1. Here today, a new Cabinet has been founded through a coalition of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and The People’s New Party.
I have taken the view that the recent general election was not a triumph for only the DPJ and its allied parties. Rather, the public’s unbearable distrust of politics, their dismay at the dysfunction of conventional politics and the government as well as their pronounced anger at this situation, were reflected in the high voter turnout rate and led to a change of government.
In that sense, the victors in this election were in fact each Japanese citizen. I firmly believe that the mission of this Cabinet is to respond with every ounce of its being to these strong expectations of the public.
2. This Cabinet would not be worth existing if we did not make today a historic first step to transform the political and public administrative systems that Japan has maintained since the Meiji era.
For that reason, the Hatoyama Cabinet intends to start work on building a new nation, the two major pillars of policy consisting of establishing true popular sovereignty and achieving substantive regionalism.
From this day, Japan will seek to break away from special-interest politics and a political system dependent on the bureaucracy that has supported such politics. We will transform this nation into one of popular sovereignty in the true sense, in which we undertake policies that enable each citizen to feel affluent in a real way.
We will also transform this country in a major way to one of regional sovereignty. Under regional sovereignty, we will cast off the centralisation of state power in place since the Meiji era and have each local resident think independently and take action on his or her own initiative, assuming responsibility for those actions and choices.
3. In creating this new nation, first, the manner of running the national government must be reformed, from one that is led by and dependent on the bureaucracy to one which is led by politicians and the people of this country.
However, the politics we seek to achieve is not one of hammering the bureaucracy.
We will not permit a climate in which someone is made the villain so that politicians improve their own popularity. We intend to have politicians themselves working hard, taking the initiative to lead, acting with propriety and humbly turning their ears to the voices of the public.
A politician-led government does not mean simply a system of government in which politicians rank above officials. Politicians should once more reflect upon the meaning of "popular sovereignty" as set forth in the Constitution and take the major decisions on how to steer the national government.
We also call on the bureaucracy serving under them to change their awareness and undertake this reform together whilst regaining the pride of serving as the mainstay supporting the nation.
4. This Cabinet will adopt a new system in which politicians backed by a popular mandate will hold responsibility in both name and reality for the running of each government ministry.
In each ministry, we will establish a "council of the three political-level appointees" centring on the minister, senior vice minister and parliamentary secretary, through which policies will consistently be drawn up and coordinated from the public’s viewpoint. We will abolish the practice of prior approval [of draft legislation etc] by the ruling parties so as to unify the dual decision-making tracks by the government and the ruling parties which existed thus far and to avoid the emergence of "tribe" Diet members. The views and proposals of ruling party Diet members will be heard by senior vice ministers and parliamentary secretaries and will be reported to ministers. Government decisions shall be taken not by political parties but by the Cabinet.
These institutional reforms are the first steps towards a new kind of politics that respects the daily lives and the rights of each individual citizen rather than special interests or fetters from the past.
5. Meetings of administrative vice ministers [held prior to Cabinet meetings] and the like will be abolished. Decision-taking by the government will not be entrusted to ex ante coordination conducted exclusively by administrative vice ministers and other officials.
With regard to important policies, the Chief Cabinet Secretary and I [the Prime Minister] shall take decisions on a case-by-case basis to convene a ministerial committee consisting of relevant ministers and their staff with a view to conducting substantive discussions and coordination.
The various government policy councils are prone to perfunctory discussion and duplication of functions among these councils is commonplace. We will thus carry out a radical review and consolidation of these councils.
Through these reforms, we will fundamentally revise the political culture in which politicians merely confirm the policy decisions made by bureaucrats.
6. We will break down the fences between various ministries which are said to bethe cause of vertically-segmented public administration. In order to govern in the nation’s and the people’s interest rather than to promote sectional bureaucratic interests of individual government ministries or bureaux, and furthermore togovern from a global perspective, we will establish a National Policy Unit within the Cabinet Secretariat as a new organisation under the direct authority of the Prime Minister. By doing so, the broad framework of tax and fiscal policy, the fundamental principles in managing the economy, and policy in other such areas will be decided under the leadership of the Prime Minister’s Office.
With regard to this point, I will have the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-State Minister for National Strategy, Economic and Fiscal Policy exert strong leadership and engage in various types of coordination under my direction and responsibility. In this regard I ask for the cooperation of all Cabinet members.
7. In the same vein, we will convene meetings of a Government Revitalization Unit which I will chair. This Unit will undertake a review of all government budgets and projects so as comprehensively to eliminate all waste of taxpayers’ money. At the same time it will promote reforms to create a nation whose regions enjoy true sovereignty by entrusting to the regions those projects that can be carried out by the regions themselves.
We will also advance fundamental reforms in the national civil service, totally prohibiting the practices of amakudari (golden parachuting, i.e. placement of civil servants in post-retirement jobs with entities their former government ministries once oversaw) and watari (movement between such jobs). We will promote coordination on these points [concerning the national civil service] under the leadership of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform and that on the promotion of regional sovereignty through the initiative of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications. Here I once again request the cooperation of Cabinet members.
8. Until the Second World War, Japan attempted to gain influence in the international community through military means. After the War, we rebuilt the country and the Japanese people recovered their confidence in themselves as a result. However, after a long period of stagnation since the burst of the bubble economy, the people are now losing their confidence once more. In addition, streaks of exclusive, self-centred nationalism are being witnessed as one of the reactions to the situation.
From the present, Japan will contribute to the well-being of the international community through not only activities in the economic field but also those in the areas of the environment, peace, culture, science and technology, creating a country that is trusted by the international community. We must build a country and a society whose people can once again hold great pride in being Japanese. In the twenty-first century, the role that Japan can play between the two great powers of United States and China, and indeed the role that the Japanese people and Japanese culture can play in the international community, are certainly quite significant.
This Cabinet will make proposals regarding the shape of the new nation so that all people living in Japan can live their daily lives with pride.
9. Some twenty years have passed since the end of the Cold War. While on the one hand emerging nations are achieving rapid economic growth, on the other there are many new global-level challenges. Excessive market-centrism and the economic crisis that has arisen from it continue to shake violently the economies of not least Japan but also of the world. In addition, Japan is about to become perhaps the first country in the history of humankind to have both a declining population and an acutely ageing society.
Having thus entered an era of momentous change, the daily lives of the people and indeed even the future of Japan may be at risk if we do not alter the old style of resource distribution and methods of public administration.
In order for Japan to negotiate these rough seas and to continue to develop, under our new political leadership, I will set forth four central ideas for the near term and with strong determination we will overcome the numerous challenges that face us both at home and abroad.
10. The first of these is politics that most of all treasures human life and protects people’s daily lives. This is of course the case for efforts to counter influenza A (H1N1) as a very urgent issue. In addition, with regard to the pension records problem, which is one of the greatest areas of concern for the public, intensive and radical efforts over the next two years in particular will be necessary to recover the trust of the public in pensions as early as possible.
Establishing an equitable and transparent new pension system and the resolving the shortage in human resources engaged in the medical and nursing care professions will make pensions, medical care and nursing care worthy of the public’s trust and peace of mind. Policies in the areas of child-rearing and education will be expanded drastically, with all of society supporting these investments in the future.
Japan will implement politics that under no circumstances discards or abandons the disadvantaged in society or minorities.
11. Second is the transfer to regional sovereignty, in which decisions on regional issues are taken by the residents of those regions. We will drastically transform the relationship between the national government and the regions, such as by carefully scrutinising the extent of the national government’s authority and its financial resources [pertaining to regional policies] and moving forward with a bold handover to the regions. Such changes are also the first step in asking the people living in local areas to adopt a new concept of residents themselves as the protagonist, i.e. the residents assuming responsibility for the future of the towns and villages in which they live.
Of course, it would be entirely contrary to the original intention if regional sovereignty were to result in extreme difficulties for the local authorities. In order to create vibrant local societies, the national government will willingly play the roles that it should, such as alleviating the economic burdens that directly affect people’s daily lives such as highway tolls and the petrol tax, and revitalising vibrant agricultural, forestry and fishing communities. We will also fundamentally review the postal services from the perspective of regional sovereignty.
12. The third core idea is turning from an economy that gives value only to economic rationalism to one that is for the people.
We will seek the creation of not only a vibrant society but also a society in which everyone can feel security, peace of mind and a purpose in life, a society in which each individual has a "place he or she belongs" and his or her own role to play.
Naturally we will continue regulatory reforms which invigorate the economy, but the purpose of easing regulations is not simply for its own sake. We will seek to strengthen employment safety nets as well as secure safety in matters very familiar to people’s daily lives, such as food, housing, transportation, and schools.
We will aim to construct a new social model in which the entire society comes together to compensate for any insufficiencies that appear and support each other in child-rearing and nursing care, education and welfare, and a part of medical care, rather than regarding "working" as an activity whose purpose is to receive compensation for labour. We will create a participatory society for citizens, one in which they can feel deeply that assisting others brings joy not only to the person assisted but also to the person providing the assistance, and brings purpose to life.
In addition, we will not be swayed by figures in economic indices, but instead bring about economic growth driven by domestic demand. We will achieve this by expanding personal consumption through an increase in the disposable income of households in real terms as well as by creating industries and employment such new fields as medical and nursing care, the environment, tourism, cultures, and sports.
13. Fourth, we will aim to be a dignified nation that works to create world peace and resolve problems through an independent foreign policy. We will develop a proactive foreign policy, backed by a long-term ability to formulate initiatives as well as to take action, while rejecting extreme bilateralism or a simplistic view of United Nations supremacy.
In order to reconstruct a close and equal Japan-US alliance, we will strengthen our cooperative relations and frankly discuss with each other the outstanding issues between our two nations. The "equality" discussed here is more than anything a relationship in which Japan can also actively make proposals on the role that the Japan-US alliance could play for the sake of global peace and security and on concrete guidelines for action.
At the same time, we will form diplomatic relations with the countries of Asia-Pacific region, in which Japan is located, which would earn in a true sense the trust from these countries.
We regard the issues of North Korea’s nuclear development and missiles as well as the abduction issue as multi-dimensional problems pertaining to East Asia’s peace and stability. This government intends to make all-out efforts to seek avenues to resolve these issues, using all conceivable means of both the carrot and the stick.
Furthermore, we will proactively work on bringing about peace and prosperity in the world, including on the issues of global warming, the elimination of nuclear weapons, and the resolution of north-south disparities.
14. Japan should henceforth seek to follow neither a doctrine of omnipotent government according under which we rely on the government for everything, nor a doctrine of market fundamentalism under which everything is left to the private sector, giving rise to disparities and leaving the weak to be discarded.
We should instead seek to realise three ideals: first, popular sovereignty, under which the daily lives of the people take the highest priority; second, regional sovereignty, under which we public administration is placed in the hands of local residents; and third, self-support and co-existence, under which individuals aiming to stand entirely on their own two feet respect others and provide mutual support.
By fulfilling these three ideals, the central government, the local authorities and the people will each be able to play their roles vigorously as members of the society they compose. That is what Japan should aim for.
15. Building a new nation is certainly not a matter that can be consigned to others. Neither can all problems be resolved merely by increasing the state budget. Only by having each individual citizen foster and develop the ideal of self-support and co-existence can we revive the bonds within society and recover the relationships of trust among people.
I will stand at the forefront, dedicating all my strength to bringing about a society of "yu-ai", or fraternity, in which the nation, the local authorities, and the people will come together as one. In that society, all people will recognise the existence of all other people as invaluable, and it will be possible for each person to discover a "place he or she belongs" and his or her own role to play.
Today is the first day, both literally and metaphorically, for the Hatoyama Cabinet in its campaign to achieve further victories for the Japanese people. I sincerely request that the Cabinet members in attendance today do their utmost for this goal, and seek the understanding and cooperation of the public in this regard.
Let us shape our new nation together!