The Strategy for Rebirth of Japan was officially approved at this morning's Cabinet meeting. This Strategy is a "compass" for executing policies over the medium to long term, looking firmly ahead eight years to 2020. In addition, it lays out concrete means to bring about a country that revives its large middle class, in which people can feel in tangible ways that "tomorrow will be better than today" and everyone can feel pride in the nation.
Although I often refer to the era depicted in the movie San-choume no Yuuhi ("Sunset on Third Street"), I am not simply waxing nostalgic for a return of the "good old days." The situation now surrounding Japan differs tremendously from our circumstances in those days, and in today's Japan it would likely be hard to pin our hopes on breakneck economic growth exceeding 10 per cent annually. We need to search out anew a path to robust economic growth, grounded in the current circumstances in which Japan finds itself.
Numerous issues that Japan has come to face for the first time since the Great East Japan Earthquake now weigh heavily upon us - post-disaster reconstruction; a dwindling birthrate and aging population advancing at a more rapid pace than anywhere else worldwide; restrictions on energy consumption. Each of these is a serious issue in itself, but is also an issue faced in common by countries around the world about which Japan can take the lead. Will Japan be able to overcome these issues and open up new frontiers? This is a challenge that will influence not only the fate of our nation but also the future of humanity as a whole.
This is a truly difficult and strenuous challenge. And yet, is it not a challenge well worth undertaking?
In the process of working out the content of this Strategy for Rebirth of Japan, I came to reconfirm the tremendous latent potential that Japan enjoys. Even though our national land area is small, the vast sea stretches out all around us. By surveying for and developing not only fishery resources but also rare metals and methane hydrate and developing offshore wind farms, Japan could become a major energy power of the 21st century.
Medical care and nursing care are also treasure houses of seeds of innovation. The development of induced Pluripotent Stem cells - iPS cells - is bringing the dream of regenerative medicine dramatically closer to reality. In such cutting-edge areas as the development of new cancer-fighting drugs and nursing care robots, Japan has the capability to take a position in which it leads the world.
Japan's food culture holds great appeal internationally. The agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries underpinning that appeal hold further promise as regional key industries. Japan has a great many companies that may be small but boast stellar technologies, and their sphere of activities has been expanding all over the globe. At the same time, women are demonstrating great potentiality for proving themselves across the entire spectrum of situations within society.
Although this Strategy for Rebirth of Japan is a thick document over 100 pages in length, I very much hope that you get a copy and give it a good look. Over the next three years we will be engaged in concentrated efforts, setting "green" innovations, "life" innovations, the agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries, and small- and medium-sized enterprises as our four major project areas. Moreover, the Strategy lays out 11 strategies and 38 prioritized policies and is accompanied by a progress schedule that specifies for each area matters including "what to undertake by four years from now" and "what kinds of results to aim for by 2020." We will also strike a balance when formulating the budget and realize these policies one by one.
The main actors bringing vibrancy to the Japanese economy are each of us as individuals. With this compass of the Strategy for Rebirth in hand, I intend for the government, industry, and labor all to move forward one step at a time.
There may be quite a few people not getting enough sleep as a result of watching the Olympic games. Last night after judoka Ms. Kaori Matsumoto captured the long-awaited first gold medal for the Japanese Olympic team, I sent her and the team a message. I hope that all the athletes to demonstrate their ability to the fullest.
The scorching heat has continued for several days in a row. Please look after yourself and do not push yourself too hard.