◎・政治・経済

2008年12月26日 (金)

大胆で行動志向の予算案


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※- "A bold, action-oriented budget to defend people's daily lives"

 
-Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso-
 
I am pleased to announce that the formulation of the fiscal 2009 budget and of the second fiscal 2008 supplementary budget has just been completed.
 
These budgets are budgets to defend people's daily lives.

 

I wish to name the budget for fiscal 2009 a "bold, action-oriented budget to defend people's daily lives."
 
The world is on the verge of a once-in-a-century recession.
 
Abnormal economic circumstances demand exceptional responses.
 
By taking bold measures, we aim to extricate ourselves from this recession the earliest of all countries.
 
In October we passed the first [fiscal 2008] supplementary budget.
 
Following that, the specifics of the second supplementary budget [government proposal] were determined.
 
And today, the fiscal 2009 budget [government proposal] has been completed.
 
We will proceed with the three sets of measures in a seamless manner, as if they were a three-stage rocket.
 
The total scale of the three packages reaches 75 trillion yen.
 
The total of fiscal spending and tax reductions amounts to 12 trillion yen.
 
Twelve trillion yen is equivalent to 2 percent of gross domestic production (GDP).
 
In the United States this is 1.1 percent and in Europe 1.5 percent, meaning that the scale of these measures is among the very largest of measures undertaken by any country.
 
First and foremost come measures to save employment.
 
The most pressing issue of this year-end period is people losing their homes.
 
Employment-promotion housing facilities have already begun to accommodate such people,

 

with decisions already reached on who will live in some 1,000 housing units.
 
Companies that extend regular employment contracts to temporary staff, students whose tentative employment offers have been cancelled

 

and "freeters" (irregular and part-time or casual employees) who are relatively older will be awarded subsidies of between 500 thousand and 1 million yen.
 
Furthermore, a fund of 400 billion yen will be established for the purpose of creating new jobs.
 
The fund would nurture businesses in future-oriented fields, such as in the areas of nursing care or catering services for the elderly.
 
Since assuming the office of Prime Minister,
 
I have always worked according to the same system:

 

first, I indicate a broad policy; second, the government and the ruling coalition discuss the policy; and third, I take the final decision.
 
Throughout this process, there have been twists and turns, which have led some people to suggest that I might be losing my grip.
 
Ultimately, however, I have been able to bring to fruition everything that I have instructed,

 

and I have been able to incorporate everything that I instructed into these budgets.
 
First, with regard to the region-friendly one trillion yen,

 

(a) the government will provide 940 billion yen of subsidies to create the foundation for revived local areas,

 

aiming to enhance the usability of funds for the regions;

 

and (b) tax revenues allocated to local governments will be increased by 1 trillion yen.
 
Second, the pension system must be made stable.

 

Accordingly, the proportion of basic pensions funded by the government will be raised to a half starting next fiscal year, as promised.
 
Third, we are reaching the limit of curbing increases of social security expenditures

 

 -- an effort we have made each year over the past three years -- that continue to rise in line with the aging of society.
 
As such, we will provide finance of 220 billion yen for social security expenditures, by rationalizing expenditures of the coming fiscal year

 

and by securing funding resources (making use of fiscal revenues earmarked for road-related spending and of the fund from the special account for pensions).
 
Fourth, stable funding resources for the social security system must be secured so that it can give peace of mind to the public now and in the future.
 
The decision was thereby taken to take necessary legal measures in advance so as to ensure that

 

fundamental reform of the tax system, including that of the consumption tax, can be implemented from fiscal 2011, based on the prerequisite of economic recovery.
 
I will present these budgets to the regular session of the Diet, which is scheduled to be convened on 5 January.
 
The early passage and execution of these budgets will constitute the best possible economic countermeasures.
 
This will determine the future of Japan's economy and, indeed, the future of Japan as a nation.
 
The Diet's ability to take decisions and its political will and resolve will be tested during the next Diet session.
 
The question is whether or not the Diet can defend people's daily lives amidst this economic crisis.
 
The government and the ruling coalition have formulated what we consider the best possible proposal.
 
We are certainly willing to discuss any good proposals that the opposition parties may have.
 
However, there is simply no time for wasteful delay before reaching a final decision.
 
I will do everything in my power to defend the daily lives of the people.
 
I am determined to see this crisis through. I will take on this crisis, leading the way without fear of criticism.
 
I ask the Japanese people for their understanding and support.
 
This is the final e-mail magazine of the year.
 
Let us remain "strong and bright."
 
I will close by extending my very best wishes to everyone for a very happy New Year.

 
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2008年12月19日 (金)

生活防御の緊急時対策


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※- "Emergency measures to defend people's daily lives"

 
-Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso-
 
Last Friday, I announced "emergency measures to defend people's daily lives."
 
The United States' financial crisis has begun to affect the real economy of countries around the world at an abnormal pace. So far,
 
the government has taken countermeasures in the form of the first supplementary budget of fiscal 2008 and
 
subsequent "measures to counter difficulties in people's daily lives."
 
Yet, the economy has been worsening at unexpected speed.
 
The government, for its part, shall make all possible efforts to remove the public's anxiousness over daily life,

 

and enable Japan to be the first, at least among developed countries, to put this recession behind it.
 
Employment and the cash-flow of companies will be given top priority,

 

so as to defend people's daily lives as we approach the end of the calendar year.
 
We must first move quickly to save employment.
 
In particular, what must be addressed in all haste before the end of the calendar year is housing for people forced out of company housing
 
who are without any place to live as a result of being laid off or else not having their fixed-term contracts renewed.
 
On Monday of this week, 
the government started to offer services at "Hello Work"

 

Eemployment security offices to help people find accommodation in the 13,000 employment-promotion housing units around the country,
 
in addition to providing employment placement services.
 
The procedures have been simplified, making it possible for people to move in on the same day, even.
 
Inquiries about meeting the cost to enter new housing are being handled.
 
In addition, as countermeasures against the cancellation of tentative job offers,

 

the government will give thorough guidance, including by announcing the names of companies which have made such cancellations.
 
The government has allocated sufficient funds for emergency credit guarantees

 

and safety-net loans by government-affiliated financial institutions to ensure the cash-flow of micro-sized companies

 

and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as we approach the end of the calendar year.
 
In addition, the maximum level of the government's total equity participation in financial institutions will be increased by 10 trillion yen to 12 trillion,
 
based on the Amended Act on Special Measures for Strengthening Financial Functions that was passed recently.
 
As a result, it will further foster an environment in which financial institutions can provide finance to regional economies

 

and SMEs so that a credit contraction and forced loan repayments do not occur.
 
In order to carry out these countermeasures, the second supplementary budget of fiscal 2008 and related legislation, tax reforms,

 

as well as the regular fiscal 2009 budget all need to be passed at an early date and implemented seamlessly. 

   
Therefore, although exceptional, I am going to convene the regular session of the Diet on 5 January in order to have deliberations conducted on these matters.
 
Mr. Ozawa, President of the Democratic Party of Japan,

 

promised at the recent debate between party leaders as elsewhere that he would cooperate in the deliberations so as to reach an early conclusion.
 
I hereby request that he cooperate on the passing of these budgets and related legislation as soon as possible.
 
In order to carry out measures in a bold manner, fiscal responsibility over the mid-term also has to be shown clearly.
 
And because the state of fiscal responsibility is demonstrated, bold fiscal outlays become possible.
 
This is the very starting point and the sense of pride of responsible political parties.
 
Recently I said that I should like to ask for a rise in the consumption tax rate in three years' time,

 

after bold administrative reforms have been implemented and taking into account the economic situation at that point. 

 
My position on this remains totally unchanged.
 
I am aware that various criticisms will emerge.
 
Notwithstanding, as responsible political parties,

 

we are fully prepared to pursue the goal of enhancing the assurance provided by social security without evading the challenge and by being honest.
 
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2008年12月11日 (木)

保護しなければならないもの


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※- "What we must safeguard"

-Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso-

Last weekend, I visited Fukue Island, one of the Goto Islands of Nagasaki Prefecture, which is a three-and-a-half hour flight, via Fukuoka, from Haneda.

On Fukue Island I visited the fishing harbor, where Japanese spiny lobsters are unloaded, as well as the barns where Goto Beef cattle, a local specialty, are raised.

Shaking hands with workers in the fisheries and livestock industries, I realized that these are the hands of laboring people.

What I felt was the sensation of people at work.

The Japanese word "Nariwai" carries the meaning of "works to farm staple crops."

These hands were hands that had confidence in their nariwai -- works to make a living -- and pride in their endeavors.

Around a third of Fukue's residents are senior citizens.

Those living on isolated islands must experience many day-to-day inconveniences.

Yet, the senior citizens of Fukue Island are actively and energetically working with smiles on their faces.

I reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding people's daily lives, and my responsibility to do so.

Today, deliberations on the Bill to Strengthen Financial Functions will enter the final stage in the House of Councillors.

The Bill is to enhance lenders' lending capacities by enabling an injection of public funds to financial institutions such as regional banks.

It is an important policy to smooth lending to micro-, small and medium-sized companies.

About a month has passed since the introduction of the six trillion yen package of emergency credits for micro-, small and medium-sized companies that was allocated in the first supplementary budget.

During this time, credits have been provided in some 67,000 cases, totaling 1.6 trillion yen.

Recently, the total amount of funds requested by borrowers has been on the rise; about 100 billion yen in credits is being provided per day to micro-, small and medium-sized companies.

Eleven business days remain this year.

The balance of credits is 4.4 trillion yen, I am sure that this will be sufficient to meet demand.

If the Bill to Strengthen Financial Functions passes, two wheels of financial support measures -- one for borrowers and the other for lenders, namely, banks -- will finally set in place.

This will make it possible to ensure that micro-, small and medium-sized companies have a steady cash flow as we head toward the end of the calendar year.

Economies, by their very nature, are always changing.

We must continue to respond flexibly to economic conditions and changes in the situation both at home and abroad.


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2008年12月 4日 (木)

誇りとする


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※- "Pride"

 
-Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso-

When we look back on Japan's reconstruction assistance activities in Iraq, we must never forget our two diplomats -- Ambassador Katsuhiko Oku and First Secretary Masamori Inoue.

Last Saturday, November 29, marked the fifth anniversary of the loss of their precious lives in Iraq.

Ambassador Oku and First Secretary Inoue's sense of mission and passion for the reconstruction of Iraq have been taken forward by Japanese diplomats and members of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in Iraq.

The country is now steadily following the path of reconstruction.

The national flags of Japan and Iraq are shown side by side -- each side reaches out a hand, and the other side clasps it.

A picture featuring the words "For Iraq's future" is displayed at the main gate of Al Julan Elementary School, which was repaired by Japan.

The picture depicts the SDF's achievements, which have taken firm root.

The SDF personnel have devoted themselves to each and every one of their missions, which have included road repairs, the development of water treatment plants, and the transport of people and medical supplies.

The SDF's activities have certainly enhanced the image of Japan, though living in Japan we may not be conscious of it.

Last Friday, the Government of Japan decided to terminate, by the end of this year, the SDF's activities in Iraq, which have continued for four and a half years.

I would like to express my most sincere respect and gratitude to the SDF personnel who have diligently carried out missions in a sweltering land far away from their families.

As the Prime Minister of Japan -- and as a Japanese citizen -- I am very proud of them.

On Monday of this week, I visited LoFT, a household goods store, in Shibuya, Tokyo.

It was not for shopping.

This year, the company abolished classifications such as contract employees and part-time employees, and all employees who sought to become regular ones have now been accepted as such.

The staff on the sales floor and at cash registers are all regular employees.

I wanted to see this and hear from the staff directly.

That is why I visited the store.

The people in charge of the sales floor work on their own initiative at everything from monitoring hot-selling products to placing orders.

Cashiers need a wealth of product knowledge to draw upon when serving customers.

"This is a challenging job," said a young employee. What was clear to me from her words was the pride that she takes in her work.

These people with real responsibility and a corresponding level of treatment had shining faces.

I heard that the changes to the company's personnel system have resulted in a cost increase of over 400 million yen, yet sales are growing despite the country's severe economic situation.

There are no better resources than employees who commit to their companies and work as hard as they can.

The words of Mr. Yoshiharu Endo, the company president, impressed me greatly.

 

He said, "We spare no efforts when investing in our human resources."

People are the essence of companies. I reaffirmed the strength of Japanese-style management.

That evening, I asked Chairman of the Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) Fujio Mitarai and Chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tadashi Okamura to help bolster stable employment and raise wages.

I also requested that companies not withdraw offers of employment.

Employment and wages are the basic foundations of people's livelihoods.

Even if the economic situation becomes severe, we must safeguard them.

For its part, the Government is taking every possible measure, including reducing employment insurance fees and supporting regular employment of young people.

In addition to these efforts, the Government and the private sector must work together and take whatever measures they can in order to safeguard the basic foundations of people's livelihoods.


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2008年11月28日 (金)

世界との集団的調和


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※- "A circle of harmony"
 
-Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso-
 
Following last week's Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy in Washington, DC,
 
I attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, held in the South American nation of Peru.
 
The main purpose of this year's meeting was to share the results of the Summit in Washington, DC, with the Asia-Pacific nations so as to help deal with the financial crisis, and in this we were successful.
 
In addition, I proposed that Japan and the World Bank jointly establish a fund to support local banks in Asia and Latin America and that the trade insurance system be strengthened in order to make trade more secure.
 
For the most part, these proposals were reflected in the Leaders' Statement, constituting a major result for both Japan and the world.
 
On the trading front, it is important to prevent the spread of protectionism all around the world and to promote liberalization globally.
 
This is one of the lessons learned from the Great Depression that began in 1929.
 
We were also able to send a strong message calling for a reaching of the framework agreement within this year at the Doha Round of negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
 
As a result, each country will "take all necessary economic and financial measures to resolve this crisis" in a coordinated manner.
 
Japan is more than willing to fulfill its responsibility to the international community by fully implementing the expressed proposals and getting the Japanese economy back on the growth track.
 
Next year will be the 110th anniversary of Japanese people's immigration to Peru.
 
At present, between 90,000 and 100,000 people of Japanese descent are living in Peru, and approximately 60,000 Peruvians are working in Japan.
 
These people are a bridge between Japan and Peru, and are making great contributions to the societies of the respective countries.
 
I noticed during my meeting with President of Peru Alan Garcia Perez that he was wearing a blue ribbon badge -- a symbol of the people's wish for the resolution of the abductions issue.
 
I was greatly encouraged by his words: "Freedom has no borders.
I wish for the earliest possible return of the abductees."
 
The APEC countries of Asia and the Pacific Rim are joining hands to achieve a common goal beyond the bounds of history and geographical distance.
 
I have realized that this spectacular circle around the Pacific Ocean will lead to a harmony that will be a foundation for the future of the planet.
 
I firmly believe that great diplomatic results will definitely have a positive impact on the Japanese economy. 

 
Immediately after I arrived back home, the Government and the ruling parties made a decision about the policy on a second supplementary budget.
 
The budget comprises three parts; namely, a budget that underpins the implementation of Measures to Counter Difficulties in People's Daily Lives, a budget readied for the enactment of the Law to Strengthen Financial Functions, and measures to respond to the decline in tax revenues in FY2008.
 
These three will be decided on together sometime around December 20.
 
I believe that presenting the second supplementary budget to the people as a set of three parts is a clear way to gain their understanding.
 
In addition to the second supplementary budget, some items in the Measures to Counter Difficulties in People's Daily Lives require tax system amendments and others will be incorporated in the FY2009 budget.
 
These should be decided on as soon as possible.
 
Thankfully, the measures included in the first supplementary budget have been implemented successfully.
 
I believe that small and medium-sized companies, many of which are borrowers, will not face major cash-flow problems in December and January.
 
In December, I will make the utmost efforts to pass the tax system amendments and to formulate the FY2009 budget.
 
We will convene the regular Diet session in early January, despite this being unusual, and will proceed with deliberations on the second supplementary budget.

 
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2008年11月21日 (金)

日本のリーダーシップ


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※- "Japan's leadership"

 
- Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso -
 
Last weekend, I attended the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy for the leaders of 20 nations, including both developed countries and emerging ones such as India and China.
 
Expectations for Japan stem from its experience in single-handedly recovering from the collapse of the bubble economy.
 
There are also expectations for Japan in view of the role that the world's second largest economy can perform.
 
Immediately after my speech, leaders including Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown told me that they thought it was a good speech with a great deal of concrete content.
 
Although the summit was brief, limited to just two days, many of the concrete proposals Japan made based on its experience, including proposals on the importance of the injection of public funds, were reflected in the subsequent summit declaration.
 
Problems like the current crisis, including moral hazard issues, cannot be averted through reliance on US-style market fundamentalism.
 
Conversely, if we were only to strengthen regulations, as in Europe, the economy would not be so free.
 
The middle course may be the right one.
 
In discussions on financial regulation and supervision, too, Japan's proposals garnered the support of leaders of various countries.
 
It is the economies of emerging nations, such as India, that are growing significantly.
 
The global economic pie as a whole will not get bigger unless these economies are supported.
 
To this end, Japan announced that it is prepared to lend a maximum of 100 billion dollars to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
 
This demonstration of leadership by Japan was evaluated highly by Managing Director of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
 
In a special statement on Japan, he said that the country had made "a major contribution to maintaining the stability of financial and capital markets."
 
We are now facing a so-called once-in-a-century financial crisis.
 
A crisis, though, presents opportunities for the future.
 
History shows us that a new order arises when a crisis is overcome.

 
At the summit, we were able to agree on specific actions that nations need to take in concert.
 
It goes without saying that taking these actions is of the utmost importance.
 
It was a historic summit at which the world took, at the very least, its first major strides toward overcoming the crisis.
 
The day after I returned home, I received a sudden request for a meeting from President of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Ichiro Ozawa.

 

During the meeting, he stated that a second supplementary budget should be submitted to the current Diet session.
 
If not, the DPJ would not allow a vote to take place in the House of Councillors on measures such as the bill to extend the new Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.
 
The purpose of the bill is to enable Japan to play a part in the international community's fight against terrorism through the continuation of its replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean.
 
It has absolutely nothing to do with the second supplementary budget.
 
Politics that turns its back on the decision-making process will not lead to any progress.
 
The DPJ still avoids party leaders' debates.
 
If the DPJ does put the people first, instead of political point-scoring, it should engage in the Diet discussion openly and squarely, and join hands with us in making decisions that are in the interests of the people.
 
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2008年11月15日 (土)

視察で実感する


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※- Getting out and about to take stock of realities


- Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso -

On Saturday of last week, I visited the shopping district in Kameari, in Tokyo.

I am sure that for some people the name Kameari, even if they have never actually been there, will call to mind the manga "Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo" ("This is the Police Box in Front of Kameari Park, Katsushika Ward.")

The Kameari shopkeepers are unfazed by a shopping mall that recently opened nearby; instead, they are using their ingenuity to vitalize the shopping district by capitalizing on the popularity of the main character of the manga, Ryo-san.

Indeed, their attitudes were extremely positive and their enthusiasm unbridled.

Three bronze statues of Ryo-san have been erected in three different locations in the shopping district.

The statues are just the right height for children to be able to shake hands with them without having to look up to meet their gaze.

The effect of all this is that people wishing to take souvenir snapshots will gravitate toward the shopping district.

That is the whole point. If people enter the shopping district in a steady stream, then their purse strings are likely to become a bit looser.

At any rate, it will rejuvenate the district -- it strikes me as a very good idea.

"We would still have a tough time even if we competed with megastores over prices," said one young person, who had taken over his parents' store.

"We want to create a flow of people coming in so that we can coexist with the megastores."

I was encouraged by the wisdom of his words, in which I sensed a measure of strength.

The shopping district is the center of the local community; a vigorous shopping district will breathe life into the community.

I am convinced that the Government must actively support ideas that encourage people to visit shopping districts, which will give the districts a new lease on life.

The following day I visited Nakaminato in Ibaraki Prefecture.

A member of the local fishery cooperative gave me his frank opinion of the Government's measures for fuel oil, pointing out that though a system is in place, the red tape is so complicated that it does not end up being user-friendly.

Only by getting out and discovering for myself what is happening can I get an accurate picture of the realities of the world.

To conduct proper politics, one needs to draw on more information than that which comes to you indirectly via politicians in Nagata-cho and bureaucrats in Kasumigaseki.

That is what I believe.

I will continue to energetically get out and about to see what is happening and to breathe the same air as everyone else.

I will place my trust in the sentiment I gauge when I am out and about, which will guide me in the task of politics.

This evening I am leaving for Washington, DC, in the United States.

The upcoming financial summit has but a single agenda item: how to address a once-in-a-century financial crisis.

The leaders of 20 countries, including both developed nations and emerging ones such as India and China, will discuss policies to deal with the crisis.

Japan has the experience of having overcome a major financial crisis.

This experience having given me a firm grounding, and taking into account the views of other Asian countries, I intend to demonstrate strong leadership.

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2008年11月 7日 (金)

国民生活対策:難題を打ち返す手段


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※- "Measures to Counter Difficulties in People's Daily Lives"

- Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso -

The Government has decided on a package of economic countermeasures to assist the Japanese people --

 

Measures to Counter Difficulties in People's Daily Lives.

The purpose of these measures is to remove the fears among ordinary people concerning their daily lives -- that is,

to ensure the "security of the Japanese people in their daily lives" in the midst of the global financial crisis.

What is important is to act with speed, focusing on selected areas of emphasis, with no pork-barrel handouts.

These measures are ones of unprecedented boldness.

First, we will provide stipends as an emergency measure to support households.

The total scale will be around two trillion yen; a four-person household would receive around 60,000 yen.

We will arrange for these stipends to be dispensed as soon as possible.

Employment insurance fees will be reduced.

We must increase the net income receipts of working people.

We will assist the efforts of businesses to employ older "freeters" (irregular and part-time or casual employees), known as the "lost generation," as regular employees.

The maximum level of lending and credits for micro-, small and medium-sized companies, for which nine trillion yen was allocated in the supplementary budget, will be raised to 30 trillion yen.

This is to make their cash flow more secure as we head toward the end of the calendar year.

Highway tolls will be reduced substantially so as to enable the latent potential of the regions to be fulfilled.

On weekends and holidays, tolls will be 1,000 yen or less, regardless of the distance traveled.

On weekdays too, daytime tolls will be reduced by 30%.

In addition, in the event of the reallocation of the tax revenues earmarked for road projects to general purposes, one trillion yen will be made available for the regions to use with discretion.

We will implement these measures as soon as possible, in sequence.

Deficit-financing bonds shall not be issued for these economic countermeasures.

However, Japan's government finances continue to run a substantial deficit, and yet in the years to come, our social security costs will also increase.

I am sure that the people of Japan feel significant unease regarding this situation.

I will summarize and present to the Japanese public by the end of 2008 a Mid-term Program on Government Finances -- that is, future principles concerning government revenues and expenditures.

The basic idea of this program is as follows. During the period of economic recovery, taxes shall be reduced for a limited duration.

The top priority is to revive business activity.

After the economic situation has improved, fundamental reform of the tax system, including the consumption tax, shall be launched, so as to ensure social security that enables peace of mind.

Specifically, I should like to ask for an increase of the consumption tax after three years, with a basic premise being eliminating government waste and after taking into account the economic situation at that time.

It is simply impossible to continue having a low level of burden-sharing while enjoying social welfare of a mid-level.

Tax increases are unpleasant for everyone.

However, we must not accumulate substantial debt for our children to repay.

I consider this to be a political responsibility.

The global economy is being buffeted by a once-in-a-century storm, but this is no reason for us to feel daunted.

And neither should we merely choose to lie low till the typhoon passes.

Countries around the world are now set to take coordinated actions and to proceed with their own measures to the maximum extent possible in the face of this difficult situation.

These require deft handling at the helm of government. Japan, too, will take on these challenges by mobilizing the full powers of the Government.


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2008年10月31日 (金)

100年に一度


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※- "Once in a century"


- Message from the Prime Minister Taro Aso-

The world is currently in the midst of a so-called "once-in-a-century" financial crisis.

Although Japan's financial system is stable compared to those of the United States and Europe, the Japanese economy, too, has been significantly affected, with domestic stock prices fluctuating wildly.

During my visit to Beijing last week, I had the opportunity to engage in exchanges of frank opinions on the financial crisis with leaders of major Asian and European nations.

I became keenly aware of the high expectations that nations have placed on Japan.

About a decade ago, Japan overcame a financial crisis.

The leaders of the world's 20 major countries will hold an emergency summit next month to discuss responses to the financial crisis.

I am convinced that Japan must utilize its experience of overcoming financial crisis and demonstrate leadership, for the stabilization of the world economy.

Today, the Government will decide on a new economic policy package -- Measures to Support the People's Lives, which puts the people first.

Every day, pessimistic opinions about the future of the economy are expressed in the news media.

If the people's lives were in fact to become bleak, it really would send the economy downward.

The policy I will implement will be bold, so that people in different circumstances who might come to feel pain can perceive its effects, and so that the future can be bright.

Our responses will be tailored to people in households struggling to make ends meet, to those worrying about unstable employment, to the mothers and fathers working hard to raise children, and to people finding it difficult to buy their homes.

It is imperative that micro-, small and medium-sized companies, which provide 70 percent of all employment, remain vigorous.

We will take all possible measures to support their year-end financing, to keep them safe from the stormy seas of international finance.

Without bright regions, Japan as a whole cannot be bright.

The Government will allocate one trillion yen to the regions, using revenue sources earmarked for roads that will be reallocated to the revenues used for general purposes.

We must gather together all our wisdom to overcome the "once-in-a-century" crisis. Now, the power of politics is being put to the test.


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2008年10月23日 (木)

まずは、直接現場から


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※- "To make a start, see things first hand"

 

-Message from the Prime Minister Taro Asou -

 

In the period right up until I became Prime Minister, hardly a day went by without my embarking on a new leg on my nationwide travels.
 
Whatever it is you seek to do, you must start by seeing things first hand.
 
Though I have Diet deliberations to attend, I try to get out as much as possible to see for myself what is happening, rather than merely reading the reports I receive.
 
I have been concerned about retail prices and stocks in the stores running low, so I visited a supermarket on Sunday to see the situation for myself.
 
I looked at the items in the supermarket and talked to people shopping there with their children.
 
At the supermarket, I saw that the prices of items such as pasta made from wheat flour had gone up.
 
Packages of other wheat-based products still cost the same, though the quantities of the contents had been reduced.
 
I also noticed that fish prices are more or less unchanged, reminding me of the difficulties that the people in the fishing industry are facing.
 
It obviously becomes harder for families to get by if prices of things like crude oil and cereals increase while salaries stay the same.
 
We need to do something to ease the situation.
 
In the Comprehensive Immediate Policy Package announced the other day, the Government kept down the increase in the selling price of the wheat it imports to less than the actual increase in the wholesale price of wheat.
 
The Government has also eased regulations on corporate stock buy-backs, so that the portion of company profits that would go on dividends can be channeled to the employees.
 
I believe that we have to take whatever concrete actions we can, including measures in areas such as these that have an immediate impact on the people.
 
The main thing is to protect the people's everyday lives and the Japanese economy.
 
I will compile new economic measures by the end of this month.
 
Measures to support the people's lives will come first and foremost.


Also, there will be measures for micro-, small and medium-sized companies, which are hard hit by the financial crisis, and measures to vitalize the regions, which are affected straight away by fluctuations in business conditions.

 
These are the focus of the new economic measures, along with the provisions of the supplementary budget passed last week.
 
The day before yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to extend the new Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.
 
Japan has been carrying out the replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean, in line with our own national interest.
 
As other countries step up the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan, it is out of the question for Japan alone to pull back.
 
Members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force are working in the scorching heat of the Indian Ocean.
 
The turbulent sea is a constant danger.
 
There is no harsher environment, but I trust that they, representing the nation, will succeed in their mission.
 
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