TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Thursday to renew efforts to realize the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact, saying it was Japan's responsibility to create a deep, wide and dynamic market. "I want to push the TPP to a new dimension. The time has come to take a big step forward," he said.
Speaking at a dinner event as part of the 20th International Conference on The Future of Asia, Abe said Asia is synonymous with advancement and breakthrough; a place that is better today than yesterday, and even better tomorrow.
While Asia has experienced tremendous growth over the past few decades, with per capita GDP surging threefold in Laos since 1995 and jumping sixfold in Mongolia and Vietnam, "Japan (has been) the sole exception," the prime minister said. "If you ask a 40-year-old Indonesian to describe the last 20 years, he would be able to cite the enormous economic growth he has experienced," Abe said. "It is not the same for a Japanese 40-year-old."
Abe said his aim upon becoming prime minister was to create an environment where young Japanese could once again experience growth and believe in the future.
He said his government will unleash next month a new set of reforms as part of the "third arrow" of his reform package. The three arrows of his economic policy mix, often called "Abenomics," are fiscal stimulus, monetary easing and structural reforms.
Abe also talked of how the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will change Japan's capital. "The area between Marunouchi, Otemachi and Nihombashi will experience an entire makeover," he said. "Trees will be planted along the road. There will be plenty of open cafes where foreigners can relax. The lake surrounding the Imperial Palace will shine in the sunlight after the water is cleansed through a huge underground purification system."
He also promised to follow through on the many reforms his government has promised, including those related to corporate tax, labor and the medical system.