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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.34 (June 21, 2007) ============================================================

"Hello, this is Shinzo Abe" -- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

Time to Reform the Civil Service

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

As the head of the Government, I shoulder the greatest responsibility for the series of problems surrounding the nation's pension records. My Cabinet will not fail to resolve these problems.

A third-party committee to check pension records will move into action on June 25. The Government will ensure that all pensions are paid in full, including to those without receipts or other documentation to verify their payments, as long as the committee confirms that they deserve payment. The committee will take the position of the general public and work together with the people.

Another committee has started its investigation into the locus of responsibility for the current situation. I will continue to work steadily to carry out, one by one, all the actions that need to be taken to resolve the problems.

We are now in the final stages of the current Diet session.

As the end of the session presses ever closer, there still remain a number of very important bills that must be passed at all cost, among them bills relating to the pension system.

Reform of the civil servant system is another issue that can by no means be delayed.

Our nation's civil servants made huge contributions to Japan's postwar development. However, just as the times have changed, so too has the Japanese people's perception of civil servants.

Amid the economic hardships that followed the collapse of the bubble economy and increasingly fierce international competition, the private sector has made every effort to survive, through bold restructuring and a shift from the seniority-based system of promotion to a meritocratic one. In stark contrast, the civil service has retained an outmoded personnel system in which everyone is assured promotion after a certain amount of time, regardless of how well they carry out their duties.

There can be no escaping the fact that the people's trust in civil servants has been seriously eroded by the frequent occurrence of collusive bidding involving public offices. At a time when we need to be thinking of how to build Japan within a global framework, this influence-peddling for petty profits continues unabated. How long will such practices continue? We must thoroughly eradicate the habits that fostered them.

There are of course a great many earnest and diligent civil servants who excel in their jobs. My intention is to enable such ambitious individuals to give full play to their abilities. It was with this goal in mind that I submitted bills for reforming the civil servant system to the current Diet session.

Currently, some government officials, taking advantage of their status, obtain cushy posts in private firms and organizations after retirement from public office. Once the proposed bills are enacted, however, this murky practice of intermediation by government entities will disappear, as the legislation will totally eliminate the influence wielded by those with authority and budgets over personnel affairs. We will strictly regulate the peddling of influence by these "old boys," and see to it that improper acts are suitably punished.

To ensure transparency in the reemployment of civil servants, I will ensure that the process is carried out through a single entity, a public-private sector human resources exchange center that is independent of government ministries and agencies. It is just such a transparent system that is needed in order to encourage restructuring of the civil service.

Some people think that it would be better to allow civil servants to retain their positions until they reach retirement age, rather than making them seek reemployment in the private sector. I see no merit in this idea.

The voice of the people is clear: "Reform the administration and create a lean government."

Even civil servants -- or rather, civil servants in particular, given the public nature of their positions -- cannot be excepted from the practice of restructuring. It is a mistaken priority to allow the number of civil servants to rise and the civil service to become bloated. Those who lack the required competencies to carry out their duties must be let go.

The idea behind the Government's bills is to promote restructuring in the public sector, while at the same time rooting out the problem of retired civil servants landing executive positions in the private sector.

There is no excuse for putting off this issue any longer.

The bottom line is, we either take action or we don't. Nothing will change unless we take that first step forward.

I am fully determined to carry through with this reform during the current session of the Diet.

[What's New in Government Internet TV]

- G8 Summit 2007 Heiligendamm (June 5 to 8, 2007)

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Debriefing Session for the G8 Summit 2007 Heiligendamm on the Global Warming Issue (June 20, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe said, "We will designate the one-year period through the opening of the next Summit as the Summit Year and hold an event on July 7 this year."

- Meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy (Submission of the Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Reform 2007) (June 19, 2007)
At the meeting, "the Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Reform 2007" was reported to Prime Minister Abe.

- Japan-Brunei Summit Meeting (June 18, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe said, "I have a strong expectation for both Japan and Brunei to develop further through the promotion of cooperation and exchanges between our two nations."

- Prime Minister Meets with Plaintiffs in Lawsuits for the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Associated with Nationwide Tunnel Construction (June 18, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe said, "I am determined to steadfastly promote measures to prevent pneumoconiosis so that our country will never repeat this sort of situation again in the future."

- Campaign against Drug Abuse (June 15, 2007)
Ms. Matsuura presented Prime Minister Abe with informational goods to be used for the Campaign against Drug Abuse, including a framed copy of the poster and a T-shirt.

- Prime Minister Visits the Radiation Treatment Facility at the University of Tokyo Hospital (June 15, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe said, "When the experts explained that these machines are virtually free of heat or pain, I realized that my understanding of radiation treatment had been based on inaccurate preconceptions."

- Japan-Cambodia Summit Meeting / Welcome Ceremony for Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia (June 14, 2007)
The leaders confirmed that the two nations will further strengthen their bilateral relations in their efforts to tackle regional and international issues.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Chief Editor: Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Hiroshige Seko
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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