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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. It is a great honour to introduce the Chairman of the 2014 Ministerial Council Meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Secretary-General Gurría, thank you very much for such a gracious introduction. I had the honor of welcoming you to Tokyo last month, and today we have come to meet again in Paris. I am extremely pleased that we were able to reconfirm the deep bonds of friendship between Japan and the OECD.
50 years ago Tokyo was just emerging on the global stage as a world class city, as host of the 1964 Olympics. This was the same year that Japan joined the OECD. At this time, Japan was a nascent industrial power. Today, Japan is one of the largest economies in the world, with GDP per head of around $50,000 and close to $1 trillion of exports of goods and services, said Angel Gurría.
OECD analysis shows that income inequality has been on the rise in most OECD countries since the 1980s, which often means growing exclusion in the labour market, lower intergenerational social mobility, and greater polarisation in educational and health outcomes.
Japan’s contribution to the work of the OECD over the past half century, has been remarkable: you are one of our most active members – a benchmark for other member countries with respect to the development and implementation of well-designed policies and best practices. The creation of this Group is yet another example Japan’s commitment to making the OECD a lynchpin of global policy dialogue and increasing its impact, said Angel Gurría
Firstly, and most importantly, this year marks Japan’s golden jubilee: 50 years as a member of the OECD. Japan was our first Asia-Pacific member country, and has paved the way to strengthen the OECD’s ties within the region. This year, for the second time, Japan is chairing our Ministerial Council Meeting – the most important annual decision-making event of the Organization, said Angel Gurría.
Nuclear energy provides society with a secure supply of low-carbon, baseload electricity that enables our economies to function. But of course, safety must be the first priority, without exception. Following Fukushima, international efforts have focused on enhancing nuclear safety to enable our economies to continue enjoying the electricity that nuclear power can provide, said OECD Secretary-General in Japan.
This learning experience is an important model for other countries recovering from natural disasters as well. It demonstrates how they can best invest in their most precious resource – their young people!
OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, congratulated Japanese Prime Minister Abe on his announcement today that Japan will raise its consumption tax as legislated from the current 5% to 8% next April.