Region/Countries: Asia, Japan Industry: Multiple Sectors Date: April 2016

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Opportunities for Wisconsin companies to participate in the trend

The Japanese government has announced a goal of boosting the country’s GDP by 20 percent to $5.6 trillion by 2020. The government pledges to devote effort to developing an environment that promotes investment by lowering the effective corporate tax rates.

This initiative will emphasize high-tech areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and big data, one example being the propagation of IoT (Internet of Things) “smart plants” where every piece of equipment is connected to the internet. Plans include speeding up the reconstruction of existing plants owned by the private sector in order to enhance inventory management and reduce turnaround time, and increasing investment in the usage of small, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in home-delivery services and self-driving cars. In addition, plans call for financial aid and relaxing regulations that hinder the application of new technologies, and for promoting the use of new technologies in small and midsize enterprises.

Another promising field is energy conservation. There is a need to further advance energy conservation and to increase the utilization of renewable energy in order to achieve the international target of reducing greenhouse gases emissions by 26 percent by 2030. Aside from the new energy-saving standards that new housing construction will have to fulfill by 2020, the government will also require a switch to energy-efficient equipment in all industry sectors (including the hotel and service industries) by 2017. The Japanese government plans to increase investment in energy conservation from $70 billion in 2014 to $230 billion in 2030, including areas such as insulating material and light-emitting diode (LED) illumination for residential use and high-efficiency boilers for industrial use, and to increase investment in renewable energy sources, such as solar, from $30 billion to $40 billion by 2030.

The plan calls for increasing sports-related investment focusing on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and for expanding the health care industry, as well as information technology, and to ease regulations for the service industry, in which low productivity is an issue, and to expand its market size to $610 billion by 2020, in spite of an aging society with declining birth rate.

The Japanese government believes these initiatives can help Japanese industries penetrate overseas markets, thus leading to the desired economic growth.