Mr. Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Co., on May 25 became the top leader of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), Japan’s most influential business lobby. He assumes the post at a time when the Japanese economy is suffering from deflation, high unemployment, a low birth rate and severe competition in overseas markets. He faces the difficult task of finding ways to achieve sustainable economic growth.

One of the most important jobs for Mr. Yonekura will be improving the competitive edge of Japanese companies. Competition with emerging economies is becoming harsh in international markets and Japan’s competitiveness is reportedly now lower than that of China and South Korea. Nippon Keidanren must not only encourage innovation by individual companies but also persuade the government to strengthen the nation’s industrial policy.

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