Yukio Hatoyama（Former Prime Minister）
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
It is a great pleasure to be invited to the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan, an esteemed organization with a long and illustrious history, and to receive the opportunity to address this distinguished group. I believe this is the ninth time I have spoken here, with my first visit coming in October of 1996. I have now served as a Diet member for 25 years. Today, I would like to reflect back on the most recent 15 years of my political career.
If I remember correctly, my first talk here came after leaving the New Party Sakigake, soon after the formation of the original Democratic Party of Japan. That was just prior to the first Lower House election under the single-seat electoral system. Along with current Prime Minister Naoto Kan, my own younger brother Kunio and others, we launched the DPJ as a gathering of liberals. The guiding political ideology that we brought to this new party may be described as follows:
The political, economic and social structures of postwar Japan were declining into condition that I would label as extreme institutional fatigue. Simply stated, they no longer conformed to the demands of the Japanese people. The trend has come to be distinguished by excessive pursuit of economic affluence and efficiency, with the ideals of true prosperity and "coexistence" vanishing from people's hearts and minds. Japan was on the verge of becoming a full-fledged aging society, and many Japanese sensed uncertainty about the future. The time was right, we believed, to rebuild the values of freedom, fairness, equality and coexistence, on a foundation of self-reliant citizens, steeped in self-awareness of social responsibility, and the spirit of fraternity. This included the need to acknowledge past responsibilities, and rise to advance "politics instilled with accountability for the future."
Under this basic philosophy, the DPJ positioned itself as the agent of change to a "citizen-focused society," "qualitative reforms and quantitative reductions in government," "the forging a vigorous industrial society rooted in vision for a new era," "shared recognition of history and contributions to peace and coexistence," and other progress.
Our Democratic Party subsequently merged with the Liberal Party, thereby emerging as the DPJ of today. The basic thinking that I have described, remains fully alive and well at present. It continues to serve as our political creed, and comprises the very essentials of the DPJ platform. With the regime change in 2009, our party took control from the previous administration. This brought an end to a series of governments that had held onto power over the long term. As a result, the administrations grew unable to read the emerging trends, eventually descending into rampant collusion in which nothing could be accomplished. The DPJ, in contrast,championed the ideas I have mentioned as our awareness of a new era, and the fundamental ideology of policies to be implemented by a new government. Briefly stated, then, this was the thinking that served as our starting line, when I assumed the position of Prime Minister.
After becoming Prime Minister, I promoted various different pivotal policies, based on the fundamental positions described. Because of time limitations, I would like to present my thoughts on two of these ideas--namely, "New Public Commons," and, "Advancing Japanese Diplomacy."
First, "New Public Commons." In a nutshell, this refers to an arena for spontaneous collaboration, between a wide range of stakeholders, in striving to build a society distinguished by communal support and vitality. In a certain sense, such a goal is hardly remarkable, and I had spoken of this concept before becoming Prime Minister as well. I did feel, however, that this sense of "public commons," a key part of the Japanese people and their communities from ancient times, was now being lost. I felt the need to retool this concept in a format appropriate for the current times, striving to rebuild the bonds between people and communities.
Besides those who are truly self-sufficient, I believe we can view the concept of "New Public Commons" as a society that also embraces people facing troubles beyond their control, persons unable to do various activities on their own strength, children, senior citizens, and the disabled. If we accept this, then I believe it is of primary importance for government offices and the legal system to support these and other needs under the theme of "Public Commons." Such support may also be assigned to the responsibility of the state, and local governments. Realistically, however, considering the severely critical fiscal conditions of both our national and local governments at present, we are now locked in a struggle to largely fend off the further declines in social services. Naturally, I am not saying that we must resign ourselves to this situation, as a problem that cannot be helped because of harsh public finances. On the contrary, every possible effort must be mounted to ensure the quality of public services supplied to the Japanese people, while probing means to effectively review and reduce administrative costs.
Back in the era of Japan's sustained economic growth, it may very well be that materialistic public policies were unfurled, hand in hand with surging business confidence, and approved as the normal state of affairs. However, overindulgent outlays for infrastructure and other lopsided policies led to increases in environmental destruction and unnecessary business operations. This, in turn, ushered in fiscal crisis, with many local governments still struggling, unable to chart the course to resolution. What we must instill in our public commons and public commons policies form here on, therefore, are spiritual, not materialistic elements, rooted in the vision of the precious value of life. We must also realize that, in moving toward that goal, it is not just public servants who need to shoulder the load. This, then, is the brand of thinking that provides the bedrock of what I choose to refer to as the "New Public Commons."
In more specific terms, in health care, nursing care, childcare, education, crime prevention and other service sectors, as well as in the environment, agriculture, forestry, culture, art and other business-oriented fields, there is a need for non-profit organizations, volunteers and other citizens' groups, community organizations, companies and the government to participate and collaborate as stakeholders, operating under set rules and roles. As the government mission in supporting the smooth functioning of such a system, we chose to introduce landmark tax system reform. Under that policy, there will be a major increase in the ranks of certified NPOs. Meanwhile, when making donations not only to NPOs, but also to public interest foundations and corporations, educational corporations and social welfare corporations as well, 50 percent of the donations will be tax exempt, as the combined total for income and local taxes. This will help fuel more flexible collaboration between the private and public sectors, paving the way to a society more deeply steeped in human respect and love.
Next, I wish to touch upon Japanese diplomacy. Naturally, U.S.-Japan ties continue to be the cornerstone of our foreign relations. Yet, there is also a pressing need for Japan to advance sharing of the correct view of the past with the countries of Asia, states with which we enjoy deep historical bonds, while likewise forging ties of lasting trust and friendship. In other words, we must advance wholehearted efforts to forge a framework of economic stability and security in the Asian region. The century commencing from the Meiji Period of Japanese history was defined by the slogan of "overtaking and surpassing the West." At the same time, however, it was also a century of so-called "quitting Asia." Clearly, Japan's growth and prosperity in that era would never have been possible without imposing great sacrifices and burdens on Asia, Okinawa and other parts of the world. It is critical, therefore, that we Japanese also take a keen and realistic look at the negative aspects of our historical legacy as well.
From a related perspective, as seen in the global financial crisis that spread from the United States and other examples, the world is now undeniably shifting from U.S. uni-polarism to an era of multi-polarization. It must also be pointed out, however, that the image of that multi-polarization remains vague, with no clarity regarding what political and economic models will apply to this emerging new world. This ambiguity, in fact, can be viewed as the essence of the current crisis. There is no doubt that the United States will continue to reign as the global leader, in both economic and military strength, from here on as well. It is also true, however, that China, a nation with a massive population, is also developing as a military power, while the Chinese economy is destined to attain superpower status somewhere down the road. According to recent reports, China has in fact surpassed Japan, as predicted, to become the world's second largest GDP. In various definitions of the word, therefore, Japan is located between these two world powers.
Then again, this type of positional relationship is not limited to Japan, but also applies to the other nations of East Asia as well. Though these countries have little choice but to rely upon America's military might, I believe they wish to avoid excessive dependence on Washington politically and economically. With regard to China, meanwhile, these nations yearn for a reduced military threat, while likewise pinning their hopes on the advance of more orderly economic activity. Such desires are instinctive to these countries, and may also be read as a factor that will escalate regional integration.
On a related point, against the backdrop of the current globalism and the efforts to surmount ultra-nationalism, there is also the potential for nationalism to reemerge, and then combine with populism to trigger political turmoil. Such possibilities underscore the need for great wisdom in overcoming radical nationalism in each country, while formulating policies to support effective rules for economic cooperation and security. Therein also lies the significance of the East Asian Community Strategy --a concept that I strongly advocate.
As I noted, U.S.-Japan relations will continue to be critical from here on. Japan, however, must also view the entire Asia-Pacific, a region teeming in vitality and with which our bonds are growing increasingly tight, as the basic life space within which this country will continue to function and develop. We need to attach critical importance to APEC, East Asia, ASEAN, Northeast Asia and the Japan Sea Rim as key stages for engineering multi-tiered, multilateral diplomacy. Within these regions, furthermore, we must keep our attention fixed on forging constructive bilateral relations with the United States, China, Russia, South Korea and India, as well as the countries of ASEAN, the Pacific Rim and Latin America.
From this perspective, Japan must not limit its efforts to positive participation only in the conferences of ASEAN, APEC and other gatherings. In Northeast Asia as well, we must work hard to advance the deployment of regional security systems, moves to nuclear-free zones and diversified economic cooperation, in fostering the same type of multilateral trust and conflict prevention in that part of the world as well. In other words, concerted efforts are needed to foster an international environment where so-called "Far East crises" will not occur.
During my time as Prime Minister, I met frequently with national leaders, especially those from Asia, engaging in sincere and candid exchanges aimed at cultivating mutual trust. I am highly confident that these efforts helped deepen Japan's strategic reciprocal relationships with those countries. I have continued in this path after stepping down as Prime Minister as well, making visits to China, Russia, South Korea, Vietnam, India and other destinations. There, I have met with state leaders, redoubling my quest to build up strong human ties. I am firmly convinced that such exchanges are directly in line with Japan's national interests.
Prime Minister Kan, in a recent foreign affairs speech delivered at a private sector organization, spoke of the "Five Pillars" of diplomacy and security. He placed the U.S.-Japan alliance at the core. Naturally, one of the areas mentioned by Mr. Kan at that time was also Asian diplomacy. After the DPJ took over the controls of government, I announced that Japan's new policy focus would revolve around the East Asian Community Strategy. I remember, like yesterday, the ringing commendations that this statement earned from Asian countries. I personally attribute such praise to the declaration that Japan was at last ready to move not only from a geopolitical perspective, but also with Asia at the core of its concerns.
Let me repeat, I am in no way denying the tremendous importance of U.S.-Japan relations. I heartily subscribe to the critical nature of that alliance. Yet, at the same time, how we engage China, and other Asian nations almost certain to continue to record swift growth over the years to come, as well as the viewpoints that we adopt toward those states, will be a key factor in determining if Japan can make the leap to a nation of even higher caliber and prestige. By no means must we disappoint our neighbors on this front. This is a line of thought on which I sincerely hope to gain the understanding and support of Prime Minister Kan.
Recently, meanwhile, the media reports daily on the discord within the DJP. Taking this to heart, we must do everything in our power to rebuild a united party system, and restore the faith of the public in our ability to govern.
In that regard, at the recent party convention convened by the No. 1 opposition party, I understand that the leader of that party appealed to the effect that, if only their party could take back control of the administration, everything would go smoothly thereafter.
In response to that, allow me to note that the DPJ remains the ruling party selected by the voters. Without the people's trust, of course, it will be impossible to maintain the government, and we must certainly spare no time or effort in moving in that direction. However, as I noted at the outset, because the previous administration retained political power for so long, it became unable to keep pace with the changes occurring throughout our society. That government failed to pull away from its underlying structure of personal connections and collusion, with the increasing sense of stagnation and impotence clearly exposed.
The party in question has failed to honestly reflect on these past actions. Nor has it displayed any constructive ideas or perception of the times. Instead, the statement was made that, as long as they can retake the government, there will somehow be smooth sailing ahead. In my mind, such a declaration is a gross insult that, by its very nature, displays disdain for the intelligence of the Japanese people.
In closing, I feel that, for the Democratic Party of Japan, the most important demand at this time is for each and every member of our team to return to the basics, reconfirm the validity of what we seek to accomplish, and once again submit our case to the people.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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