By Hiroaki Kimura
On April 27, Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) held its annual meeting, and Kengo Sakurada (president of SOMPO Holdings) started his second term as chairman. In an interview with media outlets, Sakurada said that he would like to increase Keizai Doyukai’s influence on policy.
Sakurada said dealing with the issues made evident by the COVID-19 crisis will be one of the focuses of his second term. With the delay in the vaccination rollout, he said he “often could not believe the way COVID-19 has been handled and keenly sensed that Japan was unexpectedly weak in executing various measures.” “The slower the vaccination rollout, the more the mutant strains will evolve and become stronger. The current vaccine may not be good enough,” he said, revealing a sense of crisis. He demanded that Japan rush to respond to the crisis by creating rules that would allow people other than doctors and nurses to administer the vaccine.
Regarding the government’s raising Japan’s FY2030 greenhouse gas reduction target to “46% of FY2013 levels,” he said, “I think it is appropriate to set an ambitious target, but the role of the government does not end there. So far, all the government has done is set the goal, but how will Japan actually achieve it? We need to have concrete, realistic discussions.” He said Japan needs to aim for carbon neutrality in 2050 by “combining all technologies,” including nuclear power, renewable energy, and coal-fired power generation, and he called for improving the efficiency of coal-fired power generation, securing sites for solar farms, and conducting R&D on small modular reactors (SMRs).
“Unfortunately, I don’t feel that the government’s past growth strategies and competition policies have actually led to the growth of the Japanese economy,” he said. He emphasized the need for corporations and executives to be involved in the creation of national strategies. He said he will strengthen Keizai Doyukai’s “ability to make proposals that impact policymaking” by enhancing policy discussions at the “Future Choices Conference,” a conference series Keizai Doyukai launched last September with the participation of company executives and other stakeholders.