Statement by Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda on the occasion of the Tokyo Symposium on Regulatory Reform: Building a Dynamic Economy for the Future
2 December 1996


May I first welcome all of you to this symposium and, if you are from abroad, to Japan. I would at this time like to offer a few comments in opening this symposium on Regulatory Reform organised by the OECD, Keidanren, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

(The World Economy and Japan's Reform of Economic Structure)

We are now in the midst of accelerating globalisation of the world economy. In order to ensure that further development of each economy is attained and the global economy runs smoothly, it is imperative that each country's economy functions in harmony with the international community. To meet such a requirement, Japan has taken a bold step towards deregulation in order to bring about a brighter prospect to the Japanese economy and make it more harmonious with the global economy. Of course, such efforts are not pain-free domestically, but it is indispensable to proceed with reform without hesitating, taking appropriate action to address such pains in the process of revitalising the Japanese economy.

Convinced of the need for reform, the Hashimoto Cabinet is determined to advance further deregulation as one of its priority agenda and the core of the reform process. We consider it necessary to conduct horizontal work in order to achieve various policy objectives which goes beyond the framework of the existing ministries and agencies and which is in harmony with international society. In carrying out this deregulation, our government is listening attentively to views and opinions expressed in Japan and in international forums so as to provide transparency in our discussion. Obviously, various Ministers and various advisory councils are closely consulted.

(Developments of Deregulation in Foreign Countries)

Japan is not alone in tackling reform. The reform of economic structures through deregulation or elimination of regulations has become a global trend. For example, the United States has announced its "Regulatory Reinvention Initiative", the United Kingdom has enacted the "Deregulation and Contracting Out Act", and New Zealand has realised a bold reform in various areas. Other countries as well are proceeding with reform of economic structure. Japan is anxious to tackle its own economic reform, carefully listening to and learning from the successes and failures of other countries.

The APEC meeting was held two weeks ago in the Philippines. On its agenda was the adoption of Action Plans which set out individual members' short-, medium- and long-term plans towards regional trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, with a view to achieving free and open trade and investment by the year 2010/2020. Japan, as the chair country of last year's meeting, has incorporated vigorous measures, including those of deregulation, into its Individual Action Plan.

(Evaluation of and Contributions to Activities of the OECD)

In response to the deregulation measure taken in other countries, Japan, two years ago, advocated that the OECD take up regulatory reform as one main theme of analysis. This proposal received the warm support of the Member countries and has resulted in the cross-cutting work in the OECD which involves almost all the substantive directorates. As the comparative advantage of the OECD lies in its multidisciplinary approach, regulatory reform is one of the most suitable themes for the Organisation to demonstrate its expertise in a wide range of economic areas. The analytical work conducted at present is to be submitted to next year's meeting of the Council at Ministerial level as a report, after detailed examination by the Member countries. I am closely observing the progress in this work and have high expectations of it. Japan hopes that this exercise will result in useful prescriptions for each country in carrying out regulatory reform, particularly deregulation, by analysing each country's experiences and situations of regulatory reform and deregulation. We wholeheartedly support the present work being done in this context and are contributing positively to the discussions of various committees held in the OECD headquarters in Paris. Because of the importance we attach to this issue, we are seeking to better inform this symposium's participants of this ambitious work of the OECD. We are seeking the co-operation of knowledgeable people in Japan and throughout the world with this work towards next year in order to bring about useful results.


We look forward to hearing various comments and viewpoints on Japan's reform experience in today's symposium. We are fortunate to have with us today the OECD Secretary-General, Mr. Johnston, Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs. Shelton, as well as staff in charge of regulatory reform in the OECD. Conversely, we hope that you will go away a bit wiser because of the high-quality discussions which will take place here today. We also have a number of participants from different countries who will hear various views expressed by Japan and other countries on Japan's regulatory system. We hope that today's discussions will be helpful in carrying our future regulatory reform not only in Japan but also in their own countries.

In closing, may I wish you all a dynamic and thought-provoking full day of discussion. Thank you.

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