Policy Speech By Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori To The 149th Session Of The Diet

28 July 2000


As the 149th Session of the Diet opens, I would like at the outset to offer a prayer for the deceased and to express my heartfelt sympathy to those whose lives have been inconvenienced and filled with insecurity because of the volcanic eruption of Mt. Usu and the earthquakes in the Izu islands. We shall continue to conduct monitoring activities with the deepest caution, and I pledge to exert every effort in providing assistance for the daily lives of all affected by the disasters and formulating measures for rehabilitation and restoration, including the use of reserve fund for public works projects.

In the recent general elections, the tripartite coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party, the New Komeito, and the New Conservative Party claimed an outright stable majority of seats in the House of Representatives. I perceive this to mean that the people of Japan have placed their trust in the tripartite government and as a sign of encouragement for the Government as it strives to address the administration of the State. At the same time, however, it is true that there has been harsh assessment of Japanese politics from the Japanese people, which we must humbly listen to, and as such it is incumbent upon this Government to respond to their demands.

In reassuming the important responsibility of Prime Minister, I am determined to channel all my efforts into addressing and finding answers to the challenges we face today for the sake of our future Japan, based upon the notion of "no time for rest in politics."

Five months remain until the dawning of the 21st century. We must look back upon the 20th century to formulate firm prospects for the 21st century. Since the end of the Second World War, Japan has raised the banner of peace and accomplished miraculous economic growth as a result of the strenuous labors of our predecessors, thereby realizing prosperous lives for the people of Japan. However, amidst a whirlwind of change in which economic activities are becoming ever more borderless and information travels across the globe in an instant, the systems that served as the engine for Japan's prosperity are becoming obsolete, with deficiencies appearing and signs emerging that they can no longer respond to the demands of the age. Further, in the over-pursuit of material prosperity, issues of the heart are being neglected, with new phenomena occurring on a daily basis in which "enrichment of the mind" is nowhere to be found. This is a major problem that we cannot pass over.

Ever mindful of the determination and efforts of our predecessors, we must build a nation for the new century: one that firmly secures trust as a nation of peace, one that exercises a central role in the world from the perspective of economy and science and technology, and one whose people lead enriched lives.

Shying away from resolving the issues will be unacceptable. As expressed in the words of our predecessors, "If you do not step forward, you will never get anywhere." I will work with new resolve toward effecting the "rebirth of Japan," set a dynamic course and aim to realize a "Japanese frontier" assuming an honorable position in the international community.

I would like today to report on the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit and to outline my policies with respect to domestic and foreign policy issues, focusing on the Japan Rebirth Plan. In this regard, I ask for the understanding and cooperation of the people of Japan and the members of the Diet.

Report on the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit

The late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's great passion for Okinawa culminated in his decision to hold a Summit in Okinawa. At the Summit, which I chaired, G8 Leaders discussed what we should do to ensure that all people can enjoy greater prosperity, deeper peace of mind, and live in a world of greater stability. We issued a positive and powerful message for peace from Okinawa, enabling us to throw open the door to the 21st century.

Positioning IT, a key to prosperity in the 21st century, as a central theme for the Summit, G8 Leaders engaged in substantive discussions and called on the world to further promote IT as set out in the Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society. On the issue of development, we agreed in particular to strengthen cooperation toward poverty reduction and combating infectious diseases. Japan will actively take the initiative in these areas, for example by providing the recently announced assistance package amounting to a total of around US$18 billion. On trade, having gathered together the various views of the G8 leaders, we agreed to intensify our close and fruitful cooperation in order to try to launch a new round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations with an inclusive agenda during the course of this year.

Various issues were taken up from the perspective of "peace of mind," including crime and food safety, on which we engaged in a frank and unreserved exchange of views.

Befitting a Summit Meeting hosted in Asia, with regard to world stability, we issued a special statement fully supporting the recent positive developments on the Korean Peninsula, enabling us to stress to the world the importance of issues on the Peninsula. Further, with respect to the Middle East peace negotiations, upon which President Bill Clinton had been focusing his efforts directly prior to the Summit Meeting, although unfortunately an agreement was not reached recently, Japan, together with the other G8 members, will continue to give our utmost support to negotiation efforts.

In order to play a key role in resolving the vast number of issues facing the world as globalization proceeds apace, it is vital that the G8 further enhance dialogue with non-G8 countries, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other groups. Based on such a philosophy, prior to the Summit Meeting and as a first-time experiment I conducted an exchange of views with the Presidents of Nigeria and South Africa, respective Chairs of the G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the President of Algeria, mandated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Prime Minister of Thailand, Chair of the Tenth Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD X) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and representatives of international organizations, NGOs and other groups. I introduced these views in the Summit Meeting. In considering the modality for future Summit Meetings, the G8 leaders each highly commended the meeting as very valuable.

I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the citizens of Fukuoka, Miyazaki and Okinawa, as well as people throughout Japan, who offered enormous support and exerted tremendous efforts toward the hosting of the Summit Meeting. In particular, in Nago City, the venue for the Summit Meeting, and the municipalities which the G8 leaders visited, the local communities were united in their welcome for leaders. Indeed, the leaders themselves expressed moving words and extended their deepest gratitude for the warm welcome they received in Okinawa, and for being presented with the opportunity to come into contact with Okinawa's wealth of culture and history. As a result of the Summit Meeting, the eyes of the world focused their attention on Okinawa and the spirit of Okinawa was conveyed throughout the world. It is my firm belief that the efforts of the people of Okinawa ensured that late Prime Minister Obuchi's vision was fully realized. It is my great hope that raising the profile of "Okinawa" around the world will serve to stimulate the further development of Okinawa in a number of different ways.

Japan Rebirth Plan

When I assumed the office of Prime Minister in April this year, I stated to the people of Japan that I would exert efforts toward effecting a "rebirth of Japan" aimed at achieving "a nation of people who live in security embracing our dreams for the future," "a nation of beauty rich in spirit" and "a nation that engenders the trust of the world." Founding my policies upon the Japan Rebirth Plan, a reform program for the next generation, I shall boldly and accurately work toward such an achievement.

Rebirth of the Economy

The first pillar of the Japan Rebirth Plan is a "rebirth of the economy."

As a result of policy management to date, Japan's economy has started to show ever brighter signs, evidenced by the fact that for the first time in three years, real economic growth for FY1999 has reached positive territory. However, growth has varied by industry and region with some remaining in a lackluster state and, in addition, employment and individual consumption have yet to surmount a state of severe economic stricture. Having decided to make use of the reserve fund for public works, I will continue to exert all efforts into ensuring that economic and financial management centered around economic recovery will put the economy on a track to self-sustained recovery.

Furthermore, in order to promptly and boldly address economic structural reforms, in addition to formulating a new economic policy focusing on four areas, including the "promotion of the IT revolution," I have established the IT Strategy Council and the Industrial Rebirth Council.

The industrial and social structural changes we are witnessing on a global scale, brought about by the application of advanced information and communications technologies, otherwise known as the "IT revolution," are, I believe, the trigger for a rebirth of the economy and something that will greatly transform social activities in a short period. I will personally demonstrate leadership in order to realize a "Japanese IT society" in which everyone, from children to the elderly, will be able to enjoy the benefits of IT. The response to the IT revolution requires us to boldly and speedily challenge the changes taking place. In order to enhance the staff functions of the IT Strategy Headquarters, I will establish an Office of Information Technology within the Cabinet Secretariat in cooperation with the private sector and will steadily materialize the IT-related policies as measures on them are formulated. Specifically, in addition to the formulation of a national IT strategy tailored for Japan with a clarified implementation schedule and regulatory reform to promote e-commerce, the Cabinet as a whole will make efforts to promote e-government and computerization of education, as well as policies to build capacity in communications infrastructure and to protect personal information and enhance security. Furthermore, I shall endeavor to disseminate IT through such events as the holding of the Internet Fair 2001 Japan.

As we head into the 21st century, in order to build infrastructure for strong private sector demand-led economic growth, it is also of extreme urgency that we achieve a rebirth of industry. Based on the discussions of the Industrial Rebirth Council and responding to the great generational changes taking place in such areas as the IT revolution, the aging society with declining birth rates, and the environment, I shall promptly promote measures to ensure the promotion of industrial activities imbued with creativity. To make prompt management and smooth business activities possible, I shall endeavor to respond actively in areas such as reform of corporate legal structures, as well as corporate pensions, capital procurement, and the employment system. Furthermore, in the quest for a transition to a free and fair economic society which is internationally open and based on the principles of self-responsibility and the market, I shall continue to promote regulatory reform.

In addition to achieving the creation of new industries and an increase in employment, the promotion of science and technology enriches the intellectual assets of our own nation. Aiming for the realization of a "nation founded upon creativity in science and technology," I will vigorously address the priority advancement of research and development in cutting-edge sectors and the improvement of the research environment.

Based on the Basic Law on Promoting the Formation of a Recycling Society and others, I aim to realize a "zero waste" society by implementing a fundamental review of the modalities for a socioeconomy of mass production, mass consumption and mass waste disposal, while promoting development in those recycling industries which promote reuse and recycling of waste products, and respond to global environmental issues, including achieving the goal of reducing greenhouse gases by six per cent.

To ensure an economic rebirth for Japan, a sound financial system is of vital necessity. In this regard, I have taken into grave consideration the issues surround Sogo, which have demonstrated the importance of attaining public understanding through adequate consideration being given to clarification of management responsibility and transparency in decision-making processes. The principle of self-responsibility is the basis of corporate restructuring, and I believe it is fundamental that based on this principle the Government formulates appropriate assistance packages for reducing the impact on small- and medium-sized enterprises and employment. Taking heed of this issue and recognizing that in the process of managing financial failure through use of public funds writing off debt is not something that should be easily authorized, I intend to make an appropriate response to this situation while making adequate explanations to the public and the relevant parties concerned.

Rebirth of Social Security

The second pillar of the Japan Rebirth Plan is a "rebirth of social security."

To alleviate the concerns of the people of Japan about the future, in tandem with the rebirth of the economy, we must also rebuild the social security system, which acts as a safety net in the lives of the people of Japan, into one in which they can attach firm confidence. To this end, I have asked the Deliberative Council of Experts on Modalities for the Social Security Structure to discuss this issue, and will work to construct a sustainable, effective system for the future by horizontally and comprehensively reviewing all facets of the social security system, including pensions, medical care and nursing care from the perspective of the Japanese people, those who actually bear the burden of expenses and receive benefits.

Moving towards the realization of a "society in which every person can choose to work until the age of seventy," in addition to improving the conditions to ensure a place of work for the elderly and those with disabilities who have the volition and capability to work, I will strive to create an environment where all people can lead active and fulfilling lives through the promotion of barrier-free housing, transport and public facilities, and the promotion of "town planning where all can walk freely." I would like to see a society in which both the elderly and persons with disabilities make active use of their talents and experiences as important and active members of society.

Given the rapid deceleration in birth rates, I will make efforts to support child rearing in society as a whole, by providing and improving day care services, so that working women can leave their children with peace of mind. I will also continue to make efforts with a view to realizing a gender-equal society in which both men and women alike can share life's pleasures and responsibilities.

In addition I will promote a Medical Frontier Strategy with the aim of, through the application of advanced next-generation science and medical technologies, enabling people to conquer cancer and heart diseases and enabling people to enjoy a healthy life in their twilight years free of senility and without incapacitation.

By comprehensively promoting these measures so that they can be effectively utilized at all stages of a person's life, I shall endeavor to create a society in which all can live out their lives in physical, mental and economic independence and with peace of mind.

Rebirth of Education

The third pillar of the Japan Rebirth Plan is a "rebirth of education," in other words, educational reform.

I am truly saddened at the regular occurrences of appalling crimes perpetrated by youths and the increasing severity of truancy, disruption in the classroom and other problems. Thus, there can be no delay in moving forward with educational reform. Ensuring that the children who will play leading roles for Japan in the 21st century can grow up to become "decent, noble and honorable citizens" endowed with creativity, who recognize the importance of life, are compassionate to others, have a spirit of duty, respect Japanese culture and tradition, and nurture their affection of the nation and the region will serve as the foundation for realizing "a nation of beauty rich in spirit."

I have long felt that in order to enhance education that fosters humanity in a manner which strikes a physical, moral and intellectual balance, and to develop human resources equipped with techniques and skills that can be applied the world over, we must maintain the highest educational standards in the world.

I remember at the time of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the Nakhodka oil spill disaster seeing young people from all over Japan gather together to willingly take part in volunteer activities, and I recall being moved by the fact that these were the real young people of Japan. I believe that it is critically important to promote education that fosters humanity by introducing volunteer activities and hands-on outdoor activities. I also feel that there is a need to drastically review the Basic Law on Education, which has been in effect for the last half-century.

The National Commission on Educational Reform is currently in the process of conducting wide-ranging deliberations encompassing all areas of Japanese education with a view to submitting an interim report in September. I believe that is it essential to improve the school administration system, and, above all, that teachers should engage in their profession filled with the passionate and noble sense of mission that "it is people who teach people." I see other key issues in education as: IT education, the advancement of unified lower and upper secondary education, the promotion of university entry in September, the introduction of teacher and school evaluation systems, and the modalities for Boards of Education. I shall actively promote bold reforms on the basis of national debate.

In terms of policy to promote the sound development of children and put a stop to crimes being perpetrated by youths, I shall promptly explore measures, including a revision of the Juvenile Law, and, with national consensus, formulate the appropriate measures.

Rebirth of Government

Ensuring "a rebirth of government" will be an essential component in advancing reform toward "a rebirth of Japan."

The reform of the central ministries and agencies to be implemented on 6 January 2001 is an historical reform that will create an administrative system befitting Japan in the 21st century, and it will be a critical moment for us to pour heart and souls into the new structure from now onwards.

The realization of horizontal policy formulation and government management across the ministries and agencies that meet the needs of the people, as well as the promotion of information disclosure, the enhancement of government services and the streamlining of administration will ensure that the people of Japan can reap the benefits of reform. The Government, together with the ruling parties, will also work boldly to address further administrative reform. After the reorganization of the central ministries and agencies, I shall also earnestly examine the transfer of ministries and agencies' external organs outside Tokyo.

In the area of regulatory reform, I have already instructed the competent ministers to conduct drastic reviews in order to realize more effective administration of key social systems, including medical care and welfare, employment and education. Based on these reviews, I shall move ahead with the formulation of a Three-year Program for the Advancement of Regulatory Reform.

I shall continue to vigorously drive forward decentralization, and, as I identify necessary modalities for the basic local bodies responsible, I call on local governments to make active efforts toward system development, including integration of municipalities, and administrative and fiscal reform.

In order to further enhance the effectiveness and transparency of government, including the way we should prepare the public works budget, I shall introduce a new system for accurately evaluating the impact of the policies of individual ministries and agencies. Moreover, I shall conduct an examination into creating legislation for a policy evaluation system.

With regard to the civil service system, I shall work to enforce strict official discipline and improve ethics based on the National Civil Service Ethics Law, and shall accurately address the human resource management of government employees, for example by putting in place transparent rules for their re-employment after civil service.

In response to the continued occurrence of scandals involving the police, the Council on Police Reform, having engaged in active debate, has recently compiled a set of emergency recommendations. Taking these recommendations seriously into account, the Government of Japan will make concerted efforts toward revising the Police Law and reforming and reorganizing the police in other ways, in order to recover the faith of the Japanese people as early as possible.

I shall also take positive measures to address the reform of the judicial system from the perspective of the Japanese people, with a view to creating a system that can respond to rapid social change, and based on the deliberations of the Judicial Reform Council.

I shall exercise my own leadership in preparing the FY2001 budget, and shall take measures using new methods appropriate for the birth of the new century, taking into account the reform of the central ministries and agencies, doing away with the financial rigidity stemming from vertical budget allocation of respective ministries and agencies, and working to boost the quality and effectiveness of fiscal administration. It is for this purpose that I recently launched the Government-Ruling Parties Budget Conference between the heads of the Government and ruling parties.

Specifically, adding human resources development and welfare and care fields, with a view to creating new industry, to the three Millennium Projects involving the advancing information society, aging and the response to the environment, I shall establish a Special Budgetary Framework for the Rebirth of Japan, channeling my energies into the "IT revolution" in particular. I shall also examine a priority budget allocation for the purpose of an urban rebirth, and shall continue to afford due consideration to the new development of agricultural, forestry and fishery industries and agricultural, mountain and fishing communities.

In terms of financial structural reform, having further cemented the recovery of the Japanese economy, which has begun to show positive signs, I shall focus not only on the financial aspects, but shall strive to elaborate a vision for the Japanese socioeconomy in the 21st century and take into account the modalities for the tax system and social security, and the relationship between central and local governments.

Rebirth of Foreign Policy

Building on the astounding results of the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit Meeting, I intend to take the initiative in the substantive and creative development of foreign policy, pursuing a "rebirth of foreign policy."

With regard to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which has witnessed significant developments such as the historical North-South Summit, I will channel all my efforts into achieving the advent of a new era in Northeast Asia based on the strong message issued by the G8 in Okinawa, and working in close coordination with the United States, the Republic of Korea and other interested countries. A few days ago, the first ever meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Japan and North Korea took place. I will continue to make the maximum endeavor towards the resolution of pending issues, including the normalization of relations with North Korea, as well as security and humanitarian issues. To this end, it goes without saying that further efforts must also be made to strengthen relations of trust, which have reached this new dimension, with the Republic of Korea.

On the occasion of my meeting with President Bill Clinton at the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit Meeting, we reaffirmed our recognition of the importance of the Japan-US relationship, which is the cornerstone of Japan's foreign policy, as well as the Japan-US Security Arrangements. We also agreed that in order to alleviate the burden on the people of Okinawa Prefecture, we should make all efforts to steadily implement the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Final Report , including the relocation of the Futenma Air Station. Furthermore, to prevent the recurrence such regrettable incidents as the ones which have occurred recently in Okinawa Prefecture, I will continue to call for the US side to keep discipline fully and completely.

As to the relations with the Russian Federation, based on my meeting with President Putin, at our meeting in September we will engage in a frank exchange of views founded upon relations of trust with regard to such issues as the conclusion of a peace treaty and the strengthening of economic relations, taking into account the strategic importance of Japan-Russia relations.

In relations with the People's Republic of China, Premier Zhu Rongji is expected to visit Japan in October and I will take every opportunity to further strengthen relations in order to continue to develop our partnership of friendship and cooperation in the 21st century.

In order for Japan to make a more significant contribution to world peace and prosperity, reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council, must be realized. Japan must exercise a role befitting its position in the international community. I have every intention to attend the UN Millennium Summit in person and to actively make efforts for the creation of a new international order for the 21st century that includes the reform of the United Nations.

In the area of security, with the understanding of the people of Japan, I intend to take an appropriate response in regard to the frameworks and systems necessary to ensure that Japan can protect the lives and assets of its people and contribute to international peace.


The rebirth of Japan toward the 21st century is a structural reform of Japanese society and economy as a whole. It is to build a new society by reviewing traditional systems and practices and bringing them into line with technological progress and the state of change, encompassing innovation in information and communications technology, rapid change in the population paradigm, and consideration of our limited resources and the burden on the environment.

At the same time, it is to build a heart-enriching Japan. It is therefore vital that we look into the social trends that have led to the neglect of issues of the heart. It is often said that the problem of juvenile delinquency calls into question the way our adult society should be. This is something of which we politicians, civil servants, police, teachers and others in public positions should be fully aware.

In this context, as a person charged with responsibility for state administration, I find it truly deplorable that a former Minister of Construction has been arrested for alleged bribe-taking during his term of office. The maintenance of political ethics is something of which each and every politician needs to be fully conscious, and as such I shall ask the Diet to engage in intensive discussion and deliver conclusions on legislative measures for further maintaining political ethics.

The recent spate of accidents in production of food and beverage products continues. The Government of Japan will make all efforts to investigate the causes of these accidents, but I am afraid that such accidents may have been in no small part due to slack work ethics and lack of sense of responsibility on the part of the companies responsible that such work affects the lives of human beings.

During the one hundred years of the 20th century we have continued to run and run, always looking forward to the future. As we head into the 21st century, should we not reflect somewhat on our own minds and our own spiritual welfare? Respect for human dignity is something that should be recognized as a matter of course in the home, in the school, in the workplace and in regional society, and it is important that this recognition permeate still further and deeper to the very core of Japanese society.

The rebirth of Japan will entail various difficulties and hardships, but, with the understanding of the people of Japan, I am resolved to share this hardship and progress hand in hand with the people. Under the credo of a "Government that steps with the people and is trusted by the people," believing that we can make a big leap forward after the reform, I shall pour my heart and soul into the administration of the State during the course of each and every day.

In this I humbly ask for the support and cooperation of the people of Japan and the members of the Diet.