Remarks by His Excellency Junichiro Koizumi Prime Minister of Japan at the Reception for the Meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council

May 13, 2003

Dr. Vip, ABAC Chair and Co-Chairs,
Mr. Takagaki, ABAC Japan Leader,
Honorable members of ABAC,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you, the participants of the Meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). I have taken part in two previous APEC Leaders' Meetings in Shanghai and Los Cabos, where I was impressed by the diversity and dynamism as well as the shared interests of the APEC members. I am deeply conscious of the importance of the Asia-Pacific leaders gathering at APEC. I am also happy to meet again with ABAC members with whom I exchanged views at Los Cabos last October.

At Los Cabos, APEC Leaders made important statements concerning economic cooperation including contribution to the WTO new round and further promotion of trade facilitation as well as counter-terrorism and North Korea. The political will demonstrated in documents on security affairs is intertwined with the promotion of regional economic cooperation, since securing peace and a stable business environment is indispensable for economic activities.

As I said at Los Cabos, the revitalization of the Japanese economy remains the top priority for me. It should definitely benefit trade and investment partners in the APEC region. Since then, I have implemented four important measures, which I believe are of interest to ABAC members.

First, in March, I announced a package of seventy-four concrete measures to support foreign business in Japan and to promote inward foreign direct investment. My target is to double inward foreign investment to Japan in five years.

Second, we will continue to carry out our structural reform in the financial and corporate sectors. We set up the Industrial Revitalization Corporation last month in order to support the rebirth of business enterprises. I am also determined to implement the "Program for Financial Revival" with a view to resolving the non-performing loan problem. Furthermore, we will make every effort to combat deflation in full cooperation with the Bank of Japan.

Third, in April, we established fifty-seven Special Zones for Structural Reform. This is a completely new initiative. The foreign private sector is now entitled to make proposals and enter into individual special zones.

Fourth, I am glad to announce that Japan joined the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme in April. In a few minutes, the Foreign Minister, Ms. Kawaguchi, will be handing the first three cards to the members of ABAC Japan.

This week's ABAC Meeting plays a pivotal role in outlining the Recommendations, which will be submitted to the APEC Leaders Meeting in Bangkok in October. As I have reiterated so many times since I assumed office, a political principle of mine is "all that can be accomplished by the private sector should be left in private hands." At the same time, I would like to ask the ABAC members, representing the business quarters of each APEC economy, to provide us with your invaluable opinions in advancing structural reform that are effective for the growth of Japan and the APEC region as a whole. I also wish to ask the distinguished members of ABAC to continue to propose concrete ideas like Travel Cards. I have great expectations on the activities of ABAC.

Lastly, ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by saying this. Putting aside the discussion, which I believe is most serious and intensive, please fully enjoy staying in Japan during such a good season!

Thank you.

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