General Policy Speech by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the 159th Session of the Diet
January 19, 2004
Having been granted the trust of the people of Japan in the general election that took place in November 2003, I once again have been given the honor of bearing the heavy responsibilities of Prime Minister of Japan. Firmly maintaining the policy that has been followed to date of "without structural reform there will be no rebirth or growth in Japan," and reflecting once more on the words of the Chinese philosopher Mencius that, "when about to place a great responsibility on a person, heaven may test one with hardship and frustrated efforts in order to toughen one's nature and shore up deficiencies," I will continue to promote reforms with firm resolve.
Since my inauguration as Prime Minister, I have promoted reforms under the policies of "leave to the private sector what it can do" and "leave to the localities what they can do," and have expended all efforts to ensure that Japan performs a constructive role as a member of the international community.
The society which we strive to realize is one in which each and every person, as well as the regions and companies take on principle roles and where the individual efforts are rewarded and offer a second chance at success. Knowledge and innovative ideas produced at the workplace are the means that will exert Japan's potential and lead to economic growth. It is incumbent on the nation to secure the people's safety and provide reassurance for the future life. We will support efforts made by the people, the regions and companies, and promote science and technology to develop the foundation for Japan's future development. In the international community, Japan will actively contribute to the realization of global peace and prosperity.
This year, in addition to utilizing the results of reform implemented to date, we will materialize reforms that have been said to be difficult to achieve until now, including privatization of postal services and highway-related public corporations, the reform packages of three issues that promote decentralization, and pension reform. In this sense, the rebirth of Japan will take a firm step forward this year.
On the foundation of the stable administrative coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito, I am now seeking to realize a country where the buds of reform are nurtured into a large tree and a country granted the trust of the world with full of pride and confidence.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my sincere condolences to the death of Ambassador Katsuhiko Oku and First Secretary Masamori Inoue, who were killed while carrying out a pivotal role in reconstruction assistance to Iraq in November 2003.
The achievement of a stable and democratic administration in Iraq is extremely important for the international community and Japan, which relies for the large part on the Middle East for its energy. In the midst of the ongoing fight against terrorism by the international community, if we were to now yield to terrorism, allowing Iraq to become a base for terrorism, the threat of terrorism would hang not only over Iraq, but also over the entire world. It is the responsibility of the international community to ensure that a government by the people of Iraq, for the people of Iraq is inaugurated and to develop an environment in Iraq whereby the people of Iraq can endeavor, filled with hope, for the reconstruction of their own country.
Currently 37 countries are working in Iraq, and over 90 countries and international organizations are engaged in assistance activities. The United Nations is also calling on all member countries to assist the efforts of the people of Iraq for the rebuilding of the country.
After World War II, Japan has developed, receiving assistance from many countries, moving to a position today where it provides assistance to the countries of the world. The peace and safety of Japan cannot be ensured by Japan alone. The development and prosperity of Japan are intertwined with the peace and stability of the world. Japan will actively contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq.
If we were to leave the personnel contribution to other countries for possibility of danger, and thus limit the contribution to provision of materials, it can not be said that Japan is fulfilling its responsibilities as a member of the international community. Like a pair of wheels, we will provide both financial assistance and a personnel contribution through the Self Defense Forces (SDF) and the Support Personnel for Reconstruction.
In financial terms, Japan will provide grant assistance totaling US$1.5 billion for the immediate reconstruction needs of Iraq focusing on such areas as electricity generation, education, water and sanitation, and employment, and will implement assistance up to a total of US$5 billion to develop economic infrastructure including telecommunications and transportation in the medium term. Japan will strive to ensure that such assistance will be fully utilized for the reconstruction of Iraq.
In personnel terms, given that the situation in Iraq is one that cannot always be described as being safe, I have decided to dispatch the SDF which have had a daily training regimen, and capable of operating efficiently and avoiding danger in hostile environments. They will not use force. They will operate in regions free from military action and in a case when such action occurs near the site of their operations, the SDF will temporarily suspend their operations or take shelter and seek the directive of the Minister of State for Defense. We will take every possible measure to ensure their safety.
The SDF have achieved many successes in their overseas peacekeeping operations and have transported supplies to assist the victims of the large earthquake in Iran. I believe that in Iraq also, while building a good relationship with the local community, the SDF will be able to provide assistance that will be appreciated by the people of Iraq in such areas as medical care, the provision of clean water, the building or restoration of public facilities such as schools as well as the transportation of supplies.
The SDF have already started to engage in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance activities in Iraq. We will undertake full-scale assistance activities, while closely monitoring the local situation and security in Iraq. I express my respect for the members of the SDF who engage in such difficult assignments.
To ensure that the countries of the world cooperate in assistance for the reconstruction of Iraq, in addition to making further diplomatic efforts, we will expend all efforts towards peace in the Middle East and deepen dialogue with Arab countries.
The fight against terrorism in Afghanistan still continues unabated. The decision by Libya to abandon development programs for weapons of mass destruction, and to allow immediate inspections is of great significance. We strongly expect that other countries, including North Korea, will likewise make a responsible response. We will continue to actively participate in international efforts towards the prevention and elimination of terrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
(Advancement of Reform--Bringing Reform to Concrete Shape -- "From Public Sector to Private Sector" and "From the State to the Regions")
The Japanese economy is steadily recovering, as seen in the improvement of corporate revenues and increases in capital investment. The economic growth rate has been positive in real terms for 18 consecutive months, and even in nominal terms has been positive over the past six months. Although the employment situation is adverse, there is a trend towards recovery such as increasing number of job openings, and a bottoming out of commodity prices. The supplementary budget for FY2003 was formulated for the first time in 14 years without increasing the issuance of government bonds. Even without public spending initiated by government, the results of structural reform are now coming to be seen. Regional revitalization is the key to realizing an energetic Japanese economy. We will further accelerate reforms in the areas of finance, tax system, regulations and expenditure that will lead the vigor of the private sector and motivation of the localities. The Government of Japan will aim to overcome deflation and achieve economic revitalization together with the Bank of Japan.
Under the policy of "leave to the private sector what it can do," the greatest challenge is recognized to be reform of the public sector, where special public corporations are undertaking business through the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program funded by postal savings and public pension premiums. In this regard we have advanced administrative and fiscal reforms.
With regard to the privatization of postal services, which could be said to be the "heart" of reform, we are currently pressing forward with concrete deliberations in the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy. It is expected that by around autumn of 2004 the Council will have compiled a privatization plan that will provide better services for the public, and this plan will be submitted as a bill on privatization in 2005.
With regard to the four highway-related public corporations, in addition to introducing principles of competition and reviewing its subsidiaries, the Japan Highway Public Corporation will be privatized after it is divided along regional lines. Each individual plan for a new road will be given strict investigation, without recourse to the existing construction plan for 9342km of new roads, and in addition to splitting projects between toll roads to be built by independent companies and roads to be built by the government, we have established "zones for fundamental review." Through thorough reductions of construction costs resulting from plan revisions, we will almost halve the project expenditure for toll roads from their initial figure of approximately 20 trillion yen. Debts will not be increased after privatization and all debts will be settled in a 45-year period after privatization. In addition, we will reduce toll charges by an average 10% in the meantime, and provide a variety of services. Such reform basically respects the opinions of the Promotion Committee for the Privatization of the Four Highway-related Public Corporations. The relevant bills will be submitted to this session of the Diet and we will realize the privatization in FY2005.
With regard to the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program, it no longer has privileged access to the resources of mandatory deposits of postal savings and public pension premiums. The scale of the Program has also been curtailed and the size in the initial plan for FY2004 will be halved from the peak level of FY1996, from around 40 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen.
Out of a total of 163 special public corporations, 80% have already been abolished, privatized or converted into incorporated administrative institutions, by which their operations are thoroughly reviewed, transparency is increased and strict evaluation is applied. Retirement bonuses for board members of special public corporations and incorporated administrative institutions have been greatly reduced to a level equivalent to those of national government employees.
Regarding the number of national government employees, while the number will be increased in sectors where they are really needed, including public security and immigration control, the overall number will be reduced.
Reform of the civil service system will be materialized to ensure that government employees are able to devote themselves into their duties as servants of the entire people.
Under the principle of "leave to the localities what they can do," the "reform package of three issues" took a significant step forward. In addition to abolishing or reducing state subsidies by one trillion yen in FY2004, regional expenditure will be thoroughly controlled and local allocation taxes will be reduced by 1.2 trillion yen. We will undertake to implement a full-scale transfer of tax revenue sources from individual income tax (national tax) to local inhabitants' tax by FY2006. As a provisional measure, we will introduce local transfer tax, thereby transferring tax revenue sources of 420 billion yen. In the overall view of taxation in FY 2006, we will promote reform to enhance the autonomy of localities and expand their discretionary capabilities.
We will continue to implement measures to promote mergers of municipalities, even after the expiration of the current special law.
With regard to the Do-Shu system, we will assist Hokkaido in becoming the exemplar for regional autonomy and revitalization.
(Realization of Reform in Lifestyle)
Structural reform is changing the lifestyle of the people of Japan.
Toward "the world's most advanced IT nation", High-speed Internet in Japan has become the fastest and cheapest in the world and internet stock transactions have rapidly increased in the past three years, now accounting for 19% of total stock transactions compared to 6% previously. By the end of FY2003, almost all applications and notifications to administrative agencies of the Government will be able to be submitted from home and company computers. Commuter passes using IC cards have come into wide use and attempts to provide information on the origins of products at stores by utilizing electronic tags have started as a result of the mixed effects of technology innovation and regulatory reform. We will realize a society in which people can truly take advantage of IT in their lives through promoting the spread of digital television broadcasting which will lead to the development of the basis of household IT. We will promote e-government while strengthening the safety measures for information and communications and increasing its credibility. We will promote international cooperation with the Asian countries in the area of IT.
We have formulated mechanisms in which not only consumers but also producers take an active role in reducing the production of waste according to the features of products such as home electronics, automobiles and computers. In our daily lives, recycling of raw garbage is underway in dining halls of ministries and agencies of the central government. Experimental trials of biomass products such as plates made from corn and sawdust are being implemented.
In Teshima, Kagawa Prefecture, projects have been started with the efforts of many people to regenerate the beautiful island that has been destroyed by illegally disposed waste. We will strive for a zero waste society so as not to allow this kind of environmental pollution by eliminating large scale illegal disposals at the earliest date possible.
We will develop a mechanism where the people who, for the best interest of the public, report on illegal activities of others in same organization, will be protected.
(Preparing for Safety)
It is the fundamental responsibility of the Government to prepare for the safety of its people.
We will strengthen domestic countermeasures for terrorism through controls at the "shoreline" including airports, ports and harbors, development of the crisis management system and protection of important facilities. We will also work to protect diplomatic establishments abroad and ensure the safety of overseas Japanese nationals. We will develop a system so that we can appropriately respond to emergency situations such as the occurrence of large scale terrorism or the appearance of unidentified armed ships.
We will work to establish bills related to ensuring the safety of the people in an emergency and establish a comprehensive contingency legislative system.
We will engage in the development of a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system so as to respond to the changes in the security environment, and review the overall defense capability of Japan.
It is our urgent task to revive "Japan, the safest country in the world." The Government as a whole will work to recover the trust of the people on the safety as soon as possible.
In the FY2004, while reducing 10,000 local government employees, we will aim for a "no empty Koban" and strengthen the functions of the Koban by adding over 3,000 police officers and also utilizing retired police officers. We will develop a social environment that is realized in union with citizens and the local community where crimes are less likely to occur, including creation of safe cities. We will also enhance the immigration control and strengthen our countermeasures against organized crimes and organized crimes by foreigners.
We seek to improve information provision, protection and assistance for the victims of crimes.
We will implement judicial system reform in order to realize a society where people can have better access to judicial services, including introduction of a jury system where people can participate in criminal trials and the development of a judicial information network where people can easily receive legal consultation anywhere in Japan.
The number of fatalities from traffic accidents in 2003 was less than 8,000 people, for the first time in 46 years. We will seek to further reduce the number to less than 5,000 people in the next decade.
We will vigorously advance fire fighting and disaster prevention measures by promoting enhanced earthquake resistance of important buildings such as schools and hospitals and housing. We will also improve measures for recovery and reconstruction to support the victims including securing a place of residence.
(Securing Reassurance in the Future Life)
We will create a social security system that is mutually supported by both the young and older generations, thereby realizing a society where people can live with peace of mind.
With regard to pensions, while ensuring a benefit level of 50% of the average income of the current working generation as a minimum, we will minimize the insurance fee as much as possible so as not to lay an excessive burden on the people. On the other hand, we have compiled a reform plan that will set out a path to raise the government share of contributions to the basic pension to one-half through appropriate taxation of pensions. The relevant bills will be submitted to this session of the Diet
For medical care and long-term care, we will carry out reforms that seek to develop an infrastructure in which people can receive high-quality and efficient service long into the future, and ensure their stable operation.
We will steadily implement a "Zero Waiting for Day Care Program" and increase the number of children accepted into day care centers by 50,000 for FY2004, while improving the parental child care leave system. We will extend the age limitation for children who are eligible to receive child allowance from pre-school age to the end of the third year in primary school. The Government as a whole will work on the issue of the declining birthrate and strive to realize a society where people can give birth to children without any anxiety and feel the joy of raising children.
A society full of vitality and diversity will be realized when women exercise their inherent skills and play active parts in various areas. We will assist women in their motivations to take on challenging roles in society, including support for areas in which participation by women has not been well developed to date.
We will facilitate a barrier-free society, including not only in buildings and public transportation but also in systems and awareness of the people, and carry forward education and awareness-raising on human rights in order to establish a society where everyone respects and supports one another's personality and individuality.
Including a response to the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) issue, we will ensure food safety and trust in food safety from the perspective of consumers. We will prepare thorough measures against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and bird flu.
(Revival of Regions and Economic Revitalization)
Efforts have started to revive Lake Biwa and Yodo River basin area, with the aim for coexisting with nature by utilizing its history and culture. In Wakkanai and Ishigaki, measures to promote tourism and revitalize urban areas have already been put into action through facilitating exchanges with overseas and neighboring tourism areas in addition to the cooperation between harbors and cities. In Matsuyama City, efforts are being made to establish a city that allows for a comfortable living with amicable walking environment, using the novel "Saka no Ue no Kumo (Clouds above the Hill)" as a model. We will carry forward urban revival nationwide by utilizing the knowledge of the region and the motivation of the private sector.
The special zones for structural reform which were launched in April 2003 are now in operation. In Ota City, Gunma Prefecture, when it was decided to open a school providing unified primary, lower and upper secondary school education with classes conducted in English, the number of applicants seeking entry exceeded twice that of the maximum enrollment number permitted. In special zones for international logistics, we have seen recognizable achievements such as a substantial increase in the number of customs handling cases at night time as well as an increase of exports and imports. There are 236 cases of special zones nationwide in which each region has put all the ideas together, such as the Integrated Childcare Special Zone where children at kindergarten and nursery are placed together and the Japan Hometown (Furusato) Revival Special Zone which allows serving homemade rice wine (Doburoku) at farm guesthouses. In the future, we will continue to steadily realize the proposals concerning special zones and ensure that the results are swiftly disseminated nationwide.
We will actively promote the realization of "Japan as a country founded on tourism" by working to double the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan in 2010, and appeal to other countries on the attractions of Japan so as to realize "nation-building that provides a good living habitat and good place to visit" as well as for each region to promote tourism that utilizes the beauty of its nature and wonderful landscape.
Foreign direct investment into Japan is steadily making progress as seen in the fact that 780 investment cases were discovered through the comprehensive information center that was established in May 2003. We will make Japan an attractive market for foreign companies in order to achieve the goal of doubling the amount of investment within the next five years.
In Takahama City, Aichi Prefecture, the total amount of personnel expenses of municipal employees was reduced and employment opportunities were created in the region by commissioning a package of services to a joint-stock company that the city established.
We will collectively receive requests made by local governments and companies, and fully support the revival of the regions through economic revitalization and creation of employment by implementing system reform and coordinating measures based on the situation in the regions, including promoting the opening of administrative services to the private sector.
We will seek to revitalize agriculture such as rice farming and the food industry including distribution. We will support highly motivated and capable enterprises, and actively progress agricultural policy reform, taking export of agriculture products into consideration. We will aim for the creation of beautiful rural communities, and promote exchanges with the cities.
We will train personnel to take on the responsibility of forestry maintenance and seek their settlement in the regions through "green employment," thereby nurturing diverse and sound forests.
We will exert utmost efforts on employment measures. We will further provide support to eliminate the mismatch between the number of job openings and the people who are seeking work but not finding work, and for expeditious re-employment. We will implement educational training integrated with on-site training in companies and the "Youth Independence and Challenge Plan" which include providing employment counseling for young people that is conducted by the regions utilizing the private sector. Employment opportunities for people aged up to 65 and re-employment of middle-aged people will be facilitated.
The Program to Create 5.3 Million Jobs will be implemented steadily.
The total amount of non-performing loans of major banks has fallen by more than nine trillion yen over the past 18 months, and the non-performing loan ratio is also steadily decreasing toward the target figure. The non-performing loans issue will be resolved in FY2004. A new public finance system to strengthen financial functions will be developed.
We will enhance the credibility and convenience of the securities market by strengthening monitoring functions and introducing paperless shares, and push for greater collaboration between banks and securities companies in order to expand personal asset management in the market and channel required funds to local governments and small and medium sized firms (SMEs). We will increase the number of personnel engaged in the trust business and expand its scope of service, and facilitate financing that is independent from mortgage based collateralization and personal guarantees.
The Industrial Revitalization Corporation, established in 2003, has so far approved nine cases for assistance. The small and medium sized firms revival assistance councils established nationwide have advised over 2,600 companies and provided help for revival plans in nearly 200 cases. These efforts are steadily bearing genuine results. We will steadily promote industrial revitalization through maximum utilization of the wisdom and vitality of the private sector.
As a result of approving the exception that dropped the minimum capital requirement for the start-up of business from 10 million yen to one yen, nearly 8,000 companies have been born in a single year. We will expand preferential tax systems to increase individual investment in venture firms, and provide support for setting up businesses and challenges into new areas of activity.
The Council for Regulatory Reform is coming to the end of its term. However, we will establish a new consultative body, mainly consisting of private sector members, and formulate a new three year plan starting from FY2004 to accelerate regulatory reform.
We will review the Anti-Monopoly Act in order to establish competition policy befitting the 21st century.
In the formulation of the FY2004 budget, we have effectively managed to contain general expenditure at below the level of FY2003.
The fiscal primary balance is improving. The only major areas receiving budget increases are social security, science and technology promotion and measures for small and medium sized firms. We have reduced spending in all other portfolios and exercised discretion in budget allocations. We will strive to improve the quality of spending by, as a new approach allowing budget execution over multiple fiscal years while strictly evaluating the results, and by combining with systemic reform increasing efficiency of budgets for policies which span multiple ministries and agencies such as the measures to tackle declining birthrate.
We aim to lift the primary balance out of deficit by the early 2010s.
Now that the effects of the comprehensive and fundamental wide-ranging reform of the tax system for FY2003 carried out from the perspective of multiyear tax revenues are steadily coming to be seen, we will continue to carry out advance tax cuts amounting to 1.5 trillion yen in the next fiscal year. In FY2004, we will strive to utilize personal assets and revitalize the land and housing market by extending the timeframe for exemptions to housing loans and reducing the tax rate of income tax for capital gains from the sale of land or on open stock investment funds.
We will undertake drastic reform of the tax system from a medium to longer term perspective to bring about a fair and vigorous economic society. The reform will be based on the Outline for Tax Reform compiled recently by ruling party, and will combine review of the social security system and the reform package of three issues.
(Creating the Foundation of Future Development)
A major issue for the Koizumi Cabinet is preserving the global environment. We will strive to balance environmental protection and economic growth through utilizing science and technology.
We will continue to make efforts towards the early effectuation of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the formulation of a set of common rules in which all countries will participate.
We have set the goal to convert the entire fleet of official vehicles to low-emission vehicles (LEV) by the end of FY2004, which led firms to accelerate the development of technology. LEV vehicles now account for over 60% of new automobile registrations. We will implement the world's highest standard for emissions regulations on diesel vehicles, and will promote environmental measures that are ahead of the rest of the world. Japan has the most advanced solar power generation in the world. As a part of our medium to longer term environment and energy policies, we will exert every effort into ensuring the safety of nuclear power as well as promoting clean energies including the practical use of fuel cells, solar and wind-powered electricity. We will evaluate and make a review of the Outline to Promote Measures to Prevent Global Warming as we move to build a society that draws economic vitality from its efforts to "prevent global warming."
Toward the realization of a "nation built on scientific and technological creativity," we will strategically advance the "Project to Create Future" as a research and development project that will foster economic revitalization and improve people's lives. Research and development will be conducted in such fields as innovative cancer treatment utilizing the achievement of human genome decoding. We will promote science and technology as we advance industry-academia-government coordination and draw on the vitality of regions and the private sector.
With the aim of establishing Japan as a "nation founded on intellectual property," we will realize a "zero waiting list" patent examination and tighten measures against counterfeit and pirated copies. As an innovative court reform, we will create a high court devoted to intellectual property cases.
Japan possesses world-class traditions and culture, as evidenced by the recognition of Nogaku theater and Ningyo Joruri Bunraku theater by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as masterpieces of the intangible heritage of humanity. We will promote business that capitalizes on copyrighted works such as Japanese films, animations and game software acclaimed overseas as we promote nation built on wealth of culture and arts.
We will exert utmost effort to reform education to foster people with the toughness and spirit to define the new era and to improve human resources.
We will strive to cultivate solid academic prowess through improvements of primary and secondary education. "Food education" that teaches the importance of healthy eating which is important for physical and mental health will be promoted, and we will work to improve children's physical fitness. We will develop an environment in which children can learn from all parts of society by supporting experiential activities utilizing school facilities by local residents for primary and lower secondary school students, while taking measures to ensure school safety.
In April 2004, national universities will become incorporated administrative agencies. We aim to create universities that are intensely vigorous and full of individuality. Scholarship program to ensure that all young people of enthusiasm and ability are able to benefit from an education will also be expanded.
We will vigorously engage in the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education, based on nationwide discussions.
In addition to giving support to youth facing problems such as delinquency, we will promote measures to encourage social independence among young people.
We will strive to develop the system for appropriate preservation and use of documents at national archives so that records of the government's activities and historical facts can be passed on to future generations.
We will undertake a survey of the continental shelf to establish the extent of Japan's rights to the seabed for the purposes of natural resource development.
We will intensively promote a cadastral survey which demonstrates updated land boundaries and titles.
With regard to North Korea we will continue to aim for a comprehensive solution, including the abduction issues and security issues encompassing nuclear and missile issues, based on the Pyongyang Declaration. Through the Six-Party talks and in consultation with countries concerned, we will strongly urge North Korea to dismantle its nuclear development. We will continue to make utmost efforts towards a complete solution of the abduction issues at the earliest possible date, giving due consideration to the wishes of the abductees and their families. We will be strenuously calling on North Korea to act in good faith.
The relationship with the United States of America is the linchpin of Japan's diplomatic policy, and it is of extreme importance for Japan that the two countries cooperate to demonstrate leadership on the various issues facing the international community. Continuing our close partnership and dialogue across wide-ranging areas, we will work to elevate the credibility of the Japan-US security arrangements and build a solid Japan-US relationship.
We will strive for the implementation of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Final Report to ease the burden on the people of Okinawa, including the relocation and return of Futenma Air Station. We will also provide assistance for the economic independence of Okinawa, utilizing the characteristics of the region. In Onna village, Okinawa prefecture, we will promote the concept of establishing a Graduate School of Science and Technology, which undertakes educational and research activities of the highest standard and is open to the world.
Mutual understanding and exchanges between the peoples of Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) has never been stronger. In November 2003, flights started between Kimpo Airport and Haneda Airport, and in 2004, the prohibition on the sale of Japanese-language songs will be lifted in the ROK. Capitalizing on the momentum of good Japan-ROK relations, Japan will develop its bilateral relations with the ROK to a further and higher level.
Japan-China relations are one of the most important bilateral relationships, and we will develop a future-oriented Japan-China relationship together with the new leadership inaugurated in 2003. The Japan-China economic relationship is getting closer through the expansion of trade and investment. In addition to advancing the relationship in a mutually profitable way, Japan and China will cooperate to resolve issues in the Asian region and worldwide.
The "Japan-Russia Action Plan", which Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation and I agreed on in January 2003, is being steadily implemented across a wide range of areas. We will continue to develop the Japan-Russia relationship by utilizing the potentials particularly in economic areas, and we will seek the conclusion of a peace treaty through the resolution of the issue of attribution of the four Northern Islands, which are an integral part of Japan's sovereign territory.
Europe, which is gearing up for a dynamic expansion of the European Union (EU) in May 2004, is an important partner of Japan that shares similar values and faces similar issues in the international community, and we will work to strengthen and expand our relationship in a wide range of areas.
Japan hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Commemorative Summit in December 2003. Based on the Tokyo Declaration [PDF] for the Dynamic and Enduring Japan-ASEAN Partnership in the New Millennium adopted at the summit, we will strengthen our relationship with the countries of ASEAN as partners toward a new era that "act together and advance together."
As questions concerning a response to threats to the peace and stability of the international community are raised, we will make efforts to reform the United Nations.
As a responsible member of the international community, we have been providing assistance for "consolidation of peace and nation-building" in such countries as Afghanistan, the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. We will work on the establishment of a structure in which Japan can more actively promote international peace cooperation.
Taking into consideration the perspective of "human security", in which we place emphasis on individuals, we will make strategic use of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to help developing countries overcome poverty and achieve sustainable growth and to solve global issues.
In order to maintain and strengthen the multilateral trade system, we will strive to advance the new round of negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). In view of their growing strategic importance, we will take positive steps for the negotiations for economic partnership agreements with the United Mexican States and the countries of East Asia, bearing in mind the state of Japanese economy in the future.
We have held over one hundred Town Meetings, which is dialogues with the people of Japan. These meetings will continue to be held in various ways.
In regard to the recent general election, it is a matter of great regret to me that a member of the House of Representatives was arrested on suspicion of contravening the Public Office Election Law. As the saying goes "a nation will crumble should it lose the trust of the people." All political representatives must act with propriety to achieve credibility in the eyes of the people. We will seek to establish confidence in politics through further political reform.
The Preamble to the Constitution of Japan declares to the world, "We believe that no nation is responsible to itself alone, but that laws of political morality are universal; and that obedience to such laws is incumbent upon all nations who would sustain their own sovereignty and justify their sovereign relationship with other nations. We, the Japanese people, pledge our national honor to accomplish these high ideals and purposes with all our resources."
Members of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) are now operating their services in every area of the globe. Over 3,000 Japanese volunteers are taking it upon themselves to brave sometimes difficult conditions to work for local people in such tasks as fighting infectious diseases in the South Pacific islands of Samoa or providing guidance to farmers in the Republic of Senegal, Africa. Their efforts are increasing confidence in Japan by the international community.
A great number of members of the SDF are currently on duty through the peacekeeping operations in the Golan Heights and Timor-Leste and providing support to anti-terrorism measures in the Indian Ocean. They are representing the people of Japan in carrying out this country's duties as a responsible member of the international community.
Merely arguing is not enough to realize peace. Peace is something that can only be built by the combined capabilities of the international community. Understanding that Japan's security and prosperity is intertwined with world peace and stability; we must fulfill our responsibilities as a member of the international community through action.
Classical Chinese philosopher Mozi said, "to practice righteousness is not to avoid blame and seek praise." In other words, to do good in the world means to accomplish natural thing that a human being should do, and not for avoidance of fear of vilification or to gain praise.
It is natural that a country should act for world peace and for those people and countries that are struggling by overcoming difficulties. That, surely, is the kind of attitude that will allow us to occupy "an honored place in an international society" as described in the Preamble to the Constitution of Japan.
In this, from my heart I ask for the understanding and cooperation of the people of Japan and the distinguished members of the Diet.
Back to Index