JapanGov Weekly

Monday, February 5, 2018

Meeting with Expert Members of the Council for Gender Equality

Cabinet Secretariat, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On January 24, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a meeting with the expert members of the Council for Gender Equality at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister said in his opening address,

“Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to attend this meeting today.

The Abe Cabinet is entering its sixth year in office. Since its inauguration, the active participation of women has consistently remained as a policy of utmost priority of the Cabinet.

This is not merely a social policy. It is rooted in our strong conviction that without the active participation of women, Japan will not be able to achieve any growth; without the abilities of women, Japan is not able to carve out a bright future.

The developer of Green Smoothie was a woman who had experienced childbirth and childrearing. This product offers an easy way to consume one serving of vegetables with just one pack, and is now a big hit with one pack sold every second. Amidst a trend of greater health consciousness, it is truly a product that could only have been developed by a woman.

Half of the consumers are women. It can be said that incorporating a woman’s perspective into corporate activities such as marketing is a matter of vital importance for the growth of companies.

In the past five years, we have put forward a succession of concrete policies in this respect.

We have worked to create an environment, which makes it easier for people to balance work and childrearing, such as by establishing childcare facilities for 590,000 children, expanding capacity at a speed that is more than 2.5 times that before the change in administration. As a result, the female employment rate among the childrearing generation has risen by 5%, achieving a record high. Today, our female employment rate for all age groups of women age 25 and above exceeds that of the United States. Overall, the number of employed women has increased by 1.5 million.

I requested member companies of Keidanren to appoint at least one female officer, and also revised the Cabinet Office Ordinance to make it mandatory to include the number of female officers in the annual securities report. In doing so, the number of female officers increased by 2.5 times in five years, and is now more than 1,500.

Indeed, if you put your mind to it, anything is possible. The important point is to formulate concrete policies and implement them, and thereby, bring about major reforms in the systems of society.

To that end, I hope you will further share your wisdom. In closing, I would like to ask you to offer your candid and unrestrained ideas to the powerful Minister Noda today. Thank you very much.”


Award Ceremony and Celebration for the Monodzukuri Nippon (Japan’s Manufacturing) Grand Award

Cabinet Secretariat, Monday, January 22, 2018

[Provisional Translation]

On January 22, 2018, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the award ceremony and celebration for the Seventh Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award held at the Prime Minister's Office.

The Prime Minister said in his address at the award ceremony,

“I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the recipients of the Seventh Monodzukuri Nippon (Japan’s Manufacturing) Grand Award.

People possessing top technologies and skills have gathered from all across the country at this award ceremony, which is held once every two years. The paths that you have taken to achieve that were surely never entirely easy.

I believe you were able to overcome countless technical hurdles, and deal with various difficulties, such as financing issues and sudden disasters, thanks to the strong determination that each and every one of you feels about monodzukuri.

You have passion about making products that are eco-friendly, about revitalizing the agriculture, forest, and fisheries industries of your local communities, and about improving your skills ever further. Such passion and the hard work supported by it are the fundamental strength of Japan as a major power in manufacturing excellence. I would like to once again express my heartfelt respect.

Meanwhile, it is extremely unfortunate that instances of misconduct, including falsification of data, came to light last year in some of the companies which have lead monodzukuri efforts in Japan up until now.

The Government will strengthen its quality assurance mechanism, including an amendment to the Industrial Standardization (JIS) Act. Ultimately, whether or not we can protect the ‘Made in Japan’ brand, which is trusted around the world, depends on the efforts of the manufacturing industry itself.

Challenging times also create opportunity.

We will take this opportunity to propel monodzukuri that Japan is so proud of to new heights. I would like you to aim to be far and away the best in the world in technology, in quality, and in responses to social needs, such as those related to the environment and disaster prevention. As revolutionary innovations such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) are dramatically changing business methods, that motivation will serve as a force to pioneer a new form of monodzukuri in the new era.

It is you, the people working on the front lines of monodzukuri, who can lead these efforts. You take pride in the work you do at each of your workplaces, and continue your unrelenting efforts toward improvement. I am confident that this power of human resources has been the great driving force that has opened up the future for Japan’s economy up until now and hereafter.

I would like all of you to take the lead to this end, after receiving this award. I hope that you will continue to maintain your motivation to take charge of the future of monodzukuri in Japan, and I wish you further success in your efforts.

Again, my sincere congratulations to you all today.”

Furthermore, the Prime Minister said in his address at the celebration,

“I would like to once again offer my congratulations to you.

I had a chance to observe some technologies which won the award before I entered the venue just now.

A chip that is so small that it can barely be seen is capable of detecting changes that a human cannot sense. A porcelain technique can recreate the colors used in 1,300-year-old tumulus burial mounds.

I once again felt the power of Japan’s monodzukuri, from the latest technologies to traditional techniques. These efforts that all of you have made to achieve them have been no small feat.

Today is the opening day of the ordinary session of the Diet. For the next 150 days, I will fairly frequently attend the Diet. Budget Committee meetings hold discussions lasting seven hours per day. It is not easy for both those who answer questions, as well as those who do not have the opportunity to do so. Being here in front of all of you, I feel motivated to deal with the tasks ahead. I have renewed my determination to work hard.

Last week I visited the Baltic States and some Balkan countries. These countries are seeing remarkable growth. I was accompanied by 30 companies who promoted themselves in each country. Japanese businesses have an excellent reputation in all of these countries. I reaffirmed the presence that Japan has in the world as a major power in manufacturing excellence.

I had a conversation with H.E. Mr. Aleksandar Vučić, President of the Republic of Serbia, who has travelled to Japan once to conduct a site visit at an automobile plant. The craftsmen there who were skillfully assembling automobiles apparently did not even notice that President Vučić had visited, and continued their work the entire time. He smiled as he praised them, saying that they were so diligent they did not even greet him.

Those craftsmen took pride in their monodzukuri works, and devoted themselves to their jobs. I guess that there may be some of you who have been so focused on your work that you have not noticed even when your president has come to see your workplace.

Monodzukuri in Japan has been fostered up until now by such on-site capabilities and the power of our human resources.

As a leading figure at each of your workplaces, I hope that you will continue to succeed, and at the same time, I would like you to act as a model and a great encouragement for the young people who will come after you. You have developed Japan’s monodzukuri and spread it all around the world. Now, it would be appropriate to say that Japan’s monodzukuri is truly the world’s monodzukuri. I have great hopes for the role that you will play in passing it to the next generation.

With those expectations in mind, I arranged for this modest celebration today. I hope that you will deepen your friendships with each other across your different fields despite a short period of time.

Lastly, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all of the people involved with this award, including the judges, who gave us a tremendous amount of cooperation. Snow is falling quietly outside. I hope that the capabilities you all possess for monodzukuri will see you safely home today. Again, my sincere congratulations.”


Seventh Japan-France Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue

Foreign Affairs, Saturday, January 27, 2018

On January 27, commencing at around 10 a.m. for approximately 80 minutes, Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held the Seventh Japan-France Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue with H.E. Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic, who was making a Working Visit to Japan upon invitation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The overview is as follows. In addition, following the strategic dialogue, Minister and Mrs. Kono held a lunch to welcome Minister and Mrs. Le Drian.

1. Opening remarks

Minister Kono mentioned that Japan and France were “exceptional partners” that shared fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and stated that he hoped Japan and France would work together more closely in addressing the North Korea issues as well as various global challenges. The two ministers confirmed that they would further deepen the “exceptional partnership” between Japan and France through “Japonism 2018” and mutual visits by the leaders of the two countries this year, which marks the 160th anniversary of Japan-France diplomatic relations.

2. Bilateral relations

(1) The two ministers confirmed that in this commemorative year they would cooperate closely in new economic fields such as innovation, adding to the exsisting cooperative relations including investment.

(2) The two ministers also shared the view that they would further strengthen Japan-France cooperation including in Africa.

3. Japan-European Union (EU) relations

(1) The two ministers confirmed that they would cooperate toward the early signing and entry into force of Japan-EU EPA.

(2) Minister Kono also stated that with regard to the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, transparency and predictability were important. Minister Le Drian explained that he understood the concern that Japanese businesses could be affected and that France would try to make sure that Japanese businesses are not put to unfavorable position. He also confirmed that they would continue to exchange their views closely.

4. International and global issues

Minister Kono appreciated Minister Le Drian’s leadership in connection with the conference on the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons that was held in Paris on January 23. The two ministers shared the view on the need to advance United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reform promptly. They also confirmed that they would cooperate closely in such fields as disarmament and non-proliferation.

5. Regional affairs

(1) With regard to North Korea, the two ministers shared the view that it was necessary to fully implement the relevant UNSC resolutions, as confirmed at the Fourth Japan-France Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting held on the previous day.

(2) The two ministers also exchanged views on the situations in the Middle East and other matters.

Japan and France agreed to establish the Japan-France Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue at a Japan-France Summit Meeting in May 2011, and the dialogues have been held every year since 2012. Most recently, the Sixth Japan-France Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue was held in Paris on January 6, 2017.


World Robot Summit 2018 to be Held

METI, Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) will hold the World Robot Summit (WRS) 2018 in October of this year.

1.Concept of WRS
METI and NEDO aim for a realization of a world where robots and humans successfully live and work together. Toward this realization, they will hold the World Robot Summit (WRS) 2018, an international robotics event that consists of a robot competition and a robot exhibition and aims to 1) bring together the most advanced robot technologies from around the world and accelerate robot R&D through competition, and 2) showcase actual cases where robots solve difficult challenges that arise, deepen people’s understanding of robots, and accelerate implementation of robots in society. WRS 2018 is to be held in October of this year and will be regarded as the preliminary event of WRS 2020.

Event Name:
World Robot Summit 2018
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
New Energy Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
Wednesday, October 17 - Sunday, October 21, 2018 for five days
Tokyo Big Sight East Halls 6/7/8

2.Competition (World Robot Challenge (WRC) 2018)
WRC consists of 9 challenges in 4 categories (Industrial Robotics, Service Robotics, Disaster Robotics, and Junior)
Prize money and so forth shall be awarded, supported by sponsors that have agreed with the WRS concepts. (Total amount of prize money for the World Robot Challenge 2018 will exceed 100 million yen.) Travel expenses might be granted up to a certain amount for some participating teams. The registration for participation is open at the WRS website. The closing of registration day is March 15, 2018. (February 28, 2018 for Disaster Robotics Category)

3.Exhibition (World Robot Expo (WRE) 2018)
In conjunction with the WRC, the WRE will show how the robots solve the real social problems. For example, in addition to demonstrations at the exhibition hall, WRE will introduce the robots utilized in the local area in collaboration with the local governments who advance robot utilization.

As a result of public offering, Doraemon has been chosen as a support character for the World Robot Summit.
As a bridge between humans and robots, Doraemon will support this summit.