Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

On Saturday the 4th, I delivered the keynote address at a symposium on "the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems" hosted by Keio University's Faculty of Economics.

As a politician, I have been called upon to speak at a broad range of gatherings, including to women's groups and youth groups within various organizations, but only a few times have I ever spoken in front of an audience comprised exclusively of university students.  My son, who is in his second year at university, lives in rural area, so in fact we don't have "father-son" talks all that often.  I tried to speak as if I was talking with my own "sons and daughters," conveying to them the state of Japan's social security system and the sense of impending crisis within the current situation, incorporating concrete examples to make it as easy to understand as possible.

I inadvertently grew increasingly impassioned and ended up speaking longer than the scheduled thirty minutes.  We will be uploading the speech text to the web page of the Prime Minister's Office.  Please have a look at it if you are interested in it.

In the question and answer segment after the address, I was asked about the issues of how to deal with the matter of people who receive no pensions and doing away with the practice of insufficient pension reductions during times of falling prices which is not in line with the amount of pension stipulated in the current law. I was impressed once again at the high level of interest shown by the students in the audience.  Also, personally speaking, as one of the people responsible for politics, I was greatly encouraged to see young people aspiring to be politicians asking questions even in this age in which politics is viewed with such a stern eye.

This reform to ensure that the bill is not passed on to future generations is truly something being undertaken for the sake of our young people.  In order to discuss measures to ensure intergenerational fairness and sustainability, it is essential that we also reflect the voices of the young people who will be taking over our society to come.  In the future, I intend also to step up my efforts to appeal to the young.

Although I spoke looking back on my own years at university and sprinkling in some reminiscences I had, I felt that the biggest difference for university students today is that they have no choice but to be conscious of job hunting from a very early time.

One hears stories that even though students have entered university, they have no time to study in a relaxed way or enjoy campus life and instead must start their job search straight away.  I once again stated that we will create a venue for government, industry, and academia to hold discussions and by June we will formulate a "Strategy for Youth Employment," which will also address the matter of bringing proper balance to the timing of the job hunting process.

Among other reasons, the revival of the economy will be critical in order to expand the employment "pie" to young people who will from now spread their wings in society.  I very much hope that this point is understood by young people.

Last week, we launched the Headquarters for Administrative Reform Implementation, in which the government will be engaged holistically, with Deputy Prime Minister Okada taking the lead.

We also established the Frontier Subcommittee under the Council on National Strategy and Policy, which held its inaugural discussions.  Its membership differs from prior councils in that it brings together eminent persons who as a rule are younger than myself, with highly motivated and capable young bureaucrats also participating in its discussions.  It is my hope that we utilize in policy formulation and elsewhere the power of the young people who will actually be spending their lives in the Japan of ten or twenty years from now.

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
February 6, 2012

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