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Toward a New Era of a "Hope-Driven Economy" - Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo -
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
As a result, we now have 2 million more, repeat, two million more, women employed. The rate of female labor participation has hit 67%, an all-time high for Japan, and higher than, say, in the United States. Meanwhile, the number of people over 65 still actively working has also increased by 2 million, thanks to our policies that enable them to keep working.
After each job seeker, you see more than one employer chasing, and that's the same throughout the country, a picture never seen before. Out of every 100 college graduates looking to work, 98 find employment, also a record number.
Corporate Japan has responded by raising wages by 2%, year on year, the highest rise since the beginning of the century, for five consecutive years. As a result, during my six years in office, Japanese GDP has grown by 10.9%, adding US$490 billion. A long-awaited positive feedback cycle is taking root, with growth in employment and income generating greater demand and even more employment. In order to make our growth long-lasting, we are encouraging investment, which will enhance productivity.
Recently, we made a new law, under which, for the next five years, as many as 340,000 skilled workers will be invited to Japan from abroad. How about the gap between the rich and the less affluent? During my admin-istration, the child relative poverty rate, which had never before gone down, did go down for the first time, and did so significantly.
Before my administration started, only 24% of graduating high school seniors from single-parent homes went to college. Recent figures show that number has risen to 42. It will go up further, as we are going to expand our free education program from October this year onward.
We are not widening the gap. We are narrowing it. Despair was wiped out by renewed hope. Hope, is the most important factor for growth. A country ageing can still grow as a "hope-driven economy." May I now solemnly declare? Defeatism about Japan is now defeated.
Now, later this year, in June, in Osaka, Japan, we will be hosting this year's G20 Summit. Let us make it a chance to regain optimism for the future, providing reassurance that it is possible to achieve a hope-driven economy.
As always, at that summit, we are going to discuss a range of issues. But today, I will focus on three big issues:
First off, I would like Osaka G20 to be long remembered as the summit that started world-wide data governance. Let Osaka G20 set in train a new track for looking at data governance - call it the Osaka Track - under the roof of the WTO.
The time to do so is ripe, ladies and gentle-men, as we all know that for decades to come, it will be digital data driving our economy forward. We had better act now, because coming into being every single day is more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, which is, according to one estimate, as much as two hundred fifty thousand times the printed material in the U.S. Library of Congress. A delay of one year means we will be light years behind.
We must, on one hand, be able to put our personal data and data embodying intellectual property, national security intelligence, and so on, under careful protection, while on the other hand, we must enable the free flow of medical, industrial, traffic and other most useful, non-personal, anonymous data to see no borders, repeat, no borders.
To that end, the promise I made five years ago still holds today, that I will continue to work as a drill bit, drilling right through outdated regulations to change them. The engine for growth, if you think about it, is fueled no longer by gasoline, but more and more by digital data.
In Osaka, here comes my second point. I would very much like to highlight what innovation does and how much innovation counts in tackling climate change, because, and this is an important "because," we NEED disruptions. To remind us of that, the IPCC, in its recent "1.5-degree report," tells us that global net human-caused emissions of CO2 should reach "net zero" around 2050, meaning that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced out by removing CO2 from the air.
We must invite more and still more disruptive innovations before it's too late. CO2, could well be the best and most affordable resource for multiple uses. There is artificial photosynthesis, for which a key discovery, one for photocatalysis, was made by Akira Fujishima, a Japanese scientist.
We will be inviting to Japan the topmost experts in science and technology from G20 member countries to combine forces in accelerating innovations. I am also pleased to tell you that my government, first among others, published a guidance paper in December last year along with the TCFD (Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures).
ESG investment world-wide has grown over the last five years by more than US$9 trillion. That is a big amount, but we must channel even more into green innovation. And the guideline we put together will help motivate more companies to spend greater amounts on disruptive innovations.
I must say that spending money for a green earth and a blue ocean, once deemed costly, is now a growth generator. Decarbonation and profit making can happen in tandem. We policy makers must be held responsible to make it happen, as I will be stressing in Osaka this year.
My third and last point is about Japan's commitment. Japan is determined to preserve and committed to enhancing the free, open, and rules-based international order. I am so very much pleased and proud to tell you that on Dec. 30, 2018, "We Finally Brought TPP11 into effect.
Now, I must say, I am just as pleased and just as proud to make another announcement. Effective the first of February, which is just around the corner, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement Will Enter into Force. The entire world should benefit from the economies of scale and efficiencies these two mega deals will bring about.
I call on all of you, to rebuild trust toward the system for international trade. That should be a system that is fair, transparent, and effective in protecting IPR and also in such areas as e-commerce and government procurement.
Hope, is about looking forward to tomorrow, next year, the year after next, and 10 or 20 years down the road. Fortune has embraced my country. Events we are hosting over the next decade begin with this year's G20 and rugby world cup and extend to Tokyo 2020 for the Olympics and Paralympics and to World Expo 2025, Osaka-Kansai.
Most importantly, this year, for the first time in as long as 200 years, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan will abdicate and a new Emperor will take the throne. It is the dawn of a new era. Japan, now re-invigorated and revitalized, with your embrace, will continue to be one of the foremost open, democratic, and law-abiding contributors to peace and growth in the world.★