August 2011

August 29(Monday)

Looking squarely at the far-ahead future...


At today's party presidential election for the DPJ, Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, Minister of Finance, was decided upon as the next DPJ president.  Tomorrow at the Diet he will be designated Prime Minister.  Mr. Noda has placed emphasis on shoring up public finances and other such matters thus far, and in light of his calm demeanor I have great expectations for him in uniting the party as well.


I myself was able to move forward smoothly with the procedures for stepping aside, with the passage by August 26 of all three bills that I had set as targets enabling me to resign: the second supplementary budget, the Act to Promote Renewable Energies, and the Act on Special Provisions concerning Issuance of Government Bonds.  I intend to be engaged in the promotion of renewable energies as my life work even after I step down from office.


Actually, with regard to renewable energies, ultimately I would like to create a "Green Things" political party.  This is because I believe firmly that what will save the earth and what will save humanity is "green things"―plants.  Why?  It is manifestly apparent when you look at history from the earliest beginnings of the earth.


Do you know what comprises the atmospheres of Mars and Venus?  It is in fact about 95% carbon dioxide.  Moreover, it is said that when the earth came into existence about 4.5 billion years ago, the earth's atmosphere was also more than 95% carbon dioxide.  Yet that has declined to less than 0.04% in the present day.  Why?  Entirely through the power of plants.


First of all, plant life (algae) arose in the ocean, where it is difficult to be impacted by the sun's ultraviolet light, which acts potently to kill living organisms.  Through the carbon assimilation of the algae's chlorophyll, carbon dioxide is broken down into oxygen and carbon, and oxygen was diffused into the atmosphere.  The O3 ozone layer arose from that O2 oxygen, blocking out ultraviolet light.  Plants developed on land and huge forests formed, with carbon taking solid form in the form of coal and so on.  In this way the current atmosphere developed, with ample amounts of oxygen as a component.  It was against the backdrop of this kind of environment that we animals first became able to exist.


Until we came to burn coal during the Industrial Revolution, the energies used by humans also came from plants, for the most part.  One scholar has made the provisional calculation that "if we were to use only one-eighth of the portion of annual growth of the earth's plant life and, rather than leave it to decay, were able to convert it all to energy instead, it would cover the entire amount of energy currently used annually by the entirety of the world's population."  As this would only be utilizing the process of emitting carbon dioxide, the total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would not increase through this process.  In this way, it is plants―that is to say, biomass energy―that have a potential even greater than that of wind or solar energy.


In order also to incorporate this into the reconstruction efforts after the earthquake disaster, first, 100 million yen has been allocated within the second supplementary budget to cover the exploratory investigation costs for ten biomass power-generating stations that would utilize the wood in the rubble from the disaster areas, and then in the future use the leftover wood resulting from forestry operations.  I would like full-fledged operations to be addressed within the third supplementary budget.


--- Here in my last entry I wrote about a topic I enjoy, and with this, "Prime Minister Kan's Blog" will itself come to an end.  There were occasions at which I wished to say more about my own personal thoughts, and I believe that I spoke as frankly as possible within the extent possible in light of my position as Prime Minister.  I would like to thank all my readers for following this blog this far.

August 29(Monday)

Matters undertaken by the Kan administration:
A general report (5)
Recovery and reconstruction from the great earthquake disaster and transforming Japan's energy policy


As the final entry in this series looking back over the efforts of the Kan administration thus far, this article discusses the handling of the great earthquake disaster since March 11 as well as the reformulation of strategies on energy and the environment.

(Numbers in red are sequential throughout this series of articles.)


Recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake

The government has been injecting manpower intensively since immediately after the great earthquake disaster occurred, including police, firefighting teams, the Self-Defense Forces, and the Japan Coast Guard, among others.  In addition to devoting its utmost efforts to relief and rescue operations for the disaster victims, the government has been implementing livelihood support for the victims.  In particular, on the day following the quake, Prime Minister Kan directed the Self-Defense Forces to increase its deployment preparations to a scale of 100,000 personnel, with the Self-Defense Forces engaging in the largest-scale disaster-related deployment operations in SDF history [48], of some 107,000 forces deployed at the peak.  The SDF played an absolutely critical role in operations ranging from lifesaving efforts to livelihood assistance for the disaster victims.

With regard to the disposal of rubble, removal is progressing steadily through the efforts of local municipalities against the backdrop of an extremely large amount of waste generated through the disaster.  The removal of rubble from locations near where residents conduct their daily lives has already been completed in over 90% of municipalities, with the remainder expected to be removed by the end of August [49].  In addition, there has been nearly full recovery of major lifeline infrastructure and transportation.

In order to ensure accommodation for the disaster victims, some 49,000 temporary residences have already been completed, and in combination with private-sector rented accommodation, approximately 110,000 residences [50] have been secured in total.

Moreover, in order to provide critical information to people who evacuated, the government developed a special public relations structure for the disaster-stricken areas [51], creating and distributing newspapers in poster format posted on the walls at evacuation centers, as well as handbooks and flyers, and also making use of TV, radio, Twitter, and other such means.


Efforts for Reconstruction from the Great Earthquake Disaster

To facilitate recovery and reconstruction from the earthquake disaster, the government also expeditiously implemented necessary fiscal measures [52], including a first supplementary budget on a scale of 4 trillion yen (submitted to the Diet on April 28; enacted May 2) and a second supplementary budget on a scale of 2 trillion yen (submitted July 15; enacted July 25), in addition to utilizing supplementary expenditures in series beginning three days after the disaster struck.

In addition, the administration established the "Reconstruction Design Council in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake" [53], which has convened 12 times since April.  On June 25, the Council compiled the report, "Towards Reconstruction - Hope beyond the Disaster."  The "Basic Act on Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake" was enacted on June 20 [54], and on the basis of this Act, the Reconstruction Headquarters in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake [55] was created on June 27.

In line with the recommendations made by this Council, on July 29, the Reconstruction Headquarters in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake approved the "Basic Guidelines for Reconstruction in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake," [56] thereby clearly laying forth an overall vision of efforts by the national government for reconstruction.  This vision includes such elements as (i) the establishment of a system of "Special Zone for Reconstruction," (ii) the introduction of "Easy-to-use Grants," (iii) the scale of reconstruction operations and fiscal resources, (iv) various kinds of policies and measures for reconstruction, (v) reconstruction from the nuclear disaster, and (vi) a framework for reconstruction assistance.


Efforts towards Bringing the Nuclear Accident under Stable Control and Providing Compensation

In bringing the Fukushima nuclear accident under stable control, the government and relevant entities have been working together in line with the compiled "Roadmap," getting the circulation cooling system into operation and achieving stability in cooling the reactors while also restraining the release of new radioactive materials.  In this way, the objectives established in "Step 1" were successfully attained [57].

In light of this situation, efforts are now underway to achieve a cold shutdown, aiming towards the objective of "Step 2," namely that "the release of radioactive materials be controlled and the radiation dose be restrained significantly."

With regard to the nuclear disaster, an approach to revising the evacuation zones and other matters was decided [58], whereby an approach was coordinated that would promptly review directions covering evacuations and other situations upon a certain number of conditions being met.  In addition, through the provision of funds for the "Fund for the Health of Victims of the Nuclear Accident and Children," [59] established by the Fukushima Prefectural Government, the government is supporting long-term health management for the residents, as well as decontamination operations.

Regarding compensation for the nuclear disaster, "Midterm Guidelines for Determining the Scope of Damages from the Nuclear Accident" were formulated [60] in August.  In addition, the "Act to Establish Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corporation" was enacted [61].  In doing so, the government has prepared a framework for assistance that will achieve prompt and appropriate compensation for damages for the persons affected.


Raising Issues with a View to the Transformation of Japan's Energy Policy

The Kan administration has undertaken various efforts towards the transformation of Japan's energy policy on the basis of the experience of the Great East Japan Earthquake.  In an address delivered at a meeting of the OECD, Prime Minister Kan announced a target of "increasing the share of renewable energy within our total electric power supply to at least 20 percent by the earliest possible timing in the 2020s." [62] At a July 13 Press Conference, he also clarified his thinking that Japan should aim to achieve "a society that is not dependent on nuclear power". [63]

Based on these statements, the government prepared an "interim compilation of discussion points towards the creation of innovative energy and environmental strategies" [64] and reviewed the approach taken within its current energy policy starting with an entirely blank slate.  It was decided that among other endeavors, the government would create scenarios characterized by a reduced dependence on nuclear energy and conduct an exhaustive verification study on nuclear energy-related policies, with a view to realizing a new optimal energy mix.

Further, the administration submitted to the Diet a bill to mandate the purchase by electric companies of electricity generated through the use of renewable energy sources at a certain price and for a certain period of time stipulated by the government (the Act to Promote Renewable Energies) and this bill was passed on August 26 [65].


Policies to Prevent Accidents at Existing Nuclear Plants

In consideration of the special circumstances that there is a high possibility of an earthquake of approximate magnitude 8 striking the Tokai region within the next 30 years, the Prime Minister made the judgment to request the suspension of operations at Chubu Electric Power Company's Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station, in order to safeguard the peace of mind and safety of the public [66].

Moreover, the administration introduced safety assessments of nuclear plants modeled after the stress tests performed in Europe, and in addition to the safety checks performed by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) based on existing laws and regulations, the administration decided on a government policy under which comprehensive safety assessments based on new procedures and rules are to be conducted in a form that involves Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission [67].

Moreover, in May, the Cabinet decided to establish the "Investigation and Verification Committee on the Accidents at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric Power Company," [68] which will carry out a multifaceted investigation and verification of the nuclear accident from the point of view of the people through a transparent and neutral process.

Furthermore, a Cabinet Decision was taken to separate NISA's Nuclear Safety Regulation Department from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to create the "Nuclear Safety and Security Agency" (NSSA; provisional name) as an external agency affiliated with the Ministry of the Environment and to centralize within that Agency affairs related to nuclear safety regulations [69].


This five-part series has overviewed the matters in which the Kan administration has been engaged.  While many endeavors have been initiated, they are all still only part way to completion.  Through its website and other means, the Prime Minister's Office will continue in the future to work to convey to the public government policies in a manner that is easy to understand.

August 29(Monday)

"Final [Last Spurt] 'Until My Last Day as Prime Minister' ... Activities before Resignation and Beyond."


After announcing his resignation at the press conference on August 26, Prime Minister Kan headed to Fukushima. "This is my responsibility." Leaving an inscription of the phrase quoted from Buddhist priest Sokyu Genyu (a member of the Reconstruction Design Council) at one of the disaster sites he visited, even after stepping down the Prime Minister is intent on putting this phrase into practice.



<August 26  Announcement of resignation>

Prime Minister: I shall step down as leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as of today, and following the election of a new DPJ President, leave the post of Prime Minister.


The day following the announcement of his resignation, Prime Minister Kan headed toward... Fukushima.



Prime Minister: Given the seriousness of the matter, that in some places it might not be possible for people to return home for five, ten years or even longer, I thought it is my responsibility as the one serving as Prime Minister at the time of the March 11 earthquake to communicate about this [instead of leaving that task to the next Prime Minister]. This is why I came here.


<August 27  Governor Sato upon hearing the Prime Minister speaking at the Fukushima Prefectural Office>

Governor Sato: This was truly painful and grave news to the people in Fukushima Prefecture...


In the background of the Governor's words―the Prime Minister visited Fukushima six times since the disaster, and directly spoke to many people afflicted by the disaster.


<From Prime Minister KAN's TV No. 18―People directly speaking to the Prime Minister at an evacuation center in Fukushima>

Woman (crying): I want to go back home.


Man (speaking quietly): Please make Tomioka Town become as close [re-accessible] as possible. Right now, my house is now farther away to me than the United States.



Prime Minister: Everyone spoke of how strongly they wanted to return to their former life and go back to where they used to live. As I recall them speaking to me as such, honestly it was rather a painful task to convey such a report today to the Governor [that there are some places where people may not be able to return for an extended period of time].


<Going back to the announcement of resignation on August 26>

Prime Minister: I will continue to do my utmost on this problem [of the nuclear accident] until my last day as Prime Minister.

Being true to his words, just in the few days before leaving his post, the Prime Minister accomplished, with regard to the countermeasures for contamination by radioactive materials,

  • Establishment of an organization to direct the cleanup,
  • Finalization of the basic policy for the future,
  • Cabinet approval for the budget expenditure, and
  • Passage of the bill stipulating the national government's responsibility to clean up contaminated rubble.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister managed to bring about

  • Inauguration of a preparatory office for the reform of nuclear energy administration,
  • Passage of the Bill to Promote Renewable Energies,
  • The first meeting of the Council for Reconstructing Fukushima from the Nuclear Disaster gathering national and local government officials and other experts,

among other achievements. As such, steady progress is being made with regard to policies.


August 25 (Thu)   

  • Liaison Meeting for Measures against Radioactive Contamination launched

...A 'cross-ministerial' commanding center

August 26 (Fri)   

  • Basic Principles on Emergency Decontamination Works decided

...Reduce the radiation level by 50% in the next two years, etc.

  • 220 billion yen decontamination budget approved at the Cabinet meeting
  • Special Measures Bill on Environmental Pollution from Radioactive Materials passed

...National government will be responsible for cleaning up contaminated rubble, etc.

August 26 (Fri)

  • Preparatory Office for Reform of Nuclear Safety Regulation Organization and Other Reforms established

...Preparation to launch Nuclear Safety and Security Agency (tentative name)

  • Bill to Promote Renewable Energies passed

August 27 (Sat)

  • Council for Reconstructing Fukushima from the Nuclear Disaster



Prime Minister: Each minister in charge, as well as officials engaged in various tasks at the site, are joining hands with me in doing everything we can until the very last moment of my Cabinet. "We see the next runners coming close to us, but let's keep running until we surely pass the baton to them." That is how they approach their work.


The Prime Minister left the following inscription on a message board at a volunteer center in one of the disaster areas.


<June 11  A volunteer center in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture
The Prime Minister inscribes a message on the wall―the message is "Live with Determination">



Prime Minister: As the Prime Minister who experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake during his office and spearheaded various responses to the disaster, even after I step down it does not mean that my responsibility will be gone altogether. Although I will no longer be Prime Minister, I intend to visit the disaster areas every now and then as I have been doing, and listen to the people there and communicate messages to those who need them. That is what I am thinking.


So far 27 episodes of Prime Minister KAN's TV have been broadcasted. This is the 28th episode and will be the final one.


Prime Minister: I imagine that people who saw these episodes were able to gain a greater understanding of what activities I was engaged in and with what kind of conviction. I want to thank all the enthusiastic viewers from the bottom of my heart.


Thank you very much.

August 28(Sunday)

Matters undertaken by the Kan administration:
A general report (4)
Diplomacy and National Security


The fourth topic in this series is "diplomacy and national security."  This entry will overview the diplomatic and national security-related efforts in which the Kan administration has been engaged, both bilaterally and multilaterally.

(Numbers in red are sequential throughout this series of articles.)


Reinforcement of the Japan-U.S. alliance [32]

Prime Minister Kan held meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama four times (eight times, including telephone conversations), and the leaders agreed to reinforce the Japan-U.S. alliance on the three pillars of national security aspects, economic aspects, and also exchanges in culture and human resources, as well as to put forward a common vision for the Japan-U.S. alliance of the 21st century during the next visit of a Japanese Prime Minister to the United States.  In addition, the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (the "2+2" Meeting), which brings together the Cabinet members in Japan and the U.S. overseeing foreign policy and defense, was held in June, with new common strategic objectives formulated.

In order to move ahead with the lightening of the military base burden concentrated in Okinawa, in September 2010 the Okinawa Policy Council convened after a five-year hiatus, with the "Okinawa Promotion Committee" and the "Committee to Reduce Okinawa's Military Base Burden" newly established under the Council's auspices.  With regard to the issue of the relocation of Futenma Air Station, the administration addressed the matter in line with the Japan-U.S. agreement.

The administration has also promoted mutual understanding between the two countries at a full range of levels among the public, including through the dispatch of young Japanese teachers of the English language to the United States, while also engaging in close cooperation with the United States, such as, in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, the assistance provided under "Operation Tomodachi" as well as assistance in handling the nuclear accident.


Fostering relations with neighboring countries

○Development of future-oriented Japan-ROK relations [33]

Last year, concurrent with the one hundredth anniversary of Japan's annexation of the Korean peninsula, Prime Minister Kan issued a Prime Ministerial statement.  In addition, the Kan administration concluded an agreement between Japan and the ROK on archives, in order to hand over to the ROK archives originating from the Korean Peninsula.  Regarding the North Korea issue, Japan, the United States, and the ROK have been handling the matter in cooperation.


○Enhancing the "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" with China [34]

Although diplomatic friction arose as the result of the incident of the fishing boat collision off the coast of the Senkaku Islands, the Kan administration endeavored to handle the matter appropriately.  Through meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister Kan, taking a wider perspective, worked to enhance the "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests" through broad-based cooperation, yet he also expressed concerns over China's strengthening of its national defenses, which is somewhat lacking in its transparency, and over the intensification of China's maritime activities.  Moreover, he urged observance of international norms of conduct and constructive responses.


○Strengthening of Japan-China-ROK cooperation [35]

The 'Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Summit Meeting' was held in Tokyo this May, with documents created on cooperation in the fields of nuclear safety, the promotion of renewable energy and related efforts, and disaster management in addition to the summit declaration, with a view to the strengthening of trilateral cooperation.  In addition, on this occasion Prime Minister Kan invited the leaders of China and the ROK to the disaster-stricken areas.


○Strengthening of relations with Russia across all fields [36]

Prime Minister Kan held three meetings with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, with the leaders agreeing to develop their relations across all fields, including politically and economically, aiming at the building of desirable relations as partners in the Asia-Pacific region.  In addition, the Kan administration protested at the summit level regarding the visit of high-level Russian political figures to the Northern Territories.  The leaders agreed to tenaciously engage in negotiations on the territorial issue, continuing discussions in a calm environment.


○Strengthening of relations with India, Australia, and ASEAN

As for relations with India, the summit-level joint statement, "A Vision for Japan-India Strategic and Global Partnership in the Next Decade," [37] was announced at the Japan-India summit held last October.  With Australia, the strengthening of security cooperation through the Japan-Australia Joint Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations (the "2+2" Meeting), advancement of negotiations on a Japan-Australia EPA [38], and other undertakings brought about a strengthening of bilateral relations.  Regarding its relations with a growing ASEAN, Japan promoted concrete cooperation [39] in the creation of an ASEAN Community and such fields as disaster prevention.


○Promotion of economic partnerships through the Yokohama APEC meeting [40]

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting was held in Yokohama in November 2010, with Japan serving as chair.  The "Yokohama Vision" was adopted and agreement was reached on concrete steps towards realization of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).  Japan also expressed its view that the FTAAP should be pursued with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement serving as the base.


Efforts to address global issues

○Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation

Last year Japan submitted the draft resolution "United action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons" to the United Nations General Assembly.  This draft resolution had 90 co-sponsors including the United States, the largest number ever, and was adopted by an overwhelmingly large majority [41].  Atomic bomb survivors and second-generation atomic bomb victims were commissioned as "Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons" [42] as an effort to pass on to the international community the misery of nuclear weapons, and a great many people in countries all around the world have listened to the testimony of a total of 33 Special Communicators thus far.


○Millennium Development Goals (the "Kan Commitment") [43]

At the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th General Assembly of the United Nations on the MDGs in September 2010, on the basis of the philosophy of realizing "a society with the least unhappiness," Prime Minster Kan announced as the "Kan Commitment" that Japan would provide assistance of five billion US dollars as contributions to the field of health, and also provide assistance to enable greater participation in society.


○Efforts to address global environmental issues

At the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD/COP10), which was held in Nagoya in October 2010, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted [44] and Prime Minister Kan announced the "Life in Harmony" Initiative.


○Response at the G8 Summit [45]

At the G8 Deauville Summit this past May, Japan sent out a message broadly to the international community of its determination to achieve reconstruction from the earthquake disaster at the earliest possible time and to be actively engaged in international contributions.  Moreover, Japan broadly proposed to the international community a future direction in which renewable energies serve as core energy sources.


○Dispatches to international peace cooperation activities and other endeavors [46]

In response to requests from the international community, Japan dispatched its Self-Defense Forces to various international peace cooperation activities as well as to other efforts.


(Last year in August, Japan dispatched Self-Defense Forces helicopters as a Japan Disaster Relief Team, providing assistance towards the flood disaster in Pakistan.  In September that year, Japan dispatched two officials from the Self-Defense Forces as military liaison officers to the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).  And, in February this year, a Japan Disaster Relief Team was dispatched via government aircraft in response to the earthquake disaster on New Zealand's South Island.)


○Determination of new National Defense Program Guidelines

New 'National Defense Program Guidelines' were formulated [47] in December 2010 in order to respond to the new national security environment.  Rather than the Basic Defense Force (BDF) Concept, which places emphasis on deterrent effects arising from the very existence of defense capabilities, it was decided to forge a "dynamic defense force" that offers greater readiness and mobility than ever before.


The next entry will take up the handling of the great earthquake disaster as well as the restructuring of strategies for energy and the environment.

August 27(Saturday)

Matters undertaken by the Kan administration:
A general report (3)
Measures Taken from the Point of View of the People as Members of Society at Both the National and Local Levels


The third topic in this series focuses on "measures taken from the point of view of the people as members of society at both the national and local levels."  The Kan administration since its earliest days advocated the achievement of "a society with the least unhappiness."  This column compiles the administration's efforts towards giving concrete shape to this vision.

(Numbers in red are sequential throughout this series of articles.)


Resolution of Issues through Efforts by Task Force Teams

The five "Task Force Teams" created under the instruction of Prime Minister Kan were organized with members from various entities in a way that transcends the boundaries of ministries and agencies, in order to bring about the swift resolution of issues.  These Teams have been actively engaged in advancing responses to their particular issues to any degree possible to help realize "a society with the least unhappiness."


(1) Recovery of the remains of the war dead in Iwo Island [24]

The "Task Force Team for the Recovery of the Remains of the War Dead in Iwo Island" was established in August 2010.  Burial sites were identified as the outcome of research in the United States into a huge amount of public records numbering 600 boxes and some 400,000 pages in length.  This led to the recovery of the remains of 822 war dead (within fiscal 2010), a figure unprecedented in recent years.  In addition, Prime Minister Kan was the first sitting Prime Minister to participate in actual work to recover remains on site in Iwo Island.

For related video(KAN-FULL TV) click HERE.


(2) Employment of new graduates [25]

The "Task Force Team for the Employment of New Graduates" was inaugurated in August 2010.  Within six days of its establishment, this team compiled 'emergency measures related to the employment of new graduates' as response measures to the severe employment situation.  In addition to doubling the number of Job Supporters (professionals charged with assisting job seekers during the employment search and subsequent application process), the administration made requests in concrete terms to the business community regarding the employment of new graduates.

For related video(KAN-FULL TV) click HERE.


(3) Responses to HTLV-1 [26]

The "Task Force Team for Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1)" was established in September 2010.  That December, a comprehensive policy was compiled addressing research and development on the prevention and treatment of the virus "HTLV-1," which causes adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) and other illnesses, as well as the development of a framework for consultation and treatment regarding this virus.

For related video(KAN-FULL TV) click HERE.


(4) Eliminating childcare waiting lists [27]

October 2010 saw the creation of the "Task Force Team for Eliminating Childcare Waiting Lists," which formulated "An Anticipatory Project for Elimination of Childcare Waiting Lists" that November.  As the budget for fiscal 2011, 20 billion yen was directed to these efforts, with the provision of subsidies also to non-registered childcare facilities whose quality has been ensured.

For related video(KAN-FULL TV) click HERE.


(5) Social inclusion [28]

The "Task Force Team for a Society Inclusive of Individuals" came into being in January 2011.  To respond to the new social risk of 'isolation,' in May the Team announced its "Fundamental Approach towards Promoting Policies for Social Inclusion" and then in August it compiled concrete 'urgent policy proposals,' including one-stop consultation services, among other measures.

For related video(KAN-FULL TV) click HERE.


Political decisions and institutional designs that take the point of view of the people as members of society at both the national and local levels

Last December, Prime Minister Kan [29] decided not to appeal a Fukuoka High Court ruling ordering the opening of the drainage gates of the Isahaya Bay dike.  The government devised a concrete methodology for opening the gates and also conducted on environmental assessment to enable the formulation of all necessary measures to ensure that no negative impacts arise in the areas of disaster prevention, agricultural management, or fishing.

In June this year, the government signed a Letter of Understanding for the settling of the lawsuits connected to hepatitis B contraction [30] with the plaintiffs groups in these lawsuits.

In addition, the review of the system governing donations to NPOs will support the foundation of activities undertaken by NPOs, which will play a key role in the "New Public Commons."  The review of the system will also lead to the promotion of volunteer activities.


Efforts placing particular emphasis on employment, etc.

The following overriding principles, which were introduced within the category of "Economic Policies" in the previous entry, also reflect the perspective of the people at both the national and local levels.

First of all, emphasis has been placed on the 'creation of employment,' an approach that dramatically shifted the approach existing until now.  This thinking is grounded upon the idea that the 'loss of a job' is not merely a matter of economic difficulty, but in fact causes the loss of a 'place to belong and role to play' as an individual, and is among the most significant factors in falling into an unhappy state.

Moreover, by enhancing the sustainability of public finances and social security, the "integrated reform of social security and taxation systems" will also form a foundation for "a society with the least unhappiness."


The next installment will take up "the promotion of diplomacy and national security."

August 26(Friday)

"No. 27 [Conversion] The Bill to Promote Renewable Energies Finally Passed! Comments from the Prime Minister and Citizens Awaiting its Passage."


On August 26, although much focus was on Prime Minister Kan's press conference announcing his resignation, the most important news was the passage of the Bill to Promote Renewable Energies, which was connected with the Prime Minister's resignation. (Please see Prime Minister KAN's TV No. 24 for the content of the Bill.) The voices of many people reached the Prime Minister in the period leading up to the passage of the bill.



<August 26 Press Conference by Prime Minister Naoto Kan>

Prime Minister: I have something I would like to report to the people of Japan. Today, thanks to the tremendous efforts of the ruling and opposition parties, the Diet passed the Bill to Promote Renewable Energies.


A bill that Prime Minister Kan insisted on passing right up until the very last moment.


<June 15 At an "Energy Shift Now!" meeting>

Prime Minister: Developing natural energy sources. Creating options. The first step for these will be the Bill to Promote Renewable Energies!


<From Prime Minister KAN's TV No. 24

<Actress Ms. Miyuki Matsuda>
Ms. Matsuda: You are the only person who can drive this change right now. I earnestly ask for your leadership on this.


<Singer Ms. Tokiko Kato>
Ms. Kato: I sincerely pray for its enactment.


A large board inscribed with a request to pass the Bill was handed to the Prime Minister at a public meeting that advocates a shift to renewable energies.
The board has since been sitting in the Prime Minister's office until today. And not only this panel alone...


<June 11 At a volunteer center in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture - the Prime Minister was suddenly stopped by someone after observing the facility>

Man: Prime Minister Kan, if we think about the future I think the best choice is natural energy.

Prime Minister: Yes, I will do it.

Man: Good luck!

Prime Minister: Thank you. [Shaking hands with the man.]

Man: Thank you.


<June 23 At the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City, Okinawa Prefecture - standing with wind turbines in the background>

Woman: There is wind as well today, in addition to sunlight. I think it would be nice if we could harness natural energy resources as there are plenty of them.


Also during the open dialogue on natural energy with people across the nation via the Internet...


<June 19  "Open Dialogue with the Public" on Natural Energy>

Moderator: We have received many comments and messages via Twitter as well. [Introducing the comments received.]

"As a major premise for promoting natural energy, I think there needs to be a shift to a society that consumes less energy."




<July 13  Press Conference by Prime Minister Naoto Kan>

Prime Minister: These thoughts led me to conclude that with regard to Japan's future nuclear power policy, we should aim to achieve a society that is not dependent on nuclear power.


At this press conference the Prime Minister drew attention by clearly stating a break away from dependence on nuclear energy.
At its conclusion the Prime Minister said,


Prime Minister: Work to actively secure new renewable energy sources and promote energy conservation. I will seek to advance on the basis of this consistent concept.



Half a month later, at the meeting of the Energy and Environment Council gathering relevant ministers...


<July 29 Energy and Environment Council>

Prime Minister: The possibility of introducing renewable energy sources. We as the Government were truly able to propose a base for the strategy for innovative energy and environment.


The Prime Minister's personal thoughts were consolidated into the official energy policy.
Two days later, the People's Energy and Environment Conference was held as a symposium in which everyone can freely participate to think about future energy policies together.


<July 31 In Chino City, Nagano Prefecture, "People's Energy and Environment Conference">

<Prime Minister Kan listening attentively to the speech by environment journalist Ms. Junko Edahiro>
Ms. Edahiro: We the people must think about our own energy supplies, which we have hitherto left entirely to the national government or power companies, as our own issues, making choices and decisions by ourselves. We must change the energy supply structure from within the community.


In Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well...


<August 9  Nagasaki City>

<Atomic bomb survivor Mr. Koichi Kawano>
Mr. Kawano: I want to see a safe and secure society with renewable natural energy as a core energy source.


<August 6  Hiroshima City>

<Atomic bomb survivor Mr. Susumu Tsuboi>
Mr. Tsuboi: By demanding that the path be taken toward natural energy and toward nuclear-zero, and putting them into practice, we would like to respond to the questions and expectations from the world.


<August 26 Plenary Session of the House of Councillors passage of the Bill>

Finally, backed by so many supportive voices, the Bill to Promote Natural Energies was passed.


<Going back to the "People's Energy and Environment Conference">

Prime Minister: This (renewable energy) will definitely lead to a new industrial revolution in Japan, and I want to say that it is totally possible. Thank you!


August 26(Friday)

Matters undertaken by the Kan administration:
A general report (2)
Integrated Reforms to the Economy, Government Finances, and Social Security


This series overviews matters the Kan administration has tackled.  The second topic in this series is "integrated reforms to the economy, government finances, and social security."  Let us look back over the overall economic policy undertaken by the Kan administration, examining in turn the classifications of "economic growth," "putting public finances on a sound footing," and "social security."

(Numbers in red are sequential throughout this series of articles.)


Economic Growth

●The New Growth Strategy

A Cabinet Decision was taken on [9] the New Growth Strategy in June, after Prime Minister Kan assumed office.  Rather than economic growth through public works (the "First Approach") or growth strategies overly slanted towards supply side efficiency (the "Second Approach") as pursued in the past, the administration has promoted seven strategic areas and 21 national strategic projects, aiming at growth through the creation of new demand and employment (the "Third Approach").  The Kan government also established the 'Council on the Realization of the New Growth Strategy,' thereby creating the structure for implementing these projects in a full-scale manner.

In order to prevent the hollowing out of domestic industry, the [10] "Japan Inward Investment Promotion Program" was formulated in November 2010.  The Tax Reform Bill for FY2011 included a 5% reduction in the effective corporate tax rate while also providing funding towards domestic business locations for low-carbon industries.

In the area of economic partnerships with other countries, a Cabinet Decision was taken in November 2010 on [11] the 'Basic Policy on Comprehensive Economic Partnerships,' whereby it was decided that Japan will take the initiative to formulate trade and investment rules designed for the twenty-first century in the Asia-Pacific region.  Having successfully concluded negotiations with India and Peru, the administration started the process to work towards negotiations with the EU while also advancing efforts towards the realization of a Japan-China-Republic of Korea FTA

The Kan government was also engaged in revival of the agriculture, forestry, and fishery industries in a way that achieves a balance with the promotion of high-level economic partnerships.  Discussions were advanced in this area with the inauguration of the "Council for the Realization of the Revival of the Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery Industries" in November 2010.  Since that time a [12] "Midterm Proposal for the Revival of the Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery Industries in Japan" was compiled in August 2011, also taking into account the occurrence of the Great East Japan Earthquake.


●Promotion of economic countermeasures, etc.

Last September, the Kan government announced a "Three-Phase Approach to Economic Measures" that addressed the risks of a rapid appreciation of the yen and a slowdown in economies overseas.  That same month, the [13] "Three-Phase Approach to Economic Measures for the Realization of the New Growth Strategy" was implemented as "Step 1" (including among other efforts the mobilization of approximately 900 billion yen in supplementary economic expenditures), with [14] 'Gist of Comprehensive Emergency Economic Measures In Response to the Yen's Appreciation and Deflation' implemented in October as "Step 2" (including the mobilization of a supplementary budget of fiscal 2010 of some 4.9 trillion yen).  As "Step 3," [15] measures were taken to bring about the full-fledged implementation of the New Growth Strategy through compilation of the fiscal 2011 budget and reform of the tax system.

In addition, since the Great East Japan Earthquake, in order to advance measures for revitalizing Japan, the Cabinet took the decisions to approve the [16] "Guidelines on Policy Promotion: for the Revitalization of Japan" in May of this year and the "Overall Vision of Policy Promotion" in August with a view to laying out basic policies for economic and fiscal management as well as policies for ensuring the sustainability of public finances and social security, and for redesigning and refortifying national strategies toward new growth..


●Promotion of measures related to employment

Based on the "Three-Phase Approach to Economic Measures" and [17] the "Employment Strategy Dialogue Accord (Basic Policy on Employment Strategy 2011)" of December 2010, the Kan administration developed policies based on the three pillars of 'connecting' people with jobs, 'creating' new jobs, and 'protecting' existing jobs, including through the promotion of measures to foster the employment of new graduates and the use of employment adjustment subsidies to support efforts to maintain employment at companies.


Putting Public Finances on a Sound Footing

●Formulation of the "Fiscal Management Strategy"

The Cabinet took a decision to approve [18] the Fiscal Management Strategy in June 2010, soon after Prime Minister Kan assumed office.  In addition to setting the goals of "for the primary balance of national and local governments, by fiscal 2015 at the latest, halve the primary balance deficit relative to GDP compared to fiscal 2010, and by fiscal 2020 at the latest, achieve a primary balance surplus," this Strategy introduced basic rules on fiscal management, including the 'pay-as-you-go' rule and the 'fiscal deficit reduction' rule.

The Fiscal Management Strategy introduces a [19] "medium-term fiscal framework" that stipulates an upper limit on the general account expenditures for the following three years, with revisions to be conducted in the middle of the fiscal year each year, an approach developed through reference to UK structures.  Under the August 2011 revision, fiscal discipline is maintained, with the response to the earthquake disaster being managed separately.


●Dealing with the draft budget of fiscal 2011

In formulating the draft budget for fiscal 2011, [20] conventional allocations were changed boldly, with social security-related expenditures increased by 5.3% and subsidies for scientific research expanded by 30%, while expenditures for public works decreased by 5% in real terms.  Making use of [21] "special funding to bring vigor back to Japan," the administration placed particular importance on policies and measures appearing in the New Growth Strategy and the Manifesto that have a high degree of priority.

A third round of review of government programs (jigyou shiwake) was conducted in October and November 2010 to review special-purpose budget accounts and also conduct additional reviews of those areas in which the results of previous evaluations and various suggestions under this review program had not been accurately reflected.  Moreover, the results of the reviews of government programs thus far were reflected in the fiscal 2011 budget.

The government thus boldly modified the budget and concentrated on the high-priority policies and measures while also maintaining an expenditure framework of within 71 trillion yen and new issuance of government bonds of no more than 44 trillion yen, in accordance with the "Medium-term Fiscal Framework."


Reforming Social Security

Amidst ongoing major changes to Japan's socioeconomic circumstances, including a dwindling birthrate and aging population, in order to ensure peace of mind within the daily lives of the people, the Kan government endeavored to undertake an integrated reform of social security and taxes.  Examination of such reform began in October 2010, with the "Council for Intensive Discussion on Social Security Reform" tirelessly advancing discussions on the issue.  In June 2011, the [22] "final draft plan for the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems" was compiled, clearly setting out the measures to be taken towards the achievement of ensuring stable fiscal resources within the reform of social security while concurrently putting government finances on a sound footing.  (The details of these have been overviewed in other "Topics from the Prime Minister's Office" columns in the past.)

In addition, [23] "guidelines for the social security and taxation identification number system" were compiled in June of this year, aiming at the introduction of an identification number system as a kind of infrastructure that would enhance efficiency and transparency in both the social security and tax systems while also ensuring fairness in terms of both benefits and obligations.

The next article in this series will overview "measures taken from the point of view of the people as members of society at both the national and local levels."

August 25(Thursday)

Matters undertaken by the Kan administration:
A general report (1)
Reforms to the modalities of politics and government


Prime Minister Kan stated here in the "Prime Minister Kan's Blog" and elsewhere that he would "pass on the reins of government once the Bill on Special Provisions Concerning Issuance of Government Bonds and the Bill to Promote Renewable Energies are passed."  Accordingly, this "Topics from the Prime Minister's Office" corner will present through a series of articles a general overview of the matters in which the Kan administration has been engaged over the past year and three months since its inception, broken down by major topic headings.


The first topic in this series is "reforms to the modalities of politics and government."  Taking over the major reforms of politics and government originating with the historic change of government under the Hatoyama administration, the Kan administration has undertaken new measures in the areas of politicians taking the initiative on policymaking rather than the bureaucracy, reforms to increase local sovereignty, and reforms involving national civil servants.  Let us look back on the paths these have taken.


A new stage of politicians taking the initiative on policymaking

Establishing the practice of "politicians taking the initiative on policymaking rather than the bureaucracy" this was both a key phrase in the change of government and also an issue to which Prime Minister Kan has been devoting his energy since the DPJ was an opposition party.


It has been said over the years that compared to other countries, the number of staff reporting directly to the Prime Minister of Japan is in fact quite small.  Upon acceding to office, Prime Minister Kan, who had himself been deeply involved in establishing the National Policy Unit as the first-ever Minister for National Policy, [1] positioned some members of the National Policy Unit as 'staff reporting directly to the Prime Minister,' thereby explicitly giving them the function of assisting the Prime Minister.


Reforms to increase local sovereignty

The matter of what should be done regarding the relationship between the nation and the local regions is one of the most important issues when considering the future 'shape of the nation.'  The Kan administration [2] took a Cabinet Decision on "Local Sovereignty Strategy Guidelines" in June 2010, stipulating the policies and measures that will promote reforms to local sovereignty in an integrated and planned manner.


[3] The Kan administration also achieved progress in transitioning grants into block (lump sum) grants.  In fiscal 2011, grants related to investment into the prefectures and other monies were made into block grants totaling 512 billion yen.  The goal for fiscal 2012 is 1 trillion yen in scale, including grants for municipalities.


In December 2010, a Cabinet Decision was reached on the [4] "Action Plan to Abolish Regional Offices of the National Government in Principle."  Among other matters, it was decided that a bill would be submitted to the ordinary Diet session in fiscal 2012 to create a framework for region-wide implementation structures to enable the transfer of operations and authority from the regional offices of the national government in blocks, with the aim of this transfer taking place within fiscal 2014.


Moreover, in April this year, a law was enacted on the [5] "Forum for Consultations between the National and Regional Governments," by which a forum for the national and regional governments to consult directly was formally established into law.  The Forum has already convened twice since this became law.


Reforms to the system of national civil servants

Progress was also seen in reforms to the system of national civil servants, one of the most important topics within administrative reform.  The April 2011 meeting of the Headquarters to Promote Civil Service Reform decided on an "overall vision" of reforms, including [6] the establishment of a "System of Self-Governing Labor-Management Relations," which will enable a review of the personnel and salary systems between authorities and employees' organizations of civil servants, [7] the establishment of a system concerning the centralized management of personnel, and further improvements to management of retirement of civil servants, among other things, and a bill was submitted to the Diet in June.


The Kan administration has also stringently taken on [8] cutbacks in personnel expenditures for civil servants.  Against the backdrop of the Great East Japan Earthquake and other circumstances, a bill has been submitted to the Diet to reduce salaries of national civil servants dramatically until the end of fiscal 2013, including a 10% reduction in salaries for managerial-level civil servants.  The administration is also working tenaciously to reduce the total number of national civil servants.


The next installment will provide an overview of economic policies.

August 16(Tuesday)

Dialogues with experts: "Now or never" countermeasures against radiation contamination


Just before and after this past weekend, there was a steady 'step forward' in the reconstruction from the earthquake disaster and then regarding the nuclear energy issue. First of all, last Friday, the pending matter of the bill on "Special Measures for the Disposal of Rubble" was passed through the solid efforts of the persons involved.  Through this, in combination with allowances received through the tax revenues allocated to local governments, the local authorities in the disaster-afflicted areas for all practical purposes now do not need to shoulder any of the cost burden involved in disposing of rubble from the earthquake disaster.  I have high expectations for this becoming a powerful step forward towards progress in reconstruction.


Meanwhile, within the preparations for the reform of our nuclear energy administration, yesterday a Cabinet Decision was taken on the basic polices for the establishment of a 'Nuclear Safety and Security Agency.'  Through the ongoing efforts of Minister for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accidents Goshi Hosono, the work to create a framework has moved forward rapidly.


While it goes without saying, the urgent issue that exists in parallel with these efforts is countermeasures to address the contamination at hand resulting from radioactive materials.  While we are intensively engaged in countermeasures together with the local authorities, the large-scale contamination associated with the nuclear accident is something our nation is experiencing for the first time, and experts hold a diverse range of opinions on the matter.  I am also hearing grave concern being voiced by the public, especially those with small children.


In light of this, I, together with the relevant ministers and vice-ministers, took time once again yesterday to listen carefully to seven experts in total, over roughly three hours.  The first of these was Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama, Director of the Radioisotope Center of the University of Tokyo, who has also given testimony at the National Diet as an unsworn witness.  After that, we heard from six experts on nuclear disasters who have been advising the Cabinet thus far.  All of these experts have an abundance of experience, including in field research at Chernobyl.  On the government side as well, among other things Senior Vice Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Takashi Shinohara made remarks based on the knowledge he obtained through his visit to Chernobyl in April.  In this way these came to be very concrete and in-depth discussions.


I myself asked quite a number of questions.  Among the opinions of the experts, there were views that all of them held in common but perhaps not surprisingly also points where their views diverged.  I felt that in order for the public to have a common understanding of this issue, it will be necessary to hold further discussions utilizing an open format.


Insofar as contamination from radioactive materials is an issue that impacts upon all aspects of our daily lives, the government must determine in an integrated manner the overall picture of the contamination, safety standards, and so on, and then formulate a strategy, including legislation, which cuts across the various ministries and agencies.  Rather than wait for the next administration to get on track in this area, I too will be assiduously engaged in addressing this issue to the extent possible immediately prior to my resignation.

August 15(Monday)

Ready to carry out my responsibilities


Today marks the 66th anniversary since the end of the Second World War.  At the press conference held one month after the earthquake disaster struck, I appealed to the Japanese people, saying, "The world has marveled at how those in the generation before mine were able to rebuild Japan from fields of ashes after the war.  Let us once again recall the spirit of reconstruction we felt then, reflect upon it, and re-channel it for our reconstruction work now."  Now, as we commemorate the events of August 15, I reaffirm those reflections.


Recovery and reconstruction from that earthquake disaster is moving ahead steadily.  On June 2, I declared at the meeting of DPJ Diet members that "I wish to pass on various responsibilities to the younger generation once a certain degree of progress has been made in tackling the earthquake disaster and once I have fulfilled my role to a certain extent."  The agreement made last week among the executives of the three parties of the DPJ, the LDP, and the New Komeito brought confirmation that the Bill on Special Provisions concerning Issuance of Government Bonds would be passed.  After that, passage of the Bill to Promote Renewable Energies also became expected.  In light of these circumstances, I clarified that I will carry out the promise I have made since June and hand over the reins of government once those bills, which have been my aims, are passed.


In the areas I have been pursuing at all costs - compiling a reform proposal to address social security and tax issues as an integrated issue, recovery and reconstruction from the great earthquake disaster and bringing the nuclear accident to a stable conclusion, and bringing fundamental reform to our nuclear energy administration, among others - we have successfully advanced to a point at which reversion to the past is now impossible.  However, with a large number of issues still ongoing, including the problem of radioactive contamination, we cannot now gradually slow down our pace.  The Kan administration will continue to dedicate itself to fulfilling its responsibilities until the very last second of its term.

August 15(Monday)

"No. 26 [Peace] Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons Report on Their First Year Activities to the Prime Minister in Hiroshima and Nagasaki."


The Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons have been commissioned by the Government to pass on their experiences in atomic bombings to the world. This system, launched by a proposal of Prime Minister Kan in his address at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony last year, has produced excellent results after only one year. At meetings with the Prime Minister, the Special Communicators shared some questions posed to them by audiences overseas since March 11.




<Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony (August 6)>

Announcement: It will be 8:15 shortly. ...We would now like to offer one minute of silence.


<The Peace Bell was rung at 8:15 a.m., the time that the atomic bomb was dropped>

<The Prime Minister offers a silent prayer >


Prime Minister: At last year's ceremony I proposed that Japan dispatch "Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons." [They have since been] calling attention to the tragedy of nuclear weapons and appealing the importance of peace at various locations throughout the world.


So far thirty-five Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons (as of August 8, 2011) have been commissioned by the Government to pass on their experiences in atomic bombings to the world.


<From Prime Minister KAN's TV No. 14―Mr. Susumu Tsuboi, embarking on "Hibakusha's Global Voyage for Communication">

Mr. Tsuboi: My house was located in a place of the current Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Everyone who was in the town at that time passed away.


One year after the establishment of the system, Mr. Tsuboi was present for the first gatherings of Special Communicators, held recently in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


<At the meeting in Hiroshima on August 6>

Mr. Tsuboi: We spoke 14 times in 13 ports. In Columbia in particular, we received a warm welcome from President Juan Manuel Santos, and the venues were completely full of people eager to listen to our stories.


One Special Communicator, Mr. Masaaki Tanabe, handed a self-produced DVD to the Prime Minister at one of the meetings. Featuring CG reenactments of the area around the center of the explosion just before the atomic bomb dropped, the DVD calls on the world to think about just what was lost through the use of a nuclear weapon.
As a boy, Mr. Tanabe used to live in a home adjacent to the place now called the Atomic Bomb Dome.


Mr. Tanabe: While it is quite difficult to raise awareness or appeal to a broad range of people as just one citizen who experienced the atomic bomb, with support from the national government [as Special Communicator] we received extensive coverage by local media.


<Again, from Prime Minister KAN's TV No. 14―Ms. Hiroko Sakaguchi, the first member of the second generation of atomic bomb victims to be commissioned as Special Communicator>

Ms. Sakaguchi: The second generation of atomic bomb victims is affected through their parents' body by the after-effects of radiation of the bombings. As such, we have no less strong feelings about the bombings than direct survivors.


These are the words of Ms. Sakaguchi from the day she embarked on "Hibakusha's Global Voyage for Communication." Having traveled around the world, she spoke at the meeting in Nagasaki about a new conviction that was developed over the course of the trip.


<At the meeting in Nagasaki on August 9>

Ms. Sakaguchi: I believe the role of second-generation atomic bomb victims will increase in importance going forward in terms of passing on the experiences of atomic bombings.


Prime Minister: I ask for your continued support in passing on the experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in order that we may realize a world free of the devastation of nuclear weapons for hundreds or even thousands of years after Nagasaki.


<Scenes of the overseas activities of the Special Communicators>

The Special Communicators have so far visited a total of 22 countries (as of August 8, 2011). They felt a certain change in the audience responses after March 11.


<Special Communicators speaking about that change at the meeting>

Mr. Noboru Tazaki: We received the question, "Even though Japan, having suffered atomic bombings, knows the horrors of radiation ..."


Mr. Tsuboi: We received such questions as, "...why do you have so many nuclear power stations?"


Ms. Sakaguchi: Hearing how strange they felt about this, our hearts were profoundly touched.


Special Communicators were moved by the attention shown by people abroad toward another harm of radiation that hit Japan.


<Nagasaki Peace Ceremony (August 9)>

Prime Minister: It is our responsibility to take the new lessons, realizations, and what we have learned from this incident and communicate those to the people of the world and future generations.


<At 11:02 a.m., when the atomic bomb was dropped>
Announcement: We would now like to offer one minute of silence.


<The Prime Minister offering a silent prayer>

<The Bell of Nagasaki, ringing>


August 12(Friday)

Five months since the earthquake disaster - towards a society in which no one is isolated


Yesterday marked the fifth month since the great earthquake disaster struck.  Even as we are moving forward with efforts towards recovery and reconstruction day in and day out, there is a matter about which I feel we must be especially concerned.  That is keeping alert for people whose 'bonds between one person and another' came to be cut off as a result of the earthquake disaster and are now experiencing isolation from others.


How should we involve people in society who are living in isolation?  'Social inclusion' is one of the major themes that I have set forth since before the earthquake disaster struck, beginning with the policy speech to the Diet I delivered immediately after becoming Prime Minister.  It was just the day before yesterday that the Task Force Team for a Society Inclusive of Individuals that I had commissioned announced their urgent policy proposals.


During New Year's day the year before last, I was at the "dispatch workers' New Year's village" in Hibiya Park.  It was Mr. Makoto Yuasa as the "village chief" who was involving himself in poverty issues with everything he had.  At around the same time, I came to get to know Mr. Yasuyuki Shimizu, head of the NPO "Lifelink," which has for many years been taking on the issue of suicide full on.  It is only through the real-life expeiences of people taking this kind of hands-on approach, rather than through academic discussions, that one comes to find the way out of the isolation problem.  It was with this belief that I asked these two to serve as the backbone of the Task Force Team.  With Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama serving as Chair, this Task Force Team emerged with these recommendations through roughly seven months of deliberations and repeated visits to the disaster-struck areas, among other efforts.


How does the risk of individuals being excluded from society spread within our society, and what sort of linkages exist?  First of all we must conduct a thorough fact-finding survey on those matters, examining them squarely.


Of course, various support systems have been in place until now, but if we look carefully at the actual situation, it is not the case that all people are covered seamlessly.  For example, there are young people who drop out of high school and have no place where they belong.  If opportunities were provided for someone to reach out to them and talk with them, then new developments might begin in their lives.  We will set the lead in creating a personal support system for each such person individually, first by exploring model cases.


Furthermore, what I brought up when I attended the first meeting of this Task Force Team was the establishment of a national call center. This would be a "one-stop" center that would conduct consultations by telephone, listen to people's worries, provide concern, and then conduct follow-up activities. I had the Team take up a deeper consideration of this as steps towards bringing such an undertaking into reality.


While these recommendations are not operations in which a huge budget is mobilized, they are quite "major" undertakings in light of their importance. I am very pleased that they compiled their findings during my term as Prime Minister. Notably, within our future work to bring about reconstruction, I would like them to substantiate a model of "social inclusion" within the disaster-affected areas in particular. Providing a solid budget for this in the third supplementary budget, I would like them to foster the "buds" of building up such a society. This is my fervent wish as we work to bring about a society in which no one is excluded.

August 9(Tuesday)

Replacing both people and structures to ensure no backsliding


On the 6th and today (the 9th), I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombings.  In each of these cities I had the opportunity to listen to atomic bomb survivors and those serving as Special Communicators for a World without Nuclear Weapons, whom the government began commissioning last year.  (I will be writing about that subject on a separate occasion.)  At these sessions, a number of people conveyed their worries about the TEPCO's Fukushima nuclear power plant accident and their fervent wishes that Japan move away from being a society that relies on nuclear power, leaving a great impression on me.


In the addresses I delivered at the Peace Memorial Ceremonies, I myself asserted once more the objective of becoming 'a society that is not dependent on nuclear power,' which I first laid out at a press conference on July 13.  However, I was not simply repeating what I said earlier.  Compared with July 13, currently the practical matters that will constitute the backing to that statement are moving forward steadily.  It is just now that the 'reforms to administrative structures' designed to further this objective have started up in tangible form.


Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda and Minister for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accident Goshi Hosono, have been tenaciously engaged in tandem in efforts towards fundamentally breaking away from the system in place until now, like the two axles of a car.  First of all, Minister Kaieda, having intended to realize complete change in public sentiment with regard to nuclear power-related matters under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), announced last week that he would be replacing the current administrative vice-minister, the Director-General of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the Director-General of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) simultaneously.  I want the ministers to move forward proactively taking this attitude in order to regain the trust of the public.


Meanwhile, last weekend, Minister Hosono compiled a draft proposal for reorganization, targeting at the modalities of a new structure related to the regulation of nuclear safety.  The matter of affiliating the new structure with the Cabinet Office or the Ministry of the Environment still remains, but the key point is that through this, the sections of NISA regulating nuclear safety will finally be separated off from METI.  The structure in which 'those promoting and regulating nuclear power are both parts of the same entity,' which I have considered a problem for quite some time, will thereby be resolved.


What must be given the highest priority at all times is 'the safety of the people.'  However, it has also long been said that the nuclear and electrical power administration in place until now is a "nuclear village," in which it is possible for a subset of entrenched interests and corporate interests to take precedence at times.  By replacing both the content (the people) and the instrument (the structure), we will not permit any slide backwards.