New Year’s Reflection by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
I would like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year.
At the end of last year I was designated as the nation's 96th Prime Minister. In starting this new year, I have renewed my determination to restore the trust in politics that has been lost over more than three years and push forward with building a "new Japan", working towards the future.
Amidst delayed reconstruction, prolonged deflation, and challenges to Japan's sovereign territory and our nation's sovereignty itself, Japan is now in a critical situation. The mission assigned to the Abe Cabinet is to break through such crises, steadily rebuild the economy, education, and diplomacy, and restore peace of mind regarding daily life.
To restore trust in politics, we do not need hollow words that can never be realized. Most important of all are a sense of speed and the ability to get things done.
Placing emphasis on character and ability, I have brought together capable people to compile a ministerial line-up of substantial depth. Upon forming my Cabinet, I instructed all of its members to dedicate their greatest possible efforts to the three areas of economic revival, reconstruction, and crisis management. The Abe Cabinet will continue to insist upon generating results one by one, with a view to breaking through the crisis.
For Japan, the most urgent issue is reviving the economy through breaking out of both deflation and the appreciation of the yen.
At the first Cabinet meeting, I immediately established the Headquarters for Japan's Economic Revitalization within the Cabinet as a "control tower" for economic revival and instructed the relevant ministers to compile urgent economic countermeasures and formulate a supplementary budget as soon as possible. Early in the new year I will be reinstating the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy and also moving forward with work on both the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and tax reform with a great sense of urgency.
Bold monetary policy, flexible public finance policy, and a growth strategy that encourages private sector investment are the three prongs of economic revival.
I will vigorously push forward economic policy through the collective efforts of the Cabinet in order to restore a Japanese economy that rewards those who work hard, in which people can feel keenly that their lives tomorrow will be better than their lives today.
We must not forget the people in the disaster-stricken areas who are still leading lives of great inconvenience in temporary housing and other such arrangements as they begin their second winter. When selecting the very first place I would visit upon assuming the post of prime minister, I chose Fukushima without any hesitation whatsoever. We must face squarely the harsh circumstances of those who are unable to return to their hometowns even now and consider the sensitivities of the people in the disaster areas.
Although there are a multitude of issues, including decontamination and livelihood rehabilitation, I heard it pointed out numerous times that until now, the response has fallen behind due to the deficiencies of the government's vertically-segmented administrative structure and a failure to grasp what is going on there on the ground. In order to do away with vertical segmentation within the government, the Abe Cabinet will unify revival from TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear power plant accident to be under the auspices of the Minister in Charge of Comprehensive Policy Coordination for Revival from the Nuclear Accident at Fukushima and will prepare a framework to enable speedy decision-making and execution in disaster-affected areas. By taking such steps, we will achieve the return of residents to their hometowns and reconstruction at an early time. Within the economic countermeasures that will be compiled in the near future, we will intrepidly set aside a budget for recovery and reconstruction and accelerate the reconstruction of the disaster area.
There were various incidents last year concerning Japan's territory, territorial waters, and territorial airspace. The Abe administration will work to rebuild our relations with neighboring countries and incorporate Asia's growth while reinforcing the Japan-U.S. alliance still further.
Moreover, looking down broadly over the world, we will boldly develop strategic diplomacy rooted in the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights, and the rule of law. In order fully to defend the lives and assets of our nationals as well as our territory, territorial waters, and territorial airspace in a resolute manner, I will also move forward in appropriately developing and administering our remote border islands while reinforcing their security.
We will of course take all possible crisis management measures for large-scale disasters, major accidents, and other such occurrences under a system operating 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Children, who will shoulder the responsibilities of Japan's future, are the nation's greatest treasure. We will put education back on the right footing and move forward with reforming education so as to restore in our children world-leading academic ability and social morality as well as an attitude of respect for history and culture.
Dispelling the sense of anxiety people feel within their daily lives and creating a society having peace of mind are also important issues for the Abe Cabinet. I will push forward with measures to make the nation's infrastructure more resilient in order to safeguard the lives of the people while enhancing the nation's competitive strength.
In order to establish a sustainable social security system, we will continue with the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems on the basis of the "three-party agreement" reached among the Liberal Democratic Party, The New Komeito, and the Democratic Party of Japan. We will also propel forward the creation of a country in which women are dynamically engaged and in which it is easy for them to bear and raise children.
The mission assigned to the Abe administration is first and foremost to restore a robust economy. A country that loses the mettle to grow has no future. We will grow by realizing policies in rapid-fire succession. Let us restore a "strong Japan" with the people of our nation striving in unison for just such a bright future.
As we begin 2013, in sending this New Year's greeting I extend my best wishes for everyone's health and happiness and ask sincerely for the public's understanding and cooperation.
Prime Minister of Japan
January 1, 2013