1. Speeches by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister at the National Diet
(1) Policy Speech by Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita to the 114th Session of the National Diet
(February 10, 1989)
I would like at the resumption of this 114th Session of the National Diet, to explain the outlook for developments in Japan and worldwide, to state my basic policy directions in line with these developments, and to gain the understanding and support of the people for these policies.
From Showa to Heisei
At the outset, I would like first to express my most sincere condolences on the passing of the Emperor Showa.
Saddened though we are, we must overcome this sorrow and put our hearts and energies together to work for the further development of the nation, the promotion of world peace and human welfare, and the building of a new Heisei era.
As the very name indicates, Heisei is an expression of our hope that peace will be achieved worldwide. I am confident that the greatest mission assigned to us in this new era is that of securing the lasting peace that all people desire and preserving, fostering, and bequeathing this precious, beautiful planet to future generations.
Looking back, the Showa era was a period of tumult, starting with the great depression worldwide, going through the grievous wartime devastation, witnessing the recovery from confusion and poverty and the reattainment of independence, and seeing Japan achieve unprecedented economic development and emerge as an international state. Although these were times of great hardship and trial, we have overcome these difficulties to both achieve our present economic prosperity and attain an honored place in the international society as a nation of peace. Expressing my utmost respects and gratitude to the people whose efforts and wisdom have built today's prosperous Japan, I am determined to press forward for an even better world in the years ahead.
It must not be forgotten that the attainment of Japan's postwar prosperity owes much to the international order sustained by efforts and coordination among the Free World countries led by the United States. With the trend to increased interdependence and diversity among nations in enhanced activity and exchanges transcending borders, Japanese responsibilities as a standard-bearer of the international order are now greater than they have ever been. We are surely entering upon an age in which Japan must cooperate with the United States, Europe, Asia, and other countries to sustain world peace and prosperity for the future of humankind and the earth and take a greater initiative in responding to the hopes and expectations of all the world.
I recently visited the United States, where I met with newly inaugurated President Bush and conducted a candid exchange of views. As well as reaffirming the firm friendship and mutual trust between our two countries, we have mutually pledged that, cooperating, each will fully discharge its own responsibilities from a global perspective and contribute to a better world.
As we start this Heisei era, I believe we should take even more innovative approaches and make even stouter efforts so as to create a vigorous and culturally rich country and to contribute firmly to making Japan open to the rest of the world. Japan has a long history and tradition. Is it not our duty to respond to the shared dreams of all humankind by unerringly carrying on this heritage and, sharing at times the pain and sorrow, taking up new challenges in anticipation of the demands of history?
At this turning point in history, I feel sharply that we need to reflect on the times just past and have the courage to build a promising future.
We will be holding funeral ceremonies for Emperor Showa on February 24, and preparations are now under way to ensure that the ceremonies go smooth and solemnly in the presence of representatives of the Japanese Nation and the many foreign heads of state and other dignitaries who will be here to pay their respects to the late Emperor.
Resolute Political Reform
There is a broadening distrust of politics among the people today as a result of the Recruit problem and other issues. I am aware that this is an extremely serious situation for Japan's parliamentary democracy.
Political reform is the Takeshita administration's first priority. I have therefore vowed to myself that I must honestly accept the harsh criticism from all quarters, must join hands with you, and must restore the people's trust in politics.
Politics cannot be understood divorced from its underlying spirit and culture, and I am certain that the issue of political morality is primarily a question of the morality of each and every person involved in politics. All of us who have positions of responsibility in politics are being called upon to take the initiative in exercising restraint and circumspection and to rectify our own posture. I believe that the only way to respond to the popular mandate is for each politician to implement his or her own personal reform, to observe the Code of Political Ethics as adopted by the House of Representatives and House of Councillors, and to quickly create a climate conducive to enhancing the Diet's self-purifying capabilities.
Accordingly, we must seek clearer delineations and greater transparency in the distinction between public and private uses of political funding and create a mode of political activity that does not cost much money, as well as promoting study of the very election system that is at the heart of politics and effecting dramatic reform.
In line with this approach, I am hoping to hear the views and suggestions of a wide range of people, not just on the immediate problems but also on medium- and long-term issues as well, and have recently created a forum for distinguished citizens to discuss political reform. These reforms cannot be achieved by the administration alone, and they will only be possible with the understanding and efforts of the Diet and of members of all factions of all parties. I am determined to spare nothing in working with you to effect these reforms.
At the same time, I intend to seek greater discipline and circumspection among civil service personnel, who are the servants of all the people, so that there is no suspicion of impropriety in the execution of their duties.
As one of my other major goals, I also intend to move ahead with the specifics of furusato renaissance as a major theme in our nation-building efforts. This I will do because I believe that what Japan needs now is to build a Japan commensurate with its economic affluence.
I have long advocated furusato renaissance, and by this I mean an attempt to create the foundations for rewarding lives and activity and to seek true affluence such that each and every person can feel that where he or she lives is home in the furusato sense. At the same time, this must mean building a more-open society and creating a Japan that all the world can respect.
Thus in the promoting the building of towns, villages, and regions where people can live creatively and where they share the enjoyment of richly natural and livable urban and regional settings, and especially putting a high value on the pleasures of a happy life, I want to dynamically create a new society contributing to exchanges and contacts not only in Japan but throughout the world.
The concept of furusato renaissnace thus embodies our hopes and dreams for a bright future. However, it will be impossible to achieve this goal without the patient perseverance of self-driven and steady effort. If the people will join their wisdom and efforts in the great quest for furusato renaissance, this will become a great movement and I very much hope that this can then lead open-minded people to create an even-better Japan and an even more beautiful world.
I would like next to outline my basic policies in the various areas of national government in line with this dream.
There is a new current evident in the international situation of late.
Especially with the changes in the Soviet foreign policy stance, there have been signs of progress in the Soviet-American and in other dialogue and in the normalization of Sino-Soviet relations, and there have been specific efforts made for the solution of regional conflicts around the world, and people are looking expectantly to the future. As these changes have just begun, and it would not do to be overly optimistic, Japan needs to have new creativity and to embark upon a positive foreign policy, while upgrading the foreign policy machinery, to consolidate and build upon the welcome changes.
With the increasingly interdependent relations in the international community, Japan has greater responsibilities and roles than ever before, not only in the economic field but also across the entire spectrum of the international relations, and I have made contributing to the international community a major policy pillar ever since taking office. Firmly adhering to the unchanged policy in line with our peace Constitution of not becoming a military power that might threaten other countries, I am determined to do everything possible to contribute to world peace and prosperity.
Efforts to preserve Japan's own peace and security are prerequisite to our efforts to contribute to a better world. Firmly maintaining the security arrangements with the United States and seeking their smooth and efficient operation, I intend, while ensuring observance of the three non-nuclear principles and civilian control, to work to promote a moderate defense build-up in line with the Mid-Term Defense Program. In looking ahead to our defense needs in fiscal 1991 and beyond, I believe it will be necessary to draw up a new mid-term program similar to the current one, and we will move ahead with our studies in this area.
Being one of the world's leading economies, Japan is, I know, being called upon to make even-greater efforts for sustained world economic growth. As well as promoting policy coordination with the other leading industrial countries and, while seeking stability in currency exchange markets, consolidating the shift to a domestic demand-led economy and further promoting deregulation and other restructuring policies, we must also work to further expand imports and to further improve market access. We are also making the maximum effort in the GATT Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, so as to preserve and strengthen the multilateral free-trade arrangements. With regard to agricultural trade in particular. I hope to respond positively to developments in these negotiations while paying all due heed to the need for food security.
Seeking to contribute further to world peace and prosperity, I unveiled an International Cooperation Initiative last year built around the three pillars of cooperating for peace, enhancing Japan's official development assistance (ODA), and strengthening international cultural exchanges, and I intend to further flesh out these three pillars this year.
In cooperating for peace, I will work, in response to the heightening international expectations toward United Nations peacekeeping activities, not only to promote the financial cooperation but also to enhance the provision of personnel in appropriate fields and to strengthen the arrangements to that end. When I met with United Nations Secretary General de Cuellar on my recent visit to the United States, I explained our efforts to cooperate for peace and gained his support for the concept, and we also agreed on holding the United Nations conference on disarmament issues, including nuclear test verification, in April in Kyoto, as I had proposed last year.
This year, in addition to stepping up our support for Afghan refugees, we intend to cooperate with the United Nations Transition Assistance Group in Namibia starting April 1 with financial assistance, by dispatching election observation personnel and in other ways. On the Cambodian issue too, we intend to cooperate positively within an international framework for conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction.
Turning next to enhancing our ODA, as well as working for the steady attainment of the Fourth Mid-Term Target formulated last year, we will also seek to see that this assistance is even more effective and efficient. In addition to these efforts, I intend to work to strive actively for a solution of the developing countries' debt problem through promoting capital recycling and other means in view of the fact that this is an issue that must be overcome for world economic development.
In strengthening international cultural exchange, along with responding to the proliferation of overseas interest in Japan, I intend to promote personal, intellectual, and other exchanges including those of students, researchers, and other people, and to contribute to the preservation and development of those cultures that are the common heritage of humankind. At the local level too, I intend to strengthen policies for grassroots exchange and the internationalization of local communities, including promoting international exchanges at all levels.
This beautiful blue planet is the shared furusato of all humankind. Bequeathing this planet to posterity is both our responsibility and an issue requiring the concerted wisdom of all humankind. Accordingly, I intend to work positively to help resolve the greenhouse effect and other global environmental problems, and we intend to host an international environmental conference in Tokyo this fall with the cooperation of the United Nations and the participating countries. At the same time, we intend to continue to promote international cooperation on earthquakes and other natural disasters, the drug problem, and other issues transcending national borders.
In promoting this active foreign policy, Japan's basic stance is that of striving for coordination with the Western countries as a leading industrial democracy and contributing to the stability and development of the Asian-Pacific region as an Asian-Pacific country.
Solidarity and cooperation among the Western countries centering on Japan, the United States, and Europe is especially important so that the international situation, including East-West relations, develops in even more favorable ways. I intend to work at the Economic Summit to be held this July in France and at other international forums to further strengthen the cooperative relations among Japan, the United States, and Europe for the solution of the problems facing the world.
Japan-United States relations in particular are the cornerstone of Japanese foreign policy. Along with seeking to resolve the problems between our countries through quiet dialogue and steady efforts, President Bush and I reaffirmed that we will further promote policy coordination and joint undertakings to contribute to world peace and prosperity.
Strengthening our relations with the West European countries is also important. I will step up our cooperation from the global perspective building upon the firmer relationship of trust established with West European leaders through my two visits to Western Europe last year.
In our relations with the Soviet Union, the two recent Foreign Ministerial meetings saw frank exchanges of views on the entire range of bilateral issues and the important international issues. Japanese policy has long and consistently been to establish stable relations founded upon true mutual understanding through the resolution of the Northern Territories issue and the conclusion of a peace treaty. Hoping that General Secretary Gorbachev's "new thinking" will be reflected in Soviet policy toward Japan, I intend to continue with tenacious foreign policy efforts through the expansion and strengthening of this dialogue, including the summit-level talks agreed upon at the Foreign Ministerial Consultations last December.
It is most important that we strengthen and develop our relations with the neighboring Asian-Pacific countries. Working to create a climate conducive to the relaxation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, while further developing the relations of friendship and cooperation with the democratizing Republic of Korea, and maintaining and developing good and stable relations with China as that country strives mightily for modernization are also important pillars of Japanese foreign policy. Likewise I will work for the improvement of relations with North Korea, while closely watching developments on and around the Korean Peninsula. I also intend to strive ambitiously to strengthen relations with the ASEAN countries, the Pacific countries, and other neighbors.
In addition, I intend to vigorously promote personal contacts at the highest level with leaders in Latin America, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, Africa, and other regions and to work to strengthen relations with these areas in a bid to broaden the geographical diversity of Japanese foreign policy.
Smooth Implementation of Tax Reform
The six tax-related laws were enacted at the last Session of the Diet and the tax reform that had been pending for so many years has been finally achieved. I am confident that these reforms will provide the foundations for maintaining Japan's economic and social vitality and for building a rich society in which people can lead long and comfortable lives. I am well aware from the Diet deliberations and from my own travels around the country that there is popular concern and anxiety about the introduction of this consumption tax. If we are to allay these fears and to gain popular trust of the new tax system, it is indispensable that this system be smoothly implemented, and I am determined to make the maximum effort in this area.
The administration recently established the Task Force for Facilitating the Implementation of the New Tax System, and I intend to take a personal leadership role in vigorous public relations, consultation, and in other activities to win popular understanding for this new tax system, and, along with implementing fine-tuned policies to see that the consumption tax is smoothly and appropriately passed along, we will also take head to prevent opportunistic price hikes. I am confident that once the consumption tax goes into effect and the people get used to it, they will come to feel that these tax reforms, including the major tax reductions, were a good thing overall. On the issue of holding down the tax rate, I would like to state clearly that the Takeshita administration has no intention of proposing any hike in the tax rate.
Promoting Fiscal and Administrative Reform
Fiscal and administrative reform as well as tax reform are needed if Japan is to make its way successfully in the new age, and I believe they might aptly be likened to the wings of an airplane. Today, with calls for the tax reforms to be smoothly implemented, it is all the more important that fiscal and administrative services be efficiently managed. As well as striving for thorough rationalization of expenditures in the budget for fiscal 1989 and moving forward to escape our dependence on deficit-financing bond issues in fiscal 1990, we have drawn up policies for administrative reform centering on the items to be implemented in fiscal 1989. In light of the massive issues of government bonds outstanding and the very difficult administrative and fiscal situation facing us, I am determined to review institutions and expenditures across the administrative board and to promote administrative and fiscal reform unwaveringly.
We also will work for the smooth implementation of local government finances, including taking the necessary measures in the review of subsidy ratios and other elements.
The needs of balanced national development and local vitality strongly demand that we promote administrative reform at the national and local levels and build a system of independent and self-reliant local government in the fullest sense of the term. Last December, I asked the Provisional Council for the Promotion of Administrative Reform to conduct penetrating studies of the allocation of responsibilities and functions, expense-sharing, and a wide range of other issues between the national and local governments, and I intend to move ahead even more vigorously with reform once that report is received.
Every region of the country has its own distinctive character. The new furusato-building means taking another look at the history, traditions, culture, industry, and other facets that have long been part of the community, distilling the regional essence, and then building upon this essence.
If this is to succeed, it is extremely important that we change our approach so that every community, from the smallest hamlet to the largest city, has the authority and responsibility to give free rein to its resourcefulness and ambitions and to take the initiative in drawing up and implementing its own ideas for development. With this independent spirit, I believe it should be possible to create furusato communities of great pride and vigor and replete with culture. I hope that all people everywhere will dream of a warmly personal furusato, will draw up their own blueprints for their regions, and will then strive to make these dreams came true. The administration will actively support regional revitalization efforts to help mid-wife the emergence of independent and self-reliant towns and villages throughout Japan.
We must escape the over-concentration in and over-dependence on Tokyo and develop a better-balanced and more multi-polar and decentralized country. This means we must strive to advance industrial and urban decentralization, to further enhance regional developmental loci, and to upgrade metropolitan areas in line with the Fourth Comprehensive National Development Plan and also promote network creation by improving high-grade trunk roads, airports, the new shinkansen, and other transport networks, information communication networks, and networking capabilities, such as those for the holding of special regional events. We will continue to actively push for the relocation of govern-mental functions.
At the same time, we will continue to vigorously advance measures for Hokkaido's comprehensive development and Okinawa's promotion and development. We are also hard at work on preparations to ensure the success of the Osaka International Garden and Greenery Exposition slated to open in 1990.
It is imperative that we work for the earliest possible solution to the land problem. Even though land prices in the Tokyo area seem to be stabilizing, they remain high; and we are now seeing escalating land prices in the Osaka and other areas as well , such that there is still a continuing need for efforts to rein in land prices. Along with forcefully promoting coordinated government efforts for supply- and demand-side land policy measures, I believe it is necessary to achieve a national consensus on the public nature of land, and I intend to submit a Fundamental Land Bill to this session of the Diet.
Building a Bright, Vigorous, and Caring Aged Society
The Japanese lifespan has become the longest anywhere, and we are approaching a time when four score years is the normal lifespan. The advent of the aged society looms imminent, and soon one of every four Japanese will be 65 or older, making it imperative that we adjust our employment, social security, and other economic and social systems commensurate to this new age so that these older people can utilize their wealth of experience and wisdom as important pillars of the community.
Accordingly, while striving to improve conditions to ensure a variety of opportunities for lifelong social participation and employment, including efforts so that each individual can exercise his or her abilities and creativity continuously in employment at least up to the age of 65, I want to make an effort centering on public pension schemes to ensure that the elderly have adequate incomes.
The whole purpose of this caring aged society is to enable all of the people to enjoy close family ties throughout their lives and to feel glad to have lived to such a ripe, old age. I thus intend to further stress the pro-motion lifelong health, to work for the comprehensive development of regional health, medical, and welfare services, and, while concentrating on improving in-home services, to expand and enhance nursing homes and other like facilities and services. Likewise, I intend to promote the creation of communities where people of all ages can live together happily and comfortably.
Turning next to the public pensions that support the lives of the people, while improing the system of payment schedule, we will begin in fiscal 1998 to gradually raise the age at which employees' pension entitlement starts, to ensure a more equitable sharing of benefits and contributions among generations, and we hope it will prove possible to harmonize the different systems' assessment schedules preparatory to integrating the pension systems. I also intend to set to work on reforming health insurance, for example, to reduce the disparities among the different systems' costs and benefits.
It goes without saying that we must be attentively mindful of the needs of bed-ridden senior citizens, the handicapped, fatherless households, and other people who are economically and socially disadvantaged. Yet in addition, we intend to make an all-out effort to promote scientific and technical research needed for the aged society and to conquer cancer, AIDS and other so-called incurable ailments.
Promoting Educational Reform
Education lays the foundations enabling Japan to develop a creative and vigorous culture and to contribute to a better world, and we thus must make a major effort in educational reform. If we are to enable our young people to build upon their Japanese identity and to make their way confidently in the international community, I am convinced we must, among other things, vigorously promote reform of the educational curricula, including enhancing moral education, the provision of better-qualified teachers, and the individualization and revitalization of higher education and also must lay the foundations for a society oriented to continuing education in which each person can satisfy his or her lifelong thirst for learning. In order to respond to the increased popular interest in culture and sports, I will also seek to upgrade cultural facilities and to promote both competitive and lifelong sports.
Achieving a Comfortable Economy and Society
It is imperative to ensure that Japan rests upon firm economic and social foundations if we are to tackle the many issues of achieving comfortable and diverse lifestyles, contributing to the international community, realizing balanced regional social development, to ensure a bright future. While the Japanese economy is in a firmly expansionary phase, I intend to continue to work for appropriate and flexible economic management as well as to promote restructuring and to consolidate the shift to a domestic demand-led economic structure in line with the new economic plan Economic Management within a Global Context so as to ensure sustained and non-inflationary growth and to further reduce our external disequilibriums.
At the same time, with the way the economy and society are maturing today, there is an urgent need to create social structures in which people can feel that they are truly better off as Japan's economic strength enriches the lives of each and every person.
We must seek to enrich consumption patterns by reforming the supply structures in response to the diversification of popular needs and by ensuring that Japanese price levels are in international balance. Moreover, based on the need to give full rein to private-sector vitality and creativity, I believe it is crucial that we vigorously promote systemic and other reforms and ease the regulations pertaining to production, distribution, and services as well as to price formation. It was in this light that we decided on the Deregulation Program last December and are moving ahead with its steady implementation.
As well as endeavoring to ensure that Japanese agriculture is a robust and viable industry able to cope with the difficult situation at home and internationally, it is also important to strive to raise agricultural productivity and to provide stable supplies of foodstuffs at popularly acceptable prices. At the same time, it is essential that we recognize the diverse and important part that agriculture plays, including sustaining vigorous local societies, preserving the land and natural environment and even, for example, contributing to the sense of purpose. From this perspective, I intend to more forcefully promote policies such as those for drawing up a long-term outlook for agriculture, improving agriculture's structure and revitalizing farming, forestry, and fishing communities. I also intend to do whatever is necessary with regard to beef, citrus fruit, and other agricultural products.
Given the harsh changes that they face, I will forcefully promote restructuring and other policies to enable small businesses to develop soundly and to contribute to the revitalization of their regional economies. I also will endeavor to secure a stable supply of natural resources and energy.
The shortening of the working week such as implementing full two-day weekends is an issue that the entire nation must tackle. I thus intend to work to strengthen the broader dialogue between labor and management, to promote regional employment, and to ensure healthful and rewarding working lives.
With the growing desire for personally warm and relaxing living, I will work to improve the somewhat retarded state of social capital goods, including promoting the supply of comfortable housing, the creation of safe and pleasant neighborhoods, and the improvement of the urban environment; to implement a wide range of policies including better use of information for living, policies to cope with major earthquakes, policies to prevent natural disasters such as at Mt. Tokachi, and policies to protect water resources; as well as to create distinctive regional cultures, such as with the promotion of local arts and crafts, traditional industries, and sports. In addition to studying the possible use of deep-underground strata, I will also promote research for the commercialization of maglev and other new transportation systems so as to facilitate the improvement of social capital goods.
Further I will make every effort to prevent terrorist and guerrilla attacks and other crimes and accidents that threaten the public peace of mind.
Promoting academic research and science and technology is one of the keys to opening the new age. As well as comprehensively promoting creative and basic research and development, I also will promote international exchange such as the Human Frontier Science Program.
Living in the present, between the past and the future, we have a great responsibility. In short, it is our mission to transcend the exigencies of time by conveying the wisdom of our ancestors from generation to generation and by joining together in the creation of new culture. Conflict and dispute, get us nowhere, and it is imperative that we make a wise and determined effort to eradicate all traces of competition and distrust from the face of the earth. I am confident that we will be able to overcome every difficulty and to advance steadily forward by boldly espousing the gentle politics of working in concert and trust, valuing every precious life and irreplaceable nature.
The lesson that all things come to him who waits and that patience can accomplish anything is a precious teaching in both East and West. Whatever the age, I believe it is essential that we do not forget humility and good faith, and that our mindset be one of learning as we go along and of getting better by learning from past experience.
Looking at the long and steep road ahead, I am once more made aware of the grave responsibilities that have been entrusted to me. Yet I am determined to heed my duties each and every day, to persevere in my unmovable faith, and to do everything I possibly can to build a Japan and a world of peace and prosperity.
I ask for the further understanding and support of the people in this endeavor.
(2) Foreign Policy Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Sousuke Uno to the 114th Session of the National Diet
(February 10, 1989)
I would like, at the resumption of this 114th Session of the National Diet, to set forth my views on the basic foreign policy of Japan.
Allow me, at the outset, to say a few words about the passing of Emperor Showa. I was at an international conference in Paris on January 7 when United Nations Secretary General de Cuellar announced the late Emperor's passing to the assembled delegates. At the suggestion of French President Mitterrand, the conference schedule was changed and the delegates observed a minute of silence. This was a solemn moment, when the delegates from all 149 of the participating countries stood in tribute. It was a most unusual and deeply moving occurrence that brought tears to the eyes of the Japanese delegates. Along with reporting this to you, I would like to express again my sincere appreciation to the delegates who were there. At the same time, I would like also to voice my gratitude and respects to the heads of state and other dignitaries of foreign countries and international organizations who indicated their intent to attend the Funeral Ceremonies for Emperor Showa.
Contributing to World Peace and Prosperity
As we begin the Heisei era, I am struck anew by the great efforts that the Japanese people have made since 1945. Learning from the wartime experience and hoping devoutly for peace, we have untiringly dedicated ourselves to our work and achieved today's freedom and prosperity. Keeping this firmly in mind, I pledge myself to work even harder for the peace and prosperity of Japan and the world in line with our basic foreign policy devoted to being a nation of peace.
In line with this, it is only natural that Japanese foreign policy should continue to fulfill its responsibilities in keeping with Japan's position as one of the leading industrial democracies and as an Asian-Pacific country. At the same time, it also is important that we flesh out the International Cooperation Initiative and broaden the scope of our diplomacy by including Latin America, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and Africa.
Changes in the International Situation and Strengthened Coalition among the Western Industrial Democracies
There have been a number of new developments in the international situation that affect Japan.
The imprementing of the treaty to abolish intermediate-range nuclear forces, the agreement on the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, and other developments in East-West relations occurring against a background of a shift in the Soviet foreign policy stance are all pregnant with hope for the future. The leading Western industrial democracies must not shy away from according the positive factors behind these changes their due. For example, I believe that General Secretary Gorbachev's announcement last December that the Soviet Union would unilaterally reduce its military strength by 500 ,000 was a step in the right direction.
However, it is impossible to characterize this as a fundamental change in the basic structure of East-West discord. The problems of arms control and disarmament in strategic nuclear weapons and other areas, regional issues, and the human-rights questions will all remain between East and West since as world peace is being dearly sustained by the balance of power and deterrents.
Turning to developments in Sino-Soviet relations, the two respective countries have recently moved to normalize relations, including an exchange of visits at the Foreign Minister level and setting the schedule for a summit meeting, and we hope that these developments will contribute toward peace and stability in Asia.
Thus it is imperative that we should watch carefully to see how the substantive changes of these new developments in the international situation affect Japan , and I intend to seek still greater solidarity and coordination with the United States and the other Western countries in maintaining the stability in the Far East and further stability in East-West relations.
Of course, it is also important in this present situation that Japan should prudently observe developments and work to ensure that it has the moderate defense capability needed for its own self-defense. I believe the administration also must firmly maintain the Japan-United States security arrangements and continue to work to ensure their smoother and more effective functioning. These efforts will contribute to peace and stability in Asia.
In the United States, President Reagan's administration has concluded and the Bush administration has been inaugurated. We should highly appreciate the fact that, during his eight years in office, President Reagan maintained a consistently strong interest in the Asian-Pacific region and contributed immensely to the strengthening of Japan-United States relations. While I expect that President Bush will continue to pursue that same basic stance, I believe it is very much up to Japan to do what it can to work with the new administration to further strengthen those relations with the United States that are the cornerstone of our foreign policy. I recently accompanied the Prime Minister to the United States and met with President Bush, Secretary of State Baker, and a number of other leading members of the administration. In these meetings, there was a clear meeting of minds on the importance of both countries' continuing to work to strengthen the relationship, given that Japan and the United States between them account for more than one-third of world GNP, and of the two sides, each in an appropriate way, are seeking to contribute to the solution of global problems and to the building of world peace and prosperity through policy coordination and joint undertakings.
There are also a number of noteworthy developments in the recent West European diplomatic approaches to the East and in the EC's moves for internal market integration by 1992. I recently visited several countries of Western Europe and held candid exchanges of views with their respective Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers. In light of the present situation with its increasing roles for Japan and Europe alike, it is imperative that such dialogues be increased with the West European countries and that the agreements reached be reflected in Japanese and European policies. At the same time, I also intend to further promoter our relations with Canada, both a Pacific and a Western country.
In our relations with the Soviet Union, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze visited Japan last December, at which time we held the first Regular Foreign Ministerial Consultations in two years and seven months and also held negotiations on the peace treaty. These very business-like and serious discussions with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze marked a reaffirmation of the desirability of further expanded political dialogue between Japan and the Soviet Union, including an agreement to begin preparations for a visit to Japan by General Secretary Gorbachev. On the territorial question, it is most significant that the two sides were able to discuss their respective historical positions in detail and at length. However, the Soviet Union simply exhaustively repeated its long-standing position, and this position continues to present severe problems for Japan. Japanese policy remains unwaveringly one of wanting to establish stable relations founded upon true mutual understanding with the Soviet Union through resolving the Northern Territories issue and concluding a peace treaty, and we must continue to press tenaciously for the return of the Northern Territories en bloc. I also believe that my recent meeting with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze in Paris was an important part of this process, as I reiterated this basic Japanese position and we discussed such questions as the schedule for the next round of Foreign Minister Consultations and the next meeting of the Working Group on the Peace Treaty.
In light of the possibility that developments in Eastern Europe could have profound ramifications for East-West relations, Japan intends to further promote dialogue and exchanges with these countries in full consideration of their national situations and policies.
Relations with the other Asian-Pacific Countries
I next would like to speak about our relations with the other Asian-Pacific countries.
As an Asian-Pacific country, Japan has sought to promote friendly and cooperative relations with the other countries of the region and has been concerned with the region's stability and development, including actively voicing interest in the region's problems at the Economic Summits and on a number of other occasions.
Our relations with the Republic of Korea have recently become even closer, and exchanges have been promoted in a wide range of levels and in a number of different fields, including the Prime Minister's visits to the Republic of Korea to attend the inauguration of President Roh Tae Woo and the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games in Seoul. The Korean Peninsula situation is showing signs of change with the developing relations between the Republic of Korea and China, the Soviet Union, and other socialist countries, and the parties concerned are making an earnest effort in the North-South Parliamentary Meeting, the North-South Summit Meeting, and other forums for the relaxation of tensions on the Peninsula. Japan intends to be unstinting in its supporting efforts to contribute to the creation of a climate conducive to the relaxation of tensions.
While we would like to promote improved contacts with North Korea, in full consideration of the international political balance as it affects the Korean Peninsula, this demands a prompt solution to the Dai-18 Fuji-san Maru issue. Aware that efforts are being made in various fields to resolve this problem, the administration hopes to be able to hold contacts between the Japanese and North Korean governments as soon as possible and to seek a solution to this problem in this discussion process.
The maintenance and development of friendly and cooperative relations with China is highly significant to peace and prosperity in Asia and the world. Japan has a high regard for the efforts China is making for modernization under the policies of "reform and opening," and we intend to continue to extend every possible cooperation to these efforts as well as to work for the further development of the bilateral relationship in line with the Japan-China Joint Communique, the Japan-China Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and the four principles for promoting Japan-China relations.
Regarding the ASEAN countries, keystones for stability in Southeast Asia, Japan hopes to promote cooperative relations in a wide range of fields and hence to contribute to the stability and development the Asian-Pacific region overall. The Philippines is now working on building a new nation under President Aquino, and we intend, as noted in last year's Toronto Summit Economic Declaration, to continue to extend all possible support for these efforts.
A solution to the Cambodian problem is indispensable to peace and stability in this region. Recently there bas been a more vigorous dialogue among the principals and increasing momentum for a political settlement. Ensuring the complete withdrawal of Vietnamese forces and preventing the recurrence of the past inhuman policies and practiced of the Pol Pot regime are important to any solution to this problem, and Japan intends, while supporting the peacemaking efforts by the countries concerned seeking to achieve true national self-determination for the Cambodian people, to play a positive role for the establishment of an independent, neutral, and non-aligned Cambodia.
Japan also intends to continue to cooperate for stability and economic development on the Indian subcontinent, where so many developments are taking place, and to work for ever-stronger relations with the countries of the region.
In our relations with Australia, Japan will work for the building of the "constructive partnership" agreed upon at the recent Japan-Australia Ministerial Committee. At the same time, we intend to further strengthen Japan's friendly and cooperative relations with the Republic of Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, with whom diplomatic relations were established late last year, as well as with the other Pacific countries.
We will also actively support the Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference (PECC) and other initiatives for Pacific cooperation.
Relations with the Middle East
Turning next to the Middle East, the situation there remains in a state of flux.
Momentum is building for the attainment of peace, including the announcement in the Palestine National Council and again at the United Nations General Assembly session in Geneva of realistic PLO policies for peace and the start of direct negotiations between the United States and the PLO based upon these declarations. However, actually achieving a solution to this problem will demand unrelenting efforts by all of the parties concerned. I myself visited four of the countries which are parties to the Middle East conflict last year and was made acutely aware of the enormous expectations they hold of Japan, and Japan intends, within the framework of international coordination, to cooperate vigorously with the peace making efforts of the parties concerned.
A ceasefire in the Iran-Iraq conflict was instituted on August 20 last year. I met with the Foreign Ministers of the two countries in Paris, but they are still trying to negotiate a peace and an agreement has yet to be reached. Japan intends to continue to support the peacemaking efforts of the United Nations Secretary General and to do everything else it can for the peaceful resolution of this conflict in line with the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 598.
While the Soviet Union is withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan in keeping with the Geneva agreement, I earnestly hope that an interim government will be established in Afghanistan reflecting the will of the Afghan people themselves.
Relations with Latin America and Africa
Next, I would like to focus on Latin America and Africa.
Well over a million people of Japanese descent live in Latin America, and these countries have traditionally had close and friendly relations with Japan. These countries, however, are today confronted with external debt problems and other grave economic difficulties. Responding positively to these countries' expectations of Japan and their international support for Japan, I will enhance our capital recycling measures, increase our economic and technical cooperation, and further strengthen Japan's support for their own bootstrap efforts.
Although the momentum for peace in Central America seems to have slackened of late, I strongly hope that the tenacious efforts of the parties concerned will result in the achievement of true peace. While monitoring the progress made toward peace in Central America, Japan intends to cooperate in every way possible with economic reconstruction, refugee relief, human resources development, and other efforts for the region.
The countries of Africa still face food problems, external debt problems, and a number of other very serious problems. Japan intends to further strengthen its assistance to these countries with non-project grant cooperation, co-financing with international institutions, debt relief, similar programs.
However, we must remain unyielding in our opposition to South Africa's apartheid policies. Thus Japan is currently enforcing a spectrum of restrictive measures against South Africa and intends to continue to call upon the companies concerned for discretion in their trade relations with South Africa. We also will step up our humanitarian relief for the victims of apartheid and our economic cooperation for countries neighboring on South Africa.
Contributing to the Sound Development of the World Economy
In implementing these foreign policies, it is extremely important to maintain macroeconomic policy coordination among the leading industrial countries as the basis for the sound development of the world economy. This is Japan's mission. Along with managing the economy for domestic demand-led growth, Japan is working to further reduce its external imbalances through increased deregulation, greater restructuring, and a more improved market access. At the same time, Japan must also make further efforts, together with the other leading industrial countries, to build stronger and better cooperative relations with these developing countries, particularly the newly industrializing economies (NIEs) of Asia.
In addition, Japan must place a heavy emphasis on maintaining and strengthening the multilateral free-trade arrangements as the basis for developing world trade. I attended the GATT Uruguay Round Mid-Term Review Ministerial Meeting late last year and took an active part in efforts to achieve some quick results and to set the agenda for negotiations on the remaining issues. While the negotiating will by no means be easy, I intend to work still harder on the Uruguay Round of negotiations aimed at building a strengthened GATT regime for the 21st century.
At the same time, we are intensifying dialogue with the parties concerned to see that the United States-Canada Free Trade Agreement and the decision of the EC to achieve internal market integration by 1992 are not exclusionist but contribute to a strengthening of open and multilateral trade arrangements.
The International Cooperation Initiative
With the increasing interdependence that characterizes today's international community, Japanese peace and prosperity are inexorably linked to world peace and stability. Accounting for well over one-tenth of world GNP and having become an important pillar of the international order, Japan thus must work, both in the interests of its own peace and prosperity and in the interests of greater wellbeing worldwide, to contribute to a better world consistent with the tenet of being an economic power that is not a military power.
Prime Minister Takeshita has proclaimed his International Cooperation Initiative worldwide as a specific new policy to contribute to dealing with the most basic issues facing Japanese foreign policy. This is a new initiative composed of the three pillars of cooperating for peace, enhancing ODA, and strengthening international cultural exchanges.
(Cooperating for Peace)
Building upon this positive proposal by the Prime Minister, Japan is developing new ways to contribute to the international community My initiative last year in personally visiting a number of countries that are party to the Middle East conflict and Japan's decision to contribute not only financially but also in personnel terms to, for example, the United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP) and the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observers Group (UNIIMOG), were all in line with this stance.
I intend to continue to promote the dispatch of personnel and will make the necessary institutional improvements to this end. For the immediate future, I would like, with the cooperation of local governments and other bodies, to provide personnel for election supervision and other functions in connection with the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) slated to be established this April 1 to help with Namibian independence. On the Cambodian question and other issues too, once international frameworks for conflict resolution are established, Japan intends to cooperate vigorously within these frameworks and to study the possibilities for post-conflict reconstruction assistance. In addition, we will also be generous with our assistance in support of the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees and for Palestine refugee relief in the Middle East, including on the West Bank of the Jordan and in the Gaza Strip.
Taking part in disarmament efforts in the United Nations and in other international forums is another important aspect of our cooperation for peace. We are gratified that the Conference on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in Paris that I mentioned at the outset ended successfully, and Japan will work for the early conclusion of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
In addition, inexorably opposed to terrorism, which threatens the peace and stability of the international community, Japan intends to further strengthen and promote international cooperation for the prevention of terrorism.
(Enhancing Official Development Assistance)
With regard to ODA, Japan has extended ODA to all 128 of the developing UN member countries. This was possible only with the understanding and cooperation of the Japanese people, and Japan could not have expanded its ODA as part of fulfilling its international responsibilities without this support.
Under the Fourth Mid-Term Target calling for disbursements of at least $50 billion over a five-year period and in consideration of the situation in recipient countries faced with heavy external debts, sluggishness in international commodity markets, and other economic difficulties, Japan has sought, in implementing these ODA programs, not only to effect quantitative expansion but also to enhance its ODA qualitatively. For the heavily indebted LLDCs, Japan has decided on new debt relief measures in effect waiving approximately $5.5 billion in debt. Moreover, we are also working to enhance our technical cooperation and to step up the activities of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. In full consideration of public opinion, I intend to continue to make every effort to strengthen and enhance the institutional arrangements for ODA so as to make Japanese assistance even more effective, as well as to expand coordination and cooperation with non-governmental organizations (NGO) and local organizations, with the international development financial institutions, and with the United Nations.
(Strengthening International Cultural Exchanges)
It is most important in the field of international cultural exchanges that Japan contribute its share and that it seek to preserve and develop cultures worldwide by cooperating to conserve cultural sites and artifacts that are the common heritage of humankind. Just as we should respond to the increasing interest in things Japanese with ambitious programs to introduce Japanese culture overseas, so is it important that we engage in a wide range of mutual exchanges to ensure that each country is aware of the other country's mores and history. I intend to promote intellectual exchanges, including those of students, researchers, and cultural luminaries, and to contribute to the creation of new cultural facets for the world. I also am interested in buttressing the government's institutional arrangements for enhancing these cultural exchanges.
(Contributing to the Solution of Global Problems)
Today, there are many problems facing us that affect all people irrespective of national borders, including the greenhouse effect and other environmental issues, the threat of natural disasters, and the drug problem. The administration intends, in cooperation with other countries, to work vigorously for the solution of these problems under the International Cooperation Initiative.
Japanese foreign policy thus has a very wide range of increasingly important responsibilities. Vigorously promoting an active foreign policy consistent with Japan's national interests is crucial to responding to the people's trust, and it is therefore imperative that the institutional arrangements for implementing Japanese foreign policy be further strengthened.
In addition, additional efforts are needed to enhance the arrangements for protecting overseas Japanese in times of emergency, to improve the educational provisions for overseas Japanese, and otherwise to meet the needs of our people away from home.
If Japan is to be at one with the rest of the world and to prosper with the rest of the world, it is essential both that the rest of the world not be exclusionary but open to all peoples and that Japan itself also open to the rest of the international community. It is thus most encouraging that local governments and a wide spectrum of private organizations have recently been engaged in vigorous international cultural exchanges and have promoted personal-level contacts with people in other lands. The administration intends to work to further strengthen the infrastructural arrangements and networking for such exchange activities to further encourage this trend and to promote internationalism of furusato.
The Showa era has ended in a furry of emotions, and we are now into the Heisei era. The designation Heisei era" is widely understood overseas as signifying our desire that peace be achieved. When we realize that even now the children of Heisei are being born, it is all the more imperative that we strive unhesitatingly to contribute to world peace so that these children can take their places and thrive as citizens of the world.
In promoting these Japanese foreign policy objectives, I ask for the strong support of all of the people and my fellow Diet members.
(3) Policy Speech by Prime Minister Sousuke Uno to the 114th Regular Session of the National Diet
(June 5, 1989)
I have just recently been elected Prime Minister and charged with responsibility for the government of Japan. Government and politics are today at a major turning point, and the tasks ahead are awesome. Yet I am determined to do everything I can for so long as I can to faithfully and courageously discharge my grave responsibilities.
Political Principles and Reform
The Japanese people can never forget the horrors of World War II. When I returned to Japan after approximately four years away from home, I saw devastation all around me. Yet today, Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu are linked by tunnels and by bridges, and the entire nation is joined together by a network of high-speed trains and automobile expressways. In addition, our erosion- and flood-control programs have nearly eliminated the scourge of natural disaster. The immediate-postwar threat of starvation is a thing of the past, and Japan has attained a level of education - the very foundation for nation-building - that we can be proud of internationally. Our material wants largely satisfied, we now can focus to the quest for peace of mind and cultural enrichment.
The peace and prosperity that Japan enjoys today would not have been possible without, domestically, respect for individual initiative and action based upon free-market economic principles within the democratic framework that all of the people opted for after the war and without, internationally, the national security ensured by the alliance with the United States and the stable international climate born of international cooperation.
The basis of democracy lies in responding to the sacred trust of the people and administering lucid national government in good faith. Today, this popular trust of politics has been seriously shaken. I am thus fiercely determined to promote political reform, for I believe it imperative that we return to this basic principle of democracy and that government be popularly acceptable and easily understandable. Only when the popular trust of politics is restored can the foundations for Japanese peace and prosperity be truly solid, and this is at the same time prerequisite to restoring and improving Japan's reputation in the international community of nations.
Accordingly, I believe it is imperative not only that political and moral justice be done in that Recruit problem that has sparked a distrust of politics unprecedented in our parliamentary history but that our cure go to the very roots of this affliction, so that no similar disgrace ever again occurs. Along with seeking thorough adherence to lofty political ideals, we must effect basic reform going to the very heart of the political system ,including establishing clear delineations and transparency between the public and private uses of political funds and creating an elections system revolving around non-monied political activism and policies.
Since ancient times, politics has been inseparable from the country's social climate, culture, and popular will, and thus I believe it is also necessary to reform and raise popular expectations.
Regarding the specific principles and directions of political reform, the Wisemen's Group on Political Reform established under the former Takeshita administration and the Liberal Democratic Party's own Outline for Political Reform have made proposals for reform that go back to the basics.
No matter how many difficulties I may encounter, I believe that boldly implementing these political reforms is the only way to respond to the popular trust, and I am determined to move forward unflinchingly and unwaveringly with political reform as my administration's Number one priority.
It goes without saying that these reforms cannot be achieved by the administration working alone and they can only be accomplished with the understanding and cooperation of the Diet and all people in all parties and political groups. I very much hope that the Liberal Democratic Party and all parties and groups will deliberate these issues fully from the broader perspective and that the results will gradually make themselves felt. For my own part, I intend to join with you in making every effort for their attainment.
In keeping with this resolution, I have, in forming this new Cabinet, taken the first step toward political reform in the Cabinet by obtaining the agreement of every Minister that he will disclose his assets, both upon taking office and upon leaving office, and that he will restrain from active trading in securities, real estate, and the like and will place his securities and other assets in trust for the duration of his term of office.
With regard to public officials, who serve the whole community, I intend to see that they take the public criticism very much to heart and that self-restraint and discipline are thoroughly observed so that they conduct themselves in such a way as to arouse not a shred of suspicion.
Basic Foreign Policy Stance
The international situation is today at a turning point such as has not been seen since the end of the war. Having defined international relations for over 40 years, East-West relations centering on the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union are now undergoing major changes. Sino-Soviet relations are being normalized after a hiatus of about thirty years. Regional conflict in the Third World seems to be winding down rapidly. And a number of countries are moving toward democracy. The world is groping its way toward a new era. Underlying these changes is the fact that the values of freedom and democracy that Japan and the industrial democracies believe in are now being accepted as the basic principles for a broader range of countries, and there is an irrepressible popular desire in the socialist-bloc countries and the developing countries for greater political freedom and democratization to end economic stagnation. These developments may in turn be said to bear witness to the wisdom of Japan's commitment to democracy. We should not take the basic values of freedom and democracy that all of the people adhere to and that have nourished our present peace and prosperity as simple givens but should undertake to actively sustain and support these values and to work for prosperity in accordance with them. It is in adherence to these basic values that Japan has gained the economic strength enabling it to contribute internationally, and it is these values that are the source of "Japan's contribution to the world."
This is because, as stated in the Constitution of Japan, "no nation is responsible to itself alone." With the peoples of the world becoming increasingly interdependent, it is most imperative that Japan, a nation whose very existence depends upon international harmony, realize that fulfilling its international responsibilities is at the same time prerequisite to the attainment of its own national interests. Having grown to be the second-largest economic power in the free world, Japan now faces a historical turning point in that it must fulfill even-greater international responsibilities and play a more active international role even as it implements reforms of its own at home.
In this time of transition, it is even more inevitable that domestic and foreign policy should be as one. Looking ahead to the 21st century, along with further promoting Japan's contribution to the international community, we also need to establish a favorable international climate and solid domestic policies for the further benefit of the people.
Seen from the perspective of maintaining Japanese prosperity founded in individual freedom and democracy and ensuring popular stability, there can be no doubt about the correctness of our long-term basic foreign policy of seeking to fulfill our international responsibilities within our dual position as a leading industrial democracy , centering on our relations with the United States, and as an Asian-Pacific country. I intend to maintain and further develop this foreign policy.
Along with firmly maintaining the security arrangements with the United States, I intend to ensure our security by moving forward to create a moderate self-defense force within our Constitutional constraints, dedicated solely to self-defense, and firmly maintaining the three non-nuclear principles and the rule of civilian control.
The various trade and economic issues facing Japan, including those with the United States, are becoming more serious every day. Having become economically strong as one of the prime beneficiaries of the postwar free and multilateral trade system, we believe that it is wrong to simply advocate self-centered positions and that it is in Japan's best interests to act from a global perspective. We must therefore embark upon rectifying those institutions and practices which are objectively perceived as unfair. There is, of course, no doubt that this process of domestic reform also will entail some pain and hardship. However, history tells us that every civilization begins to lose its vitality when it becomes self-righteous and interested only in maintaining the status quo. Once it is realized that it was private economic activity based upon individual initiative in a free-market economy that gave postwar Japan its vitality, it is clear that we need to work to further reduce the external imbalances, to firmly maintain sustained and non-inflationary growth led by domestic demand, and to further promote deregulation and other structural adjustments as well as improved market access. Along with enhancing the standard of living by becoming a great importing nation, Japan should also seek to contribute to harmonious world economic development.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs, I actively promoted "the International Cooperation Initiative" proposed by former Prime Minister Takeshita. This Initiative has as its three pillars: "cooperating for peace" to resolve the conflicts in all parts of the world and to prevent their renewed out-break, "enhancing Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA)" to deliver peoples from the clutches of poverty, and "promoting international cultural exchanges" for mutual understanding among different peoples with different values. I intend to continue to promote this Initiative vigorously, both for Japan's own prosperity and to build an international community with utmost respect for all humankind. At the same time, I firmly believe that Japan, as the world's largest net creditor country, as a surplus-running country, and as a free democracy, has a responsibility to take this Initiative one step further and take positive initiatives for resolving the debt problem, the greenhouse effect and similar global environmental problems, and other world issues. The solution of global environmental issues, especially, demand bringing together the wisdom of all peoples, and I intend to host the Tokyo Conference on the Global Environment and Human Responses this September with the cooperation of the United Nations and the participating countries.
I realize that Japan's heightened international status has brought with it both heightened expectations and heightened criticism. Just as I intend to rebut criticism that is unjustified, so do I intend to respond in good faith and with actual deeds to that criticism that is justified. Having noticed that cultural exchange plays a major role in ensuring that Japan's stance is correctly understood and in eliminating the misunderstandings that underlie so much unjustified criticism of Japan, I believe Japan has a major responsibility to promote the spirit of tolerance for other cultures and to achieve a richer and more open international community through active interchanges among diverse cultures
If Japan continues to work hard and confidently in keeping with this philosophy, I am confident that our true worth will be recognized and that we will be able to attain that honored place in international society of which the Constitution speaks.
I intend to go about the whole of foreign policy consistent with this basic approach. I will work at the coming Arch Summit in July to establish political and economic solidarity among the industrial democracies from the global perspective.
Smooth Implementation of the New Tax System
Drawn up in light of the outlook for the future as we approach an era of rapid aging and internationalization, the recent tax reforms were intended to rectify the distortions in the old tax system and to promote stability in the revenue structure needed to, for example, enhance the popular welfare. I intend to continue to work to put the government's finances on a sound footing taking advantage of these reforms, the first real reforms since the Shoup recommendations of 40 years ago.
Two months have passed since the much-debated consumption tax was instituted. Both consumers and business people have responded appropriately and calmly during this period, and the new system has, by and large, been smoothly implemented. However, because the Japanese public has had little experience with an indirect consumption tax levied broadly and lightly across the board, many people have found the new system confusing and stressful.
Listening respectfully to the people, I intend to make every effort from the broader perspective, including efforts to deter unwarranted price increases and to ensure that the tax burden is rightly passed along, to see that this new consumption tax becomes an accepted part of Japanese life. With particular reference to the provision for tax-exempt status and other problems that have been pointed out, I intend to deal with these appropriately after they have received full study in the Tax Commission.
Like the previous administration, I am pleased to state that I have no intention of asking for an increase in the consumption tax rate during my term of office.
Building a Truly Enriched Society
Japan is today aging at an internationally unprecedented pace. I believe the truly enriched society that we should seek to build is a society in which all of the people can live in health and have a sense of purpose for all of their many years, a society in which our older people are valued members of the community. While it goes without saying that we must work to further enhance policies for the elderly, including employment arrangements and such social security aspects as pensions, medical care and welfare, it is also important that these be joined to self-help efforts by the people to avoid placing an excessive burden on working-age people. I believe that all of the people must pool their wisdom for the creation of a truly enriched society in which young and old alike can live together in harmony.
Japanese agriculture today faces a turning point in that it is expected to become a robustly productive industry able to withstand the harsh conditions in Japan and internationally. Along with working for greater productivity and ensuring stable food supplies at reasonable prices while stabilizing farm management, I will forcefully promote policies to ensure that Japanese agriculture has a bright future by, for instance, establishing a vision for the development of an attractive agricultural sector, reforming the agriculture structure, improving the production infrastructure, and developing improved agricultural technology. Valuing the multi-faceted role that the agricultural, forestry, and fisheries industries play, I intend to work to revitalize rural villages depending on these industries throughout Japan.
Educational reform is basic to enabling Japan to develop as a country of culture replete with creative activity and able to contribute to a better world. I will therefore continue to pursue educational reform not only to raise young people rich of heart and able to play a dynamic role in the international community, but also to ensure enhanced lifelong educational opportunities.
If Japan, a small country with but limited resources, is to have a better future within the international community, it is crucial that we not neglect to advance and develop science and technology and academic research, both of which might well be called the distillation of human thought. With nuclear power one of Japan's primary energy sources, it is also important that we steadily advance in this area with the aim of ensuring safety.
Resolving the land problem is central to our domestic policies. Here, the Fundamental Land Bill that has been submitted to this Session of the National Diet has an important role to play in forcefully promoting land policy and forging a popular consensus on the public-interest nature of land, and I hope it will be promptly enacted.
Rectifying the overconcentration on Tokyo and promoting regional revitalization are the keys to ensuring balanced national development. In that sense, it is fundamental that, along with efforts to create a multi-polar and decentralized structure in line with the Fourth Comprehensive National Development Plan, local communities take the initiative and responsibility for community development. These same objectives were promoted by the previous administration as "Furusato Renaissance," and I intend to deploy the policies needed to create truly rewarding communities. In addition, I will continue to firmly promote the relocation of governmental administrative and other offices as one way to have the administration take the initiative in promoting dispersion to non-Tokyo areas.
Administrative and Fiscal Reform
Administrative and fiscal reform should continue to be vigorously promoted to create a society rich in productive vitality and to establish simple and efficient administrative and fiscal structures. Making the administrative and fiscal structures more efficient is also important in ensuring that the new tax system gains the full understanding and cooperation of the people. Although a number of reforms have already been carried out, such as consolidating and rationalizing special public corporations and streamlining and rationalizing administrative offices, it is imperative that we once more review the total range of institutional arrangements and expenditures alike in light of our difficult administrative and fiscal straits and work to provide improved services with a streamlined administrative structure. For the immediate future, we are working to escape the dependence on deficit-financing government bonds in fiscal 1990 as the first step in fiscal reform. Respecting the recommendations of the Provisional Council for the Promotion of Administrative Reform for creating truly autonomous and truly self-reliant local government structures able to revitalize local communities and to achieve balanced national development, I will work vigorously for administrative and fiscal reform at both the national and local levels.
In light of the legislation that has been submitted to this Session of the National Diet's crucial importance to Japanese life, I am asking for your understanding and cooperation in its prompt consideration and early enactment.
The time for reform is now. Working to establish a morality satisfying the popular will, striving for clean politics and dependable government, and thinking ahead to the future of Japan and the world, I am resolutely determined to make every effort to achieve renewed politics and clean politics and to enable Japan to contribute to the world.
I would like to christen my cabinet a cabinet of reform and advancement. With our basic approach being one trimmed government, enriched people, we are determined to devote ourselves body and soul to promoting reform across the entire spectrum of politics, administration, and finances.
In this, I respectfully ask for the continued understanding and cooperation of the people and my fellow Diet members.
to table of contents