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Govt OK’s 4 plans focusing on expanding workforce

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second from right, speaks at a joint meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy and the Council on Investments for the Future at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun In a Cabinet meeting Friday, the government approved four plans that address how to develop future national policies, with an extra emphasis on expanding the workforce.

The four plans include the Basic Policy on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform, also known as the “big-boned policy,” and an action plan to implement the growth strategy.

The plans put importance on improving the environment for workers of the so-called employment ice age generation through such measures as increasing the number of full-time regular employees by 300,000. They also call for raising the continued employment age at companies to beyond 70.

“Japan is facing the big hurdles of a declining population, aging society and low birthrate, so now is the time for us to vigorously accelerate further structural reforms on economic society,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at Friday’s joint meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy and the Council on Investments for the Future.

The big-boned policy addresses the government’s basic stance toward the year-end budget compilation and mid- and long-term issues related to various policies.

The plan approved Friday stipulates the consumption tax rate being raised to 10 percent in October.

In responding to situations such as the global economic slowdown, it suggests taking up additional economic policies “by implementing flexible macroeconomic measures without hesitation.”

Prioritized policies are mainly measures to deal with the labor shortage and improving income levels.

The government will intensively work to implement such measures as offering three-year job training programs to those currently in their mid-30s to mid-40s — those most affected by the employment ice age — as well as improving and expanding subsidies for companies that hire these workers.

It is estimated that there are about 1 million people, including nonregular workers and hikikomori social recluses, who need assistance to find jobs. The government aims to increase the number of regular full-time workers by 300,000 over a three-year period.

Regarding the minimum wage, the big-boned policy sets a goal of achieving at an early date a national weighted average of ¥1,000 per hour. Currently, it is ¥874. In the past three years, there have been wage hikes of about 3 percent every year, but the government will urge to accelerate the pace.

The action plan to implement the growth strategy raised promoting the employment of the elderly as a pillar. Currently, companies are obliged to continue to employ those who wish to work until they are 65.

The action plan imposes companies an obligation to make the best efforts to secure job opportunities for their workers until they are 70 by continuously employing them or supporting start-ups.

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