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Editorial: Abe should properly deal with many tasks at home and abroad in 2020

  • January 7, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 7:25 p.m.
  • English Press

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a New Year’s press conference in Ise, Mie Prefecture. He must produce results by dealing appropriately with the challenges Japan faces in the domains of domestic and foreign affairs.

 

On reform of the social security system, Abe said: “We will reform the system to become one in which all generations can enjoy peace of mind. This is the biggest challenge for this year.”

 

In response to the serious situation of a low birthrate and aging population, enhancing the sustainability of the social security system is crucial. It is inevitable for the system to be reconsidered so as to rectify the disproportionate amount of funds going to pension benefits for elderly people, and to hold down the increase in burdens on working generations.

 

The government will submit to the ordinary Diet session a bill designed to expand coverage by employees’ pension programs to include part-time workers and the like. Non-regular workers experience worry about their likelihood of receiving only low levels of pension benefits, or no benefits at all, in the future. It would be significant to mitigate such worry by making them eligible to subscribe to the employees’ pension programs.

 

There is also a related bill designed to encourage businesses to provide job opportunities for workers up to the age of 70. Such measures aimed at increasing those who support social security programs appear reasonable. The government and the ruling parties must strive to pass these bills as soon as possible.

 

Regarding discussion on amending the Constitution, Abe said, “We would like to accelerate the drafting of a plan for amendments.” Both the ruling and opposition parties should hold meetings of the commissions on the Constitution in both houses of the Diet swiftly and start substantive discussion on the top law.

 

Abe emphasized his policy of aiming to hold the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games smoothly. But any such global event is likely to become a target of terrorism or cyber-attacks. The government and private companies need to cooperate in adopting foolproof measures.

 

The present Japan-U.S. Security Treaty will soon be 60 years old. Abe stressed, “The Japan-U.S. alliance is still the foundation for Japan’s diplomacy and security policies.”

 

The Japan-U.S. special agreement on shouldering expense related to the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan will expire next year. There is speculation that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump will ask Japan to assume more burdens at the revision talks slated to be held this year.

 

With Japan providing the United States with bases in this country, the United States is able to maintain an advantageous position in terms of security in Asia and the Pacific region. The United States may be enjoying economic benefits, as well. It is important for the government to thoroughly highlight these facts to the U.S. side.

 

The closest attention needs to be paid to the situation in the Middle East, where tensions are escalating, with conflict between the United States and Iran intensifying.

 

Japan depends on the Middle East for about 90 percent of its crude oil imports. Should the situation worsen and reduce the flow of imported oil, the economy will suffer immeasurable harm. Abe said, “Japan will make diplomatic efforts to ease the tensions.”

 

The government will dispatch Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel to the Middle East. Deploying a destroyer and other vessels, the MSDF will conduct information-gathering operations in the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian Sea and elsewhere.

 

It is only natural for Japan to contribute to ensuring safe sea-lanes in the region. The MSDF should form a clear view of the local situation there and strive to conduct operations smoothly.

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