Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

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.

While the government for its part has been making its greatest possible efforts until now, we must urge the Diet to approve an enormous supplementary budget together with revisions to the legal framework in order to further accelerate this response and advance to the next step.

The critical matters now are ensuring at the earliest possible time the passage of the third supplementary budget, which exceeds 12 trillion yen, and related bills, both of which the government submitted to the Diet this past weekend, and then transitioning these into implementation.

As with the previous such address, the policy speech to the Diet was a restrictive one, in that you must read the text approved by the Cabinet without any deviation whatsoever.  Even though that is not a style of delivery I particularly excel at, I believe I succeeded in making "what this Diet must achieve" easy to understand in a compact style.

What I emphasized in that speech was the "preparedness and caliber as politicians."

For the third supplementary budget as well as the bills for securing the related fiscal resources, the Reconstruction Agency, and the special zones for reconstruction, the ruling and opposition parties must consult with each other to seek out common ground based on the government's proposal in order to reach agreement, or else final drafts cannot be compiled.  In that regard, principally these words were directed at all the Diet members, who represent the people.

However, more than anything, there can be no question that the person whose "preparedness and caliber" as a politician is being called into question more than anyone else's is myself, the Prime Minister.

Insofar as I am asking the people of Japan to shoulder a certain portion of the burden associated with reconstruction, first of all I myself will return close to 12 million yen in salary without waiting for the passage of the related bills, in order to demonstrate my keen preparedness impacting myself.  In the future as well, there await a large number of issues that will be hard to maneuver around, but I am determined that I will never run from these issues, from my sense of duty derived from that resolve.

At the same time, I feel that for issues regarding which there is a divergence of views, within the democratic process it is also important to advance discussions in a careful manner, listening to a wide variety of opinions from people having various standpoints.

At the end of careful discussions, we must decisively reach decisions at the timing appropriate to make them, and once decisions are taken, matters should be implemented swiftly.  I am determined to undertake state affairs taking that orientation.

At the end of that policy speech, I quoted a poem by Ms. Katsura Ohgoe.

I believe it was about two months after the earthquake that I came to know of this poem, having seen a newspaper article introducing her.  The more I came to know about her, the more I was struck with a sense of awe.  It seems that, disabled and unable to use her voice, Ms. Ohgoe was unable to convey her intentions in words until she learned how to communicate through the written word at age 13.  I cannot forget her words in which she describes herself until that time as "a stone" who was then "made into a human being thanks to my mother and the people around me."

In my policy speech, I quoted the poem "A crown of flowers."  Reading it, I was struck by how truly warm its words are.  Hearing this poem made into a choral piece reinforced that feeling yet again.  I was also deeply touched at the fact that one can weave together such warm words despite being in such circumstances.  Her family's dedicated support and her feelings of thanks for that have most certainly resonated with me.

This distinct hope that people feel towards living their lives is something that arises as we support each other, I believe.  I think "hope" is something that emerges as one confirms that support.  The third supplementary budget and the related bills to support the reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas are items that indicate our stance of Japanese helping each other out.  In this way, I feel that they can also be said to serve as a major step forward in "creating hope."

Today, the global population topped seven billion people, and it seems that in Japan as well, children born today can be officially recognized as being "the seven billionth person."  We must pass the third supplementary budget and the drafts of related laws at as early a time as possible and then transition them into implementation in order to reduce by even a little the future burdens of the children born today.

After I delivered that policy speech, a message of encouragement arrived from Ms. Ohgoe herself, saying, "Sowing seeds of hope to make the flowers bloom, you are the Hanasaka Souri!" ('The Prime Minister who makes bare trees bloom'―a playful twist on the name of the traditional Japanese folktale Hanasaka Jiisan, 'The old man who makes bare trees bloom').  I very much hope that we―myself included―demonstrate "preparedness and caliber" as politicians within the upcoming Diet deliberations and also in the implementation of our proposals, in order to be able to achieve just such an existence.

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
October 31, 2011

[Related link]  "A crown of flowersFrom the disaster area, with our wish for reconstruction"

*Links to a YouTube video (only in Japanese)

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