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Last Update : Friday, Jan 8, 2016

JapanGov Weekly

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Friday, Jan 1, 2016]

New Year’s Reflection by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

[Provisional Translation]

Happy new year to all.

In Japan, we have a proverb that says even the coldest rock will warm up if sat upon for three years. In other words, perseverance will bring success in the end.

In the disaster area in Tohoku, more and more people have been moving into public housing for disaster victims. “New buds” of industries are sprouting and reconstruction is about to transition to the next stage.

Both the peaceful diplomacy and the economic diplomacy that I have deployed taking a panoramic perspective of the globe are beginning to bear great fruit. Under the Legislation for Peace and Security, we will prevent war by taking all possible preparations for any circumstances. We have successfully built a foundation for handing down a peaceful Japan to the generations of our children and grandchildren.

We have also been battling deflation, which made the Japanese economy stagnant for nearly 20 years. These three years, we have made all-out efforts to revive the economy.

What has resulted is an expansion of employment by more than one million people and wages climbing by the greatest amount in 17 years. We are also seeing steady progress in the vitalization of local regions. For example, last year the highest-ever ratio of job offers to job seekers was recorded in seven prefectures - Aomori, Akita, Tokushima, Kochi, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Okinawa.

Japan is no longer in deflation. This is the situation we have created over the past three years.

All this is thanks to you, the people of Japan, who imparted tremendous power to the reforms conducted by the Abe administration through your understanding and cooperation. As we greet this fourth New Year since my administration began, allow me to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you once more.

Another proverb tells us, “A castle takes three years to build, yet it can fall in a single day.”

The stern eye of the public falls on the government at all times. With this firmly in mind, along with the New Year I have renewed my belief that we must bring to bear a still higher level of vigilance as we conduct political administration.

This year we will launch new efforts to tackle challenges.

We will squarely take on the structural issue of an aging society with a falling birthrate and work to bring about a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.

It was half a century ago that the population of Japan first surpassed 100 million people. It was right at the height of Japan’s period of rapid economic growth - an era when people felt very keenly that those who work hard will be rewarded, and that tomorrow life will be even more prosperous than it is today.

We will maintain a population of 100 million people even half a century into the future. Everyone can take another step forward, no matter if that person is old or young, female or male, a person who has failed before, or someone with an intractable illness or disability. For those who are living today, creating a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged is our responsibility towards the next generation.

Having set three clear targets - a 600 trillion yen GDP, Japan’s largest in the post-war era; raising the birthrate to 1.8 children per woman, the level the public has indicated as desirable; and eliminating cases in which people have no choice but to leave their jobs to provide nursing care - I will now fire my new “three arrows.” The curtain has finally opened on our very first year as a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged.

None of these are simple issues for which a blueprint exists right from the start. I have been fully prepared for difficulties from the outset. However, the future is not something others bestow upon us. It is something that we must carve out with our own hands.

As we make 2016 our start, the task before us is to take on challenges, time and time again. I am determined to make 2016 a year of resolutely taking on challenges for the future.

Beginning today, Japan will serve as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. As such, we will shoulder great responsibility in ensuring global peace and stability. Moreover, this year, we will invite major world leaders to Ise-Shima for a summit. We will also hold the TICAD summit meeting, bringing together the leaders of Japan and African countries. Japan will also serve as the country chairing the Japan-China-Republic of Korea (ROK) Trilateral Summit Meeting.

This will be a year in which Japan truly shines on the world’s center stage.

The world constantly faces a variety of challenges - an increasingly unpredictable global economy, the fight against terrorism, poverty and development issues, climate change. The international community’s efforts to fashion a brighter future and build a better world are never-ending.

Within this global context, Japan will thoroughly demonstrate leadership.

As I end my remarks, I ask the Japanese people to extend to us their further understanding and support. I also would like to extend my sincere wishes for 2016 to be a splendid year that is happy and prosperous for one and all.

Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Monday, Jan 4, 2016]

G7 Japan 2016 Ise-Shima Summit: Welcome Message from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

A warm hello to all. I am Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan.
Japan assumed the Presidency of the G7 Summit this year. On May 26 and 27, Japan will convene the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in Mie Prefecture.
In Ise-Shima, the stage for the G7 Summit, you can find not only Ise Jingu Shrine with a history dating back to time immemorial, but also marvelous natural beauty including the rich sea spreading out before your eyes, islands large and small, and countless inlets. It is a perfect example of our heartland - a place dear to many, away from the bustling cities.
In such an environment, I will make this year’s summit a fruitful one by having candid discussions with the other G7 leaders on various issues confronting the globe.
Today, the international community faces numerous challenges. A slowdown in the growth of the global economy, terrorism threatening people’s lives, a surge of refugees, and unilateral changes to the status quo through the use of coercion are all among the challenges affecting the peace and prosperity we enjoy in our daily lives.
The G7 members, which share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights, must take a global perspective to provide the most appropriate roadmap for solving these challenges with a clear vision.
The G7 Ise-Shima Summit is the first G7 Summit to be convened in Asia since the summit in Toyako eight years ago. I hope to discuss the situation in the Asia-Pacific region with other G7 leaders.
In addition to the G7 Summit meeting to be held in Ise-Shima, we will hold the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hiroshima and the Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Sendai, as well as the Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in Niigata, the ICT Ministers’ Meeting in Takamatsu, the Energy Ministers’ Meeting in Kitakyushu, the Education Ministers’ Meeting in Kurashiki, the Science and Technology Ministers’ Meeting in Tsukuba, the Environment Ministers’ Meeting in Toyama, the Health Ministers’ Meeting in Kobe, and the Transport Ministers’ Meeting in Karuizawa.
Scores of journalists from around the world will converge on Japan to cover the G7 Ise-Shima Summit and these ministerial meetings, all of which will be the focus of attention around the world.
I hope to take this opportunity to send out to the world our message about Japan’s unique points of appeal, including our culture and traditions, our spirit of hospitality, our world-class washoku cuisine, as well as advanced technologies and our innovation.
With your cooperation and assistance, I will work to lead the G7 Ise-Shima Summit to success.

[Cabinet Secretariat] [Wednesday, Jan 6, 2016]

Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the Nuclear Test by North Korea

[Provisional Translation]

1. Today, North Korea announced that it had conducted its fourth nuclear test. In Japan, at around 10:30 AM today, the Japan Meterological Agency detected seismic waves which may differ from the ordinary waveform of a natural earthquake, with an epicenter located in North Korea or in its vicinity. Based on a comprehensive consideration of this information, the Government of Japan considers that North Korea conducted a nuclear test.

2. The international community including Japan has repeatedly called on North Korea to fully comply with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs), and not to conduct any further provocation, including nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches. This nuclear test, which North Korea conducted today despite thes ecalls, is totally unacceptable, as it constitutes a grave threat to Japan’s security and seriously undermines the peace and security of Northeast Asia as well as the international community, when considered together with North Korea’s enhancement of its ballistic missile capability which could serve as a means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. The nuclear test by North Korea is a clear violation of relevant UNSCRs, including UNSCR 2094, and represents a grave challenge to the authority of the United Nations Security Council. In addition, it represents a grave challenge to the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime centered on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It also violates the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration as well as the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and goes against the efforts to resolve various issues through dialogue with North Korea. Thus, Japan lodges a serious protest against North Korea, and strongly condemns its nuclear test.

3. Japan requests that the United Nations Security Council promptly meet, taking into account UNSCR 2094 which clearly expresses the determination to take further significant measures against North Korea in the event of another nuclear test. Japan reiterates its strong demand for North Korea to immediately and fully implement the relevant UNSCRs. In addition, Japan takes this occasion to once again strongly demand that North Korea take concrete action towards comprehensively resolving outstanding issues of concern, including the abductions, nuclear and missile issues.

4. The Government of Japan will continue to thoroughly ensure the collection and analysis of information on the situation in North Korea including this matter, provide the public with accurate information, and take all possible measures to prepare for any contingencies in order to ensure the peace and security of Japan as well as the security and safety of the people. In addition, with regard to the effect on Japan of radioactive materials associated with the nuclear test, the Government’s “Liaison Meetings for Radiological Countermeasures” will take the lead in making utmost efforts to strengthen the monitoring system in coordination with the countries concerned. Furthermore, including efforts in the Security Council, the Government will strengthen collaboration with the countries concerned, such as the United States, the Republic of Korea, China, and Russia. The Government will also consider further measures against North Korea, taking into account future responses by North Korea and the developments in the international community.

[Japan International Cooperation Agency] [Friday, Dec 25, 2015]

Signing of Grant Agreement with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Improving the living environment with sewage treatment facilities

On December 21, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a grant agreement (G/A) with the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to provide grant aid of up to 1.11 billion yen for assistance for the Project for Water Quality Improvement for Japanese Bridge Area in Hoi An City.

Because the pollution load due to untreated wastewater is a priority issue in Hoi An City, which is designated as a World Heritage Site, this project will build sewage treatment facilities and repair waterways.

Although Vietnam is undergoing rapid economic growth and urbanization, the sewerage infrastructure lags behind. A growing volume of domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater is being released untreated into the city’s rivers, which is adversely affecting the environment. A city located in central Vietnam, Hoi An City was a prominent international trade port from the middle of the sixteenth century to the seventeenth century. It is known that there was a Japantown there, and Hoi An Ancient Town is a registered World Heritage Site. Japanese Bridge, which crosses a canal flowing through the center of the city, is a popular sightseeing spot, drawing 1.4 million visitors each year as a symbol of the friendship between Japan and Vietnam. Immediately below the bridge, the waterway receives a pollution load in the form of untreated wastewater, and the river water is significantly lower than the water standards for the country, creating problems such a blight on the view and an odor. There are therefore concerns that this water pollution will have a negative impact on sightseeing, a major industry in Hoi An City.

This project will improve the water quality in the Japanese Bridge area, thereby improving the living environment and sanitation in the city, and making the city more attractive for sightseeing.