While some people ease their way gently into the New Year, this is not usually the case for heads of government. Since the beginning of the year Prime Minister Abe’s schedule has been as hectic as ever. A case in point was his participation last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos where, as the first Japanese Prime Minister to do so, he delivered the Keynote Speech
. This naturally attracted the very keen attention of the world’s media.
On that occasion the Prime Minister outlined his Government’s policy to revitalise Japan’s economy, widely dubbed ‘Abenomics’. He expressed confidence that Japan would break free of deflation, that wages and consumption would rise and that the fiscal situation would be improved. He cited the atmosphere of renewed optimism that visitors to Japan routinely observe these days, epitomised by the public’s eager anticipation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
Mr Abe made a particular point of addressing the issues of deregulation and structural reform, the third of the three ‘arrows’ of his policy and an area which is regarded as most challenging but as crucial for ensuring the sustainable growth of the Japanese economy. He spoke specifically of the Government’s plans to liberalise the electricity market, to build up medical care as an industry, for instance through making the most of Japan’s breakthroughs in regenerative medicine, and to tackle other politically sensitive areas including agriculture. He stressed the importance of Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Government’s plans to push ahead with the Japan-EU Partnership Agreement. In addition, he articulated his vision for a drastic strengthening of the role of women in Japan’s economy, which would have a huge positive impact on the nation’s GDP in the future.