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Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.42 (August 6, 2009)

"Let us seriously consider the future of Japan"
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Taro AsoProfile Japanese

Since dissolving the House of Representatives on July 21, I have visited many places across the country and heard firsthand the stern voices of the people.

Although structural reforms that the government has advanced in recent years have produced certain results, excessive market fundamentalism has enlarged disparities in income and among regions, placing a strain on weaker individuals and creating burnt out regions.

Reflecting humbly on this situation, I will break from excessive market fundamentalism. I will reform what needs to be reformed and safeguard the daily lives of the Japanese people.

From the readers of this e-mail magazine as well, we receive many opinions urging the government to strengthen efforts to ensure a reliable social security system for medical care, pensions, and nursing care, as well as expressing expectations for economic recovery.

Since assuming the office of Prime Minister, I have dedicated myself to the single area of economic countermeasures. In an extremely unusual situation, we have drawn up four budgets in six months.

These budgets are for countermeasures against cash-flow problems faced by micro-, and small- and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs), the fixed-sum stipend, and a new highway toll structure of a maximum of 1,000 yen on weekends and holidays, among other initiatives. Placing importance on employment and people's daily lives, we are partially covering the cost of wages for companies that do not fire employees. We will support the living expenses of unemployed people and members of single parent families while they undergo job training, and we have made maternity check-ups free-of-charge.

Data shows that bright signs are finally beginning to appear bit by bit in the Japanese economy. However, we have not yet reached the stage where this can truly be felt in people's daily lives. We are still not there, in particular with regard to SMEs, the regions, and employment. The economy has only reached half-way point on the road to recovery. We must, by all means, make this a full-fledged recovery. The economy must take highest priority. I will without fail revive the Japanese economy.

I will bring about a society which provides peace of mind to its members. It is a society which will give dreams to children, hope to the young, and peace of mind to the elderly. In order to support families raising children, we will provide all education for children aged three to five free of cost. We will also improve working conditions for non-regular employees such as people employed part-time.

However, funding will be necessary to provide social security that gives peace of mind to the public. Once the economy recovers, we will appeal to the public to accept a fundamental reform of the tax system, including a rise in the consumption tax rate, to cover these costs of social security and of countering the low birthrate. Not a penny of the consumption tax will be used for the expenses of government officials.

As a precondition for asking the people to shoulder this burden, we must of course thoroughly eliminate governmental waste. The government has taken stock of policies in this fiscal year's budget and reduced expenditure by close to 1 trillion yen.

The government is also undertaking measures to reduce the number of civil servants by around 19,000 in five years from fiscal 2006. Amakudari/watari [the practice of civil servants obtaining posts in related organizations after retirement from public service/hopping from one such job to another] will be completely eradicated. I will not tolerate providing privileges to bureaucrats.

Furthermore, it is necessary to not only address the immediate crises and issues, but also have a mid- to long-term growth strategy to restore Japan to a nation of peace of mind and vitality.

First, it is important to enlarge the economic pie through economic growth. We will make focused investment in the three strategic areas of the low-carbon emission revolution, a healthy and long-lived society, and promotion of the attractiveness of Japan, and will boldly advance institutional reform in these areas.

Solar power generation will be increased to 20 times of current levels by 2020 according to the Plan to be the Number One Solar Power Nation in the World. We will also carry out the Plan to Make Eco-cars Widespread Faster than in any Other Country in the World to ensure that every other new car will be an eco-car.

Through these efforts, we will create demand ranging from 40 to 60 trillion yen in three years in the immediate term, creating employment for 1.4 to 2.0 million people.

It is important for he who is responsible for Japan and the daily lives of the people to make clear the path that will turn our dreams and ideals into reality.

When we look at the current state of Japan and the world, that path is not simple. Together with the people, I will seriously focus on the future of Japan, drive forward concrete policies, and fulfill my responsibility.

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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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