Having received the overwhelming support of my colleagues, I am delighted once again to accept the presidency of the Democratic Party of Japan. I truly am deeply honored. I also feel, to a great extent, a heavy weight of responsibility and deep sense of mission.
Let me also extend my heartfelt thanks to the 260,000 party members and supporters across Japan who also backed my candidacy.
I am also deeply grateful for the words of solidarity I have received today from leaders of our fellow opposition parties, Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party, Tamisuke Watanuki, leader of the People's New Party, and Yasuo Tanaka leader of the New Party Nippon. Finally, I am extremely thankful for the words of encouragement I have received from our distinguished guests, Tsuyoshi Takagi, President of JTUC-Rengo, the composer Shigeaki Saegusa, journalist Mitsuko Shimomura and particularly Kyocera Honarary Chairman Kazuo Inamori who regularly allows me to benefit from his advice.
Colleagues and friends, the decisive moment has finally come. Based on our core principle of "people's lives first", it is time for us to take government and build 窶從ew and better lives for the people of Japan窶?
I expect that the House of Representatives will be dissolved within the next two weeks, and a general election may be held as early as October 26. Thanks to the persistent efforts of my fellow members in both houses of the Diet, particularly in the House of Councillors, where following last year's election opposition parties were able to achieve a majority, we have succeeded in putting the LDP/ New Komeito administration, who pay no regard to people's livelihoods, on the back foot, and in just over one month, we will be able to see a decisive moment (of achieving a new government).
Since I became president of the Democratic Party of Japan two and a half years ago, I have traveled the length and breadth of the country from Kitami in Hokkaido down to the islands of Yonaguni and Hateruma in Okinawa. I have traveled a total of 180,000 km, seen with my own eyes how people are living their lives and listened directly to the voices of the people.
On many occasions, I have bitten my lip thinking 窶弩hat a state! How could we force the people to endure such a state?窶?br />
I am reminded of a woman who continued to dedicate herself to her job as an old-age care assistant even as her colleagues resigned one after the other, only to find herself becoming a member of the working poor. I think of young people who have been forced by the collapse of local businesses to travel to Tokyo where they can find nothing but part-time jobs. Then there are the elderly people who told me that they are worried about whether they can make it through the winter due to the high price of kerosene. All across the country, people's livelihoods and local communities are starting to collapse.
Japan already has the fourth-largest 窶彿nequality窶 levels of all major industrialized countries, following behind only China, Russia and the United States. Who would have predicted this just 10 years ago? Since the Koizumi administration, the LDP / New Komeito have worshiped market forces and promoted dog-eat-dog politics. They did so without preparing a safety net to protect people's livelihoods, and as a result Japan's society is no longer fair and inequality has expanded in various areas.
They fail to appreciate that social safety nets are prerequisite for market economics and the principles of competition to flourish properly and for the Japanese economy to grow sustainably. Therefore, if we continue to ignore inequality, our economy will eventually stop functioning, and Japanese society will collapse. The repercussions of such an eventuality would be felt around the world.
The time has come to change Japan. It is no exaggeration to say this may be our last chance for a change. In the Japanese game of 窶廨o窶? the phrase 窶廾uba窶 refers to large strategic movements while 窶廳yuba窶 refers to crisis management movements that must be addressed immediately to prevent trouble from getting worse. The proverb 窶廾uba yori Kyuba窶 indicates that we should focus on the latter. I believe that by following this proverb to address the immediate problem of people's livelihoods, we will also be able to break out of our wider structural problems and create a new Japan.
For example, by providing compensation for the income of farmers who are the fabric of regional communities, we can ensure food safety and security. By abolishing tolls for freeways, not only can we put the brakes on current price rises, but we can also permanently reduce people's living costs. These are the kind of structural changes that Japan requires.
As long as we keep the same old political and administrative systems, there is no way we will be able to achieve these structural changes. The LDP / New Komeito coalition, which is protected by and simply rides along with entrenched central government organizations, is unable to take effective action. That is because, from the LDP's perspective, changing political systems means destroying their own political base. Systematic changes will become possible for the first time under a DPJ administration.When changing our political and administrative systems, we will stay true to our slogan "putting people's lives first".
Politics is about people's livelihoods. The essence of politics is to protect these livelihoods. That is my conviction, and the roots of my politics. I am firmly convinced that only by seeing these principles through can we lift Japan from 窶廳yuba窶 (crisis management movements) and 窶廾uba窶 (large strategic movements).
Based on these principles, I recently presented proposals under the title of 窶廝asic Policy Proposals for a New Administration: Building New and Better Lives窶? I pledged to create "a fair society without inequality in which people can live together and cooperate" through the following 9 initiatives:
- 1) initiatives in pensions, medicine, and care-giving that help all citizens to lead stable lives
- 2)initiatives that support child rearing and education, including the establishment of a new monthly child allowance
- 3)employment initiatives that reward hard-working people and ensure no one can be described as working poor
- 4)initiatives to protect and revitalize local society through the rejuvenation of agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries and small and medium-sized businesses
- 5)initiatives to reduce the cost of living, particularly the cost of product distribution
- 6) initiatives for returning tax money from government officials to the public by abolishing special accounts
- 7)initiatives for allowing regions to make their own decisions by achieving true devolution of power
- 8)initiatives for putting politics in the hands of the people by ensuring that Diet members, who represent the people, are responsible for both the legislative and the executive branch
- 9) international initiatives that Japan will take on for the benefit of the global community including protecting the global environment and achieving peace in international society.
The key to building new political systems is to build a Japanese-style safety net that provides specifically tailored support where required in the fields of social security, child rearing, employment, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and small and medium sized businesses. These are the areas covered by the first 5 of 9 initiatives I mentioned above. At the same time, we must ensure that the people themselves are responsible for controlling our politics and administration by radically revising structures of state governance which are centred around government officials and have existed since Japan first began to modernize at the end of the feudal period.
By reforming these governance structures, we will be able to achieve adequate financing for our proposed safety net. By implementing 9 initiatives described above, we can open the door towards new and better lives for the Japanese people and achieve truly beneficial economic policies which differ categorically from the indiscriminate pre-election spending of the current government.
While the problems with our current governance structures and the enormous wastage of taxpayers money that accompanies them remain unaddressed, argument that [our proposed policies] have 窶彿nsufficient financing窶 or 窶彿nsufficient budgetary rationale窶 are meaningless.
Since the current fiscal structures which rely on central government officials are in themselves a cause of 窶忤asting taxpayers funds窶? these problems can clearly not be resolved simply by tweaking the budget.
We must consider the 83 triilion yen ordinary account, 178 trillion yen special account, and also social insurance payments, which are effectively taxes, as a single unit and comprehensively revise how we spend taxpayers money and comprehensively change fiscal structures. The government's budget must be taken apart and rebuilt.
The DPJ's criteria for determining budgetary priority will be "what is important for people's livelihoods?", and what do we need in order to "build new and better lives", which will be the goal of our new administration. This process will enable us to secure adequate finances for our policies.
This is the only way to achieve a budget that truly reflects the will of voters, in other words a budget drawn up by the people for the people.
Based on the Basic Policy Proposals which I have laid out, I intend to consult with you all and finalize our general election manifesto before the end of this month. This manifesto will show the people a clear and simple vision of the society that the DPJ wishes to create.
As I have said, our intention is to 窶彡ompletely rebuild the budget窶 and 窶彭raw up a budget by the people for the people窶? Based on these principles, our manifesto will explain how we will commit to and gradually implement budgetary changes to allocate 22 trillion yen as a funding base for our chief policies. Twenty-two trillion yen is approximately 10% of the government's gross expenditure of 212 trillion yen through the ordinary account and special accounts combined.
We will also prioritize the order in which we will implement our 9 key policy initiatives by dividing them into the following three groups:
- 1) initiatives that will be included in the fiscal 2009 budget, which will be our administration's first budget, for immediate implementation
- 2)initiatives that will be written into law during the next ordinary Diet session, and implemented within two years
- 3)initiatives that will be implemented in stages within the next four years before the public once again passes judgment at the end of our term of office
Many Japanese people have already recognized that the LDP has lost the ability to govern. Not only did Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Fukuda both abandon their position within the space of a year, but following these resignations the LDP focused only on their own internal leadership 窶徃ames窶 without apologizing or reflecting on those actions or showing any regard for the struggles of ordinary people.
We can simply press the reset button if we are simply playing computer games but not when it comes to politics and people's livelihoods. The LDP president may be able to throw away his administration, but ordinary people can not throw away their livelihoods.
People who cannot understand this simple fact have absolutely no business running the country.
What, for example, has happened to the problem of "vanishing pensions records" and "improperly deleted pensions records"? What will the LDP do about the new medical insurance scheme for persons aged 75 and over? What will they do about the high price of gasoline and kerosene? Just one month ago, the LDP was making a huge fuss about an emergency economic package, but what happened to it? Following the financial crisis in the US, the global economy stands on the brink of another Depression. How does the government intend to respond?
Not only have the LDP failed to address a single one of these problems, but they have also abandoned voters. The LDP is simply dancing around choosing their leader and appears very bizarre.
However, perhaps the most troubling issue of all is the illegally reselling of tainted rice. Although many people are extremely worried, wondering whether they have been fed tainted rice without their knowledge, the government and the LDP have failed to take decisive action, try to force individual companies to take the blame, and when that failed to work, they tried to paper over the situation with the resignation of the agriculture minister.
For the sake of the Japanese people, we must therefore put an end to the LDP / New Komeito administration as soon as possible. It is imperative that we achieve victory at the general election and create a new government.
The general election fight will be, for various reasons, my 窶彷inal fight窶?
If we do not succeed now in creating a government that reflects the will of the people and building 窶從ew and better lives窶? Japanese society will collapse in disarray. Neither would we be able to break out of the current economic crisis. For the people of Japan, this is the final chance to repair our society and economy.
This is also probably our last chance to create a true parliamentary democracy in which voters themselves can choose the government.
For me personally, as a lawmaker who is committed to lead Japan, it is physically and mentally my final battle. I have no reason to remain a lawmaker unless I am committed to lead.
Two and a half years ago, when I was first elected as DPJ President, I spoke about a line in the (Italian) film 窶弋he Leopard窶 which I watched when I was younger.
The line in the film is 窶忤e must change to remain the same.窶
I said that firstly, for the future of Japan, I must change. I said that we must change our party and we must change Japan. That was my promise.
In keeping with that promise, I have continually struggled to change myself, although I would not say my efforts were completely adequate. However, our party has changed considerably. We have achieved greater stability, and an increasing number of voters have a favorable impression of our party and are ready to give us a chance to govern.
What makes me proudest about our party is that we are all deeply committed to the principle of 窶徘utting people窶冱 lives first窶? without any exceptions, and it is that principle which drives our actions. That is why I humbly ask the public to support the DPJ and the DPJ窶冱 candidates.
The essence of politics is to have a will. That is something else of which I am convinced.
Sovereignty lies with the people, and if the people make up their minds, they can achieve change in politics. They can change their lives and change Japan. The final source of political power is the people themselves. Now is the time for the people to actively wield that power.
I am certain that the Japanese people have the capabilities and potential required to build new and better lives and build a new Japan. I am certain that if we cooperate together, we will be able to overcome current difficulties. The mission of the DPJ is to ensure that the capabilities of the Japanese people can be maximized.
I am staking my political career on this election. I will put everything I have into building 窶從ew and better lives窶? Each of you can decide the future course Japan will take. Let us have dreams! Let us, you and DPJ together, work to make those dreams a reality. I ask you to give our party a chance to govern.
I am deeply grateful for your understanding and support. Thank you very much.