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Policy speech by the Prime Minister to the 204th session of the Diet

Over the four months since I assumed office as Prime Minister and succeeded the reins of government, I have been doing my utmost to move this country forward, squarely facing the difficulties in front of us.
 
During the course of my endeavor, I have consistently sought to bring peace of mind and hope to all of my fellow citizens.
 
1. Novel coronavirus countermeasures 

(Protecting the lives and health of the people)
 
We will protect the lives and health of the people. To restore peace of mind first and foremost, we will contain novel coronavirus infections as early as possible, which have been raging worldwide and causing a difficult situation also in Japan.
 
I express my deepest gratitude to all the healthcare professionals who are dedicating themselves to saving the patients in front of them, the public health center staff who are making every effort to prevent the spread of infections, and the nursing care providers supporting the elderly with utmost care.
 
Also, our citizens have been tremendously cooperative amidst the burdens and hardship they have had to endure in their daily lives and work. It is with sincere feeling of regret that we have no choice but to ask you to accept restrictions over your daily lives once again.
 
I have renewed my determination to overcome this hardship with the cooperation of our citizens, standing at the forefront in this fight and working together with the prefectural governors and other local authorities.
 
Recently, we have declared a state of emergency. Based on our experience of fighting against this virus for nearly a year, we are carrying out thoroughgoing measures targeting the areas that are deemed effective.
 
I myself receive daily briefings and discuss the situation with experts every day. It is believed that dining out and drinking cause many of the cases with unknown routes of transmission, which account for 60 percent of the infections in Tokyo.
 
In particular, the number of cases is rising among young people in their 30s or younger. Many of them are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. But the reality is that those young people are spreading infections without noticing it by going out or dining out and drinking.
 
It is vitally important to contain infections that are spreading through dining out and drinking. Therefore, we will ensure that dining and drinking establishments shorten their operating hours to 8 p.m. by increasing the amount of cooperation benefit to 1.8 million yen for them.
 
In addition, we will implement the following measures: reducing the number of commuters by 70 percent through teleworking; asking our citizens to refrain from going out and traveling for non-essential or non-urgent reasons, in particular after 8 p.m.; and limit the number of people attending events.
 
With these measures, we aim to contain the spread of infections and shift infections into a declining trend. By doing so, we will swiftly exit from so-called Stage IV, which the experts regard as the level of a state of emergency.
 
Furthermore, we will amend the Act on Special Measures for Pandemic Influenza and New Infectious Diseases Preparedness and Response to create provisions on penalties and assistance to make our request more effective to shorten the operating hours of dining and drinking establishments. We will advance an expeditious review of the bill and submit it to the Diet in a timely manner.
 
On top of that, vaccines will be the decisive factor in our efforts to prevent infections. We are preparing to begin administering vaccines ideally by late February at the latest, while we assess its safety and efficacy and coordinate with local authorities to ensure readiness to provide vaccinations. I will take the lead in receiving a shot of the vaccine.
 
What is important here is ensuring that necessary medical treatment is provided to those who need it. We will take all possible measures to resolutely secure an adequate delivery of medical treatment.
 
Last month, we doubled the allowance provided to doctors and nurses working at medical institutions dealing with novel coronavirus cases. We will also provide assistance of up to 19.5 million yen per bed to secure more hospital beds for novel coronavirus patients. Since the beginning of the year, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been making final arrangements to secure more than 1,000 additional hospital beds. Our funds will support expenses for outsourcing cleaning and other services, which have become a burden for frontline staff. We will also reduce the burden on public health centers by increasing the number of professionals dispatched to support them from 1,200 to 3,000.
 
We are fully prepared to send in Self-Defense Force medical teams and other personnel at any time if requested by prefectural governors.
 
 (Safeguarding livelihoods and employment)
 
Safeguarding livelihoods and employment through ensuring business continuity by all possible means is the responsibility vested in politicians.
 
Last year, we completed the disbursement of an additional 50,000 yen per single-parent household with low incomes and 30,000 yen per child for the second child and subsequent children. The Emergency Small-Amount Fund for those who are short of cash on hand has been utilized by households on a scale of 500 billion yen in total since last year. We will extend the special measure that exempts its repayment until the end of March.
 
Regarding the Employment Adjustment Subsidies, we will extend the duration of the special measure that provides 15,000 yen per day to part-time and non-permanent employees who were previously not eligible for the subsidy until the end of next month. With the declaration of the state of emergency, we will apply this to large companies as well.
 
We will make sufficient financial resources available through public and private financial institutions by providing interest-free unsecured loans while raising the limit of such loans from 40 million yen to 60 million yen and streamlining the procedures. For those who are having trouble repaying their loans, the Japan Finance Corporation and others will respond flexibly, including offering a further grace period for repayment. We will request that private financial institutions do the same.
 
The number of suicides has increased for five consecutive months compared to the previous year, especially among women. We take this situation very seriously and will strengthen our services to stay attentive to citizens’ concerns, including providing consultation services through social network services.
 
Concerning child abuse, which has reached a record number, we will increase the number of child welfare officers at child consultation centers to 5,000 and work with schools, police, and lawyers to detect child abuses early.
 
We will also provide support for the school enrollment of students in need and request companies more flexibility in recruiting new graduates. We will also continue to support the “employment ice age” generation to find a job.
 
2. Advancing Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and disaster countermeasures
 
 (Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake)

On March 11, it will be ten years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Once again, I pray for the repose of the many victims and extend my heartfelt sympathies to all those affected by the disaster.
 
We will continue our efforts of responding attentively to the needs of the affected, including psychological care. In Fukushima, which was severely impacted by the nuclear power plant accident, we will establish an international training and research center to serve as a “center of excellence for creative reconstruction.” We will also create attractive workplaces in Fukushima’s 12 municipalities affected by the nuclear disaster and support the promotion of migration to these areas.
 
We will do our utmost to achieve full-scale reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima and complete our reconstruction efforts in Tohoku.
 
 (Disaster countermeasures and building national resilience)
 
We will utilize our experiences of this disaster as a lesson and act swiftly to take all possible measures when disaster strikes, against the backdrop of natural disasters which have become more destructive, such as a series of floods occurring in the last few years and the heavy snows during this winter. We will also steadily advance our disaster prevention and mitigation efforts and build national resilience. In this regard, we will implement relevant measures that totals approximately 15 trillion yen intensively for the next five years.
 
We will protect residents’ lives through structural and non-structural measures of disaster prevention, such as increasing accuracy of heavy rain forecasts, improving retention basins and storage facilities, releasing water from dams in advance, and reviewing land use.
 
(Safe and secure livelihoods)
 
We will ensure safety and security of our peoples’ daily lives. We will amend the Anti-Stalking Act so that its offenses also include obtaining location data through GPS. We will also amend the Firearms Act to prohibit possession of crossbows and require a permit.
 
3. Bringing solutions to Japan’s longstanding challenges
 
My wish is to realize the hopes of each and every citizen. With that in mind, I will deliver solutions for the longstanding challenges of Japan.
 
Since the bubble economy burst, the following comments have been made again and again about the problems that our country faces: “Japanese companies have lost their dynamism,” “Japan has lagged behind in digitalization, and there are no industries in sight that could become new driving forces of growth.”
 
The “three arrows” of Abenomics restored the Japanese economy for the first time since the bubble economy period. Even in the post-COVID-19 era, our economy will still face many barriers in order to grow again and lead the world. We will tear down bureaucratic sectionalism, vested interests, and the practice of blindly following precedents, thus paving the way to the future. My Cabinet will provide solutions even to difficult challenges.
 
We will implement policies that raise the revenues of people living in rural areas so that they can raise their families and age well there with peace of mind. To ensure that such efforts lead to the revitalization of Japan as a whole and that the country develops continuously, we will continue deploying growth-oriented policies.
 
We will create a social security system that is assuring to everyone, including the elderly, and advance policies for children and young people who bear the future of Japan.
 
To begin with, we will create the next driving forces of growth. These will be “green” and “digital.”
 
 (Realizing a green society)
 
I have declared that Japan would realize carbon-neutrality by 2050. Environmental measures are no longer constraints on economic growth. Instead, they are the keys to transforming the industrial structure and producing robust growth by dramatically changing our economy and society, promoting investments, and enhancing productivity. To begin with, the Government will take a major step forward in environmental investment.
 
We will establish a fund of two trillion yen, an unprecedented sum, and offer tax credit of up to 10 percent, the highest level ever. Furthermore, we will accelerate the development and commercialization of leading-edge technologies by supporting companies taking on the challenge of ambitious innovations, such as next-generation solar power, low-cost storage batteries, and carbon recycling.
 
We will boldly increase the use of renewable energies, such as hydrogen and offshore wind power, and expand the capacity of transmission lines. We will use digital technology to efficiently generate electricity from dams. Moreover, we will establish a stable supply of energy by advancing our nuclear energy policy that puts safety as the highest priority. By 2035, we will achieve 100 percent of new vehicles sold to be electric.
 
We will also work on carbon-pricing that contributes to growth. We will broaden the scope of decarbonization efforts among all the stakeholders, such as by creating leading-edge decarbonized areas. We will promote the development of forests with rapid CO2 absorption cycle.
 
Capitalizing on global trends, we will stimulate the use of 240 trillion yen of cash on hand and on deposit lying dormant in private companies and attract environmental investment from abroad, which is said to amount to as much as three quadrillion yen. We will also create a framework of a financial market to this end. The realization of the Green Growth Strategy is expected to produce an annual economic impact of 190 trillion yen in 2050, while generating vast employment opportunities.
 
Japan will realize a decarbonized society ahead of the rest of the world.
 
 (Digital transformation)
 
This autumn, the agency in charge of digital transformation will commence its operation.
 
The establishment of such an agency is a symbol of reform. It will eliminate bureaucratic sectionalism and, as a control tower with powerful authority and a budget of 300 billion yen in its first fiscal year, lead the digitalization of the whole nation. We will start our reform efforts in a form of emergency efforts with a total of 1 trillion yen in scale. Towards a nationwide transition to a cloud-based system, we will advance integration and standardization of business systems used by local governments over the next five years, ensuring improvement in operational efficiency and quality of services for residents.
 
To advance the possession of My Number Social Security and Tax Number cards, we will extend by half a year the deadline for using “My Number” reward points. The use of My Number cards as a health insurance card will commence in March 2021, and we will integrate the cards with driver’s licenses within the next four years.
 
By compiling various registration data for corporations and other entities that government offices possess as a base registry for such a system, we will catalyze data utilization, which is essential for the formulation of a digitalized society.

The key to any organization is its staff. We will dynamically advance the digitalization of both the public and private sectors by considering the establishment of a digital career track in civil service recruitment, welcoming highly skilled professionals from the private sector, and promoting interchange between and among the central and local authorities and the private sector.

We will advance the digitalization of education at a stroke. We will make one digital device available for each elementary and junior high school student. 9,000 digital professionals will support this effort. Furthermore, we will swiftly introduce online education for children tailored to their preferences and developmental stages.

We will also create a system that enables citizens to complete all kinds of administrative procedures online without having to go to a government office, for instance, filing relevant change-of-address notices at one stop when they move.

By providing reliable support for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and even those who are unaccustomed to digital tools, we will create a society where everyone can fully enjoy the benefits of digital transformation.

For private-sector companies, we will support, with our tax system, corporate-wide digital investment, which covers from internal software to production, logistics, and sales.

As global competition around post-5G or 6G is getting intense, Japan aims to be a frontrunner in this field by advancing research and development across the public and private sectors and leading global rule-making on telecommunications standards.

In addition to these efforts, we will also transform the information and communication environment of everyday lives, standing from the citizens’ viewpoint.
 
As for mobile phone charges, major mobile phone operators have, one after another, announced that they would create new large data plans for roughly half the current price, bringing us to a major juncture heading towards full-fledged competition.
 
We will also amend the Copyright Act to make it possible for users to enjoy broadcast programs as unaltered online simulcasts.
 
Regarding NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), we will fundamentally enhance operational efficiency and amend the Broadcasting Act to reduce the viewers’ cost. We will allocate 70 billion yen through these efforts, equivalent to 10 percent of operating expenditures, to significantly reduce monthly fees for receiving broadcasts by over 10 percent.
 
 (Innovation)
 
The return and recovery of the Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule captivated the world. It was a historic achievement, involving several feats that were the first of their kind in the world, made possible through Japan’s advanced technologies. I wish to express my sincere respect to Dr. Tsuda and his colleagues at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for bringing dreams and hope to children and adults alike.
 
The nearly-20-year stagnation in research activities in our country is a grave state of affairs that will impact our future as a science and technology-oriented nation. We will enhance support for doctoral students and foster young researchers who will shape the future.
 
Utilizing 10 trillion yen in university funding, we will lay a foundation for raising young researchers and promote university management that is self-sufficient and produces world-class results.
 
We will actively promote innovation through such initiatives, setting a five-year target of total government R&D budget of 30 trillion yen and the total R&D expenditure by both public and private sectors of 120 trillion.
 
At Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan, we will bring together our cutting-edge technologies and present the design of future society for our lives to the world, turning the Expo into an opportunity for our country to take a quantum leap.

 (Growth of Japanese companies)
 
It has also been a longstanding challenge to create an environment where Japanese companies enter new and unexplored fields, rather than dwelling on past successes. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups in Japan grow into the drivers of future growth.
 
These SMEs account for 70 percent of employment in our country. As they face extremely severe conditions, we will continue to provide liquidity support for them. Through the Sustainability Subsidies (Subsidy Program for Sustaining Businesses) and by reviewing the practice of paying by bills, we aim to raise productivity, which will lead to higher wages. Furthermore, we will support SMEs’ efforts to grow larger and take on the challenge of entering overseas markets.
 
For minimum wages, while paying attention to its impacts on employment, we will work on its continuous increase, tying this into creating a virtuous economic cycle.
 
We will also support cross-sectoral reemployment and temporary transfers of employees to other firms, reinforce digital education and training, and promote the flow of talents into new fields.
 
By advancing corporate governance reform, we will raise the value of Japanese companies. We will encourage leading Japanese companies to ensure that at least a third of their directors are independent external directors and urge them to announce targets for appointing female, non-Japanese, and mid-career professionals to management positions.
 
 (Global financial center)
 
There has long been talk of establishing a global financial center in Japan. Our country enjoys high level of public safety and living standards together with massive potential in the form of 1.9 quadrillion yen in household financial assets. We aim to turn Japan into an attractive place for doing business, with the financial sector paving the way.
 
As for the tax system, we will exempt foreign nationals’ overseas assets from inheritance tax and apply a flat income tax rate of 20 percent on earnings from investment assets, similar to that in other major advanced countries. We will also create a special status of residence to enable foreign professionals to start doing business smoothly.
 
4. Creating flows of people to regional Japan
 
Adjusting the excessive population concentration in Tokyo and revitalizing regions other than Tokyo is another issue that has been called for over many years.
 
The four prefectures collectively referred to as “the Greater Tokyo Area” account for only 30 percent of total consumption nationwide. The other regions make up the remaining 70 percent of national consumption. Unless we can raise incomes in those regions and vitalize consumption, Japan will not regain its vigor.
 
 (Making agriculture into a growth industry)
 
Japan’s agricultural products are extremely popular overseas, particularly in Asia, and our agricultural sector has great potential. Despite the impact of the global novel coronavirus pandemic, last year’s export value for agricultural products was almost at the same level as 2019, when exports reached their highest level ever.
 
To achieve the targets of 2 trillion yen in exports by 2025 and 5 trillion yen by 2030, we have selected 27 priority products, including Japan’s world-class beef and strawberries. We have set sales targets for each market overseas and will provide support to regions that produce them. We will also improve funding mechanisms for the agricultural sector.
 
Furthermore, we will engage in reforms to transform the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries into a growth industry that leads local economies. These efforts include promoting the switch from staple rice crops to high-profit crops, advancing the forest bank initiative, and further encouraging aquaculture. We will protect the beautiful farming, mountainous and fishing villages, which are rich in nature.
 
(Tourism-oriented country)
 
Japan has a full-set of four conditions, “nature, climate, culture and food,” which attract tourists both at home and abroad. Once we overcome the novel coronavirus, we will once again aim to become a major global tourism nation.
 
Looking ahead to the future, we will advance the rebirth of hotels, ryokan, and towns through short-term, intensive measures. In approximately 100 communities around the nation, we will promote the demolition of remaining abandoned buildings and renew districts with appealing facilities.
 
The Sannomaru Shozokan (Museum of the Imperial Collections) has a collection of more than 2,000 national treasures and important cultural properties that Japan takes pride in. We will actively lease those items to prefectures outside Tokyo to form a core for cultural tourism. We will also work to further refine tourism resources not fully utilized in those prefectures, through initiatives such as overnight stays in the natural environment of national parks or accommodation in castles, temples, shrines, and traditional houses, and promote long-stay tourism and “workation.”
 
Regarding other cultural resources such as Japanese sake and shochu, we will aim to achieve their inscription on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
 
Last summer, the Upopoy National Ainu Museum and Park opened to the public. We will make this facility a catalyst of tourism development, enriching various events and programs that let visitors enjoy and appreciate the wonders of Ainu culture.
 
In Okinawa, the Nago East Road will fully open this summer, significantly improving access to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and Nakijin Castle Ruins World Heritage Site.
 
(Adjusting excessive population concentration through regulatory reform)
 
The novel coronavirus has sparked renewed and growing interest in rural Japan. For 23 years, more people were moving into Tokyo than moving out, but since the summer of last year for five consecutive months, there have been net outflows of people from Tokyo.
 
Seizing this opportunity, we will generate large flows of people from urban to rural areas, creating an environment where people can work and live in rural areas in the same way as they would in the cities.
 
By next fiscal year, optical fibers will be accessible all around the nation, including on outlying islands, and an environment for teleworking will become available nationwide. We will offer strong support to people wishing to move to rural areas by providing grants up to one million yen and reward points up to the value of one million yen for home purchase.
 
We will abolish the application of physical seals as required by government organizations almost entirely and make administrative procedures available online. We will promote reviews of procedures and regulations in the private sector. We will revise rules required for teleworking, and will encourage private companies to utilize it.
 
Regarding online medical consultations and medication instructions, we will formulate by this summer and then implement a framework for making these services permanent, including those for initial consultations and specified conditions.
 
We have launched an initiative to utilize a sovereign wealth fund to introduce experienced professionals in major corporations for local SMEs and larger companies as managerial talent. Starting with the banking sector, we will expand the scale of this initiative to 10,000 people, broadening its scope to various other sectors over the next three years.
 
We will strengthen the management base of local financial institutions that are the foundation of local economies and work with the Bank of Japan to support mergers and other initiatives.
 
Today, the hometown tax system is a vital tool for creating vibrant local communities, providing approximately 500 billion yen annually. Concerning the corporate hometown tax system, we have raised the deduction amount to 90 percent, encouraging more companies to use the system in order to advance regional revitalization.
 
5. Dealing with the declining birthrate and the future of social security
 
To pass down a Japan brimming with hope and full of vitality to future generations, we must surely hand down our world-acclaimed social security system to the next generation. It is the responsibility of our generation.
 
Under the current social security structure, benefits are provided mainly to the elderly, with working generations taking on the burden. We will review this structure itself and advance reforms towards realizing social security that are assuring to all people from children, who bear the future, to the elderly.
 
 (Childcare support)
 
For many years, Japan’s most pressing issue has been said to be the declining birthrate.
 
We will listen attentively to the voices of people who wish to marry their partners, have a baby, and raise a child, and realize each such desire.
 
Each year, approximately 57,000 children are born thanks to fertility treatments. Staying attentive to the sentiments of people who are continuing with this treatment in the hope of having a child, we will cover fertility treatments with public health insurance from April this year; men will also be eligible. Until that, we will abolish the restrictions on income under the current subsidy scheme and double the subsidy amount for the second and subsequent treatments. After the passage of the budget, we will implement these measures retroactively to January 1.
 
We should not let people feel guilty about seeking fertility treatments while fulfilling work commitments. We will support SMEs in introducing paid leave schemes for fertility treatments and work to heighten social momentum.
 
We will respond to various needs attentively, such as providing subsidies for testing up to 50,000 yen for those suffering from recurring pregnancy loss and enhancing support for young people for infertility caused by cancer treatments.
 
Concerning the issue of childcare waiting lists that has been a concern for many years, we will strive to achieve a final resolution by establishing childcare facilities for around 140,000 children over four years while considering the projected increase in the number of women in the workforce. To that end, we will fully utilize resources for childrearing, such as kindergartens and babysitters, available in local communities.
 
As burdens of childbirth and childrearing have fallen heavily and unequally on women until now, we will realize men’s proactive participation in childrearing, which should be a norm.
 
In this regard, we are calling on male national civil servants to take a minimum of one month of childcare leave. We will make it compulsory for all companies to develop a working environment where it is easy for men to take childcare leave and make it possible for those men who wish to do so to take more than one month of such leave.
 
For elementary schools nationwide, we will change the size of classes for the first time in 40 years, reducing the maximum number of students per class from 40 to 35. We will seek to understand each child in the classroom and provide a more tailored education.
 
We will make every effort towards realizing the targets set out in the Basic Plan, including the expansion of the appointment of women and the eradication of all forms of violence against women. We will work to create a society of the Reiwa era in which men and women respect each other and where all women can shine.

(Social security reforms)
 
For many years, containing the increased burden on the younger generations by making the elderly and young people support each other has been an issue. We can no longer put it off.
 
Among those who are aged 75 or over, we will increase the upfront payment of medical expenses to 20% for those who have an income that exceeds 2 million yen per year in the case of single persons. We will also introduce transitional measures to ensure that this does not lead to a sudden increase in burden for them. It will reduce the burden of health insurance premiums on the working generation by 72 billion yen in total.
 
By revising drug prices every year, 70 percent of pharmaceutical products will be subject to price cuts, resulting in a reduction of 430 billion yen in medical spending and 100 billion yen in government expenditure, making citizens feel the lightening of their burdens.
 
Starting in April, we will raise payments for services such as nursing care and welfare services for the disabled and provide support for advancing digital transformation and introducing nursing care robots. We will promote safe and secure social services by improving the benefits for care workers in the frontline and increasing productivity.
 
We have launched assistance support for people with severe disabilities working in workplace or at home. We will encourage municipalities to make further use of this service and make it available to those who need it. We will request private-sector companies to give reasonable consideration to people with disabilities. We will create a society in which people with disabilities and those suffering from intractable diseases can fully demonstrate their ability and utilize their originality in playing an active role.
 
Believing in the idea that the economy is the foundation of public finance, we will exert every effort in novel coronavirus disease control and economic recovery while continuing our reform efforts.
 
6. Diplomacy and national security
 
 (Multilateralism)
 
Japan places importance on multilateralism and aims to realize a “united world” that collectively tackles challenges facing the international community. We are determined to demonstrate leadership in creating a post-COVID-19 international order.
 
Japan will announce an ambitious 2030 target by COP26 and deepen collaboration with other countries to promote global decarbonization.
 
We will accelerate rulemaking for “Data Free Flow with Trust” in the digital age and promote the reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
 
The progress of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the entry into force of the Japan-UK Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement have contributed to the establishment of a free and fair economic order. As this year’s chair of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Commission, Japan will lead the discussions for the steady implementation and expansion of the TPP.
 
 (Japan-U.S. Alliance and a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”)
The Japan-U.S. Alliance is the linchpin of Japan’s foreign policy and security and also forms the foundation of freedom, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the international community. I intend to meet with President-elect Biden at an early date to further strengthen the solidarity between Japan and the United States. We will closely cooperate on common challenges, such as the novel coronavirus and climate change.
 
At the same time, we will continue to work to mitigate the impact of U.S. Forces on Okinawa while maintaining the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. Alliance by faithfully listening to people in Okinawa. We will advance the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to off the coast of Henoko to achieve the total return of MCAS Futenma as early as possible.
 
Establishing a free and open order based on the rule of law is extremely important in the Indo-Pacific region, which is the hub of the dynamism of the world. While deepening cooperation with the United States, ASEAN, Australia, India, and Europe, we will work together with more countries and regions to achieve a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
 
 (National defense and economic security)
 
Amidst the increasingly severe security environment, defending Japan’s territory, territorial waters and airspace as well as Japanese nationals’ lives and peaceful livelihoods to the end is our most important mission. To deal with missile threats, the Government will continue its deliberation on the enhancement of deterrence while procuring Aegis system-equipped vessels.
 
The Government will work as one to ensure economic security. We will enact new laws to prevent the inappropriate ownership and use of national land, including defense facilities and remote border islands that are important for national security.
 
 (Diplomacy with neighbors)
 
Concerning the abductions issue, which is a top priority for my administration, I will make utmost efforts to take the lead and collaborate closely with the United States and other countries concerned. My determination to meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un without any conditions has not changed. Japan seeks to normalize its relations with North Korea, through comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern, such as the abductions, nuclear and missile issues, and settling the unfortunate past in accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration.
 
A stable Japan-China relationship is important not only for the two countries but also for the region and the international community. While there are outstanding issues of concern between our two countries, Japan will continue to firmly maintain its position as necessary on occasions of high level contacts and strongly urge China to take concrete actions. On this basis, Japan will work together with China to resolve common challenges.
 
We must put an end to the Northern Territories issue, without leaving it to the next generation. The exchanges at the summit meeting in Singapore in 2018 have been carried over to my administration, and I will advance negotiations following the agreements between our two countries. I intend to develop the overall relationship between Japan and Russia, including the issue of concluding a peace treaty.
 
ASEAN is a strategic partner and an invaluable friend for Japan. For these reasons, I chose Vietnam and Indonesia as my first overseas destinations after assuming the office. I will further promote cooperation with ASEAN towards achieving a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
 
The Republic of Korea (ROK) is an important neighboring country. The bilateral relationship between Japan and the ROK is currently in an extremely difficult situation. In order to restore sound relations, we strongly urge the ROK, based on Japan’s principled positions, to take appropriate actions.
 
7. Conclusion
 
The Constitution lays out the foundation of our nation, and it is the people, with whom sovereign power resides, who will ultimately decide the ideal form of the Constitution. I expect politicians to squarely face the responsibilities entrusted to them by the people and deepen discussions across party lines in the fora of the Commissions on the Constitution, leading to a national debate.
 
Regarding the issues relating to a stable Imperial succession, the Government will respect the supplementary resolution passed by the committees in both houses of the Diet and address these issues.
 
As for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, I would like to make these occasions to be proof that humanity has defeated the novel coronavirus, and also an opportunity to show to the world Japan’s reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. With our determination to ensure thorough countermeasures against infections and realize the Games that give hope and courage to the entire world, we will proceed with the preparations.
 
First and foremost, we will make every effort to contain infections as soon as possible to bring back people’s daily lives with a peace of mind and restore the bustle of town streets.
 
To create hope for the future, over the past four months, I have sought answers to the challenges we have faced for many years. While presenting a concrete vision of our nation’s future, I will work with a sense of urgency to materialize it.
 
We will bring about a society filled with a peace of mind and hope, where each individual can maximize his or her potential and supports and helps each other.
 
To achieve such a society, the politicians entrusted by the people and sent to the Diet need the people’s trust. I feel very sorry and would like to apologize once again that there were some factual errors in my responses to the Diet concerning the dinner on the night before the Cherry Blossom Viewing Party.
 
When I was first elected to the House of Representatives at the age of 47, then Chief Cabinet Secretary KAJIYAMA Seiroku, who had been my mentor for some time, gave me two pieces of advice, which I have kept as my credo since then.
 
The first piece of advice was this: you became a politician in such a difficult time, where the population would shrink with the declining birthrate and aging population, and the economy would face deflation. Against this backdrop, policies that require the people to bear burdens will be necessary. You need to explain the necessity of these policies to the people and gain their understanding.
 
The second piece of advice was that Japan had achieved economic growth to its current status from the post-war devastation thanks to the people’s efforts and through policies. But Japan will soon face a critical moment as a resource-scarce nation. It will be your duty to create the means for the people to make a living.
 
With these words of advice in my heart, I will do everything in my capacity, leading “the Cabinet that works for the people.” 
 
Thank you for your kind attention.

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