January 24(Monday)

No. 12: [Isolation] Task Force Team for a Society Inclusive of Individuals Launched!


The Prime Minister answers the question "What is the task force team for 'social inclusion' that was launched on January 18?"
The task force team is a major initiative to create a new type of society which goes beyond "assistance for the weak." It is just an introduction, this time.



Prime Minister: "The priority for me now is working to counteract
the new social risk of isolation."


Narration: Prime Minister Kan made this pledge seven months ago in
his policy speech soon after entering office. The government took
a concrete step towards materializing this pledge.
The Task Force Team aims to create a new type of society through
mutual support networks.
It had already been mentioned in Prime Minister Kan's first policy


Prime Minister: "We will aim to bring about 'a society inclusive of
each and every person,' in which no one is excluded."


Narration: A variety of data were reviewed at the first meeting.
Elderly people living alone, child abuse, school non-attendance,
domestic violence, divorce, poverty, unstable employment, dying
alone, and suicide...


Prime Minister: Looking at the causes of suicide, very few people
commit suicide because of poverty alone. They are poor and also
don't have any friends. They don't have any family to turn to. The
combination of isolation and poverty drives people to suicide.


Narration: Mr. Yasuyuki Shimizu is the head of Lifelink, an NPO
devoted to preventing suicide.
As a Special Advisor to the Cabinet Office, he is a central member
of the Task Force Team, who will act as a bridge person between the
Team and the people.


Mr. Shimizu: It's important that we not become all talk but stay
involved. If we made a recommendation, then we should see to it
that it is put into effect by being involved. I think the citizens
are now capable of bearing responsibility to such an extent.


Narration: Mr. Makoto Yuasa, who once served as the "mayor" of the
year-end and New Year's Dispatched Workers' Village and continues
to address poverty issues, is also one of the central members. With
the Task Force Team not having a vertically-segmented government
structure, Mr. Yuasa's expectations are high.


Mr. Yuasa: Struggle for survival, heavy debt, child abuse --
various issues are piling up and require ministries and agencies to
take a cross-cutting approach. In that respect, I am very grateful
that the Prime Minister's Office decided to do this.


Narration: With the participation of relevant ministries and
agencies and experts from the private sector, the Task Force Team
was set into motion.


Mr. Fukuyama: Where are the holes in the safety net of Japanese
society, including the government?


Mr. Shimizu: If we strengthen the safety net and spread the word,
we can, as a result, prevent suicides.


Prime Minister: Through hotlines, someone can always pick up the
phone anywhere in Japan, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


Mr. Yuasa: The situation has worsened to such a level that it's no
longer a problem affecting just some people. Continuing to neglect
the problem poses a threat to the sustainability of society.


Narration: The Task Force Team will move quickly to set up support
mechanisms in response to individual needs. It will also conduct
surveys and recommend measures to prevent social isolation as well
as measures to support isolated people.


Prime Minister: I believe this is the most important issue to
address in order to ensure that everyone has a role and place in
society. I look forward to working with all of you.


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