ON THE DISMANTLING OF ‘BEDROCK’ REGULATIONS, Part 1
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched his third Cabinet in late December 2014.
Subsequently, it has spelled out a basic policy to revitalize Japan’s economy as formulated by the Headquarters for Japan’s Economic Revitalization (1). In it, the government pledged that Japan will create new markets and new business opportunities by reforming the so-called bedrock regulations in areas such as agriculture, employment, healthcare, and energy.”
Bedrock regulations refer to firmly entrenched regulations that parties with vested interests—typically government organs, administrative institutions, or industrial groups—oppose reform, which makes the loosening or dismantling of regulations far from easy. Since the 1980s, the government has pursued deregulation in many areas with an eye to facilitating economic growth. However, bedrock regulations are the areas that have faced strong resistance from parties with vested interests, and, consequently, they have been put off for years and years—that is until now.
There are several laws that are subject to this debate, laws such as the Road Transportation Act, the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, the Medical Practitioners Act, the Food Sanitation Act, the Agricultural Land Act, the Health Insurance Act, the Social Welfare Act, the Radio Act, and the Worker Dispatch Law. However, there exist other “bedrock barriers” to growth that are non-legal and unrelated to existing systems and arrangements.
This article uses the bedrock regulation removal debate to search for and expose potential innovation opportunities.
On Labor Market Reform
Efforts to remove so-called bedrock regulations in Japan continue.
Following the announcement of a plan to implement reform at the intersection of the fields of agriculture and finance via regulatory changes to affect the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, widely known as JA-Zenchu (which overseas a body of agricultural cooperative organizations nationwide known as JA) (2), the media reported that labor system reforms that will cut across all industries are also in the pipeline (3).
The global market has entered an era of hyper competition in productivity. In conjunction with this, companies will pursue the automation of business processes using digital technology as well as a shift to self-service. As such, existing labor regulations will no longer apply and will be rendered outdated. Consequently, the focus of labor regulations will be required to shift to work that requires human intelligence or that is otherwise not amenable to digitization.
Celent has long advocated deregulation and technological progress/innovation as an opportunity to innovate and driver of innovation. The proliferation of digital technologies boosts the possibilities of technological innovation and, at the same time, deregulation offers an opportunity for innovative technologies to be applied.
In addition, and on a different note, Celent hopes to see the creation of new employee incentive plans as a way to accelerate growth strategies. Western stock-based incentive systems epitomized by stock options have come with an array of obstacles . If a new, Japanese compensation sharing plan that links corporate results with individual compensation can be created, then it is likely that highly motivated entrepreneurs well versed in digital technology, coupled with the backing of a nationally driven initiative to back a growth strategy, will be able to accelerate innovation.