Last week I participated in the G20 Summit held in Cannes, France. Meetings among the heads of state and government continued from morning to night in Cannes, where it was raining with strong winds. Even in the break times between sessions, I scheduled one-on-one meetings with individual leaders to the greatest possible extent and also held discussion sessions with the members of the press who had accompanied me from Japan, at which I conveyed how the summit was progressing. It was two days of working at really high gear.
Discussions at the summit focused on how to contain the expansion of the European debt crisis triggered by the situation in Greece. Although the fundamental principle is to work towards solutions to European problems first and foremost within Europe, one matter confirmed at this summit was that the fiscal issues of a single nation are having repercussions upon the globe and causing economic and financial instability internationally.
With regard to Japan, reiterating something I've stated repeatedly in my first policy speech to the Diet as well as at subsequent Diet deliberations, press conferences, and other opportunities, I explained that strengthening the functions of our social security system to achieve a system with a high degree of sustainability will also contribute to putting Japan's finances on solid footing. This will be conducted in accordance with the final draft plan for the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems compiled by the government and the ruling coalition in June.
I also explained to the heads of state and government of the various countries that Japan is concerned about what is likely speculative and disorderly movements vis-a-vis the historic rise in the value of the yen, and that Japan is engaging in foreign exchange interventions so as not to allow downside risks for the Japanese economy to actualize. I also stated Japan's recognition that this falls under the "excess volatility" and "disorderly movements" in exchange rates that the G20 has recognized until now.
Regardless, looking at the situation in Greece, this summit once again caused me to feel deeply the importance of upholding "national credibility".
In the airplane on my way back to Haneda airport, I was informed of the sudden passing of Mr. Takeo Nishioka, President of the House of Councilors. Being so sudden, the news was quite a shock to me.
The very beginning of my engagement with the world of politics was during my university years, when I assisted in the campaign activities of the "New Liberal Club," which had been formed by Mr. Nishioka. In that sense, if it had not been for Mr. Nishioka, I might never have set politics in my sights. He had graduated years earlier from the same university as I did, and he was a politician with an air of greatness. I continued to seek him out and I was fortunate enough to have received his advice on a number of occasions. Recently he had an unusual passion for reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and for the ideal modalities of politics, and this situation is much to my sorrow as I thought I would be able to get his insights into the future as well to guide me in broader perspective.
In order to live up in even a small way to the wishes of Mr. Nishioka, who, as a head of one of three branches of government, devoted his life by conducting his duties right up to the end, I myself also vowed before the soul of the deceased that I would carry out my self-determined mission, even if in a humble way. I once again offer my sincere prayers for the repose of his soul.
Next weekend I will be attending the APEC summit, and I intend to speak to the other heads of state and government about a future vision for the Asia-Pacific region.
(Some of the websites linked from this post are provided in Japanese only)