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Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.11 (December 18, 2008)

"Emergency measures to defend people's daily lives"
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Taro AsoProfile Japanese

Last Friday, I announced "emergency measures to defend people's daily lives."

The United States' financial crisis has begun to affect the real economy of countries around the world at an abnormal pace. So far, the government has taken countermeasures in the form of the first supplementary budget of fiscal 2008 and subsequent "measures to counter difficulties in people's daily lives." Yet, the economy has been worsening at unexpected speed.

The government, for its part, shall make all possible efforts to remove the public's anxiousness over daily life, and enable Japan to be the first, at least among developed countries, to put this recession behind it. Employment and the cash-flow of companies will be given top priority, so as to defend people's daily lives as we approach the end of the calendar year.

We must first move quickly to save employment. In particular, what must be addressed in all haste before the end of the calendar year is housing for people forced out of company housing who are without any place to live as a result of being laid off or else not having their fixed-term contracts renewed.

On Monday of this week, the government started to offer services at "Hello Work" employment security offices to help people find accommodation in the 13,000 employment-promotion housing units around the country, in addition to providing employment placement services. The procedures have been simplified, making it possible for people to move in on the same day, even. Inquiries about meeting the cost to enter new housing are being handled.

In addition, as countermeasures against the cancellation of tentative job offers, the government will give thorough guidance, including by announcing the names of companies which have made such cancellations.

The government has allocated sufficient funds for emergency credit guarantees and safety-net loans by government-affiliated financial institutions to ensure the cash-flow of micro-sized companies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as we approach the end of the calendar year. In addition, the maximum level of the government's total equity participation in financial institutions will be increased by 10 trillion yen to 12 trillion, based on the Amended Act on Special Measures for Strengthening Financial Functions that was passed recently.

As a result, it will further foster an environment in which financial institutions can provide finance to regional economies and SMEs so that a credit contraction and forced loan repayments do not occur.

In order to carry out these countermeasures, the second supplementary budget of fiscal 2008 and related legislation, tax reforms, as well as the regular fiscal 2009 budget all need to be passed at an early date and implemented seamlessly.

Therefore, although exceptional, I am going to convene the regular session of the Diet on 5 January in order to have deliberations conducted on these matters.

Mr. Ozawa, President of the Democratic Party of Japan, promised at the recent debate between party leaders as elsewhere that he would cooperate in the deliberations so as to reach an early conclusion. I hereby request that he cooperate on the passing of these budgets and related legislation as soon as possible.

In order to carry out measures in a bold manner, fiscal responsibility over the mid-term also has to be shown clearly. And because the state of fiscal responsibility is demonstrated, bold fiscal outlays become possible. This is the very starting point and the sense of pride of responsible political parties.

Recently I said that I should like to ask for a rise in the consumption tax rate in three years' time, after bold administrative reforms have been implemented and taking into account the economic situation at that point. My position on this remains totally unchanged.

I am aware that various criticisms will emerge. Notwithstanding, as responsible political parties, we are fully prepared to pursue the goal of enhancing the assurance provided by social security without evading the challenge and by being honest.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Taro Aso
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jun Matsumoto
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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