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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Policy Speech by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio to the 205th Session of the Diet

October 8, 2021

[Provisional Translation]
 
 
1. Introduction
 
Here at the opening of the 205th session of the Diet, I extend my sincere condolences to all the people who lost their lives because of COVID-19 and to their families. I also offer my heartfelt sympathies to all those now in a formidable battle with the disease.
 
I also express my profound gratitude to the many people providing the support for our nation’s medical, health, and nursing facilities, the business owners cooperating with our measures to counter the virus, and the members of the public.
 
We continue to wage a battle against COVID-19.
 
It is against that backdrop that I was recently designated as the nation’s 100th prime minister.
 
I am resolved to invest all my heart, mind, and strength to overcome this national crisis together with the Japanese people, carve out a new era, and hand down to the next generation a Japan that is spiritually rich.
 
Notebooks I have kept over the years are overflowing with memos of compelling voices of citizens.
 
 “I live alone and I am beside myself with worry over what I would do if I contracted COVID-19.”
 
 “Teleworking has caused my customer numbers to plummet; continuing the dry cleaning business I run is becoming unviable.”
 
 “I gave birth alone because I was unable to return to my hometown. I haven’t been able to meet anyone and I’ve been lonely and anxious.”
 
What is required of us now is to implement policies decisively, in light of earnest sentiments such as these.
 
We will take all possible measures to tackle COVID-19, an urgent matter of the highest priority. We will make it a fundamental rule to provide explanations to the public in a thoroughgoing manner so that citizens are satisfied, and we will always respond to matters assuming the worst.
 
In addition, we will rapidly formulate economic countermeasures designed to support those significantly impacted by COVID-19.
 
 
Beyond that, I seek to bring about a new capitalism. We will lay out a new socioeconomic vision that will help carve out Japan’s future.
 
In order for us to take on these arduous challenges together with the citizens, it will be critically important to engage in politics worthy of trust and sympathy that reacts to citizens’ voices with sincerity and gives those voices concrete shape.
 
I will place importance on having thorough discussions with the citizens.
 
I myself and indeed all the members of my Cabinet will repeatedly sit down in a circle with various kinds of people to have discussions. Beyond that, I will instruct them to do comprehensive checks on whether or not we are advancing policies well-tailored to the people’s needs.
 
It will be upon the trust and sympathy earned through this process that I aim to foster a society that respects diversity. It will be a society in which all people -- young and old, people with disabilities and those without, men and women -- find life worth living.
 
It has been pointed out that the disparities arising from the economic environment, the generation, and the environment into which people were born, as well as the divisions arising from those disparities, have become greater because of the crisis. At the same time, we have rediscovered the importance of the bonds within families and the bonds among friends. 
 
The robustness of the bonds within Japanese society evinced at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake won admiration from all over the world. As we face this crisis, now is the time to demonstrate the strength of those bonds.
 
Let us forge a new society in which all people can perceive their reason for living. 
 
My mission is to arouse the power of the bonds Japan enjoys.
 
2. First policy: Measures to counter COVID-19
 
My administration’s first policy area will be tackling COVID-19.
 
Currently, the number of new cases of infection is maintaining a steady, low level, and the declaration of a state of emergency has been lifted in its entirety.
 
Under the pivotal order given by my predecessor, Prime Minister Suga, vaccinations proceeded at a pace unparalleled in any other country, thereby taking a significant step forward towards victory in this battle. I express my wholehearted respect to Mr. Suga for the great efforts he made.
 
Yet we must not view the situation with rose-colored glasses. The essential element of crisis response is assuming the worst possible situation at all times. Now that the number of new infections is holding at a low, steady level, this is the time for us to anticipate various situations and take comprehensive steps to ensure peace of mind. We will make the greatest possible use of the authority vested in us to reliably secure hospital bed capacity and medical personnel and thoroughly set measures in place to assist patients recuperating at home.
 
We will forge ahead with administering a second vaccine dose to all those wishing to receive one while also making careful preparations to enable the administration of a third round of vaccinations. We will also aim to have orally administered pharmaceutical treatments enter into practical application within the calendar year. Alongside this, we will work to make active use of digital vaccination certificates and expand free-of-charge testing for which advance reservations are not required.
 
I have instructed all ministers in charge of relevant areas to be quick to present to the public an overall image of these efforts we are taking to ensure peace of mind. We will present thorough explanations to the public to enable them to get some perspective on the future.
 
In concert with this, we will meticulously analyze the response measures we have carried out until now and verify what bottlenecks there have been in terms of crisis management. We will conduct a full-scale reinforcement of our crisis management. This will include, among other initiatives, amending relevant laws to enable us to strengthen our “control tower” function, restrict flows of people, and secure sufficient medical treatment resources as well as developing domestically produced vaccines and pharmaceutical treatments.
 
If we are to obtain the public’s cooperation, it will also be critically important to provide economic assistance. To support business owners who have been suffered significant impacts, we will provide subsidies in proportion to the size of the business, in a form that does not impose limits on the location or type of business. We will also implement support in the form of subsidies and other assistance to protect those in need, including non-regular employees and families with small children who are having a hard time because of the negative impacts of COVID-19.
 
3. Second policy: Bringing a new capitalism into realization
 
Next, I will speak about my economic policies.
 
Steering the economy at the macro level, we will successfully extricate ourselves from deflation, our biggest goal. We will also work to engage in bold monetary policy, implement flexible fiscal policy, and promote our growth strategy.
 
We will execute all possible measures, taking on without hesitation the fiscal expenditures necessary to address the crisis. The economy is the foundation of public finance, not the reverse.
 
We will faithfully rebuild the economy. We will also work to put public finances on a sound footing.
 
Having said that, what I aim to do is to bring a new capitalism into realization.
 
Some have pointed out that neoliberal policies have had the harmful effect of creating a deep rift between the “haves” and the “have nots.” There are now moves underway in the world to search out a capitalist economy for the new era in which corporations and governments make bold investments, protecting the middle class, which forms the core of a healthy democracy, and preparing for global-scale crises such as climate change.
 
Now is the time for Japan too to kick off a new capitalism and make it a reality.
 
The concept is this: a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution, and developing a new post-COVID-19 society.
 
Aiming for growth is absolutely critical, and we will make every possible effort towards actualizing it. However, without distribution, there will be no subsequent growth; this point too, I thoroughly endorse.
 
It is only when the fruits of growth are properly distributed that subsequent growth materializes. The crucial point is a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution. We will extricate ourselves from the barren argument of “growth or distribution” and conduct a general mobilization of all possible policies to bring about “growth and distribution.”
 
Because of COVID-19, Japan’s economy and society suffered serious blows indeed.
 
At the same time, a certain intuition has arisen amidst us that society is going to change going forward, such as with our digital transformation, which until now had not proceeded very far, suddenly making rapid progress. Now is the time to take in the benefits of science and technology and build a new society premised on coexisting with COVID-19.
 
This reform will originate in the areas outside our major urban centers.
 
These areas face social issues such as aging societies and depopulation, and they have needs for which new technologies will be used. Examples include using pick-up services featuring autonomous driving to take people to and from nursing care services, automated deliveries, ways of working that draw on remote technologies, and digital technologies in the agriculture and tourism industries.
 
By turning a crisis into an opportunity, let us build the exciting future society we dreamed of when we were children.
 
To accomplish this, I will establish a Council for Realizing New Capitalism and shape that vision into something concrete.
 
Our growth strategy and our distribution strategy are two sides of the same coin by which we bring about a new capitalism.
 
The first pillar of my growth strategy is realizing a science and technology nation.
 
We will promote the cultivation of human resources in science and technology fields, including by reorganizing and enhancing undergraduate, master’s level, and doctoral programs. In order to form research universities at the highest level worldwide, we will establish within this fiscal year a university fund at a scale of 10 trillion yen. We will boldly fund research and development in advanced science and technology, including in the areas of digital, green, artificial intelligence, quantum, bio, and space. We will realize a tax system that provides all-out support for investments into the future made by private sector companies.
 
In addition, through comprehensive support for startups, which carry innovation forward, we will forge ahead in creating new businesses and industries.
 
In working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, we will also formulate a clean energy strategy that ties global warming mitigation into growth and vigorously promote that strategy.
 
The second pillar is revitalizing regions and a Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation, which will link to the rest of the world.
 
We will advance the implementation of digital transformation beginning with our local regions and give rise to a wave of new reforms, shrinking the gap between our local regions and our cities. Towards that end, we will improve our digital infrastructure, including 5G, semiconductors, and data centers. We will work to enable everyone to enjoy the benefits of digital transformation, without leaving anyone behind.
 
The third pillar is economic security.
 
Under a newly established ministerial remit, we will advance our efforts to secure strategic goods and materials and prevent outflows of technology, while will materialize an autonomous economic structure. We will build a resilient supply chain and draw up legislative bills that promote Japan’s economic security.
 
The fourth pillar is putting to rest people’s anxiety about the era of hundred-year lifespans. Worry about the future gives rise to restrained consumption and it has become a hindrance to economic growth.
 
Varied and flexible ways of working are expanding, including second jobs or dual employment, or brushing up one’s skills or working freelance. The important point is that a safety net will be set securely in place whichever way of working one chooses. We will make social security and the tax system neutral with regard to ways of working and endeavor to make universal workers’ insurance a reality.
 
Looking ahead to the era of hundred-year lifespans, we will work to build a social security system oriented to all generations in which all people, from children and those raising a family to the elderly, can feel assured.
 
Next is our distribution strategy.
 
The first pillar is strengthening the function for distributions to working people.
 
It is important that companies take a long-term perspective and do business in ways that are good for everyone, in which not only shareholders but also employees and customers are able to benefit. We will move forward in preparing the environment that makes this possible, including through enhanced disclosures of non-financial information and undertaking a review of quarterly disclosures.
 
The government will strengthen its supervisory framework regarding subcontracting practices and we will aim to achieve coexistence and co-prosperity between large companies and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
 
Also, we will fundamentally strengthen our support within the tax code for companies that raise wages in an effort to increase the percentage of distributions allocated to labor.
 
The second pillar is enlarging the middle class and addressing the declining birth rate.
 
With a view to expanding the middle class, we will strengthen the function of distribution by the national government towards those not receiving the benefits of growth.
 
We will reinforce our support for educational expenses and living expenses, including systems for allowing people to repay funds after they have “made it in society,” in accordance with people’s income after graduating from university.  We will also provide support for families with small children.
 
We will promote support for child-rearing by preparing childcare arrangements, strengthening cooperation among day care centers, kindergartens, and elementary schools, and expanding the after-school childcare system and preparing the environment for it to be used, among other initiatives. We will examine what government administration should look like from the viewpoint of children and make that a reality.


The third pillar is increasing the incomes of those working at facilities providing medical nursing, elderly care, childcare services and the like.
 
We will increase the incomes of those on the front lines of our responses to COVID-19 and the combination of a decreasing birth rate and an aging population.  We will establish a committee to evaluate and examine public prices and fundamentally review the state of public prices.
 
My fourth pillar is correcting the harmful effects resulting from deciding public finances on a single fiscal year basis, which determines public distribution. We will engage with national issues, including science and technology promotion, economic security, and the improvement of critical infrastructure, in a planned way.
 
In addition to these, we will actively invest in building up basic infrastructure as a step towards regional revitalization.
 
Without reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, there will be no revival of Japan. In keeping with my strong feelings on this, we will work exhaustively to realize assistance for disaster victims, the rebuilding of industries and livelihoods, and the reconstruction and revival of Fukushima.
 
We will make our agriculture, forestry, and fishery industry products more value-added and bolster our export capacity. We will also preserve the multifaceted functions performed by family farms and by farms in our hilly and mountainous areas. The dramatic drop in the price of rice caused by the COVID-19 situation is a serious issue. We will engage in measures to address the situation suitably, including support to stabilize supply and demand in the near term.
 
We will redouble our efforts to prevent and reduce disasters and enhance national resilience, including by addressing decrepit infrastructure, while also pressing forward with improving expressways, Shinkansen, and other transportation and physical distribution infrastructure.
 
“Designing Future Society for Our Lives” is the theme of Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai. We will show the shape of the Japan of the future from the regions using the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and other digital technologies.
 
We will intensify our support for the tourism industry in order to elevate Japan’s revival as a tourism-oriented country while also strengthening support for culture and the arts in local areas, aiming to underscore Japan being a nation founded on culture.
 
4. Third policy area: Diplomacy and security policy that fully protect the Japanese people
 
The third priority policy area for my Cabinet is diplomacy and security polilcy that fully protect the Japanese people.
 
I firmly believe that the key to diplomacy and security policy is trust.
 
On the basis of trust we enjoy from the international community thanks to the efforts of my predecessors, I will pursue resolute diplomacy in three areas in which I hold strong determination.
 
The first of these is my determination to fully defend the universal values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
 
In cooperation with our allies and with like-minded countries, including notably the United States as well as Australia, India, and the countries of ASEAN and Europe, and making use of the Quad of Japan, Australia, India, and the United States, I will vigorously promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
 
We will also take up, on a government-wide basis, worsening human rights issues within the international community.
 
Second is my determination to fully safeguard the peace and stability of Japan.
 
With the security environment surrounding Japan becoming increasingly severe, I will resolutely defend our territory, territorial waters, and airspace, as well as the lives and assets of the Japanese people.
 
Towards that end, we will undertake revisions to our National Security Strategy, National Defense Program Guidelines, and Mid-Term Defense Program. Within these revisions, we will boldly engage in a reinforcement of our defense capabilities, including our maritime security capabilities and missile defense capabilities that include further effective measures, and also take on economic security and other issues for the new age.
 
The cornerstone of Japan’s diplomatic and security policies is the Japan-U.S. Alliance. I will stand at the fore and raise to an even greater height the Japan-U.S. Alliance, which is the foundation for the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and of the world.
 
While maintaining the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, we will work to alleviate the impact of U.S. military bases in Okinawa while building trust together with the residents of Okinawa through thorough explanations and dialogue. We will press ahead with the construction work for the relocation to Henoko in order to realize the total return of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma at the earliest possible time.
 
Nuclear and missile development by North Korea is totally unacceptable. In accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, Japan seeks to normalize relations with North Korea, through the settling of the "unfortunate past" and the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern with North Korea, such as the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues.
 
The abductions issue is one of the highest priority issues of the Kishida administration. I will do everything in my power to realize the return of all the abductees to Japan at the earliest possible date. I am determined to meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un myself face to face, without any conditions.
 
Third is my determination to lead the international community by confronting global-level issues and contributing to humankind.
 
I will increase Japan’s presence by working to resolve such issues as nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and climate change.
 
As a prime minister hailing from Hiroshima, the site of an atomic bombing, what I strive for is a world free of nuclear weapons. Making use of the group of eminent persons that I launched, Japan will serve as a mediator bridging the gap between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, discharging its responsibilities as the only country to have experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war.
 
I will firmly receive in my hands the torch known as the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which great leaders the world over have taken on so many times until now, and do my very utmost to bring about a world free of nuclear weapons.
 
As protectionism becomes increasingly entrenched around the world, Japan will serve as a flagbearer for free trade. In order to realize Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) in the digital age, Japan will play a proactive role in international rule-making.
 
With China, building stable relations is critically important for both our nations, as well as for the region and the international community. Through cooperation with countries with which we share universal values, I will say to China the things that need to be said and strongly urge China to act responsibly, while at the same time continuing dialogues with China and cooperating on matters of common interest.
 
As for Russia, without resolution of the territorial dispute, there can be no conclusion of a peace treaty. I will build a relationship of trust at the leader level and work to develop Japan-Russia relations as a whole, including the conclusion of a peace treaty.
 
The Republic of Korea (ROK) is an important neighbor. With a view to restoring sound relations between us, based on Japan’s consistent position, I will strongly urge the ROK side to make appropriate responses.
 
5. New economic countermeasures
 
Measures to counter COVID-19; a new capitalism ; diplomacy and security.
 
By steadily implementing these three policy areas, we will carve out a new era, together with the Japanese people.
 
At this morning’s Cabinet Meeting, I instructed my Cabinet to take all possible measures to respond to COVID-19 and to formulate new economic policies in order to trigger a new capitalism.
 
We will swiftly compile comprehensive and bold economic policies.
 
6. Conclusion
 
I will also address amending the Constitution.
 
The law on national referenda, which stipulates the procedures for amending the Constitution, has been revised. I have high hopes that from now, within the Deliberative Councils on the Constitution, each political party will indicate how it views various matters, after which constructive discussions transcending the framework of the ruling coalition and the opposition will take place, actively deepening national discussions.
 
There is a proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
 
We have advanced against the invisible enemy known as COVID-19 by taking one step and then another, through all the Japanese people coming together in solidarity.
 
I once again feel very keenly the latent power and vitality of the society that this nation Japan has handed down very intently from our ancestors, generation to generation, and which arose thanks to connections between people and which kindness and warmth have brought about. This is truly the origin of "the shape of Japan."
 
In order for us to pass on to the next generation this shape, after we conclude our battle with COVID-19, we must overcome the divisions arising from economic disparities, regional disparities, and the like and carve out a new era. To make that possible, we will forge one team aimed at all of us moving forward together.
 
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
 
When we travel alone, we may well arrive at our destination quickly. However, if we travel with companions, we can go farther -- indeed, much farther. I believe in the latent power and vitality of the Japanese people.
 
Even as the COVID-19 crisis rages on, thanks to digital, green, artificial intelligence, quantum, bio, and space, the seeds of a new era are already beginning to sprout.
 
Let us build a bright future in which we cultivate these budding seeds into enormous trees, make the economy grow, and have every member of our nation enjoy the fruit that results.
 
Every night eventually turns into dawn. Holding hands together with you, the citizens, we will take a step towards tomorrow.
 
My fellow members of the Diet, and, most of all, my fellow citizens, I will end my address today with a sincere request for your cooperation.  Thank you very much for listening.

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