“I am bullish --- bullish for the future of my country, Japan.”
His Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, spoke about economics (Abenomics) and politics during a Thomson Reuters newsmaker event moderated by Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler. Abe explained the transformation Japan is experiencing as it creates opportunity for a growing millennial demographic, in addition to the effect of innovation and technology, and the need for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Abenomics is for the future
His Excellency Abe left little room for doubt regarding Japan’s stance on economics when he said, “Listen up: Abenomics is for the future. It is for future growth; it is for future generations; and, it is for [a] future Japan that is robust.”
A main factor driving Abenomics is the large percentage of Japan’s workforce comprising temporary staff (nearly 40 percent) and making less than those doing the same work within the regular workforce. To this he professed: “We must fill the gap between the regular and non-regular workers so that young people can have a brighter hope for the future.”
His plan involves increasing labor-force participation by giving equal pay for equal work. He advocates raising the wage level of the non-regular worker so that the wage gap is shortened.
Another component of his strategy is to embrace and use cutting-edge technologies to advance his nation. He explained the maglev (magnetic levitation) train initiative which, by 2030, will transport riders from Tokyo to Nagoya in 40 minutes and Osaka in another 20 minutes, a significant reduction in time from the current systems.
“If I have sounded bullish so far, it is because I am bullish — bullish for the future of my country, Japan.”
Bank of Japan’s role
The Bank of Japan is a key strategic partner in furthering Abenomics. As Abe said, “Going forward, under the close collaboration between government and the Bank of Japan working in unison, we will use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal and structural – to accelerate Abenomics.”
Innovation for growth
Abe also understands the importance of technology and innovation for the future. He called out artificial intelligence and big data as two important, emerging technologies that warrant private and public sector investment.
“Innovation precisely is the key for growth. Government cannot cause innovation … we have to create the right environment. Environment can be created by the government, which will blossom the potentials for innovation.”
Being open and liberal
Abe revealed his country’s pro-trade stance. He underscored that “Japan is for openness. Japan is for trade liberalization. Japan is for investment liberalization. . . . Japan will remain an engine for free trade.”
In terms of the actual TPP, his message to the United States was also clear: “Here is my request to you. Please do ratify the TPP. . . . We are simply waiting for you to take a leadership role. ‘Come along America’ should be my own message to you.”
View the video highlights and coverage of His Excellency Abe’s interview.