Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

The ordinary Diet session convened on the 24th.  With my policy speech to the Diet comprising a starting point, full-fledged debates have commenced, with query sessions by representatives of the various political parties getting underway since yesterday during the plenary sessions of the House of Councillors and House of Representatives.

In my policy speech, I discussed the issues for the Noda Cabinet to tackle, addressing them squarely, just as I had done in my two previous policy speeches.  The top priorities of recovery and reconstruction from the great quake, the battle against the nuclear accident, and the revitalization of the Japanese economy.  The comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, to be pursued in a unified way alongside political and administrative reforms.  Foreign policy and national security.  The issues facing us immediately are numerous and span a broad range, and each of them is pressing.

I expressed part of my thoughts concerning reconstruction from the great earthquake using words from local dialects found around the disaster-stricken regions―ganbappe ("let's do our best"), magenedo ("we will not lose"), ganbappeshi ("let's do our best").  My Cabinet has ministers hailing from each of these prefectures―Fukushima (Minister Gemba), Miyagi (Minister Azumi), and Iwate (Minister Hirano).  Having received "dialect training" from each minister before the policy speech, I made an appeal during it, saying, "Let us continue to send a 'shout-out' that will be heard throughout the country."  I regret not having been able to pronounce the words from these dialects well.  In the disaster areas, some people have to put up with the inconveniences of living in temporary housing units even now.  We who are involved in politics must not forget that fact even for a moment.

I also confirmed my determination to renew the spirit of the historic change of government and move forward in eradicating wasteful uses of tax revenues and in advancing administrative reform, with no areas deemed 'off limits.'  As a symbol of legislators' readiness to put themselves on the line, we will also first of all take steps to reduce the number of Diet members.  By properly giving these efforts a tangible form and engaging in wide-ranging discussions on the reforms sought by the people, I intend for us to bring these goals one by one into the concrete.

In the newspaper and television media as well as in the query sessions at the Diet, much was made of the fact that I quoted from the policy speeches of former Prime Ministers Aso and Fukuda.

It is an unmistakable fact that the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems has been recognized not only by the Noda Cabinet but also by Cabinets during the time of the LDP-New Komeito coalition government as an important issue that cannot be bypassed.  In a spirit of sympathy I quoted the ideas of past prime ministers that have been handed down.

It would be regrettable if, in urging "politics with a broad perspective," my words calling for us to "confirm first of all that we share the same awareness of the issue" were taken to be mere political posturing.

I believe that a great many people in the Japanese public desire for us to advance beyond the threshold of discussions at an early time to engage in thorough debates on what is necessary for this nation and then set forth a prescription in concrete terms.

As a politician, my request for a tax increase is the request to the public that I most wish to avoid.  And yet comprehensive reform is inevitable.  What motivates me strongly is my deep sense of crisis towards the state of this country. Amidst the raging power of the markets that overwhelms even nations and an advancing super-aged society unprecedented anywhere worldwide, reform is essential not only for our children's and grandchildren's generations, but above everything else, for protecting the daily lives of those who are alive at this moment.

I believe that I will without fail be able to persuade the Japanese people to share this sense of crisis.

 

The day before yesterday, the Davos meeting, which discusses issues facing humankind, convened in snow-covered Switzerland, attracting intellectual capital from around the world.  As we are in the midst of deliberations in the Diet, I was unfortunately unable to attend, but I did send a video message.  Tomorrow from here in Tokyo, I plan to participate in discussions by means of a live telecast linkage with Davos.

I understand that the "Japan Night" hosted by Japan that was held yesterday in Davos was a great success, attracting more people than expected.  The world now casts fervent looks of expectation toward Japan.  The world is paying careful attention to whether we are able to take strong action on "politics with a broad perspective" and "politics capable of making decisions."

Staying ever-mindful of the weight of their gaze, from next week I will again continue to appeal tenaciously for "what we must do now."

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
January 27, 2012

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