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Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.22 (March 13, 2008) ============================================================

"Kibo debuts. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Yasuo FukudaProfile Japanese

Kibo debuts. This is Yasuo Fukuda.

The season of the labor unions' annual round of wage bargaining is in full swing. Yesterday, many corporations presented their responses to the requests put forward by labor unions, and agreed to increase wages.

Looking back over the past year, we see that economic uncertainties have arisen as a result of factors including a slowdown in the U.S. economy and the rise in the crude oil price, which has surpassed the 100 U.S. dollar mark. Still, most Japanese corporations have made clear their intention to match the level of wage increases offered last year, and some have responded that they will meet the full demands of the labor unions.

These moves, I believe, are underpinned by the recognition on the part of corporate managers that it is time to share with the people the fruits of the reforms, and that wages must be increased to spur further expansion of the economy.

For its part, the Government will advance all the measures that it can in order to address economic uncertainties and support the forward-looking efforts made by the corporate side.

Specifically, for small and medium enterprises, many of which did not rise on the wave of economic recovery and are still struggling, the Government will implement measures to boost their growth potential at the earliest possible date, focusing on policies to strengthen corporate foundations, expand employment, and revitalize the local regions.

The employment issue is not merely a matter of wages. Recent statistics show that more than 30% of the overall workforce is comprised of "freeters" (job-hopping young part-timers), part-time workers, dispatched workers, and other workers engaged in non-regular employment.

Corporations made efforts to maintain employment levels even during the years when our society was grappling with the aftereffects of the bursting of the bubble economy, and there was a period when they had to rely on non-regular employees.

I feel that I must now call upon corporate managers to make even greater efforts for the sake of those employees who, undaunted by unstable employment conditions, have worked hard.

Job security leads to increased consumption, which results in the expansion of the economy. Businesses and households are inextricably linked. I am convinced that it is clear to all in the business sector that there is a need to expand opportunities for regular employment. The Government, too, will move to compile measures, at an early date, to support efforts to increase the number of regular employees.

The day before yesterday, the space shuttle Endeavour lifted off successfully with Mr. Takao Doi on board.

Mr. Doi's primary mission will be to help assemble Kibo (meaning "hope" in Japanese), Japan's laboratory module that will be attached to the International Space Station, which is being built through the cooperation of 15 nations around the world, including Japan.

"We will construct our Japanese home in space."

Mr. Doi shared this thought just before the launch. We are now taking this first step down the path that will lead to the establishment of "a Japanese home in space." My heartfelt prayers go out to Mr. Doi for the success of his activities.

* Profile of the Prime Minister

[What's New in Government Internet TV]

- Prime Minister's Week in Review (Feb. 26 to Mar. 2, 2008)

- KIBO_A Symbol of International Peace and Cooperation

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Advisory Council on "Rural Areas Revitalizing" (March 12, 2008) and others

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General Editor: Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matushige Oono
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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