“A green earth and blue ocean is a growth generator,” Japanese PM tells Davos
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe told the World Economic Forum in Davos this week his country has been revitalised by recent economic policy, and will exploit data to create a fairer future, as part of a Society 5.0. “Japanese defeatism is defeated,” he said.
The Japanese Business Federation, Keidanren, set out Japan’s vision for Society 5.0 back in November, as a future vision for a fair society, enabled by digital technology – emerging from change to its every facet, including its politics, economy, and culture. “In Society 5.0, it is no longer capital but data that connects and drives everything, helping to fill the gap between the rich and the less privileged,” said Abe in Davos.
“Services of medicine and education, from elementary to tertiary, will reach small villages in the sub-Saharan region. Our task is obvious. We must make data the great gap buster.”
Earlier in the week, British naturalist Sir David Attenborough sounded a distress signal on climate change, warning the “Garden of Eden is no more”. Japan’s leader agreed, and suggested digital technologies afford, at once, a way to fight back against climate change and drive economic growth.
“Spending money for a green earth and a blue ocean, once deemed costly, is now a growth generator,” he said. “Decarbonisation and profit-making can happen in tandem.”
In his Society 5.0 address, Abe stressed the importance of a society driven by borderless data and worldwide data governance to leverage future growth. Every day, he noted, more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data come into being. The World Economic Form reckons this is equivalent to 250 times the printed material in the US Library of Congress.
Japan’s economy has shown new momentum recently, with its trendy sounding focus on “womenomics”, which engages the country’s ranks of women outside the traditional workforce, and its new legislation to allow more foreign workers.
Both initiatives have been credited with turning around Japan’s economy, which has suffered for its ageing population. Participation rates for women entering the workforce are at a record 67 per cent, higher than the US; the number of women in the labour force has swelled by two million.
Meanwhile, as many as 340,000 skilled workers will be invited to Japan from abroad. Japan’s GDP has grown by 10.9 per cent since 2012; 98 out of 100 100 college graduates find employment, and child poverty rates have fallen to a record low.
“Hope is the most important factor for growth. A country ageing can still grow as a ‘hope-driven’ economy. We are not widening the gap, we are narrowing it,” said Abe.
He added: “A long-awaited positive feedback cycle is taking root, with growth in employment and income generating greater demand and even more employment,” explained the Japanese leader, “In order to make our growth long-lasting, we are encouraging investment, which will enhance productivity.”
The prime minister reiterated Japan’s commitment to a free, open and rules-based international order, acknowledging two important recent trade deals, the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP11), which came into effect on 30 December 2018, and the EU-Japan Economic Partnership, effective as of February 1 this year