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Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.36 (June 25, 2009)

"Reassurance, vitality, and responsibility"
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Taro AsoProfile Japanese

On Tuesday this week, the Cabinet adopted the Economic and Fiscal Reform 2009 (Basic Policies 2009), which sets out important pillars and policies for the conduct of the affairs of state.

The keywords are reassurance, vitality, and responsibility. We aim to balance reassurance and vitality, while continuing to advance expenditure reforms in areas such as the elimination of waste. This reflects the essence of my strong desires.

Right now we stand at a historical and critical moment that will determine whether or not we can pass on to the next generation all of the wealth, hopes, and trust cultivated over the years. With mutual trust and support among the people, we must realize a reassuring society. Through the low-carbon revolution and the creation of a society in which the people enjoy good health and longevity, we must increase the vitality of both the people and businesses. We must ensure that responsibility is discharged for future generations.

We need economic and social reforms in order to simultaneously achieve reassurance, vitality, and responsibility.

Thus far, the government has announced four unprecedented economic countermeasures which focus on the people's daily lives. With the implementation of these countermeasures, the silver lining is finally coming into view in what used to be an all-encompassing economic downturn.

At a home appliance retail store I visited the other day, I found that sales have doubled for energy-saving televisions and refrigerators which had become eligible for eco-points.

We also presented Japan's mid- to long-term growth strategy, which shows the shape of the world's most advanced future market and the path to its realization.

Economic countermeasures are not the only thing that we need, however. Many people today have a variety of concerns.

The unraveling of systems such as pensions and medical care. The widening and reinforcement of disparities. The weakening of familial and regional bonds. These are all giving rise to the people's concerns and a sense of social stagnation.

The reassuring society that I am aiming for is a society of fairness and vitality where labor is rewarded. It is a society in which people help, care, and support each other. It is a society which offers a chance at success, regardless of family background.

In order to realize such a society, I will respond to the unraveling of social security in areas such as medical care and nursing. In addition, we must rebuild a system for securing reassurance for the first half of people's lives. Thus we need to enhance drastically support for the employment of young people and support for raising children. In other words, we need to construct a system for securing reassurance seamlessly throughout life, for all generations.

Based on this idea, I gathered together a group of experts to hold a meeting of the Council for the Realization of a Reassuring Society last week, at which I received their proposal.

The proposal describes the shape of the reassuring society we should strive for and the path toward its realization.

1) For the younger generation, we must provide education which does not reinforce the disparities present in the families they were born and raised in. I will work to establish a system to enable even children from low-income families to go to university, through the introduction of a grant-type scholarship program and other initiatives.

2) For families raising children, we must establish a society-wide mechanism to make childcare and work compatible. I will work to provide support for the economic burden of raising children, through systems such as tax reductions combined with benefits.

3) For the generation in the prime of life, it is a matter of urgency to enable individuals to keep taking up the challenge of embarking upon new steps throughout their lives, by combining long-term employment with support systems for mid-career employment, occupational training, and for workers to go to university. I will also further expand the eligibility for social and work insurances for non-regular employees.

4) For the older generation, we will aim for a society in which those in their 70s can be active and therefore an ageless society, by increasing opportunities for them to participate in labor and regional activities. In order to sustain our seriously aging society, I will promote collaboration between medical care and nursing in the regions, and tackle the issue of residential security for elderly people living alone.

I will concentrate all my efforts on the realization of these points, and pass our hopes and trust on to the next generation.

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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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