Policy Speech by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to the 168th Session of the Diet
October 1, 2007
I have been recently appointed as Prime Minister of Japan. I am bracing myself up, in keen awareness of the gravity of taking charge of the government, at a time when we face a period of great change. Putting first and foremost Japanfs future development and the stability of peoplefs lives, I will do my utmost to discharge my duties under the coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party.
In delivering my policy speech, I should like to apologize to all members of the Diet and the entire nation for having inconvenienced the conduct of Diet affairs due to the holding of the LDP presidential election, and I am resolved to make sincere efforts to respond to the Diet.
(Conduct of Diet Affairs)
The results of the recent ordinary elections for the House of Councillors, which gave the majority to the opposition, were extremely severe for the ruling parties. Under such circumstances, it becomes difficult for the country to advance new policies when the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors take different decisions. It is the mission of politics to safeguard peoplefs lives and uphold the national interests. As the leader in charge of the government, I would like to engage in sincere consultations with opposition parties on important policy issues in conducting the affairs of state.
(Recovering Trust in Politics and the Administration)
I accept forthright the peoplefs distrust in politics and in the administration. Without the trust of the people, it is impossible to realize any policies or achieve any necessary reforms. Recovering the trust in politics and in the administration is an urgent task.
On the issue of political funding, on which we have received severe criticisms from the people, the ruling parties have just compiled their views on what must be done to improve the situation and enhance transparency in political funding. We would like to have full discussions with the opposition parties. I have given thorough instructions on political funding to the Cabinet members, in recognition of the need for them first to act upright, directing them to conduct strict management of political funds based on law to enable themselves to demonstrate full accountability when questions are raised, and also to fully abide by all of the matters stipulated in the Norms of Ministers, and not to contravene political ethics by abiding by laws and regulations and to observe morality as politicians. I intend to hold myself to a particularly high level of standards in this regard.
Similarly, for civil servants, who serve the greater good, it is essential to maintain the self-awareness that they are public servants, faithfully carry out their duties and avoid any actions that could bring shame upon themselves. In order to recover the trust in the administration, we will ensure that senior officials in particular of each ministry and agency will take charge of their respective duties in full and conduct administration responsibly from the standpoint of the public. At the same time, we will advance reform of the public service system to create a comprehensive system that will enable each and every civil servant to maintain high morals, enhance their capacities, and focus on their work with pride.
If we allow administrative waste and inefficiency to continue without redress, we not only pass the burden on to the next generation, but we will never be able to regain the trust of the people. We will further advance integrated reform of expenditures and revenues, including definitely achieving a surplus in the primary balance of the central and local governments combined in FY 2011, by promoting stable growth and through measures such as reducing administrative costs. We will continue to advance administrative reforms vigorously in order to create a simple yet efficient government that befits the 21st Century.
Even after implementing expenditure reforms and administrative reforms, for any possible increases in burden caused by social security services and the declining birthrate, we must secure a stable supply of revenue sources, and avoid any shift of the burden onto the shoulders of future generations. We will proceed with full-fledged discussions without delay aiming at a national consensus, and endeavor to realize fundamental reform of the taxation system, including the consumption tax.
(Developing a Trustworthy Social Security System)
We must ensure that all elements of our social security system, such as pensions, medical care, nursing care and welfare, must serve the interest of the people. Although we are facing an extremely severe fiscal situation, we need to develop a social security system based on the principle of self-reliance and mutual cooperation that remains sustainable into the future and that gives everyone, including the elderly and the young, a sense of reassurance.
The pension issue that has recently surfaced stems greatly from the fact that the perspective of the people was taken lightly. It is important that the pension records of each and every person be reviewed and that pension payments be correctly made. We will work from the perspective of those who receive pensions, and faithfully resolve the various issues that relate to the pension system by conducting a review of the organization and its management.
Since the pension system concerns the entire nation and serves as the foundation for the lives of the elderly, it is essential that we design the system from a long-term perspective to ensure that pension payments will be made stably into the future. I should like to call on the Diet members to resume discussions in the Diet that transcend partisan positions, and engage in transparent and constructive consultations.
The people living in the local regions are concerned that they will not be able to receive the necessary medical care. We will strive to enhance emergency medical care by taking measures to address the shortage of doctors, especially pediatricians and obstetrician-gynecologists, and creating systems that will ensure that patients needing emergency treatment can be admitted. We will fully take into consideration various situations facing those with disabilities and the elderly, and strive to respond attentively, including the examination of how our medical care system should be for the elderly.
(Shifting to Politics that Put Priority on the Safety and Security of the People)
As a result of the issue of falsification of earthquake-resistance data, which created great concern among the people for their lives, revisions were made to laws with a view to shifting the priority to the safety and security of the homes of our people. Now that Japan has become a mature, industrialized nation, we must recognize that we have entered an age where we must put priority on the safety and security of our people and move away from the concept of production first. We will conduct a comprehensive review of politics and administration, and transform the perspective of administration into one from the standpoint of the consumer and the people, so that the entire nation can live their daily lives safely and free from anxiety, and we will work to strengthen administrative functions for protecting consumers by establishing systems that will eradicate crooked business practices.
Safety and security of the foods we eat everyday are a foundation of our lives. We will thoroughly enforce correct food labeling and strengthen our monitoring system for imported food products in order to ensure the safety and security of our food, through administration which acts from the perspective of consumers.
The fatalities resulting from disasters that frequently occur are a cause of great concern for national life. We will work to enhance our response measures with the aim of gzero fatalitiesh in the event when disasters do occur.
(Realizing a Society that Supports Child-Raising)
Education is an issue in which families have extremely high interest. We will endeavor to rebuild education through efforts not only by schools but also by families, local communities and the administration jointly.
First of all, it is necessary to establish a reliable public education. We will seek to enhance childrenfs academic abilities by increasing classroom hours and enhancing textbooks. We will also focus our efforts on trial experiences and moral education to nurture the spirits of self-reliance and compassion for others. We will increase the amount of time for teachers to engage fully in face-to-face interaction with students, and strive to establish a well-modulated salary structure for teachers.
We will work to realize a ggender-equal society,h in which all individuals, men and women alike, can share happiness and responsibilities, and fully harness their personalities and abilities. We will create an environment where people can have children and raise them with a sense of security, through such measures as allowing people to take a sufficient length of child-care leave and continue to work after returning from leave. We will work on rectifying the practice of working long-hours, and advance reform throughout the whole society of the ways in which people work, and promote a better balance of work and family life.
(Continuing to Advance Reform and Achieving Stable Growth)
Japan has been making efforts at structural reform in all areas of its economy and society. A certain degree of success has been achieved, and we have seen a recovery in our economy and an expansion in employment. Still, Japan is facing difficult issues such as the arrival of a society with full-fledged population decline; increasing expenses for social security services caused by falling birth rates and aging society; structural changes in domestic and overseas economy; and global environmental issues. In order to overcome these challenges and create a more mature society, we must advance reforms with our eyes fixed on the future of Japan and revise systems and organizations that are no longer befitting the present times.
Reform and stable economic growth are two wheels on the same axle, and we will promote both of them. In response to changes in the domestic economic environment, the level of interdependence with overseas economies will continue to grow. We will work to promote domestic and foreign investment, and take steps to materialize the Asian Gateway Initiative, which utilizes the strengths of being inside the remarkably growing Asia, and advance measures to make Japan a tourist destination and strengthen our competitiveness in the financial sector. With a view to further development of science and technology, we will promote concentrated investment in strategic areas and enhance measures for human resource development. At the same time, we will advance an intellectual property strategy that will aim to place Japan at the cutting-edge in the world.
(Response to the Issues of gDisparitiesh)
In the process of forging ahead with the structural reforms, various problems have arisen that are broadly called the issues of gdisparities.h Without changing the direction of the reforms, I will never close my eyes to the reality of the situation, and do my utmost to provide solutions to each and every problem in a proper way.
The local regions have fallen into a negative spiral in which the population declines, and as a result, the facilities that support peoplefs daily lives, including schools and hospitals, becomes less convenient, thereby reducing the attraction of the local regions, and contributing to further population decline. In order to get out of this spiral, we have to think about what is necessary to maintain daily life and vitalize industry in accordance with various situations faced by each local region, and pave the way for what is needed.
We will carry out our policies in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, by integrating the implementation systems established under the Cabinet, including the one for regional revitalization, and creating a system to plan and implement strategy for regional revitalization in an integrated way. We will sincerely listen to the voices of people in the local regions through regular exchange of views between the national and local governments, and we will advance structural reforms for regional revitalization, not through pork-barrel spending, but by adding ingenuity to our policies and making attentive responses, including by establishing a Regional Vitality Restoration Organization.
Peoplefs lives are not conducted in cities alone. Under the concept of gmutual cooperation,h in which the local regions and the cities support each other, we will further transfer power to local governments so that a system will be developed that enables local regions to explore ideas on their own and implement them, and we will strive for local tax and financial reforms so that the local regions can become financially independent as well. Moreover, we will accelerate our deliberations toward realizing the system of a broader regional government (doshu-sei), the final completion of the decentralization of power from the central government to local governments.
For the cities, we will aim at safe and secure urban development, including ensuring safety in the event of major disasters.
Today marks the start of the privatization of the postal service. We will advance this endeavor steadily so as not to cause inconvenience to users.
The stable supply of food is an extremely important issue both for today and the future. Japan's agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, which produce safe and secure food products, must continue to maintain their vitality. We will give assistance responding to peoplefs hard-work based on the "agricultural policies on the offensive." We will restore vibrancy to farming, forestry and fishing villages by creating an environment in which elderly people and small-scale farmers can engage in agriculture without anxiety.
Many of the small and medium enterprises that provide the driving force of Japanfs economic growth have been left out of the benefits of economic recovery. We will strive to realize growth that maintains harmony between large enterprises on the one hand and small and medium enterprises on the other by vigorously promoting measures aimed at ensuring fairness in business with subcontractors, facilitating business succession and enhancing the productivity of small and medium enterprises.
In light of the situation where young people in irregular employment are on the increase, we will advance measures that nourish workers, such as the promotion of a shift from irregular to regular employment, development of occupational skills and improvement of working conditions, so that young people can realize their potentials, obtain stable employment and live with hope for the future.
(Converting to a Society that Respects the Environment for the Future)
Addressing global environmental issues is something that cannot be postponed.
We must separate ourselves from the traditional society which deems mass production and mass consumption as good, and steer ourselves to a gsustainable society,h in which we use with good care the things we make so that they last for generations. The endeavors toward the g200 Year Housing,h which aims to extend the life of our homes, is a first step in concrete policies for realizing a sustainable society, in that it will reduce wastes, conserve resources and reduce the burden borne by the people for housing. We must advance in all sectors the concept of converting to a lifestyle that is environmentally friendly and that can reduce the burden placed on the people.
As we strive to realize a sustainable society, we must not only do our best to achieve for certain the target laid out in the Kyoto Protocol, but we must also lead the way in urging other nations to make efforts to prevent global warming. Japan has cutting-edge technologies in the environment and energy sectors, which enable us to take the lead in the world for solving environmental issues. With a view to presenting to the world a new model of economic society encapsulated in the concept of a sustainable society, we will take concrete steps, through the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit to be held next year and other fora, toward creating a framework in which all major greenhouse gas emitters can participate, in order to achieve the goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as envisioned in the initiative gCool Earth 50.h
(Diplomacy which Contributes to Peace)
Maintaining the solid Japan-U.S. alliance and promoting international cooperation are the foundation of Japanfs diplomacy. World peace cannot be realized unless the international community works together in solidarity. Fixing my eyes on the future of the world in a drastically changing international environment, I will carry forward a diplomacy which contributes to world peace, so that Japan will realize its responsibilities commensurate with its national strength in the international community, and become a country which is relied upon internationally. The most pressing issues we are facing are the continuation of the Maritime Self-Defense Forcefs support activities in the Indian Ocean and the early resolution of issues related to North Korea.
The support activities based on the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law are part of the international communityfs joint efforts to prevent the proliferation of terrorists. They serve the national interests of Japan which depends on maritime transportation for much of its natural resources, and also constitute the responsibilities that Japan should fulfill in the international community. They are highly appreciated by the international community including the U.N., and we have received specific requests to continue these activities from various countries. We will continue to make our utmost efforts to explain in detail the necessity of continuing these activities to the people and the Diet, so as to gain their kind understanding.
The resolution of issues related to the Korean Peninsula is indispensable for peace and stability in Asia. For the denuclearization of North Korea, we will further strengthen coordination with the international community, through fora such as the Six-Party Talks. The abduction issue is a serious human rights issue. We will exert our maximum efforts to realize the earliest return of all the abductees, settle the gunfortunate past,h and normalize the relations between Japan and North Korea.
The Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of Japanfs diplomacy, and we will work to further consolidate our relationship of trust. We will steadily implement the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan, based on the idea of maintaining deterrence and reducing burdens, while listening closely to the earnest voices of local communities including Okinawa, and exerting our best efforts to promote the development of these communities.
It is truly regrettable that a Japanese citizen was killed in Myanmar where the situation became deteriorated. Though Asia is achieving remarkable growth, it also contains such a vulnerability. We will promote active diplomacy toward Asia, so that the consolidation of the Japan-U.S. alliance and the promotion of diplomacy toward Asia will make a resonance and stability and growth will take root in all Asian countries.
With China, we will establish a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests, and work together to contribute to the peace and stability in Asia. With South Korea, we will further strengthen a future-oriented relationship of trust. With the ASEAN and other countries, we will promote our endeavors, such as economic partnerships, toward further strengthening of our relationships. With Russia, we will endeavor patiently toward resolution of the Northern Territories issue, while striving to promote exchanges between the two countries.
In order to be able to make further contribution to the international community, we will pursue U.N. Security Council reform and permanent membership on the Security Council, and strive for an early conclusion of the WTO Doha Round negotiations. Based on the principle of gself-reliance and mutual cooperation,h we will actively promote assistance on issues such as global environment and poverty by utilizing Official Development Assistance, etc., while maintaining the principle of self-help.
(Conclusion --- Toward a Society of Self-Reliance and Mutual Cooperation)
Even though Japan has come out of the recent stagnant economic situation, it is still undergoing great changes of the times, and faces unclear prospects and uncertainties in various areas spanning from economic, social, international situations to the natural environment. I am sure that not few people are having various anxieties about themselves, their families and the future of their children.
Under such an insecure situation, it is my duty to take the helm of the country and present a broad vision by turning our thoughts to future generations and safeguarding what should be safeguarded, nurturing what should be nurtured, and inheriting what should be inherited.
I will continue to advance reforms from the peoplefs perspective, by fixing my eyes on the vision of Japanfs future, and always considering how best to approach that vision.
In continuing to advance reforms, I will implement policies based on the principle of gself-reliance and mutual cooperation.h I will conduct politics with warm compassion, based on the concept that it is necessary for the young and elderly people, big companies and small and medium enterprises, and cities and rural areas, to respect each other, and support and help each other, while maintaining the principle of self-help. I am convinced that this will lead us to a country of ghope and reassurance,h where the young people have hope for the future and the elderly people have a sense of reassurance. I will give all that I possess and make endeavors, so that we can overcome the fierce currents of the times with the entire nation, and feel for ourselves that we are making steady steps along the path to the future.
I would like to ask from the bottom of my heart for the understanding and cooperation of the entire nation as well as all the members of the Diet.