Outlook of the Tourism, Transportation, and Economic Sectors in Japan in 2022
by Tetsuhiro Hagiwara
Happy New Year to you all.
Although the re-expansion of COVID-19 by the Omicron variant has brought an uncertain start to the year 2022, I wish you all a wonderful year ahead.
In my first article for 2022, I would like to share the direction of the tourism, transportation, and economic sectors in Japan this year, based on the New Year's resolutions of the Japanese government, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the Chairman of the Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), and the President of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Please find the translation of their published statements below.
1. Minister Tetsuo Saito, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Tourism is a pillar of growth strategy. Achieve both infection prevention and economic recovery, and strategically implement inbound recovery.
Tourism is a pillar of Japan's growth strategy and a trump card for regional development, and we believe that it is necessary to achieve both prevention of the spread of the coronavirus and economic recovery.
In order to inhibit the spread of disease and achieve economic recovery, the government will provide support for maintaining employment and continuing business in tourism-related industries, which are severely affected by the new coronavirus infection and employ approximately 9 million people nationwide, as well as stimulate tourism demand through the "New Go to Travel Project" and other measures.
In addition, with an eye on life post-Corona, the government will strategically promote the gradual recovery of inbound tourism, while monitoring the infection situation in Japan and abroad, as well as the renewal of tourist sites, mainly accommodation facilities, and the creation of new tourist content and high value-added tourist sites, which will be implemented in cooperation with local stakeholders.
First, since it is necessary to maintain and recover tourist attractions and the local economy, we will continue to promote measures to stimulate tourism demand, and will expand the scope of travel eligible for support in stages while carefully checking the infection situation.
To start, the prefectural government's so-called "prefectural residents' discount" has so far only supported travel within the prefecture, but since November last year, travel from neighboring prefectures has been added to the scope of support. In the future, based on the status of infection and other factors, we will expand the prefectural residents' discount support to neighboring areas, or regional blocks, at an appropriate time, and then, after reconfirming the status of infection during the year-end and New Year holidays, implement the "New Go to Travel Campaign" on a nationwide scale.
Furthermore, it is necessary to uncover new demand for domestic tourism before the full-scale recovery of inbound tourism. Based on new trends such as the change in people's awareness of work styles and lifestyles caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, we will promote the spread of "new travel styles" such as work vacations, as well as the promotion and establishment of a style of "travel to and from the region again and again" as a "second home," so to speak.
Second, in order for local economies to recover strongly from the pandemic, it is essential to revitalize tourist areas that will serve as the driving force for local development, and to promote the strengthening of the tourism industry that supports this. By doing so local economies can realize a positive cycle of growth and distribution in regions where people can experience affluence.
Therefore, with an eye on post-pandemic life, we will continue to study the revitalization of regions and the strengthening of the tourism industry, by improving productivity in the accommodation industry, creating a safe and secure travel environment, and upgrading the management of tourist attractions through the active use of digital technology.
Third, in order to revitalize and add value to tourist attractions in the region as a whole, we will strongly support efforts to renovate accommodation facilities, which are the face of tourist attractions, and remove abandoned buildings. We will also provide consistent support for these revitalization efforts, from the creation of content to the development of sales channels, by utilizing the unique tourism resources of the region such as nature, food, history, culture, art, livelihood, and transportation.
Fourth, while foreign tourists continue to be unable to enter Japan, we will improve the environment for receiving foreign visitors to Japan in preparation for the recovery of inbound tourism. At the same time, from the perspective of contributing to the economy and employment in local areas and raising incomes, we will provide support for the development of accommodation facilities and human resources to create high value-added inbound tourism destinations.
In addition, the government will implement strategic promotion for visiting Japan and of hybrid MICE events that combine face-to-face and online activities, in order to increase travel spending and attract more visitors to regional areas by providing information on Japan's safety and security efforts as well as regional attractions.
While continuing to adhere to the targets of 60 million tourists and 15 trillion yen in 2030, the government will make concerted efforts to realize a tourism-oriented nation.
■Promotion of Tourism in Okinawa including Restoration of Shuri Castle
Shuri Castle, which was destroyed by fire in October 2019, is not only the pride of the people of Okinawa, but also an extremely important building as a national historical and cultural heritage site. In order to restore the castle, technical studies are being conducted, including the strengthening of fire prevention measures. This year is an important year for us to start construction of the main building of Shuri Castle, and as the responsible party of the national park project, we will continue to make every effort to restore the castle by 2026 in cooperation with Okinawa Prefecture and related ministries and agencies.
I also believe that tourism in Okinawa has tremendous potential. At Naha Airport, the second runway was put into service the year before last, and by continuing to promote the enhancement of the functions of the international terminal area, I believe that this will contribute to the further promotion of tourism in Okinawa by increasing the number of tourists and improving convenience. As Minister of State for Tourism, I will focus more on the promotion of tourism in Okinawa, with an eye on the full-scale recovery of domestic tourism and inbound tourism.
■Tourism policies in each sector
In terms of domestic cruises, we have resumed operations by implementing thorough countermeasures against infectious diseases on board and at the passenger terminals. As for international cruises, we will take the necessary measures based on the safety and security of the local community, while taking into account the infection situation in Japan and overseas and trends in waterfront safety measures.
Regarding Upopoi, which is a center for the revival and creation of Ainu culture, we will enhance the center’s content and conduct public relations activities to attract more visitors so that they can experience the splendor of Ainu culture and share in the philosophy of ethnic coexistence.
With regard to landscape and historical city planning, we will promote the formulation of plans for maintaining and improving historical townscapes to create favorable landscapes, and continue to provide support to local governments in their efforts to create cities that make use of the unique history, culture, and climate of the region.
We have designated the period from 2020 to 2025 as the third stage of "Michi-no-Eki (Roadside Station)." With the aim of making "Michi-no-Eki" a base for accelerating regional development and tourism, we will promote initiatives such as adapting to new lifestyles in the post-Corona era and strengthening the preventative functions of "Disaster Prevention Michi-no-Eki" to be base during wide-area disaster. We will continue to promote these efforts.
In addition, based on the Second Bicycle Utilization Promotion Plan, which was approved by the Cabinet in May last year, the government, led by the Bicycle Utilization Promotion Headquarters headed by myself, will work together to systematically improve bicycle traffic space, promote the spread of shared bicycles, and encourage the use of the National Cycle Route.
In the railroad field, in order for inbound travelers to enjoy a more comfortable trip on Japan's railroads, we will enhance multilingual information displays and announcements, provide free Wi-Fi service at stations and aboard trains, westernize restrooms, improve the environment for using credit card-compatible ticket vending machines and transportation system IC cards, install large luggage storage areas, and introduce sightseeing trains and cycle trains.
In the field of aviation, we will take the necessary measures to achieve an annual arrival and departure capacity of approximately one million flights at airports in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Specifically, with regard to the development of a third runway at Narita Airport, we will make maximum efforts to enhance the functions of the airport in cooperation with the local government and other related parties. As for Haneda Airport, the new flight paths began operating in March 2020, and we will continue to take measures for noise and safety, work to avoid fixing the new flight paths, and provide detailed information. In terms of regional airports, we will promote the Fukuoka Airport runway expansion project and the New Chitose Airport taxiway double track project to strengthen the gateway function. In addition, to ensure safe and efficient aircraft operations, we will continue our efforts to reorganize domestic air traffic control areas.
２．Masakazu Tokura, Chairman, Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation)
Corporations are the agents of growth and distribution. Promote GX and DX to establish "sustainable capitalism."
Six months have passed since I took office as Chairman on June 1st last year. During this period, my top priority was overcoming the Coronavirus pandemic and revitalizing social and economic activities. At the same time, I have been working in great haste to further the efforts I have taken so far by introducing a social point of view into the market economy, while continuing the aims advocated by my predecessor, Mr. Nakanishi, such as Society 5.0 for SDGs and sustainable capitalism. We have been working with a sense of urgency.
The Keidanren's vision of "sustainable capitalism" is in line with Prime Minister Kishida's conception of "new capitalism.” Since the inauguration of his administration in October last year, Prime Minister Kishida has announced that he would focus his efforts on "realizing a new capitalism." The key concepts are "a positive cycle of growth and distribution" and "the development of a new post-Corona society." At the meeting of the Council for the Realization of New Capitalism, chaired by the Prime Minister, I emphasized that distribution should be discussed together with growth, and that growth is the first priority. In order to achieve this, I pointed out that the issues that need to be addressed are the building of social common capital, such as the improvement of Japan's crisis management capacity, which was a problem during the pandemic, and that the role of the government will be important because these issues cannot be solved by the market economy alone. I also reiterated the need for the entire government to discuss Green Transformation (GX) alongside Digital Transformation (DX), as a sustainable global environment is essential for the realization of new capitalism.
In addition to GX and DX, there is an urgent need to vigorously promote
important policy issues at home and abroad, including the promotion of startups, regulatory reform, regional development, reform of work styles and the development of human resources, cooperation and coordination with the international community, and fiscal soundness and sustainable, all-generation social security reform.
With the determination and spirit that corporations are the agents of growth and distribution, the Keidanren will continue to join forces with the Kishida Cabinet in 2022 and do its utmost to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic and establish a sustainable and prosperous future society based on sustainable capitalism. I would like to ask for your further support and cooperation.
３．Akio Mimura, Chairman, Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry
This is the year to achieve a higher level of compatibility between infection prevention and socioeconomic activities. Promote digitalization, value-adding, and regional development to make Japan a strong and prosperous country with resilience to crises.
Since last fall, the number of new cases of Covid-19 infections in Japan has remained at a low level, and I am pleased to join you in welcoming the New Year as the pace of recovery in daily life accelerates.
Although the outlook for the future remains unpredictable due to the reemergence of the disease overseas, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has positioned this year as a year to achieve a higher level of compatibility between infection prevention and socioeconomic activities, and will continue to do its utmost for the development of the local economy and the businesses that support it.
Now, the economy, which fell sharply due to the Coronavirus pandemic, has finally started to recover, but it still lacks strength, and there continues to be a "K-shaped recovery," with the degree of recovery varying depending on the industry and scale. In order to truly break through the sense of stagnation that pervades the entire nation, it is necessary not only to steadily implement the "new economic measures" that the government decided on last year, but also to clearly show the way to new growth and development so that the people can have bright hopes for the future of Japan.
Since the inauguration of the second Kishida cabinet, the government has been advocating "new capitalism" and has been discussing "a positive cycle of growth and distribution" and "the development of a new society post-Corona." To make Japan a strong and prosperous country that is resilient to crises, we need to solve the social issues revealed by the pandemic and achieve economic growth at the same time.
For Japan, which is facing a variety of structural issues such as demographic trends toward a declining birthrate and aging population, to solve social problems and achieve economic growth at the same time, it is necessary to raise GDP per capita, a comprehensive indicator of a country's wealth, as a national goal, and to improve productivity in all fields and raise the potential growth rate. In particular, raising the productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for about 70% of employment, is an important issue that will eventually lead to higher productivity in Japan as a whole. Other essential issues include: economic and medical security, investment in human resource development and science and technology research as the foundation for supporting growth, promotion of digitalization, and balanced energy policy and technological innovation based on the principle of "S + 3E.” In the area of trade, Japan should continue to play a leading role in promoting the free trade system while deepening cooperation with like-minded countries based on the achievements of the TPP and RCEP.
In light of these issues, we, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will focus on the following three points this year.
The first is "strengthening of SMEs through digitalization." Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which have overcome many difficulties in the past, have the potential to respond flexibly and swiftly to various changes. The use of digital technology in the management of SMEs is a powerful means of self-transformation for survival, and the trend of digitalization accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic will not be limited to improving operational efficiency, but will be expanded to include business transformation such as the expansion of sales channels through cross-border EC, etc., and even business transformation. We will provide strong support as a pillar for improving management capabilities.
The second pillar is to "increase added value through business restructuring and the optimization of transactions." The Chamber of Commerce and Industry will support business succession, revitalization, and restructuring by strengthening the companion-style management consultation system, and will strongly support the improvement of management efficiency and the ability to create added value. In addition, it is essential to optimize business transactions to fairly share the added value and costs created throughout the supply chain, which consists of large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises. The "Declaration on Partnership Building" with more than 4,000 registered companies, is a powerful platform for realizing this through public-private cooperation. We will further enhance the effectiveness of the Declaration and contribute to raising the added value of SMEs and, by extension, the growth potential of Japan as a whole.
The third is the "promotion of regional development." Although it is said that Tokyo is concentrated in one area, in reality, there are multiple regional areas that achieved higher economic growth rates than Tokyo. They’ve done so by promoting the growth of primary industries, the concentration of manufacturing industries through infrastructure development, and the capture of inbound demand. In the wake of the pandemic, there has been a trend toward further decentralization, and in light of the government's "Digital Rural City Nation Concept," it is essential to link this momentum to the acceleration of regional development in order to create a resilient Japan. As a comprehensive regional economic organization, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to deepening cooperation with various local entities and further supporting the creation of local communities.
Finally, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Under the slogan of "Creating the Future with the Community," we aim to realize sustainable growth of the Japanese economy by strengthening the vitality of small and medium-sized enterprises and revitalizing local communities for the next 100 years. In my New Year's address, I would like to ask for your continued support and cooperation.
In his New Year's message, Mr. Tamura, President of Narita International Airport Corporation, stated that "2022 will be the first year of aviation revival." I hope that the global economy will recover and people will once again travel around the world.
■ New Year's resolutions of the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
■Japan Business Federation
■The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry