NEW YORK – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Wall Street on Wednesday that alongside his push for deregulation and empowering women to spur the economy, Japan will contribute to nuclear safety technology by overcoming the Fukushima crisis.
Abe also said Japan, together with the U.S., should lead multilateral efforts toward concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the end of this year.
“Buy my ‘Abenomics,’ ” he said in a speech delivered at the New York Stock Exchange, touting the measures he has taken since assuming power in December to jump-start an economy mired for decades in deflation and repeated recessions.
Describing the Japanese economy as in “extremely good” shape, Abe said he came to the heart of U.S. capitalism to say “Japan is back.” He touted the annualized growth rates of 3 percent or higher chalked up in two consecutive quarters this year, and how they contrasted with the third quarter contraction last year, just before he took power, verbally weakened the yen and launched a radical course of quantitative easing to artificially stoke inflation.
Manufacturing, consumer spending and finally corporate capital investment have turned positive, he said. Business confidence is also building steadily after it was drained by years of deflation.
Abe pitched nuclear safety technology while boasting of Japan’s strengths in energy technology, such as lithium-ion batteries for cars and energy-saving LED illumination.
“Japan will keep contributing to the world in the area of safety technology for nuclear power plants,” he said. “We will never abandon it. I believe we have the responsibility and obligation (to provide) the world with the world’s highest standard of safety by overcoming the Fukushima accident.”
Abe said he wants to see Japan adopt the same sort of venture spirit and entrepreneurship that fuels the U.S. economy.
In that context, “I believe deregulation will be a breakthrough to everything,” Abe said, revealing an idea for a new mechanism where businesses testing cutting-edge technologies may be exempt from regulatory constraints so long as they take measures to ensure safety on their own.
He said developers of fuel cells have had to clear many regulatory hurdles, which could have discouraged innovation.
On the trade front, Abe said it is destiny that Japan and the United States, which share the same basic values, must lead efforts to conclude the TPP.
“Together with the United States, we would like to build a major market filled with freedom and creativity in this Asia-Pacific region,” Abe said.
He said the power of women is another source of major potential for Japan that has not been fully utilized, with many talented women leaving the workforce when they get married or have children.
“If these women rise up, I believe Japan can achieve strong growth,” he said.
Quoting Wall Street legend Muriel Siebert, the first woman to join the NYSE more than 40 years ago, Abe said he will initiate a major shift in Japanese society.
He promised to increase facilities within five years to take care of about 400,000 children while their parents are at work.
Abe also promoted Japan’s magnetically levitated trains, saying they could link New York and Washington with a one-hour ride. He suggested that Baltimore and Washington be linked first in the United States using this new form of high-speed rail.