The Yomiuri Shimbun
Plan for dynamic society must create more than just slogans
1億総活躍会議 スローガン倒れにならぬよう

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has put forth a policy of achieving what he calls “promoting the dynamic engagement of all citizens,” but isn’t it difficult for the people to have a specific image of such a society?

The national council to discuss concrete measures for the realization of the policy held its first meeting Thursday. After compiling urgent measures before the end of November, the panel plans to put together mid- and long-term steps as early as next spring.

Chairing the meeting, Abe said, “I hope to create a society where everyone can play an active role, by eliminating all policies that stand in the way of us achieving this.”

The government defines “a society that allows the dynamic engagement of its all citizens” as one in which “a population of 100 million [or more] can be maintained even 50 years from now” and “all citizens will be able to lead a fruitful life in their households, workplaces and communities.”

To realize these goals, Abe has put forth the new three arrows of his policy agenda: boosting the gross domestic product to ¥600 trillion, raising the birthrate hoped for by the people to 1.8 children per woman and reducing the number of workers who quit their jobs to provide nursing care to zero.

To prevent these policies from ending up as mere slogans, it is essential for the national council to serve as an engine to promote the integration of concrete targets and road maps.

Regarding the urgent measures, priority will most likely be placed on enhancing the birthrate and tackling the issue of workers quitting jobs to provide nursing care. Many aspects of these policy goals overlap with the government’s conventional policy initiatives of supporting women’s roles in society, vitalizing local economy to help deal with population decline and the overall growth strategy.

New ideas needed

All these issues have also been discussed by such government panels as the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, the Council for Industrial Competitiveness and the Council on Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan.

It is conspicuous that some of the people who are members of these panels are also part of the new national council. This most likely indicates that cooperation with the existing panels was deemed important. To prevent the national council from ending up as an unnecessary addition, it is necessary to define its position clearly.

In line with the government’s policies, local governments have worked out overall strategies for local economy vitalization while businesses have begun to formulate action programs for promoting the appointment of women. It is approaching a critical stage.

We want the council to conduct its discussions while considering whether possible measures in this area are consistent with the conventional policy agendas.

The measures that should be taken in each area have almost all been tabled. The council is expected to support their implementation by clarifying the order of priority and the sectors to be strengthened.

We urge the council to come up with new ideas, such as lending state-owned land cheaply to build additional special nursing care homes.

Government ministries and agencies are taking steps — action that was anticipated — to obtain higher budgets for the next fiscal year by linking their measures with the government’s policy to promote “dynamic engagement.” However, the government should not resort to adopting a casual handout policy that tries to fulfill the ruling parties’ desire to please voters ahead of the House of Councillors election set for next summer.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 30, 2015)Speech