Wed, Jun 04, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Lobby vows better Japan-China ties


The incoming head of Japan’s top business lobby wants to play a greater role in helping Tokyo to improve its badly frayed ties with China, according to interviews published yesterday.

Sadayuki Sakakibara, who will become the chairman of Keidanren — the Japan Business Federation — said the business sector could share environmental technologies to help foster better Japan-China relations.

The 71-year-old chairman of synthetic materials maker Toray said Japan Inc’s environmental technologies could help smooth over tense diplomatic ties with its biggest trade partner.

China really wants Japanese environmental technologies, he said, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

“Efforts to improve ties with China and South Korea are among our top priorities,” he said, according to the Yomiuri.

Japan’s relations with China and South Korea have been badly strained over emotional territorial disputes and bitter memories of Japanese soldiers’ violence in Asia before and during World War II.

Those already-chilly diplomatic relationships got colder after nationalist Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to power in 2012.

Big business has generally welcomed Abe, with his domestic emphasis on trying to kickstart Japan’s slumbering economy.

Keidanren has been a traditional supporter of his long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

However, relations hit a snag after outgoing Keidanren chairman Hiromasa Yonekura criticized Abe’s unconventional and aggressive monetary policies as “reckless,” shortly before the LDP leader took office in late 2012.

Abe’s economic programs remain controversial, not least because they have added yet more debt onto Japan’s staggering pile of IOUs.

However, they have markedly perked up corporate confidence and consumption, driven up Japanese shares and lowered the value of the yen, giving a boost to exporters.

A package of reforms to areas such as employment law and aimed at making life easier for the business community is also expected.

Sakakibara reiterated the lobbying group’s call to cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, from the top effective rate of 35.64 percent in metropolitan Tokyo, to spur growth, according to the Nikkei Shimbun.

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