parties.

It is not the state but the companies therein that generate growth. Innovation will never arise from markets in which bad drives out good, with counterfeit and pirated goods crowding out the technologically advanced.

Free competition in the private sector takes place under the legitimate economic mechanism of better products and services being evaluated properly. It is only from there that we can expect sustained growth to come about.

Japan will demonstrate leadership in aiming to create a fair and sustainable market that is not swayed by the arbitrary expectations of any country.

In conclusion

Fair play right through to the end. In the FIFA Women’s World Cup, our “Nadeshiko Japan” team really gave their all.

The world-renowned newspaper of The Economist is of course a product of England, the birthplace of modern football. Nadeshiko advanced to the final because the formidable English team let it happen. Regrettably, though, it did not pay off.

Still, even when behind by four points, Nadeshiko regained two, never letting their vigilance wane.

The sight of our ladies never giving out and never giving up until the final whistle sounded was, in my mind, a tremendous inspiration for all of us in Japan.

What the legendary player Ms. Homare Sawa had to say after the match was impressive.

“I gave it everything I had. I have no regrets.” A very sobering feeling came over me upon seeing that truly refreshing approach.

Trying for all one’s worth on the world stage is no easy task. I am truly proud of the 23 members of Nadeshiko Japan who put that into practice so marvellously to achieve such a superb result of second place.

The Japanese economy also still holds tremendous potential. Of that, I am perfectly certain. All that remains is whether we can bring out our best, without any regrets.

Fair play right through to the end. Never giving up or giving out until the final whistle sounds. I, too, am determined to work to the very best of my ability bringing the Growth Strategy into execution, so that I, too, can say, “I gave it everything I had. I have no regrets.”

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Thursday, Jul 9, 2015]

Remarks by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Symposium Hosted by the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), “Reflections on Global History of the 20th Century Towards a New Vision for the 21st Century”

[Provisional Translation]

Dr. John Hamre, President of the CSIS,
Prof. Michael Green, Senior Vice President for Asia of the CSIS
Mr. Yoshiji Nogami, President of the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA),
Distinguished panelists,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, I wish to extend my heartfelt welcome to the scholars of history and political science who have come all this way from around the world to attend this symposium.

This year marks for Japan and, indeed, for the entire world, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Having heard that the authoritative U.S. think tank CSIS was teaming up with the JIIA to hold this highly valuable symposium on world history, I have come in order to convey my encouragement and support.

I heard that this symposium is probably the first endeavor in the world in which historians and political scientists from around the world have gathered under the same roof to discuss global history at a worldwide level. I wish to express my sincere respect to the CSIS as well as to all of the participants in this project for taking on this bold and intellectual challenge.

When you are asked about “a major event of the 20th century,” what is it that comes to mind?
I see that quite a large number of older people are here today. I imagine that the tribulations of the last world war will never be forgotten by those who experienced the war directly.

For the generation who enjoyed living through the period of high economic growth, it will probably be the Tokyo Olympics watched as a child.

How about for people in other countries? They might think of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin journeying to space, or perhaps commander Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Or it might be the reunification of East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. For Asian and African nations, it may very well be the day they cast off other nations’ rule and triumphantly declared their independence.

I believe that the 20th century was filled to the brim with both painful and delightful memories of a great number of people.
The history lived by humanity in the 20th century had both “light” and “shadows.” The “shadows” were the large number of wars, including no less than two world wars, as well as revolutions, conflicts, and violence, human rights infringements including the suppression of freedom and thought, the Great Depression and the formation of bloc economies, rule by other nations, and racial discrimination. The issues of sexual discrimination, pollution, and environmental destruction, among other problems, were also major parts of these “shadows.”

And yet in the 20th century, particularly in the latter half, “light” begins to return to human history. By rectifying humans’ own errors, humankind’s reason brings ethical maturity to human society. I consider these to be the kinds of universal lessons we drew:

- “Never intimidate other countries with military force in the background.”
- “Never commit violence against other countries.”
- “Never make changes to one’s territory without other countries’ consent.”
- “Never rule over other peoples or make them subordinate.”
- “All persons enjoy human rights as inherent rights.”
- “The dignity of each individual human being must be respected.”
- “Never discriminate against people because of sex, race, religion, or the like.”
- “Men and women have exactly the same value.”
- “Never hinder free commerce or trade.”
- “The natural environment must be handed down to the next generation as beautiful as it now is.”

These are the universal lessons that humankind learned from the 20th century.

Since the end of World War II, based on feelings of deep remorse over that war, Japan has consistently followed the path of a peace-loving nation. Further, Japan accomplished so-called miraculous economic development and prosperity together with other nations, including Asian countries. Japan’s path became a model to many Asian countries which achieved their independence after the War. In addition, Japan consistently built up an extensive record of international contributions such as ODA and peacekeeping operations, among others, in accordance with our national capability.

Moreover, since the 1990’s, Japan’s pacifism has changed to a position of actively supporting peace. Since my administration was inaugurated, I have advocated Japan being a “Proactive Contributor to Peace based on the principle of international cooperation.”

Japan’s modern history is just over 70 years from the beginning of the Meiji era to the outbreak of World War II, and 70 years from Japan’s defeat in that war to the present day. From now on, the post-war period will be the longer of the two. I take pride in the path Japan has followed over the 70 years since the end of the war.

We are now in the year 2015. More than a decade has already passed since the dawn of the 21st century. From now on, what kind of century should we make the 21st century into? We must have a vision.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That is a quote from the famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr. that made a huge impact on the civil rights movement in the U.S. The vision offered by Reverend King touched the hearts of a great many people and created the United States that we know today.

I believe that the universal ideals he advocated are one and the same as those set forth by father of Indian independence Mahatma Gandhi and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.

A large number of people make all-out efforts one after another, aspiring to the lofty visions advocated by great political leaders. This is how humankind has carried out quite a number of outstanding achievements. On one occasion, it was freedom and equality that people won; on another occasion, it was peace; on still another, independence.

There are some who went to their final resting places without having fulfilled their dream. Today’s 21st-century world was built upon the sacrifices of an enormous number of people unacknowledged by the world.

A world that takes as its foundation the universal values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

A world in which diverse nations and peoples can coexist by making rules through discourse.

A world in which people who have a wide variety of backgrounds are able to respect each other across national borders.

A world in which all people can realize a happy life with smiles on their faces.

This is a treasure of humanity that we must never spoil again.

How did we, the human race, arrive here? What did humanity experience in years past and what did we learn from those experiences? And how will we apply that in the future?

In order to know that, we must have a common viewpoint for looking at global history. This will also provide an answer to the question of what sort of vision we will sketch out for the future generations of humankind.

The shape of the world will surely change rapidly in the 21st century. The new world must take shape based on rules.

It is through the clash of a wide range of opinions within a free, tolerant, and open system that a new global vision will emerge. I believe a “liberal international order” makes that possible. Japan intends to play a leading role in order to create and realize this new global vision.

I understand that as part of this CSIS project, you will come together for discussions in Washington, D.C. again this winter, and that afterwards your report will be compiled into a book. I very much look forward to your book being published.

Thank you very much for your attention.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Monday, Jul 6, 2015]

Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreements with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

On July 4, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed Japanese ODA loan agreements with the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to provide up to 66,086 million yen for five projects.

Since the 1990s, Vietnam has maintained steady economic growth (see reference 1), achieving the national goal of becoming a lower middle income country by 2010 while reducing the poverty ratio from 37.4 percent in 1998 to 14.2 percent in 2010.* With the tariff barriers within the ASEAN region scheduled to be abolished in 2015 and the national target to achieve industrialization by 2020, Vietnam needs to create a better investment environment through infrastructure development, so that sustainable economic growth can be achieved. In addition, Vietnam also should strengthen its international competitiveness by stabilizing its macro economy with a medium- to long-term perspective through reforms to the economic structure and administrative system of the country, including to the financial system. At the same time, Vietnam also needs to address various aspects of its vulnerabilities by: 1) enhancing income in rural areas where 70 percent of the country’s population lives and the poverty rate is higher than urban areas, 2) making improvements to the public health that has been adversely affected by the urbanization process and 3) mitigating and adapting to global warming as Vietnam is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change.

Under these circumstances, the ODA loans will be provided to support the development of infrastructure and industrial human resources, both of which are crucial for enhancing the country’s competitiveness, as well as supporting efforts to overcome vulnerabilities such as urban environment improvement and climate change countermeasures. The five projects are summarized below.

(1) Support for economic infrastructure and human resource development to strengthen international competitiveness

Thai Binh Power Plant and Transmission Lines Construction Project (III) will construct a power plant that uses coal produced in the northern part of Vietnam, as well as the related facilities. Second Power Transmission and Distribution Network Development Project will construct power transmission and distribution facilities near industrial complexes in major cities in Vietnam. These efforts will increase and stabilize the power supply in Vietnam.

The Can Tho University Improvement Project will strengthen the research and education capacity in the fields of agriculture, fisheries and the environment at the Can Tho University, which is a leading model operating under international standards, thereby supporting the development of the human resources necessary to promote Vietnam’s agriculture and fisheries, and addressing environmental issues in the Mekong Delta region, with support from Japanese universities.

(2) Support to overcome fragility

Ha Long City Water Environment Improvement Project (E/S) will support the construction of sewer facilities in Ha Long City, home to Ha Long Bay which is a registered World Heritage Site. Dong Nai Province Water Infrastructure Construction Project will support the expansion of water supply facilities to meet the demand for industrial and household water in Dong Nai Province, where foreign direct investment including from Japan, is very active. These efforts will contribute to improving of the living and investment environment, which has been degraded by rapid urbanization and industrialization.

JICA will continue to provide active support for Viet Nam's development issues, while pursuing integrated implementation of a wide range of ODA assistance, such as ODA loans, technical cooperation and grant assistance.

* Source: General Statistics Office, “Vietnam Living Standards Survey”

*Preferred terms (environment, climate change) apply to projects 3, and preferred terms (human resource development) apply to project 5.
*To ensure the procurement process is fair and competitive, the Government of Vietnam and JICA will consult together and specify items for which Vietnam will implement post-project monitoring by a third party agency with procurement procedures. The expenses for this monitoring are not included in the Japanese ODA loans.

(1) Thai Binh Thermal Power Plant and Transmission Lines Construction Project ( (PDF/119KB)
(2) Second Power Transmission and Distribution Network Development Project ( (PDF/202KB)
(3) Ha Long City Water Environment Improvement Project (E/S) ( (PDF/203KB)
(4) Dong Nai Province Water Infrastructure Construction Project ( (PDF/119KB)
(5) Can Tho University Improvement Project ( (PDF/118KB)