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Business leaders urge strong leadership by new cabinet

TOKYO, July 30 Kyodo

Business leaders Thursday urged the cabinet of new Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to exercise strong leadership in pulling Japan out of its economic crisis.

Japanese economic structural reform is indispensable for realizing an economic recovery led by domestic demand, the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), Japan's most influential business lobby, said in a statement.

The Obuchi cabinet should stabilize the financial system, resolve the bad-loan mess, achieve drastic tax reform and promote deregulation, among other pending issues, Keidanren said.

Keidanren demanded prompt cuts in the maximum individual income tax to 50% from the current 65% and in corporate tax to 40% from 46.36%.

Business leaders in general welcomed the lineup of the new cabinet especially for inclusion of members well versed in economic and financial affairs, such as Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa and Taichi Sakaiya, director general of the Economic Planning Agency.

Keidanren Chairman Takashi Imai said the cabinet has top policy experts.

Stressing the importance of prompt economic recovery, Satoru Kishi, chairman of the Federation of Bankers Associations of Japan, said the continued decline of corporate demand for operating and capital-spending funds testifies to the seriousness of the nation's economic straits.

Koichi Yoshida, chairman of the Life Insurance Association of Japan, said the new cabinet should act promptly, steadily and boldly to put the Japanese economy on a recovery path.

The cabinet should also implement measures to encourage self-support efforts by the Japanese people, Yoshida added.

Jiro Nemoto, chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers Associations (Nikkeiren), called on Obuchi to speak to the public on television at least once a month in order to regain public trust in politics.

On Japan's external relations, Jiro Ushio, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), said Japan should pay greater heed to international affairs in making policy decisions.

Kohei Nakabo, president of Housing Loan Administrative Corp., a vehicle to collect problem loans left by collapsed housing loan companies, urged the Obuchi cabinet to pay greater attention to public opinion in tackling financial problems.

Nakabo expressed dissatisfaction with a ''bridge bank'' plan proposed by the government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to deal with troubled financial institutions without stopping lending to sound borrowers.

In drafting the plan, the government and the LDP had not discussed in full how to clarify the responsibility of management of failed institutions and how to collect problem loans left by them, he said.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Aug 3, 1998
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