National / Politics

Abe will propose a bold ¥2 trillion economic spending package in early December

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday he will compile a bold economic package worth ¥2 trillion early next month to combat various woes related to Japan’s rapidly aging population.

The measure reflects Abe’s central campaign pledge ahead of last month’s general election. In a drastic review of how to spend the revenue from the planned 2019 consumption tax hike, Abe said he would make efforts to provide free day care services, increase support for financially struggling young people seeking higher education and raise wages for caregivers.

“We will remain committed to reviving the economy,” Abe told a news conference Wednesday, after being re-elected prime minster in a Diet vote earlier in the day.

“Encouraged by the strong mandate we have received from the public, we will go ahead with ever-more-powerful economic policies,” Abe said.

Abe also revealed a positive assessment by Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, lauding him for “significant progress” in helping shore up employment. Asked about the possibility of Kuroda being reappointed when his current term expires next year, Abe said no decision had been made.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Tokyo over the weekend, Abe said, will be a chance to “further deepen our relationship of trust” and reaffirm a shared hard-line stance against nuclear-armed North Korea.

“We have consistently supported President Trump’s position that all options are on the table. Once he gets here, I hope we can spend a good amount of time analyzing Pyongyang’s latest behavior and discussing how to deal with its actions,” Abe said.

By maximizing pressure, “we must create a situation where Pyongyang will be forced to change its policy and beg to return to the negotiating table,” Abe said.

Abe voiced confidence that his impending meetings with Trump and other world leaders next month, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, will help bolster Japan’s national security at a time when the nation’s security environment has reached its “most severe” level in the postwar era.

Regarding the pacifist Constitution, Abe said the immediate focus should not be on achieving his recently announced timeline of revising the charter by 2020, but rather on “seeking a wide range of support from both the ruling and opposition parties” and “raising public awareness” of the amendment issue.

Also on Wednesday, heads of major Japanese business lobbies expressed their high hopes for Abe’s new government.

“I want the prime minister to show strong political leadership by accelerating his Abenomics economic policy mix, implementing growth measures, building a new social security system focusing on all generations, and promoting fiscal consolidation,” Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, said in a statement.

The Keidanren will fully support the Abe administration’s implementation of its policy measures, he added.

In a separate statement, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Akio Mimura called on the Abe administration to “decisively carry out structural reforms to help dispel people’s concerns over the future.”

He also urged the government to boost the country’s growth potential with measures to overcome labor shortages and improve productivity, and to take measures to support small and medium-size companies.

Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, or Keizai Doyukai, issued a statement expressing his hope that the Abe government will “steadily produce results in important policies concerning the economy and the security of people, and show a path to creating a society where young generations can have hopes for their future.”

Meanwhile, Kobayashi said he hopes that policy debates will be held in a way that is easily understandable to the public.

Information from Jiji added