Investors

REFORMS UPDATE:ABE'S REGULATORY SHOW ON DESTROYING BEDROCK REGULATIONS

October 27
7:27 AM 2016

Abe is recorded which has long vowed to destroy what he calls "bedrock regulations." Such a pledge may raise some hopes if it signals that Abe really means a departure from his heavy dependence on Bank of Japan's monetary easing to shore up share prices.

But a quick look at the names of 14 members of the panel gives rise to skepticism that Abe is merely seeking to keep the stock market afloat by feigning an image of his administration willing to tackle regulatory reforms - and that he has no resolve at all to fight the rigid government regulations.

After returning to power in 2012 with his Liberal Democratic Party's victory in the 2012 election, Abe proceeded to create one advisory panel of experts to the government after another at the initiative of his Cabinet secretariat. One of them was the predecessor to the new regulatory reform panel launched last month.

Five of the 15 members of the previous panel were reappointed to the new one. They are: Hiroko Ota, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies who had served as minister for economic and fiscal policy during Abe's first stint in office; Junji Annen, a Chuo University professor well versed in energy issues; Izumi Hayashi, a lawyer; Yasufumi Kanamaru, chairman of Future Corp., who once sat on one of Abe's advisory councils and advocates agricultural reform; and Hiroyuki Hasegawa, deputy chief editorial writer of the Tokyo and Chunichi newspapers. They are all close associates of Abe - as is often the case in Abe's selection of people in the key positions of his administration.

In the first place, Abe's economic policies have been diametrically opposed to regulatory reforms. While regulatory reforms may include both easing of existing regulations and introduction of new regulations, they are basically meant to reduce government intervention in private-sector economic activities. But contrary to this axiom, the Abe administration frequently seeks to intervene in the management of private-sector businesses, applying pressure to invest more of their retained earnings and to hire more employees.

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