TOKYO – Japan's cabinet rubber-stamped a set of measures on Friday to boost economic growth that so far have failed to impress markets and made Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promise to take more steps after next month's upper house elections.
The following are main targets and steps in the growth program.
- Adopt bold tax breaks to boost corporations' capital spending
- Focus on boosting domestic private investment over the next three years, and target for private-sector investment of 70 trillion yen annually, the level before the 2008 financial crisis and up about 10 percent from current levels.
- Set up special economic zones to attract foreign businesses. Implement reforms in regulations and tax systems and take necessary action in the zones to create an international business environment.
- Aim to boost the total value of infrastructure projects that involve private finance initiatives (PFIs) and public-private partnership (PPP) by 3 times to 12 trillion yen ($127.35 billion) over the next 10 years through measures such as selling of rights to operate airports and expressways.
- Promote business start-ups and consider steps to boost investment in them.
- Pledge to minimize investment of government funds in firms to avoid bailouts of "zombie" companies that are failing.
- Targets annual gains of 3 percent or more in gross national income per capita, which would be an increase of 1.5 million yen ($15,000) over 10 years from around 3.84 million yen in 2012.
- Double the balance of inward foreign direct investment to 35 trillion yen by 2020.
- Hit a target of 70 percent of exports covered by free trade deals by 2018, compared with around 19 percent, by pushing the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership (TPP) and other trade deals with the European Union, China and South Korea, and aim to create an Asia-Pacific free trade area.
- Triple infrastructure exports to 30 trillion yen by 2020.
- To seek experts' views on whether public pensions and other public funds should seek higher returns by raising their investment in equities, and aim to reach a conclusion by autumn.
- Triple overseas sales of "Cool Japan" content such as anime in five years.
- Aim to boost the number of foreign visitors to Japan to 10 million a year in 2013 from about 8 million now, and to 30 million in 2030.
- Promote the smooth shift of workers to growth sectors from mature business areas without creating unemployment.
- Review criteria for approval of permanent residency such as to shorten the duration of stay in Japan required to three years from five years to encourage high-skilled foreigners to keep working in the country.
- Double farm, fisheries and marine exports to 1 trillion yen by 2020.
- Reduce rice production cost by an average of 40 percent in next 10 years.
- Boost exports of Japanese food including farm products, traditional cuisine and sweets to around 1 trillion yen by 2020 from about 450 billion yen.
- Set a goal of reducing the waiting list at day care centers to zero by 2017 to make it easier for women to work and raise children.
- Promote extending periods of childcare leave to last up to three years.
- Increase the employment rate of females aged 25 to 44 to 73 percent by 2020 from 68 percent.
- Create a system similar to the National Institutes of Health in the United States to develop cutting-edge medical technologies.
- Submit legislation to revise the pharmaceutical law to shorten examination periods.
- Implement bold regulatory easing to speed up the examination process of medical technologies by allowing certification by third party private institutions, except for risky technologies such as cardiac pacemakers.
- Allow the sale over the Internet of most over-the-counter drugs as part of efforts to mobilize the Internet for growth.
- Boost power-related investment one and a half times to 30 trillion yen over the next decade.
- Speed up environmental assessments of low-cost coal and liquefied natural gas-fired power plants.
- Complete reforms to electricity system by 2020.
- Restart nuclear power reactors after safety clearance from the Nuclear Regulation Authority. ($1 = 94.2250 Japanese yen)
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)