Policy Speech by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto opening the 140th session of the Diet, 20 January 1997

[Emphasis added.]

At the opening of this 140th session of the Diet, I would like to state my views on the main policy issues before us. At first, I would like to say that it is very regrettable that the hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador's official residence in Peru has not yet been solved. The hardships of hostages and their families' anxieties make my heart sore. While refusing to give in to terrorism and putting priority on ensuring the safety of the hostages, Japan has continued efforts for the peaceful solution of the crisis and the release of all hostages. The international community is united in standing firm against terrorism. We will continue to have complete trust in President Fujimori and do our best for a peaceful settlement of this incident and for the release of all the hostages, while keeping in close contact with the Peruvian Government and other countries concerned. Acts of terrorism are a grave challenge to all states and societies. It is essential that the international community together fight against terrorism. Japan will promote various antiterrorism measures both at home and abroad based on international agreements

At the same time, we will improve a security system to enable this nation to deal with situations, including terrorism, that may threaten peace and safety of Japan. I recently visited ASEAN nations. During that visit, I witnessed how that region, based on democracy and an open and free market economy, has developed into the center of world growth, and I actually had a palpable sense of the dynamism and confidence in their future that pervades those societies. Meanwhile, the United States is revitalizing its economy through deregulation and technological innovation, while Europe, advancing monetary union in addition to market integration, responds to globalization. Let me repeat that the society I want to create is the one in which each and every person can have dreams and aspirations for the future and can fully realize his or her creativity and spirit of challenge, and in which values are evolved which we share with the people of the entire world. During the 50 years since the end of the war, Japan has aimed to achieve an affluent standard of living for its people, while seeking equality among all walks of life and across all of its regions. The existing systems in this nation -- specifically administrative systems, regulations on private-sector activities, social security and welfare structures, educational administration, and relations between the central and regional governments -- have in general functioned effectively for a long time in achieving that goat. As such, those systems are deeply rooted in Japanese society. However, we are now in an era when the world is rapidly becoming integrated and when people, products, capital and information flow freely, and it is clear that the current framework is an obstacle to the vigorous development of this nation. Therefore, we must urgently create an economic and social system which can lead the global trend. Changing systems that are deeply rooted in our society will only happen with great difficulty. What is more, these systems are intricately interlinked. That is why I say that six reforms; namely, administrative, fiscal, social security, economic, and financial, and educational system reforms should be implemented simultaneously. Changing the structures of our society alone will not realize the kind of society which I hope to create. I believe it is the role of politics to create an environment in which all of the people living in our country can uphold justice and fairness, show compassion to others and to the weak, respect their elders, and love with all their hearts their hometowns, their nation, and irreplaceable earth. Since I became prime minister, I have been tackling various issues related to Okinawa as the top priority of our national policy. Taking the position that the burden which has been borne by Okinawan residents should be shared equally by all of the people of Japan, I will continue to do my best on this issue. Based on this fundamental recognition, with coordination that is founded on the triparty agreement with the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake, I will gather together the creativity and passion for the future of all those who share my views, and I will strive in both foreign and domestic policy to ensure that all of the people can greet the 21st century with feelings of hope. Historically and geographically, Japan is a nation in the Asia- Pacific region. It is extremely important for Japan's foreign policy that the Asia-Pacific region maintain a positive cycle of political stability and economic development based on a foundation of open regional cooperation. Also, whether or not the region can overcome issues concerning population, food, energy, and the environment will be of grave consequence to the world in the 21st century. Japan has promoted cooperation with the United States in solving global issues. Considering it important to promote similar cooperation with Asian countries from now on, I proposed to enhance joint cooperation in this area at the recent meetings with ASEAN leaders. While promoting cooperation in this field through APEC, I will endeavor to further promote the liberalization of trade and investment, economic and technological cooperation, and policy dialogue in the region. The continued engagement of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region is desirable for the entire region, both in the security sector and in the economic and social spheres. Together with President Clinton, who is entering his second term, I will do my best to make the Japan-U.S relationship, which is an axis for Japanese diplomacy, stronger than ever. The Japan-U.S. security system, in particular, is not only indispensable to Japan's peace and security but also extremely important to the entire Asia- Pacific region. I will make efforts to increase the reliability of the security system through the review of guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation. Under the Japanese Constitution and based on the basic principles that Japan should use its forces exclusively for defense and that it should not become a military superpower which imposes a threat to other countries, I will ensure civilian control and observe three nonnuclear principles. Also, based on the National Defense Program Outline and the Mid-Term Defense Buildup Program, I will endeavor to streamline the current defense power, improve necessary functions, and enhance the quality of defense strength. Moreover, to establish relations of trust in the security field in the Asia-Pacific region, I will promote security dialogue and defense exchanges at the ASEAN regional forum. It is one of the most important tasks of my administration to bring about the reorganization and consolidation of the U.S. military facilities in Okinawa while remaining in harmony with the purpose of the Japan- U.S. Security Treaty. I will make all-out efforts to accurately and swiftly implement the proposals the Japan- U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa made in its final report regarding the return of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and other U.S. military facilities. For the development of Okinawa, the government recently made a budget to carry out proposals made by a council for municipalities hosting U.S. bases. My whole cabinet will continue its all-out efforts to devise in earnest measures to solve Okinawa issues in cooperation with the prefecture. The promotion of each bilateral relationship among Japan, the United States, and China will contribute to the stability and development of the entire Asia-Pacific region

In our relations with the PRC, Japan welcomes the fact that relations between the United States and China have begun to move toward improvement. I will work to promote relations between Japan and China based on mutual trust in order for the peoples of the two countries to heartily celebrate the 25th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties

Also, supporting China's bid to become a WTO member at an early date, I will facilitate further cooperation between China and the international community. Concerning the Korean peninsula, I will further promote friendly and cooperative relations with South Korea through a meeting with President Kim slated for this weekend. Also, believing that it will contribute to peace and stability of the Korean peninsula, I will deal with Japan-North Korea relations in close cooperation with South Korea. As for relations with European countries, I will promote cooperation between Japan and these countries in extensive areas. Also, I will make efforts to promote talks between Asia and Europe so that the two regions will jointly assume responsibilities in the international community and promote their common interests. As for relations with Russia, I will further promote dialogue and cooperation with the country in various fields

In particular, I will continue my efforts for the settlement of the northern territorial dispute based on the Tokyo Declaration and for the complete normalization of relations by concluding a peace treaty. Japan became a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council [UNSC] this year. At the United Nations, Japan will lead the international community toward solving various problems the world is facing, and will act more independently than before. Our nation will also make efforts to realize well-balanced reform of the world body so that the United Nations will be able to fulfill duties to meet the demands of the times. Concerning the issue of Japan becoming a UNSC permanent member, I will deal with it while watching the development of the reform of the world body and seeking support and understanding from Asian neighbors and the rest of the world. Japan will make active efforts to help prevent and settle regional conflicts in the Middle East and solve the worsening refugee problem in Africa by participating in UN- led peacekeeping operations. As the only state which has experienced atomic bombing, Japan will make efforts for the early opening of negotiations over the conclusion of a treaty, which bans the production of nuclear materials to be used to produce nuclear weapons, in a bid to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms. As such, our nation will take the initiative in creating a world without nuclear arms. Assisting developing countries' development efforts will contribute not only to the peace and prosperity of the entire world but also to the interests of our nation. While seeking public understanding, I will carry out official development assistance more efficiently than before. At the same time, to appropriately respond to changes in the issues developing countries are facing, I will review Japan's official development assistance from various angles, while giving importance to enhancing the quality of the assistance. Until today, Japan has communicated to countries overseas its own experiences, focusing primarily on its success in postwar economic development. However, beginning with our environmental issues, we must henceforth not present only our successes, but our failures too, as well as the difficulties and efforts we have faced in the process of overcoming them, so that the international community may be spared having to repeat our errors. Last year's East Asia ministerial meeting on social security, which Japan hosted, was the one which materialized my view in the social security and welfare fields. Based on the World Welfare Initiative, I will continue my efforts to communicate on every occasion Japan's experiences to other countries. Given a situation in which the central government and the local governments are liable for long-term debts, which amount to 442 trillion yen [Y]in total this March, reform of structure in terms of both expenditures and revenues is indispensable for making finance condition healthy. From this standpoint, I have set fiscal 1997 as the first year of fiscal structural reform, and the government has compiled the fiscal budget for 1997. On revenues, we have decided to raise the consumption tax and introduce the local consumption tax as scheduled while discontinuing special tax cuts. These measures are intended to secure revenue sources for enriching the local governments and the welfare systems under the situation wherein we would face a fiscal failure if we leave the further increase of deficits untouched. At the same time, they are also to carry out tax system reform, which will contribute to economic structural reform, with each citizen, who is a member of our society, widely sharing the burdens

Under these measures, necessary measures will be taken for those who will be affected by the tax system reform, including such lowest income groups as people over 65. As for expenditures, the government will restrain a growth rate of general expenditures to 1.5 percent, which is far lower than a nominal growth rate, thus covering expenditures except expenditures for national bonds with tax revenues. Expenditures will not go beyond that point, and this is the first step toward making fiscal condition healthy. In relation to economic condition, we will promote appropriate economic management while seeking early Diet approval for and smooth implementation of the fiscal budget for 1997 and the supplementary budget for fiscal 1996. Fiscal 1997 is the first year in which we take our first step toward rebuilding our fiscal system, and even more strenuous efforts will be required in the future. To achieve healthy finances, the government will seek to make the ratio of the government's and the local governments' fiscal deficits to the GDP below 3 percent at the earliest by fiscal 2005, and for the nation's general account, the government will aim at departing from dependence on special public bonds and at lowering the degree of dependence on public bonds. These are goals. To achieve these goals, a council on fiscal structural reform will be established, and therein the government and the ruling party will work together to immediately consider specific methods of reforming and reducing expenditures. The results will be reflected at the stage of budgetary requests, beginning with those for fiscal 1998, and in drafting that year's budget, I intend to make further advances in reforming and reducing expenditures, while at the same time drafting a legislative framework for fiscal reconstruction and submitting it to the Diet for consideration at the earliest opportunity. The government will compile the budget for 1998 that can be highly valued by the people, with myself standing in the forefront of such work. At the same time, with the possibility that an increase in the burdens of workers and companies would decrease the nation's economic vitality amid growing aging society with a declining population of children, the government will make all-out efforts to restrain the burdens of the present and future generations. With regard to long-term debts held by former National Railways Corporation, the amount of the debts to be liquidated exceeds Y27 trillion, thus falling into a serious state. The government will work out concrete measures so that full-fledged work to liquidate the debts will begin from fiscal 1998. As for fiscal investment and loan system, the government, in accordance with the basic policy of promoting reform, will review public business and services that are required to be reviewed from an original standpoint of supplementing private business activities and ensuring repayment. At the same time, the government will make efforts to provide efficient distribution of funds with emphasis on certain business areas. Behind our nation's achievement of a high education level in the world is the fruit of the people's enthusiasm for education. Yet, for each citizen to live with sense of fulfillment in the future, we need to correct the realities that one's educational background may hold sway over his whole life and create a society in which each person can improve his abilities based on his aptitude, make efforts, and play an active part in the society. Moreover, amid growing internationalization and information age, it is increasingly important to nurture people who can pass for the international community. From this viewpoint, the government will promote educational reform aimed at transforming the current schooling system, which places emphasis on equality and standardization of students, into a system that develops diverse abilities of students from a viewpoint of life-long education that attaches importance to creativity and a spirit of challenge. I wish that the next generations, who bear the destiny of future Japan would make efforts to make their own dreams come true and achieve their goals and simultaneously would positively get themselves involved in the future of the nation and the region with ambition and international perspective. To raise such human resources, it is necessary to create an education system that produces students who not only can have knowledge to solve a question for which an answer is prepared in advance but also come up with their own answer with deep consciousness of question, and nurture their knowledge, insight, and conscience in a well balanced way. Moreover, also in the field of education, it is necessary to give the children more options so that they can make efforts to attain their own diverse dreams and aspirations. Having such understanding, the government is considering materializing education capable of fully bringing out potential of the children and bringing up their power to survive by reviewing such schooling system as coherent education from junior high school to high school and education curriculum, while promoting preparations for shifting to the five-school-day system. As for the issue of bullying and misdeeds, the government will increase its support so that each family, schools, and communities can work together to come to grips with this issue. With the aim of creating a nation of science and technology that can offer to the international community intellectual properties that can lead to developing the society and bringing happiness to the people, the government will also make efforts for the promotion of science and technology, including the enriching of a system for creative and basic research and development, the nurturing of human resources which are fully creative, the promotion of cooperation among industries, universities, and the government, and the enriching of researches for brain science and a gene. Moreover, the government will also make further efforts to make universities more open, promote self-development, enrich life-long education through public job training, promote sports, cultural and artistic activities, and activate cultural exchanges with foreign nations, including expansion of foreign student exchange program, with the aim of constructing a society in which anyone can have a life worth living. With regard to policies for women, the government will steadily carry out an action plan to materialize a co- participatory society in which men and women take part in the society and set up a new council. In addition, the government will submit to the current Diet related draft bills designed to enable working women to fully exhibit their abilities with respect to their motherhood without sexual discrimination. To materialize a fair, society in which the people's human rights are protected without distinction, the government will promote measures concerned with protecting human rights, including measures related to human right education and development. Furthermore, the government will promote culture of Ainus and understanding about them. With the increasing trend of having less children and rapid aging of the society, the question of providing social security with a balance between payments and contributions is a serious issue that bears on the level of the people's share in public finance. The cost for social security has to be shouldered by somebody -- whether it be the beneficiary, the employer, or the national or local governments using tax revenues. We would like to take personal dignity and self- reliance and self-help efforts as one key component, and the spirit of social solidarity as the other major factor in building a social security system capable of providing quality and effective services by promoting participation of the private sector. The establishment of a system of nursing services insurance to answer the need to provide nursing services to the aged, which has become an urgent issue, is the first step in social security structural reform. We will exert utmost efforts to pass the bill in the current Diet session

Furthermore, we cannot remain indifferent to the medical insurance system which is suffering from a huge deficit. The bill to be submitted to the present Diet session will be a starting point in a comprehensive reform of the entire system of medical services and insurance so that the people can rest assured that they will have adequate and efficient medical services, while maintaining the system of universal insurance coverage for them. In addition, we will take definite steps to promote a new Gold Plan and Plan for the Handicapped to help the aged and the handicapped people overcome hardships and lead a self-reliant life. Since a fewer children has become an established trend, and both husband and wife working is becoming more and more common, it is difficult to strike a balance between work and child rearing without social support. In the present Diet session, we would like to implement systemic changes to enable families with children to avail of child care services meeting their various needs. My ideal of the Japanese economy is that it should be fired by private sector demand, set on a trail of stable growth, and provide an increasing number of quality jobs. A prosperous life for the people and healthy government finances can only be possible under such an economy. To reconstruct a robust economy for Japan, and in respect of the new industries that could bring prosperity and employment, we need to improve conditions in terms of the budget, technology and human resources so that we can develop comprehensive policies for promising areas. To create an attractive business environment, and to improve economic efficiency and flexibility, and industrial competitiveness, it is necessary to implement abolition and relaxation of regulations, which will have great economic impact, reform the corporate tax system, and lift the ban on holding companies. At the same time, even as the service industry is becoming increasingly important, the manufacturing industry is still the foundation of the Japanese economy. It is important to protect and develop the parts industries supporting the advanced industries, and the accumulated technology and skills in the localities supporting the manufacturing industry. Likewise, we also need to support small businesses embarking on management reforms. The "Program for the Reform and Creation of the Economic Structure" formulated in late 1996 is an outline of the steps being taken by the government to implement bold economic structural reform. In particular, distribution, energy and information and communications form the basis of industrial activities. We have set the concrete target of making the service level in these industries, including cost, internationally competitive by the year 2001. In the area of information and communications, we will promote the participation of NTT [Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation] in the international communications business, and also promote building the infrastructure for telecommunications. Henceforth, we will exert efforts to pass the related legislations and take other steps to ensure the steady implementation of the program. The government's action program based on this reform program will be formulated this spring to set out as many concrete measures for the future as possible to execute the basic thinking spelled out in the program. Structural reform will also have to be accelerated for agriculture. The conditions of agriculture and rural villages have changed significantly from the mid-1960's, when the Basic Law on Agriculture was legislated. We have started full-fledged deliberations on drawing up a new basic law to realize a system of agricultural administration that will produce more motivated farmers, and revitalize the rural areas, and which will also be compatible with the WTO [World Trade Organization] framework. With regard to the fishing industry, we will exert efforts to sign new fishery agreements with the ROK and China as soon as possible, and promote resource management and cultivation-oriented fishing. A fair and transparent multilateral international economic system will be beneficial for these economic structural reforms. We will resolve trade-related international conflicts under the WTO Agreement, and participate actively in efforts to lay down new rules. Financial system reform, which aims at preparing Japan for liberalization in the international community and changes in the information technology, and at rehabilitating Tokyo as an international financial market comparable to New York and London, is indispensable for upgrading the international position of the yen and maintaining Japan's economic vitality in preparation for the advent of a full- fledged aging society. We will implement reforms in various stages up to the year 2001, starting with the submission of a bill to the current Diet session on the radical liberalization of financial transactions across national boundaries. We will also promote participation in the banking, securities and insurance sectors, review regulations to facilitate profitable management of individual financial assets amounting to 1,200 trillion yen, and improve the legal system in line with the trend of internationalization. These reforms will enable individual users to have a variety of choices of goods and services. On the other hand, they will also mean that consumers will have to take the responsibility for the transactions with the associated risks, and business operations relying on government regulations will become impossible. To respond adequately to such a situation, the government will implement transparent and fair financial administration through thorough disclosure of information, and the establishment of clear rules. At the same time, since financial crises are now transferred globally instantaneously, we will establish a system for close international cooperation. Along these lines, we will do everything in our power to maintain the stability of our financial system, and deal with the problem of bad loans of financial institutions promptly. Furthermore, we will work for the passage of a bill for the reform of the system of financial administration to support a new financial administrative system, and a reform bill to make the Bank of Japan an open and independent central bank. The great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake caused many casualties and enormous damage two years ago. The landslides, which occurred in Gamaharasawa, Himekawa, at the end of last year, resulted in a loss of precious lives. I will again pay my profound condolence to the victims and their bereaved families. At the same time, I vow to do my best to take disaster-prevention measures and improve the crisis management system in times of future disasters, learning lessons from those disasters. By requesting necessary spending in the fiscal 1996 supplementary budget and the fiscal 1997 budget, I intend to make utmost efforts to rebuild life and economy in areas devastated by the great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake, create safe areas, and improve nation-wide disaster-prevention systems. Taking into consideration lessons from the great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake, centralization of many functions in Tokyo, and other factors, I am also determined to make positive efforts to formulate programs for general development of the nation and promote transfer of capital functions. In an effort to make an effective use of limited budgets for improving social infrastructure, I intend to place more emphasis on the following two areas in budget allocations -- the area which directly leads to the improvement of the people's living such as housing, cities, and environmental sanitation; and the area which constitutes foundation for the development of the next generation, such as international hub airports and high-standard highways. At the same time, seriously taking public criticism of current public works projects, I will formulate and implement an action plan soon to achieve a drastic reduction in construction costs of public works projects. As for the handling of those areas, which are under consideration for future expansion of Shinkansen bullet train lines, however, no construction has begun, I intend to make a strict decision after confirming that basic conditions -- such as agreements of local governments and JR [Japan Railway] companies on profitability and the division of the management of existing parallel train lines -- have been created. For the people living in large cities and surrounding areas, I am determined to reform city structures by creating comfortable residential environment, where offices and houses are located in vicinity, and by improving densely- populated urban districts. I also decide to attach importance to land policies to promote an effective use of land and revitalize land transaction based on actual demands. To that end, I intend to formulate land policy outlines at an early date. I will make efforts to develop farm, mountain, and fishery villages, seeking to create a comfortable and tasteful nation covered with rich green. I also intend to study the ideal way of Japan's forestry, taking into account diversified forest functions. A special UN General Assembly session on environment and development will be held this year, five years after the Earth Summit, where world leaders reached an agreement on the importance of sustainable development. Our nation for its part should make considerable progress in our efforts to tackle environmental problems this year. Especially, the international conference to be held in Kyoto in December will be an important conference to establish international policies for preventing global warming in the 21st century

Japan will positively urge nations concerned to reach an agreement on effective, fair, and practicable policies. At the same time, the use of atomic power for the peaceful purpose is indispensable to coping with global warming and our nation's insufficient energy-supply structure. For this reason, I intend to steadily promote this policy on condition of ensuring absolute safety while making positive efforts to disclose information and obtaining the people's understanding. In seeking a recycling- oriented society, I intend to make necessary changes in existing systems to promote recycling of wastes, restrain discharge of waste products, properly dispose of industrial waste products, and deal with illegal dumping of waste. I also intend to submit necessary bills on the environmental assessment system to the current Diet session. Oil spill resulting from a tanker accident in the Sea of Japan has drifted to a wide-ranged coast, and a damage to natural environment and fisheries is feared. To make local residents and volunteers, who took prompt actions to collect oil, feel easy as soon as possible, the government for its part is determined to do everything possible to prevent the damage from further expanding in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies while making a close contact with local governments and obtaining cooperation from the private sector. I also intend to devote myself to measures to prevent the use of guns, which threaten safety of the people, the misuse of drugs, the tackling of organized crimes, and traffic safety measures. In order to show the people the cabinet's determination to realize the changes and creation mentioned above, and to ask for their support and cooperation, it is indispensable for the government itself to take the lead in reform. This is, precisely, the responsibility of the political authorities. I believe the objective of administrative reform is for the national government to review all its functions from the standpoint of the people who use such adminstrative services, and to build an administrative system that is able to provide services needed by the people at the least cost, and that is responsive to changes in the economic society to promote the vital development of our country. Based on such an objective, we will conduct a comprehensive review of all administrative areas, without any exception whatsoever, from the following viewpoints: Can the intervention of the national government or local public organizations in private sector activities through regulations be eliminated? Can the services provided by the public sector, such as the government's day-to-day administrative procedures and the special public corporations, not be turned over to the private sector? And even in cases where the administration intervenes, can the power not be moved from the national to the local governments? With regard to the division of labor between the government and the private sector, we will respect the principle of market competition, and give full play to the evaluation criteria set by the Administrative Reform Commission in conducting a review. As to government regulations, the deregulation promotion program will be revised again by the end of March. Furthermore, regulations will be reduced to the minimum by eliminating all economic regulations in principle, and reviewing social regulations from the basics. In terms of relations with the local public organizations, we will promote the delegation of powers, and abolish the system of making local authorities execute the national government's administrative procedures, which is a symbol of centralized administration, in order to enhance the independence and self- reliance of the local governments. At the same time, we will review and rationalize subsidies and other funding, and increase and ensure local tax revenues to correspond with the mode of division of labor between the national and the local governments. We will strongly urge the local public organizations to improve their administrative system by, for instance, merger on their own initiative, and undertaking radical fiscal reform. We will promote comprehensive and systematic decentralization of power by formulating a decentralization program at the earliest time possible before the end of the regular Diet session in 1998. The government will strive to submit a bill on information disclosure before the end of FY97, and work for the realization of open administration by actively explaining administrative activities and policies -- for instance, by further disclosure of information on the special public corporations. We will also work for the qualitative improvement of administrative services by introducing a system of one-stop service, where a number of administrative procedures can be done at one place, and providing administrative information through the use of information technology. With regard to the reorganization of central government offices, the Administrative Reform Council will draft a plan based on the above concepts before the end of November. For the political authorities to take the responsibility to accomplish the promotion of administrative reform, it is indispensable to restore trust in the political authorities. In terms of the purification of politics, all parties and groups should fully discuss the issues relating to political funds and the electoral system, and based on the result of such discussion, appropriate measures will be taken. We will deal with this firmly so that the political sector and the administration will not be criticized for defending the interests of specific regions or business sectors. I ask that cabinet ministers depart from the standpoint of their individual ministries or agencies, and exercise leadership with noble ideals; and that the civil servants overcome the shortcomings of sectarian administration, and exert utmost efforts to realize people-oriented administrative reform. At the same time, in order to restore trust in the administration, all civil servants should be conscious of their role as public servants to the entire people. They should strictly observe the ethical codes set down by their respective ministries or agencies, review the administrative procedures in their offices, and do everything in their power to eliminate scandals

Furthermore, we will conduct a comprehensive review on the civil service system itself. So far, I have stated my basic policy position. Changing and reforming the very sophisticated and firmlyestablished socioeconomic system that existed over 50 years after the war will come with a great measure of pain

It will require even more wisdom and courage than building a new system. When regulations are abolished, those business operators who have been protected by such regulations will have to face the rough waves of competition, and consumers will have to be responsible for their own choices of goods and services. With greater efficiency in the financial system, those who have been dependent on the old system will have to face tough times. Each individual will have to have the spiritual strength to stand up to hardships and failure

We will take appropriate measures to help those who are truly needy, but postponing reforms for fear of the accompanying pain is absolutely impermissible. We, who live now, are responsible for building a good society to pass on to future generations. To realize change and creation, the task of the political authorities is to exercise leadership in surmounting the difficulties.

To summarize what I want to say today, we must show the direction, heed the opinions and suggestions of the people seriously and humbly, and based on this, give all we have to discussing, making decisions, and implementing reforms. I sincerely ask for support and cooperation from the people, and from the members of the Diet who are present here.

[Translation by the US Foreign Broadcast Information Service.]