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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Policy Speech by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the 198th Session of the Diet

January 28, 2019

[Provisional Translation]
1. Introduction
I will give the last policy speech of the Heisei period.
On April 30 of this year, His Majesty the Emperor will abdicate, and His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince will accede to the Imperial Throne on May 1, the following day. We will thoroughly prepare for this occasion so that all the people of Japan can celebrate.
“Peace at home and abroad / Peace on earth and in heaven” *
The Heisei period experienced a series of major natural disasters. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress have always visited those areas affected by disasters.
In a shopping street in Nagata, Kobe City, which had experienced complete destruction by fire from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, Her Majesty the Empress placed daffodils on the charred ruins in its aftermath. To this day, the daffodils are etched in the memory of the locals as a symbol of reconstruction.
The storekeepers of the shopping street resumed business at temporary stores immediately after the earthquake with strong determination towards reconstruction. More than two million people in total volunteered from all over Japan and gave a boost to its reconstruction. The place where daffodils were planted has now been renovated into a park filled with smiling faces of children.
In the immediate aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a woman presented a bouquet to Her Majesty the Empress who was visiting an evacuation center in Sendai City. In the woman’s hands were daffodils that had bloomed in full in the garden of her tsunami-devastated home. She said to Her Majesty,
“We will stay strong like these daffodils.”
In the disaster-affected areas in Tohoku, reconstruction is steadily moving forward, driven by the passion of the locals. The Heisei period is also an era in which the strength of Japanese people and the power of people’s ties are demonstrated.
“The heroic nature of
Japan’s yamato spirit
has been exhibited
during times of difficulties.” **                   
Throughout the Meiji, Taisho, Showa, and Heisei periods, Japanese people were faced with great difficulties a number of times. At each instance, people have overcome those difficulties by unleashing their tremendous strength, helping each other, and joining forces.
We, in the present times, must also face a rapidly declining birthrate and aging population and a turbulent international environment. We must all work together to hand over a splendid Japan for our children’s and our grandchildren’s generations.
As we head into the era that will follow the Heisei period, let us together open up a new tomorrow for Japan.
2. Transition to a Social Security System Oriented to All Generations
(Virtuous cycle of growth and distribution)
Over the last six years, we released Three Arrows,” and the economy grew by more than 10%. The sum of national and local tax revenues has increased by 28 trillion yen. The national tax revenue in next fiscal year’s budget is a record high, exceeding 62 trillion yen.
We have distributed the benefits of this growth boldly to the working generation with a set of three new arrows, such as childrearing supports.
As we increased the amount of childrearing allowance and established a scholarship program that requires no repayment, the university enrollment rate of students from single-parent households has increased from 24% to 42%. The relative poverty rate of children, which had continuously worsened, has decreased for the first time and improved significantly. In addition, the number of families receiving livelihood assistance among the working generation, which had consistently increased since 1993, has decreased by 80,000 families since the change of government.
As a result of improved childcare environment with accommodated an additional 530,000 children over the past five years, the number of children on childcare waiting lists decreased by 6,000 last year and is below 20,000 for the first time in 10 years. The employment rate among women of childrearing households has risen by seven percentage points, with two million women now newly employed.
By ensuring that the benefits of growth are thoroughly distributed, we will pave the way towards future growth. Through this virtuous cycle of growth and distribution, Abenomics continues to evolve even now.
(Making education free)

The greatest challenge for Japan’s sustainable growth is the declining birthrate and aging population. During the 30 years of the Heisei period, the birthrate has fallen from 1.57 to 1.26 children per woman. On the contrary, the rate of aging has risen from 10% to 30%.
As Japan is facing the fastest pace of declining birthrate and aging population in the world, we cannot respond to this challenge by extending the existing policies. We need a totally different level of policy measures.
If the wishes of the families who want to have and raise children were fulfilled, the birthrate would rise to 1.8 children per woman. The burdens associated with their education, however, have been a major constraint preventing that.  
By having society as a whole bear these burdens, we will change our course drastically to a Japan where giving birth and raising children are a positive experience. By doing so, we will aim to raise the birthrate to 1.8 children per woman, which is the level the public has indicated as desirable.
Beginning this October, we will make early childhood education free for all children between the ages of three and five. This constitutes the first major reform in 70 years since making basic education free for the nine years of elementary and junior high school education.
We will surely achieve the goal to eliminate childcare waiting lists. In this fiscal year, we will also improve the childcare environment by accepting additional 170,000 children. We will further improve the working conditions of nursery teachers. We will also proceed with the improvement of after-school childcare through various means, including giving municipalities more discretionary power.   
From April next year, tuition will be made effectively free for private high schools, in addition to public high schools. We will also make higher education free for children for whom such assistance is truly needed and provide an adequate amount of scholarships to cover their living expenses, with no repayment required.
Abenomics will be completed only when we have created a society where all children can pave the way to their bright future with their will and efforts, regardless of their families’ economic situations.
Children are the future of this country.
Even now, there exists the reality that many young lives are lost due to child abuse. The note left by a girl merely five years old, just before her death, shocked the whole country.
It is the responsibility of all of us adults to protect the lives of children.
We must never let such a tragedy happen again. Our first and foremost priority is to protect the lives of children. To this end, we will exert every effort to eliminate child abuse by fundamentally expanding the system of child guidance offices and making police fully back up municipalities’ efforts.
(Dynamic engagement of all citizens)
A small company, together with a group of women, entered the construction industry, where the ratio of female workers is only 3%. This company has introduced various measures, such as shorter working hours and a nursery, and 30% of its staff are women.  
These women produced paint that is not harmful to health, and their paint has become a popular household product. The company’s lightweight tools, which are easy to use for women, have become tools of choice for elderly craftsmen as well. This company has doubled its sales in three years and is recording rapid growth.
The landscape of Japan will change dramatically with women’s perspectives and active participation of women. They are a major engine that drives the future growth of Japan that faces declining population.
We will ensure that this trend will be expanded to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the country by revising the Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace. We will support SMEs’ efforts to create a supportive working environment for women, while reducing the burdens of business owners by giving them sufficient time for preparation.
The society must work as one to eliminate power and sexual harassment in the workplace. We will require all businesses to prevent power harassment. We will promote a supportive working environment for everyone by prohibiting disadvantageous treatment of employees based on their consultation on sexual harassment and strengthening initiatives to protect whistleblowers.
There is no time to lose to achieve works style reform.
Beginning this April, a series of regulations on overtime work with penalties will enter into force, by which the exceptions of the Article 36 Agreement under the Labor Standards Act cannot be applied even for large companies. For those company owners and management, the time for reform has come. I hope you are ready for it.
We will eradicate the practice of working long hours that has persisted for many years. This will allow people to work flexibly depending on their individual circumstances, such as childrearing or caregiving. We will continue to exert every effort to carry out work style reform, with a view to creating a society where everyone can fully make the most of their abilities.
We would also like persons with disabilities to make the most of their abilities in society, while finding their work rewarding. To this end, we will amend the Act on Employment Promotion etc. of Persons with Disabilities and further expand employment.
The arrival of a 100-year life society represents a significant opportunity.
If those elderly, who are healthy and motivated, can make use of their experiences and wisdom, Japan still has much room for further growth. Towards achieving a society where people can play an active role throughout their lives, we will review the existing system that limits continued employment to age 65. We will formulate a plan by this summer and implement it so as to secure employment opportunities until age 70.  
During the last five years, even with the working-age population decreasing by 4.5 million people, the number of employees has increased by 2.5 million thanks to the active participation of many women and elderly in the workforce. We must be able to overcome the declining birthrate and aging population if all people have opportunities to realize their potentials, whether they are female or male, are young or old, or have disabilities or intractable illnesses.
Let us work together to create a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged towards the era that follows the Heisei period.
(A social security system oriented to all generations)

Amid the declining birthrate and aging population and in a 100-year life society, the social security system that Japan takes pride in must undergo major changes. We must fulfill the transition to a social security system oriented to all generations that will ensure peace of mind for a broad range of people, not only the elderly but also children, the childrearing generation, and the working generation.
In a rapidly aging society, the working generation has profound concerns over caregiving for their aging family members. There should not be a society where people are forced to quit their jobs or give up on something they find fulfilling.
To assure the peace of mind in the working generation, we will continue to make utmost efforts towards our goal of reducing the number of people leaving employment to provide nursing care for their family members to zero.
We will improve the nursing care environment to accommodate 500,000 people by the early 2020s. We also promote measures to reduce the burdens borne by caregivers, such as making use of robots, and improve their working conditions by raising the monthly salaries of staff in a leadership position, by up to 80,000 yen from October.
In order to strengthen our policy related-to dementia, we will revise the Comprehensive Strategy to Accelerate Dementia Measures (New Orange Plan) by this summer. We will reduce the burdens of those who have family members suffering from dementia, by supporting them as the entire community through various measures such as setting up a “dementia café” in all municipalities.
With regard to the labor surveys, I apologize to the people that the surveys have been conducted in an inappropriate manner over many years and it undermined confidence in the safety net. We will pay shortfalls for underpaid employment insurance, industrial accident compensation insurance, and other insurance as soon as possible through a simple procedure. While the Government has conducted an emergency review of its fundamental statistics, we will continue to exert all efforts to prevent any recurrences and conduct an extensive investigation to restore confidence in official statistics.
The transition to a social security system oriented to all generations does not, in any way, mean a reduction in welfare services for the elderly. It is a major premise that our social security system continues to give peace of mind to the elderly.
With regard to the long-term care insurance premium, which is also paid by people aged 65 and older, we will reduce this premium to two-thirds of the current amount for those with limited pension revenue, from this coming October. We will also ensure an adequate amount of income for pensioners by providing additional annual welfare benefits of up to 60,000 yen.
Along these social security reforms, we will advance fiscal consolidation towards our target of achieving primary balance surplus by FY2025 so that the costs of these reforms are not passed onto succeeding generations.
We really need a stable funding source through the increase of the consumption tax rate to overcome the declining birthrate and aging population and establish a social security system oriented to all generations. I ask for the understanding and cooperation of the people on its increase to 10% in this coming October.
We will take every possible measure in economic management hearing from the lessons learned when we increased the rate to 8%.
Four-fifths of the increased revenue from the previous consumption tax rate increase had been allocated to debt repayment. By reviewing this use of the consumption tax revenue, we will allocate a revenue of around two trillion yen to tuition-free education and other measures and give back to the childrearing generation. We will reduce the burdens for people with low income by introducing reduced tax rates and shopping vouchers with rewards.
At the same time, we will introduce a major point reward program to promote cashless payments at micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises across the country. We will also implement major tax reductions for vehicle and home purchases to firmly bolster consumption.
In next fiscal year’s budget, we will take more than sufficient measures at a level that returns back to the public the entirety of the increased tax revenue paid in, thereby making the economic recovery trend certain. By doing so, we will steadily advance towards our goal of raising GDP to 600 trillion yen, our largest in the post-war era.
3. Growth Strategy
(Dispelling the deflationary mindset)

The Japanese economy in the Heisei period started out with the burst of the bubble.
Struggling with deflation, with no end in sight, companies became hesitant to invest in human resources, and the job shortage for young people became a social issue. Capital investment fell by 30% from its peak, and investment towards the future tapered.
The greatest enemy in Japan’s lost two decades is the deflationary mindset that spread widely across the country.
We have fought against this situation with Three Arrows.
We brought Japan to a point that is no longer deflationary at an early stage. By doing so, capital investment of companies has increased by 14 trillion yen to reach the highest level in two decades. Amid a serious labor shortage, we have seen resurgence in human resources investment, and wages have increased to the highest level in this century for five consecutive years. According to a Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) survey, this winter’s bonus was the highest on record.
 The momentum to invest for the future has resurged among Japanese companies. Now that the deflationary mindset is being dispelled, we will encourage innovation towards our future.
(Fourth Industrial Revolution)

The world is currently in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics will be transform the way our economy and society work entirely.
Autonomous driving technologies will offer a safe mean of travel for the elderly. Early detection of illnesses will become possible if medical information such as body temperature and blood pressure is analyzed in the form of Big Data.
New innovations are filled with enormous potential to solve various societal issues and make our lives safer and more fulfilling. Achieving Society 5.0 ahead of the world is precisely our growth strategy to pave the way for the future of Japan.
We will decisively reform outdated regulations and systems.
We will review traffic regulations entirely, and gradually lift regulations related to autonomous driving, as the safety improves. We will also review relevant systems to enable bedridden elderly people and others to receive comprehensive services online and at home, from medical examination to medication guidance. Within five years, we will enable students to engage in distance learning with experts of foreign languages or coding at every elementary and junior high school.
Radio waves are a common property of the people. We will carry out reforms towards their effective use, such as the transition to a system to allocate frequency bands, based on their economic value, and the introduction of a procedure to return the allocated frequency bands. We will also create an environment for fair competition towards reducing mobile phone fees.   
We will abolish paper attachments for electronic applications. By eliminating silos of various administrative procedures and establishing one-stop services, we will change the current situation where people are required to submit the same documents many times in the case of moving and so on.  
In an era where the society and economy are changing at an accelerating pace due to rapid technological advancement, the most important role of the Government is, I believe, to create an environment where people can trust new systems and everyone will move on to them with peace of mind. 
With a vast amount of personal data circulating around the world, we need rules that are highly transparent, fair, and mutually beneficial to protect privacy and security. Based on these rules, we must ensure a free flow of data across national borders. We will build a trusted, free and open international data distribution network, collaborating with the United States and Europe.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) must be used solely for humans and humans must be held responsible for its outcome. We will take the lead in establishing human-centered ethical principles for AI.
We must leave no one behind from the changes brought by these innovations. The main pillar of our AI strategy to be formulated this summer is focused on education system reform.
From next year, we will make coding a required course at every elementary school. We will enable every child to obtain literacy to make full use of innovations such as AI, by steadily enriching computer education and making them mandatory at both junior and senior high schools.
We need the help from universities, the center of knowledge, to successively create new innovations in our country. We will fundamentally reform the Management Expenses Grants for universities, in order to encourage them to provide young researchers with ample opportunities and proactively collaborate with private companies.
As economic activities become borderless, it is necessary to further strengthen corporate governance so as to increase the competitiveness and reliability of Japanese companies. We will continue to advance corporate governance reforms in line with global standards, including appointment of external directors and disclosure of officer remuneration.
(Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises)

Exports of micro, small, and, medium-sized enterprises have doubled since the collapse of the bubble economy.
The 3.6 million businesses across Japan have endured and gritted their teeth even in the face of difficulties, by establishing their own sales channels, departing from their status as subcontractor, or honing their unique technologies. It is those micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises that have bolstered the Japanese economy after the bubble burst and protect 70% of employment in our country.   
We will encourage new endeavors through subsidies for manufacturing and service of these enterprises. As labor shortage becomes prominent across the country, we will also support various initiatives to increase productivity through subsidies for introducing IT and subsidies for the sustainable development of small businesses.
From this April, Japan will accept foreign personnel who can contribute immediately to the workplace. By attracting many foreign talents and having them as an active player in the Japanese economy, we will pave the way to new growth. Looking ahead to the start of work style reforms, we will make further improvements in business practices, such as the prohibition of shifting burdens to meet deadlines.
Another major challenge is to secure successors. Support Centers for Smooth Business Succession in all 47 prefectures will help match those small businesses with potential successors. In addition, we will expand the business succession taxation scheme for individual business owners to defer the whole payment of the inheritance tax.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Japan and the European Union (EU) will provide significant opportunities to expand businesses overseas for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, which possess advanced technological capabilities. We will support their overseas expansion and sales channel development, in accordance with the Comprehensive TPP-Related Policy Framework.                      
4. Regional Revitalization
(A new era of the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries)

We will open up significant opportunities to expand overseas markets for safe and delicious agricultural products as well. Our target of achieving one trillion yen in exports of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries products is within reach.
At the same time, we will squarely face the concerns held by farmers. We will make every possible effort to improve and stabilize agriculture management, even utilizing the second supplementary budget.
It is the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries throughout this country that protect the national characteristics of our country: the splendid rural landscape, mountain ranges full of greenery, the rich marine environment, and hometowns with traditions. In order to pass on the beautiful terraced rice fields to the following generations, we will make use of direct payment to low upland and mountainous areas and implement additional comprehensive assistance measures.
Agriculture is the foundation of the country.
We must take on new challenges to protect agriculture. We will create a strong agricultural industry that young people can join with dreams and high hopes. We will further expand our policies that we have enriched over the past six years so as to carve out the new agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries.
We will simplify procedures for farm consolidation at farmland banks. Utilizing the budget for land improvement that exceeds 600 billion yen, three times larger than the previous government, we aim at improving productivity by accelerating the consolidation of farmlands for highly motivated and capable farmers.
We will amend the Act Concerning Utilization of National Forest Land. We will make stable business possible by allowing foresters to deforest and afforest national forests for a longer period of time. For the protection of beautiful forests, we will also establish a forest environment tax aimed at watershed conservation and disaster prevention.
While firmly improving the profitability of the fishery industry, we will ensure the sustainable use of fishery resources. We will strongly support the efforts of fishermen to improve their productivity, such as the introduction of fishing boats and equipment with the budget that exceeds 300 billion yen.  
Towards the era that follows the Heisei period, let us together build a “new era of the agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries” that young people can entrust their futures to.
(Tourism-oriented country)

Rice planting and harvesting. Over 13,000 tourists recently visited up to 50 minshuku private lodgings owned by farmers in Noto Town, Ishikawa Prefecture. Foreign tourists from over 20 countries have gathered there from Asia as well as the United States, France, Italy, Israel, and more.
Last year, the number of tourists to Japan set a new record for the sixth year in a row and reached 30 million mark. The number of tourists increased by over three-fold for Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku, and Kyushu, over four-fold for Shikoku, and over five-fold for Okinawa. Their spending is a massive market of 4.5 trillion yen.
By becoming a tourism-oriented country, we have created a large and robust industry that is driving regional revitalization throughout Japan.  
Toward the goal of achieving 40 million foreign visitors by next year, we will increase by 80,000 slots for the arrival and departure at Haneda and Narita Airports, the aviation gateways connecting overseas and regions of Japan. We will further strengthen various initiatives, including our counterterrorism efforts. We will also accelerate the introduction of multi-language signage at major railways and tourism destinations, utilizing revenues from the international tourist tax.
We will proceed with the construction of the second runway at Naha Airport with an aim to start the service in March next year. By expanding the arrival and departure capacity of the airport significantly, we will strengthen its functions as an airport hub connecting Japan and the rest of Asia.
In Hokkaido, New Chitose Airport has increased 25 international flights, including direct flights from the Philippines, last year. We will support the expansion of experience-based tourism, making full use of Japan’s magnificent nature. We will also build a hub in Shiraoi Town to promote Ainu culture widely and exert efforts to enable Ainu people to live their lives with pride as indigenous people. 
(Regional revitalization)

Each region will pioneer its own future with its own ideas, making full use of its unique characteristics including tourism resources. That is regional revitalization under the Abe Cabinet.
We will continue to support the passion of local people with 100 billion yen in local economic vitalization allocations. We will also introduce a Special Corporate Enterprise Tax so as to adjust the gap among tax revenues and strengthen local finance.  
Ten years ago, more than half of the inquiries regarding the relocation from Tokyo to other regions were from those aged over 60. Now, the total number of inquiries has been increased more than tenfold and ninety percent of them are from the working generation under no more than age 50. In particular, the number of inquiries from the age under 30 has increased more than fifty-fold.  
Now that the mindset of young people changed, we are seeing a major opportunity. We will strongly support young people who are attracted by life in places outside the major cities and want to be a part of those communities.
We will successively expand the Regional Vitalization Cooperation Volunteers initiative to an 8,000-person scale. We will provide a maximum of 3 million yen to those who start up a business or take a job and move from Tokyo to these regions, accelerating the flow of people.
With the power of young people, we will carve out the bright future in these regions. 
(National resilience)
Last year, we experienced a series of successive unprecedented scale and level of disasters, such as torrential rainfall, earthquakes, severe storms, and unusual heatwaves. We can no longer deal with such disasters only with our experiences and preparations up to date. We should not dismiss these kinds of life-threatening emergencies simply as “unprecedented.”
Spending 7 trillion yen, we will implement measures that we have never seen before.  
We will work on disaster prevention and mitigation to protect people’s lives, through the improvement and development of over 2,000 rivers and 1,000 reservoirs across Japan and the implementation of safety measures for the concrete walls with total length of 1,000 kilometers.
We will develop robust lifelines which can sustain in times of disasters, by making the total length of over 4,000 kilometers water-pipes earthquake resistant and installing off-grid power generators to 8,000 gas stations.
We will strengthen our life-saving response system, establishing wide-area support units, which specialize in storm and flood damage, in all the prefectures.
Exerting all possible efforts, both from hard and soft aspects, we will promote disaster-ready nation building and national resilience.  
(Reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake)
On September 20, the Rugby World Cup will kick off finally. After five days from that, the rugby powerhouse Fiji will play at the stadium in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture.
This stadium was constructed with the passion of local residents for reconstruction at a place that experienced massive damage from the tsunami. Children will watch exciting games by the world’s top players with their eyes shining and I am certain that those children will be a major force to lead Tohoku in the next era.
The reconstruction of over 47,000 residences will be mostly completed by this spring in the disaster areas in Tohoku. It is expected that over 90% of agricultural land damaged by flooding from the tsunami will be restored.
In Okuma Town, which suffered major damage from the nuclear accident, the town hall will be restored to the town this spring for the first time in eight years.
Steady efforts such as patrolling houses, mowing, and maintaining reservoirs have been made by local residents, who wish for the lifting of the evacuation order in the future. Their efforts have been bearing fruit. The Government will also work on the creation of the necessary conditions towards the return of residents, such as infrastructure development.
There will be no reconstruction of Tohoku without the reconstruction of Fukushima. There will be no revitalization of Japan without the reconstruction of Tohoku. Until the day when reconstruction is accomplished, the Government will continue to stand on the front lines and exert all out efforts.
Next year, the Reconstruction Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held in Japan. The Olympic torch relay will start in Fukushima. The first game will also be held in Fukushima. Together, let us show the world how Tohoku which has been marvelously rebuilt after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
5. Summing-up of Japan’s Postwar Dilomacy
(Creating fair economic rules)
At the end of last year, the TPP (Transpacific Partnership) entered into force. Next month, our economic partnership agreement with Europe will also come into effect.
Both agreements do not stop at simply lowering tariffs. They develop a set of highly transparent and fair rules in extensive fields such as intellectual property and state enterprises. They will provide the model of a free and fair economic zone for the new age.  
Free trade is now at a major crossroads.
A quarter century has passed since the establishment of the World Trade Organization. The world economy has become increasingly borderless and its degree of interdependence has increased. Emerging economies have achieved significant economic growth and the digitization of economies has advanced significantly.  
The unease and dissatisfaction regarding these rapid changes sometimes give rise to the temptation to move to protectionism, causing acute conflicts of interest between countries.
Now is the time that we must raise the flag of free trade high. In such an era, it is our country’s mission to expand an open and fair economic zone to the world. 
In accordance with the joint statement in September last year, we will advance negotiations with the United States. We will also lead negotiations in the final stage to make the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which will create a huge economic zone, an ambitious agreement.
In order to restore confidence in the international trade system, WTO reform is also necessary. Working together with the United States and Europe, I am determined that Japan will take the lead in creating fair rules in the new age in the fields of subsidies, data circulation, and e-commerce.
(Reestablishment of Japan’s security policy)
Towards the era that follows the Heisei period, we will carve out the new frontier for Japan’s diplomacy. Now is the time for us to undergo summing-up of Japan’s postwar diplomacy.
The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy and security.
The enactment of the Legislation for Peace and Security has enabled the Alliance to assist each other and strengthened its bonds. The Japan-U.S. Alliance is stronger than ever.
Based on the relationship of such deep trust, we will make utmost efforts to alleviate the impact of the bases in Okinawa while maintaining deterrence. On the basis of the dialogues we have cultivated with Okinawa Prefecture and municipalities over twenty years, we will advance the relocation to Henoko and accomplish as quickly as possible the total return of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, which is said to be the most dangerous airport in the world.
No country will spare their efforts to protect a country that has no spirit to protect itself. At the core of our security policies are the efforts that we make.
During the 30 years of the Heisei era, which dawned as the Cold War ended, the security environment surrounding Japan has undergone significant change. The reality is that, even at this moment, the environment is becoming increasingly uncertain and more severe at a pace far faster than before.
The evolution of technology is fundamentally changing the paradigm of national security. We have entered the era where countries engage in fierce competition in new domains such as cyberspace and outer space.
We can no longer deal with such situations with a mere extension of the existing security policy. It is impossible to deal with new threats, with the conventional paradigm based on traditional domains of land, sea and air. 
We will protect the lives and peaceful livelihoods of the people through our own self-driven and independent efforts. Under the new National Defense Program Guidelines, we will strengthen fundamentally the structure for that and expand the role we can fulfill. In order for Japan to be able to maintain its advantages in the areas of cyberspace and outer space, we will advance reforms at a speed fundamentally different than before, so as to develop new defense capabilities.
(Culmination of the Policy of “Diplomacy That Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map”)
In order to ensure the peace and prosperity of our country, it is necessary to strengthen the foundation of our national security and promote our diplomacy of peace even more strongly.
Over the past six years, under the policy of Proactive Contribution to Peace, we have worked together with the international community and contributed to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever. We have actively engaged in diplomacy with a panoramic perspective of the world map.
Now is the time that these efforts culminate towards the new era that follows the Heisei period.
With my visit to China in autumn last year, Japan-China relations were fully returned to their normal path. We will elevate the relationship between Japan and China to a new stage, deepening mutual exchanges between the people of the two countries, in every field such as politics, the economy, culture, sports and youth exchanges, based on the principle with three following points, which I confirmed with President Xi Jinping as a guiding post: from competition to collaboration under the international standards; not being threats to each other; developing together a free and fair trade system.
With Russia, we must deepen the trust and friendship between our two peoples, resolve the territorial issue, and conclude a peace treaty. I share the strong determination with President Putin that we must bring to an end this issue that have remained unresolved for more than 70 years since the war ended, and not leave them to the next generation. Under this deep and trusting relationship at the leader level, we will accelerate negotiations based on the 1956 Joint Declaration.
Towards the resolutions of the nuclear and missile issues, and most importantly, the abductions issue, we will take bold actions without missing any single opportunity, by breaking the shell of mutual distrust, and with myself meeting face-to-face with Chairman Kim Jong-un. We will seek to settle the unfortunate past and normalize relations with North Korea. To that end, we will work in close cooperation with the United States, the Republic of Korea, and other members of the international community.
In order to make Northeast Asia a peaceful, prosperous, and truly stable region, which is truly stable, we will vigorously engage in diplomacy, fitting in the new era and not constrained by conventional ways of thinking, with our neighboring countries.
We will make the vast seas and skies from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean the foundation of peace and prosperity from which every country, whether large or small, can benefit. Japan will create a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” working together with all the countries that share this vision.
(Japan’s diplomacy across the world)
With the countries in the Middle East, we have cultivated good relationships for many years. Based on that history, we will engage in proactive diplomacy with Japan’s unique perspective for the sake of peace and stability in the Middle East.
Almost 30 years have now passed since the first TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development). Africa, now a vibrant and dynamic region, is no longer a mere recipient of development assistance; they are partners that grow together. In August, we will host TICAD VII and strongly support the dream that Africa envisions.
Towards the peace and prosperity of the world, there is a major role to be played by Japan’s diplomacy. There is high hope for Japan’s leadership in dealing with global issues. 
Japan has reduced greenhouse gas emissions for four consecutive years. Meanwhile, we need to achieve a disruptive-level of significant reductions to achieve our long-term goal of 80% emissions reductions by 2050s. Japan will take the lead in epoch-making innovations, such as the materialization of a hydrogen society, by creating a virtuous cycle of environmental protection and growth such that we will disclose the information of companies active in environmental investment and further promote such investment in the private sector.
Ocean plastic pollution poses a major threat to ecosystems. In order to hand over beautiful oceans to future generations, we will work with other countries to tackle the issue of ocean plastics, by collecting and disposing of waste in an appropriate manner as well as developing new marine decomposable materials, towards a world that does not cause new pollution.
In June this year, Japan will chair and host the G20 Summit, where the leaders of the world’s major countries will come together.
In light of various challenges facing the world, such as sustainable growth of the global economy, the development of a free and fair trade system, the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and new initiatives on global issues, we will engage in candid discussions and identify the vision for the world towards the future. That is the summit I aim to chair.
Building upon our cumulative efforts of diplomacy with a panoramic perspective of the world map, I am resolved that Japan will firmly fulfill its responsibility in the world under the trusting relationship that I have cultivated with world leaders. 
Looking ahead to the era that follows the Heisei period, let us work together, with both courage and pride, to open up new horizons for Japan’s diplomacy and create a Japan that the world will rely on.
6. Conclusion
In 2025, Japan will host an international exposition.
At the Osaka Expo in 1970, children were thrilled with the promise of the future society, which looked like a dream, such as maglev trains, electric cars and mobile phones.
“Science is the key that someday could open a door to the world of wonder.”
At that time, an eight-year boy was enthralled with the exhibition. He then pursued his career in natural science and became the first person in the world to successfully produce iPS cells through his tremendous efforts. He received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine and is now giving hope to people around the world who are battling intractable illnesses.
Taking these significant opportunities provided by 2020 and 2025, let us open up a new era full of dynamism where children of the next generation can feel strong force driving towards a bright future.
The Constitution sets out the ideals for the nation and provides a guidepost towards a new era. What kind of a country should we make Japan for our children and grandchildren? At this historic turning point, we should draw out a clear path for the future of this country. It is my hope that the Commissions on the Constitution of both houses of the Diet will further deepen discussions among all parties on such matters.
As we head into the era that follows the Heisei period, we will carve out Japan’s tomorrow. Let us all work together to fulfil this responsibility.
Thank you for your kind attention.
*Passages from China’s Records of the Grand Historian and Book of Documents on which the name “Heisei” is based.
**A Waka poem read by His Late Majesty Emperor Meiji in 1904.

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