A new Prime Minister is scheduled to be elected at the special session of the Diet to be convened on the 26th. I would like to say a few words to the public before the general resignation of the Cabinet.
Yesterday (the 2nd) I learned of the tunnel collapse incident that occurred in Yamanashi Prefecture. My heart aches hearing about the tragic state of affairs at the accident site. I offer my sincere prayers for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives in this accident and extend my heartfelt sympathy to those who were injured and to those who suffered damages.
The functions of the government do not stop even after the House of Representatives has been dissolved. I returned from Cambodia in the pre-dawn hours of the 21st and since then I have continued to fulfill my official duties as Prime Minister.
On the afternoon of the 16th, I dissolved the House of Representatives.
At that instant, it was utterly impossible to have the urge to shout "banzai," a traditional occurrence upon the dissolution of the Diet.
I returned to Japan on the afternoon of the 7th after attending the ASEM summit held in Vientiane, the capital of Lao PDR.
Taking the opportunity of this forum in which the leaders of the countries of Asia and Europe come together to meet once every two years, I was able to deepen the dialogue with the leaders of these countries regarding economic and financial issues and a wide range of global-level issues. To the extent that our schedules matched, I also succeeded in holding bilateral meetings and deepening exchanges with other heads of state and government, with both neighboring Southeast Asian nations and also European countries quite far from Japan.
Yesterday (the 29th), upon the start of the extraordinary session of the Diet, I made a policy speech to the House of Representatives. This was my fourth speech to the Diet since taking office as Prime Minister.
We are now enjoying quintessentially autumnal air even in the area around the Prime Minister's Office. How did you spend the three-day weekend?
On Sunday the 7th, I visited Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station together with Minister of the Environment Mr. Hiroyuki Nagahama and others. It was my second visit there since September 2011. This time, I was able actually to enter the rooftop area of the Unit 4 nuclear reactor building.
It has been a while since I last updated my blog.
I was reelected to the presidency of the DPJ in the party presidential election held on the 21st. I am truly thankful for having received the support of so many party members and supporters, local assembly members, and Diet members. And yet what is primary within me at this moment, even more than this bubbling sense of exaltation, is a weighty sense of duty.
Last week, I held a press conference following the series of sovereignty-related incidents in Japan's surrounding marine zones. I would like for as many Japanese as possible to know the historical background, and I also wish to use it as an opportunity to appeal to the world regarding Japan's reasoning.
I invited to the Prime Minister's Office last night the medalists and Olympic diploma recipients at the London Olympics and I presented them with certificates of commendation and commemorative gifts. Perhaps it was because they had just finished the tremendous parade in the Ginza where they saw for themselves the great number of people who have been rooting for them, but in that relaxed atmosphere I saw their faces filled with a sense of accomplishment.
Sixty-seven years have now passed since the end of World War II. The year's summertime memorials for the repose of the souls of the dead have come round once more.
The 6th in Hiroshima; the 9th in Nagasaki; and today, the anniversary of the end of the Second World War. I attended each of these memorial ceremonies and, full of thoughts of sorrow at the great numbers of war dead, I renewed my pledge to work for peace.
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.
With the end of the rainy season from Shikoku to the Kanto region, the searing summer heat is now upon us in earnest. I suppose there are quite a lot of people who have spent some nights unable to sleep well, being physically unable to get used to the heat of summer. I hope that elderly people and children in particular take careful precautions against heat stroke.
Having recently visited Miyagi as I wrote about in my previous blog entry, last weekend I visited Fukushima. This was my fourth visit to Fukushima since becoming Prime Minister.
A considerable number of DPJ lawmakers submitted their resignation from the party over the vote in the House of Representatives on the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, and recently the party indicated its orientation regarding reprimands. I extend my deep apologies for this matter having recently caused concern to many among the public. As a responsible political party, we will restore party discipline at the earliest possible time and immediately move forward with reinstituting the relevant frameworks.
For the 20-some days since I reshuffled my Cabinet, there have been major policy decisions and important meetings one after the other, including the final decision regarding the restart of Units 3 and 4 of the Oi Nuclear Power Station, the three-party agreement on the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, and my participation in the G20 summit meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, among other recent happenings.During that time I had virtually no opportunity to take a break, so I'm afraid it's been quite a while since I addressed the readers of this blog.
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.
This past weekend, I hosted the Sixth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 6) in the city of Nago in Okinawa. The venue was the Bankoku Shinryokan, the same venue as the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in 2000. For me personally, this was my third trip to Okinawa since the beginning of 2012. I am very glad that this diplomatic event, a major one for Japan in which the heads of state and government of 13 Pacific nations come together once every three years, concluded successfully.
I turned 55 during my trip to Camp David just outside Washington, DC in the United States where the G8 summit was held.
Over this past weekend and continuing into Monday, I was in Beijing, which hosted the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting. Without any opportunity to take a good rest upon my return, I visited Okinawa yesterday in order to attend the commemoration ceremony for the 40th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan.
From the end of April into May, there have been tragic accidents, damages from tornadoes, and so on, one after another. My heart aches each time I am informed of such an event. I have been giving instructions to relevant official to respond through bracing up even for such unanticipated situations.
I've just returned home after spending a full two days in Washington, DC. There is a 13 hour time difference between Washington and Tokyo, and the return flight was 13 hours long. While there is a substantial distance between these cities in a physical sense, over the course of a little over a year, I feel that the distance between us in spirit has become smaller than ever before.
Yesterday, I made an appearance on a TBS news program in a forum for exchanging opinions with young people. I was quite impressed at the participating young people’s high level of awareness of issues, from intergenerational fairness to modalities for social security, ways of moving forward with reconstruction from the earthquake disaster, and the ideal state of politics, among others.
The sakura cherry blossoms have now come into full bloom in Tokyo as well. Japan was struck by tremendous spring storms all around the country in the first half of the week. Despite this, how has everything been going for you here at the beginning of the new fiscal year? I am sure that there are many people who have been taking the first steps of new phases in their lives with various thoughts in their minds.
Last night I returned to Japan after participating in the Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul.
March 11 has come around again and is now a part of the past.
I imagine that everyone reflected solemnly on this past year in his or her own way, wherever he or she was, harboring his or her own various thoughts.
Soon, a year will have passed since that day of March 11.
On Monday night (the 27th), I returned from Okinawa. During this visit, my first to Okinawa since becoming Prime Minister, I took my own personal style of approach, centered on three themes and thoughts.
On Sunday―yesterday―I welcomed the youngest guests I have ever had since assuming the job of prime minister. I had a courtesy call from eight students representing the six prefectures of Tohoku and received a powerful message that "high school students want to be proactive in their engagement" towards the reconstruction of Tohoku, their home region. I tipped my hat repeatedly to the students' high level of awareness of issues, with our discussions ranging from not only the desirable state of politics to the uniformity of media coverage.
Although the opposition parties continue to refuse to accede to formal consultations to discuss the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, successive days of debates in the Diet have gradually brought shape to concrete points of contention that will require more in-depth discussions in the future between the ruling and opposition parties.
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.
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.
I am sorry to have worried the public by wearing an eye patch for several days recently.
Although it is visually somewhat unappealing, please be assured that it does not impede my work at all. My eye is healing gradually and it is likely that I will be able to take the patch off at the beginning of next week. On Tuesday I am scheduled to deliver a policy speech to the Diet and I would like to stand at the podium in a stately and proper fashion.
2012. A new year has begun. I would like to ask all the Japanese people once more for their cooperation and guidance this year.
The extraordinary session of the Diet has come to a close and a daily scramble has now begun to address squarely the major issues needing resolution as we head into the end of the year.
In the policy speech to the Diet I delivered at the end of October, I set forth "compil[ing] a final draft as soon as possible of the third supplementary budget and its relevant legislation and mov[ing] to implement such legislation" as the greatest tasks for the extraordinary Diet session. My most fervent request was for the government and the ruling parties and the parliamentary groups within each party to take on "the resolve of the Diet" as a collaborative undertaking.
The Noda administration is about to finish its third month in office.
On November 21st, the Diet enacted the third supplementary budget, the total scale of which is 12 trillion yen, and on the 30th, the day before yesterday, it passed the Bill on Special Measures for Securing Financial Resources Necessary for Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, the legal backing for the budget. Through these steps, I believe that we will be able to dramatically accelerate efforts towards the Noda Administration's top priority agenda items, namely recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, bringing the nuclear accident under stable control at an early time, and reviving the Japanese economy.
Following the G20 summit meeting in Cannes (which has a time difference of 8 hours behind Japan, with a round-trip total flight time of 26 hours) and the APEC leaders' meeting in Honolulu (19 hours behind Japan; 16 hours round trip), from last Thursday until Sunday morning, I participated in a number of summit meetings in Bali, Indonesia (1 hour behind Japan; 14.5 hours round trip) with the leaders of ASEAN member countries and other nations. For three weeks, I have been attending international meetings over each weekend.
I flew to Honolulu, Hawaii last weekend to attend the leaders' meeting of APEC, a forum for discussing the future of the Asia-Pacific region, and returned to Japan late last night (the 14th). Coming on the heels of my participation in last week's G20 meeting, this was the second round of my diplomatic schedule running three weeks in a row.
Last week I participated in the G20 Summit held in Cannes, France. Meetings among the heads of state and government continued from morning to night in Cannes, where it was raining with strong winds. Even in the break times between sessions, I scheduled one-on-one meetings with individual leaders to the greatest possible extent and also held discussion sessions with the members of the press who had accompanied me from Japan, at which I conveyed how the summit was progressing. It was two days of working at really high gear.
The debates of the 179th session of the Diet started in earnest today. On Friday of last week I delivered to the Diet my second policy speech since taking office.
A little over a month and a half has passed since I delivered my first such policy speech, and the major issues for this Cabinet to tackle―reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas, bringing the nuclear accident under stable control, and rebuilding the Japanese economy―have not changed at all.
Last week, including the weekend, was a truly busy week.
On the 18th I visited Fukushima Prefecture for the second time since assuming office. While the schedule was quite tight as it was just before my visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK), I made this visit because I wanted to see for myself the state of efforts to decontaminate family homes, and also because I wanted to hear directly the unfiltered views of people living in temporary housing and of parents with children, before winter arrives.
Last Friday, I visited two facilities in Yokohama undertaking forward-thinking efforts in the area of child-rearing assistance.
Amongst a virtual mountain of policy issues needing government engagement, one of the major topics under "the integrated reform of social security and taxation systems" is how to make "social insurance during the first half of people's lives" able to provide better care going forward. While there are numerous points to consider regarding how to repair the frayed state of the pension, medical care, and nursing care systems, the areas of children and childrearing are those which have had the least degree of assistance until now. As we now work to bring concrete shape to "the new system for children and child-raising" currently under consideration, I thought I should listen directly to the voices of people working in the field and of young parents. I think you'll agree that the smiling faces of children are truly wonderful any time you see them. One can feel hope for tomorrow just by watching them for a while, and more than anything, their smiles are a kind of healing of the stresses of daily life.
Yesterday (the 10th), in order to obtain some insights into the revitalization of agriculture, I observed agricultural areas in Gunma Prefecture where people are engaged in leading-edge efforts such as the production of premium brand rice and the operation of direct-sales storefronts. Under the penetrating clear autumn sky, I was able to feel the fruitful nature of autumn throughout my entire being.
As of yesterday, it has been one month since I assumed the office of Prime Minister. During this time, I sprinted with my utmost energy through responses to damages from the torrential rains of typhoons #12 and #15, through attendance at the United Nations General Assembly, query sessions at the Diet by representatives of political parties, and Budget Committee sessions.
Last night (the 24th), I returned safely to Japan from New York, the location of my first trip overseas since taking office as Prime Minister.
A report of the effects of the intense rainfall caused by the typhoon arrived just as I was about to depart Haneda Airport on Tuesday. I was worried about the situation throughout my stay in the US, even though I had given instructions to the Chief Cabinet Secretary (whom I had placed in charge of affairs while I was away) and was receiving daily briefings. I extend my sympathy to the people who suffered damages from the typhoon, and I also continue to urge people to remain vigilant against landslides.
On Respect for the Aged Day yesterday (the 19th), I paid a visit to two small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Tokyo's Ota Ward as well as to the Yokohama factory of an automobile manufacturer. At each of these places we held an exchange of views centered on the impact of the recent appreciation of the yen.
Yesterday (the 13th), I delivered a policy speech to the Diet for the first time. Only my speech to the House of Representatives was broadcast on TV, but I delivered one at the House of Councillors as well. I therefore finished a total of two speeches, at roughly 35 minutes each.
Hello to all the Japanese people. I am Yoshihiko Noda, appointed Prime Minister recently. Taking a lesson from some of the prime ministers who preceded me, I have decided to launch this blog in order to convey to you, the public, the job performance of the Noda Cabinet.