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Hatoyama Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 8 (November 27, 2009)

Yukio Hatoyama's "Yu-Ai" -- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister HatoyamaProfile Japanese

"Farewell to the fetters of the past"

The other day, we stopped the execution of approximately three trillion yen from the supplementary budget adopted under the previous government, because the funds were either wasteful, unnecessary, or lacking in urgency. Since November 11, we have been moving forward aggressively with the scrutinizing of public projects under the guidance of the Government Revitalization Unit, aiming to thoroughly eliminate waste in the government's budget for the next fiscal year. Scrutinizing of public projects is the sorting of projects to determine whether they really need to be implemented by the national government, whether they are better off left to the regional governments or the private sector to execute, or whether they are unnecessary. I visited the venue for the scrutiny operations and observed the actual exchanges.

In this scrutinizing of public projects, three working groups each took an hour to discuss each single project. We had received comments that questioned how much scrutiny would be possible in just an hour, whether the discussions were not based on preconceived conclusions.

However, what I saw with my own eyes were bracing discussions proceeding apace. Both sides were engaged in vigorous debate, instilling in me the sense that the examination was indeed thoroughgoing. I strongly felt the intensity, where both sides were working on behalf of the people of Japan. Significantly, many members of the general public are at the venue, eagerly listening to the debate as observers, so both questioners and responders are battling with the utmost seriousness. When I saw more than a hundred people waiting outside the conference room because they wanted to listen but could not get in, I felt sorry for them; but at the same time, the reality of the extent to which the people had been waiting for politics that is opened to the people hit me.

Needless to say, the national government started the projects being reviewed in the scrutinizing of public projects under the Government Revitalization Unit because it thought they were necessary. Therefore it is natural that if you only look at the titles of the projects, none of them can be easily dispensed with as being "unnecessary."

While I was there observing, the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers project came under examination. Few people would dismiss this project as being completely unnecessary. There are many young people who have done impressive work overseas. However, is there really no waste? Are the costs incurred per individual appropriate? Heated debate ensued. I learned that the conclusion was "reduction." Indeed, I do believe that it is necessary to examine this project from every angle, so that it can be called a cooperation project that brings together young people who are truly suited to the undertaking.

Taking projects one by one and determining unsparingly, with the participation of people from the private sector, whether each one is being implemented without waste for the benefit of the people, and whether the cost is appropriate, is in my view the right thing to do. It is tax money, precious money entrusted by the people of Japan, so it is necessary to choose with utmost care only those projects and policies that everyone will consider to be truly necessary.

We must bid farewell to longstanding fetters of the past and scrub away the government grime.

Stop, once and for all, projects that have no hope of succeeding, review institutional cultures and contract procedures with a view to enhancing efficiency, demand the return of funds wastefully amassed in legal entities into which public servants descend upon retirement -- there are so many things that must be done.

From here on, we will eliminate waste by extending the results of the scrutinizing of public projects to similar projects, and move forward with the formulation of the budget for the next fiscal year.

Next week is the beginning of December. Please take care, everyone, as the cold deepens and novel influenza A (H1N1) continues to manifest itself nationwide.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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