Big manufacturing role seen in economic plan


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to map out his economic growth strategy by June and place a strong emphasis on rejuvenating the manufacturing industry, a draft of the government’s strategy says.

The government’s economic revitalization headquarters will hold its first meeting Tuesday and start working on concrete measures to reinvigorate the economy in a bid to pull the country out of two decades of stagnation.

The three pillars of the plan are: more effectively targeting policies at sectors with growth potential, such as medical and energy; industrial rehabilitation; and sharpening international business competitiveness, according to a copy of the draft obtained by Kyodo News.

The new headquarters, which will be headed by Abe, is considering promoting deregulation and supporting research programs in a range of sectors.

Among its other goals, the draft said Abe’s government, formed in late December, plans to facilitate corporate realignment and curb the electricity hikes being pursued due to the loss of nuclear power resulting from the public reaction to the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011.

Economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari told reporters Sunday that the new growth strategy will be crafted by “collecting the wisdom of the government and the private sector.”

Amari also said the regulation reform council under past governments led by the Liberal Democratic Party will be revived at an early date to work out deregulation measures.

Other measures under the draft include reducing corporate taxes and social security burdens to prevent Japanese companies from shifting operations overseas, as well as reviving the agriculture, fishery and tourism industries and local-level businesses.

Asia investment strategy

The government plans to set up a new private-public initiative to support overseas acquisitions by Japanese companies and promote infrastructure investment in Asia in a bid to energize the economy by capitalizing on global growth, a statement said Monday.

The statement, presented by the Finance Ministry at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s task force, also said expanding investment abroad could prompt Japanese companies to sell the yen and buy other currencies, making the foreign-exchange market less volatile.

Under the new system, the state-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation will set a ¥200 billion credit line and provide financial support to companies, including small businesses, in tandem with the banks and investors. The central government will inject around ¥70 billion into JBIC.

The plan is expected to be incorporated into the emergency economic stimulus package scheduled to be endorsed by the Cabinet on Friday.

During the task force’s meeting, the Finance Ministry also unveiled plans to lend about ¥100 billion to a fund to be set up by the government-owned Development Bank of Japan to strengthen corporate competitiveness.

In the supplementary budget for fiscal 2012, the ministry is slated to request around ¥30 billion to ease cash-flow problems at small- and medium-size businesses because the legislation allowing them to receive loan moratoriums will expire in March, ministry officials said.

The legislation, aimed at supporting smaller businesses squeezed by the credit crunch, has led financial institutions to grant moratoriums on loans worth around ¥80 trillion to 300,000 to 400,000 companies to date.