New Year’s Reflection by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio
Happy new year to you all. I am Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio.
In the Oriental zodiac, 2024 is the year of the “wood dragon,” a year bringing wood, the first of the ten heavenly stems, together with the dragon, which ascends powerfully to the heavens. In line with this zodiac year, I want to make 2024 a year in which we confront the many challenges facing us with a reinvigorated spirit and powerfully propel Japan’s development across a broad array of fields, both domestically and internationally.
As for the economy, wage increases, capital investment, and share prices have reached their highest levels in 30 years. Thirty years have passed since the bursting of the economic bubble. I want to make 2024 the year in which we break completely free of the deflationary mindset and orientation towards shrinking through cost-cutting that has enveloped the Japanese economy.
We will first and foremost safeguard people’s daily lives from the current rise in prices. We must be certain to achieve wage increases that surpass the rise in prices. I will request that, during this year’s annual spring wage bargaining negotiations, the business community grant wage increases greater than the wage hikes implemented last year. We will also reinforce our tax system for promoting wage increases in a way that is also easy for small- and medium-sized enterprises to use. And, aiming to achieve synergistic effects with these wage increases, in June we will also implement fixed-sum reductions in income and resident taxes.
We need to have the public and private sectors work together so that everyone in the public feels tangibly what it is like for wages to rise and disposable incomes to increase. It is only after many individuals experience this for themselves that we will change the mindset of society as a whole.
Through wage increases surpassing the rise in prices, aggressive capital investment in green and digital fields, labor mobility beyond corporate boundaries, and actively replacing the old with the new in companies, we will mobilize a wide range of policies, aiming at a vibrant new economic stage, with human resources, goods, and capital all thoroughly set in motion.
In the area of diplomacy, this year will be a year of tension. Japan must be on its guard in light of the aggression against Ukraine, the situation in Israel and Palestine, and other aspects of the international situation. This is also a year marked by important national elections, including the U.S. presidential election and elections in Asia and Europe. What is required of us now is to make the most of our diplomatic power to overcome difficult situations and demonstrate leadership in a way only Japan can. Accordingly, I am determined to actively engage in diplomacy at the summit level again this year.
In addition, even in the midst of an increasingly complex East Asian security environment, with Russia and North Korea working in cooperation, we will firmly and fully defend the safety of the Japanese people, as well as our territory, territorial waters, and airspace.
Beyond this, Japan faces a multitude of significant challenges, including our responses to a society in which the population is shrinking and constitutional reform. Political stability is essential in promoting policies. I am determined to stand at the fore, making every possible effort to restore public trust in response to the LDP policy groups’ political funding issue.
At this very moment, Japan is heading into an era of great change. That said, looking back on history, during times of enormous change, whether the Meiji Restoration, postwar reconstruction, or the period of rapid economic growth, Japan has taken hold of those trends, transforming that change into strength. In the Reiwa era, we will once again transform change into strength in the economy, society, and diplomatic relations to realize an era in which all the people are able to believe that tomorrow will be even better than today.
In closing, I ask for the public’s further understanding and cooperation, and I extend my most sincere wishes for 2024 to be a splendid year for each and all, bringing good health and happiness.
Prime Minister of Japan
January 1, 2024