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Hatoyama Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 17 (February 5, 2010)

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

Prime Minister HatoyamaProfile Japanese

"A new public commons"

It is extremely regrettable that an incumbent member of the House of Representatives from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was indicted today and I am very sorry for this.

I myself will strive to make politicians straighten up on their own and to conduct an open debate on the nature of political funding, so as to make it more transparent and trustworthy from the public perspective.

In the policy speech I delivered last week, I presented a goal that Japan should aim for; namely, the idea of a Japan sustained by "a new public commons."

Today, citizens and non-profit organizations (NPOs) are actively striving to resolve everyday issues like those relating to education, child-rearing, community-building, nursing care, and social welfare. People working together, for each other and for the sake of society -- I call this "a new public commons." I would like to establish a society in which public affairs are shouldered by not only the public sector, but communities, NPOs, and others as well.

The other day, I attended the Memorial Ceremony to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. As I offered my condolences, I felt that perhaps it was from that terrible disaster that "a new public commons" had emerged.

While the rescue efforts of the police, fire services, and the Self- Defense Forces continued, ordinary citizens, trying to rebuild the city from the ashes, gave encouragement to family members and neighbors and worked to rebuild the city even as they themselves struggled to cope with the hardships of life in evacuation facilities. Volunteers shouldered rucksacks and rushed to help from all over the country. Assistance came in from around the world as well.

Donations of equipment and financial help flooded in from every corner of Japan from companies and individuals alike to help with the recovery. Everyone worked together -- for the sake of society.

For the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti as well, aid poured in from all over the world.

I have always believed that supporting and being of service to people is itself a source of joy and gives purpose in life.

Up until now, there has been a socially-accepted notion in Japan that public affairs are something for which the bureaucracy assumes responsibility. However, I think that even for projects in the public sector, we can make more people satisfied and achieve more happiness by cooperating with the private sector.

Prior to giving my policy speech, I established the New Public Commons Roundtable in order to better shape "a new public commons," the new shape that Japanese society should take, gathering people from all circles, including representatives of companies and NPOs as well as academic experts.

At the meeting, I received many opinions such as, "We must change the ways of thinking and systems in the administration, identifying work that private-sector entities can handle better than the bureaucracy and letting the private sector take on these projects, instead of allocating work from the standpoint of the bureaucracy's convenience"; "Companies too have a social and public purpose and it is important that this is always considered in business management"; and "We should support more strongly citizens who have a sense of societal involvement."

Through this meeting, we will deepen dialogue with the aim of sharing the thinking behind a "new public commons" more broadly. We will produce, by around May, concrete proposals on social systems for opening to the public areas which were previously monopolized by the bureaucracy and for broadening the players which support this "new public commons."

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General Editor: Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yorihisa Matsuno
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
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