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New Year Greetings 2023 - Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

January 1, 2023


I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year.

I remember the feelings I had when I joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1985, of wanting to work for the sake of Japan's economy and future, and the feelings I had after working for the Ministry for fifteen years, of aspiring to enter politics and work for Japan's future from a much broader perspective. I have done my utmost to overcome the major issues Japan is facing and help Japan develop, and I have once again renewed my determination to strive even more. 

The world is now at a turning point between eras. In addition to the three crises of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Japan in particular needs to address both the challenges of the declining birthrate and aging population, which are significantly impacting local communities.

Countermeasures against inflation and increasing energy prices

In order to overcome these challenges and build a resilient and flexible economy, we will promptly implement the supplementary budget passed at last year's extraordinary session of the Diet, address the current crises, and encourage bold investments to achieve a growth trajectory for the future of Japan's economy. First, in response to the soaring energy prices, Japan will take mitigation measures against sudden fluctuations in electricity, gas, and fuel oil prices. We will also secure a stable supply of LNG and other energy resources, drastically strengthen energy-efficiency measures, and transition to an economic structure that is resilient to the energy crisis.

Promoting GX

In order to achieve a decarbonized society, we will promote a green transformation, or GX, of Japan's economy, society, and industrial structure. We will consider all possible measures to bolster renewable energy and decarbonized energy, including nuclear power, as viable options for the future, based on the summary of the GX Implementation Council on the basic principle that we ensure a stable energy supply.

In order to promote the use of renewable energy, we will work on improving the power transmission and distribution systems, addressing output fluctuations, developing technologies for next-generation renewable energy, and cooperating with local communities. We will also promptly prepare the necessary systems to build a large-scale and resilient supply chain for hydrogen and ammonia.

Regarding nuclear power, we will continue to restart nuclear power plants while placing the highest priority on ensuring safety. As for the development and construction of next-generation advanced reactors, we are proceeding with replacing the nuclear power plants that were planned to be abolished with next-generation advanced reactors. Regarding operation period extensions, just as in the current scheme, the operation period will be 40 years with an additional extension period of 20 years upon approval. We have prepared a Basic Policy draft that will include steps to drastically strengthen government-led initiatives toward implementing final disposal, including addressing challenges regarding the nuclear back-end. Regarding this new policy proposal, we will persevere in our efforts to gain the understanding of the communities in which the plants are located and of all Japanese citizens.

In addition, in order to reach more than 150 trillion yen in public and private investment over the next ten years, we will provide bold upfront investment support of 20 trillion yen through green transition bonds based on our roadmap, and encourage private investment by increasing predictability through announcing our policy on implementing carbon pricing in advance. We are proceeding with forming rules and demonstration projects for the GX League, which will allow companies to voluntarily trade emissions.

Foreign economic policies

Even as the foundations of international order are shaken, it is important that we cooperate rather than be divided, and Japan will take the lead in building a free and inclusive economic order. We will make use of frameworks such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), Japan-US Economic 2+2, economic partnership agreements, and the WTO, including for the purpose of creating international rules for the digital economy.

In addition, Japan will serve as the chair of the G7 this year, which also marks the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. In order to contribute to creating a sustainable economy and society in the region, and at the same time share the fruits of growth, we will formulate the ASEAN-Japan Economic Co-Creation Vision, strengthen supply chain resilience, promote collaboration among startups, and make other cooperative efforts. Japan will also contribute to achieving GX in Asia through the Asia Zero Emissions Community (AZEC) Ministerial Meeting this March and other meetings. 

In order to promote respect for human rights in the supply chain, we will disseminate guidelines and promote international cooperation to increase predictability. In addition, we will cooperate with like-minded countries to address the export control of advanced technologies.

SME policies

We will continue to do our utmost to give financial support to regional SMEs that are in a difficult business environment. In addition to facilitating the refinancing of loans related to COVID-19, we will establish a credit guarantee system to address new financing needs.

We will work to further expand and ensure the effectiveness of large companies under the Declaration of Partnership Building, which aims for co-existence and co-prosperity in the entire supply chain. We will cooperate with the Japan Fair Trade Commission to enhance fair transactions and conduct measures for passing on cost increases through higher prices by providing guidance and advice to subcontractors and through other measures based on the Act on the Promotion of Subcontracting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in consideration of the results of the Price Negotiation Promotion Month.

In addition, we will support business restructuring, increases in productivity, and expansion of exports in order to support SMEs that are taking on new initiatives such as the green and digital fields even in times of adversity. By proceeding with these measures, we will secure resources for wage increases and contribute to increasing incomes.

Growth investment

Japanese companies' capital investment plans are growing at record high levels, and their willingness to invest has risen higher than ever before. We will not ignore this sign of change and will accelerate investments. We will regain the animal spirits that Japan had for some time forgotten.

The Public-Private Partnership Forum for Increasing Domestic Investment was held at the end of last year to promote growth investment in Japan's public and private sectors. Industries have also indicated an encouraging outlook of 100 trillion yen in capital investment per year, the highest level ever, up to 2027.
This is the time for all companies, regions, and people in Japan to boldly take on challenges. The government's bold support will attract investment in the private sector, and innovation will increase productivity and incomes. That means we will achieve the three virtuous cycles of investment, innovation, and increased income.

The most recent supplementary budget will be the switch that triggers these efforts. The government as a whole has set aside 7 trillion yen in strategic investment support that will last several years. Now is the time to take advantage of the depreciation of the yen and boldly support industries to make domestic investments for growth, such as establishing domestic production bases for semiconductors, storage batteries, and biotechnology. We will boldly promote the stable supply of these critical items and research and development of advanced technologies from the viewpoint of economic security.

We will also mobilize all policy resources to develop the ecosystem for the growth of the Japanese economy in the medium to long term, such as securing a budget of 1 trillion yen and implementing bold tax incentives to support startups that will play an important role in innovation. We will also increase investment in science and technology, including strengthening support for new drug discovery, biotechnology, quantum, AI, and the environment in addition to proceeding with the joint development of next-generation semiconductors between Japan and the US. We will advance efforts toward a digital economy, including securing industrial bases for areas such as cloud and cybersecurity, formulating growth plans for building social infrastructure in the digital era, and developing human resources for semiconductors, batteries, and other fields.

At the same time, we will invest in people by promoting human capital management and providing end-to-end support from reskilling to changing jobs. We will facilitate the mobility of full-time employees, whose wage growth has remained low, in order to create an environment in which they can advance their careers regardless of whether they are regular, non-regular, or in-house employees, or are changing jobs, and press the switch to trigger increased incomes.

Through these measures from the budgetary and systemic aspects, we will promote policies for Japan as a whole to take on challenges as the new direction of economic and industrial policies, and we will establish a growth-oriented, self-sufficient economy and adapt to Web 3.0.

We will deepen discussions with the automotive industry, a key industry, and work to grow in the area of mobility in order to overcome a revolution that comes only once every 100 years.

Furthermore, we will promote efforts to ensure the success of Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai.

Reconstructing Fukushima

The most important issues for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are reconstructing Fukushima and addressing challenges regarding decommissioning, contaminated water, and treated water at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

We will proceed with the removal of fuel debris, preparations to release the ALPS treated water into the ocean, and other measures ahead of the decommissioning. We will make every effort to ensure its safety, prevent reputational damage, formulate a fund to enable fishing business operators to continue their business with peace of mind, and communicate the charms of products from the Sanriku and Joban regions and increase their consumption through the "Discover the Charms! Sanriku Joban Products Network."  I would like to ask everyone to actively participate in the network and increase the consumption of its products.

We will proceed to lift evacuation orders for the remaining Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Bases in the Restricted area in addition to the bases where the evacuation order was lifted last year. We will also take measures to enable evacuees from the Restricted areas except the bases who have intention to return to their homes to do so.

We will make every effort to reconstruct Fukushima by rebuilding businesses and livelihoods, creating new industries, increase population exchanges, research at Fukushima Institute for Research, Education and Innovation, and new urban development by utilizing the arts, films and so on.

Closing Remarks

2023 will be the year of the Water Rabbit, which is said to be a year when one's efforts will bear fruit, and one will vigorously grow and make leaps forward. This year, I want to listen carefully and be keen and nimble like a rabbit, as it discerns sounds with its large ears and jumps swiftly. Let us take a new step forward so that we can show people across the country and abroad that Japan is taking on challenges and transforming itself.

I appreciate your continued understanding and support.

January 1, 2023
NISHIMURA Yasutoshi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry