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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 147 (July 8, 2004)

[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile

Reform of the Social Insurance Agency

Junichiro Koizumi here.

I was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to the "Public Policy Questionnaire" in last week's e-mail magazine (Japanese version). Thank you for your cooperation and interest. All your opinions and ideas were inspiring and useful for the future.

Ranking high among everyone's concerns was the issue of pension reform. In relation to this, I have decided to appoint from the private sector Mr. Kiyoshi Murase, the vice-president of Sompo Japan Insurance Inc., to the position of Commissioner of the Social Insurance Agency, which is responsible for running the pension system.

I know him as a man of many achievements at a well-known casualty insurance company in Japan who has been constantly searching for new ideas and methods to improve service and realize effective management to meet the needs of the many policyholders. I am confident that he more than qualifies for this position and I am very pleased that such a capable person has taken on this role.

I met Mr. Murase yesterday at my office and told him to bring in as many people as are required from the private sector, asking him to be bold in his endeavors.

I have great expectations that Mr. Murase will bring his considerable skills to bear and arouse a private-sector management mindset in order to recover the trust of the people of Japan in the pension system, amid the strong concerns that are being raised on the issues of pension premium usage, nonpayment and the modality of pension consultation service.

During the deliberation of the bills on pension reform, the three parties-Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and Democratic Party of Japan-agreed to engage in consultations on advancing a comprehensive review of the entire social security system, including the issue of unifying the pension plans.

At the same time, those from economic and labor circles requested that the government advance a comprehensive review in such a way as to enable their participation in the process. The government responded to this by announcing on July 6 the members of its "Committee on Social Security Review," including representatives of economic and labor circles. Discussions are scheduled to start as early as this month.

Seriously taking on board the criticisms leveled by the people of Japan, we will immediately address such issues as the reform of the Social Insurance Agency and to initiate discussions on various issues including that of the unification of the pension plans.

Tomorrow, Mrs. Hitomi Soga will be reunited with her husband Mr. Charles Jenkins and their two daughters in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The government has been working to reunite the family at the earliest possible date. Giving full consideration to the wishes of Mrs. Soga, we will continue to seek ways for the family to be able to live together in Japan.

In June we saw an unusually high number of typhoons develop, two of which actually made landfall on Japan. Going into July, we seem to have a brief respite from the rainy season with these scorching hot days.

The economy is steadily recovering as we are finally seeing the fruits of the belt-tightening efforts of private corporations to emerge from darker times. Positive signs are now spreading to small- and medium-sized enterprises and the regions of Japan.

The buds of reform are finally emerging. The recent hot weather shall not impede me in any way as I nurture these buds of reform into a big tree.

* The title of this column "Lion Heart" is a reference to the Prime Minister's lion-like hairstyle and his unbending determination to advance structural reform.

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Prime Minister Meets with Prospective Commissioner of Social Insurance Agency (July 7, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi gave his words of encouragement to Mr. Murase, the prospective Commissioner of Social Insurance Agency.

- Awards Ceremony to Present the Prime Minister's Commendations on Contributors to Public Safety (July 1, 2004)
On National Public Safety Day, Prime Minister Koizumi commended 25 individuals and organizations who have significantly contributed to public safety.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiken Sugiura
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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