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Speeches and Statements by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

(Provisional translation)

New Year's Reflection by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

January 1, 2004

Let me first of all wish you a Happy New Year.

Since my appointment as Prime Minister of Japan, I have pressed forward with structural reforms under the basic policy of "without reform there will be no growth." I believe that the responsibility of the Koizumi Cabinet is to nurture the "buds" of reform@ into a "large tree." I will advance reforms with firm resolve while solemnly accepting the trust given by the people of Japan.

Toward realization of structural reform, the Fiscal 2004 Budget incorporates concrete plans, including the sustainable social security system and "reform package of three issues": elimination or reduction of state subsidies; review of local allocation taxes; and transfer of tax revenue sources to local governments. I will compile concrete plans for the privatization of four highway public corporations from fiscal year 2005 and privatization of postal services.

The reform is steadily making strides forward. Although the employment situation is continuously severe, the economic growth rate has been positive in real terms for 18 consecutive months, and corporate revenues and capital investment have also shown improvement. These promising signs must be extended into the small and medium-sized enterprises and local economies. I will accelerate the reform in the area of finance, tax system, regulations and expenditure, and overcome deflation and revitalize the economy by drawing on the vigor of the private sector and motivation of the localities.

With regard to foreign policy, I have advanced the foreign and security policies which seek the national interest of Japan while placing emphasis on international coordination and the Japan-US alliance. As proudly stipulated in the preamble of the Constitution of Japan, "We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth." I am well aware that the current conditions in Iraq are severe one. Still, for the purpose of humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq, Japan, as a responsible member of the international community, will provide not only financial assistance, but also personnel assistance, including the dispatch of Self Defense Forces (SDF), while giving full consideration to securing their safety.

Despite the various hardships during the long history of Japan, our predecessors have made way into new ages with courage and hope. New challenges cannot be created from pessimism. It is now when the "buds" of structural reform are finally coming to be seen that we must further advance reform by believing in latent potential and possibility of Japan and create a bright future.

I ask for understanding and support of the people of Japan in these endeavors. I hope each and every one will have a wonderful, fruitful and fulfilling year 2004.