Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

I am sorry to have worried the public by wearing an eye patch for several days recently.

Although it is visually somewhat unappealing, please be assured that it does not impede my work at all.  My eye is healing gradually and it is likely that I will be able to take the patch off at the beginning of next week.  On Tuesday I am scheduled to deliver a policy speech to the Diet and I would like to stand at the podium in a stately and proper fashion.

I reshuffled my Cabinet on the 13th of this month, newly appointing five ministers.  We must pave the way for solutions to both the tasks immediately at hand and those that have been ongoing issues for many years.  In order to do so, first of all we will take up the challenge of the deliberations in the ordinary session of the Diet that will begin shortly.

In particular, I have great expectations towards the driving force and propulsive power of Minister Katsuya Okada, who has joined the Prime Minister's Office in the capacity of Deputy Prime Minister and who will serve as the Cabinet's "engine" that will push forward with a major overhaul involving political and administrative reforms and the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems.

At a meeting yesterday, the Government Revitalization Unit compiled its discussions thus far concerning administrative reform and set forth concrete directions in several areas.

The reform of special-purpose budget accounts (often referred to as "special accounts") is the area of reform regarding which I myself have had particularly deep convictions since the days when I served as Minister of Finance.  While the eradication of wasteful administrative measures requires ceaseless efforts, it is typically extremely difficult to detect wasteful expenditures within special accounts, as was once derided by saying, "In the 'main house' of the general accounts they're eating rice gruel, while in the 'detached annex' of the special accounts they're eating sukiyaki."

We will now assertively push through full-fledged reforms of the special accounts, which have been on the table since the Koizumi administration.  For example, while there still existed a special account related to the development of social capital such as roadways and waterways, we recently decided to abolish it.  Including such points as this, along with reducing the current 17 special accounts to 11, we will also be conducting reforms to review thoroughly the number of "accounts" within each special account, ultimately bringing them to roughly half. This will ensure that these reforms do not become merely "window dressing."

In addition, with regard to the "incorporated administrative agency" system that was brought into being in order to serve as the organizations responsible for the implementation of public services in light of past issues regarding "special public institutions," more than a decade has passed since the system was established, and various issues have come to light over this time.  In brief, there is a great deal of variety in the character of what are categorized as "incorporated administrative agencies."  We will restructure them by conducting individual detailed examinations of them, eliminating or privatizing them when appropriate, and then reinforcing their governance through means that are in accordance with their type.  This reform will reduce the number of the 102 incorporated administrative agencies by roughly 40% and strengthen their policy implementation functional capabilities.

I take pride in the fact that this is not simply number-juggling―these are reforms replete with meaning that have become quite bold, in my view.

We are preparing to submit the bills related to these reforms to the ordinary Diet session about to begin.

The public participated with interest in the "proposal-based policy review" conducted last year, with a large number of people attending the heated live discussions as observers.  The discussions during that review process have been reflected to the greatest possible extent in the budget for the next fiscal year.  We have moreover recently confirmed that we will be following up on these matters thoroughly so as to make them into reforms extending to policy and institutional matters.

The "eyes" of the public are the greatest driving force for getting public administration in order and furthering the elimination of waste.  Together with Deputy Prime Minister Okada, I will continue to undertake administrative reform with unwavering resolve, placing no areas off-limits.  I ask for the understanding and the support of the public once more in this regard.

The ordinary session of the Diet will be convened next Tuesday.  While this will be a critical test for the DPJ-led government, it is even more of a critical test for Japan.

The eyes of an insect, which crawls along the ground and conceptualizes things in detail from an on-site perspective, assessing the needs of disaster victims and other members of the public in their daily lives.

The eyes of a bird, which from above looks down upon the situation in which Japan finds itself within the world and the course of history and gauges from a distance what should be done in preparation for the next era.

And, the "mind's eye," by which to examine myself and straighten myself out continually with a serene spirit and ascertain correctly what must be done for the sake of the Japanese people, undistracted by vested interests and unfettered by constraints.

It is my intention to combine the views obtained through these three "eyes" in advancing state affairs.

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
January 20, 2012

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