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Home >  News >  Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister >  November 2017 >  Policy Speech by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the 195th Session of the Diet

Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Policy Speech by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the 195th Session of the Diet

November 17, 2017

1. Introduction

Japan now faces issues that should truly be called national crises -- the increasingly tense situation surrounding North Korea; a rapidly aging society and decreasing birthrate. Without the confidence of the public, overcoming these national crises will be impossible.

Having been designated by both chambers of the Diet based on the results of the general election just held, I have come to continue to shoulder the weighty responsibilities of the prime minister.

“Execute your policies single-mindedly on a stable political foundation.”

That is the will of the public that was shown through the general election.

One by one we will transition into action the policies we pledged and deliver results. Together with the members of the ruling coalition in the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito here in the Diet, I pledge to the Japanese people that we will live up to the public’s trust by devoting ourselves completely to this.

It is policies that are able to carve out the future of Japan. And, it is policy execution that can do so.

My fellow honorable members of the Diet, during this Diet session, let us pit our respective policies against each other industriously and hold constructive debates, and together advance policies that will benefit the Japanese people.

2. Responses to North Korean issues

It is no exaggeration to say that the security environment now surrounding Japan is the most severe in post-war history. I will continue to press ahead with active diplomacy backed by public trust.

The repeated launches of missiles flying over Japan and the conducting of nuclear tests by North Korea cannot be tolerated.

The other day, President Donald J. Trump of the United States came to Japan, whereupon we showed the world the unshakeable bonds of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

President Trump, looking at photographs of abductees one by one with a sincere gaze, listened intently to the heartfelt appeals of the victims’ families. With the victims’ family members aging, my mission will not be complete until the day when the abductees again walk the ground of their hometowns and join their family members in an embrace.

We will resolve the North Korea nuclear and missile issues and the abduction issue. We must cause North Korea to change those policies. For that reason, Japan will, together with the international community, further intensify pressure on North Korea.

During the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and the East Asia Summit that were held recently, I again confirmed close cooperation in addressing the North Korean issues with other national leaders, notably President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China.

We will hold a Japan-China-Republic of Korea Trilateral Summit Meeting at an early date and further deepen the cooperation among our three nations.

As provocations by North Korea escalate, we will make preparations for any circumstances and take concrete actions under the robust Japan-U.S. alliance. We will fortify Japan’s missile defense systems and other elements of our defense capacity and do our utmost to defend the lives and peaceful daily lives of the Japanese people.

3. Overcoming the declining birthrate and aging society

(Productivity revolution)

Over the past five years, I have continually shot “arrows of reform” under Abenomics and employment has increased by 1.85 million people. This past spring, the employment rate for newly-graduating university students reached its highest level in history. Over the past two years, regular employment has increased by 790,000 and the ratio of active job openings to applicants for permanent positions now exceeds 1 for the first time since the survey began.

In order to firmly ensure this growth trajectory for the economy, now is the time to take assertive steps towards overcoming the decreasing birth rate coupled with the aging of our society, our most critical issue.

We will carry out a “productivity revolution” and a “human resources development revolution.” In December we will draw up a new economic policy package and expeditiously transition into executing it.

Through artificial intelligence, robots, and the Internet of Things (IoT), we will achieve innovations that dramatically boost productivity, driving a “productivity revolution” which has started happening across the world. Positioning the three years until fiscal year 2020 as a period of intensive investment towards the productivity revolution, we will vigorously stimulate capital investments and investments in human resources by companies, including small- and medium-sized enterprises and micro enterprises, which suffer from a shortage of workers.

Through bold reforms to the tax system, the budget, and regulations, we will mobilize all possible policies and measures to further intensify the power of four consecutive years of wage increases and ensure that we pull out from deflation.

(Human resources development revolution)

Boldly envisioning the characteristics of an economy and society that look ahead to an era in which the human lifespan spans a century, we will attempt to carry out major reforms to Japan’s socioeconomic system.

We will push forward in one stroke towards making preschool education effectively free. By fiscal year 2020, we will make kindergarten and nursery school expenses effectively free of charge for all children ages three to five. We will also make all expenses effectively free for children up to two years old from low-income households.

The determination of the Abe Cabinet in aiming to eliminate the wait for childcare is unshakeable. We will accelerate implementation of the Plan for Raising Children with Peace of Mind drawn up this past June and prepare childcare arrangements for 320,000 children by fiscal 2020.

Honorable Diet members, let us all work together to create a Japan in which anyone with ambition can advance to senior high school or technical junior college, vocational college or university, no matter how financially disadvantaged his or her family may be. We will make higher education effectively free for children for whom such assistance is truly necessary.

We will ensure opportunities for everyone, no matter their age, to brush up their skills and take on new challenges. We will radically expand recurrent education in order to make that a reality.

In order to meet such needs, we will press forward with reforms to universities, which will serve as the bases leading the “human resources development revolution.”

We will prepare nursing care arrangements for 500,000 people by early in the 2020s. Moving towards that major target, we will strengthen our efforts to secure nursing care workers. We will press forward with further improvements in treatment in order to eradicate the wage disparity with other industries.

We will eliminate areas of great unease facing the working generation, including child rearing and nursing care worries, and dramatically reform Japan’s social security system to become a system oriented to all generations under which both elderly and young citizens are able to enjoy peace of mind. We will create a society where all women shine, and “a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged,” with each person able to feel a purpose in life, whether that person is old or young, or someone with a disability or an intractable illness.

With the consumption tax rate scheduled to be raised in October 2019, we will review the way in which we use consumption tax revenues and boldly make investments that will assist families with small children and assist children. We will appropriate financial resources generated through the consumption tax in a well-balanced manner to make investments that will support families with small children and stabilize social security. By doing so, we will be certain to achieve fiscal soundness.

Honorable fellow members of the Diet, let us together trace out a course by which Japan overcomes its aging society and shrinking birthrate and enjoys robust growth.

4. Incorporating growth from around the world

Shinkansen (bullet trains), the pride of Japan, will run across the vast land of India. This September, construction began on a high-speed rail line there.

My administration’s more than 200 endeavors at the highest levels to expand our markets overseas have borne fruit, with the value of our infrastructure exports increasing by 10 trillion yen over the past five years. By expanding throughout the world Japan’s high level of technology and know-how, we will increase our opportunities to grow significantly even in the midst of a decreasing birthrate and graying society.

We will expand economic zones based on free and fair rules globally. We will aim at the early entry into force of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement being negotiated by 11 nations. We will also lead negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership so that it becomes an ambitious agreement.

As the result of over four years of tenacious negotiations, we have reached agreement with the EU on the fundamental elements of our Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This EPA will create an enormous economic zone with a population of 600 million people that accounts for 30 percent of global GDP. It is a “new engine” under Abenomics.

We will take adequate measures so as to reliably address the unease and worries of Japan’s farmers and enable them to engage in reproduction with peace of mind. We will make full use of our rice fields and thoroughly preserve Japan’s rich hilly and mountainous areas and our beautiful local areas.

Our attempts to develop markets around the world constitute a significant opportunity for Japan’s high-quality agricultural, forestry, and marine products that are produced through investments of time and effort. Our exports of agricultural, forestry, and marine products have been expanding at a pace by which we have broken the record high for five consecutive years, including this year. The number of young workers in their 40s or younger that are newly employed in agriculture has surpassed 20,000 for three consecutive years for the first time since the survey on this began.

The reform of agricultural policy will be a trump card in vitalizing local economies. Within 2017, we will compile plans for radical reforms to the forestry and marine products industries with a view to boosting productivity.

We will expand reforms across the entirety of the agricultural, forestry, and marine products industries and carve out a “new era for the agricultural, forestry, and marine products industries,” in which young people can have dreams and hopes for the future.

5. Recovery and reconstruction from disasters

In Tohoku’s disaster-stricken areas, more than 80 percent of farmland is able to be planted and all fishing ports have been restored. In Fukushima, which suffered significant harm from the nuclear accident, evacuation orders have been lifted in almost all areas except for zones that have been specified as “difficult to return,” and interim storage facilities have been in operation since last month. We will press forward in transporting to these facilities soil collected through decontamination, and in 2020 we will remove all temporary storage sites from locations close to where people spend their daily lives.

In order to further accelerate the reconstruction of disaster-affected areas, we will continue to vigorously support the restoration of livelihoods and the restoration of people’s psychological well-being.

This year Japan again met with natural disasters one after the other in various locations around the country. We will review the practical application of the system for designating regions that have suffered extreme damage to enable us to designate such regions promptly. We will thoroughly undertake efforts for disaster preparedness and mitigation and advance measures to make the nation’s infrastructure more resilient.

6. Conclusion

It was three years and three months that the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito spent as opposition parties.

We started by reflecting intensely on, and listening to the voices of the public regarding, the reasons we had lost control of the government. We held small gatherings in locations all around the country and thoroughly built up our policies by giving due regard to the stern comments we received from the public.

And, we have put forth every effort over these past five years towards carrying out those policies.

What should we do in the present day as we responsibly take a focused look at Japan’s future? Let us transcend the framework of ruling and opposition parties to hold constructive policy debates and move forward together.

Let us make efforts to put forth the wisdom each side holds and together generate responses to difficult issues. It is my firm conviction that as we engage in such efforts our discussions on constitutional reform will be able to move forward.

The task before us is nothing other than to execute, execute, and execute policies. Let us squarely confront the difficult issues facing Japan and together carve out Japan’s future.

Thank you for your kind attention.


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