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New growth strategy to feature development of human resources, medical tourism

  • 2015-01-30 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: January 30, 2015 – p. 5)


 The government’s Industrial Competitiveness Council (chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) decided at a meeting on Jan. 29 guidelines for drafting the new growth strategy due for release this summer. The main features are a new education system for young people to acquire practical knowledge and skills useful in workplaces and a system of temporary transfer to develop the abilities of middle-aged and older employees. Another goal is to increase the number of tourists coming to Japan for medical treatment. The new strategy aims at improving workers’ productivity and catering to foreign demand to compensate for the decline in the labor force and the shrinking of the domestic market.


 These guidelines will apply to the second round of revisions to the growth strategy that was first formulated by the Abe administration in summer 2013.


 Abe emphasizes cultivation of human resources through the development of the abilities of young people before they enter the job market and of highly motivated middle-aged and older employees.


 For young people, the growth strategy will include the introduction of a new system of institutions of higher education. The existing vocational and other schools will be converted into such institutions, which will feature lectures by business operators, internships, and such other training involving the industrial sector. Discussions are underway regarding whether to treat graduation from these institutions as equivalent to a university degree.


 For older workers, a new system of temporary transfer is being contemplated to help them acquire new skills. Subsidies are being considered for companies that pay the wages of their employees on temporary transfer. This measure is aimed not only at enhancing productivity, but also at facilitating job mobility to companies where the newly acquired skills can be utilized.


 Steps will also be taken to better cater to foreign demand. One area is to attract more “medical tourists.” Travel agencies that provide a whole range of related services, such as immigration procedures and introduction of medical institutions, will be recognized as “medical tourism support companies” (tentative name). The government will certify companies with adequate anti-fraud systems, so that foreigners will have confidence in coming to Japan.


 Unlike last year’s growth strategy, which included a number of bold structural reform measures – such as a new results-based instead of time-based wage system and agricultural cooperative reforms – the new strategy will have few eye-catchers. A review of rules on dismissal of workers has been left out and agricultural policies will be the same as existing ones. (Slightly abridged)

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