• Kyodo

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Top business leader Hiromasa Yonekura has urged Prime Minister Naoto Kan to demonstrate “real leadership” to stay in power longer and restore international confidence in Japan.

“In order to allow Japan to be trusted internationally, the prime minister must remain in office for more than one year or, if possible, two,” the chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) said in a mass interview.

Just a year after assuming the chairmanship of Japan’s biggest business lobby, Yonekura was defending Kan’s government, which was inaugurated at almost the same time.

He recalled Kan’s team had been very positive then, coming up with an economic growth strategy and an initiative to open up Japan further to the rest of the world.

Yonekura, also chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Co., said the government has regrettably become passive or negative since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Tohoku region.

As an example, he criticized the recent postponement of Japan’s decision to participate in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement.

“We should take part in the negotiations as early as possible,” Yonekura said. “Japan must enhance its agriculture while phasing out tariffs on farm imports over 10 years or so” under the agreement, he said.

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