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Shoichiro Toyoda, chairman of the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), said Tuesday that political leadership is needed to swiftly pass planned measures to cope with the economy.”Toward the end of last year, various measures were drafted,” Toyoda told a joint news conference with other business organizations. “The priority at present is to put them into practice steadily and swiftly by taking necessary steps such as legislation. If this can be achieved, I predict (the economy) will improve toward the latter part of this year.” Additional tax cuts are an option that would help boost consumer spending, he said.Other business leaders basically agreed with Toyoda, calling for speedy government action such as further tax cuts and accelerating the six reforms currently being put forward by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. “If the administration proceeds with the six reforms at three times the current speed, the economy would be stimulated,” said Jiro Ushio, chairman of Japan Association of Corporate Executives. “If that is combined with drastic tax cuts, it would result in revitalizing corporate activity.”Asked about the current stock and foreign exchange markets, Jiro Nemoto, chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations, said the markets do not trust the economy due to the financial instability and the sluggish economy. In addition, economic turmoil elsewhere in Asia is negatively affecting the markets.Toyoda expressed his hope that Shinshinto’s breakup into six parties will lead to a two-party system in Japan, as practiced in the United States. “It seems that (political parties) are agonizing in the transitional process to move to the two-party system,” he said. “I hope that they will change to the system as soon as possible.”Kosaku Inaba, chairman of Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, pointed out that policy differences among the divided groups are unclear to the public, which may lead more to apprehension over the current situation, rather than acceptance of the dissolution.

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