Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.42 (August 7, 2008) ============================================================
"In order to overcome difficulties. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
Yesterday, I participated in the annual Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. Hiroshima, which once became a burnt-out wasteland after the atomic bombing that claimed tens of thousands of precious lives, has now developed as one of the largest cities in Japan, and is known internationally as a symbol of peace.
I met with victims of the atomic bomb and with family members of those who perished, and had an opportunity to express my condolences to them. Still today, many people are suffering from the aftereffects of the atomic bomb. The tragedy of the atomic bomb remains with the people, even after the passing of 63 years.
Japan, as the only country ever to have experienced nuclear devastation, should never allow such a tragedy to be repeated. I renewed my determination that as a Peace Fostering Nation, Japan must play a responsible role in a peaceful and stable international community.
Recently, we received opinions from readers of this e-mail magazine to the effect that "something really must be done to help us deal with the difficulties we are facing due to the increasing cost of living."
I would like to seize this opportunity and once again state that it is precisely now, when the nation's economy is facing such great difficulties, that we must thoroughly carry out structural reform that will ensure the future growth of the Japanese economy.
At the same time, in order to accelerate reform we must lend an ear to the anxious voices of the people expressed in the course of their everyday lives and realize policies that lead to perceptible improvements in the living conditions of the people. Putting a clear focus on realizing and carrying out policies, I reshuffled the Cabinet last week.
Japan is now undergoing two major structural changes: the surging prices for resources and energy that are occurring throughout the world, and an aging of Japanese society with fewer children in absolute terms.
First, we must find a way to respond to the rapid increases in the prices of crude oil, foods, and other commodities that are being felt around the globe. I sense that the people are feeling that a string of price rises is making it increasingly harder to make ends meet. Considering the rapid speed of the development of emerging economies, it is clear that we cannot solve this problem simply by implementing measures to provide quick fixes.
In this era of global warming and surging prices for resources, an urgent task is to achieve a low-carbon society by accelerating the introduction of energy-conserving technologies, among other measures. In response to surging grain prices, we must strengthen the backbone of our nation's agricultural sector and raise Japan's self-sufficiency ratio through various means such as cooperation among the agricultural, commercial, and industrial sectors and reform of the distribution system.
In order to firmly advance such structural reform even further, we must substantially respond to the various voices, including those of people engaged in agriculture and fisheries, and people working at small and medium businesses, who are faced with difficulties on account of the surging prices.
Secondly, we must address the task of dispelling the people's distrust and anxieties over a variety of flaws in the social security system, including pensions and medical care.
We must steadily advance drastic reform with our sights focused on the future, in order to respond to the full-fledged onset of the aging society with fewer children and to ensure that the people can live with a sense of reassurance. To that end, it is also important that we make efforts to resolve, one by one, the causes of the people's anxieties as quickly as possible.
I intend to front-load and implement those measures that are possible from among the ones outlined in the Five-Point Reassurance Plan, unveiled by the Government recently. Specifically, those measures include an emergency response to the shortage of doctors in obstetrics, pediatrics, and emergency medical care, an acceleration of the establishment of nursery schools in areas where many children are on waiting lists, a review of the Worker Dispatch Law, and support for young people undergoing vocational training to become full-time employees.
The people's lives are facing significant difficulties at this major turning point.
Still, to overcome the difficulties the nation is facing, I will work together with the people: the new Cabinet will further accelerate reform and implement carefully-crafted polices to address the anxieties that the people feel in their everyday lives.
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