AAP staff report
Tokyo (January 24, 2011) – Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan delivered a Policy Speech at the 177th Session of the Diet on Monday. PM Kan delivered his first policy before the 176th Extraordinary Session of the Diet on October 1, 2010, just four months since taking office following the resignation of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama last June. Kan was reelected President of the Democratic Party of Japan this past September.
The speech was made available by the Kantei, the Office of the Prime Minister, who is the head of the Japanese government – appointed by the Emperor after officially designated in confidence of the Legislature, or Diet. The PM has the authority to appoint other Ministers of his Cabinet.
Since that first speech, Kan stated that in the first half year in office, his Cabinet has worked in “all-out efforts” to make Japan a more dynamic nation. They work to integrate and strengthen the national economy, social security, and public finances.
Kan began by saying the questions facing Japan today are of what kind of country should be shaped to move forward; what public policies would make it possible. He said three principles for building the country are “the 21st-century opening of Japan,” “achieving a society in which human suffering is reduced to a minimum,” and “politics that rectifies absurdities.”
“Amidst an era of changes, a search is underway all around the world for ways to successfully navigate this new era,” said Kan. “Japan should not be the only country that struggles with economic impasses and social uneasiness. We will examine the facts in a level-headed manner and break away from our inward-focused orientation as well as the fixed thinking we have had until now.
“In addition, we will bring the increasingly vigorous growth of Asia into Japan, seeking out a new formula by which we partake in prosperity along with the international community. We will also etch out a model of happiness at living in Japan within the context of changes in the social structure. This year is the year to take the helm and steer a course to building just such a nation.”
Kan said just as Japan prevailed as a strong nation following the crises of the Meiji era and the devastation of World War II, he said the nation could again emerge from a time of great instability, with a substantially reformed political and social structure fueled by creative economic activities.
He went on to detail his ideas for promoting comprehensive economic partnerships and better discussions in the Diet.
Kan’s policy outlines addressed nation building as achieving a society where human suffering is at a minimum. For this he said the Diet needs to address employment, reforming the social security system, public participation in decision-making – a concept of “public commons.”
He said another principle of good government should to “eliminate absurdities” in the system through task force teams. He also addressed the need to address social isolation and political reform in terms of regional sovereignty; intensifying and thoroughly implementing government revitalization, deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance and reducing the burden of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.
Kan said more needs to be done to strengthen relations with other Asian Pacific countries along with Europe and Latin America. He also said North Korea, national defense and maritime security remain a concern.
“In this Diet session, we must deliver peace of mind and vigor to the Japanese people by passing the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and related bills and by breaking free of deflation at an early time,” said Kan, noting the disappointment created in the previous session with failing to pass bills and international agreements such as the Postal Reform Act and the Basic Act on Global Warming Countermeasures, and the agreement between Japan and the Republic of Korea on books.
He said the Japanese people have called upon the Diet to emerge from the present-day crisis and discuss constructively how we should build the future Japan.
“Indeed, I believe they are calling on us to emerge with a final decision, rather than put off matters into the future,” said Kan. Let us live up to those expectations through the Diet discussion and party leaders’ debates. I will end my policy speech by urging my honorable fellow members of Diet to work to make this session a truly deliberative Diet.”