Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

2012.  A new year has begun.  I would like to ask all the Japanese people once more for their cooperation and guidance this year.

As we ring in the new year, there is an endless list of matters for the Noda Cabinet to tackle.  I will not repeat them here as I already stated them in both my New Year's Reflection and yesterday's press conference.  But action is what counts.

Yesterday, as soon as the press conference ended, I headed to the Grand Shrine of Ise, first by Shinkansen "bullet train" and then by express train.  As I headed towards the inner area of the shrine in the fresh winter air, walking step by step atop the gravel of the approach, lined thickly with ancient trees, I happened to gaze up at the sky as brilliant sunlight streamed down through the foliage from a break in the clouds.

We must make it possible for warmth and bright prospects for the future to be felt all throughout Japan, including the disaster-stricken areas, as soon as we can.  I hope and pray for the peace and prosperity of this nation and the happiness of all the Japanese people.  Along with this, I have pledged to dedicate myself entirely, body and soul, to bringing about the reconstruction of the disaster-affected areas.

Our ancestors who built this nation, defended it, and led it to prosperity made such pledges and prayers as each new year arrived.  In order to pick up the long-reaching "sash of history" and hand it over to the next generation, there are things we much achieve now for the future of this nation.

What is considered to be the biggest challenge of all is "the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems."  Surely young people cannot have hope that "tomorrow will be better than today" in a society in which the "bill" is continually passed on to the future.  It is also absolutely critical that we fortify the safety net for the younger generation, which should be the side to provide support, and for the child-rearing generation.  While I do not wish to overstate the impact of the European debt crisis any more than necessary, in light of Japan's fiscal condition, it is not something we can dismiss as merely "somebody else's problem."

At the end of last year, despite a variety of views that had emerged during the debate process, the DPJ and the government ultimately succeeded in taking a united decision on the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, which was met with applause.  I find it very significant that we as a ruling party were able to arrive at this decision without shying away.

This year, in which the global situation is difficult to predict, will truly be a crucial period for Japan.  I would say that what the public wants is "genuine politics," which look ahead at "the big picture" rather than "the political picture," think through what is in the true interests of the nation and the people, and then execute those tasks without hesitation.  Recently I was greatly cheered by a letter which I received from fellow alumni of my high school.  This is something I brought up at the press conference as well, but there were words of encouragement written, urging me to stay strong and not forget the "six most famous words in the world" that our world history teacher had taught us: "Never, never, never, never give up!"  Those are the words of Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II.

It is said that "politics is the art of the possible."  There is no such thing as the "impossible."  I believe that no matter how challenging a matter it may be, if you repeatedly advocate for your cause, your message will be understood and the situation will change.

A party that runs from or gives up on matters that must be tackled cannot properly be called a governing party.  We are now at the stage of having formally compiled the draft plan by the government and the ruling parties.  Tomorrow we will sincerely call for consultations with the opposition parties as well, seeking to obtain agreement that transcends party and factional lines for the sake of Japan's future.  This is a year that will call into question 'what is politics for the sake of this nation and the Japanese people.'  I will once more deepen my preparedness and determination.

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
January 5, 2012

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