成長戦略決定 「絵空事」に終わらせるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 22, 2010)
Growth strategy needs more substance
成長戦略決定 「絵空事」に終わらせるな(6月21日付・読売社説)

The government has drawn up its new growth strategy. However, uncertainties remain over whether this strategy can achieve the anticipated economic growth by effectively tapping the vigor of private businesses.

The strategy is aimed at galvanizing seven fields, such as environment/energy and health, while accelerating moves to help the economy break free from deflation. It contains 21 measures for promoting what have been touted as national strategy projects to establish a strong economy.

Implementing these measures, the government calculates, will create more than 120 trillion yen in new demand and about 5 million jobs. This would generate average yearly economic growth of more than 2 percent in real terms and more than 3 percent in nominal terms in the decade to come.

The strategy contains some measures likely to be effective. But there is a question over whether it can bring about the sort of drastic impact the government is banking on. The government should prioritize the measures and enhance their efficacy.

Many of the measures are intended to back up corporate activity and boost the vigor of the private sector.


Boost corporate activity

One pillar of the strategy is to lower the effective corporate tax rate gradually from the current 40 percent or so to 30 percent or about 25 percent--the same level as in many other industrialized nations. This will reinforce the international competitiveness of Japanese firms.

The strategy calls for establishing a special committee representing both the private and public sectors to promote sales of social infrastructure projects in Asia, such as the construction of nuclear power plants and Shinkansen bullet train networks. If successful, the plan will bring in orders for huge infrastructure projects in the region.

However, the strategy is not without shortcomings. The practicality of some measures is debatable, such as the project to build an environmentally friendly futuristic city. Since the strategy is making plans for 10 years from now, it contains many rough and vague plans. These plans must be fleshed out in the years to come.

There are concerns about whether measures to revive forests and forestry will include simple handouts. We want the government to reexamine whether these measures are suitable for inclusion in its growth strategy.


Devil's in the (lack of) details

An overall problem is that the strategy lacked precise figures for the fiscal spending and costs that will be needed to carry out the measures, although it projected concrete figures--such as the demand that will be created--for the fruit of the measures.

Unless details are spelled out about how to fund these projects at a time when the state finances are in dire straits, none of the plans will get off the ground. A close eye will need to be kept on whether each measure has an effect commensurate with its cost.

Another matter of concern is the lack of clarity on how the measures will be carried out. Previous strategies were beset by failures due to conflicts of authority between government ministries involved in the projects. It is necessary to speed up efforts to establish a system that can promote several measures comprehensively and simultaneously.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government calls for banning in principle the dispatch of temporary workers to the manufacturing industry and reducing greenhouse gases by 25 percent--measures that could adversely affect corporate activity. These steps do not wash with its new growth strategy designed to help businesses.

The government should drop its adherence to its campaign pledges for last year's general election and instead devote itself to reviving the economy before all else.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2010)
(2010年6月21日01時41分 読売新聞)

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