Policy Speech by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio to the 211th Session of the Diet

January 23, 2023
[Provisional translation]
1. Introduction
Here at the opening of the 211th session of the Diet, I will outline my thoughts on how I will undertake national policy.
During my recent visits to Europe and North America, one of my counterparts asked me a question: "Why is Japan’s legislature called 'the Diet' when translated into English and not 'the Parliament'?" Indeed, most countries do apparently call their legislatures "the parliament" when they refer to them in English. Looking into it, I found that "Diet" comes from a Latin word meaning "the day for gathering."
We, members of the Diet, with the people's trust placed in us, have today gathered in this chamber for Diet deliberations to begin.
Politics is a process of careful discussion and consideration over time, followed by decisions, which are deliberated upon and then ultimately transitioned into execution by the people's representatives gathered in the Diet.
I will take up consideration of national policy with extraordinary vigilance through various deliberations that will be undertaken through the cooperation of many of you, my fellow legislators. Then, based upon that, I will engage in open and honest deliberations in full view of the public here in this Diet chamber regarding the government's course forward that we will have decided upon, as well as regarding the draft budgets and legislative bills embodying those decisions, before ultimately putting the decisions into action.
Consideration, decision-making, and discussions are all important and necessary. This year again, I will promote politics of trust and sympathy by undertaking all three to the best of my ability, addressing each with equal vigor.
2. History’s turning point
Modern Japan has undergone two major turning points in its history.
One is the Meiji Restoration; the other is the end of World War II, 77 years later. And, by a strange twist of fate, another 77 years later, we now stand at a crossroads of history once again.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has exposed the dysfunctionality of the UN Security Council in responding to challenges to the international peace order based on the rule of law to which the international community has adhered. Furthermore, the weakening of international peace order has become exposed, with countries taking this opportunity to strengthen their ties with Russia or pursue profits in energy and other areas, as well as entities working on nuclear missile development.
We have no time to lose in addressing issues of sustainability in a broad sense, such as the increasingly serious issue of climate change, measures to combat infectious diseases and other global challenges, and disparities emerging throughout the world.
The changing nature and transformation of globalization, which we believed would bring about global unity, peace, and prosperity, have also been striking. Examples include supply chains that are precarious and vulnerable, energy and food crises on a global scale, and insufficient investment in human resources.
In the face of such realities, now is the time for us to set out in a new direction.
We must abandon the common sense of the eras leading up to the present and, armed with strong resolve and a vision that looks beyond this era, create a society, economy, and international order appropriate for a new era.
All of the leaders of the countries I visited as G7 Chair the week before last expressed this very same kind of recognition.
Japan is committed not only to the success of the Hiroshima Summit in May, but also to leading the world throughout the year of 2023 with a strong sense of responsibility as the country holding the G7 Presidency.
Together with you, I will ride out this massive historic surge to steadily hand down the nation of Japan to the next generation.
Let us join forces and together build a nation for a new era and a stable international order.
3. Fundamental reinforcement of defense capabilities
Towards this end, we will squarely and sincerely face the various difficult challenges facing us that cannot be postponed and provide solutions to them one by one.
With this strong resolve, at the end of last year we formulated a new National Security Strategy and other documents, having spent more than a year discussing and examining these matters.
What we must prioritize first and foremost is developing proactive diplomacy. At the same time, diplomacy needs to be backed by defense capabilities. As Japan confronts its most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II, we conducted extremely realistic simulations to test our ability to protect the lives of our citizens in times of emergency, and have accordingly brought concrete shape to the fundamental reinforcement of our defense capabilities, which will rebuild a sufficient defense system for us.
We will secure a defense budget totaling 43 trillion yen over the next five years. With it, we will work towards acquiring counterstrike capabilities to dissuade our adversaries from attacking us, fundamentally reinforcing our defense posture in the southwest region of Japan, developing responses to new domains such as cyberspace and space, maintaining equipment and upgrading our ammunition, reinforcing cooperation between the Japan Coast Guard and the Self-Defense Forces, reinforcing the foundations of Japan’s defense industry and supporting the transfer of equipment, and proactively utilizing in the field of security the outcomes of research and development, among other initiatives.
Such efforts must be maintained and reinforced into the future. To achieve this, new stable funding sources of 4 trillion yen will be additionally required every fiscal year from fiscal year 2027 onward. We will first make all possible efforts in administrative and fiscal reforms, including reforming our expenditures, utilizing budget surpluses, and securing non-tax revenues. Then, rather than passing the burden on to posterity, we who are alive at this moment will respond to the remaining shortfall of around a quarter of the total amount needed, leading up to fiscal 2027, as a matter of responsibility towards future generations.
While the decision we made represents a major shift in Japan’s security policy, I would like to clearly state once again that it is within the scope of the Constitution and international law and does not in any way change Japan's adherence to the Three Non-Nuclear Principles or to our exclusively defensive defense policy, nor does it alter Japan's path Japan as a peaceful nation.
4. New Form of Capitalism
(1) Overview
As I engage in various dialogues with world leaders, I have also become keenly aware that many countries are in search of a new economic model.
What they are looking for is an economic model that, in the face of challenges from authoritarian states, allows the public and private sectors to work together to emerge victorious in the competition between nations, rather than just leaving everything to the market.
Under this economic model, participants will not seek only lower labor and production costs, but rather protect critical goods and key technologies and maintain resilient supply chains.
And the economic model is aimed at overcoming various social challenges, such as climate change and disparities, which are the negative effects generated by economic systems to date.
The "New Form of Capitalism" that I promote is based on this awareness of the issue that is shared on a global basis.
My concept is for the public and private sectors to work together to turn social issues into engines of growth, thereby resolving social issues while simultaneously achieving economic growth simultaneously. This will help create a sustainable and inclusive economy and society.
This year as we seek to fully restore our daily lives from the COVID-19 pandemic, let us put Japan back on track for a full-fledged economic recovery and new economic growth.
(2) Measures to address rising prices
We will first and foremost deal appropriately with current rising prices, including through the early execution of the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2022. We will continue to take necessary policy responses without hesitation.
As the economy lays the foundation for public finances, we will work to restore the economy and put public finances on a sound footing.
(3) Structural wage increases
Companies realize a profit and then dependably distribute that fruit to workers. Consumption increases and further economic growth is generated. What holds the key to this virtuous cycle is wage increases.
We will pursue labor market reforms in order to create a structure on which wages increase continually, atop a foundation of the economic growth we have built up steadily to date.
First of all, what we need right now is wage increases that surpass the rise in commodity prices.
The Government will make all-out efforts to investment and reforms to spur economic growth. We will increase wages for those working in the public sector and for companies participating in government procurement.
Moreover, with the aim of bringing about wage increases at small- and medium-sized enterprises, we will also further strengthen such measures as enhancing productivity, improving subcontracting practices, encouraging price increases to be passed through to clients, and ensuring proper business transactions involving freelancers.
After that, we will create a society in which diverse human resources and motivated individuals fully demonstrating their ability as they work makes corporate productivity climb, leading to further wage increases. By so doing, we will bring about ongoing wage increases.
Towards that end, in addition to regularizing non-regular employees who wish to be regularized, we will take the viewpoint of workers in accelerating the three-pronged set of labor market reforms, namely, providing support for improving skills through reskilling, establishing job-based pay that is appropriate for Japan, and facilitating labor mobility into growth fields.
Regarding reskilling, we will focus on supporting skills related to growth fields such as green transformation, digital transformation and startups, and review support for those employed, which currently comes mainly through workers' companies, to instead mainly provide direct support to individuals. We will also establish a framework to provide one-stop support ranging from reskilling to assistance for changing careers, regardless of the recipient's age or gender. We will also provide support for those wishing to brush up their skills from a longer-term perspective.
At the same time, we urge companies to lay the groundwork to embrace such individuals.
Amid intensifying competition to acquire human resources, it is an urgent task for the sake of corporate growth that companies transition away from the conventional seniority-based pay system to a job-based one that is appropriate for Japan, in which workers' skills are properly evaluated in accordance with job duties and then reflected in wage increases.
By June of this year, we will categorize various ways to introduce job-based pay systems suited to Japanese companies and set forth models that can be followed.
(4) Investment and reforms
Along with wage increases, investment and reforms will be the key to a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution. With regard to concrete efforts to be undertaken, I will overview five points.
[Green transformation (GX)]
The first area for concrete efforts is green transformation, or "GX."
Russia has used energy supply as a weapon of war. Countries that have seen their people’s lives severely disrupted by this have begun to pursue a robust "kill-three-birds-with-one-stone" strategy that simultaneously aims to achieve the three goals of decarbonization, a stable energy supply, and economic growth.
Japan’s green transformation is also designed to realize these three goals.
With regard to "growth-oriented carbon pricing" that will draw out more than 150 trillion yen of public and private investment over a decade, we will establish a new framework for advance investment by the national government at a scale of 20 trillion yen. We will provide support for initiatives including thoroughly implemented energy conservation, the social implementation of hydrogen and ammonia, and research and development of decarbonization technologies such as renewable energies and nuclear power.
The Government will present a multi-year plan and make budgetary commitments for the purpose of enhancing predictability and facilitating the foreseeing of expected rates of return, thereby attracting corporate investment. In this way, it is an embodiment of the public-private cooperation that the New Form of Capitalism seeks to achieve. We will submit a bill for this purpose to the current Diet session.
We will mobilize all the strength of the public and private sectors to attempt to achieve green transformation, a great revolution in our economy, society, industries, and local regions.
To ensure a stable energy supply, we must secure diverse energy sources.
In addition to efforts to maximize the introduction of renewable energy sources, such as the long-overdue development of power transmission lines between Hokkaido and Honshu, we will promote the replacing of decommissioned nuclear power plants with
next-generation advanced reactors and the extension of the operating periods of nuclear power plants by a certain period, on the major premise of ensuring safety and gaining the understanding of local communities. Furthermore, the Government will take the initiative in advancing the final disposal of nuclear waste.
In the face of the global energy crisis, a realistic energy transition in Asia is becoming increasingly important. Starting this spring Japan will put the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC) concept, which I have been advocating since last year, into concrete form and provide support for the decarbonization of Asia.
[Digital transformation (DX)]
The second area for our efforts will be digital transformation, or "DX."
First, I wish to underline the role of Social Security and Tax Number System (Individual Number) cards, commonly called "My Number" cards, which serve as the passport to a digital society.
As a result of various improvements, the number of applications to obtain the card increased from 55 million at the beginning of last year to 85 million today. It is now the most widely used tool for identification in Japan, well beyond the driver's license.
The card enables the digitization of driver's licenses, certificates of various national qualifications, and other documentation, while also making it possible to complete procedures for medical expenses deductions and hometown tax payments online when filing national tax returns.
In the area of healthcare, in the future a single smartphone will allow users to have a consultation at a medical facility and check drug information without having to carry a patient registration card or health insurance card.
The card is also starting to be used for a broader range of purposes, including as a student ID card and as age verification when shopping, and also as a means for purchasing concert tickets.
Both the public and private sectors will work towards creating a society where people can easily and conveniently use all kinds of public and private services requiring identity verification.
We will also undertake a comprehensive review of regulations based on the analog era.
Specifically, we will spend the coming two years to swiftly advance reforms, such as enabling various administrative procedures to be completed online and reviewing regulations that require the submission of information via floppy disks.
We will submit to the current Diet session a bill to conduct an across-the-board review of some 40,000 laws and regulations that have been checked and are ready to be amended.
The third area for undertaking concrete efforts is that of innovation.
Just the other day, the world’s first therapeutic drug to keep the disease progress of Alzheimer’s in check, jointly developed by Japanese and U.S. companies and expected to be fully rolled out globally, was granted accelerated approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
It is a great pleasure to know that this ground-breaking innovation originating from Japan will transcend national boundaries to bring a ray of hope to people with dementia and their families.
To enable us to deliver more of this kind of announcement in the future, we will provide support for investment in research and development in strategic fields, such as semiconductors, quantum science and technology, artificial intelligence, and next-generation communication technologies, as well as biotechnology and space and maritime technologies, from a medium- to long-term national strategy perspective. We will also reform regulations hindering innovation.
We will also move forward in reorganizing university undergraduate faculties of science and engineering in ways that meet the needs of society and provide more support for young researchers.
Furthermore, we will work to improve quality by reviewing the benefits, compensation, and other aspects of workplace treatment provided to faculty and staff, while also sending more Japanese university students abroad and accepting promising international students, with a view to internationalizing education and fostering global human resources.
In 2025, Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai will be held. Leveraging the world expo as a proving ground for our future society, such as for flying vehicles, we will communicate to the rest of the world the message of an innovative and dynamic Japan.
Our fourth area is nurturing startups.
Aiming to achieve a tenfold increase in the amount invested in startups over five years, we will expand programs to identify and nurture outstanding talents, strengthen funding for research and development ventures, realize the Global Startup Campus Initiative by inviting top-class universities in Europe and the United States, and provide support for open innovation through collaboration between large companies and startups, facilitated through the tax system.
We will also establish a new credit guarantee system so that startups can raise funds without relying on management guarantees when they launch.
Furthermore, we will create an environment in which non-Japanese human resources can play an active role, including by establishing a new system for accepting globally competitive, high-level human resources.
Large companies that now drive the Japanese economy were themselves once "startups" established in the postwar period. We will materialize a second startup boom, following upon the one after the end of World War II, to give rise to companies that will drive the Japanese economy in the future.
[Plan for doubling asset-based incomes]
The fifth area is our plan for doubling asset-based incomes.
If the long-overdue shift from savings to investment can be realized, a virtuous cycle of growth and asset income can be achieved by increasing the financial asset income of households and expanding the supply of funds for growth.
It was because of that thinking that we decided to fundamentally expand the Nippon Individual Savings Account (NISA) program and make it permanent and decided to work to double the total number of NISA accounts and the amount of purchases over five years.
As a national strategy, we will provide support for asset formation and respond over the long term with our sights set on doubling asset management income.
Now is the time to vigorously implement these policies.
5. Policies for children and child-rearing
And this year, I hope to advance my initiatives for a New Form of Capitalism to the next stage.
I have been saying that my New Form of Capitalism is an attempt to create a new sustainable and inclusive economy and society.
In giving thought to the sustainability and the inclusiveness of Japan’s economy and society, I have positioned our policies for children and child-rearing to be among our most important policies.
Because of the rapidly declining birthrate, the number of births in Japan is expected to have dropped below 800,000 last year, and the country now finds itself on the brink of being unable to maintain social functions. Working on policies for children and child-rearing is an urgent matter that cannot be delayed.
We must create a children-first economy and society and reverse the trend seen in our birthrate.
In line with the three basic policy directions that I have instructed the Minister in Charge of Policies Related to Children to take, we will examine specific measures designed to strengthen our policies for children and child-rearing. We will also work to introduce a scholarship system that allows people to repay after they have "made it in society," to help alleviate the burden of higher education.
In formulating measures, we should prioritize above anything else the voices of those concerned. I will start by listening thoroughly to the views of those directly concerned with children and child-rearing in locations all around Japan -- fathers, mothers, those providing services that assist with child-rearing, and members of the younger generation. I intend to materialize measures to address the declining birthrate that are at a totally different level from those we have undertaken until now, in which all people participate, regardless of age or gender.
Then, under the Child and Family Agency to be established in April of this year, we will systematically compile the policies for children and child-rearing needed in today’s society and, by the time our Basic Policies are compiled in June, present a general framework designed to facilitate a future doubling of the budget for children and child-rearing.
Policies for children and child-rearing are the most effective investment in the future that we can make. In order to steadily carry out these policies, we will first give concrete shape to what should be improved under our children and child-rearing policies. Then, depending on the specific content, we will examine how society as a whole can stably provide support, while coming up with various schemes, such as those regarding how they tie in with various types of social insurances, the respective roles of the national and local governments, and how support for higher education should be provided.
We will create a society where people can give birth to and raise children with a sense of assurance. Let us work together to address this issue, which concerns all generations and citizens.
At the same time, we will work to restrain the increase in the burden on younger generations and build a sustainable social security system in which we increase the number of those who support the social security system, including through universal workers' insurance, with all people supporting each other in accordance with their capacity.
6. Building an inclusive economy and society
We will work to create a society in which diversity is respected, where all people, whether young or old, male or female, and with or without disabilities, can feel their purpose in life -- a society in which all motivated people can fully demonstrate their abilities, regardless of their circumstances.
In order to create that kind of inclusive economy and society, we will focus particularly on measures that bring the strengths of women, young people, and our local regions to the fore.
While the issue of what is known as the "M-shaped curve" is now moving towards being resolved through the significant increase in the number of women in the workforce thanks to initiatives taken so far, the elimination of the so-called "L-shaped curve," which indicates women becoming non-regular employees after giving birth, and the issue of correcting wage disparities between men and women both continue to be pressing issues. In addition, we must further increase the number of women appointed to executive positions.
To this end, we will address various issues such as by reviewing the system that includes what are called "the barrier of 1.03 million yen" and "the barrier of 1.3 million yen," which discourage women from working, and by introducing systems that make it easier than ever before for both men and women to take childcare leave.
Furthermore, we will work to revise the Domestic Violence Prevention Law in order to strengthen our efforts to prevent spousal violence.
[Young people]
Measures for strengthening our policies for children and child-rearing, creating an environment where both men and women can work comfortably, reforming the social security system to be oriented to all generations, achieving structural wage increases, and investing in growth areas such as startups are all initiatives that we should promote for the sake of younger generations, who will shoulder the responsibility of Japan's future.
Through these various initiatives, we will improve incomes for young people and young households, and create a society where young people can live with hope for the future.
[Measures targeting loneliness and isolation]
We will vigorously work on measures to tackle the issues of loneliness and isolation. We will submit to the current Diet session a bill to lay the foundation for our measures and aim to create a society that can stand alongside those battling loneliness and isolation.
[Regional revitalization]
Local regions becoming more vibrant through regional revitalization will be the source of Japan’s economic recovery.
We will exert every possible effort to revitalize our regions' key industries.
In the tourism industry, in addition to stimulating demand by providing support for travel nationwide, we will promote high value-added tourism and work to enhance the appeal of tourist destinations that make use of national parks and so on, aiming at swiftly achieving the goals of 5 trillion yen in domestic demand from foreign tourists and 20 trillion yen in domestic travel demand.
Regarding the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries, we aim to reinforce our food security by promoting domestic production of fertilizers, feedstuffs, and principal grains, while at the same time seeking to make them profitable industries in which people can work to pursue their dreams.
We will provide further support for expanding exports of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries products, aiming to achieve our target of 2 trillion yen of exports ahead of schedule, in 2025.
Our network of expressways serves as the foundation of our regional economies. We will develop a system to steadily implement measures to tackle the problem of aging and initiatives to develop and improve the network, such as transitioning to a four-lane expressway system. We will also enhance government support for the "redesign" of regional public transportation.
Furthermore, we will provide support to encourage companies to locate in local regions, attract human and financial resources from overseas, develop stadiums, arenas and educational facilities through public-private cooperation, and work to amend laws in order to revitalize local assemblies.
The initiative that will serve as the foundation for all efforts as we work towards regional development is the Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation, which aims to resolve regional social issues through the power of digital technology and bring about a society in which everyone can live conveniently and comfortably anywhere throughout Japan.
While steadily preparing digital infrastructure such as optical fiber and 5G, we will in the future promote full-scale digital implementation in every corner of the country.
We will start by carrying out a project combining smart agriculture, drone delivery and remote monitoring services in 150 locations in hilly and mountainous regions around Japan.
In April of this year, a new system will get underway enabling fully autonomous "level 4" driving. We will seek to conduct field testing of automated driving in all prefectures by about 2025.
Let us join forces to create a Japan where all people, in every corner of the nation, can shine.
7. Response to disasters and support for reconstruction
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake. Responding to increasingly severe and frequent disasters is another important challenge that cannot be postponed.
In addition to steadily promoting the Five-Year Accelerated Measures package, we will formulate a new basic plan for enhancing national resilience in order to prevent and reduce disasters and build a resilient nation on a mid- to long-term, continuous, and stable basis.
We will take all possible measures to cope with heavy snowfall and avian influenza, among other things, including by flexibly supporting local governments.
We will enhance our ability to respond to disasters and accidents by improving the sophistication of forecasts to cope with typhoons and torrential rains and by strengthening heat stroke mitigation measures to protect lives from extreme heat. Furthermore, in the wake of the sightseeing boat accident near Shiretoko, Hokkaido, we will submit a bill to ensure the safety of passenger ships.
Regarding the reconstruction of Fukushima, one of the highest priorities for my administration, we will work with local residents to further advance our initiatives.
Last year, after a long time, residents were allowed to move back to their homes for the first time in areas that had been designated as a "difficult to return zone."
We will continue to work toward lifting the evacuation order on the remaining Reconstruction and Revitalization Bases, while also bringing concrete shape to measures enabling residents to move back to their homes in areas outside of the bases as well, if they wish to do so.
In addition, the entire Government will work together to promote community development through films and other forms of culture and art, measures for decommissioning reactors and dealing with ALPS treated water, and the development of the Fukushima Institute for Research, Education and Innovation, thereby responsibly working on the reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima.
8. COVID-19
Around three years have passed since COVID-19 infections first began to spread. Thanks to the cooperation of the public and essential workers such as frontline doctors, nurses, and elderly care workers, we have overcome the waves of infection and taken steps to shift towards a society that coexists with COVID-19.
Regarding the current state of infections, we will do our utmost to overcome what is known as the eighth wave by taking measures to mitigate infections and ensuring that our medical systems are fully in place. 
In principle this spring we will advance our discussions on downgrading COVID-19 to a Class V infectious disease from the current category of "pandemic influenza and new infectious diseases." We will also examine and coordinate the phased transition of our responses to COVID-19 in terms of the medical care system and various other policies and measures, including the support we provide through public funds, in line with this reclassification.
While we also intend to modify our approach regarding the wearing of masks to be consistent with the downgrading to a Class V infectious disease, we will first once more work to ensure that citizens fully understand our current handling of the matter, namely that "in principle, masks are not required outdoors."
Japan’s GDP and corporate performance have already been restored to pre-COVID-19 levels, with the ratio of job offers to job seekers also poised to recover its pre-pandemic level. We will continue to take steady steps to enable us to restore normal life at home, at school, at the workplace, in the community and in every other setting.
And in order to appropriately respond to future infectious disease crises, we will submit to the current Diet session a bill to establish an infectious disease crisis management agency in the Cabinet Secretariat and what can be called a Japanese version of the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
9. Diplomacy and security
As we face a turning point in history, we will, based on universal values, proactively and vigorously pursue realism diplomacy for a new era in order to fully defend our national interests.
This year, Japan has assumed the presidency of the G7 and is serving as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Taking advantage of these positions, we will lead efforts towards global peace and prosperity.
Russian aggression against Ukraine is an outrageous act undermining the very foundation of the international order and is still underway. Moreover, the security environment surrounding Japan is the most severe and complex one we have experienced since the end of World War II.
Attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force must not be tolerated, no matter in which region of the world they occur. Taking the occasion of the G7 Hiroshima Summit, we will convey once more to the international community our strong political will to uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law, which adheres to this principle.
In order for the international community as a whole to act in cooperation in responding to the various challenges now facing the world, the G7 will unite and work to strengthen its engagement with what is often called the Global South. Towards that end, we will take concerted action to respond to energy and food crises and also to the global economy, which is facing downside risks. We will also continue to vigorously promote sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine.
We will seize the opportunity of the summit being held in Hiroshima, the site of an atomic bombing, to lead international initiatives towards a world without nuclear weapons. We will move forward on realistic and practical initiatives by building on our past efforts, including the Hiroshima Action Plan, while also taking into account the sage views of the International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons.
We also need to provide a broad-based response to other challenges, including regional affairs, economic security, human rights, climate change, health, and development. Japan will play a leading role in addressing these mounting issues.
In addition, we will work to strengthen the functions of the United Nations, including through Security Council reform.
We will also continue to build up our bilateral relations, which are based on the relations of trust that Japan has built up since the end of World War II.
The cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy is the Japan-U.S. relationship. Based on the recent Japan-U.S. Joint Statement, we will continue to further reinforce the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, while also contributing to regional peace and stability as well as the prosperity of the international community. Furthermore, we will make use of various channels, including the Japan-U.S. Economic Policy Consultative Committee (Economic "2+2"), to also engage in partnership in the area of economic security, such as through cooperation to enhance supply chain resilience and cooperation regarding semiconductors.
Alongside this reinforcement of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, we will continue our efforts to alleviate the impact of U.S. military bases. With the aim of realizing the total return of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma at the earliest possible time, we will press ahead with the construction work for the relocation to Henoko. Moreover, we will build a robust Okinawan economy.
While also utilizing the Japan-Australia-India-U.S. (Quad) partnership, among others, and strengthening our cooperation with our partner countries in Asia, Europe, and Oceania, we will further reinforce our cooperation to promote a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. We will pass on the outcomes achieved under the G7 Japanese presidency to the G20, for which India holds the presidency, and also tie them in to the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit marking our 50th anniversary of friendship and cooperation, disseminating these outcomes from Asia to the rest of the world. We will also aim to expand the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) while maintaining the steady implementation and high level of this agreement and work towards concrete results within such initiatives as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) and Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) .
Regional peace and stability remain important. Including with regard to attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the East and South China Seas, we will say to China the things that need to be said and strongly urge China to act responsibly. Bearing in mind that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China, Japan and China will build a "constructive and stable relationship" through efforts on both sides. In this relationship we will reliably hold dialogues over time at the leaders' level and others that address, among other matters, outstanding issues of concern, and we will cooperate with each other in addressing issues we share in common.
The Republic of Korea (ROK) is an important neighbor with whom we should cooperate in responding to various issues arising within the international community. Based on the friendly and cooperative relations we have built up since the normalization of our diplomatic relations, we will restore healthy Japan-ROK relations and engage in close communication with the ROK government to further develop our bilateral relations.
While Japan-Russia relations are in a difficult situation because of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Japan will continue to adhere to its policy of resolving territorial issues and concluding a peace treaty.
North Korea’s ballistic missile launches have occurred at an unprecedented frequency and manner, and they are absolutely unacceptable. In accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, Japan seeks to normalize relations with North Korea through the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues, such as the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues, as well as through the settling of the unfortunate past. The abductions issue, one of our highest priorities, is a grave humanitarian issue and we have no time to lose in resolving it. I will resolutely make every possible effort to achieve the return of all the abductees to Japan at the earliest possible date, seizing every possible opportunity. I am determined to meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un myself face to face, without any conditions.
One of the most important tools for such multilateral and bilateral diplomacy is development cooperation. We will aim to revise in the first half of this year the Development Cooperation Charter, which sets the direction for the next decade, so that it will lead discussions on how to achieve the SDGs, based on the principle of "human security."
10. Constitutional reform
Constitutional reform is another issue that cannot be postponed. During the last extraordinary Diet session, lively debates took place, transcending the boundary between the ruling and opposition camps.
I sincerely hope that the current Diet session will further deepen its debates as part of the run-up to constitutional reform, which would take place for the first time since the Constitution was enacted.
11. Trust in politics
I take very seriously the fact that last year we received severe criticism from the public after concerns about the relationship with the former Unification Church, questions about politics and money, and other issues related to trust in politics arose in succession.
"Without the trust of the people, there can be no government." As a politician who has always believed that trust is the most important foundation of politics, I consider the issues that have emerged to be profoundly distressing. We will undertake various reforms to prevent such a situation from happening again.
With regard to the issue of the former Unification Church, we will work to steadily implement the new act and related legislative measures enacted during last year’s extraordinary Diet session as steps to ensure effective relief for victims and prevent recurrence. We will also make efforts to understand the actual situation and enhance the consultation system for victims.
12. Conclusion
Since assuming office as Prime Minister, I have visited places all around Japan and spoken directly with a great many members of the general public. I met students in Niigata who were trying hard to acquire manufacturing skills, a mother in Kagoshima who was raising a child while producing wagyu beef, and a father who was helping to raise his child at a childcare support facility in Shibuya. I would like to create a Japan where such people all around Japan can shine and have hope for the future.
I will continue to dedicate myself completely to carrying out the historic mission entrusted to me, in order to hand this nation of Japan down to the next generation. Let us join forces and move forward, step by step.
I ask for the continued understanding and cooperation of the Japanese people.
Thank you very much for your attention.

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Archives (Archived entries for the 98th through 100th prime ministers)