New Year's Address
Happy New Year to you all.
I hope you are all well and haven't caught a cold in the cold weather. To the young people preparing hard for entrance exams, do mind your health and make sure you produce the best possible results.
If you are a grandparent, will you see your grandchildren during the New Year holidays? Have you heard their voices on the telephone?
I hope those of you who are working right through the holidays without a break, and those of you who live alone, have also been able to welcome a peaceful new year.
I sincerely hope this year brings hope to everybody who lives in Japan. It is our duty [in the government] to work for this end.
More than three months have passed since the new government took office. In this time we have achieved many reforms, not least the review of government programmes (jigyou shiwake). As shown on television and elsewhere, incumbents of the three political-level posts in the bureaucracy - ministers, senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries - have been doing their utmost so as to establish true political leadership in government.
Meanwhile, I am aware that there is a range of opinions among certain quarters on the cabinet's leadership. I seek the public's understanding on the fact that there was a change of government and the policy decision-making process and the philosophy underlying it have changed considerably. We have dramatically increased the transparency of the processes of government programme review and tax-system reform, making it possible for all to watch the debate as it takes place. Ministers now communicate their feelings directly to the public, using their own words rather than those of bureaucrats.
Lively, uninhibited discussion is precisely what we want to see. I suspect there has been discussion in you homes and workplaces on the review of government programmes and the issue of child-rearing support.
It is our wish that the public also take part in profound and level-headed discussions on government policy. I hope to create a truly democratic nation, where all the discussions taking place on the street build up gradually, eventually to be reflected in policy. To do this, the government must not simply take policy decisions as it sees right, but must rather boldly expose the processes by which those decisions are reached.
In this sense, I believe that the completion of the Outline of the Tax System and of the government's draft budget for fiscal 2010 is proof that this transparent policy-making process is producing results.
In this connection, I also intend to carry out proper discussion on the issue of the relocation of the Futenma air station, gleaning every bit of wisdom possible in order to reinforce the Japan-US alliance, a matter of Japan's security, while we also reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa Prefecture as much as possible. I earnestly hope that all the people of this country will treat this as an issue which concerns them directly.
It goes without saying, of course, that once discussion is exhausted on various issues, the Cabinet must determine the final course of action on them, based on my decisions.
It will also be important for me to explain my own thinking on those issues, the content of my decisions and their background to all of you and to gain your understanding. Here I intend seriously to reflect on those areas where reflection is due, and to put more effort into own public communication.
The most pressing desire of the people around the country is to see the economy recover, to secure employment and to break free from deflation. We will make every effort to secure the early passage of the second supplementary budget [of fiscal 2009] and the fiscal 2010 budget. We will also begin implementing such groundbreaking measures as child-rearing support and an individual household income support system for [commercial] farming households. At the end of last year we laid out the framework for a new growth strategy; next we must look beyond that to craft a detailed grand strategy for growth and put it into practice.
Last year the issue of my political funds became a cause for considerable concern among the people of Japan. Allow me once again to apologise sincerely for this. I believe I should discharge my responsibility by meeting the ardent expectations which the people hold in the new government, and humbly request the good understanding of each member of the public.
The new challenges being undertaken by the new government may indeed make you all worry. My government's "honeymoon period" is over now, and we can no longer ask people to judge us with a warmly forgiving eye. My hope is that we can consider the issues and engage in struggle together with you, in the process receiving your pointed criticisms.
During the year to come, we intend to create a society where as many people as possible can secure employment and work with smiles on their faces; a society where the elderly and those "challenged" [with disabilities] can live with peace of mind; a Japan whose young people can distinguish themselves in the global community with hope and pride. At the same time, we will do all we can to make progress in international efforts aimed at the pressing issues of climate change and nuclear disarmament.
I offer my sincere wish that the year 2010 shall be a wonderful year for each Japanese citizen, and ask for your continued support.