|The Democratic Party of Japan has designed these basic policies with the year 2010 in mind. By the year 2010, the Japanese population will have reached its peak and the era of fewer children and an aging population will have begun in earnest. We now present our policy to the people_taxpayers, consumers, citizens_and ask for your judgment, and call on you to work with us.
|Administrative and Fiscal Policies
We shall restructure the centralized government from the perspective of devolution toward citizens, markets, and local governments. This is no mere reshuffling of ministries. We shall change courageously the fundamental structure of power and authority manifested in relations between the bureaucracy and society, and between the central and local governments.
We shall streamline the role of the central government and limit its role to areas which affect the foundations of the state and people_s lives_namely, foreign relations and defense, the establishment and surveillance of rules as in the judiciary, and a national minimum for living standards as in pensions. In other areas, basic local governments most familiar to residents shall realize flexible, speedy, and responsive politics and administration by making their own decisions about provision of services. We shall ensure sufficient and independent fiscal resources for each local government, and limit the role of the central government to areas such as coordinating finances between regions based on clear, firm rules. As an immediate, transitional measure, we shall introduce comprehensive transfer funds from the state to the local governments.
Bureaucracy and Civil Society
We shall bring about a system in which the corporate and civic sectors achieve independence from the bureaucracy and operate as the center of society. For this, we must establish simple, unambiguous rules under the initiative of politicians and the people, and shift the bureaucracy_s basic role from prior coordination of interests to ex post facto checks for compliance with rules. We shall reduce the bureaucracy_s room for discretion as well as clarify officials_ responsibilities by strengthening or enacting administrative procedure laws and the law of legal procedure in administrative incidents. Along with establishing a law on civil service ethics, we shall thoroughly reform the personnel system for national civil servants by measures such as strengthening regulations on amakudari (retired officials_ _descent from heaven_ to private firms formerly under their jurisdiction) and implementing an interagency personnel system.
Freedom of Information
We shall be thorough in the public disclosure of government information, for it is the starting point of any structural reform of politics, the economy, and society, and is the infrastructure for citizens_ self-reliance and participation. Our Freedom of Information Act shall cover public service corporations which perform administrative services in place of the government, as well as special corporations.
We shall introduce the perspective of corporate accounting to state finances and show the actual state of affairs to the people in plain language. Through administrative reform and reform of the fiscal structure, we shall set clear numerical goals for cutting and limiting the total budget deficit of the national and local governments by 2010. Flexible response to economic circumstances shall allow us to achieve both sustainable economic growth and deficit reduction. We will remove the distinction between national deficit bonds and national construction bonds so that we may direct the limited amounts of funds to areas where they are most needed.
We shall review the tax system with simplicity, fairness, and transparency as the principles. In particular, we will examine the balance between income, consumption, and property taxes and the relative emphases on taxes and social insurance premiums. We shall push consumption tax reform to gain taxpayers_ trust with, for example, an invoice system for shopkeepers. We shall introduce a taxpayer numbering system as well. In order to raise citizens_ awareness as taxpayers, we will further promote the filing of individual tax returns by salaried workers themselves. We shall reform the corporate tax system with international standards in mind.
The Fiscal Investment and Loan Program and Special Corporations
With a highly transparent system for project evaluation, we shall prevent FILP projects from turning into bad loans. At the same time, we shall thoroughly reform the current system. We shall examine the condition of special corporations, and shut down those whose work can be performed by private enterprise and those which have outlasted their usefulness.
We shall reform the bidding system to cut the cost of each project. With our legislation to strengthen Diet oversight of public works, Diet members will be able to reconsider both unnecessary long-term plans and inefficiencies arising from piecemeal construction by the fiscal year. With our law to strengthen participation of the Diet in public enterprises, we will review and reconsider unnecessary long-term planning and the system of single fiscal year planning. Comprehensive transfer funds will allow us to make local governments the main decision makers in public works. We shall limit the national government_s role to large projects necessary for the nation_s livelihood, and shift the emphasis from moving earth toward building the social capital for the information age.
We shall reform the economic structure along free market principles of individual responsibility and free will. We shall thereby achieve sustainable economic growth of approximately 3 percent a year.
Regulatory reform is the basis of long-term economic development. We shall lift economic regulations in principle. We will make social regulations for protecting the environment, consumers, workers, etc., more transparent and explicit.
We shall nurture the infrastructure strategically in growing sectors such as information and telecommunications, care for the elderly and the infirm, housing environment, and environmental protection. In particular, the information and telecommunications industry not only provides its inherent investment effect; it is the infrastructure on which the development of all industries in the 21st century depend. We shall create a set of tax and market incentives for venture businesses and entrepreneurs.
Medium, Small, and Very Small-Scale Enterprises
Small and medium-sized firms are the pillars of the Japanese economy. We shall foster infrastructures for manufacturing industries such as preservation of specialized skills, as well as supporting the independence of service industries that play important roles in local communities.
We shall free the financial industry from arbitrary government discretion. In principle, financial institutions must compete on the basis of individual responsibility and market principles. We shall lay down transparent and fair rules of oversight consistent with the Big Bang and set up a system for protecting consumers of financial services. We shall develop the infrastructure of direct financing market through measures such as securitization of loans. We shall set up and buttress public corporations for debt collection in order to forge ahead with resolution of bad loans.
Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
We reject the uniform agricultural policy which ignores local circumstances and preferences. We shall consolidate an agricultural sector in which the next generation of farmers can work with pride and bright prospects. Our policy toward farming villages will be geared toward permanent residence and environmental and landscape protection. We value forests as a public good, and we will establish a conservation policy for forests in Japan and abroad. We endeavor to orient the fisheries industry firmly toward resource management.
In order to achieve a stable supply of energy and harmony with the environment, we shall attain an optimal mix of energy sources by improving the safety of nuclear power plants, building a national consensus on nuclear energy, and promoting development and introduction of new energy sources as well as conservation. Also, we shall strengthen dialogue with energy supplier nations.
We shall shift policy incentives from possession to use of land. We shall encourage effective use of land by easing regulations on transactions and activating the land market.
We aim to build a vibrant society which ensures equal opportunity and respects diverse values as well as dignity and rights of the individual. We shall build a safety net to prepare for the era of truly fewer children and a truly aging population. We shall promote kyosei with nature by promoting change to lifestyles more conducive to the protection of the global environment. Through these steps, we shall create a national way of life in which everyone can feel secure, safe, restful, and affluent.
In preparation for the era of fewer children and an aging population, we shall dispel citizens_ apprehension about the future by building a social security system based on universality, individuality, and support for independence. As for support for child care and care for the elderly, we will work to buttress systems, including service provision by non-profit organizations (NPOs), while reexamining sources of funding for care for the elderly. We shall reform health care and health insurance systems comprehensively through freedom of information and market incentives. Tax revenues shall be the main source of funding for health care of the elderly. While intergenerational support will continue to be the important principle of the public pension system, we shall increase the role of tax revenues in funding it for the sake of the system_s long-term stability. We shall emphasize individual and corporate pensions. We shall build a barrier-free society in which disabled people and the elderly can live with peace of mind.
Employment and Labor
In response to diversification of hiring and employment practices resulting from changes in corporate and industrial structures, as well as progress in corporate restructuring, we shall implement measures to stabilize employment and protect workers. We shall expand public programs for developing skills, and reinforce support for private-sector education and training as well as voluntary vocational training by individuals. We shall reform labor laws to help workers balance work with family life and thus shift the national lifestyle from overwork to fulfillment of personal, family, and community life. We also support increasing employment opportunities for women and the elderly.
Equal Participation by Men and Women
We strive to eradicate fixed gender roles, discrimination, and unequal treatment wherever it exists in society. We shall modify or devise family laws to accommodate diverse lifestyles. We shall also guarantee reproductive health and rights, implement measures to prevent sexual harassment and violence, and enact comprehensive legislation to strengthen policy on women_s issues. These steps shall help us build a society in which men and women are equal participants.
While decentralizing authority over education to local governments, we shall reform the educational system into one that recognizes diverse values and abilities and nurtures self-reliant youths. Toward this, we shall improve the educational environment with a maximum class size of 30 in primary and secondary schools, and with thorough reforms of high school and college admission and scholarship systems. We shall also institutionalize recurrent education as well as buttress computer education and foreign language education necessary in our age of globalization. We shall establish infrastructures for lifelong learning and sports in local communities and nurture community networks for child care and child-rearing.
Science and Technology, Art and Culture
We shall foster fundamental, long-term, and basic research, high technology research and development, as well as interdisciplinary research in humanities and social sciences. For this, we shall review the role of national universities and research institutes. We shall support diverse cultural and artistic activities; simultaneously, we shall strengthen intellectual property rights. In Japan and abroad, we will promote assertive international cooperation to preserve important cultural treasures.
We strive to eliminate all discrimination against minorities, including the Ainu ethnic minority, people from the formerly outcaste buraku communities, resident foreign nationals, and disabled and incurably ill people. We shall strengthen privacy protection to keep pace with the information age.
Through environmental education and regulation, we shall build a resource-recycling society which does not place an undue environmental burden on future generations. We shall restrict production of substances that cause global warming or otherwise harm the environment and, at the same time, tackle problems such as illegal dumping of waste and dioxin pollution.
We shall implement a framework for public assistance in the event of a major disaster. We shall establish promptly effective crisis management systems with the prime minister or local government leaders at the helm.
In a society of kyosei by self-reliant individuals, non-profit organizations (NPOs) will be a new, important infrastructure. We shall support NPOs through measures such as tax incentives.
|Foreign Policy and National Security
We seek to establish Japan as a world leader in diplomacy which realizes security and independence in harmony with the common good of the international community. While continuing the defense policy in accordance with the Constitution_s pacifism, we shall develop independence and dynamism in Japanese diplomacy with a realistic and flexible consciousness and strategy.
Our Foreign Policy Stance
We aim to build world peace with the United Nations at the center through assertive diplomacy, especially preventive diplomacy. We shall seek a more mature relationship with the United States while strengthening ties at many levels. As we reflect upon Japan_s role in World War II, we shall build relations of basic trust with our neighboring countries and deepen diplomatic and economic ties with each Asian country. Regarding China, a country of prime importance to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, we will work to develop friendly, cooperative relationship from a long-term perspective. We shall also work to deepen friendly relations with the European Union and Russia in many areas.
The Overseas Development Aid (ODA) is a most important tool of foreign policy. We shall shift its focus toward protecting the global environment, helping recipients help themselves, and humanitarian aid. We shall also support participation in international politics by civil society actors such as citizens, NGOs, corporations, and think tanks.
United Nations Policy
We shall conduct an assertive diplomacy, especially through participation in the United Nations_ activities on abolition of nuclear weapons, disarmament, the global environment, population and energy, human rights, poverty, and other issues. As we work to help solve the current problems and issues facing the United Nations such as the role of the Security Council, North-South development issues, worsening finances, and the inefficiency of certain agencies, we aim for Japan to gain permanent membership in the Security Council with the support of the Japanese people and other member states. We shall participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations to the utmost extent allowed by our Constitution.
Principles of Defense Policy
We will continue to uphold the principles of defense policy which Japan has upheld since the end of World War II such as an exclusively defensive military doctrine, no exercise of the right of collective self-defense, the Three Non-Nuclear Principles, no use of force abroad, and civilian control.
International Security Regimes
We will continue to place the Japan-US Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security at the center of our national security policy. We shall work toward a multilateral security regime in the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening and developing the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) assertively. We do not see the US military bases in Japan as fixed in their current forms. Since some of their aspects are open to change depending on the international security environment, Japan and the United States should keep consulting on and searching for the optimum form of US military presence in Japan. We shall keep up our work on the consolidation, reduction, and relocation of US military bases on Okinawa.
While upholding the principles of civilian control and fundamental human rights, we shall enact emergency legislation without delay so that the government will never be compelled to take extralegal measures in emergency.
|The Political Process
Beginning with Diet reform and expansion and fulfillment of the rights of political participation, we shall establish a multifaceted system in which self-reliant citizens participate in and directly oversee the political process. We seek to regain popular trust in the political process and to qualitatively improve and invigorate the democratic process. We respect the fundamental principles of the Japanese Constitution, and will engage citizens in discussions to develop them further.
The Constitution has intended the Diet to be the most powerful deliberative body of the state. In order to allow Diet members to conduct free, spirited debates and thereby fulfill this mandate, we shall change the rule of the game. We shall forbid bureaucrats from answering Diet questions in place of ministers. We shall encourage Diet members to propose their own bills by easing requirements and by giving their bills priority over government bills as a rule. We shall also reinforce the Diet staff. With these measures, we seek to make the Diet more effective in supervising the executive branch, making law, and conducting the necessary research. We will also review aspects of the current bicameral system such as the roles of the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors. In order to build a multiparty system open to citizens, we shall establish support mechanisms for efforts by parties and the civil society to strengthen their policy-making capabilities.
We aim to strengthen the political leadership of the prime minister and the cabinet, and to clarify the breakdown of responsibility. For this, we shall augment the functions of the Cabinet Secretariat and the prime ministerial staff, and reform the state budget process. We shall also introduce a system of junior ministers and increase the number of political appointees.
Political Ethics and Diet Members
We shall establish political ethics firmly by mandating thorough disclosure of personal assets, outlawing the exploitation of political office for personal gain, and by other means. While working for further disclosure and transparency of political contributions, we shall prohibit political contributions from organizations subsidized by the state. We shall speed up reapportionment and end the system of awards for long service in the Diet.
In order to lessen the distortion of the people_s input into the political process, we shall eliminate the disparities between districts in the weight of each vote. We will never cease our search for improvements in the electoral system. We aim to increase opportunities for participation in the political process, without delay, by these measures: lowering the age of suffrage and the minimum age for running for office; establishing means with which Japanese citizens abroad can vote; extending rights of participation in local elections to permanent resident foreign nationals.
The Judicial Branch
Since the judicial branch is the last bastion of human rights, we shall reinforce its infrastructure. In the interest of due process and speedy trials, we shall increase the number of judges, expand and improve the training of jurists, amend procedural laws, and consolidate the professional qualifications of judges and lawyers. We shall substantiate the right of the people to a fair trial by improvements in the legal aid system and other means.
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