During this year's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, popularly known as the Davos conference, in late January, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's attendance — his first in five years — attracted attention. The Group of 20 summit will be held in Osaka in June, and Japan will serve as its chair for the first time since the G20 summit came to gain today's weight after the 2008 Lehman Brothers shock. At a time when the world is embroiled in serious problems ranging from the U.S.-China confrontation to Brexit, great attention was paid to what Abe, who will chair the upcoming G20 summit, said in his speech at Davos.

Abe devoted the first one-third of his 30-minute speech to changes in the Japanese economy. He said that in the six years since he came to power, share prices went up by 2.5 times, the jobless rate fell to 2.5 percent and the ratio of job openings to job seekers, which had fallen to 0.4 right after the Lehman shock, increased to 1.6. Abe also explained that although Japan's working-age population declined by 4.5 million over the period, the impact has been almost offset by the greater participation of women and elderly people in the labor market.

What attracted particular interest was his proposal as G20 summit chair to work out a global rule for the use of big data. Today, artificial intelligence and big data are creating a new wave called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The issue was one of the major points of discussion in last year's Davos conference. German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted that future economic competition will revolve around big data above all else and that how to cope with China, which collects and sorts out big data under state capitalism in a manner different from Western economies, will be a big challenge.