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2014年1月 8日 (水)

首相年頭会見 「好循環」を看板倒れにするな

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 7, 2014
Abe mustn’t allow ‘virtuous circle’ to end up as a mere empty slogan
首相年頭会見 「好循環」を看板倒れにするな(1月7日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be tested this year on whether the government will be able to overcome the impact of the consumption tax hike scheduled for April and revitalize the economy.

In a New Year’s news conference in Ise, Mie Prefecture, on Monday, Abe expressed his firm resolve to place top priority on ending deflation, saying the government will work toward “ensuring the economic recovery is felt by the people in the form of an increase in their income.”

To prevent business from being adversely affected because of the consumption tax increase and to conquer deflation, it is indispensable to realize a virtuous business circle in which pay raises by high-flying firms help boost personal consumption and lead to an increase in corporate profits.

The prime minister has said the ordinary Diet session to be convened later this month should “realize a virtuous circle.” This must not end up as a mere empty slogan.

First and foremost, it is necessary to realize early Diet passage of the supplementary budget for fiscal 2013, including a stimulus package totaling about ¥5.5 trillion, a large-scale budget for fiscal 2014, starting in April, and tax system reform-related bills.

Abe also expressed his intention to push forward regulatory reform centering on employment, human resources, agriculture, medical treatment and nursing care as the government aims to revise its growth strategy in the middle of 2014.

The growth strategy, the third arrow to the Abenomics quiver of economic policies, is lackluster. We hope the government will break through the regulation wall, which is as hard as bedrock, thereby giving momentum to economic growth.

Array of challenges

In regard to the Liberal Democratic Party’s demand for tariffs on rice, wheat and three other items to be treated exceptionally in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations on a multinational free trade agreement, Abe said the government “will try to come up with various ideas before deciding where to make a final landing from a comprehensive viewpoint.”

Due to the wide gap between Tokyo and Washington, the target to reach an agreement on the TPP before the end of last year was postponed. The government must explore ways to break the logjam.

Concerning nuclear reactors that have been idled, Abe said the government “will judge whether to restart them after they pass strict new safety standards.” His statement means his administration will press ahead on restarting reactors pending confirmation of their safety.

Utility rates have soared due to the rise in fuel costs for thermal power generation, which is substituting for nuclear power. This has adversely affected corporate activities and households. Abe must give detailed explanations on the need to restart reactors when he seeks the understanding of local governments and residents concerned.

China and South Korea have been increasingly protesting Abe’s recent visit to Yasukuni Shrine, and Washington has expressed “disappointment” at his visit. In this connection, Abe only said, “I would like to explain my real intentions directly [to Beijing and Seoul].”

Abe should take steps to ensure the Japan-U.S. alliance remains firm, while exploring ways to improve relations with China and South Korea.

He also said he planned nationwide discussions in preparation for changing the constitutional interpretation of the country’s right to collective self-defense and revising the Constitution. It is essential to steadily move ahead with these matters.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 7, 2014)
(2014年1月7日01時32分  読売新聞)


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