A 'third arrow' in Japan: Abe unveils a string of labor, tax reforms to boost competitiveness

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe formally announced Tuesday an outline of his long-awaited growth strategy, a slew of reforms meant to revitalize the economy and restore its global competitiveness.

The plan, approved by the Cabinet earlier in the day, includes dozens of proposed changes to labor regulations, government pension fund investments, corporate governance and tax policies that Abe says are needed to spur corporate investment and innovation.

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"We have revved up our growth strategy," Abe told a news conference. "We must do our utmost to ensure this recovery plan reaches all parts of the country."

Abe earlier announced several preliminary version of the growth strategy — dubbed his "third arrow" — he promised along with his first two arrows of monetary and fiscal policies — that have helped drive Japan's recovery since he took office in late 2012.

Economists have questioned whether the more than 200 measures proposed will actually take effect, or have the desired impact, given resistance to change in Japan's business world and bureaucracy.

Investors have pushed share prices up in recent weeks after they languished earlier in the year, in anticipation of the beefed up growth plan. On Tuesday, the benchmark Nikkei stock index edged up 0.1 percent.

Among the most important of the reform measures is a cut to the corporate tax, to below 30 percent from the current level of over 35 percent, promised for next year.

To counter labor shortages due to the aging population and low birthrate, it also includes measures to promote greater gender equality and greater use of foreign labor and robots. It also calls for looser restrictions on white-collar overtime.