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Last Update : Monday, February 27, 2017

JapanGov Weekly

Cabinet Secretariat [Monday, February 20, 2017]

Awards Ceremony for the Third Japan Venture Grand Prize

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the awards ceremony for the Third Japan Venture Grand Prize, held at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister said in his address,

“I am overjoyed that this awards ceremony for the Third Japan Venture Grand Prize is being held with such grandeur.

The Japan Venture Grand Prize honors entrepreneurs who take on bold challenges and achieve outstanding results. CYBERDYNE Inc., selected for the grand prize this time, has fused together people, robots and IT in a way that will dramatically transform medical care and the way people live.

When President Yoshiyuki Sankai, the founder of CYBERDYNE, initially started his basic research on robot suits, there was no one who would use such a suit, nor were there experts in this field. I have heard that under these circumstances, President Sankai started the business not for the pursuit of profits, but with the ideal of contributing to people and society through his research.

HAL, developed by CYBERDYNE, is a world-first, dream-like robot suit that helps those who can no longer walk due to an illness or injury walk using their own legs. At first, it was recognized in Japan only as nursing care equipment rather than a medical device. However, CYBERDYNE did not shirk back from this situation – instead, they first received certification for HAL in Europe, and the device became eligible for insurance coverage in Germany. It is somewhat regrettable that this became possible overseas before it was possible here in Japan. Later, HAL was recognized as a medical device in Japan, something that was long hoped for. In addition, it was approved for insurance coverage, creating a starting point for the coverage of robots under the Japanese medical insurance system.

Revolutionary technology serves as a catalyst for transforming society. I expect venture companies to play this sort of role.

I hope that the award recipients this time, including CYBERDYNE, will serve as a new force, and that many entrepreneurs will follow in your footsteps. I would like to conclude my congratulatory remarks by expressing my hope that more and more new industries will be created and that this will lead to even more enriching lifestyles for the people. Congratulations everyone.”

Cabinet Secretariat [Wednesday, February 22, 2017]

Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the eighth meeting of the Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform, at the Prime Minister’s Office.

At the meeting, there was a discussion on the topic of the acceptance of foreign personnel and other matters.

Based on the discussion, the Prime Minister said,

“Today we held a discussion on the overall themes that had not been raised so far, such as the topic of the acceptance of foreign personnel. Today marks the eighth meeting of the Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform since its establishment, and the final occasion for discussions on individual themes.

I have been stating that work style reform involves changing Japan's corporate culture, the lifestyles of Japanese people, and Japan's way of thinking in regard to working. Various business and labor customs have been established based on working long hours. In order to change them, it is necessary for the Government, labor, and management to precisely become the three arrows and work collectively.

Further, the Labor Policy Council has long discussed the issue of regulating the maximum hours of overtime work permitted with penalties attached to the regulations, but it has not reached a conclusion. That means that, even if we forcibly reached some kind of conclusion here, it would be submitted to the Labor Policy Council and once again a conclusion would not be reached there.

Therefore, this Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform was established with me taking responsibility as the Chair, and we have been holding discussions.

Both labor and management know best the situation of the workforce, and I would like to ask them both to consider the maximum hours of overtime work that would be effective for workplaces and just barely feasible.

Today we heard from both Chairman Sakakibara and President Kozu. I would like to again express my respect to both of them for their considerable efforts towards achieving an agreement. I too am resolved to exert efforts. In order to ensure that all the efforts expended until now do not go to waste, I would like to ask that thorough efforts are made towards the formation of an agreement.

Concerning the acceptance of foreign personnel, we have maintained the view that it is important for Japan to actively accept foreign personnel in specialized and technical fields, since they contribute to the vitalization of Japan's economy and society. Meanwhile, in regard to the acceptance of foreign personnel in fields that are not evaluated as specialized or technical, Japan has upheld the position that this matter should be reviewed not only by assessing the needs and verifying the economic effects, but also from a broad perspective that encompasses a range of factors such as influence on the employment of Japanese people, impact on industry structure, social costs such as education and social security costs, and public order, while taking into account the consensus of the people. I ask for your cooperation in compiling the action plan based on this viewpoint. Thank you.”

Cabinet Secretariat [Wednesday, February 22, 2017]

Talks with Families of Abductees

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with the families of abductees at the Prime Minister's Office.

The Prime Minister said in his address,

“I would like to thank everyone in the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN) for taking the trouble to come to the Prime Minister's Office today.

It is now 40 years since Ms. Megumi Yokota, Ms. Kyoko Matsumoto, and Mr. Yutaka Kume were abducted in 1977. The AFVKN was formed during a truly difficult time for you, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of its establishment.

As one of the members who have been engaged in the abduction issue from the beginning, I truly feel profound sorrow that in all of the time that has passed, while five abductees and their families have returned to Japan, many other abductees remain in North Korea even now.

I have renewed my resolve to make maximum efforts to realize the safe return home of the remaining abductees as quickly as possible.

In regard to recent events in North Korea, North Korea has launched a missile even since the start of this year and has went ahead with nuclear tests. These acts are a clear violation of the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. Under these circumstances, Japan must collaborate closely with the international community to apply pressure on North Korea, and further deepen our efforts to ensure that North Korea complies with the resolutions.

North Korea launched a missile exactly when I was visiting the United States. President Trump was at my press conference and expressed that the United States was 100% behind the position of Japan. When I discussed with President Trump the importance of resolving the abduction issue, we fully shared the same view in regard to this understanding.

With a view to resolving the abduction issue, Japan will work closely with the countries of the world, including the United States, our ally, in joining our voices as one to urge North Korea to return the people it has abducted.

I am sure that this past 40 years must have been a very difficult time for all of you. We will continue to work closely with you and to exert even greater efforts.

Today I believe I will be receiving a letter of request and so on from you. I am committed to doing my best to address this matter in line with your wishes. Thank you for your cooperation.”