Policy Speech by Prime Minister Naoto Kan
Honourable members of the Diet, fellow citizens, I am Naoto Kan. I have been designated by the Diet to assume the grave responsibilities of the Prime Minister. I am resolved to do everything in my power to meet the nation's expectations.
(Restoring Trust to Begin Anew)
Last summer, a change of government was brought about by a strong sense of yearning among many people to clear away the feeling of being caught in an impasse which has long plagued our country. But the hopes initially placed in our new government were seriously shaken in the succeeding months due to issues of "politics and money" and the confusion surrounding the relocation of the Futenma Air Station. As a member of the previous Cabinet, I am acutely conscious of the responsibility that I share for failing to avert this turn of events. Former Prime Minister [Yukio] Hatoyama frankly admitted the problems concerning himself and former Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Japan [Ichiro] Ozawa regarding "politics and money", also accepted he was at fault on the Futenma issue, and stepped down in order to take responsibility.
As the helm of government passes to me in the wake of my predecessor's courageous decision, I believe my greatest duty is to return to the origins of that historic change of government, overcome our recent setbacks and regain the trust of the Japanese people.
(My Start in Politics from Grassroots Activities)
My own involvement in politics began more than thirty years ago, when I lent my support to the late Fusae Ichikawa in her election campaign for the House of Councillors. I served as manager of a campaign that had its roots in a grassroots civic movement. We conducted a genuine grassroots campaign, which consisted for example of caravans of young volunteers travelling the length of the country in jeeps. And one of the first things Ms Ichikawa did after winning the election was to call on Keidanren Chairman [Toshio] Doko in the company of [then Diet member] Yukio Aoshima and to secure a commitment to halt Keidanren's practice of using its influence on its member companies to have them make political donations. Although the promise was later eviscerated, Keidanren decided this year to suspend its organisational involvement in political donations by the corporate sector. I learnt that one vote really can make a difference, and this unforgettable experience became the point of departure of my own approach to politics. Politics can be changed by the power of the people. I will fully discharge my duties with this conviction in mind.
(Entering Politics without an Electoral Base)
I was born in the city of Ube in Yamaguchi Prefecture. When I was in high school my father, a corporate engineer, was transferred to Tokyo. No corporate employee could buy a home in Tokyo without going into debt. The glimpses I had of my father's hardship would later inspire me to tackle land issues in urban areas. After graduating from university, I became involved in the civic movement while working in a patent office. Two years after working in Ms Ichikawa's campaign, I made my first bid for national office in the so-called Lockheed election [of 1976]. On the occasion of my first election bid, I wrote two papers titled "Nothing Good Can Come from Negativism" and "Don't Give Up the Fight for Participatory Democracy", pointing out the need to restore the sentiments and common values of the Japanese people to politics through participatory democracy. After three failed bids, I was finally elected in 1980. My career in the Diet was launched from the platform of a mini-party. Like myself, many of my DPJ colleagues in the Diet entered politics as young men and women on their own, with no funds or electoral base. It's possible to play to a part in politics if you have the motivation and make the necessary effort. This is the kind of politics we should seek to achieve.
(Towards True Popular Sovereignty)
My fundamental political conviction is to achieve true popular sovereignty in which the people participate in the political process. The source of this conviction is the concept of "civic autonomy" that I learnt from Professor Keiichi Matsushita, the political scientist. In Japan the idea that civil servants should be in charge of public administration under a "bureaucratic-cabinet system" has long held sway. But the Japanese Constitution stipulates that the Cabinet is to be formed by the Prime Minister, who is designated by Diet members who are in turn chosen by the public. As Professor Matsushita argued, our government is supposed to be a "Diet-Cabinet system". Political leadership really means that the party(ies) that has the support of the majority of the people should work hand in hand with the Cabinet to implement public policy. Through such leadership, we need to reform the system whereby government is effectively run by bureaucrats. National politics through popular governance, achieved by enabling people to participate actively in government through the medium of a party that is wide open to the public, is the goal for which I will strive.
(Policy Agenda of the New Cabinet)
The three key items on this Cabinet's policy agenda are: an exhaustive clean-up of post-war government; reviving the economy, rebuilding public finances and turning the social security system around in an integral manner; and a foreign and security policy grounded in a sense of responsibility.
The foremost policy challenge is to continue the reforms that started with last year's change of government. The Hatoyama Cabinet worked unflinchingly on a review of government programmes (jigyou shiwake) and a reform of the system of national civil servants, neither of which had been undertaken successfully by previous administrations, as an exhaustive clean-up of post-war government policies. However, we are only half done. We must continue the reforms pledged to the public and follow through on them. Reform will evoke objections and resistance. Should we let up in our efforts, reforms will be eviscerated and we may even regress. We shall push forward with reforms through politicians taking the initiative, never turning back the hands of the clock.
(Stamping out waste and scrutinising public administration)
First of all we shall further reinforce the elimination of waste that has been underway. Under the Hatoyama Cabinet, a review of government programmes was carried out twice, once last year and again this year. The budget formulation process and the operations of independent administrative corporations and other public-sector corporations, which until now had been outside the scope of public view, have been confirmed one by one in full view of the public, massively improving the transparency of public administration. We shall maintain these efforts in order effectively to utilise the government's limited human resources and budget.
We shall also continue to review governmental organisations and the system of national civil servants. We will eliminate vertical segmentation within ministries and agencies and enhance government functions, while also implementing full-scale efforts in such areas as the banning amakudari (golden parachuting) by national civil servants.
I will also work to break down the "closed door" nature of the government. In 1996, as the Minister of Health and Welfare, I took on the issue of AIDS infection arising through tainted blood products. At the time, officials at the Ministry of Health and Welfare continued to maintain that relevant documents could not be found. I gave strict orders to investigate and as a result the existence of the documents came to light. This public disclosure of information led to clarification of the issue and redress for the sufferers. I more than anyone else am acutely aware of the importance of information disclosure. As the Minister of Finance in the Hatoyama Cabinet, I worked with the Minister for Foreign Affairs to elucidate the existence of secret agreements between Japan and the United States. I will continue to take this stance into the future, including by considering a revision of the law on information disclosure ("Law Concerning Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs").
(Promoting regional sovereignty and postal reform)
I will also endeavour to establish regional sovereignty. Uniform administration policies under centralised state authority limit the ability to carry out policies that are well adapted to the diversity among local areas. A thorough establishment of regional sovereignty is essential if we are to bring about government which enjoys the participation of local residents. We are now at the point of moving from a discussion on the generalities to taking up the particulars. I intend to proceed with the transfer of legal authority and financial resources in a well-considered manner after speaking with persons in the regions face to face and bearing in mind the requests of individual areas. On that basis, I intend to put forth concrete conclusions in each field of public administration for each region, making use of inter alia a system of special administrative zones.
As for postal services, we will enact expeditiously a bill on postal reforms on the basis of the [coalition] agreement between the Democratic Party of Japan and the People's New Party [signed on 4 June] in order to provide the basic services of the post office all around the country in an integrated manner and restructure the current managerial configuration.
As the second policy challenge, we will revive the economy, rebuild public finances and turn the social security system around, in order to build a society whose people can hold hope for their future. The Japanese economy has remained stagnant for nearly twenty years since the bubble economy burst at the beginning of the 1990s. As a result the people have lost their former self-confidence and are downcast in vague unease about the future. It is the job of the new Cabinet to fulfil the hopes of the people, who want us to extricate the country from the impasse. This effort will be based on a new blueprint, which may be called the "Third Approach".
(Reviving the Economy through the "Third Approach")
Economic policy over the past two decades has been conducted in line with the thinking of what I call the "First Approach" and the "Second Approach". The "First Approach" is economic policy centring on public works. In the period of rapid economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s, improvements in roads, seaports, airports and other facilities led to increased productivity and powered economic growth. But in the 1980s, when basic infrastructure was in place, the connection between this investment [in public works] and economic effects broke down, and from the 1990s on the picture became completely different. Most of the public works on which tremendous amounts were spent over the years following the collapse of the bubble economy did not produce effective results.
Then, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, economic policy was conducted with an emphasis on productivity, grounded in excessive market fundamentalism and overly slanted towards the supply side. This is the "Second Approach". This policy could be considered appropriate from the perspective of a single business enterprise. If a company implements bold restructuring measures in decisive fashion, and thereby restores its business performance, its chief executive would win acclaim. If, however, we look at the whole country, we find that this policy drove many people from their jobs, made people's livelihoods even more strapped, and aggravated deflation. The point is that an enterprise can restructure and lay off employees, but a country cannot restructure and lay off its people. We must support the improvement of productivity, but at the same time it is all the more important to expand demand and employment. The failure to do so has caused people to become strongly aware of widening gaps and led to a sharp rise in overall social unease, as typified by haken-mura, the impromptu tent city that sprung up in Hibiya Park [in central Tokyo] two years ago.
The economy has continued to be stagnant because of the pursuit of economic policies that did not match the changes in the structure of industry and of society. Learning from this past failure, we are pursuing the "Third Approach" as a policy that matches current conditions. This policy aims to turn the problems besetting the economy and society into opportunities for creating new demand and employment, and to link them to new forms of growth. The main causes of the impasse that has persisted until the present are the stagnant economy, the swelling fiscal deficit and the loss of confidence in the social security system. The new Cabinet is determined to exert strong political leadership in order to bring about "a strong economy", "robust public finances" and "a strong social security system" in an integral manner.
(Achieving a "Strong Economy")
The first task is to achieve a "strong economy". The financial crisis of 2008 delivered a direct blow to the Japanese economy, which was overly dependent on external demand, causing deeper damage than to other countries. Achieving a strong economy requires the creation of stable demand both domestically and externally as well as the establishment an economic structure enabling wealth to be widely circulated.
How should demand be created? The key is to have a "problem-solving" national strategy. Many new problems have emerged in the modern economy and in modern society. We need to confront each issue head-on and present prescriptions for them so as to generate new demand and jobs. Based on this idea, the New Growth Strategy that we have been studying since last year under my responsibility has identified such growth areas as "green innovation", "life innovation", "the Asian economy" and "tourism and the regions". And as supporting platforms, we will be implementing strategies in "science and technology" as well as in "employment and human resources".
Former Prime Minister [Yukio] Hatoyama devoted much effort to the first area, "green innovation". Measures to combat global warming, such as the 25 percent reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, are included. There are many other promising areas, including those relating to the preservation of biodiversity, and the water-supply industry which is indispensable for human survival. These are also areas where there is enormous potential for demand. We can look forward to the development of new technologies and businesses in sectors like transport, those related to daily life, energy - including nuclear energy - and even urban development.
We will make Japan a leader in the health of its citizens through the second growth area, "life innovation". Raising children safely and leading healthy lives in one's old age are ever-present concerns. Presenting prescriptions so that these wishes can come true will create new economic value and new jobs.
The third is an "Asian economic strategy". Many parts of Asia, which is continuing to mark rapid growth, are confronted with challenges concerning urbanisation, industrialisation and accompanying environmental problems. There are also concerns about falling birth-rates and the ageing of society. These countries will need to improve their social infrastructure, such as railways, roads, power supply and waterworks - areas that are more or less at sufficient levels in Japan. Japan will be able to meet new demand in Asian markets by presenting models of how these challenges can be overcome, before other countries do so. In order to capture such demand, we will strengthen exchanges with the peoples of foreign countries, improve infrastructure to reinforce hub functions [of airports], carry out regulatory reforms and support the overseas expansion of small and medium-sized enterprises.
In the fourth area of "strategies to make Japan a tourism-oriented country and revitalise local areas", promoting tourism using Japan's cultural heritage and natural beauty can be instrumental to the economic revitalisation of the regions. Already, the conditions for the issuance of visas have been drastically relaxed under the Hatoyama Cabinet in order to increase the number of tourists from China.
If agricultural, mountainous and fishing villages are able to handle production, processing and distribution on their own in an integral manner, and thus generate new added value, this would generate local employment and nurture healthy local communities in which to bear and rear children. Developing agriculture, forestry and fisheries as core industries in the regions would also contribute to raising Japan's ratio of food self-sufficiency. In particular, forestry will play a new role in a low-carbon society. The trees that were planted after the end of World War II have now grown tall, and it is now a good opportunity to revitalise the forest industry by creating new transport road networks and other measures. The introduction of the individual household income support system and other policies for agriculture, forestry and fisheries shall be advanced from this perspective. Even as I speak, livestock farmers in Miyazaki Prefecture are nervously looking after the cattle and pigs that they have lovingly raised like their own children. The local people are fighting furiously to halt the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. The government is making an all-out effort to prevent the spread of infection, and shall take full measures to support the livelihoods of affected farmers and to help them rebuild their businesses.
In order to revitalise the regions, we will take a strategic approach which utilises the know-how and resources of the private sector in order to develop social infrastructure which is truly necessary. We shall also support small and medium-sized companies brimming with entrepreneurship.
To support these growth areas, the strengths in science and technology that Japan has nurtured over the years will be reinforced in line with "strategies in science and technology", the fifth area. We will undertake regulatory reforms and review support mechanisms so as to encourage effective and efficient technological development. The education environment will be improved so that young people, who will become the country's leaders of tomorrow, can follow their dreams and pursue the path of science; and the research environment will also be enhanced to attract outstanding researchers from around the world. The utilisation of intellectual property as well as information and communication technologies, which can serve as a springboard for new innovation, will also be advanced.
Under the sixth area of "employment and human resources strategies", we will promote human resource development in the new growth areas. To overcome the limitations of a diminishing working population, brought about by a falling birth-rate and an ageing population, we will seek to increase the labour force participation rate of young people, women and senior citizens. We will also aim to secure stable employment, including for those in non-permanent positions, to promote practical vocational training in fields centred on the new growth areas, reflecting the changes in the industrial structure, and to enable all to engage in "decent work" which is dignified and rewarding. We will promote a society with gender equality by firmly creating an environment in which women will have greater opportunities to exert their abilities.
Human resources are the driving force of growth. A robust reservoir of human resources will be formed by enhancing the skills of individual citizens through education, sports, culture and other fields.
The "New Growth Strategy" incorporating concrete measures in these areas will be completed and announced this month. Through cooperation between government and the private sector, efforts will be launched to achieve a "strong economy" capable of registering average annual growth of more than 3 percent in nominal terms, or 2 percent in real terms, by fiscal 2020. Casting off deflation will be our immediate priority, and the government will work as one with the Bank of Japan to launch vigorous and comprehensive policy efforts.
("Robust Public Finances" by Restoring Fiscal Health)
Next is creating robust public finances. In an economic climate where there is stagnant private-sector consumption, there is generally a certain amount of logic to an economic policy of issuing government bonds to absorb savings and to compensate for the fall in private demand through public spending. In Japan, however, owing to a large number of expensive public works projects and tax cuts, chiefly in the 1990s, as well as the steep increase in social security costs as a result of our rapidly ageing society, the state of Japan's public finances is now dire, being the worst of any developed country. Fiscal policy which relies excessively on deficit bond issuance is no longer sustainable. As seen in the instability in the eurozone which originated in Greece, we risk fiscal collapse if we neglect mounting public debt and lose confidence in the bond markets.
The scale of Japan's outstanding debt is enormous, and will not vanish overnight. This is why it is vital to start right away on fundamental reforms leading to fiscal health. In concrete terms, the first step will be the forceful promotion of measures to eradicate wasteful spending. Next, we will move steadily to implement a growth strategy. In formulating budgets, we will set our priorities based on yardsticks which include the degree to which expenditure items contribute to growth and job creation. This will allow us to achieve economic growth targets and to build healthy public finances through increased tax revenues.
In addition to eradicating wasteful spending and preparing budgets which promote economic growth, a thorough reform of the taxation system must be commenced in order to improve the critical situation of Japan's public finances. If we continue to issue government bonds at current levels, the ratio of public debt to GDP will exceed 200 per cent within a few years. To avoid such a situation, we urgently need to draw up a total picture of the taxation system of the future.
Working from this perspective, and looking squarely at future economic prospects, the Hatoyama Cabinet has been conducting studies on a Medium-term Fiscal Framework and a Fiscal Management Strategy which clarifies medium- to long-term fiscal discipline. I, too, have been taking part in these studies, which will be completed by the end of this month. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democratic Party submitted a Bill on the Responsibility to Restore Fiscal Health during the present session of the Diet.
Here, I have a proposal to make. I believe we need to have a national debate that transcends the lines dividing ruling and opposition parties on this vitally important issue which affects our country's future. We should create a nonpartisan "Conference to Consider Restoring Fiscal Health", consisting of Diet members who understand the critical importance of building healthy public finances, and work together to advance constructive debate.
(Building a "Strong Social Security System")
In addition to the strong economy and robust public finances I referred to earlier, we will also work to build a strong social security system.
In the past, people have emphasised the burdensome aspects of social security in the context of a decreasing childbirth rate and an ageing society, and there has been a tendency to regard social security as something that hinders economic growth. That is not my position. If people are anxious about or distrustful of the social security system --whether it be about medical treatment or nursing care, pensions or child rearing--they will lack the confidence to allocate their money to consumption. Additionally, many aspects of social security can bring about growth by creating employment. Experience abroad shows that enhancing social security can create employment and at the same time lead to growth.
The view that the economy, public finances and social security are opposed to one another needs to be turned on its head. We should rather see that they exist in a mutually beneficial, "win-win" relationship. Based on this view, we will make "life innovation" a priority in our new growth strategy and make a strong social security system a goal of our growth strategy. Through the inherent function of fiscal policy, our efforts to restore fiscal health will secure stability in the social security system, providing reassurance to the people and leading to sustainable growth.
In order to provide robust social security along these lines and to present a model for a Japan that can overcome the problems of a declining birth-rate and an ageing society, we will implement reforms to rebuild the various parts of the social security system. With regard to the pensions system, it is imperative that we do our utmost concerning the issue of missing records and to construct a system which is suited to our modern society. In order to start a national, bipartisan debate on this issue, we will present some fundamental principles for a new pension system. We will also work to rebuild the medical system, and to secure medical care that inspires confidence. We will likewise work to set up nursing care services which can be used with peace of mind. Enhancing our system of child-rearing support is another issue that cannot wait. In addition to the child allowance, the entire government will work cohesively to provide fully-fledged child-care services by ensuring that children are no longer left waiting for nursery places and by uniting the systems of kindergartens and nursery schools.
In addition, in order to improve the level of service in social security and other fields, and for the purpose of giving priority to those most in need in providing social security, we need to bolster the basics of the system, including by introducing a system of social security numbers. In the near future, we will present the Japanese people with concrete options as we move towards introducing a number system for social security and taxation.
(A Society Inclusive of Every Single Person)
Besides the measures I have mentioned, another priority for me is working to counteract the new social risk of isolation. Since the year before last, I have been involved, together with Mr Makoto Yuasa, secretary-general of Anti-Poverty Network, an NPO, in efforts to provide support to people facing poverty and adversity at such places as haken-mura. These activities made me remember that there are two meanings to the word "homeless". The first describes a person who is "house-less", without a place to live in the physical sense. But there is a second, more important sense of the word, which is the state of a person not having any family members to lend their support in times of hardship. No one can go through life alone. When people suffer troubles, setbacks, and collapse, it is only through the support of those around them that they are able to get back on their feet again. In Japan, it used to be families, local communities and companies that performed this function. But these traditional sources of support are rapidly being lost, and social exclusion and disparities are increasing. Whether young people sleeping in Internet cafes or elderly people living alone and cut off from their community, isolation is a problem that affects rapidly increasing numbers of people: young and old, men and women. For the strong, this liberation from old fetters may mean greater freedom - but for the weak, they risk having to live out their final days alone.
I identify closely with the ethos of "personal support" espoused by Mr Yuasa and others like him. In this approach, a specialist personal supporter is on hand to give advice when needed to people facing adversity for a variety of reasons, providing the necessary assistance in a personal and continuous way that transcends the vertical segmentation of systems and frameworks. While more needs to be done to concentrate public offices [which provide social services] physically into a one-stop service office, there are obvious limits in terms of time and space. Personal support offering "lending-hand- and escort-runner-type" services can go beyond these limitations by providing a one-stop service provided by individual people. By means of such efforts, linked together with a variety of related organisations and social resources, we will aim to bring about a society that is inclusive of every single person, in which no one is excluded from mutual support networks, not just in employment, but also in providing welfare for the handicapped and elderly, protecting human rights, and as part of our efforts to do something about the more than 30,000 people who take their own lives each year. The New Public Commons on which former Prime Minster Hatoyama worked so hard will also help to increase the potential of such activities. Government agencies and public employees alone cannot be responsible for providing social services as they have been in the past. We will support the efforts of local people who participate in the spirit of mutual aid in such activities as education and child-rearing, community building, crime and disaster prevention, medical treatment and nursing care as well as consumer protection.
(Foreign policy grounded in the public's sense of responsibility)
The third policy challenge is that of foreign policy and national security policy grounded in a sense of responsibility.
In my youth, I debated international politics based not on ideology but on pragmatism. I took part in many study group sessions held under the aegis of Professor Younosuke Nagai, who wrote the masterpiece Heiwa no Daishou ("The Price of Peace"). How should our foreign policy be in order for Japan to "occupy an honoured place in... international society", as stated in the preamble of the Constitution? Through discussions with Professor Nagai I learnt that foreign policy cannot be constructed merely by reacting passively to that of other nations. In what fashion do we wish to shape Japan? Are we prepared to pay a price at times for the sake of our nation? I believe that each member of the public should be aware of this responsibility, and that foreign policy should be conducted against that backdrop.
Today, the international society faces major changes that can be likened to a tectonic shift. The changes extend not only to economic but also foreign policy and military fields. In this situation, we must clarify our position [in the international community] and pursue a foreign policy based on "balanced pragmatism".
(Basic ideas on foreign policy and national security policy)
Japan is a maritime nation bordering the Pacific Ocean and is at the same time an Asian nation. I will conduct Japan's foreign policy with this duality in mind. In concrete terms, the Japan-US alliance will be the cornerstone of our diplomacy while at the same time I will reinforce our partnerships with Asian countries.
The Japan-US alliance can be said to be an internationally shared asset, in that it supports not only the defence of Japan but also the stability and prosperity of Asia and the Pacific region. I will continue to deepen our alliance steadily.
With respect to our neighbouring countries, which are mostly in Asia, we will strengthen our relations with them in various fields such as the political, economic and cultural spheres, and in the future we shall seek to bring about an East Asian community. With China, we shall deepen our mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests, while with the Republic of Korea we shall forge a future-oriented partnership. In Japan-Russia relations we will advance relations by treating politics and economics as two wheels on the same axle, and in this context work vigorously in order to resolve the issue of the Northern Territories, the biggest outstanding issue in Japan-Russia relations, and thereby conclude a peace treaty. We will enhance our partnerships still further with the countries of ASEAN, India and others. This autumn I will play an active role as chair of the APEC summit to be held in Yokohama. We will continue to move forward with economic partnership agreements (EPAs) and regional economic partnerships in an integral manner with domestic institutional reforms.
Japan will also play an active role in the area of global issues. Japan will take the lead in international negotiations on climate change issues in cooperation with the United States, the EU and the United Nations in working towards COP16, so as to establish a fair and effective international framework in which all major economies participate. This autumn, at COP10, to be held in Nagoya, we will advance international efforts to preserve biological diversity. Japan will stand at the forefront in exerting leadership to bring about a "world free of nuclear weapons". We will continue our reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan and our assistance to Africa in accordance with the pledges made at TICAD IV while making all-out efforts for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Concerning North Korea, the incident concerning the sinking of the Republic of Korea patrol vessel cannot be condoned. It is necessary to support the ROK in every way and to deal with the incident resolutely as the entire international community. Japan seeks to normalise relations with North Korea, through a comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern with North Korea including the abduction, nuclear and missile issues and a settlement of the "unfortunate past". With regard to the abduction issue, we will do our utmost as a matter of the government's responsibility in order to bring all the victims back to Japan as soon as possible. Japan is working for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution with Iran, which continues to violate United Nations Security Council resolutions [concerning its nuclear programme].
From the perspective of responding to the international security environment, I will review the state of Japan's defence capabilities and also within this year announce a plan for reviewing the National Defence Programme Guidelines and the next Mid-Term Defence Programme.
(Relocation of Futenma Air Station)
U.S. military bases are concentrated in Okinawa, and we have the people of Okinawa bearing a substantial burden. We must without fail bring about the relocation and return of the Futenma military base and the transfer of a portion of the U.S. Marines to Guam.
Regarding this issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station, I am resolved to undertake in a thorough manner a reduction of the burden on Okinawa in line with the Japan-U.S. agreement reached at the end of May and also as underlined in the relevant Cabinet Decision.
Okinawa is a region which has nurtured a unique culture and a region of which Japan should be proud. This same Okinawa also endured the largest ground battle [in Japan] during the last world war, resulting in a heavy loss of life. On 23 June, the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the Sixty-fifth Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa will be held. I intend to begin my work for the future of Okinawa by taking part in this ceremony and recalling the tragedy that struck Okinawa.
As I have said, the mission of my government is to break through the impasse that has lasted nearly twenty years and restore Japan as a vigorous country. In this policy speech I have outlined the path we will follow. The remaining question is whether we can carry out our plans.
The lack of political leadership was the main reason why reforms in Japan, which included targets at the national level, fell short in the past. Although there may have been politics representing the interests of individual groups and particular regions, there was a lack of the kind of major political leadership which considers the future of the country as a whole and pushes ahead with reforms. Leadership of this kind is not born of individual politicians or political parties alone. Whether I am able to demonstrate such leadership depends on whether I indicate a clear vision for Japan to my fellow citizens and whether they place their trust in me and give me the go-ahead to carry out this vision.
Today's speech marks the first of a series of occasions when I will present my vision. I sincerely hope you will concur with the vision I present and place your trust in me. In closing this policy speech, I sincerely ask for the support of my fellow citizens as I work to serve as a prime minister with true leadership.