MCM Opening, Remarks to Introduce Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Remarks by Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD, Paris, France, 6 May 2014
Prime Minister Abe, Prime Minister Bratušek, Ministers, Ambassadors, Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great honour to introduce the Chairman of the 2014 Ministerial Council Meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to return his gracious hospitality.
Just last month, I visited Tokyo to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Japan’s accession to the OECD. This was my 12th visit to Japan as OECD Secretary General and the 65th in my lifetime. As always, I was greeted with great esteem and warmth by the Japanese government and its people. Thank you, Prime Minister. We were really pleased to see the appreciation of the whole Japanese society about their membership in the OECD.
I was particularly honoured to have been received by Crown Prince Naruhito to mark the occasion, and extended to him an invitation to visit the OECD in a future opportunity.
Japan-OECD: an enduring and fruitful partnership
During this visit, we discussed the great progress that Japan and the OECD have made over this half century. The OECD has now grown into an institution of truly global relevance. And Japan, which was the first Asian country to join the organisation, is now a world economic giant.
Japan has been a driving force of our Organisation’s engagement with Asia. We welcomed Korea in 1996. In 1997, we worked with the Asia-Pacific region to overcome its devastating financial crisis. Now, we are ready to take another major step by launching, in a few moments, the Southeast Asia Regional Programme. Japan has also championed the OECD in the G20.
Besides the support of Prime Minister Abe, Foreign Minister Kishida and Ambassador Kodama, I would also like to mention the great contributions of our Vice-Chairs, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. I would like to welcome Slovenian Prime Minister, Ms. Alenka Bratušek, and Minister David Willetts to the MCM, and to thank Ambassadors Jarc and Bridge for their hard work on preparing what promises to be one of the most successful MCMs ever!
Resilience and Inclusion – two sides of the same coin!
Together, we have put together a programme centred on the theme of “Resilient Economies and Inclusive Societies – Empowering People for Jobs and Growth.”
A “Resilient Economy” is one with the ability to resist, adapt and grow in the face of stress or unexpected changes; with the capacity to respond to external shocks and bounce back stronger than before. Resilience has become increasingly important in a world that is more unpredictable, interconnected and complex than ever before.
An “Inclusive Society”, on the other hand, is one where everybody has a stake; where the ‘growth dividend’ and the resulting well-being are widely shared. Inclusion is about empowerment; it is about ensuring that everybody can have access to the opportunities that improve their lives.
In striving for resilient economies and inclusive societies, we are constantly seeking to upgrade our analytical skills. This is the aim of our New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) initiative, and our discussion of the project’s progress promises to be one of the cornerstones of the Ministerial.
Through NAEC, we examine policy synergies and trade-offs so we can make recommendations that improve economic, social, institutional and environmental resilience. Building on the NAEC framework and as a natural follow-up to it, we launched the Inclusive Growth Initiative, to develop policy recommendations that help combine strong economic growth with improvements in living standards and outcomes that matter for people’s quality of life.
Japan’s Resilience is an Inspiration
As we discuss over the next two days how to make resilience and inclusive growth happen, we are grateful to have Japan - a remarkably resilient nation - at the helm. As the Japanese proverb says, we’ve seen this great country “fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
In the past two decades, low growth and persistent deflation have stifled the potential of the Japanese economy. The Great East Japan Earthquake and the triple shock of an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear accident took the lives of many Japanese citizens, threatened the ecologic stability of the surrounding environment and had a strong impact on the economy.
In spite of all these challenges, Japan’s economy is now on a positive trajectory thanks to the decisive intervention of Prime Minister Abe. Abenomics is working!
Prime Minister Abe has been a key driver of Japan’s impressive recovery. The first two arrows of his three-pronged economic plan - bold monetary policy and flexible fiscal policy - have helped to revive growth. And the third arrow of Abenomics - Japan’s structural reform programme, to be launched next June – is a golden opportunity to lock in stronger growth for the long term.
During my recent visit to Tokyo I handed over to Prime Minister Abe our contribution to the discussion about the third arrow. As always, the OECD stands ready to continue to help – so count on us, Abe-san!
Prime Minister Abe, Prime Minister Bratušek, Dear Ministers and Ambassadors,
We are very fortunate to have such a remarkable and effective leader with us today. We hope to draw on Japan’s strength and resilience as a source of inspiration, which Kenji Miyazawa, a well-known poet from the Tohoku region, elegantly captured when he wrote, “be not defeated by the rain.” Let me build on Miyazawa’s message and add: “be not defeated by the tsunami, by the nuclear accident or by deflation!”
Ladies and gentlemen: Prime Minister Abe. Thank you!