Politics

First Policy Speech by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to the Diet

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda pledged in his first policy address to parliament Tuesday to map out new strategy to revive economy by year-end, reconstruct disaster-hit areas and contain Fukushima nuclear crisis and to pursue economic recovery and fiscal rehabilitation.

Mr. Noda, who took office Sept. 2, also pledged to take steps to prevent yen's surge from hurting economy in cooperation with Bank of Japan.

On the energy front, the sixth prime minister in five years emphasized that Japan will make efforts to reduce dependence on nuclear power in medium term, review basic energy plan by next summer, and resume operation of idled nuclear reactors after obtaining approval from local governments.

Regarding foreign and national security policy, the primer said his goal is "deepening and developing the Japan-U.S. alliance which remain at the cornerstone of Japanese diplomacy and national security." To achieve that, the government of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan "will stick to Japan-U.S. accord on relocating U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture," and plans to "reach a decision as soon as possible on whether to join U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks," Noda said.

Noda added that "the Asia-Pacific region is expected to remain as a center for global growth in the future and Japan will naturally continue to strengthen political and economic relations with countries in the region."

On the Middle East region, Noda said "we will proceed actively with economic diplomacy with regard to measures relating to such issues as securing natural resources and energy as well as a stable supply of food . In addition, in respect of various global challenges, including assistance to developing countries and a response to international negotiations on climate change, a response to the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, and measures for fragile states, Japan will continue to make an active contribution."

The following is Yoshihiko Noda's first policy address to the 178th Session of the Japanese parliament as prime minister on Tuesday:

On the occasion of the opening of the 178th session of the Diet, I would like to offer my prayers for the repose of those who lost their precious lives in the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as in the concentrated heavy rains and typhoon, which followed in succession. In addition, I would like to express once again my sincerest sympathies to those who have been affected by disaster and who still have to endure inconvenience in their daily lives.

I have been recently appointed as Prime Minister of Japan. In any era, there is only one thing that is required of politics, which can be expressed in a simple phrase: "sincere spirit and just intent." While listening to the voices of the people, with a just intent and sincere spirit, I am committed to being true to my conscious as a politician and doing everything in my power that is possible to take on the grave responsibility of dealing with the national crisis brought about by the disasters. In this endeavor I humbly ask for the understanding and cooperation of our coalition partner, the People's New Party, all other political parties and parliamentary groupings, and the people of Japan.

Already six months have passed since the fateful day of March 11. That disaster claimed so many lives and destroyed tranquil lifestyles in many hometowns. The scars it left are still deeply etched on the affected areas. Furthermore, the disaster, coupled with the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have had an enormous impact on the entire country, not only on the affected area. With the long-running challenges that face economic society in Japan still remaining, the disaster has imposed a further set of new and grave challenges that require urgent resolution.

Living during this national crisis, there is something that we should ensure we never forget. That is the high-minded spirit demonstrated by the Japanese people in the midst of despair after the earthquake disaster. Ms. Miki Endo was working as a disaster prevention staff member in Minami-Sanrikucho, where she continued to urge residents to evacuate to high ground. It was her voice, relayed over the radio from the disaster prevention offices, which gave people courage and saved countless lives. Although her voice was tinged with fear and apprehension, Ms. Endo continued to broadcast to the very end. She was engulfed by the tsunami and never returned home. If she were still alive today, she should have been celebrating her marriage this month. Everywhere in the disaster affected areas, there were deep bonds with fellow human being without regard for their own lives, and filled with a sense of mission. Determination to fulfill a public duty in the midst of a crisis, as exemplified by Ms. Endo, and also, the countless people affected by the disaster who, showing kindness to others, have silently withstood the trials and hardships they face - are these not the qualities that ought to give us pride as Japanese and hope for the future?

There is something else we should not forget. That is the people who are struggling on the frontlines of the disaster reconstruction effort to deal with the nuclear accident and provide support to affected people. Last week, in my capacity as chief of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, I visited TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. There, more than 2,000 people are continuing to work silently and tenaciously, wearing masks and protective clothing and facing the dangers of both radiation and heatstroke, in order to bring the accident to a close.

In the areas damaged by the earthquake and heavy rain disasters, there are also various local government officials, who, while affected by the disasters themselves, are nonetheless continuing to attend to the needs of residents, spearheading rescue, recovery and decontamination activities.

The mayor of Nachi-Katsuura, Mr. Shinichi Teramoto, is a supreme example of such commitment. Although filled with the pain of having lost family members, he continues to oversee and direct operations being undertaken in response to the heavy rains.

At this very moment, the struggle against the nuclear accident and disaster-related damage is continuing. Through various dedicated and ongoing efforts in the affected areas, Japan's present and future are being supported. Shouldn't we give greater consideration to these people with our encouragement and gratitude?

There is something else we should not forget. It is the feelings of the disaster-affected people, and above all those from Fukushima, for their hometowns. Although efforts towards reconstruction are now underway in many regions, residents of the area around the power station in Fukushima continue to face an unclear future and struggle with worries and unease about radiation they cannot see. I recall the words of a certain high school student about the feelings of the people of this area, "To be born in Fukushima, grow up in Fukushima, and work in Fukushima. To get married in Fukushima, have children in Fukushima and bring up those children in Fukushima. To see our grandchildren in Fukushima, to see our great-grandchildren in Fukushima and to end our days in Fukushima. That is our dream."

These words are from a play by high school students from Fukushima, which was performed at the 35th All Japan High School Cultural Festival in Fukushima last month. These young people have overcome feelings of sadness and anger, unease and impatience, resignation and helplessness, and are filled with a strong desire to take a step forward toward tomorrow. Does such young enthusiasm not give us the conviction that we can achieve reconstruction in the disaster-affected areas and Fukushima?

It is highly regrettable that recently a Cabinet minister resigned following inappropriate statements lacking compassion for disaster victims. I would like to take this opportunity to pledge once again that the Cabinet will redouble its concerted efforts to bring the nuclear accident to a conclusion and advance assistance for disaster victims, restoring the public's confidence in the Government.

Even after the disaster, global developments continue as before. Views and perspectives on Japan continue to be subject to rapid change on an almost daily basis. The voices who have praised the high-minded spirit of the Japanese are being drowned out by critical views on Japan's politics. We now hear certain mocking comments from overseas suggesting that "procrastination and the inability to show political leadership" are "the Japanese way." The trust and confidence that our country has earned up to now is currently in real danger of being lost.

We must accept the severe and harsh realities we face. We must also overcome them. In order to prevail over the crisis before us, protect the lives of the people and restore hope and pride to Japan, now is the time for the executive and legislative branches of our country to fulfill their prescribed roles.

2. Recovery and Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake

(Expediting recovery and reconstruction)
It goes without saying that recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake are the greatest and highest priorities for my Cabinet. To date, the Government has worked in cooperation with local governments, making every effort to engage in recovery operations, including the construction of temporary accommodation, the removal of debris and support for the livelihoods of the people affected by the disaster. Although it is a fact that in comparison to the immediate aftermath of the disaster substantial progress has been made, we have received comments that the operations have lacked speed and assistance is not reaching those who need it.

What my Cabinet needs to do is self-evident. We will implement each needed specific measure steadily and assuredly based on the Basic Guidelines for Reconstruction. To this end, we will expedite preparations for the compilation of the third supplementary budget. We will also work to formulate such measures as the provision of grants that can be easily accessed by local governments, and the creation of a system for special zones for reconstruction as matters of urgency.

The basic principle regarding financial resources for recovery and reconstruction is that the burden of these resources should not be passed onto the next generation, but instead should be shared together by all generations living here in the present. First of all, we will endeavor to secure resources through various efforts, including reductions in expenditure, the sale of national assets and a review of civil servant personnel costs. In addition, the multiple options available for time-limited taxation measures will be considered in a multifaceted manner that duly examines the current economic situation and takes into account other matters, including specific items for taxation, the period for such measures and their scope and scale in each fiscal year.

We will promptly submit to the Diet a draft bill for the establishment of the Reconstruction Agency, which will function as a body that transcends the current framework of multiple ministries and agencies, providing a one-stop response to the requests received from local governments that have been affected by the disaster. In order to accelerate reconstruction of the disaster-affected regions, I would request that the ruling and opposition parties work together on a concerted response.

(Efforts to bring the nuclear power station accident to a conclusion and the revival of Fukushima)
Bringing the nuclear power station accident to a conclusion is a national challenge. Without the revival of Fukushima Prefecture there will be no restoration of trust and confidence in Japan. We will engage in every possible endeavor to ensure that the release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere, ground and oceans is halted, and will steadily work on the realization of the Roadmap towards the conclusion of the accident, while making maximum efforts to ensure the safety of the workers engaged in operations at the power station.

By accumulating knowledge and expertise from around the world, we will also overcome the technical challenges we are facing. To ensure that there is no recurrence of such a nuclear accident, we will work tenaciously to identify the causes of the accident based on international perspectives, and will provide comprehensive information on such causes and prevention measures.

The disbursement of provisional compensation payments to people affected by the accident is another urgent matter. There are residents who have been forced to evacuate and have endured inconvenience in their daily lives over a long period; owners of livestock businesses who have faced the heartbreak of seeing their animals euthanized; farmers who have been forced to dispose of their crops; and owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who have been forced to stop their operations due to unfounded reputational damages. To assist these victims of the disaster facing such a severe situation, we will expedite measures to provide fair and appropriate compensation and provisional payments.

In order to alleviate worries and concerns of residents and further accelerate reconstruction efforts, it is essential that thorough efforts be made to eliminate the radioactive materials that have already been dispersed and provide failsafe measures to manage the health of residents in the vicinity of the nuclear power station. In particular, we will prioritize health management programs for children and pregnant mothers. In order to ensure safety and peace of mind concerning food products that people consume on a daily basis, we will further enhance the inspection structures in place for agricultural produce and beef, among others.

There are still areas, predominantly in the vicinity of the TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where levels of radiation remain extremely high. Keeping firmly in our minds the sorrow and despair of those who have been forced to leave their ancestral lands, with the cooperation of local governments, the Government will take responsibility for whole-hearted efforts to engage in large-scale decontamination measures that will eliminate the radioactive materials present in the living environment.

Furthermore, based also on the lessons learned from this disaster, as well as taking all possible measures to respond to the large-scale natural disasters and accidents which threaten the lives and health of the people, we will reassess the Government's disaster preparedness measures with the aim of creating a sustainable, disaster-resilient nation.

3. Response to the Global Economic Crisis

In addition to recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, another priority issue that must be addressed by this Cabinet is the rebuilding of the Japanese economy. Since the March 11 disaster, issues such as the rapid appreciation of the yen, constraints on electricity supply and demand, and the instability of international financial markets have occurred in a composite manner. Japan is on the verge of suffering a major loss of national credibility due to the hollowing-out of its industries and its exacerbating financial situation.

(Reconstruction of energy policy)
The first step towards rebuilding Japan's economy is reconstructing its energy policy. We continue to face a situation where the supply and demand of electricity is constrained due to the nuclear power station accident. Without the stable provision of electricity, which is the very "blood" of our economy and society, the foundation for Japan's affluent lifestyle will lose stability and we will become unable to bolster domestic industrial activities.
Thanks to the energy saving efforts of the public this summer, we did not have to resort to carrying out rolling power outages. I thank you for your sincere understanding and cooperation. In order to empower Japan to escape the situation of being forced to endure energy-saving measures, we will spend the next one or two years implementing supply and demand countermeasures. At the same time, we will revise from scratch the current Basic Energy Policy, which lasts until 2030, and will create a new strategy and plan by around summer of next year. In doing so, we will steadily consider a mid- to long-term energy composition that citizens can feel comfortable with from the perspective of energy security as well as using cost analyses, while widely taking into account the views of wide-ranging groups of citizens.

Concerning nuclear power generation, it is unproductive to grasp nuclear power as a dichotomy between "zero nuclear power" and "promotion." In the mid- to long-term, we must aim to move in the direction of reducing our dependence on nuclear power generation as much as possible. At the same time, however, we will restart operations at nuclear power stations following regular inspections, for which safety has been thoroughly verified and confirmed, under the premise that a relationship of trust is developed with the local government. As per an organizational restructuring of nuclear safety regulation, the Nuclear Safety and Security Agency will be established as an affiliated agency of the Ministry of the Environment and will work to boldly unify regulations for nuclear power safety.

The history of humankind is also a history of people attempting to develop new types of energy. Japan, a country with few fossil fuel resources, must lead the rest of the world in constructing a society that bases itself on new forms of energy. Japan will utilize its advanced technological power to pair regulatory reform with measures to promote dissemination in transmitting a cutting-edge model for energy conservation and renewable energies to the world.

(Implementation of bold countermeasures to the appreciating yen and industrial hollowing-out)
Historical levels of yen appreciation paired with the rise of emerging economies and other factors are precipitating an unprecedented industrial hollowing-out crisis. The exporting companies and small to medium-size enterprises that have led Japanese industry in the past are now crying for help. Unless something is done, there is the concern that domestic industries will drop in strength and employment will be lost. If that happens, overcoming deflation and reconstruction in the affected areas will become significantly more difficult tasks.

Countries in Europe, the US and Asia are engaging in a location battle where national efforts are being made to attract companies to their countries. In order for Japan to prevent the hollowing-out of its industries and maintain domestic employment, we must work together with the Bank of Japan, which conducts monetary policy, in utilizing all policy means available. First, we will utilize reserve funds and the third supplementary budget to implement emergency economic countermeasures that include the bold enhancement of location subsidies. Furthermore, we will take advantage of the merits of the appreciating yen to support Japanese companies in purchasing foreign companies and acquiring resource interests.

(Achieving both economic growth and fiscal health)
Since before the March 11 disaster, Japan relied on national bonds for half of its national revenue, and the national debt was at risk of reaching one thousand trillion yen. The disaster has raised the crisis level of the public finance even further, making Japan's situation the worst among major advanced nations. Today, as Japan's national credibility is severely questioned, we cannot continue to manage public finance by covering old debt with new debt. Do we have the right to force more debt on future generations, who cannot now speak for themselves? The responsibility of today's politicians is being put into question.

Financial reconstruction is by no means a simple problem that can be realized in a direct manner. There is the path of cutting expenditures, which is achieved by the streamlining of politics and governmental administration. There is also the path of increasing revenues realized by revitalizing the economy and the affluent lives of citizens. While exerting every effort to realize these two paths, there is also the path of revenue reform where we must ask citizens to bear a greater burden so that we do not create problems for future generations. We must push forward while keeping view of all of these three paths, and that makes for a difficult journey.

Economic growth and fiscal health must be advanced in unison like two wheels of the same vehicle. For that purpose, efforts to realize the New Growth Strategy formulated last year will be accelerated and a strategy that takes into account the circumstances after the disaster will be enhanced with the aim of compiling, by the end of the year, a strategy to revitalize Japan.

In order for the Government to act as a "control tower" overseeing important national policies, including the realization of these strategies, we will gather the knowledge of the industrial, government, and academic sectors, consolidate existing meeting structures, and establish a new meeting structure, that I will administer.
It is the dynamism of private companies such as small and medium-size enterprises that will lead Japan's economic growth. We will develop an environment conducive to generating new industries and ample employment opportunities mainly in the environmental energy sector, which is also linked to resolving the problem of global warming, and the medical-related sector, which is in high demand due to Japan's longevity society.

Moreover, in order to deepen relations with growing foreign markets, we will strategically promote economic partnerships and advance market development in a concerted effort between the public and private sectors, while at the same time strengthening efforts to attract expertise and funding from overseas.

The idea that "agriculture is the backbone of a country" is still alive today. Food supports and nurtures life. Due to the very fact that consumers demand a high standard of safety and reassurance, the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries may possibly become growth industries that assume the lead in the new era. Using efforts to revitalize agriculture, the core industry in affected areas in the Tohoku region, as a gateway, concrete measures will be compiled in order to swiftly revitalize the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries in accordance with the midterm recommendations of the Council for the Realization of the Revival of the Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery Industries.

In addition, post offices are a pillar of social infrastructure that supports rural communities. I will work to ensure that the bill for the Postal Reform Act is quickly passed so that post offices are able to provide the basic services of the three branches in a unified manner as bond-forming bases among the people of each community.

The Government will also continue to promote the reform for increasing local sovereignty.

4. A Japan that has Hope and Pride

Along with overcoming the "two crises" of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the world economic crisis, we must invest in Japan's future in order to be a country filled with promise and a country which each and every person can have pride in and be grateful that they were born in this country.

(The Revival of a Large Middle Class and Social Security Reform)
In times past, Japan used to be identified as a country in which all people belonged to the middle class. Supported also by one of the best social security systems in the world, the large middle class had been the basis of economic development and social stability. However, the birthrate decline and aging population have progressed rapidly, the employment and family patterns to date have largely transformed, and the "lifetime safety net" of the social security system, too, has begun to show some gaps. Among the people who used to belong to the middle class, there are now more people who are finding it difficult to get by.

Giving up could eventually turn to despair and then to anger, and then the collapse of the stability of the Japanese society from its core. "Hope" and "pride" will not emerge unless we bring back Japan which has "warmth" rather than "despair and anger."

The social security system must be shifted to one that is tailored to all generations and one which all generations can feel is fair. Specifically, we need to strengthen support measures for the younger generation by advancing comprehensive support for children and child rearing, including the provision of child allowance agreed upon among the three parties of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and New Komeito party and the establishment of a framework for the unification of nurseries and kindergartens.

Another major challenge is to eliminate any concerns about the healthcare and nursing care systems and to efficiently provide high quality services tailored to the community situation. Furthermore, amid prospects of a declining workforce population, we must improve the employment rate of young people, women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. We must advance the realization of a society in which all people participate, in which everyone with a will to work is able to work. And we must form a reliable safety net to ensure that no one falls into the poverty cycle.

In June of this year, the Government and ruling party's final draft plan for the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems was compiled after much discussion. With this plan as our basis, the ruling and opposition parties will sincerely carry out repeated discussions and we will aim to submit the relevant legislation during the next ordinary session of the Diet. In order for the ruling and opposition parties to have an open dialogue and to be able to reach an agreement on the passage of the legislation, I sincerely ask for the participation of the members of all parties and parliamentary groups in the policy discussions on the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems.

(The Aspiration to Engage Actively Overseas and Contribute to the International Community and to All of Mankind)
In order for Japanese people to regain "hope" and "pride," there is one more important thing. That is never to become "inward-looking" - to have the aspiration to engage actively overseas. Since the Meiji Restoration, our forefathers paved the way to prosperity by boldly challenging the world. I believe there are definitely things that only we Japanese people can do to resolve the issues facing the international community and contribute to the future of all of mankind. In order to call forth the aspiration to become a pioneer of a new era among the young, we will advance the development of human resources, including the bringing up global human resources, and educate to develop people's ability to learn and think on their own. Furthermore, we will be exploring policies to open up frontiers of a new Japan, including the establishment of a new community development model which aims to achieve prosperous furusato (homelands), the development of sea areas which are said to be a reservoir of marine resources, and the establishment of a strategic scheme for promoting the development and use of outer space.

(Restoration of Confidence in Politics and Government Administration)
The country cannot function without the public's confidence in politics and government administration. We will strive to restore confidence through the generation of tangible outputs of administrative reform and political reform. Already, a Cabinet decision has been approved soon after the end of the war in 1946, which vowed to thoroughly revitalize the operations of the government in order to increase public confidence. Despite the fact that more than 60 years have passed since this Cabinet decision, government revitalization is still midway into the process. We will work to eliminate any wasteful spending and inefficiencies included in government administration and to strengthen the truly necessary government functions. These government revitalization efforts must be continued and reinforced consistently. We will enhance the methods of reviewing government programs (shiwake) that we have been undertaking since the change of government. Furthermore, the Government and ruling party will go back to the original goal of "putting the lives of the people first" and make concerted efforts to fight vested interests and to carry out an array of administrative reforms.

In order for the nation's civil servants to be able to truly demonstrate their capacities as those serving the needs of the people and realize efficient and high quality government services, we will endeavor to achieve the early passage of the legislation related to the reform of the system of national civil servants. Along with cutting the personnel costs of national civil servants, we will carry out efforts for materializing the reform of the civil servant system.

Our foremost priority in political reform is correcting the difference in weight attached to a vote, which is currently a violation of the Constitution. I expect that serious discussions will take place among the ruling and opposition parties regarding the mechanisms of the election system, including the issue of the number of Diet members.

5. Foreign and National Security Policy that Addresses the New Requirements of the Times

(Changes in the global situation and security environment surrounding Japan)
The global situation surrounding Japan is continuing to change on a daily basis, even following the recent disaster. The global presence of emerging economies is increasing and in response to the new requirements of the times, brought about by multi-polarization it is vital that Japan's foreign policy respond robustly to these changes.

There is also an increasing lack of transparency in the security environment surrounding Japan. In such a situation it is naturally the responsibility of the Government to create a system in time of peace that is capable of responding swiftly to any crisis that may unfold in order to ensure regional peace and stability as well as safety of the people. In accordance with the new National Defense Program Guidelines that were formulated at the end of last year, Japan will enhance its readiness and mobility and work to build a dynamic defense force, thus responding to the new security environment.

(Deepening and developing the Japan-U.S. alliance)
The Japan-U.S. alliance remains at the cornerstone of Japanese diplomacy and national security, and also a publicly shared asset fostering the stability and prosperity of not only the Asia-Pacific region, but also the world.

The significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance relationship that has been strengthened over the long course of more than half a century was reconfirmed during the disaster, through "Operation Tomodachi." In addition to moving quickly to build relations of trust at the leader level, we will work to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance on various levels, focusing particularly on security, economics, and exchanges of culture and human resources, thus deepening and developing an alliance relationship that is appropriate for the 21st century.

Regarding the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station, in line with the Japan-U.S. agreement, it is important to avoid a situation in which the Air Station becomes fixed in its current location and ensure that the burden on Okinawa is alleviated. We will make every effort in this regard, while explaining the situation sincerely to the people of Okinawa to ask for their understanding. We will also actively implement measures for the revitalization of Okinawa.

(Strengthening bilateral relations with neighboring countries)
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to remain as a center for global growth in the future and Japan will naturally continue to strengthen political and economic relations with countries in the region and also to deepen exchanges in cultural aspects. We will make efforts to build trust as a fellow member of the region and ensure robust relations.

In relations between Japan and China, in view of next year's 40th anniversary of the normalization of relations between our two countries, we will work to promote specific cooperation in a broad range of areas and, while seeking for China to play an appropriate role befitting its responsibilities as a member of the international community with greater transparency, we will work to deepen our strategic relationship of mutual benefit.

In relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), we will further strengthen relations, based on a future-oriented vision towards the next one hundred years. In relations with North Korea, in cooperation with other countries and based on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, Japan seeks to normalize its diplomatic relations with North Korea through the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern, including the abduction, nuclear, and missile issues, and settling the unfortunate past. Regarding the abduction issue, this is a grave issue that relates to national sovereignty and as the responsibility of the State, we will spare no effort towards achieving the return of all abductees to Japan at the earliest possible juncture.

In relations with Russia, in addition to continuing tenacious efforts to resolve the issue of the Northern Territories, which is of prime concern, we will work to build an appropriate relationship as a partner in the Asia-Pacific region.

(Linkage in a multi-polar world)
In order to cultivate assured bonds with each country in a multi-polar world, great strength of will be required to join together in resolving the challenges that the world faces in common. These "kizuna -bonds of friendship-" must be broadened and expanded in multiple tiers of society, in various public and private sector bodies.

One example of such efforts based on such "kizuna" is recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. The disaster-affected regions have benefited from the provision of countless instances of warm support from countries around the world. This assistance can be said to be one of the significant fruits of Japan's contribution to the international community in the post-war period and the trust the world places in us. Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered the devastation of an atomic bombing and is also a country that has suffered from the recent unprecedented disaster. In addition to continuing to take the lead among nations to appeal for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, Japan must pay back the kindness that has been shown by the world, by sharing the lessons and knowledge we have gained in the areas of nuclear safety and disaster prevention with other countries.

Efforts to strengthen linkages between countries in economic aspects are termed "economic cooperation." As a part of such cooperation, essential challenges are efforts to ensure growth in the global economy and prevent the hollowing out of industry. Based on the "Basic Policy on Comprehensive Economic Partnerships" we will make strategic moves seeking to conclude high-level economic partnership agreements (EPA). In specific terms we will advance the EPA negotiations with the ROK and Australia, and we will aim to initiate negotiations in the near term for a Japan-EU EPA and a Japan-China-ROK EPA. In addition, with regard to the participation in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, we will conduct thorough discussions with a view to reaching a conclusion as soon as possible.

With regard to measures relating to such issues as securing natural resources and energy as well as a stable supply of food, we will proceed actively with economic diplomacy. In addition, in respect of various global challenges, including assistance to developing countries and a response to international negotiations on climate change, a response to the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, and measures for fragile states, Japan will continue to make an active contribution.

6. Closing Remarks
Politics is all about working tenaciously to bring about realistic solutions to issues, while coordinating contradictory interests and values. The essence of parliamentary democracy lies in consensus building based on carefully wrought dialogue and understanding.

Under the previous administration we have already found a number of solutions through repeated dialogue. Given the constraints placed on us by a divided Diet, now is an apt and opportune moment to reflect on the rightful nature of the legislative branch of government, namely the aim of reaching consensus through discussion.

To the honorable members of the Diet gathered here, representing your constituents, and to the people of Japan, I would like to reiterate the following.

In order to revive Japan from this historic national crisis, do we not need to now amass and concentrate all the latent potential in our country? The members of the Cabinet will make concerted efforts to discharge their responsibilities. The members of the bureaucracy will demonstrate their maximum abilities as experts in their fields. The ruling and opposition parties will engage in thorough discussions and dialogue and give their all to identify common ground. Is it not now time for the Government, corporations and each individual, indeed every person in the nation, to be of one mind and united in our efforts to face this crisis?

I will take the lead among the Cabinet in listening carefully to the voices and the heartfelt cries of each and every person in the nation. I will conduct myself with "sincere spirit and just intent." I will devote myself only to the people of Japan, and, in order to overcome the crisis before us and resolve the challenges that have beset Japan for many years, I am determined to spare no effort as I advance tenaciously and doggedly forward, one step at a time.

I close my policy speech by reiterating my request for the understanding and cooperation of my fellow citizens.

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