|Create a society in which women, children and the elderly can live and work securely.
|A truly dynamic society is a society in which children are brought up healthily, a sound way of life can be built, and priority and respect are given to each person throughout their life. We will foster the development of the foundations of such a society, in which all individuals are able to lead flexible and vigorous lives.
|4-1 Shape a society in which everyone can find secure employment.
 Establish rules to ensure that everyone has work and due value is set on the work.
Our aim is to lower the unemployment from the current mid-5% level to below 4.5%. We will do so by expanding job opportunities and also by such means as fostering work-sharing and joint participation in the workforce by both men and women, and taking steps to eliminate unpaid overtime working, so as to stop any new unemployment from arising and to increase the number of people in employment.
Other steps will include fostering the protection of workers' rights in line with changes in the economy, the correction of the disparities that exist between various aspects of employment in the public and private sectors, and the establishment of international rules.
 Advance equality of treatment for part-timers and the enhancement of childcare/nursing care leave systems
During the 2004 fiscal year we will submit a bill to the Diet to amend the Part-Time Workers Employment Law, so as to correct irrational disparities between full-time company workers and part-timers and others, and give the latter equality of treatment. Through this we will ban discrimination as regards wages and other working conditions that rests on the pretext that the hours of part-time workers are shorter than those of regular employees.
In addition, we will enable childcare and nursing care leave to be taken by all workers hired on at least the equivalent of a one year contract. We will also make improvements to the system as a whole, by for example enabling people to take their leave in instalments, up to a limit of twice monthly, until their children are of elementary school age.
 Assist people who are unemployed or whose businesses have failed to make a fresh start and to support themselves, by means of retraining and a ¥100,000 monthly allowance.
We will submit a bill to the Diet to stabilize employment insurance accounting and to assist unemployed people unable to find jobs during their period of unemployment benefit, self-employed people suffering business failures, and others, by expanding training schemes for them to develop their skills, and giving them an allowance of ¥100,000 per month for a maximum of two years. We will prepare a budget to enable this assistance to be provided from the middle of the 2004 fiscal year (averaging approximately ¥250 billion annually).
Also, to ensure that people laid off because of bankruptcies or restructuring are able to receive medical care, health-insurance premiums will be lowered for one year. National expenditure on this measure is estimated to be ¥2.5 billion annually.
4-2 Bring up children in a sound and healthy way
 Realise an educational system that tends to the needs of each child and eliminate parental misgivings.
To ensure that educational system tends to the needs of each child, during the four years of the DPJ administration the size of classes will all be reduced to a maximum of 30, at least up to the third year of elementary school. We will increase the budget by approximately ¥80 billion annually from the 2004 fiscal year, and at the same time will take steps to assure staff numbers by such means as close monitoring of the state of teacher postings.
We will promote measures to protect children from crime and natural disasters within schools and local communities, and during the 2005 fiscal year we will formulate a basic plan for education reform. The aims of the plan will include removing parental misgivings on such issues as the 5-day school week and the decline in scholastic attainment; expanding local governments' powers over education, including the content of courses of study; promoting participation by parents and local residents in the management of schools; and expediting the introduction of a system of evaluating schools. The "Heisei Education Reform" will be implemented in phases from the 2006 fiscal year.
 Enhance the system of children's education by unifying kindergartens and nursery schools and by assisting NPOs, and increase the number of establishments providing after-school care to 20,000.
To eliminate the waiting-list of children wishing to enter nursery schools, estimated at some 30,000, we will correct the present split between nursery schools, which are under the auspices of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and kindergartens, which are under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and unify these two types of pre-school. From the 2004 fiscal year we will implement concrete measures to eliminate the waiting lists, including by making active use of diverse local resources, for example the childcare establishments run by NPOs near railway stations, and women providing private day-care services.
We will increase the number of establishments providing after-school care to 20,000 over four years, from approximately 13,000 at present, and also boost the number of supervisors from 40,000 to 60,000. We will provide for a budget of at least ¥30 billion in the first year for the purpose of clearing the waiting lists, by for example extending childcare hours in line with the changing employment patterns of parents.
 Increase interest-free scholarship funds by 50%
The economic circumstances of parents have deteriorated as a result of the prolonged recession, and an increasing number of students are being compelled to drop out of high schools, vocational colleges, and universities. As an emergency measure to counter this, for three years from the 2004 fiscal year we will increase interest-free scholarship loans by 50% to those that need them. For example, a loan to a student at a private university living away from home will be raised from ¥63,000 to ¥94,500 monthly. We will also increase financial support to high schools that reduce or waive the tuition fees of pupils who are finding it difficult to remain at school.
The budget required to implement this policy will be approximately ¥60 billion, which will be funded from close examination of the education and science budget, and from cutting wasteful expenses from the government's overall budget.
 Lower both the age of majority and voting age to 18
We will lower the legal age of majority and the voting age to 18, in order to develop the sense of responsibility of members of the younger generation as members of society, and to ensure their active participation in society. We will submit to the Diet and pursue the enactment of a bill to enable these voting rights to be granted from the next general election.
4-3 Create a nation second to none for the "care and comfort of the elderly"
 Ensure the creation of a reliable pension system that can be trusted by the young
Under the present pensions law, from the 2004 fiscal year the amount of the basic pension borne by the national treasury from tax revenues is to be increased from one-third to a half, necessitating a budget of ¥2.7 trillion. However, because the present administration has long postponed facing up to reality, it is not feasible to effect this in one stroke.
The DPJ administration will take a scalpel to meticulously cut away the waste from the national budget from the 2004 fiscal year onwards, and add the financial resources it gains from that to the basic pension in stages, so that within five years the proportion borne by the treasury is raised to a half.
Also, in order to ensure we have a pension system that is sustainable in the future, the DPJ administration will create a new two-tier pension system for which every citizen will be eligible.
First we will amalgamate the employees' pension and national pension, and create a pension corresponding to a top-up sum calculated as a proportion of income for everyone, funded by premium payments related to earnings. People will receive benefit from the new plan in accordance with the premiums paid in during their working lives. Currently, the pension reserves fall prey to swarms of special interests, and as the state of their management is not disclosed clearly, we will make it fully transparent. During the period of around 50 years when the aging of society peaks, the reserves will be drawn upon, and increases in insurance premiums will be curbed.
In addition we will establish a "national basic pension", funded from tax revenues, to guarantee a minimum pension for everyone in their old age. Compared with the present system, under which everyone is paid the same level of national pension/basic pension, this national basic pension will pay more to people who receive low benefit payments from a pension corresponding to a top-up sum calculated as a proportion of income. Thus it will enable everyone to be guaranteed a minimum pension from relatively small funding resources. And the fact that it will be funded from tax revenues will rule out the problems that can occur with the national pension, such as people not being paid pensions and the hollowing-out of the system.
The funds to back the national basic pension after the establishment of the new system will be secured in part from the funds for the half of the national pension to be borne by the national treasury, which will be derived from cutting the waste from the budget in the first term of our administration. The remainder will come from revising tax deductions for pensions and from applying a portion of consumption tax revenues, premised on a return to stable economic growth after overcoming the deflation currently burdening the economy.
An adequate transition period will be allowed for the switch to the new system. Also of note is that the level of benefits to people already receiving pensions, and the level of the portion of benefits that correspond with the periods during which insurance premiums have already been paid, will both be maintained.
To introduce the pension corresponding to a top-up sum calculated as a proportion of income, it will be essential to first gain an impartial and accurate grasp of everyone's income. If incomes are not identified accurately, it will not be possible to make an accurate assessment of future pension finances. The DPJ administration will reform the tax system to make it possible to gain an impartial and accurate grasp of incomes, and will then proceed with pension reform, at the same time disclosing the specific figures based on that assessment.
 Increase by 10,000 the number of group homes to serve as local centres for nursing care.
To eliminate the problem of waiting lists for nursing care, from the 2004 fiscal year we will secure budgets of some ¥85 billion annually to increase the number of group homes serving as local centres for nursing care by 10,000 over a four-year period. These will be able to accommodate approximately 100,000 more people than at present. Helpers and other necessary personnel will also be trained.
Other steps will be taken to improve healthcare for the elderly in conjunction with this. For example, depending on circumstances in individual localities and the ingenuity of local authorities, city-centre residences with attached nursing facilities will be developed, and barrier-free urban development carried out.
(These measures include proposals from members of regional and local government assemblies who are dealing with local care-related issues on a daily basis.)
4-4 Create a society in which the human rights of every individual are respected
 Enact legislation to eradicate discrimination
In order to eradicate the various types of discrimination that persist, we aim to enact legislation of various kinds by the end of the 2005 fiscal year. This will include a law for the remedy of human-rights violations, which will involve the establishment of a human rights committee independent of the Ministry of Justice; a law to prohibit discrimination against the disabled, which will prohibit specific types of discrimination, guaranteeing complete participation and equality to all disabled people; and a law to prohibit age-discrimination, which will prohibit job discrimination on the grounds of age.
 Revise the Wire-Tapping Law, the Basic Residential Register Network System Law, and the Law Concerning the Protection of Personal Information
Immediately after taking power we will freeze the Wire-Tapping Law, and submit a bill to the Diet for the radical revision of the law within two years. We will also immediately embark upon revising the provisions on the Basic Residential Register Network System in the Basic Resident Register Law, and the Law Concerning the Protection of Personal Information. During the 2005 fiscal year we will submit bills to the Diet to radically revise these laws.
 Foster greater use of subtitles on television broadcasts
To enable people with impaired hearing to enjoy television broadcasts and derive information from them, we will ensure that by 2007 subtitles are used in all television programmes for which that is technically possible. We will implement support measures to provide some ¥10 billion of assistance to the broadcasting companies and manufacturers that are carry out the subtitling.
 Include foreign nationals in resident registration if they so desire.
At present, even if foreign nationals marry Japanese citizens and live with them, their names are not included in resident registration, and various problems arise as a result. In view of this, we will amend the Basic Resident Register Law to permit foreign nationals to be included in resident registration if they so desire.
(These two measures were proposed by hearing-impaired people and foreign nationals residing in Japan in response to requests for policy proposals by the DPJ over the Internet.)