Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 148 (July 15, 2004)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
The election for the House of Councillors held on Sunday, July 11, resulted in a reduction of two seats for the Liberal Democratic Party. However, the ruling parties secured an overall total of 60 seats, which was sufficient to retain the majority in all parliamentary committees of the House of Councillors.
Amidst strong criticisms on the issues of pension reform, Iraq and others, I take this outcome whereby the ruling and opposition parties attained almost an identical number of seats in the House of Councillors to have been the voices of the people of Japan calling for the government to steadfastly advance structural reform, while at the same time taking into account the opinions of the opposition parties. With this in mind, I will further devote myself to efforts to promote reform.
On the pension issue, the three parties of the Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan agreed that both ruling and opposition parties would cooperate in consultations to review comprehensively the social security system as a whole, including the pension issue. I am seeking to initiate such consultations as soon as possible.
The government itself will institute a consultative body in July that will be charged with discussing the pension issue, which will benefit from the participation of representatives from labor and economic circles, experts and responsible ministers.
I have received many e-mails with complaints about the Social Insurance Agency, including that "The personnel there only saw me for five minutes after I had waited for three hours," "It is ridiculous that the reception window is closed during lunch hours when it should be open, as it is within their official business hours," "There is no excuse for them using pension premiums in a wasteful manner, this should not be permitted." With the valuable assistance of designated Commissioner Kiyoshi Murase who has a wealth of experience in the private sector, we will proceed swiftly with reform of the Social Insurance Agency.
By reforming what needs to be reformed, making changes where needed and conducting as much debate as is necessary, I hope to establish a pension system that allows all people to lead a life free from worry at all times.
Next week, I will go to Cheju Island in the Republic of Korea to have talks with President Roh Moo Hyun in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. Against such a backdrop, I am seeking to further develop our friendly relations. I also plan to discuss the issue of North Korea with President Roh.
The summer has finally arrived.
In September the government will compile a specific plan for the privatization of postal services. The decision to privatize the postal services has already been taken. With intensive discussions taking place at the meetings of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy over the summer, I will compile a well-rounded and improved plan while asking for cooperation from all of you.
Seriously taking on board your opinions, I will steadfastly continue with structural reforms.
* 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.
- Japan-State of Kuwait Summit Meeting (July 13, 2004)
- Prime Minister Koizumi meets with Prospective President of the
Okinawa Graduate School of Science and Technology (July 13, 2004)
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