The debates of the 179th session of the Diet started in earnest today. On Friday of last week I delivered to the Diet my second policy speech since taking office.
A little over a month and a half has passed since I delivered my first such policy speech, and the major issues for this Cabinet to tackle―reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas, bringing the nuclear accident under stable control, and rebuilding the Japanese economy―have not changed at all.
Last week, including the weekend, was a truly busy week.
On the 18th I visited Fukushima Prefecture for the second time since assuming office. While the schedule was quite tight as it was just before my visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK), I made this visit because I wanted to see for myself the state of efforts to decontaminate family homes, and also because I wanted to hear directly the unfiltered views of people living in temporary housing and of parents with children, before winter arrives.
Last Friday, I visited two facilities in Yokohama undertaking forward-thinking efforts in the area of child-rearing assistance.
Amongst a virtual mountain of policy issues needing government engagement, one of the major topics under "the integrated reform of social security and taxation systems" is how to make "social insurance during the first half of people's lives" able to provide better care going forward. While there are numerous points to consider regarding how to repair the frayed state of the pension, medical care, and nursing care systems, the areas of children and childrearing are those which have had the least degree of assistance until now. As we now work to bring concrete shape to "the new system for children and child-raising" currently under consideration, I thought I should listen directly to the voices of people working in the field and of young parents. I think you'll agree that the smiling faces of children are truly wonderful any time you see them. One can feel hope for tomorrow just by watching them for a while, and more than anything, their smiles are a kind of healing of the stresses of daily life.
Yesterday (the 10th), in order to obtain some insights into the revitalization of agriculture, I observed agricultural areas in Gunma Prefecture where people are engaged in leading-edge efforts such as the production of premium brand rice and the operation of direct-sales storefronts. Under the penetrating clear autumn sky, I was able to feel the fruitful nature of autumn throughout my entire being.
As of yesterday, it has been one month since I assumed the office of Prime Minister. During this time, I sprinted with my utmost energy through responses to damages from the torrential rains of typhoons #12 and #15, through attendance at the United Nations General Assembly, query sessions at the Diet by representatives of political parties, and Budget Committee sessions.