Seeking to Place Politics Back into the Hands of the People
Today, We Face an Era of Change
The Japan of today has lost direction. It is going round in circles, unable to take advantage of that superb characteristic of the Japanese people: their industriousness. The prospects for the economy are clouded in uncertainty; there is creeping anxiety about employment; there is a great deal of angst about the future, symbolised by mistrust of the pension system; the education system is run down; crime is becoming more violent; and Japanese diplomacy is in a state of drift. The cause of all this is Japan's inability to cope with the new era, amid the change to a declining birth-rate and aging of society since its period of rapid economic growth.
Through the period of rapid economic growth, the Japanese people lost a great many things amid their quest for economic and material affluence. Work became an end in itself, and the home was neglected. Japanese people forgot the richness of human life. Economic growth consumed all our energy, and a US-dependent foreign policy and national security structure arose, so that Japan lost its independence in thinking and acting as a nation. What is more, under the centralised power structure, the regions also lost their independence.
I am convinced that the Japanese people have strength and have potentialities. At the same time I am certain that Japan's energy lies in the regions. Most people think not only of themselves, but also think seriously about their families, their friends, their local community, and other people in general as they throw themselves into their lives. They are resolved to fulfil their responsibilities to future generations. Each of them has the strength to face up to and take on the challenge of difficult issues. A country like that has a future.
Each Japanese person has this strength, and the regions are bursting with this energy, but in spite of that, the bureaucrat-led political system and old-guard politicians do not notice this, or pretend not to notice it, and persist with the politics of dividing up the benefits among themselves. Since politics cannot remodel itself into a structure that befits the new age, our entire society feels suffocated and hemmed in.
To bequeath a Japan full of hope to future generations, the country must be changed. We must change our politics and achieve genuine reform. If we act now, we still have time.
First, Politics Must Straighten Itself Up
The true mission of politics is to prepare for the future of the nation by pointing out the broad direction in which to go, and translating that into a concrete form. That means not being swayed by circumstances, and hammering out robust policies with firm timelines. We must look ahead to the future, face up to reality, and rid ourselves of anxiety. With our eyes fixed firmly on our future, it is essential to take up the challenge of creating a new kind of politics that will see us over the next 10 to 30 years.
To achieve that, the first priority is to reshape politics. During the 15 years since I entered politics I have pushed ahead with political reform. As a politician I have remained steadfast in seeking to place politics back into the hands of the people, who have become alienated from it; in having the will of the people reflected in politics; and in seeking to create a genuinely democratic society.
We must eradicate the conglutination of politicians, bureaucrats, and big business, and bid farewell to the warped situation in which politics is abused for the protection of vested interests. The situation in which politicians, despite being chosen by the people, adopt a holier-than-thou attitude, living complacently in their own narrow world divorced from good sense in which they, is not conducive to achieving a type of politics that sits down face-to-face with the people. In particular I want to start by ensuring the firm establishment of the kind of politics in which we see no more incidents involving politics and money, and that is highly transparent, open, and honest. Then it will be my task to restore rationality to this country's politics, and return to normal politics that everyone can acquiesce in and that is familiar and easy-to-understand.
The DPJ was born, and exists, to carry out this responsibility. The DPJ is the party that is not a slave to vested interests and preconceived ideas, and that argues from the standpoint of the people. As the leader of the DPJ, I want to seize this time of change as an opportunity for reform, and work relentlessly to reform this country's politics. My desire is to create a Japan that offers hope, and what is needed now is political leadership.