As a result of the latest general election, I once again have been given the honor of bearing the heavy responsibility of steering this nation, as the 101st Prime Minister of Japan.
Having received a vote of confidence from the people, I will take on the extremely difficult challenges of overcoming COVID-19 and carving out a new era, together with my fellow members of the Diet and my fellow citizens.
I will aim to create a society that values diversity, where all people–the young, the elderly, persons with disabilities, men, women–are able to feel their purpose in life.
I will advance carefully designed and tolerant politics which will be able to earn trust and sympathy, and I am fully determined to stand at the fore in undertaking this great challenge.
Let us all cooperate to overcome this national crisis, and then, beyond that, create a new era.
2. Overcoming COVID-19; economic countermeasures for pioneering a new era
There is a proverb that says, “To go to a faraway place, you must depart from a nearby place.”
That is to say, when making great progress in something, the order in which you proceed is important.
Thanks to the effects of vaccination, which we have advanced with a sense of speed, Japan’s current state of COVID-19 infections is holding at a low, steady level.
However, even where vaccinations have made great inroads, in Europe at present, some countries are now recording numbers of cases that are higher than ever before. There is also a risk in the newly reported Omicron strain being confirmed in a large number of countries.
The important thing is to assume the worst-case scenario.
In order to respond to the risk of the Omicron strain, we have taken the decision to suspend the entry of foreign nationals, applicable to the entire world.
I am prepared to bear all the criticism that, although the situation is still not well understood, this is excessively cautious. It is my understanding that the trust I have received from the public was given to me for pressing forward in my job duties with this sense of determination, and I will do my very best.
Regarding COVID-19, we adhere to the position that we will respond in a careful, cautious manner. The number of new infections has indeed been low, but I made the decision to prepare for a spread of infections, and we have injected government funds at a scale of 13 trillion yen, including reserve funds for COVID-19.
“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”
Those are the words of the 35th president of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy.
At the same time, we must bring the Japanese economy to a recovery trajectory at the earliest possible date. We will provide careful assistance at a scale of 17 trillion yen to individuals and business operators who are in severely trying situations because of COVID-19.
That said, the world is changing dramatically in terms of digitalization and responses to the issue of climate change. We have injected government funds at a scale of 20 trillion yen, and Japan will take a major step forward towards carving out a new era.
On the basis of this clear idea, we have named these large-scale measures at 55.7 trillion yen in total size the “economic measures to overcome COVID-19 and pioneer a new era.”
We will, without hesitation, undertake the government spending necessary to respond to the crisis and take all possible measures. This public finance is the result of economic activity, and we must not get that out of order.
We will thoroughly rebuild the economy. We will also work to put public finances on a sound footing.
3. Responses to COVID-19
We recently laid out our overall vision of our responses to COVID-19.
I am determined to restore peace of mind to the public and protect the lives and health of our citizens to the end, no matter what, by taking concrete actions.
First, we will ensure that our medical treatment structure is solidly in place, with the next increase in the number of cases firmly in mind. Even if the virus were to double its degree of infectivity compared to this past summer and the number of infections surpassed that of the fifth wave, we will be able to respond in an orderly manner thanks to a system that makes the state of available beds easily viewable, to determine the number of beds that have been thoroughly secured and also the occupancy data for beds at each individual hospital, alongside strengthened cooperation that makes full use of related systems.
We will make requests of public hospitals based in law and move forward in transitioning beds over to hospital beds designated for COVID-19 cases. We will clearly indicate the names of individual hospitals and secure new beds. Prefectural governments and medical institutions will clarify in writing that in times of emergency the institutions will accept hospitalizations without fail.
Through these efforts, we have already set in place a system that is able to accept hospitalizations of roughly 37,000 people, which is a 30 percent, or 10,000-person, increase over the situation this past summer.
Second, we will lower the threat of COVID-19 to the greatest possible extent as society as a whole. We will fundamentally strengthen the entire course of progression from prophylaxis and discovery to early treatment by making vaccines, screening, and orally administered therapeutics much more widespread.
Regarding vaccines, we have started administering the third dose, beginning with health care workers. We had been in principle administering the vaccines in order to those whose second dose was given more than eight months ago, but from the viewpoint of taking all possible measures to prevent the spread of infections, we will accelerate the schedule as much as possible such that the vaccination can be given without waiting eight months, according to priority, making use of the Moderna vaccine, which is to receive additional approval, after identifying to some degree the effects of existing vaccines on the Omicron strain.
We will fundamentally expand the screening that can be undertaken free of charge. Having allocated 320 billion yen to this, we will make it possible to undergo screening without charge for those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons and, at times when infections are spreading, even for those who are asymptomatic.
We aim to have orally administered therapeutics, our trump card going forward, receive pharmaceutical approval by the end of this calendar year. We have already secured 1.6 million doses. Once pharmaceutical approval is granted, we will quickly deliver the therapeutic to medical treatment facilities.
The third is preparing a long-running system for responding to infectious disease crises.
In the current infectious disease emergency, we used vaccines manufactured overseas, but in order to prepare for the next infectious disease crisis, including different strains, we will make investments at a scale of 500 billion yen into domestically produced vaccines and in the development of therapeutic drugs and their production through dual use.
We will prepare our domestic legal structure so that the national government is able to take the lead in responding to infectious disease crises, and also so that the national and local governments strengthen their cooperation, and that swift pharmaceutical approval becomes possible during emergencies, premised on safety being confirmed.
Moreover, we will comprehensively examine the responses to COVID-19 that we have taken thus far. Beyond that, by next June, we will compile measures to fundamentally strengthen our systems, including a strengthening of the control tower function, so that during infectious disease crises and other health crises we respond swiftly and accurately.
4. Support for economic recovery
It will take a little more time to restore economic activities to close to their normal levels.
Until then, through my resolute determination, we will support the daily lives of those who are facing hard times because of COVID-19 and fully protect business continuity as well as employment.
As I have been saying for some time, we will support through subsidies households that are in difficult economic straits, university students in severe economic circumstances, and households raising children. For those facing particular financial hardship in their daily lives, we will prepare a variety of options, including the expansion of self-reliance support funds for people facing financial difficulties. We will invest funds at a scale of 7 trillion yen in total.
For business operators, we will vigorously support measures for business revival through grants at a scale of 2.8 trillion yen.
Based on a policy of loosening restrictions on activities through the use of vaccines and testing as a package, we will work to restart socioeconomic activities that are close to normal.
We will also move forward in preparing measures to stimulate consumption in a way that is safe and keeps our minds at ease, such as our new “Go To” campaigns.
However, as we resume economic and social activities, we must be cautious in determining the state of affairs, and by no means merely assume optimism. Should infections start spreading again, we will respond in an agile way, including through a strengthening of restrictions on activities, while conscientiously requesting the understanding of the public.
5. A “new form of capitalism” that carves out our future society
What I aim for once we have overcome the crisis caused by COVID-19 is the realization of a “new form of capitalism.”
The capitalism that humankind has created has given rise to efficiency, entrepreneurship, and vitality and has brought about long-standing global economic prosperity.
However, since the 1980s, the neoliberal approach that all will be well if only we leave everything to the markets and to competition, has become the mainstream globally. On the one hand, this became a driving force for world economic growth, while on the other, it resulted in numerous harmful effects.
Disparities and poverty expanded because of overreliance on markets, while the issue of climate change became more serious as too much of a burden was placed on the natural environment.
Such problems cannot be neglected any more. Seeking out a new model for capitalism is now underway around the world in order to correct the harmful effects and grow even more vigorously, with “Build back better” in the United States and “NextGenerationEU” in Europe as examples.
Japan too will bring concrete shape to a new form of capitalism that realizes both growth and distribution. We will take the lead in tackling the challenges facing the world and this era.
Japan can certainly do it. Or more accurately, it’s doable precisely because it’s Japan doing it.
Japan has a history from ancient times of fostering traditions and culture that value collaboration and bonds between people, and of cultivating – a mindset of “three-way satisfaction” – a pursuit of business which is good for the seller, the buyer, and society – that is to say, good for everyone. That is precisely why we are able to create a capitalism in which people are evaluated and rewarded appropriately, which is warm-hearted to people.
My fellow legislators, through the Meiji Restoration and our post-war rapid growth, Japan has made miracles come true many times. In this new form of capitalism too, a historic challenge arising once every few generations, let us show the latent power Japan holds.
6. Growth under the new form of capitalism
The first point is our Growth Strategy. The public and private sectors will together play their roles and collaborate in making bold investments for growth.
We will promote innovations achieved through science and technology and increase the economy’s ability to create added value.
We will dramatically strengthen the ecosystem surrounding start-ups, such as by reviewing the rules for becoming listed on an exchange, so that start-ups that have achieved listing are able to grow further.
We will also actively undertake university reform.
We will establish a university fund of 10 trillion yen within this fiscal year and press on with separating research and administration duties so that the researchers who are the drivers of innovation are able to devote themselves exclusively to their research, rather than university administration tasks.
We will endeavor to reorganize our undergraduate and graduate schools at universities in order to strengthen the fostering of human resources in scientific and technological fields, which drive growth. Moreover, we will work to create university-launched ventures in cooperation with small- and medium-sized enterprises in local communities.
(2) A Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation
It is the areas outside our major urban centers that will have the leading roles in our new form of capitalism.
We will invest 4.4 trillion yen and leverage the power of digitalization to resolve the issues facing our local areas, such as decreasing populations, aging societies, and the hollowing out of industries.
Through the Council for a Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation Realization, we will promote a “Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation.” This vision will use digitalization to advance the revitalization of local areas and additionally bring about bottom-up growth, moving from our regions to the nation as a whole.
We will complete a “Digital Garden City Superhighway” surrounding Japan in roughly three years, using underwater cables. By bringing together large-scale data centers established in each local area, optical fiber, and 5G, we will make it possible to use high-speed, large-capacity digital services anywhere in Japan, coast to coast.
Building atop the world’s most advanced digital infrastructure, we will implement automated deliveries, drone home deliveries, telemedicine, education, disaster prevention, remote work, smart agriculture, and other services.
We will further strengthen the functions of the Digital Agency, our control tower that advances digitalization and digital transformation.
A blueprint for digitalized social changes will be drawn up by the Digital Extraordinary Administrative Advisory Committee. First, they will decide on digitalization principles for relevant ministries and agencies to comply with. Under that framework, next spring, the committee will compile a plan for pressing forward with regulations and systems as well as a cross-sectional review of government administration, all in one push.
Social Security and Tax Number System (Individual Number) cards, commonly called “My Number” cards, are a passport to a digitalized society that is safe and lets people feel at ease. These cards are the most critical piece of infrastructure for advancing the digitalization of society overall.
We will improve convenience by advancing the unification of one’s “My Number” card, health insurance card, and driver’s license into a single card; by promoting, for those wishing to do so, the registration of an account for receiving monetary transfers from the government; and by equipping smart phones with functions for confirming the owner’s identity.
Moreover, beginning December 20, through the use of these “My Number” cards, it will be possible to receive a certificate of vaccination that can be used domestically or internationally via a smart phone.
We will advance these measures and enable everyone in the public to feel the benefits of a digitalized society in a tangible way.
(3) The issue of climate change
The issue of climate change is a challenge shared in common by all humankind. We will undertake a major transition that transforms this social issue into growth fields leading to new markets.
As we work towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and realizing 46 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, we will review restrictions on the maximum introduction of renewable energy while pushing forward with bold investments in the field of clean energy.
In order to realize these targets, it will be necessary for us to electrify all manner of fields throughout society. We will move forward in investments such as an upgrading of the power grid, which lies at the heart of this issue, and the introduction and expanded use of storage batteries.
As we work towards converting thermal power to zero-emission generation, we will press ahead in transitioning to thermal power based on ammonia and hydrogen. And, making use of that technology and infrastructure, we will contribute to decarbonization by other countries in Asia.
We will forge our clean energy strategy by grasping both the supply and the demand sides in an integrated manner, including innovations and capital investments not only in energy supply but also on the demand side.
(4) Economic security
With countries around the world engaging in fierce competition to secure strategic goods and acquire key technologies, economic security is a matter of great urgency. Under the Council for the Promotion of Economic Security, we will face the issues of this new era through approaches that cut across ministerial lines.
With a view to further enhancing the resilience of the supply chain and better ensuring the reliability of core infrastructure, we will aim to submit new bills to next year’s ordinary session of the Diet, based on consultations with the ruling coalition.
We will also submit to the current Diet session a bill to promote having semiconductor factories located in Japan.
The Government will establish a fund which will grow to become at a scale of 500 billion yen and use it to support investments in research and development in fields essential for the future of the globe, such as artificial intelligence, quantum science and technology, life sciences, space, and oceans.
Through these efforts, we will establish Japan’s economic security, and at the same time call in private-sector investment into these fields, thereby realizing economic growth.
7. Distribution under the new form of capitalism
Distributions to people are not a cost, but rather an investment towards the future.
Through the public and private sectors playing their respective roles together, we distribute the fruits of growth properly. At the same time, stimulating consumption leads to the next round of growth.
This is a true sustainable economy, and it is the key point for bringing about a new form of capitalism through a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution.
First of all, the Government will take the initiative and raise salaries in fields such as medical nursing, nursing care, child care, and preschool education.
For those working in settings where nursing care, child care, and preschool education take place, we will raise salaries by three percent starting in February 2022, for an increase of approximately 110,000 yen per annum.
As for the profession of medical nursing, for those working at medical institutions that meet certain conditions, such as providing medical support for COVID-19 in local areas, we will raise salaries by three percent gradually, for a raise of approximately 140,000 yen per annum.
Beyond that, we will make all-out efforts to prepare an environment that supports wage increases at private companies.
We will fundamentally strengthen the tax system in order to support companies that raise salaries. We will boldly raise the corporate tax exemption rate.
For small- and medium-sized enterprises that raise wages despite being in the red, we will create a special subsection within our subsidies in the area of manufacturing and our Sustainability Subsidy (Subsidy Program for Sustaining Businesses) and raise the subsidy rate.
We will develop an environment that facilitates the raising of wages by improving subcontracting practices through a doubling in the number of “subcontract G-men” and by promoting Declarations of Partnership Building to foster coexistence and co-prosperity between large companies and SMEs.
The construction industry realized wage increases of an average of 2.7 percent per annum across the most recent six-year period, a figure well above the average for all industries, thanks to collaboration by the public and private sectors, with increases in public procurement unit prices and subcontractors’ thorough implementation of placing orders for materials in appropriate amounts. We will expand this kind of public-private collaborative effort into other industries.
Prices are rising around the globe and concerns about price increases spreading to Japan have intensified. To protect the Japanese economy, we will make every possible effort to raise wages.
When promoting wage increases in private sector companies, it is imperative to create a virtuous circle between wage increases and corporate growth, making sustained wage increases possible.
The driving force that creates added value and gives rise to economic affluence and power is people. In order to make investments in human resources more active, we will newly establish a package of measures at a scale of 400 billion yen over three years.
We will support the brushing up of skills and job training, including for non-regular employees, and vigorously promote re-employment, moving to permanent employment, and career advancement.
We will advocate for the disclosure of non-financial information to make human resource investments within a company visible.
After we use these economic measures to realize our policies we should take up first, we will target the younger generation and childrearing households, both of whom will shoulder the responsibilities of Japan’s future, and aim to dramatically raise their incomes.
The key, in addition to “distributions to people,” is “creating a society in which men and women can work in the way they wish” and “controlling increases in the burden imposed by social security.”
Focusing primarily on the Meeting on a Social Security System Oriented to All Generations, we will review systems serving as restrictions on employment by women. We will also work to bring about universal workers’ insurance, provide support for childrearing, reduce the burden of nursing care provided within the household, and enact reforms to keep in check the increasing burdens borne by the young and by childrearing households, as well as to institute new governmental organizations that will establish child-centered government administration.
By mobilizing all of these policies, we will restore our large middle class.
Next spring, at a meeting of the Council for New Form of Capitalism Realization, we will compile the overall grand design and the associated action plan. We will send it out to the international community and drive global discussions together with the leaders of major countries who have the same awareness of the issues.
8. Diplomacy and security
“A new form of capitalism” is premised on diplomacy and security that protect our citizens’ safety and peace of mind as well as Japan’s national interests.
Accordingly, I will visit the United States at the earliest possible date and meet with President Biden for talks, further reinforcing the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, which is the foundation for the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and, indeed, the international community.
Moreover, working together with like-minded countries in ASEAN, Europe, and elsewhere, and utilizing the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue among Japan, the United States, Australia, and India, we will deepen our cooperation towards realizing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. The Kishida administration places great importance on maintaining and strengthening the international order, which is based on the universal values and rules such as freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. I am determined to work extensively on maintaining and strengthening this international order, with our efforts to include dealing with international human rights issues.
We will press ahead with the relocation to Henoko, the only possible solution when consideration was given to the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the elimination of the danger of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, and we will aim at realizing the total return of MCAS Futenma by the earliest possible date. We will work to alleviate the impact of U.S. military bases while building up trust with local residents through conscientious explanations and dialogues with them. Alongside these efforts we will push forward in working to make a robust Okinawan economy.
The security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe, at a pace never seen before. We will protect the lives and livelihoods of the Japanese people against such issues as economic security, new domains such as space and cyberspace, remarkable improvements in missile technology, and furthermore, defense of our remote islands. In order to do so, we will realistically examine all options, including possessing what is called “enemy base attack capability,” without excluding any possibilities, and, with a sense of speed, fundamentally reinforce our defense capabilities. Towards this end, over the course of roughly a year we will draw up a new National Security Strategy, National Defense Program Guidelines, and Mid-Term Defense Program.
To enable us to move even one step closer to a world free of nuclear weapons, we will advance realistic efforts based on trust and cooperation between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. In line with this, first, it is critically important that the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to be held next month be a success. To precipitate a meaningful outcome, Japan will play a proactive role in coordination with the United States and other relevant nations.
While maintaining the high level of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, we will leverage the TPP’s steady implementation and expansion along with international rule-making towards the realization of Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) to build a free and fair economic order, which is essential for the security and prosperity of Japan, and support global economic recovery and new growth.
The abductions issue is one of the highest priority issues of the Kishida administration. We will make all-out efforts and seize every opportunity as we work in cooperation with the United States and other countries to bring about the return of all abductees to Japan at the earliest possible date. I am determined to meet with Chairman Kim Jong-un myself face to face, without any conditions. In accordance with the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, Japan seeks to normalize relations with North Korea, through the settling of the “unfortunate past” and the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues of concern with North Korea, such as the abductions, nuclear, and missile issues.
With neighboring countries, based on our national interests, we will conduct firm diplomacy, aiming at fostering this region’s peace and security. I will say to China the things that need to be said and strongly urge China to act responsibly, while at the same time cooperating on matters of common interest and aiming to build constructive and stable relations. With Russia, under a policy of resolving the territorial issue and concluding a peace treaty, I will aim to develop Japan-Russia relations overall. The Republic of Korea (ROK) is an important neighbor and, based on Japan’s consistent position, I will continue to strongly urge the ROK side to make appropriate responses.
“There is nothing stronger than diplomacy and security that enjoy the understanding and support of the citizens.” From my four years and eight months of experience serving as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I feel that very strongly. I will advance “diplomacy and security that stand together with the Japanese people,” working to gain the understanding of as many people as possible by providing explanations to the public in a thoughtful and thorough manner.
9. Disaster response
Another important mission for the Government is protecting citizens’ lives, property, and livelihoods from disasters. In order to move forward in building a resilient nation, we are strengthening our efforts to prevent and reduce disasters and enhance national resilience, based on our Five-year Accelerated Measures package.
In light of the mudslide disaster that occurred in the city of Atami this past summer, we will move forward in preparing the domestic legal structure to put regulations over embankments into place, even in areas not subject to such regulations until now.
In order to respond to torrential rain disasters, we will, at an accelerated pace, prepare observational instruments and develop predictive models, working to begin predicting linear rainbands at the earliest possible date.
We will counter pumice stone damage by taking thoroughgoing responses that include support for pumice stone collection and disposal, support for the fishing industry for damages suffered, and so on.
We will continue to make all-out efforts towards reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake while staying attentive to the voices of those in the disaster-stricken areas.
We will prepare the domestic legal structure and, with the government working in union, implement long-term, stable management so that international education and research hubs lead to not only the reconstruction of Fukushima but also the strengthening of Japan’s science and technology capabilities and industrial competitiveness.
10. Constitutional reform
Regarding constitutional reform, we, the members of the Diet, have the responsibility to earnestly address the matter of how the Constitution should be.
The important thing firstly is discussions within the Diet. I sincerely look forward to active discussions taking place in the Diet, transcending the framework of the ruling and opposition parties.
In parallel with those discussions, it is imperative to deepen the public’s understanding of the matter further.
Let us, the members of the Diet, stimulate discussions and debates among the citizens across a broad swath of society regarding whether or not our current Constitution continues to be something appropriate for the present age, even as the times change dramatically.
The foundation of any nation is its people.
The other day, as part of the small-group discussions I have been having with my fellow citizens, I visited a prefectural high school in the city of Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture. I interacted with the high school students and attended a mock lesson.
Instead of a blackboard and notebooks, the class was conducted using an electronic blackboard and tablet computers, which had been distributed to every student. It was my first time to see such a class.
To the questions the teacher asked, the students submitted their answers online.
The students also read English sentences aloud and used their recordings to check their pronunciation.
As the questions came flying one after the other, I ended up somewhat puzzled. It was a first-year high school student sitting next to me who, despite a slightly troubled look, tenaciously guided me through how to use the tablet.
Watching her as she made full use of the tablet, which had only just begun to be used in earnest in her classes, and then took action of her own accord rather than sitting passively by, I felt very strongly the potential of people, who will carve out Japan’s future.
I do not mean only “digital native” high school students.
Medical care, tourism, agriculture, child care, disaster-affected areas, our Self-Defense Forces.
In locations all around the country, I have met a great many people who are working passionately to carve out the future, even in the face of extremely trying circumstances.
I am fully convinced that Japan will be able to change significantly by each of us demonstrating our potential to the full and resolutely continuing to take on challenges.
The future of Japan will be decided through the decisions and the actions of the people who are alive today.
Together, let us carry out our responsibilities to the next generation and carve out a future of Japan in which we can take pride on the global stage.
My fellow members of the Diet and my fellow citizens, I ask you sincerely for your cooperation. Thank you for your kind attention.