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PM Suga continues practice of listening to private-sector experts

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been meeting with private-sector experts and businessmen, regardless of the day of the week. It has been an important practice for Suga since he was chief cabinet secretary in the previous administration. As prime minister, Suga has met with 14 people within 10 or so days to incorporate their opinions and swiftly move the administration’s main agenda forward. Those include digitalization of the government, regulatory reform, and coronavirus countermeasures.

 

On Sept. 20, Suga met with Keio University professor Jun Murai, who is called “the father of the internet in Japan.” On Sept. 21, he met with the President of Suntory HD, Takeshi Niinami (member of the Council on Fiscal and Economic Policy) and the Chairman and President of Future, Yasufumi Kanameru (former deputy chairman of the Regulatory Reform Promotion Council).

 

On Sept. 25, Suga breakfasted with David Atkinson, an expert on “inbound” tourism, which Suga had promoted under the previous Abe administration. Atkinson is also an advocate for increasing productivity though restructuring of small- and medium-sized businesses. Suga promoted a similar policy during the party presidential campaign.

 

PM Suga’s meetings with private-sector experts

(based on the prime minister’s schedule column in Nikkei Shimbun)

 

Date

Name

Title

Main expertise

Sept. 17

Hiroshi Miura

Political strategist

Election strategy

Sept. 18

Heizo Takenaka

Professor emeritus, Keio University

Economic policy, regulatory reform

Sept. 20

Jun Murai

Professor, Keio University

Digital policy

Soichiro Tahara

Journalist

Politics in general

Yoichi Takahashi

Professor, Kaetsu University

Economic policy

Sept. 21

Seiichi Hattori

Economic journalist

Economic policy

Mitsumaru Kumagai

Chief economist, Daiwa Institute of Research

Macroeconomic policy

Yasufumi Kanemaru

Chairman and President, Future

Regulatory reform

Takeshi Niinami

President, Suntory HD

Regulatory reform

Rikiichi Sugiyama

Managing director, Sugiyama Clinic (OBGYN)

Infertility treatment

Shunpei Takemori

Professor, Keio University

Economic policy

Sept. 22

Nobuhiko Okabe

Director-general, Kawasaki City Institute for Public Health

Novel coronavirus countermeasures

Sept. 24

Riki Nishioka

Visiting professor at Reitaku University

Abduction issue

Sept. 25

David Atkinson

CEO, Konishi Decorative Arts and Crafts Co.

Tourism policy, small- and medium-size business

 

One reason for these meetings is that Suga wants to avoid exclusively relying on information provided by government bureaucrats. During a press conference on Sept. 23, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that “the prime minister has always heard from a variety of sources and reflects the information in his policies.”

 

Suga has instructed bureaucrats to address issues after talking to experts. On Sept. 23, a couple of days after meeting with Rikiichi Sugiyama (managing director of Sugiyama Clinic), Suga summoned Tetsushi Sakamoto, Minister in charge of Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens, who is in charge of combating the declining birth rate in Japan. Suga encouraged the minister to cooperate effectively with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare so that the cost of infertility treatment would be eligible for coverage by national insurance. (Abridged)

 

Suga gives instructions after meetings with experts

 

Date

Main recipient of instruction

Instruction

Sept. 17

Taro Kono, Minister in charge of Administrative Reform

Setting up a red tape complaint hotline

 

Takuya Hirai, Minister for Digital Transformation

Establishing Digital Agency

 

Norihisa Tamura, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare

Novel coronavirus countermeasure

National insurance coverage for infertility treatment

Sept. 18 and Sept. 24

Ryota Takeda, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications

Cutting mobile phone fees

Decentralization of economy

Sept. 18

Koichi Hagiuda, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

Digitalization in education

Sept. 23

Tetsushi Sakamoto, Minister in charge of Promoting Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens

National insurance coverage for infertility treatment

Nobuo Kishi, Minister of Defense

An alternative to Aegis Ashore plan

 

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