New Year’s Reflection by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Friday, January 1, 2016
Happy new year to all.
In Japan, we have a proverb that says even the coldest rock will warm up if sat upon for three years. In other words, perseverance will bring success in the end.
In the disaster area in Tohoku, more and more people have been moving into public housing for disaster victims. “New buds” of industries are sprouting and reconstruction is about to transition to the next stage.
Both the peaceful diplomacy and the economic diplomacy that I have deployed taking a panoramic perspective of the globe are beginning to bear great fruit. Under the Legislation for Peace and Security, we will prevent war by taking all possible preparations for any circumstances. We have successfully built a foundation for handing down a peaceful Japan to the generations of our children and grandchildren.
We have also been battling deflation, which made the Japanese economy stagnant for nearly 20 years. These three years, we have made all-out efforts to revive the economy.
What has resulted is an expansion of employment by more than one million people and wages climbing by the greatest amount in 17 years. We are also seeing steady progress in the vitalization of local regions. For example, last year the highest-ever ratio of job offers to job seekers was recorded in seven prefectures - Aomori, Akita, Tokushima, Kochi, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Okinawa.
Japan is no longer in deflation. This is the situation we have created over the past three years.
All this is thanks to you, the people of Japan, who imparted tremendous power to the reforms conducted by the Abe administration through your understanding and cooperation. As we greet this fourth New Year since my administration began, allow me to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you once more.
Another proverb tells us, “A castle takes three years to build, yet it can fall in a single day.”
The stern eye of the public falls on the government at all times. With this firmly in mind, along with the New Year I have renewed my belief that we must bring to bear a still higher level of vigilance as we conduct political administration.
This year we will launch new efforts to tackle challenges.
We will squarely take on the structural issue of an aging society with a falling birthrate and work to bring about a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.
It was half a century ago that the population of Japan first surpassed 100 million people. It was right at the height of Japan’s period of rapid economic growth - an era when people felt very keenly that those who work hard will be rewarded, and that tomorrow life will be even more prosperous than it is today.
We will maintain a population of 100 million people even half a century into the future. Everyone can take another step forward, no matter if that person is old or young, female or male, a person who has failed before, or someone with an intractable illness or disability. For those who are living today, creating a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged is our responsibility towards the next generation.
Having set three clear targets - a 600 trillion yen GDP, Japan’s largest in the post-war era; raising the birthrate to 1.8 children per woman, the level the public has indicated as desirable; and eliminating cases in which people have no choice but to leave their jobs to provide nursing care - I will now fire my new “three arrows.” The curtain has finally opened on our very first year as a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.
None of these are simple issues for which a blueprint exists right from the start. I have been fully prepared for difficulties from the outset. However, the future is not something others bestow upon us. It is something that we must carve out with our own hands.
As we make 2016 our start, the task before us is to take on challenges, time and time again. I am determined to make 2016 a year of resolutely taking on challenges for the future.
Beginning today, Japan will serve as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. As such, we will shoulder great responsibility in ensuring global peace and stability. Moreover, this year, we will invite major world leaders to Ise-Shima for a summit. We will also hold the TICAD summit meeting, bringing together the leaders of Japan and African countries. Japan will also serve as the country chairing the Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) Trilateral Summit Meeting.
This will be a year in which Japan truly shines on the world’s center stage.
The world constantly faces a variety of challenges - an increasingly unpredictable global economy, the fight against terrorism, poverty and development issues, climate change. The international community’s efforts to fashion a brighter future and build a better world are never-ending.
Within this global context, Japan will thoroughly demonstrate leadership.
As I end my remarks, I ask the Japanese people to extend to us their further understanding and support. I also would like to extend my sincere wishes for 2016 to be a splendid year that is happy and prosperous for one and all.
Prime Minister of Japan