Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 225 (March 9, 2006)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
On March 2, the draft budget for FY2006 was passed by the House of Representatives, and deliberations began in the House of Councillors. With the economy at last moving along the recovery track, it is vital that the budget gets approved by the end of FY2005, at the end of this month, in order to make certain that the economy stays on the recovery course.
I attend the Budget Committee deliberations all day long starting from 9 am until 5 pm for a total of seven hours each day excluding the one hour lunch break. Nonetheless as with the deliberations in the House of Representatives, I am prepared to participate in the deliberations in the House of Councillors with a resolve to answer the questions from the Committee members earnestly and in a comprehensible manner.
Another essential item on the Diet's agenda alongside the budget is administrative reform. We can even dub it the "Diet for the Promotion of Administrative Reform." Grounded on the policy of "leave to the private sector what it can do," I will strive to reassess the government's work and realize a "simple yet efficient government" with a view to reducing the tax burden on the people.
First, in order to drastically reduce the size of the government, I have decided to reduce the number of civil servants by around 5 percent over the next five years. Although the Government had been taking measures to reduce the number of civil servants nearly every year, it was only able to reduce the number by around 0.1 percent annually at most. Indeed an annual 1 percent reduction, or 5 percent over a five-year period, is a very ambitious goal. In the past five years, the Government has achieved a net annual reduction of around 500 civil servants on average. Now the goal is to reduce six times that number, or more than 3,000 civil servants annually. Nevertheless I am resolved to work hard to achieve this goal.
I will also reform government-related financial organizations. There are several government-related financial organizations in parallel with the administrative areas of each ministry. Most of them will be integrated into one organization, and the rest will be completely privatized. When I endeavored to reform special public corporations including privatizing highway-related public corporations in 2001, there was strong opposition from even the ruling parties, saying that they would not allow even one finger to be laid on government-related financial organizations. Five years have passed since then and I am finally able to start reforming the financial organizations.
I will also aggressively promote the sale of state-owned assets. There are some housing units for civil servants in the central area of Tokyo which should be sold and there are other areas of state-owned land around the country which are not being used to the maximum efficiency. I have already instructed that concrete plans be formulated to address this situation.
I have been promoting drastic reductions in expenditures of the general account. For instance, expenditure on public works projects which stood at 14.9 trillion yen in FY1998 has been cut down to 7.2 trillion yen in FY2006. In addition to the general account, state finances also consist of special accounts, and there still remain many items that need to be reviewed regarding special account expenditures. I have decided to drastically reduce the number of special accounts over the next five years or so from the current 31 to one-half to one-third that number.
Based on the policy of leaving to the private sector what it can do, including public works and services, the Government has begun to consign work to the private sector including employment support offered by unemployment agencies and guarding the security of areas surrounding prisons. My intention is to expand the scope of work consigned to the private sector to include many more sectors.
The Government will submit a bill promoting administrative reform during the current Diet session in order for it to undertake concerted efforts towards administrative reform and to advance these efforts without regressing. I will work hard to get the bill passed at an early date and steadily advance administrative reform.
The Paralympic Games in which disabled athletes compete are set to begin tomorrow in Turin, Italy. A 90 member delegation will participate from Japan. I wish all the athletes good luck and great success.
* 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.
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