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Merkel says Germany must make its society fit for future

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germany to make its society fit for the future on opening the 60th annual Hanover Fair Sunday.

Merkel warned that Germans were losing confidence in their “social market economy” that seeks to reconcile an open market with social equity. Politicians, business and organized labor faced the task of making “this social order fit for the future,” the German chancellor said. Turning to the global financial crisis, Merkel repeated her call for greater transparency from financial institutions. Speaking as the representative of Japan - Partner Country at this year’s fair - former prime minister Shinzo Abe said climate change was the biggest task facing humanity. Technology had a “huge role” in solving the problem, he said, adding that Japan was at the forefront of technologies to counter climate change and to move to a low-carbon society.

The Hanover Fair, which opens Monday and runs to Friday, is the world’s principal annual exhibition for makers of industrial machinery. Germany, the host, and Japan, this year’s special guest, are two of the world’s main exporters of plant used in factories and public utilities. Energy-saving will be a key motive in the next few years for factory owners to buy new plant. They need to cut their energy bills and help fight global warning by reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. Some 150 Japanese companies are among the 5,100 companies from 62 nations exhibiting at the fair this year. Japan has brought an accompanying cultural program that includes a sumo wrestling tournament. But trade buyers are likely to be most interested by a show of Japan’s advanced industrial robots. The show will not just include factory devices, but also home-help robots that can clean house or brew tea when commanded.

The Hanover Fair has sections devoted to energy-saving, automation, pipelines and other technologies. This year, the event will have a new section devoted to power-plant technology. Sepp Heckmann, chief executive of the fair, said the three big trends in industrial plant were miniaturization, the greater use of intelligent devices and a focus on energy efficiency, not just to save power but also to raise productivity. (m&