31 January 2001
It is extremely regrettable that I must begin my opening statement at this terribly important Session of the Diet by commenting on the arrest of one of our own Diet members on suspicion of accepting bribes from the KSD Small-Medium Enterprise Owners Welfare Corporation. Moreover, members of my own Cabinet have resigned as a result of this incident. More than anything else it is through stern self-discipline on the part of each and every politician that political ethics are established. I can assure you that in order to prevent the recurrence of such an incident I will redouble my vigilance and devote my utmost efforts to regaining the trust of the people.
Moreover, it is extremely regrettable that charges have been filed as a result of suspicions of misappropriation of public funds by an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for the expenses incurred by successive prime ministers making visits abroad. I view this situation with the utmost severity and I would like to express my deep apologies to the people of Japan and assure them that I will be closely watching the efforts of the investigative authorities to unravel the truth as I see to it that the Government takes all necessary measures to discern the cause and to prevent any such recurrence.
Last year we suffered a series of major disasters and I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to all those people who have had to greet the new year with uncertainty and have been forced to live away from the comforts of their home as a result of such disasters. While doing my utmost to improve the daily lives of these victims of disaster, I intend to make full use of the Central Disaster Prevention Council in order to ensure that the entire Government works together to strengthen our nation-building to buffer us against disasters.
At the beginning of the year, in my address to the people commemorating the arrival of the 21st century, I reflected that the 20th century had been a century of gglory and remorse.h I characterized it as such because I feel that we must never forget that in the shadow of the prosperity achieved through the fabulous development of science and technology lay the great sacrifices paid in two world wars and numerous conflicts. Nor may we forget the high price that has been paid in the form of the destruction of our beautiful nature and the environment.
From the experiences of such a century Japan learnt the preciousness of freedom and democracy and attained peace. Indeed, it was the social compact of our people, to that effect, which formed the basis for our nation-building activities. We must firmly hand down to the children of our nation, and to their children, the great traditions and culture of our nation and our beautiful natural environment. At the same time this compact must be further strengthened so that we will indeed be able during the 21st century to ensure that Japan, and the entire world, is peaceful and blessed with an abundant environment.@
I made the first visit by a Prime Minister of Japan to countries of sub-Saharan Africa. While Africa is a continent endowed with abundant nature and a vibrant populace, it is still now confronted with issues such as poverty, conflict and infectious diseases. One in five of its people have suffered due to conflicts, and it has been reported that the number of refugees and internally displaced persons has reached 6.25 million. However, the refugee children I met held high hopes for their own future. They were free of care and sparkled brightly, and touched my heart deeply. Each of these issues facing Africa threaten the very existence of the human race. They made me feel strongly that we must establish a ghuman securityh that will release all people from such threats and forge a 21st century that will shine brightly for the people of the world. Furthermore, I felt a renewed determination that Japan will exercise responsibility and leadership toward this end.
I believe that people are the driving force that creates the vitality of Japan. Recently, I made a visit to Greece. The backbone of that countryfs civilization is respect for people and the dynamism of the people. The Italian Renaissance called for a return to the ways of ancient Greece, and I believe that a ghuman renaissanceh is important now in the 21st century. While on the one hand, our society will experience the further diversification of individual tastes and values, the acceptance of various ways of living and the emergence of infinite potential, it is also anticipated that one will have to bear a greater responsibility for onefs way of life than before. Therefore, it will be extremely important that we cultivate people who possess rich individuality and creativity and who will boldly try out a wide range of possibilities. It is my wish that we proceed ahead making great strides toward the rebirth of Japan through the development of an environment in which such people can fully tap their potential and seek self-fulfillment.@@@@
In cultivating people, we must not neglect their spiritual side. While we have become able to benefit from material prosperity, I feel that we tend to lose spiritual richness. Now we must give renewed serious thought to problems of the spirit and cultivate people who have and will not miss the chance to develop such a strong spirit. I believe we must tackle this issue not only at school and in the home, but also in society at large.
Due to economic globalization, the worldwide IT revolution, fewer children and the aging society, and other radical changes occurring both within and outside Japan, the social and economic systems that have underpinned our countryfs development have become unable to fulfill their traditional roles. I hope that we will take these new changes of our era not as a sign of crisis for the Japanese development system, but as a fresh chance to create a direction for a new development that makes use of inherent Japanese characteristics, and build a nation in Japan with which the worldfs people could hope to realize their dreams.
We cannot forge such a 21st century without going beyond the ideas behind our existing policies and instituting reforms that break with the past. Now more than ever, we need to return to the starting point by asking what this country needs in order to rebuild itself. It is necessary that we pursue the rebirth of Japan by implementing a third sweeping reform to follow the Meiji Restoration and the postwar reforms. I will designate this Diet Session as a gDiet of Reform for the Rebirth of Japan,h and, drawing on the enthusiasm of my predecessors in taking on the challenge of nation-building, I am resolved to put every effort into making full use of the knowledge of this new age as I move to implement reform.
Resolutely carrying out such reforms will herald the first steps toward a 21st century as gA Century of Hope,h gA Century of Humanity,h gA Century of Trusth and gA Century for the Earth.h@@
As the 20th century drew to its close, Japan, suffering from prolonged economic stagnation and in a state of uncertainty concerning the future of society as a whole, had lost its sense of confidence, and among the people was a pervasive feeling of deprivation. However, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the 21st century is one where we will swiftly free ourselves from the fetters of such circumstances and create a gCentury of Hopeh in which each and every person is able to hold and indeed live out their hopes and dreams. To this end, with diversity of choices at the hands of each and every person and companies alike, we must endeavor to cut a swathe toward a brighter future, through realizing a society in which freedom of action is guaranteed and innovative and creative research and development is promoted.
A sound and vigorous economy is a prerequisite for a gCentury of Hope.h To this end I will channel all my energies into the Rebirth of the Economy.
Japanfs economy continues on its path to steady improvement, but severe conditions remain, and now other areas for concern are being witnessed, such as the slowdown in the economy of the United States. In such circumstances, I believe it is of the utmost importance to place pivotal emphasis on the business environment and to put the economy firmly on a path to real recovery without delay. For this, in the first instance the gPolicy Package for New Economic Development toward the Rebirth of Japanh which was decided last year in October is moving steadily towards implementation and I will apply myself to the task of swiftly and appropriately executing the supplementary budget for this fiscal year.
Furthermore, in the compilation of the budget for FY2001, I have made appropriate provision in the budget to ensure a fresh start to the new century. I have orchestrated the focused and efficient allocation of funds in areas where the creation of a new development base for the 21st century is deemed necessary, such as the 700 billion yen appropriated for the Special Budgetary Framework for the Rebirth of Japan and the promotion of the IT revolution. On the other hand, from the point of view of smoothly implementing the transition from public sector demand to private sector-driven demand, a sufficient response is being made to public works projects. With regard to the tax system, in addition to the establishment of a tax system relating to the Reconstruction of Corporate Organization, I will work towards the promotion of housing investment and investment in plant and equipment in small and medium enterprises.
In addition to measures aimed at igniting the renewed development of Japanfs economy, in the context of Japanfs finance, which still remain in a particularly dire situation among all developed nations, I am making preparations for the compilation of a sustainable framework for the future. To this end, in the budget for FY2001, I have made efforts to reduce the issuance of new government bonds while working toward an improvement both in efficiency and quality of Japanfs finance, through measures such as the drastic reform of public works projects and integration and further efficiency of policies through central government reform. Moreover, I am advancing discussions with regard to reforms of the fiscal structure while aiming to realize the goal of placing Japan firmly on a self-sustaining path to recovery. With this opportunity before us, to form the prospect of the modality for Japanfs economy and society in the new century, I consider it to be necessary to broadly encompass the construction of an ideal tax system and reform of the social security system, as well as the relationship between central and local government.
As a result of the reorganization of central ministries and agencies, I established the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy within the Cabinet Office, including the participation of learned individuals at that forum. I am determined to ensure proper economic and fiscal management in order to place our economy firmly on the path toward a self-sustaining recovery. Through substantive and comprehensive discussions in the Council, specific policy measures on various issues to further ensure structural reform of our entire socioeconomic system, including fiscal policy, will be initiated. The Council will employ macroeconomic models and other means to project forward an image for our overall socioeconomic system across the medium- to long-term as it carries out discussions and writes a prescription giving our people a sense of security and hope.
I believe in the great latent potential of our nation. By taking measures such as promoting creative economic activities on the part of our corporations and creating new industries we can break through the stagnation and blockade we face. In order to achieve this and realize new growth and development in the Japanese economy, I will be bold in steering the course for further economic structural reform. In accordance with an action plan formed through the discussions of the Industrial Rebirth Council, I will forcefully advance those measures that are required in order to improve the industrial competitiveness of Japan. These include a review of various corporate legal systems toward such goals as making the best use of information and communications technology (IT) at corporate general shareholder meetings and reforms of our employment system. Thereby, I intend to achieve powerful growth and an economic society imbued with dynamism.@@
Regarding reform of our employment system, with the view to ensuring smooth mobility of workers and promoting the development of independent capacity-building activities by individuals, I will effect a comprehensive review of the current employment measures. In that context I intend to submit various bills to this current Session of the Diet to promote assistance for planned re-employment of those workers forced to leave their jobs before they actually become unemployed and to create a system for evaluating the professional capabilities of workers.
In order for the Japanese economy to make the use of that latent potential, it is imperative to further stabilize Japanfs financial systems and to strengthen its capacity for financial intervention and thereby create a firm confidence in the Japanese financial system both at home and abroad. All of our financial institutions are taking the appropriate measures to dispose of bad debt and it is clear that the kind of problems that we once faced are no longer a threat to the soundness of financial institutions. The Government will continue to make its utmost efforts to stabilize the financial system through monitoring and supervision of financial institutions in advance of the lifting of restrictions on payoffs due to take place in April 2002. Furthermore, by creating an environment to support the simultaneous advancement of structural reform in the industrial sector which borrows from banks, I will continue to make further efforts to thoroughly resolve the issue of bad loans and rebuild a financial system to ensure the smooth provision of capital to sound small and medium enterprises and to those new industries which will lead the way in the future.
The promotion of the IT revolution is the key that will ensure the development of our nation in the 21st century and make it a gCentury of Hope.h Within the Strategic Headquarters for the Promotion of an Advanced Information and Telecommunications Network Society established based on the Basic Law on Information Technology (IT Basic Law), the initiative of e-Japan was just adopted as the national strategy to be pursued by both the public sector and private sector individuals. Hereafter a concrete action plan will be compiled in the form of the Focused Plan by the end of March. Based on that, I intend to move full speed ahead to turn Japan into the foremost advanced IT nation in the world within five years.
In order to make IT even more convenient, we must create an Internet network meeting the highest global standards so that everyone can access it at anytime at a reasonable cost. Toward this end, I intend to promote the creation of an ultra-high speed network infrastructure beginning with an optical fiber network, while at the same time, I intend to establish new policies in the telecommunications sector beginning with the introduction of a system of major supplier regulation, in order to ensure even more reasonable communications costs through competition. At the same time I intend to advance the digitization of broadcasting and to pursue policies to promote the sound development of an integrated telecommunications and broadcasting services sector.
In order to create the foundations for systems and market rules in which all parties can participate without concern, I will submit bills to this Session of the Diet in order to determine a new set of rules that match the nature of electronic commerce as well as bills to protect private information that stipulate the basic principle of handling the privacy of individuals and the responsibilities of corporations that handle such data. Furthermore, I will forcefully carry out policies for information security, including development of technologies concerned and enhancement of policy measures for security and reliability, as well as measures to cope with high-tech crime.
With a view toward realizing electronic government, at the earliest possible date by FY2003 I will boldly take measures to ensure that approximately 10,000 of the administrative procedures in principle that must be filed with the Government can be done via the InternetD
Science and technology is an inexhaustible intellectual resource and we must consider the promotion thereof to be invests in the future toward realizing a gCentury of Hope.h That is why I recently established the Council for Science and Technology Policy within the Cabinet Office. The Council will hear the opinions of learned experts and draft a comprehensive strategy to serve as the basis for the promotion of science and technology in our nation in the 21st century. By March of this year I will establish the Science and Technology Basic Plan, and in order to realize a gnation built by the promotion of science and technologyh I will promote focused research and development in fields that will contribute to the rebirth of our nation such as life sciences, information and telecommunications, environment, nanotechnology and materials, etc. Parallel to this, I will advance the reform of research and development systems and the improvement of infrastructure for the promotion of science and technology.@@
It is no exaggeration to say that whether or not Japan can achieve powerful development in the 21st century depends on the ability of our people, who maintain abundant individuality and creativity and display a spirit of tackling head on the various challenges that we face, to fully realize their potential. Indeed, the 21st century will truly be a gCentury of Humanity.h@
In order bring about this gCentury of Humanity,h we must promote a gRebirth of Educationh and strive to raise our people as individuals rich in humanity and creativity while at the same time steadily making progress to realize a gRebirth of Social Welfareh in order to make our society one in which all of the people can carry out their lives without fear for their lives and can engage wholeheartedly in various diverse activities.
In terms of education, the 20th century can be characterized as having had two distinct aspects. The education system that stressed academic achievement elevated the overall average levels of our people and contributed greatly to the realization of economic development the abundance of material wealth that we currently enjoy.
At the same time recently there has been a series of unfortunate incidents committed by youth and it is apparent that our educational system has not fully imbued our people with the ability to think for themselves, to differentiate between what is wrong and right to hold precious the gift of life. Aiming to build gA Beautiful Nation of People Rich in Spirit,h I intend to devote myself full-heartedly to laying the foundation for that through the gRebirth of Education.h
I received a wide range of valuable recommendations spanning the entire range of educational issues in the Final Report of the National Commission on Educational Reform including the formulation of basic plans for promoting education in order to comprehensively implement educational policies including the cultivation of Japanese people rich in humanity, ensuring that each and every person realizes his or her full potential, cultivating people with abundant creativity and creating new schools, formulating basic plans for promoting education for the comprehensive promotion of educational measures as well as the implementation of a review of the Fundamental Law on Education in a manner appropriate to the new era that we have entered. During the current Session of the Diet I intend to see to the promotion of true educational reform so that all of our children and all of the people of our nation can truly feel that our schools have gotten better and that our educational system is changing. Specifically, I intend to submit a series of bills related to educational reform in order to revise the relevant laws such as the School Education Law, restructure classes at public schools and adjust the standards for fixed numbers of teachers in order to ensure that we can take an immediate approach to those reforms that must be launched right away so that we can reduce the average number of students in each class and thereby improve fundamental academic abilities and ensure focused instruction, ensure a smooth transition to non-instructional duties for those individuals who are not fully suitable for the work of educators, take a thorough response to activities that prevent the smooth conduct of the classroom and bullying, expand educational opportunities in the home, promote volunteer activities and opportunities for our young people to gain experience, revitalize the activities of our Boards of Education, establish the Childrenfs Dream Fund to support activities for children to gain experience and encourage them to read books and advance reform of our universities.@@
Regarding the review of the Fundamental Law on Education, in the Final Report of the National Commission on Educational Reform, three points are proposed that the law stipulate from the viewpoint of considering how to make the Fundamental Law on Education more appropriate for this new age. Specifically, the Final Report points to the need to cultivate Japanese people who will live in the new age, respect for culture and traditions that are worthy of being passed on to the next generation, and the formulation of basic plans for promoting education. Bearing these points in mind, I intend to proceed forward and come up with solid results through an exhaustive process of public debate in fora such as the Central Council for Education.
Our social welfare system is a vital scheme to ensure the security of the people and stability of our society and economy as it supports individuals as they age and as they face such difficult challenges in life as illness and unemployment and thereby underpins our entire social framework. During this century Japan will face a rapidly falling birthrate and aging of its population at rates never before witnessed anywhere in the world. As a result, it is estimated that social welfare benefits and the ensuing burden will increase at rates far above the pace of economic growth. Against this background, I believe that one of the important duties that we have is to rebuild our social welfare systems into sustainable ones and to pass them onto to future generations to come.@
In October of last year I received an important proposal on ways to create sustainable social welfare systems for the 21st century from the Council of Learned Individuals to Study the Modalities for the Structure of Social Welfare. In response, I recently launched the Government Ruling Parties Council on Social Welfare Reform in order to take an approach to comprehensive and sweeping reforms, including consideration of the necessary systems under the collaboration of the Government and ruling parties. This Council will aim to compile by the end of this March a Guideline to clarify the principles of reform in this sector and the basic way of thinking to be adopted. Based on that the Council will also discuss the necessary specific measures needed to move forward. Through steadily advancing reforms determined through such a process of public discussion among the people, I intend to build sustainable stable and efficient social welfare systems that can carry our society forward into the future based on the foundation of a social insurance system underpinned by the principle of self-responsibility.
Regarding our pension systems, as the situation in our society and economy is undergoing great changes such as falling birthrates and the aging of our population, diversification of lifestyle needs in our elderly years and increased mobility in our labor market, it is necessary for us to maintain the basic foundation provided through public pensions while at the same time creating a system to assist the independent efforts of the people. It is from that perspective that I hope to see the deliberations currently underway in the Diet on a bill to provide for defined-contribution pension schemes as quickly as possible and also intend to submit to this Session of the Diet a bill to create an integrated system in order to protect the rights to collect premiums by individuals who have contributed to corporate pension schemes.
The rapid deterioration in birthrates in recent years has engendered concern that there will be a widespread influence on the economy and society of our nation. It is important that the government work together to take comprehensive measures in order to ensure that in the 21st century Japan remains a society in which our people can have dreams and hope for their families and for raising children in a bright future. That is why, based on the Basic Policy on Advancing Measures in Response to the Falling Birthrates, I will submit to this Session of the Diet bills to revise the Law Concerning the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members, Including Child Care and Family Care Leave in order to advance the creation of an employment environment to facilitate a society in which people can give birth to and raise their children while continuing to work. At the same time, I will try to enhance childcare services through steps such as expanding the framework for accepting younger children at daycare facilities. In this way, I will advance comprehensive measures to respond to falling birthrates spanning broad sectors including social welfare, employment, education and housing.
The realization of a gender-equal society is an important goal that will have a decisive impact on the determining the modalities of our society. That is why I intend to steadily advance the Basic Plan for Gender Equality adopted in December 2000 and make even more efforts in this regard. Moreover, the newly established Council for Gender Equality will quickly compile Measures to Assist People in Maintaining Their Jobs as They Raise Children in order to expand the opportunities for women, who have the important role of bearing children, to be active in society as we build a society in which both men and women can achieve a balance between their families and jobs and can raise their children without anxiety.
In order to support the gCentury of Humanityh it is extremely important to aim for urban planning that ensures a convenient and enjoyable lifestyle. In this day of transnational competition among cities, with firmly establishing urban planning that we can boast to the world about as a national issue and with the combined forces of the public and private sectors I intend to create a foundation for our cities that will underpin a vibrant metropolitan lifestyle and dynamic economic activities. In particular, I will focus on creating attractive city centers by making use of the sites of former large-scale industrial plants as centers and comprehensive infrastructure development of transportation links such as the creation of terminal rail stations that can serve as city hubs. Furthermore, in order to ensure a living environment in which the elderly can feel secure I intend to submit a bill on measures to ensure a stable supply of housing units for the elderly and at the same time strive to remove all barriers in living spaces and in public transportation networks.
The agricultural, forestry and fishing industries of our nation and our agricultural, mountainous and fishing villages fulfill diverse roles in ensuring our nationfs capacity to maintain a steady supply of food and in the preservation of our national land and natural environment. Aiming at increasing our food self-sufficiency ratio, I will focus on sound development of those industries and villages. Furthermore, I intend to submit to the Session of the Diet a Bill to Revise the Basic Law for Forestry from the fundamental perspective that we must gstrive to ensure that our forests continue to play diverse roles.h I will also submit a Bill on the Basic Law on Fisheries in order to formulate new policies in the fisheries sector based on the principle of appropriate preservation and management of our marine resources and their continued use.
At the dawn of the 21st century, in order to unlock new prospects for the Japanese socio-economy and establish a people-centered government, the role of administrative reform, including the gRebirth of Governmenth will be an important challenge. I intend to maximize my efforts in order to realize a government that the people of Japan have faith in, thereby ushering in the gCentury of Trust.h
Central government reform has been positioned as the top priority of the Cabinet since the Ryutaro Hashimoto Cabinet, and as a result of our dynamic efforts, were able to finally inaugurate a new Office and Ministries System on 6 January. These were historic reforms designed to create a gcomprehensive, strategic, and transparent administration from the point of view of the peopleh and build a government befitting Japan in the 21st century, and I intend to devote all my efforts to this new system to ensure that the people of Japan are assured of the benefits of these reforms.
The Guidelines for Central Government Reform decided on last December is a policy that precisely outlines modalities for the government in the 21st century, and I intend to promote these full-fledged reforms overhauling the Japanese governmental structure, which involve not only administrative systems and organizations, including public corporations and government officials, but also encompass regulatory reforms and the promotion of decentralization, during a period of intensive reform until 2006. To this end, I have recently established a new Headquarters for the Promotion of Administrative Reform of the Central Government of Japan, and have launched an office within the Cabinet Secretariat under the supervision of ministers responsible for administrative reform.
Regarding the reforms of the civil service system, we are proceeding in accordance with a schedule which specifies that a outline will be drawn up by the end of March, plans for the basic design will be formulated in June, and we will begin specific work including legislation after the fall. We are also aiming to formulate a plan to consolidate and streamline reforms of public corporations and public interest corporations during fiscal year 2001, and will speed up the review process in order to clarify the direction of reforms at the earliest possible date.
By the end of March I intend to compile a new Three Year Program for the Advancement of Regulatory Reforms beginning FY2001 in order to provide a framework within which we can take an active approach to deregulation spanning a wide spectrum encompassing sectors such as IT, health and welfare, employment and labor, education and the environment. This will also allow us to proactively develop competition policies. I intend to give consideration toward the establishment of a new advisory group within the Cabinet Office composed primarily of individuals selected from the private sector in order to carefully monitor the state of implementation of this Program and promote sweeping regulatory reform from the perspective of structural reform of our economy and society. I expect to have a specific proposal by the end of March.
In order to realize an efficient and high-level government administration that puts the people first, I will steadily implement a policy evaluation system throughout all government ministries and agencies and will submit the necessary bills to this Session of the Diet in order to increase their effectiveness and to further enhance the trust that the people bestow in them.
I am strongly resolved to further advance the process of decentralization and will see to it that we secure a sufficient local tax and fiscal base corresponding to an appropriate division of responsibility between the central government and local governments and reorganize and rationalize subsidies from central government. I will also tackle head on the question of devising new modalities for administrative structures appropriate to bear the new roles, such as the promotion of integration of cities, towns and villages.
Reform of our judicial systems is imperative if we are to achieve a transition to a post facto monitoring and relief society founded securely on transparent rules and the principle of self-responsibility and thereby realize the great development that such a transition will make possible. I intend to pay close attention to the developments in the public debate on this important area and the state of deliberations in the Judicial Reform Council. Furthermore, I am firmly resolved to promptly establish the necessary structure so that effort can be focused on the basic legal systems for the civil and criminal codes.
The 21st century will be a gCentury of the Earthh in which all types of activities will expand beyond national borders and a global perspective will increasingly be required. In welcoming the gCentury of the Earth,h we must work towards a grebirth of foreign policy,h display Japanfs sense of identity, and make international contributions.
As we greet the 21st century, what is required of Japanese foreign policy is the gresponsibility and leadershiph to support the international system which has enabled Japan to enjoy the benefits of peace and prosperity to the fullest extent.
In the latter half of the 20th century, Japan was reborn as an industrialized and democratic nation that has become the worldfs second-largest economic superpower. In order for Japan, which decided not to become a military power and is not blessed with natural resources, to realize further developments in the 21st century, the international system, which is based on the United Nations Charter and the multilateral trading system, must function effectively. On this wave of international cooperation in the 21st century, Japan must make all possible efforts to strengthen United Nations systems, including reform of the UN Security Council, and to launch a new round in the World Trade Organization (WTO) sometime this year, and must work to establish and enhance universal values and rules.
I have cited ghuman securityh as the principle for Japanfs diplomacy in leading international cooperation activities. The goal of ghuman securityh is to guarantee the survival, security and dignity of each individual living together on Earth. A global-scale approach will be necessary in various areas such as trade, development and the environment.
As Chair of the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, I am steadily implementing the specific measures culled from the wisdom of the other G8 leaders. I am working toward the steady implementation of an IT-related comprehensive cooperation package, to ensure that IT does not divide humankind based on prosperity and poverty, and am also working to further enhance international efforts towards the issue of infectious diseases, which poses a direct threat to ghuman security.h Furthermore, in order to ensure that the fruits of prosperity achieved through globalization can be shared by more people and to firmly maintain trust in the market economy and multilateral trading system, I intend to utilize official development assistance (ODA), which is one of Japanfs most important foreign policy means, more effectively and efficiently.
Securing peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, based on the universal values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the market economy, continues to be a priority issue for Japanese diplomacy.
The Basic Strategy for Japanfs Diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific Region during the first half of the 21st century rests on the axis of the Japan-US Alliance as it seeks to strengthen the firm bonds of friendship with Japanfs neighbor the Republic of Korea and build cooperative relations based on trust with the Peoplefs Republic of China and the Russian Federation in order to firmly maintain the framework for stability in the Asia-Pacific region. In that process, in order to contribute to the peace and stability of the Northeast Asian region Japan must maintain close cooperation with both the Republic of Korea and the United States as it designs its policy toward North Korea. Furthermore, we must advance multi-tiered regional dialogue through such fora as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN+3 meetings as we aim for the creation of a powerful Asia-Pacific sphere which is free, democratic, stable and prosperous.
With regard to Japanfs relationship with our ally the United States, I would like to quickly establish a relationship of trust with President Bushfs new administration. Toward that end, I intend to strengthen strategic dialogue between Japan and the United States to enhance the credibility of the Japan-US Security Arrangements and to pursue a framework for new economic relations through which both Japan and the United States can enjoy prosperity.
In developing a foreign policy based on a global perspective, the Japan-US relationship, which is the cornerstone of Japanfs foreign policy, is increasingly important. In particular, it is important to continue to strive to enhance the credibility of the Japan-US Security Arrangements, which contribute not only to the security of Japan, but to the peace and stability of the overall Asia-Pacific region. Recently the Special Measures Agreement on Host Nation Support was signed and I look forward to seeing the conclusion of the Agreement affirmed as promptly as possible after due deliberation in the Diet.
Moreover, while continuing to promote the development of Okinawa, making use of its characteristics, and with a view to alleviating the burden borne by the people of Okinawa Prefecture, I will make my utmost efforts to steadily implement the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Final Report. In particular, regarding the relocation and return of Futenma Air Station, the Government will work toward concrete proposals at the earliest time possible in such fora as the Consultative Body on Futemna Replacement Facilities organized with the Okinawa Prefectural Government and local municipalities.
In order to ensure the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century we must build stable and collaborative relations through mutual cooperation with the Peoplefs Republic of China. To this end, based on the Japan-China Joint Declaration on Building Friendship and Cooperation for Peace and Development I intend to strive for a deepening and an expansion of the cooperative relations between Japan and the Peoplefs Republic of China in both the regional and global contexts for the sake of future generations.
On the Korean Peninsula last year, under the wise and decisive leadership of President Kim Dae-jung of the Republic of Korea a series of developments occurred in the direction of a relaxation of tension. I intend to persevere with bold effort to ensure that true peace and reconciliation are achieved on the Korean Peninsula, which is an important region and on which are situated Japanfs closest neighboring countries. Toward that end I intend first of all to maintain the close and strong relations with the Republic of Korea and coordinating closely with the Republic of Korea and the United States I intend to open a new chapter in the normalization talks between Japan and North Korea. Furthermore, I intend to devote my fullest efforts toward resolving through dialogue the humanitarian issues and security issues with North Korea.
Finally, in Japanfs relations with the Russian Federation it is important for us to simultaneously make progress on the three challenges of strategic geopolitical cooperation, broad economic cooperation and the conclusion of a peace treaty. Regarding the negotiations toward the peace treaty, standing firmly on the relations of trust between President Vladimir Putin and myself, I believe that both Japan and the Russian Federation must make our utmost efforts toward the conclusion of a peace treaty to resolve the issue of the attribution of the four islands.
It is the noble mission of politics to protect the lives and assets of the people. Concerning the defense of Japan, in accordance with the New Mid-Term Defense Program adopted at the end of last year under the National Defense Program Outline, Japan will pursue a moderate defense capability. In particular, we will proceed bearing in mind the need to respond to the IT revolution and to sufficiently enhance Japanfs ability to dispatch personnel to disaster-afflicted areas.
Emergency legislation is necessary in order to ensure the security of the state and the people by the Self-Defense Forces under civilian control. Bearing fully in mind the views expressed by the ruling parties last year I intend to initiate considerations in this regard.
In order to ensure that the people can truly enjoy abundance and security in their lives in this 21st century which I have dubbed the gCentury of the Earthh one of the most important issues facing both Japan and the entire world is to protect the rich blessings of the environment which are the foundations thereof, and to hand them down to our descendants. In the context of the issue of global warming, with a view toward the coming into effect of the Kyoto Protocol by the year 2002, I intend to make my utmost efforts towards the reopening of the meeting of Sixth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 6) planned to be held this year and, bearing in mind the state of progress in international negotiations, with the understanding and cooperation of the people intend to bring my fullest efforts to bear toward domestic systems needed to achieve the six percent reduction targets in greenhouse gases. Furthermore, in order to break free of the traditional economic and social modalities of mass production mass consumption and mass waste, I intend to promote a specific framework through implementation of the necessary legislation toward the creation of a recycle society. Steadily resolving these issues I intend to ensure that we realize a form of coexistence with the Earth in the 21st century.
As we greet the new century I keenly sense the weight of my responsibility standing at the helm of the affairs of state.
In order to ensure that the new century is one that will be full of hope I believe that this first decade of dire importance. In order for us to break free of the old shell that envelops us and spread our wings and soar high we must overcome difficulties and pains. It takes great courage to discard old forms of behavior to which we are accustomed and leap forward into an unknown future. However we no longer have the luxury of hesitating and procrastinating.
With the firm solidarity of the coalition between the three ruling parties of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Komei Party, and the Conservative Party, I intend to cooperate to seek political stability and with firm resolve and strong passion have designated the first ten years of this 21st century as gA Great Decade to Determine the Grand Course of the Coming Century.h In this the first year of that decade I am firmly resolved to be vigilant as I strive forward with the reform of our nation.
I would like to share with you a poem that the children of Africa sang for me.
We are but many drops in one sea
We are but many waves in one ocean
Let us seek out together a path to cooperate
That is the way of life for you and me
Indeed, in every nation on Earth we can find this wish for peace and the shining hopeful eyes of children.
Keeping my eyes firmly fixed on a vision of a peaceful Japan and the world blessed with a rich environment that lies past the path of difficult reform I intend to remain attuned to the voices of the people and work together with the people to build our nation.
In this I humbly ask for the support and cooperation of the people of Japan and the members of the Diet.