National / Politics

Abe woos business leaders in Italy ahead of ASEM summit


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday sang Japan’s praises to a group of businesspeople before the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), apparently hoping to attract overseas investment at a time when “Abenomics” appears stuck in a rut.

At a meeting attended by around 300 people, including business leaders, Abe explained Japan’s plan to lower the effective corporate tax rate to below 30 percent in “several years” and played up its prospects in sealing the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact and reaching a free trade agreement with the European Union.

His speech, delivered in Milan ahead of the two-day ASEM summit through Friday, was apparently aimed at attracting investment by giving the impression Japan is a business-friendly market.

“Japan will jump into a wide economic sphere through economic partnerships (with other countries),” Abe said.

The long-awaited conclusion of the U.S.-led TPP initiative hinges on a ministerial meeting and working-level talks between Japan and the United States — the two largest economies in the 12-member framework, to be held this month in Australia.

Working to reform the agriculture and electricity markets is “the only way for Japan to attain sustainable growth as the country faces a declining population,” Abe said.

Abe claimed that Abenomics, the nickname for his economic program centered on aggressive monetary easing and massive fiscal spending, have removed pessimism in Japan.

He also explained his initiative on promoting women, which obliges all major companies to declare action plans to raise the status of female employees.

His government has set a goal of raising the proportion of women in leadership positions in both the public and private sectors to at least 30 percent by 2020.

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