A short while ago, I was informed of the passing of His Imperial Highness Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, who was widely known to the people as the "Bearded Prince." I could not help but be saddened by this very sudden news. I extend my deepest condolences upon his passing.
On Monday, the Second Reshuffled Noda Cabinet was inaugurated.
I believe that the appointment attracting the most interest in this lineup is my asking Prof. Satoshi Morimoto to serve as Minister of Defense. Prof. Morimoto is one of Japan's leading authorities in the field of national security, and I firmly believe he will carry out the responsibilities of his office competently.
In fact, in 1952, Tokutaro Kimura, a civilian who had originally been a lawyer, was appointed to the Cabinet post of Director-General of the National Safety Agency, the predecessor to the Japan Defense Agency (now the Ministry of Defense).
National security is a job to be pursued as a responsibility of the Cabinet as a whole, with myself as Prime Minister as the commander in chief of the Self-Defense Forces. Although I participate in important decisions regarding the safety of the Japanese people as a matter of course, it is accomplishments that are most important of all. It is my understanding that a non-parliamentarian serves as the Minister of Defense in a number of countries. I consider the role I should play to be that of extending my utmost efforts to foster an environment in which all the members of the Cabinet, including Minister Morimoto, are able to perform their duties to the fullest extent.
I intend to push forward on numerous outstanding issues, a point I stated at the press conference I just held. The issues in which I must be engaged are by no means limited to only the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems.
Within the Council on National Strategy and Policy, reforms to the education system, the cultivation of human resources able to perform in a global environment, strategies to support people's daily lives, and strategies to foster youth employment are all matters that have been hammered out significantly.
The Reconstruction Promotion Committee has collected various views contributing to the reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas and the rebirth of Fukushima.
At the General Assembly of the Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), I touched upon the fact that industrial circles have been moving forward in cooperating with the disposal of the rubble from the disaster areas and requested still greater cooperation.
And, at the General Meeting of the Japan Association of City Mayors, I advocated actions by the mayors in the area of disaster preparedness and requested their cooperation in the disposal of the rubble and in the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems.
Through this opportunity of the reshuffling of the Cabinet, consultations among the ruling and opposition parties have become more active. While this is a time of major decisions that set the basic course for Japan's future, the Noda Cabinet will address this host of issues one by one, all in parallel.