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Friday, April 10, 2009

Aso reveals new plan to create 2 million jobs


Staff writer

Prime Minister Taro Aso pledged Thursday that the government will try to create 1.4 million to 2 million new jobs in the next three years by spurring ¥40 trillion to ¥60 trillion in new demand.

In the long haul, Aso said he believes the economy will see real gross domestic product grow by ¥120 trillion and new jobs by 4 million by 2020.

The new pledge came as Aso was scheduled to announce Friday a fiscal 2009 supplementary budget worth ¥15 trillion, which would be the largest extra budget ever.

Aso, however, did not go into the details of the government's new strategies, which will be announced next week.

Speaking at the Japan National Press Club in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, Aso revealed three major goals for Japan to achieve by 2020: becoming a world leader by instigating a "low-carbon revolution," creating an "elderly-friendly society, " and promoting Japanese tourism and culture.

"These three pillars draw on Japan's strengths and character," Aso said. "Based on these three pillars, I will put into action bold institutional reforms to encourage concentrated investment by the public and private sectors."

Aso, who is about to leave to attend a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Plus Three in Thailand, also mentioned a growth initiative for doubling the size of Asia's economy by 2020. The prime minister urged the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), the Asian Development Bank and the ASEAN secretariat to come up with a comprehensive Asian development project and create measures to increase consumption in Asia.

Aso, known for his penchant for "manga" (comics) and "anime" (animation), also stressed the need for Japan to make use of its "soft power," to turn cultural items like anime, games and fashion into business opportunities abroad. He said the market could soon be worth ¥20 trillion to ¥30 trillion.

Dropping the names of popular Japanese singers and models, including Ayu (Ayumi Hamasaki), Ebi-chan (Yuri Ebihara) and Karina, Aso held aloft magazines featuring the women on their covers and said they had become attention-getters in the Asian community.

"Japan has become the focus of attention from the world for its anime, games and fashion, which have been dubbed 'Japan cool,' " Aso said. "Akihabara and the back streets of Harajuku, the holy ground of anime and fashion, have now become standard on the Tokyo tourism course."

With the threat of global warming hanging over the world, Aso said he will focus on achieving a 20-fold increase in solar energy production by 2020 and aim to cut the cost of solar-power systems by half in the next three to five years.



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