Happy New Year to you all.
This year is the twenty-first year of the Heisei Era. Together with the Japanese public, I should like to extend my heartfelt congratulations on the twentieth anniversary of the accession of His Majesty the Emperor.
Over the course of these twenty years, Japan has continued to enjoy peace and prosperity. It has faced a number of difficulties, such as the bursting of the bubble economy and financial crises, but the strengths of the nation has allowed us to overcome these challenges.
Meanwhile, we are witnessing a global financial and economic crisis stemming from the United States, said to occur only once in a century. Japan alone cannot avoid this "tsunami". Yet, it is possible to minimise the damage through appropriate responses.
The government will do everything within its power to dispel the public's anxieties over the economy and their daily lives. Japan shall be the first in the world to extricate itself from recession.
Looking back on the past, the Japanese people, through their own choices and efforts, developed the nation of Japan while conserving and, at the same time, changing it. Japan faced major crises twice in the modern era. On each occasion, we carved out a new path and achieved remarkable success.
It was during the Boshin Civil War that our predecessors in the Meiji Era greeted the new year a hundred and forty years ago. Through the policy of Production and@Industry Promotion, however, our nation became a peer of the Western powers without ever giving in to them.
Sixty years ago, our predecessors in the Showa Era entered the new year under occupation after losing everything in the War. Yet again, with subsequent innovative endeavours, they built the world's second largest economic power.
Japan and the Japanese people should have stronger confidence in their latent power and vitality. I am confident that Japan as a nation can turn crisis into opportunity and always overcome difficulties, as it has done in the past.
The Japan that I seek is a nation with vitality, in which people can live with peace of mind. Japan should be -- as it has been -- a strong and bright nation.
What are Japan and the world to be like in fifty or a hundred years time? It is difficult to predict the future.
However, we are the ones who build the future. The question is not how Japan and the world will become, but what we ourselves will do.
Being passive is no good. We must act to bring about a future of our choice.
I myself will never flinch from the challenges before me. I will steadily move forward together with the Japanese public.
As we welcome the New Year, I once again ask for the understanding and support of the Japanese people.
My sincere best wishes to every one of you for a wonderful New Year.
January 1, 2009
Prime Minister of Japan