Business leaders vow to revive pandemic-hit economy with innovation


japantoday– Japanese business leaders pledged Friday to revive the country’s economy dented by the novel coronavirus pandemic this year through digital and sustainable innovation.

In a New Year message, Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation known as Keidanren, underlined the importance for both the public and private sectors to jointly make all-out efforts to stem further virus infections and revive the economy.

In order to make 2021 “the year of revival from the pandemic,” Nakanishi said the key is digital transformation and deregulation, as many sectors such as the administrative, medical and education systems in Japan showed vulnerability due to poor digitalization and rigid regulations amid the pandemic.

He also said Keidanren will proactively move toward greener policies led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has said Japan will aim to achieve carbon neutrality, or net zero emissions of carbon dioxide by 2050.

“We need to refresh the current energy and electric power systems, and constantly create innovation,” Nakanishi said.

Kengo Sakurada, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, called on corporate managers to be committed to drastically innovate their companies and industries “to create the new socio-economic model.”

“Digital and greener innovation will drive social reforms,” said Sakurada, adding Japan can lead the world in some fields such as health care and manufacturing industries with accumulation of its know-how.

The association also will explore the possibility of realizing the net zero emissions target in every industrial field as a sustainable base for society and the business environment, Sakurada said.

Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the enhancement of productivity is essential for the Japanese economy to grow with its graying population.

To boost productivity, Mimura said the chamber will further help small and midsize firms respond to the pandemic and digitalize their businesses.

He also expressed hope that the postponed Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games scheduled for this summer will be a symbolic event to balance efforts to prevent virus infections and to promote social and economic activities.

“We would like to take the lead in developing small and midsize companies and regional areas, and reviving the Japanese economy by taking advantage of our nationwide networks,” Mimura added.