July 31, 2012 at the House of Councillors Special Committee on the Comprehensive Reform of Social Security and Taxation Systems, in response to a question from Councillor Kyoko Nakayama
"I once heard that a French diplomat serving before the war said, 'Japan is pauvre but noble' - in other words, 'poor but noble.' Afterwards, Japan became no longer poor. But I think that the public's orderly response to the recent great earthquake disaster, their consideration for others, and their civility demonstrated that we have properly retained our noble nature. I think that is a value that cannot possibly be represented in numbers. Yet, I suspect that we are being somewhat reassessed by people around the world precisely because we have cultivated that thoroughly as part of our DNA and passed it on to the present. I believe we must hand this down squarely to future generations as well."