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The Prime Minister in Action

General Meeting of the Japan Association of City Mayors

June 7, 2017

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering a congratulatory address

Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering a congratulatory address

  • Photograph of the Prime Minister delivering a congratulatory address

[Provisional Translation]

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the 87th General Meeting of the Japan Association of City Mayors held in Tokyo.

The Prime Minister said in his congratulatory address,

"I am delighted that the 87th General Meeting of the Japan Association of City Mayors is being held today in such magnificent fashion. I want to first express my respect to former President Mori for the tremendous achievements he has made as President of the Japan Association of City Mayors.

I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to all of the city mayors for making dedicated efforts every day at the front lines of local government to develop their communities and further improve the welfare of their residents.

The Abe Cabinet has tackled important policy issues, such as by expanding child rearing supports and nursing care, and promoting work style reform, in our pursuit to realize a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged. Abenomics is definitely producing results in all corners of the country. The ratio of job offers to job seekers is 1.48, reaching its highest level in 43 years. This is the first time in history that the ratio is above 1.0 in all 47 prefectures, and we are seeing this trend continue. The employment ratio of high school graduates in FY2016 grew 0.3% year-on-year to 98%, the highest level in 26 years.

It is the regions themselves that are the main drivers of future growth. The national and regional governments will collectively make every effort to accelerate a positive cycle of growth and distribution, so that people in the regions can feel the results of that growth. Japan will not have vitality unless its regions have vitality. There is no future for Japan unless we pave the way for the future of the regions. This is the basic stance of the Abe administration.

Japan is full of charms, such as abundant nature, unique history and culture, and agricultural, forestry and fishery products and foods particular to each region, all of which have been preserved and developed by everyone in each region. Those charms are now even well-known overseas. The number of annual foreign visitors to Japan has set a record for four consecutive years, with this number exceeding 24 million last year. The number of foreign cruise ships visiting the regions in Japan has quadrupled in just three years. During the season of festivals and fireworks shows, which are major tourism resources of the regions, it can be difficult for visitors to secure hotels and means of transportation. However, if visitors use cruises, their accommodations and mode of travel are unrestricted. We are seeing a rising popularity of innovative cruise tours that draw on these features, taking visitors to the Kanto Festival in Akita or the Awa-Odori Festival in Tokushima, or allowing visitors to enjoy the Kumano Fireworks Festival in Mie. This generates new opportunities for the regions. Vitalizing local economies is an endeavor to take full advantage of such attractions of the regions, to significantly develop their potential, and to create highly distinctive regions that will attract young people. We can truly say that this is your endeavor.

The Abe Cabinet, based on its ongoing commitment to carefully listen to the opinions of the regions, will actively support the ambitious endeavors of the cities across the country in terms of information, human resources, and financing, and will further accelerate regional vitalization. Furthermore, in regard to decentralization reform, we will continue to steadily advance decentralization reforms for the regions based on regional ideas.

The primary planners and coordinators in each region are the local governments. The city mayors here today are the leaders of these governments, and the people who know best about the issues and charms of each region. I hope you will all continue to exert your abilities to the fullest, and I would also like to once again ask for your understanding and cooperation in regard to the policies that the Government is promoting, so that we can create a Japan where everyone who lives in your regions, and their children, can entrust their dreams and futures to their individual regions.

In conclusion, I would like to extend my best wishes for the further evolvement of the Japan Association of City Mayors, as well as the further success of everyone in attendance today. At the same time, I pledge that the Abe Cabinet will continue to exert every effort to steadily accelerate the vitalization of local economies, and create a Japan as well as regions where even more people feel glad that they were born in their region, and where they can entrust their lives to the future of their region. Congratulations, everyone."

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