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2014年1月16日 (木)

経団連次期会長 産業再生の実現へ責任は重い

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 15, 2014
New Keidanren head should work to revitalize business sector
経団連次期会長 産業再生の実現へ責任は重い(1月15日付・読売社説)

The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) chairman has a heavy responsibility to fulfill as the top figure of the business community.

The Keidanren chief’s obligation is to firmly lead business corporations that comprise the mainstay of the Japanese economy, a task essential for contributing to full-scale economic growth.

Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of Toray Industries, Inc., has been informally designated as the successor to Hiromasa Yonekura, the incumbent at the nation’s largest business organization. Sakakibara, who previously served as vice chairman of Keidanren, is to be inaugurated as its new chairman in June.

Sakakibara’s informal appointment as Keidanren leader comes after the laborious and stalled process of picking Yonekura’s successor. Sakakibara will be the first chairman to be chosen from among former Keidanren executives.

Yonekura has described Sakakibara as “a business leader who attaches the greatest importance to technological innovation and is worthy of becoming the next chairman.” Sakakibara’s informal designation as Keidanren chief seems to strongly reflect Yonekura’s desire to ensure his successor is chosen from the manufacturing sector.

Sakakibara told a press corps that “I’ll do my utmost to revitalize the Japanese economy.” We hope he will spearhead efforts to invigorate the domestic industry, as it has remained on the defensive.

During his time as Toray president, Sakakibara earned his corporation’s carbon fiber business a predominant share of the international market. This transformed Toray into a global manufacturer of new materials, including carbon fiber used to produce aircraft and other products.

However, there is no denying that Toray is a minor player in the domestic industry when comparing its business size with that of some corporations that have seen their top officials named Keidanren chairman several times, such as Toshiba Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp.

The next Keidanren chairman should strive to manage the business community in a manner that considers the interests of all corporations, a task that requires paying close attention to various sectors of the broadly based domestic industry.

Improving proposals

Sakakibara is a private-sector member of the Industrial Competitiveness Council, a research and deliberative organ run by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He is known as an outspoken business leader who has actively advanced proposals for technological innovation and other aspects of business activity. One important task he will face is improving the quality of Keidanren’s policy proposals.

In the initial stages of Abe’s current administration, relations between Keidanren and the government were strained, as Yonekura made critical comments about the prime minister’s economic policies. Sakakibara needs to mend ties between Keidanren and the government through his working relationship with Abe.

Given its scarcity of natural resources, Japan should continue to use its export drive as an engine of economic growth. However, the fact remains that the relative importance of manufacturing corporations in the domestic economy is declining.

The key to success in achieving sustainable growth will be whether the productivity of information communications, services and other domestic demand-led industries can be improved. It also will be important to ensure the growth of businesses that can accommodate the needs arising from the advent of an aging society and a declining birthrate, including medical and nursing care services.

A major task facing the Abe administration’s growth strategy is to reconsider regulations and tax treatments that benefit already-established industries. We hope Keidanren will cooperate with the government and play a proactive role in nurturing new businesses.

Keidanren must shed its old skin as an organization long charged with attaining industrial development, among other tasks, in the manufacturing sector. Failure to do so would puts its raison d’etre seriously into question.

For many years, Sakakibara led Toray’s business operations, emphasizing to its employees the importance of having a sense of urgency about their company’s fate and changing their attitude accordingly. Sakakibara’s next task will be to demonstrate his leadership with which to revamp the business community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 15, 2014)
(2014年1月15日01時33分  読売新聞)


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