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Editorial: Narrow down strategy measures; focus effort on most effective steps

  • June 17, 2018
  • , The Japan News , 7:29 p.m.
  • English Press

Can technological innovation be utilized to heighten the potential for growth? High-priority measures must be steadily realized.

The government has compiled “Investments for the Future Strategy 2018,” its new growth strategy.

It aims to produce unprecedented services and products by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. The new strategy also includes strengthening the development of human resources who can use AI efficiently and promoting cybersecurity measures.

With digitalization progressing rapidly, a competition to secure relevant data and manpower has been occurring on a global scale.

The strategy’s course of action aimed at surviving that competition is appropriate.

Create new industries that analyze and process data — such as customers’ information owned by companies — by AI. That data will be utilized by a wide range of companies, thus leading to the development of highly competitive businesses. The strategy has laid out this kind of a blueprint.


Yet the reality is harsh.


Data such as individuals’ shopping records and their internet searches have been corralled by such giant companies as Google of the United States. The rise of Chinese companies, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is also remarkable. It will not be easy to pull down these strongholds.


Swiftly tackle systemic reform


The growth strategy also proposes the expansion of the private sector’s utilization of data owned by public administrative offices, universities and research institutes. Although this is a necessary measure, its lack of strength is undeniable. The government should accelerate further development of the necessary environment.


To promote such priority areas as autonomous driving and health care, the government has for the first time spelled out the establishment of an “industrial-governmental conference,” which will act as a control tower for the strategy.


It is said that its members will include private-sector people actively involved on the front lines of business. The aim is to have companies’ wishes reflected more promptly in policy.


At the meeting of the government’s Council on Investments for the Future, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “For our country, everything hangs on the next few years.” The conference is urged to speedily grapple with the easing of regulations and systemic reform.


Although this is the sixth growth strategy spelled out under the banner of the Abenomics economic package, it has so far failed to bring about results as expected.


The growth strategy is aimed at extracting the private sector’s strength as much as possible, and enhancing economic growth. But the potential growth rate, which indicates the real strength, still remains low at around 1 percent.


Of the 134 measures contained in the growth strategy for 2016, fewer than half of them had achieved their targets as of January this year. Despite this, new measures have been added every year.


Has the strategy ended up as a mere jumble of ideas brought in by government ministries and agencies? It is troublesome if these measures do nothing but provide excuses for ministries to ask for budgetary appropriations.


The measures that have proved least effective should be discontinued, while the strategy should boldly reduce the range of measures to those reckoned to be highly effective.


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