Tokyo is now at an important turning point. Japan's population is shrinking and society is rapidly aging. Young people came to Tokyo from all over Japan during the period of high economic growth and brought life to the city, but from 2020, when this generation enters the ranks of senior citizens, it is projected that Tokyo's population will gray at a very rapid pace. We need to think of what we must do now to create a city that continues to grow even amid such circumstances. We will develop measures from this perspective.
It is my belief that Tokyo's potential lies dormant in its citizens. I am convinced that the "aspirations" of each citizen -- to lead a vibrant life, to fully demonstrate one's strengths, to realize one's dreams in Tokyo -- can open doors to a bright future.
To that end as well, we need to create a "diverse city" where each individual can play an active role regardless of age, gender, or whether they have a disability. In particular, promoting the participation of women in society is an urgent task facing the whole of Japan. However, in this year's report by the World Economic Forum, which looks at the gender gap in countries around the world, Japan ranked 111th out of 144 countries, slipping below its place last year. This shows that although Japan is striving for women's participation in society, other countries are doing the same with even greater determination. At this rate, Japan could fall behind the rest of the world. Tokyo will advance strong efforts as the driving force behind greater participation of women in Japan.
For a start, we are holding an event this month where I will have a chance to discuss ideas with Tokyo citizens about how to build a society where women can shine. And next month, we will be conferring the "Women's Participation Promotion Award," which recognizes leading achievements in a range of fields, and by widely publicizing such activities, we hope to help revolutionize the mindset of each and every citizen. Based on the White Paper for Women's Participation and the discussions of the TMG's Council for Equal Participation of Men and Women, we will also be drawing up a new Plan for Promoting the Participation of Women during this fiscal year. By clarifying the measures that the government and businesses should advance, we will not let this end as simply a rallying cry, but implement real policies for women.
We must work hard to reduce to zero the number of children on waiting lists for places at childcare facilities. The emergency measures made possible by the supplementary budget, which was passed at the last regular session, are already showing results. With regard to the loan of metropolitan land for the construction of childcare facilities, we expanded the system and added an approach by which contractors can rent land through the local municipalities. The first contractor determined through this system was in Taito-ku. Moving forward, I wish to increase such examples by identifying metropolitan land that can be used in this way from throughout the TMG, and also providing information through the Tokyo Childcare Horenso consultation desks we have established. Last month I also attended a meeting with the municipal governments to discuss urgent measures to reduce the number of children on waiting lists. There, we were able to directly hear the requests from the people in the field, for the promotion of measures centering on improving the working conditions of childcare workers. I hope to continue having these kinds of meetings on a regular basis so that the metropolitan and municipal governments can share goals and awareness of the issues and work as one to address the problem of childcare availability. Furthermore, based on views from the field as well, we will reflect further initiatives in next year's budget proposal, and roll out measures that are "more effective" in solving the problem of waitlisted children.
In October, we established the Joint Secretariat for Promotion of the Tokyo Special Zone in the TMG building in order to strongly advance the initiatives of the National Strategic Special Zone in cooperation with the national government in a broad range of areas including the issues of childcare wait lists and long-term care. In concrete terms, we will be introducing more flexibility to "mixed long-term care", which will also lead to upgrading care services and improving the working conditions of care workers. To help reduce the number of people who are forced to leave the workforce in order to provide care, we will consider how holidays and leave for caregivers should be handled while also considering the alleviation of burdens on small and medium sized enterprises. With regard to resolving the waiting lists for childcare, the Secretariat will be fully utilized to also promote new initiatives from the aspect of regulatory reform.
To revitalize Tokyo, we are working to reduce to zero the number of children waitlisted for day care and encourage women to participate more actively in society. Also, in addition to TMG-wide efforts to address the issue of train congestion during rush hours, we will gather ideas from the private sector and seek solutions through public-private collaboration. But actually, what is at the root of these and other issues facing modern society is work style. I cannot help but feel that the practice of having everyone office-bound from morning to night has reached its limit. If diverse work styles, such as working for shorter hours or working at home, are adopted more widely and become commonly accepted, an environment supporting a balance between working and parenting or long-term care responsibilities, and encouraging women's participation in the workforce will be established. Eventually, a packed train might become a story of the past. Work style reform is the substantial key to realizing a "diverse city."
With this in mind, we took the lead by launching an initiative to reduce overtime work of TMG employees. We established a rule that everyone must leave the office by 8 p.m. In addition to that, the recently established TMG work style reform promotion meeting is studying other possible measures for reform, such as the introduction of telecommuting and more flexible work hours. Meanwhile, we have been providing support to private-sector companies seeking to adopt better styles of working for their employees; already more than 700 companies are using this support to proceed with their measures. With the aim to make Tokyo an even more vibrant city by allowing everyone to work happily and enthusiastically in a manner that suits their respective circumstances, we will lead a movement that involves the private sector. Work style reform is another area in which we have to overcome the central government's various regulations to move forward. We will fully leverage the National Strategic Special Zone system through the newly launched Joint Secretariat for Promotion of the Tokyo Special Zone, which I spoke about earlier.
Next, I will speak about education policies. It is an important mission of education to bring out the potential of all children and to nurture talent to match the needs of the era. Based on this viewpoint, a draft outline of the TMG's new fundamental principles for education was put together and presented to the Comprehensive Education Council when it convened recently. We had a frank discussion with the members of the Board of Education about such matters as the TMG's original scholarship system that will allow children to study regardless of the financial state of their families or other such circumstances; foreign language education that fosters practical communication skills; development of volunteerism; and enhancing education for children with disabilities. Based on the opinions we received at the council, we will deepen the discussion and compile the new fundamental principles next month.
Given that the circumstances surrounding children are growing increasingly diverse and complex, including poverty, bullying, truancy, and dropping out of school, we also need to boost the capabilities of teachers and schools, which support education. We will work to enhance the quality of education by improving the skills of teachers, and collaborating and cooperating with experts and local communities.
In the United States, the new administration of President-elect Donald Trump will start next month. Given that both British Prime Minister Theresa May and President-elect Trump are calling for large cuts in corporate tax, competition between the world's cities is expected to intensify further. We need a solid strategy to attain sustainable growth amid such a situation. We must, with a sense of crisis, transform Tokyo into a cutting-edge city that can win the race against other cities in the world -- what I call a "smart city."
The crucial part of this effort will be restoring Tokyo to its position as Asia's top global financial city. We will attract asset management and fintech companies from home and abroad, as well as the highly skilled talent who work at these companies, by leveraging the new Joint Secretariat for Promotion of the Tokyo Special Zone to make full use of the National Strategic Special Zone system and cooperating with the national government to achieve structural reform and deregulation with no sacred cows. By doing this, we hope to enhance the global competitiveness of Tokyo, and that of Japan, and thereby contribute to the growth strategy of the national government. Last month, to tackle essential challenges in stimulating financial activity, we set up a panel consisting of financial professionals in Japan and abroad, corporate executives and others, and also another working-level study group. Taking into consideration the proposals from these panels, and in cooperation with the central government and private-sector entities, the TMG will assiduously look into ways to attract businesses and enrich the living environment for foreign residents through reexamination of obsolete industry practices, regulations, tax systems and other potential barriers.
In the field of the environment, too, I hope Tokyo and other cities in the world will be able to inspire and uplift each other.
Recently I was elected to the Steering Committee of C40, a global network of more than 80 cities with the aim of tackling climate change. Tokyo will lead the world in measures against climate change by utilizing the know-how it has built up, such as the urban cap-and-trade scheme. This scheme, which makes it obligatory for large office buildings and other commercial facilities to reduce CO2 emissions, has achieved a CO2 emission reduction of approximately 14 million tons over five years.
As a new initiative in the field of the environment, we decided to issue the Tokyo Environment Supporter Bond, the proceeds of which will be used for our environment-friendly projects, including the switch to LED lighting at metropolitan facilities. Last week, the bonds sold out on the first day. Next fiscal year, we plan to utilize the know-how gained from this experience to issue green bonds -- an area where Japan is said to lag behind other countries -- so that we can make Tokyo globally competitive in terms of green investments as well. I hope this will help create momentum for participation by Tokyo citizens in the TMG's environment policies through investment, and will also strongly facilitate the advancement of policies to make Tokyo a city that leads the world in environmental policies, such as spreading the use of renewable energy and LED lighting, addressing the heat island effect, and reducing food loss and waste.
We also wish to actively support small and medium-sized enterprises in developing business overseas. The TMG has been extending support such as helping SMEs find markets outside Japan, providing local information on the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region, and offering consultation on business management and technology. As shown by the smartphone-related patent infringement lawsuits between global companies, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses going abroad to be armed with good intellectual property strategy, including the acquisition of patents and trademark rights and measures against counterfeits. Therefore while looking into new types of support that meet such needs, we will continue to provide powerful assistance to SMEs venturing into overseas markets.
We also need to draw out the potentials of new technologies, notably IoT and AI, so that they will contribute to the further growth of Tokyo.
Regarding the medical device industry, centering on the medical-engineering partnership hub, which we opened in the Nihombashi district, we are promoting partnerships between small and medium-sized manufacturers and clinical institutions, medical device makers, and other relevant parties. The other day I went to inspect the Tokyo International Industry Exhibition. There I sensed the steady establishment of a foundation to connect the excellent technologies of SMEs to unique and innovative businesses that have global marketing potential. Also, I tested out a sports wheelchair there. Developing world-class products in this kind of field will help promote Para sports as we approach 2020, and will also serve as a growth strategy in a super-aging society beyond 2020.
It is also important to produce many entrepreneurs who propose new values through out-of-the-box ideas. Next month in the Marunouchi district we will launch a business support center that people seeking to start up a business can easily visit and receive one-stop support. The area spanning from Otemachi to Kabutocho, which is aiming to become a global financial center; the Nihombashi district, which is on its way to becoming a life sciences hub; and the unique technological capabilities of SMEs -- by leveraging these strengths and adding the creative ideas of entrepreneurs, Tokyo will continue to generate innovation and drive the growth of Japan as a whole.
Another important key phrase in our growth strategy is the branding of Tokyo. What can we do to effectively promote the Tokyo brand within and outside Japan? We have reviewed what has been done up to now and are beginning discussion on what should be done. Also, while preserving traditional products and the superb techniques of craftsmen, we will also stimulate them by taking a new approach, and nurture and publicize them as the "Tokyo brand." To that end, this month we will launch a committee modeled after the Comité Colbert of France. Together with experts from various fields, we will look into how we can better disseminate the attractions of Tokyo.
The Tama and island areas also have many attractions that can be developed for the branding of Tokyo. Last month, I went to Miyake Village and Mikurajima Village for the flag tour event. Their strong, unique features, such as motorcycle races and dolphin watching, make these areas appealing tourist destinations. That is also the same for Ogasawara Village, Okutama Town, and Hinohara Village -- places I visited in October. The unique features of each area are their strengths and are attractions that could become part of the Tokyo brand. I will continue to actively make "treasure-hunting" visits to the Tama and island areas to find their unique attractions and polish them up.
Another effective approach to boosting inbound tourism is bringing more international conferences and other MICE events (meetings, incentive travel, conventions, exhibitions) to Tokyo. Amid the intensifying global competition to host international conferences, we will strengthen our overseas promotional activities and utilize metropolitan facilities, such as museums and gardens, as "unique venues" -- reception venues that provide a special atmosphere.
To ensure that these efforts help promote tourism, while listening to excellent proposals from experts, we are formulating an action plan that will systematically set down new measures to be taken. An interim report on the action plan, which is tentatively called the "Tokyo Metropolitan Government Action Plan 2017 for Tourism Industry Promotion," will be released shortly. After incorporating the opinions of Tokyo citizens, we will unveil the finalized action plan by the end of this fiscal year.