In the policy speech to the Diet I delivered at the end of October, I set forth "compil[ing] a final draft as soon as possible of the third supplementary budget and its relevant legislation and mov[ing] to implement such legislation" as the greatest tasks for the extraordinary Diet session. My most fervent request was for the government and the ruling parties and the parliamentary groups within each party to take on "the resolve of the Diet" as a collaborative undertaking.
This Diet session saw the passage of the third supplementary budget, which exceeds 12 trillion yen, and its legal backing, the Bill on Special Measures for Securing Financial Resources Necessary for Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and this week, the Act on Special Reconstruction Zones, which establishes special provisions for the disaster-stricken areas within various regulatory and tax systems, the Act to Establish the Reconstruction Agency, and other related bills were also passed.
During this time, the ruling and opposition parties held a number of constructive discussions at the working level, overcoming their opposing views to emerge with a final draft proposal. While it takes both time and energy, tenaciously eliciting a practical solution while coordinating such conflicting interests and values is the most important thing within a parliamentary democracy. A variety of insights that did not occur to the persons formulating the policies in the government were brought up during the parliamentary debates over the course of this process of coordination.
I would like to extend my thanks once more to the persons involved in both the ruling and opposition parties who steadfastly engaged in this work to 'build consensus through repeated dialogues' and ultimately elicit a proper 'outcome.' Through the passage of the third supplementary budget and its related bills, the system to advance the reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas has come into being. From here on, the real worth of the government's response will come into question. With the necessary financial assistance rendered, I would like to speed up the realization of vigorous reconstruction.
There can be no question that among the official responsibilities I shoulder as the Prime Minister, responding to Diet deliberations is one of the tasks requiring a substantial amount of energy. I depart on overseas business trips on weekends, and upon my return to Japan, from early morning I run through my studies in preparation for questions at the Diet, without any time off. And, every day I am engaged in these deliberations from morning until evening.
I asked my secretary to tell me the schedule of the Diet deliberations that I have attended, including the plenary and Budget Committee sessions and others, and of the 51 days of the Diet session, debates were held a total of 29 times, of which I spent nearly 90 hours responding to questions. The outcome of such responses has been that through the earnest discussions of the ruling and opposition parties, the Diet has finalized bills with improved content.
At the same time, major 'assignments' were also left unfinished. In particular, it was very unfortunate that I was unable to secure passage of the Bill to Reduce National Public Servant Remuneration and the Postal Reform Bill, both of which are important in order to come up with the financial resources necessary for reconstruction, along with the bill for partial revision of the Worker Dispatching Act, which will improve working conditions for non-permanent employment. Even after the completion of the Diet session, I intend to continue coordination with each party in anticipation of passing them at as early a date as possible during next year's ordinary Diet session.
In addition, censure motions were passed against Ministers Ichikawa and Yamaoka in today's plenary session of the House of Councillors. While this is a most regrettable occurrence, as the will of the House of Councillors, it is incumbent upon me to treat the matter with gravity. At the same time, matters for consideration are stacking up in both ministers' areas of responsibility. My view is that I would like them each to examine themselves and shape up, and devote all their energy to the pursuit of their duties.
Even with the Diet session finishing, there is no chance whatsoever to 'pause and catch our breath.' Heading into the end of the calendar year, I will shift into full gear towards coordinating major policy issues. I plan to steadily forge a course ahead on each issue, of course regarding putting into concrete form "the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems," which I have stated repeatedly as the most important issue, but also the formulation of the fiscal 2012 budget, the formulation of the fourth supplementary budget, bringing the nuclear accident under stable control, and compiling a basic strategy for the "revitalization of Japan."
On Sunday in Kyoto, which I was visiting for the ILO conference, I noticed the beauty of the autumn leaves I saw looking out from the car window. We can hear the approaching footsteps of full-fledged winter. Throughout such a time, the seasons change and the world itself is also astir. The EU summit meeting has begun, and the sense of urgency regarding the European debt crisis remains ongoing. Recently, I also received a report regarding the state of negotiations at COP17 from Minister Hosono, who is visiting South Africa as part of his duties. I will not lower my guard at all, but instead brace myself to address various issues as we head into the end of the year.