Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.37 (June 26, 2008) ============================================================
"A society that one can feel reassured in. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
I heard that the people of Okinawa harbor mixed feelings when they see Deigo (Indian coral bean) blossoms.
They start to bloom each year around the time the Battle of Okinawa, which claimed as many as 200,000 lives, began 63 years ago and then scatter around the time the battle was all but ended, which reminds the people of all those precious lives that were lost to the war.
On Monday of this week, I participated in the Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 63rd Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa. Feeling the mid-summer heat and humidity of the island, I was overwhelmed by an immense grief when I think back to the hardships experienced by the people of Okinawa in the summer of 63 years ago.
I imagined the many unrealized dreams and hopes of so many fallen young people and the prayers offered by the mothers and fathers who perished, wishing for the safety of their children. Japan's peace and prosperity today is built on the precious sacrifice of the war dead.
I renewed my determination to reflect in today's politics the wishes of those who perished as we strive to make Japan a peaceful nation in which we can feel reassured.
Last week, the members of the National Commission on Social Security compiled a mid-term report.
The Commission has focused on discussions with a view to bringing about a fundamental reform of various systems related to social security. Some of the issues under discussion are matters of great urgency that must immediately be addressed. Given the people's dissatisfaction and anxiety, we should start doing whatever must be done now.
As an emergency measure for that purpose, this Tuesday I instructed the concerned Cabinet members to compile a Five-Point Reassurance Plan by the end of July.
The first pillar of this plan is building a society in which the elderly can lead active lives with a sense of reassurance.
The development of a healthy and vigorous society, in which elderly people with wisdom and experience can take part actively, is of supreme importance. Moreover, we must take steps so that elderly persons can comfortably stay in places where they have lived for a long time by advancing a scheme to support home care, constructing more housing with home care service, and through other means.
The second pillar is establishing a society in which everyone with health concerns can receive healthcare.
A while back, I visited a center for pediatrics services and listened to what the people there had to say. There are medical institutions with obstetrics and pediatrics services that have been closed due to the shortage of doctors, and emergency patients have been passed around hospitals. We cannot ignore these situations.
Regarding the issue of the doctor shortage, more prospective doctors will be trained from now on. I intend right away to step up efforts to facilitate networking among hospitals and clinics so that those medical institutions can provide necessary regional medical services by complementing the manpower and functions of the others that would otherwise be insufficient.
We must also expeditiously take measures to reduce the excessively heavy workload of hospital doctors and to ensure that people feel secure about giving birth to children.
The third pillar is measures to protect and raise children who shoulder the future.
I have listened to a lot of serious and urgent voices of many mothers and fathers struggling with child raising. Those include, "My child has to wait until April to enter a nursery school," "My child will have nowhere to go after school when he enters elementary school," and "I would like to take childcare leave more flexibly."
In order to address such concerns, I will immediately look to take the necessary remedies for child raising assistance measures, including reviewing the way that people work.
The fourth pillar is measures for non-regular employees such as dispatched workers and part-time workers.
Now, one out of every three employees has a non-regular job. Many non-regular workers are anxious about their future because of their unstable status.
It is important to give those people hope for the future by supporting their efforts to get regular positions and by expanding the coverage of social insurances.
In particular, I will take firm steps including revision of laws to prevent the hollowing out of the system protecting dispatched workers, as many problems such as the issue of day workers have been pointed out regarding dispatched labor.
The fifth and last pillar of the plan is to restore the people's trust in health, welfare and labor administration.
Public trust in the administration that manages the social security system including the pension system is a prerequisite for public participation in and support for the system. That is why I will see to it that a thorough and comprehensive review on the administration of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, including its organizations, will be conducted.
It is my responsibility to ensure that ours is a society in which each and every one of the people can live with a sense of reassurance. Realizing that is at the very core of the reforms from the public's viewpoint that I have advanced since becoming Prime Minister. As such, I will continue to steadily implement policies, one by one, so that everyone can truly sense at the earliest date possible that the Five-Point Reassurance Plan is helping to put them at ease.
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