General Policy Speech by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
to the 157th Session of the Diet
Friday, September 26, 2003
Since my appointment as Prime Minister of Japan, I have pressed forward with reforms under the conviction that "without structural reform there will be no rebirth or growth in Japan".
During my time as prime minister, I have called upon the people of Japan to bear the current pain and look forward to a better tomorrow; not to flinch from change, but to embrace the challenge of a new era. While facing the pain of reform, buds of reform for the rebirth of Japan are now coming to be seen through the efforts of many of the people of Japan.
We must create a vigorous and dynamic society by promoting structural reform under policies of "leave to the private sector what it can do" and "leave to the localities what they can do".
In order to further promote reforms that are the responsibilities of the Koizumi Cabinet, I have reshuffled the Cabinet. Under this new structure, we will maintain the policy for structural reform and nurture the buds of reform into a large tree.
(Foreign Policy and Security)
The Japan-United States alliance and international coordination are the foundation of Japan's foreign policy. The safety and development of Japan rests alongside world peace and stability. In the challenges that the international community is facing, it is incumbent upon us to seriously consider what Japan can do and to make an active contribution.
With regard to North Korea, based on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, we aim to achieve a comprehensive solution to the abduction issue and security issues including nuclear problems. In close coordination with the United States and the Republic of Korea, and with the cooperation also of the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation, we will continue to work resolutely towards this end.
Two years have passed since the series of simultaneous terrorist attacks in the United States. The fight against terrorism is not yet over. Without yielding to inhuman terrorism, we aim to prevent and eliminate terrorism in cooperation with the international community. I will seek to ensure that the bill to extend the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law is passed in this extraordinary session of the Diet.
With regard to Iraq, we will promote humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in close coordination and cooperation with other countries. Based on the local situation in Iraq, Japan will make an appropriate contribution including the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces personnel and civilians. For the stability of Iraq and the Middle East region, we will continue to deepen the dialogue and exchange with Arab countries, and make efforts towards Middle East peace.
We will continue to expend all energies in the new round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. Economic partnerships that aim for bilateral free trade and exchange will actively be promoted.
(Securing the People's Safety and Reassurances in Future Life)
It is a fundamental responsibility of the Government to secure the people's safety and reassurances in future life.
We will revive "Japan, the safest country in the world." The number of police officers will be increased and we will aim for a "no empty Koban" strategy nationwide. In union with citizens and local community, the measures to protect the safety of local communities will be promoted. We will strengthen protection and guidance activities in efforts to prevent delinquency, and reduce juvenile crime. In response to crimes by foreigners, immigration management system and control on illegal trade and smuggling activities will be strengthened. We will aim to realize investigations and trials that respect the human rights of crime victims.
We will promote the reform of the justice system towards realizing a society where people can have easier access to judicial services.
Pensions, medical care and care form the basis for social security. We will create an equitable and sustainable social security system of mutual support by the young and aged, thereby realizing a society where the people can live feeling reassured. A proposal will be compiled on pension reform by the end of the year and the draft bill will be submitted to the regular session of the Diet next year.
We will also promote measures against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and expend all efforts in crisis management for the nation's health.
Through efforts in the work place and in the local community, we will support a balance between work and child-raising. We are steadily pursuing a "Zero Waiting List Campaign" for nursery schools, and in FY2002 the number of children accepted into nursery schools rose by 51,000. Towards the achievement of our goal, we aim to increase the number by further 100,000 by FY2004.
Today, women are active in a wide-range of areas. The vitality of women is rejuvenating our society, as witnessed by the number of women now working as building engineers, or as aircraft pilots, and the Self-Defense Forces personnel who took part in peacekeeping operations in East Timor. By the time the children who are currently attending primary school enter society, we aim to see women taking 30 percent of leadership positions in all areas of society, and we will develop an environment in which women can work free from anxiety and bring their individuality and abilities into full play...
(Investment in the Foundation for Future Development)
The Koizumi Cabinet has placed importance on the coexistence of environmental conservation utilizing science and technology and economic development.
With the introduction of clean energies including the practical use of fuel cells and expansion of wind-powered electricity, steps will be taken to decrease global warming. We will promote the "zero waste campaign" and aim to eliminate illegal waste disposal. We will create a society in which efforts to improve the environment will lead to a vitalization of the economy.
Towards the realization of a "nation founded on scientific and technological creativity," we have prioritized budget allocation and given tax reductions for research and development (R&D) and investment up to the amount of 1.2 trillion yen in FY2003. More than 500 venture companies have been launched by universities and the number of joint research projects undertaken by universities and companies has dramatically increased to exceed 7,000 cases. Japan took a leading role in the project undertaken by 10 countries and regions to decode the rice genome. We will advance industry-academia-government coordination to promote science and technology.
I announced a policy of making Japan a "nation founded on intellectual property" and our efforts have been concentrated on the establishment of basic law, the launch of a policy headquarters, and the formulation of a promotion program within one and a half years. We will implement reform of the trial system for patents and accelerate patent examinations, in addition to promoting measures against counterfeit and pirated copies.
Manufacturing is not the only area in which Japan excels. Japanese culture, including film and animation, is also highly praised around the world, and a ripple effect is being witnessed in various areas beyond the area of the economy. We aim to build a richer Japan by utilizing such culture and arts.
It is the people who are the engine for the development of Japan. The starting point for education reform is to improve human resources at home, in the local community and at school. In addition to intellectual, moral and physical education, we will promote "food education" that teaches the importance of healthy eating, which is important for physical and mental health. We will vigorously engage in the review of the Fundamental Law of Education, based on nationwide discussions.
(Revitalization of Economy)
Despite ongoing stringent economic conditions, employment is increasing and private capital investment has also turned upward. The number of bankruptcies has now seen year-on-year decline for twelve consecutive months. The results of structural reform are increasingly apparent by the fact that the economy has been growing in real terms for the last year and a half, and nominal growth rate has also turned positive.
The total amount of non-performing loans of major banks in March this year was 24% lower than in the same month last year. The disposal of non-performing loans is proceeding steadily. We will conclude the issue of non-performing loans in FY2004.
We will put all our weight behind policies for employment and for small and medium sized firms.
A new trend has emerged in the area of finance for small and medium sized firms. We will make an effort to overcome the tendency to rely on mortgage-based collateralization, and will facilitate the provision of capital to businesses by adopting a diverse range of methods such as promoting the expansion of non-collateral financing and the collateralization of accounts receivable. Through the Industrial Revitalization Corporation, we will support the revival of motivated and competent businesses.
The employment structure has been altered by our effort to promote policy of creating 5.3 million jobs, and we estimate that employment for approximately two million people has been created over the last three years, mainly in the service sector. We aim to create employment opportunities for three million people over the next two years through measures such as reform of regulations and institutions, human resources development and the outsourcing of public sector works to the private sector. In addition to providing support for the employment of the middle-aged people, we will seek to expand job opportunities for the young, where unemployment rate is high. We will promote the "Youth Independence and Challenge Plan", which include providing work experience opportunities to primary and lower secondary school student and employment counseling for the young.
We aim to revitalize regional economies with these measures.
Under stringent fiscal conditions, we took tax revenue into consideration from a multi-year perspective, and decided to implement front-loaded tax reductions. While on the one hand we increased taxation by 200 billion yen through extra levies on alcohol and cigarettes, on the other hand two trillion yen in tax reductions were implemented in FY2003. The results of these measures are now being seen. With these changes, taxes will be slashed by 1.5 trillion yen in real terms in FY2004 as well.
In the area of public expenditure too, we will reform the budget system through initiatives including prioritizing budget allocation in areas necessary to the nation building in the future, such as in science and technology, and introducing a more flexible system of budget implementation, while maintaining fiscal discipline.
Over the past three years we have implemented over 1,000 regulatory reforms, including 160 associated with special zones for structural reform. In the special zones for structural reform which were launched in April, the regions have exercised their ingenuity to realize 164 special zones, including 33 special zones for education - including one providing experiential schooling to children unwilling to go to local schools - a special zone for welfare transport where NPOs provide affordable vehicle transport services to the elderly and disabled, and a special zone for olive promotion where a business using unused agricultural land engages in the entire process from the cultivation to the processing of olives.
We are making steady progress on a reform which would allow the participation of joint stock companies in the hitherto regulated medical, educational and agricultural sectors.
As a result of allowing the start-up of business with minimum capital of one yen, the last six months has seen the birth of 4,500 new companies.
A combination of technological innovation and regulatory reform has led to the microminiaturization of the electronic tag, a development useful in automatic gates, distribution management and a wide variety of other areas which is changing the lives of Japanese people. We will realize a society where we can actually feel the benefit of IT.
("From the State to the Regions" and "From Public Sector to Private Sector")
"Revitalization of regions" leads to "revitalization of the nation."
Based on the principle to "leave to the localities what they can do", we are advancing the reform package of three issues: elimination or reduction of state subsidies by approximately four trillion yen by FY2006; review of local allocation taxes; and transfer of tax revenue sources to local governments. We will continue to promote the merger of municipalities.
Urban renaissance projects are underway across the nation from Wakkanai to Ishigaki.
We will realize Japan as a country founded on tourism towards "nation-building that provides a good living habitat and good place to visit" and make Japan an attractive destination for foreign investment.
We will support ambitious measures to "revitalize local industry" which can bring out the vigor of the regional economy by such ways as attracting and nurturing companies.
We will fully ensure food safety and confidence in food. Agricultural management with motivation and competence will be supported to revitalize rural areas.
"Leave to the private sector what it can do." Ever since my appointment as Prime Minister, under this consistent policy, we have exerted the utmost efforts to carry out reforms toward simpler, more efficient and higher-quality government, treating reforms of postal services, the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program and special corporations, as a whole.
Japan Post was inaugurated in April this year. As a result of allowing the private sector to participate in the provision of postal services, fourteen private enterprises have entered the postal business in a half year. We will hold a nation-wide discussion and privatize postal services, following the completion of Japan Post's medium-term plan in FY2007. To this end, we will draw up a plan for privatization by around autumn next year and will introduce a reform bill to the Diet in FY2005.
With regard to the four highway public corporations, we have already reduced construction costs by a total of over four trillion yen and reformed the companies that have a strong connection with these public corporations, known as "family companies." Respecting the opinions of the Privatization Promotion Committee of the Four Highway Public Corporation in principle, we will compile a concrete plan by the end of the year and will privatize the four highway-related public corporations from FY2005.
We have cut financial expenditure on special corporations by approximately 1.4 trillion yen. We will further promote reform of their operations and organizational structures.
The private sector and local governments have the potential to respond to new changes. If we continue with these structural reforms, I am convinced that it will lead to sustainable economic growth led by the private sector.
Unless the people have a recognition that "politics belong to the people," sound democracy cannot develop. It is each and every citizen of Japan who will nurture political parties, politicians and democracy. Each and every politician for his or her part must enhance their awareness in order to gain the trust and confidence of the people. In order to establish "reliable politics" we will promote further political reforms.
After the end of the Second World War, Japan lacked virtually every necessity, including food and resources, and the people of Japan were obliged to endure the difficulties which we can never imagine these days. Japan started the post-war period with austerity and difficulty.
However, our predecessors grasped the mettle and carved out a path to a new era with courage and hope.
Today, although Japan may be under stringent economic circumstances, it possesses economic capacity second only to the United States. The people of Japan enjoy the longest life expectancy in the world, exceeding 80 years. The number of elderly persons over 100 years of age now exceeds 20,000. Our young people are attaining spectacular successes in baseball, football, swimming, athletics, gymnastics and judo. The last three years have seen four Japanese Nobel laureates. In international film festivals, Japanese films have won best picture prizes and directing prizes. Japan is highly regarded around the world not only in economic areas, but in all areas of culture, the arts, sport, and science.
Mr. Ryotaro Shiba once offered children these encouraging words, "The great quality of humans is that they do not become pessimistic about themselves." Pessimism does not breed a new spirit of challenge.
Now, as the various structural reforms are beginning to reveal their buds, it is the time for us to believe in Japan's potential and possibilities and promote reform to build a brighter future.
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