The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the promise of Abenomics, Japan’s full participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and renewed global focus on this country present tremendous opportunities for the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ).

We will seek to foster innovative solutions based on global best practices, for US and Japanese economic growth in 2015. Our proposals will supplement the steps already taken to this end by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe under the revised growth strategy released last summer.

Abe wishes to make Japan the world’s easiest country in which to do business, and the ACCJ stands ready to support the Japanese government with innovative, solutions-based recommendations.

The Cabinet’s December 2014 Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform highlight seven pillars of activity: accelerating reconstruction; economic revitalization; overcoming population decline and revitalizing local economies; realizing a society in which all women shine; reviving education; ensuring a secure livelihood; and rebuilding diplomacy and security.

The ACCJ likewise believes that these areas present opportunities to unleash economic growth and increase Japan’s industrial metabolism.

Key themes
The government of Japan has placed a high priority on economic revitalization and the ACCJ will do its part to help the government achieve its goals.

The ACCJ’s recommendations focus on key areas supporting economic growth, including: foreign direct investment, labor mobility, diversification and globalization, healthcare, financial services, legal services, travel and tourism, the Internet economy, energy and the environment, and entrepreneurship.

Our proposals must be consistent with the ACCJ’s Core Advocacy Principles: free market principles, level playing field, transparent and fair process, global best practices, corporate social responsibility, solutions-based recommendations, and US–Japan economic integration and regional leadership.

The ACCJ seeks to encourage market-wide reforms to further foster innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as to revitalize growth and competitiveness, by creating a globally equipped workforce and pursuing corporate governance and tax reform.

Key efforts in this area include promoting greater participation by women in managerial and executive positions, by encouraging reforms such as better access to childcare and eldercare services.

We support Japan’s efforts to improve labor mobility—by encouraging greater labor contract flexibility—and the use of global talent. We also seek to nurture creative problem solving, as well as fundamental linguistic and analytical skills in children.

Academic credit and priority hiring should be made available for those who have studied overseas, and the government should recruit foreign students to study in Japan and remain here to work.

We strongly support the inclusion of more independent voices on corporate boards of directors; greater mergers and acquisitions activity; and the promotion of both foreign and domestic investment.

The ACCJ seeks to align Japan’s tax policy with global best practices, to raise productivity and stimulate economic activity. This can be achieved by lowering the effective corporate tax rate, increasing the net operating loss carry-forward period, and reducing the cost of compliance.

We also seek to contribute to increases in healthy life expectancy for Japan’s aging society through a number of cost-effective steps.

I should also highlight the profound significance of the US–Japan commercial relationship as a regional and global pillar of stability. The successful conclusion and eventual passage of a high-standard TPP will help the United States and Japan lead in the establishment of a rules-based, high-standard, 21st-century economic architecture for the Asia–Pacific region.

The ACCJ also aims to be a regional leader in organizations such as the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (see page 42) and at gatherings such as the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Following a well-managed and transparent preparation period, the 2020 Games will enable Japan to reemerge as an economic hub for the region, by showcasing the country as an attractive location for investment, business, and travel.

As the ACCJ and its members are deeply invested in Japan, we stand ready with practical recommendations to help achieve and accelerate economic growth in Japan.

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By Eric Sedlak

Vice President, Tokyo

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The ACCJ’s recommendations focus on key areas supporting economic growth.