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Full speed ahead for Abenomics: Abe
Publication Date : 16-10-2013
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to pursue reforms to turn Japan into a haven for doing business, as part of his bid to spur economic growth through deregulation and competition.
He made the pledge on Tuesday at the opening of a 53-day session of Parliament that will see the Japanese leader aiming to pass Bills to flesh out his so-called "Abenomics" blueprint to fight 15 years of deflation and promote growth.
With Tokyo's hosting of the 2020 Olympics giving a major boost to investments, especially in the capital area, Abe pledged to cut red tape in specially deregulated zones to promote business activity.
"We will thoroughly remove peculiar regulations and systems and create the world's most advanced business city," he said. "We aim to make Japan the easiest place in the world for companies to do business."
He had unveiled his economic growth strategies as the "third arrow" of his Abenomics policies in June but had yet to flesh them out. The first two arrows concerned easy monetary policy and public spending.
In a speech delivered with confidence, Abe vowed to push ahead with his policies in the light of two successive quarters showing over 3 per cent growth and improved job figures.
But experts have warned that his Abenomics formula to end deflation will not succeed if wages do not rise, particularly as the sales tax will go up to 8 per cent next April from 5 per cent now.
Abe on Tuesday failed to make any mention of his earlier proposal to reduce corporate taxes to encourage Japanese firms to raise wages and also to attract foreign companies to set up shop here, or of labour reforms to ease the country's rigid job market.
Besides Bills related to the economy, he is also seeking to pass laws to protect official secrets and to create a ministerial council, modelled on the National Security Council in the United States, to streamline decision-making in foreign affairs and national security.
He also hinted he was moving towards amending the country's pacifist Constitution, in particular a key article that renounces war as a sovereign right and limits Japan's military to self-defence.
His task has been made much easier as the ruling coalition now dominates both Houses of Parliament - the result of the coalition's Upper House polls victory in July.
But opposition parties are expected to grill Abe over his government's handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
On Tuesday, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, under mounting pressure over a recent series of accidents concerning toxic water, promised to draft in more workers and improve equipment to ensure safety at the site.
On Sunday, 40,000 people demonstrated in Tokyo against Abe's continued endorsement of nuclear energy. He is due to go to Turkey again next month to push for a deal in nuclear power cooperation, having previously visited in May.
He also faces tough questions from the opposition on his government's recent policy about- turn in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade talks.
Although he had promised to protect five sensitive sectors - rice, wheat, sugar, beef and pork, and dairy products - Japanese negotiators recently disclosed they were reviewing the five areas to identify items whose tariffs can be cut.
On foreign policy, the Japanese leader boasted of visiting 23 countries and holding 110 meetings with foreign leaders during his 10 months of office, but did not say how he would mend ties with China and South Korea, Japan's two largest neighbours.
Japanese news agency Jiji Press on Tuesday quoted Chinese government sources as saying a senior Chinese government official secretly visited Japan for talks this month aimed at improving bilateral relations damaged by a territorial row.