• Kyodo

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The head of a leading Japanese business organization said Sunday he was sorry that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi did not attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum here.

“Japan could have convinced them it has a will to implement” reform if Koizumi had attended the meeting, Yotaro Kobayashi, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), told Kyodo News.

Kobayashi, also chairman of Fuji Xerox Co., said he “does not get the impression that the Koizumi Cabinet is doing its utmost to tackle immediate problems.”

“People who know more about Japan don’t believe Tokyo has the will to promote reforms,” Kobayashi said, speaking on the sidelines of the six-day economic meeting that began Thursday in this ski resort town.

WEF participants generally had pessimistic views about Japan’s economy, he said.

“The U.S. economy has the ability to flexibly respond,” Kobayashi said. “That makes its economy fundamentally different from the Japanese economy.”

Kobayashi criticized Financial Services Minister Heizo Takenaka for making comments on the next Bank of Japan governor.

Takenaka said the next BOJ head should be selected from candidates who are cooperative with the government and are in favor of introducing an inflation target to stem deflation.

Takenaka should be more cautious about making such comments, given the significant status of the BOJ governor’s post in the international financial community, Kobayashi said.

BOJ Gov. Masaru Hayami, who has resisted political pressure to set an inflation target, is retiring March 19 at the end of his five-year term.

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