November 2010

November 30(Tuesday)

No.4[Crisis Management]:North Korea Shelling Incident..Actions Taken by the Prime Minister's Office

 

"What were the first actions taken by the Prime Minister's Office upon receiving a report of the incident?" To answer this question, this story provides a succinct and chronological review of the facts surrounding the day of the incident and Japan's current posture.

 

 

1. First actions taken

 

Narration: At 2:34 pm on November 23, North Korea began firing
artillery shells onto Yeonpyeong Island in the Republic of Korea
(ROK). Shortly after 3:10 pm, upon learning of the incident, the
Government of Japan began gathering information in ROK, China, the
U.S., and Russia. By 3:20 pm, an Information Liaison Office was
established at the Prime Minister's Office. Around 3:30 pm, when
the information was deemed accurate to a reasonable degree, an aide
notified Prime Minister Kan, who was then at the Prime Minister's
Official Residence.

 

Narration: The Prime Minister's Residence which is on the same site
as the Prime Minister's Office, serves as an office. There, the
Prime Minister received reports while he carried out his other
tasks. At the same time, at the adjacent Prime Minister's Office,
the crisis management officers on duty who received instructions
from the Prime Minister, as well as members from relevant
departments, rushed to their posts and responded to the incident.
 

 

Narration: Due to the extremely complicated and non-transparent
nature of the situation in North Korea, it was naturally unwise for
Japan to decide on its policy or announce its position based on
inaccurate information. It was decided that a meeting with all
relevant officials would commence approximately an hour later at
4:45 pm, upon obtaining sufficient information  from the ROK.
 

 

Narration: However, the nature of the job of Prime Minister is such
that his other works cannot simply be abandoned in the meantime.
Finding time in between, the Prime Minister continued to gather
information, in parallel with conducting his scheduled activities,
including meetings with Diet members.
 

 

2. Instruction and announcement

 

Narration: At 4:45 pm, as scheduled, Prime Minister Kan headed over
to the Prime Minister's Office -- a one-minute walk from the
Residence. Senior officials, including Chief Cabinet Secretary
Sengoku and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Furukawa, were also
present at the meeting. After receiving a comprehensive briefing of
the situation from the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis
Management, members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
Ministry of Defense, among others, Prime Minister Kan formally
directed that "efforts be fully devoted to information gathering"
and "that appropriate measures be taken in preparation for
contingencies."
 

 

Narration: Immediately after the meeting concluded, the Prime
Minister answered reporters' questions from around 5:10 pm and
explained to the people what instructions he had given. Prime
Minister Kan was the first leader of governments to speak on the
matter.
 

 

Narration: Afterwards, the Prime Minister attended the Harvest
Festival, an important court function the prime minister attends
every year. Arrangements were made to ensure that the Prime
Minister at all times would be able to receive information and give
out necessary instructions through his aide who accompanied him.
 

 

Narration: In the meantime, senior officials assembled at the Prime
Minister's Office, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku and
three of the deputy chief cabinet secretaries. The analysis
continued, with a wide range of government officials including the
Minister of Defense entering and exiting the Prime Minister's
Office. By 7:10 pm, the ROK Ambassador was invited to the Prime
Minister's Office, and about an hour later, the Japanese Ambassador
to the ROK met with the ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
in Seoul. Around the same time in Washington, information was being
collected from the White House and the Department of State. Japan
was thus in close contact with the ROK and the U.S.
 

 

3. The position of the Government

 

Narration: At 8:30 pm, the Prime Minister returned to the Prime
Minister's Office from the Imperial Palace. Fifteen minutes later,
the Prime Minister held a ministerial meeting at the Prime
Minister's Office and agreed on the position of the Government.
At the meeting, the Prime Minister instructed the ministers to:
1) undertake information gathering concerning future movements by
North Korea; 2) address the situation through close coordination
with the ROK, the U.S., and others; and 3) undertake all possible
measures to ensure the safety and the peace of mind of the Japanese
people, including by preparing for contingencies.
 

 

Narration: At 9:48 pm, Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku announced
the Government's stance.
 

 

Chief Cabinet Secretary:
"Japan strongly condemns North Korea."
"Japan supports the position of the Government of the ROK."
"Japan demands an immediate cessation of all such acts."
"Japan will respond in close coordination with relevant countries."

 

Narration: On the next day, November 24, Prime Minister Kan spoke
by telephone to the ROK President for 20 minutes. During the
conversation, President Lee Myung-bak expressed his "appreciation
for Japan's swift and decisive response." Additionally, Minister
for Foreign Affairs Maehara spoke by telephone to the ROK Foreign
and Trade Minister on the 24th, followed by U.S. Secretary of State
Clinton on the 25th, and others. Secretary of State Clinton stated
that she "highly commends the response of the Japanese Government".
It was confirmed that Japan, the U.S., and the ROK will continue to
address future developments in close coordination with each other.
 

 

Narration: At the same time, in Japan, Prime Minister Kan
established the Headquarters for Response to the Shelling Incident
by North Korea comprised of all Cabinet members.
 

 

Prime Minister: "North Korea's artillery attack against the ROK is
a belligerent act and cannot be tolerated."

 

Narration: Over the coming days, the Government will continue to
hold information sharing meetings, ministerial meetings, and other
relevant meetings on a daily basis. Furthermore, until the U.S.-ROK
joint military exercise in the Yellow Sea ends on December 1, all
Cabinet ministers will in principle stay in Tokyo in preparation
for contingencies. The Government will continue to take appropriate
measures.
 

 

November 26(Friday)

Deliberations on Supplementary Budget Enters Final Stages: Economic Growth Policies Will Not Be Put Off!

 

While the Government responds to various contingencies, it must also continue to move along programs that concern the livelihood of the Japanese people. With this in mind, this report addresses public inquiries on how the deliberations on the supplementary budget affect employment measures. The report was taped before the shelling incident by North Korea.

 

 

Prime Minister: Employment will be a decisive key factor for the Japanese economy, particularly to break free from the current deflation. That's how I basically see it.

 

Narration: Precisely right now, the deliberations on the
supplementary budget for this fiscal year are in their final stages.
Prime Minister Kan has placed employment measures for economic
growth at the top of his policy agenda leading up to the
formulation of next fiscal year's budget. His passion for
employment measures comes from what he saw and felt on the ground.
 

 

Prime Minister: The first is the dispatched workers' village. Two years ago, in Hibiya Park, I met people there who told me they had absolutely no prospects. As I listened to them, I felt once again how disconnected people have become. I thought, we need to have a society that can somehow lend a helping hand to them. That was one of the things that ignited my passion.

 

Narration: From this emerged the following slogan.

 

Prime Minister: 1. Employment, 2. Employment, 3. Employment!

 

Prime Minister: Some people interpreted my call for more employment as a call for a public works program to absorb the unemployed. They imagined a lot of money would have to be poured in. This is not at all what I have in mind.

 

Narration: This image of creating employment by pouring money into
public works programs is outdated.
 

 

Prime Minister: Even after basic infrastructures were in place, a lot of money was used for public works programs to flow money into businesses, which became the goal in and of itself. Sure, this led to employment and to income while money was flowing in the short-term. But once the program was finished, only bears and boars were walking on the completed road. I call this the "First Way".

 

Narration: The "First Way" trod by bears and boars. Who then chose
the "Second Way"?

 

Prime Minister: Mr. Koizumi and Mr. Takenaka wanted to make the economy stronger, to streamline. What happened, simply put, is corporate restructuring. But this causes the unemployment rate to increase and disparities to widen. Then people with little income cannot get married and also hardly spend any money. In other words, what may be good for each individual company is, on the whole, really bad for the entire country.

 

Narration: These two approaches are both outdated today. What
should we do then?
 

 

Prime Minister: What is needed is the "Third Way." We must focus on areas where there is demand, generate employment in these areas, and increase production including services. That is what we have to be thinking right now.

 

Narration: The Government should target areas where there is demand
and support them with policies. For example...
 

 

Prime Minister: Look at nursing care, or child care, or medical care, they all generate a useful service, i.e., the caring of people. Caregivers can feel happiness and joy. This in and of itself is a positive thing in terms of how a society ought to be, and will prompt nursing care to grow as a new industry. In Japan, there are still many more areas with such possibilities.

 

Narration: However, to increase employment, the companies must be
willing to employ new people. The Prime Minister explained how
difficult this was based on real life experience.
 

 

Prime Minister: It costs a small-to-medium sized company quite a lot to recruit people. And, as you know, it is quite difficult to know which person is the right match from just one interview. There is a lot of risk involved.

 

--- You say it is difficult to hire one person at a small business.
Is this also how you felt back when you ran your own patent office?

 

Prime Minister: Of course.

 

Narration: In his younger days, the Prime Minister, a certified
patent attorney, actually ran a microenterprise, Kan Patent Office,
which had only one other staff member. In light of his experience,
he discussed the equation from employment measures to economic
growth.

 

Prime Minister: There are people who work as or want to be caregivers, but due to the low salary, they tend not to stay in this work very long. For example, if public finances are used to help increase the salary, this will generate service, i.e. production. Then the unemployment rate will go down, which will help wages go up. Such a model can also be a path to break free from deflation. Further still, GDP will increase, in other words, the economy will grow. At the same time, if people who are not working start to work and earn a salary, they will be paying taxes.

 

Narration: The agency in charge of the theoretical work to support
this policy is the Economic and Social Research Institute of the
Cabinet Office. Its president and economist, Dr. Yoshiyasu Ono,
directs the work.
 

 

Prime Minister: Once a convincing model is developed, I want to incorporate it into one of the mainstream approaches to the budget formulation.

 

Narration: On the first day of the current extraordinary session of
the Diet, the Prime Minister vowed to take on this challenge.
 

 

Prime Minister: I said, we will bolster the creation of demand and employment! This Cabinet will not hand down the major issues which have been put off for the past 20 years to the next generation. I said this Cabinet will tackle these issues, that it will stay true to its word.

 

--- It will be nice if this blog helps lead to these outcomes.

 

Prime Minister: Yes. I look forward to sharing my vision for the economy and society.

 

November 24(Wednesday)

The Conclusion of APEC: Agricultural Revival -- We Can No Longer Wait!

 

"The Prime Minister declared the 'opening of the country in the 21st century,' but will that not adversely affect Japan's agricultural sector?" To answer this question, the Prime Minister himself explains his plan for securing and revitalizing agriculture.

 

 

Prime Minister: This is about aiming to create a close-knit community to promote a deeper form of economic integration.

 

Narration: APEC wrapped up on November 14 with a powerful Leaders' Statement. As the Chair, what stance did Prime Minister Kan take
for the discussions? He spoke with us in the evening of Friday,
November 12, the day before the start of the APEC Economic Leaders'
Meeting, about his resolve to conduct the meetings.

 

Prime Minister: It is the content of the meetings that is of importance, more than the program. For APEC, as the Asia-Pacific region is currently the fastest growing region in the world, I want to carry out discussion aimed at making the growth in this region sustainable and inclusive. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is also a topic of interest, and will be included in discussion. In addition to these topics, a significant challenge to be faced at this APEC summit will be how to advance liberalization even further.

 

--- Will you go straight to Yokohama after arriving at Haneda?

 

Prime Minister: That is correct. After arriving at Haneda, I will go straight to the hotel I am staying at in Yokohama, near the venue for APEC. The summit will kick off tomorrow. After arriving at the hotel, I will have two or three meetings and then will begin preparing for tomorrow.

 

Narration: At this APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, each economy
expressed its support for the Yokohama Vision, which calls for
lowering the economic barriers of the region even further and
creating a free trade area. One of the paths for achieving such
a vision is the TPP. The Prime Minister revealed his inner thoughts
about the decision whether or not to participate in the TPP, at the
APEC venue directly after the announcement of the Leaders'
Statement on the final day.
 

 

Prime Minister: The new framework, the TPP, is a tremendous challenge. It is a highly strategic proposal that aims to encompass wide-ranging issues and areas through the achievement of high-set targets. For the time being I am going to listen to various opinions and thoroughly consider what framework is most appropriate for Japan, what conditions are needed, and whether it is better to build up efforts bilaterally or whether it is better to pursue liberalization under a regional framework like the TPP as we proceed forward.

 

Narration: This issue is one of the points that the Prime Minister
emphasized at the Chair's Press Conference.

 

Prime Minister: I have just clarified in the Basic Policy that our aim is to balance the revival of Japan's agricultural sector with the opening up of the country. My main point is that the Cabinet will work as one in order to reform and revive agriculture by all means, while at the same time opening up the country and making Japanese trade -- or, the movement of people, goods, and money -- even more liberalized.

 

Narration: Prime Minister has already ordered Agricultural Minister
Kano and National Policy Minister Gemba to promptly create an
agricultural reform headquarters. This message that the opening up
of Japan is only achievable in conjunction with agriculture revival
is not just intended for the people of Japan.
 

 

Prime Minister: APEC is composed of 21 countries and regions and I firmly conveyed that sentiment to all of them during our discussions. A large number of the member economies also implement policies to secure agriculture, so I believe that everyone understood my position.

 

Narration: With the conclusion of APEC, the move to open up Japan
in the 21st century is going to pick up speed. Amidst such
developments, what examples has the Prime Minister seen that might
suggest the revival of agriculture?
 

 

Prime Minister: With the current agricultural structure, it is tremendously difficult for young people to engage in agriculture in the same way they might be employed at a company. It is important to expand the sector's entry point. In addition, there are people who are willing to pay a little more for good products. Japanese food is immensely popular throughout the world as a kind of healthy cooking. I would like to create a structure that generates such added value. Until now, people have referred to agriculture in terms of the primary industry alone. However, from now on I will be considering agriculture in a broader context, including such things as food, food products, and even various services that utilize food products. I am currently talking with people in various positions, sometimes on a personal basis, and having them share with me a variety of concepts and models.

 

November 24(Wednesday)

The APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting: Prime Minister Kan's Achievements as the Chair

 

"What was achieved during the whole of APEC, besides the bilateral meetings with China and Russia?" To answer this question, the concise seven-minute report tells the role Prime Minister Kan played as the Chair of the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting over the two days.

 

 

Prime Minister: The Asia-Pacific region is demonstrating its robust
recovery potential. The region will continue to lead the global
economy as the world's growth center.

 

Narration: APEC is a massive presence within the world, comprising
roughly half of the global GDP and 40% of the global population.

 

The greatest achievement for Japan as the Chair country was the
adoption of the Yokohama Vision, which sets a path for integrating
the entire APEC region into one community in the future.

 

Using three key words, Prime Minister Kan explained the vision of
the future APEC community sketched out in the Yokohama Vision.

 

First is an economically-integrated community: a community that
promotes deeper economic integration by liberalizing and
facilitating trade and investment.

 

Prime Minister: By building on and further developing ongoing regional undertakings, we will advance towards the realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

 

Narration: Second is the robust community: a community with
sustainable and higher quality growth.

 

Prime Minister: To this end, the growth strategy of APEC was formulated for the first time in its history. Going forward, we will steadily implement policies set out in such areas as structural reform, development of skilled workforces and entrepreneurs, green growth, knowledge-based economy, and human security.

 

Narration: Third is secure community: a community that provides
a free and secure environment for economic activities.

 

Prime Minister: We will further strengthen our efforts for poverty reduction, counter-terrorism, and disaster mitigation, and promote concrete initiatives to ensure food security.

 

Narration: During these two days, a series of bilateral meetings
were also held. First of all, the Japan-US Summit Meeting resulted
in the launch of consultations for the following initiatives.

 

- Energy-Smart Community Initiative
- U.S.-Japan Clean Energy Policy
- U.S.-Japan Economic Harmonization Initiative
- U.S.-Japan Dialogue to Promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and
  Job Creation
- U.S.-Japan Policy Cooperation Dialogue on the Internet Economy
- U.S-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group
- Initiative for Strengthening the Bilateral Exchange

 

Narration: At the Japan-China Summit Meeting, Prime Minister Kan
stated Japan's firm stance on the Senkaku Islands.

 

President Hu Jintao explained the Chinese side's stance. The
President also said that it is in the fundamental interests of both
countries that they take a path of mutual peace, friendship, and
cooperation.

 

The two countries agreed on three points: development of the
mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic
interests on a long-term and stable basis, promotion of exchanges
and cooperation in both public and private sectors, and
strengthening of cooperation on global issues including the
economic field.

 

Prime Minister: We confirmed our intention to once again promote the mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. By reiterating this principle, I felt that we were able to bring our relationship back to where it was when I assumed office in June this year.

 

Narration: The summit meeting with China was immediately followed
by the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting held in the adjacent room. Prime
Minister Kan protested that President Medvedev's recent visit to
Kunashiri Island was "unacceptable."

 

President Medvedev made a statement based on Russia's basic stance.
The President also said that the atmosphere of bilateral relations
must be improved, to which end he is eager to expand cooperation
concerning various issues, and that he would like to invite Prime
Minister Kan to Russia next year." The two leaders saw eye to eye
on strengthening relations in every area.

 

Prime Minister: We should talk more about the territorial issue, while also thoroughly discussing economic issues. Even though these are of a different nature, as the two countries deepen their economic cooperation, this will also have a positive influence on the territorial issue.

 

Narration: The following day, started with a summit meeting with
Canada, when a signing ceremony for the Canada-Japan Joint
Declaration took place.

 

Prime Minister Kan said that Japan is eager to cooperate even more
closely with Canada in the area of resource development,
capitalizing on the country's abundant mineral resources including
rare earths. Prime Minister Harper concurred on this statement.

 

Narration: During the Japan-Republic of Korea Summit Meeting that
followed, the bilateral archives treaty was signed.

 

Based on this treaty, archives of cultural value possessed by Japan
that originated from the Korean Peninsula during the Korean
dynastic period will be transferred to the Republic of Korea.

 

Prime Minister Kan said, "We could set a major path for
strengthening the future-oriented bilateral relationship going
forward." President Lee also welcomed this agreement, whishing to
strengthen bilateral cooperation even further.

 

Narration: Bilateral meetings were also held with countries other
than the so-called superpowers and neighboring countries.

 

Prime Minister: Many countries have a younger population, but at the same time suffer from lack of financing and infrastructure. They are having difficulties in economic development, whereas in Japan the aging of society is advancing, but at the same time we have high levels of technology as well as a built up financial capital base. Therefore, partnerships between Japan and other Asian countries and also Latin America and Canada across the Pacific will be a new page of the history for Japan as well, as it once again opens up the country in this era of Heisei [in the 21st Century].

 

Narration: Toward a new page of history, Prime Minister Kan
completed diplomatic activities during four days, starting with the
G20 Summit in Seoul. He worked non-stop, with short meetings
inserted between events to analyze the situation.

 

Of course, this was not all about achievements. There are also some
challenges ahead.

 

Prime Minister: Of course there are numerous problems ahead of us but we need the courage and strength to overcome such difficulties, and by exerting such courage and strength, we shall try and create a new Japan. So to that end I would like to ask for your understanding and support and with that I would like to conclude my remarks. Thank you very much.