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Japan lays out growth strategy priorities ahead of elections

September 2, 2021

(Removes reference to Suga being Japan’s head of state in paragraph 3)

By Daniel Leussink and Kantaro Komiya

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan announced on Thursday a list of initiatives it will focus on to promote green technology and digitalisation, as part of efforts to boost the economy’s long-term growth.

The outline, drawn up by a panel to debate Japan’s growth strategy, will likely serve as a backbone for any new stimulus package the government may compile later this year.

It also comes ahead of the ruling party’s leadership race that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga must win to stay on and pursue his policy initiatives.

In the outline, the government laid out areas that need closer scrutiny in coming months, from among a list of steps included in Suga’s growth strategy that was unveiled in June.

Among them were steps to expand production for electric car batteries and build more charging station for them, as well as support to attract semiconductor plants in Japan.

The list also included steps for digital transformation of public services such as medical care, the outline showed.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the government wanted to consider concrete policy steps as the world is undergoing major changes.

“There are many (items) that could be included if there were to be discussions about an economic package in the future,” Nishimura told reporters.

Japan’s economy emerged from last year’s coronavirus-induced slump helped by an export rebound. But analysts expect any further recovery to remain modest, as a surge in infections at home hurt consumption.

The government hopes to raise Japan’s long-term growth by boosting labour productivity and the participation rate.

In the growth strategy announced in June, the government also called for stimulating innovation and digital transformation, but the plan’s fate could be in trouble with Suga’s political standing wavering ahead of elections.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink and Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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