[Original post can be found here]

Taken by a government secretary.

On 4/25 (Sun.), I carried out the “New Society” ‘open forum’.
To the many people who participated in spite of it being a Sunday, thank you. It was broadcast live from Ustream, so I think there were also people who watched.

Since I assumed the office of Prime Minister in September of last year, people have supported and citizens have, one by one, communicated their aims for a society that can find out their “place and turn”, wanting to aim for a “Japan that supports each other to survive”. Looking towards this realization raises the question of the so-called “New Society” way of thinking, but this is not a special way of thinking that the new administration just started.

I introduced this in today’s forum, but since a long time ago, Japan has had a character flaw in that “Half a share is what you make, half a share is expected for services; the two parties break apart the whole”.

“Services” is, not to myself but to others, to bare some skin to the society and be useful, isn’t it.

For the sake of understanding some human beings: no matter what kind of business they’re in, they take only their family’s and their ability to keep eating as a matter of course, and their way of thinking is that government help is, as it were, necessary.

In the post-Meiji Era nation-state’s process of formation, Japan centralized the duties of “society” to the central government.

However, in the elapsed time, the “government” has unwittingly become arrogant; one by one, people and the usefulness of their neighborhood or society, the origins of the community– the “spirit” of a society of people in a region who carry on their traditions– is in the process of being lost.

On the other hand, in chasing each era, a region’s people are inclined to themselves be constituents of the community; the sense of the concerned parties is lost, and as if it’s someone else’s problem, this trend of “the government” bearing the brunt of the criticism gains strength.

Let us look to the present day.

Taking a big opportunity in the great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake disaster, in Japanese society, NPOs and all kinds of citizens’ campaigns– even though they were of numerous themes– increased in activity, and it became a thing that had to be from within Japanese society.

In this direction that the activities took to provide assistance, again it goes with out saying that the government was supposed to carry out reassuring support and environmental maintenance.
In the last session of the roundtable conference, the donation tax system’s radical expansion was determined.

However, the “New Society” is by no means part of an NPO’s see-through concept, and neither does the “New Society Propulsion Scheme” equal a scheme of acknowledging NPO support.

To tell it from the start, in Japanese society, the government’s soul is possibly lodged in the hearts of some Japanese people, and to this day that beautiful custom has not vanished.

For example, long before the term “citizen action” was established, every place had sort of community activity that had been carried out for many years.
PTA activity, crime prevention region-wide, possibly shopping districts and the like were created in neighborhoods by means of the people of the area; town revitalization, firefighting groups’ activities; moreover, in the summer twilight, aged people loiter on benches so they can scold the neighborhood children, keep an eye on them; until we arrive at that scene, it is important that the “New Society” I am talking about will take shape; I feel that we have the elements for it.

The investigation into profits was not an exception for entrepreneurial activity with an essential purpose; that is, all the financial experts who participated in the forum the other day spoke unanimously.

Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street‘s chairman Mr. Doi says that the ones called street merchants do not just do business on the street, they must protect the street; one cannot put a price on that reputation. The merchants’ underlying principle is not only to just sell things but to establish their businesses. I believe it is because that kind of spirit still remains that over twenty thousand long-lived enterprises continue to endure in Japan.

On the same note, one of the new wave of young managers representing Japan spoke, and it was new and fresh.

As administrative officials and politicians are the only ones carrying the burden of public service, it would be good if merchants and entrepreneurs investigate the profits… I’d like to say that that kind of duty-sharing, as a matter of fact, does not suit Japanese society.

I want to restore the “government” and “community” that was in Japan’s ancient areas, and is [still] within the people, to an appropriate form in the present day.

Young people, people of a region, or entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, and international NGOs– these various constituents, reconciling and cooperating with the government, support the community and want to make a new society.

I’d like to create a new “shape of the nation” [possible reference to the essay “The Shape of this Country“]– if NPOs and social entrepreneurs advocated and put into practice the “New Society”, if in the present day we could use creativity to restore the “good old regional community”, if the new government administration, self-governing bodies such as municipalities, and things like enterprises proactively cooperate.

Differing from the concept of individuals bearing the burden of businesses and duties, if they together recognized existing commonalities within each other, and depending on time and place, together exchanged duties while complementing each other, working for society’s sake– that is the kind of society I’d like to create.

That kind of completed whole is the “New Society” I speak of. That is what I want to consider the government to give backing to, to build a humanistic economic system and to tie them to resuscitating the bond between an area and its people.

(This piece gets long, so I will continue next time.)


I went to the Geinokadensha

04/17 (Saturday)

[Original post can be found here]

A government secretary took this picture.

Last Saturday, I inspected Shinjuku’s Geinokadensha.
Here, besides theater and music, various kinds of stage arts and people involved in the sphere of entertainment are gathered; it’s an establishment used as a base for cultural intercourse.

A characteristic of the institution is that it is in what was formerly an elementary school.
The Geidan co-chariman Yoshi (?) Nomura and Shinjuku ward mayor Hiroko Nakayama offered an explanation, and even those new to the community felt that this was a very significant action.

Instead of the ward lending the former elementary school’s facilities to an organization for profit, public entertainment would possess the power to return it to the area and the society while the ward also keeps the facilities from being useless, so they built up a “win-win” situation.

Currently, I observed a sword fighting course for working adults, and pros practicing for a public theatrical performance; pros and amateurs alike had very lively movements and voices.

Securing practice locations for theatrical plays and other stage arts is very difficult. That is what several of the actors have said.
It’s a happy thing that closed schools and empty storefronts have been utilized by practice and training location sponsors and “art space” sponsors; it seems like the whole country is making progress. The regional administration and civilians are making progress by cooperating to achieve a single objective. I think it would be good if this kind of trend expanded to other regions and spheres.

Also, starting this year, one of the feature policies of the MEXT will begin “communication” education that uses theater and dance.
In this current year of graduated attempts alone, artists will be sent to 300 elementary and middle schools. Making bases for practical purposes, such as facilities like the Kadensha that spread traditional entertainment arts and communication education that uses theater and dance, I feel is good.

However, after this time that made me consider the theater and the stage arts to be precious and valuable, I received sad news.
There was a report that Hisashi Inoue, a leading Japanese playwright, has passed away.
I also pray for his happiness in the next world, and I hope that his work continues to be performed numerous times hereafter. In order to pursue the “peace” that Mr. Inoue spent his life chasing, let’s renew our efforts all the more.

[Original post can be found here]

I made yakisoba for all the participants (Government secretary photo)

Today we carried out the second Real Hato Cafe.

The Food and Farming theme this time had all the guests around a barbecue to share the joint experience of “eating”, so we moved the location from inside the Kantei deliberately to hear those tales.

This time, we had over nine people, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south, farming families and foodstuff manufacturers, restaurateurs, food researchers and students. We even had a restaurant manager come over from Guam. Since there were various questions carrying each respective standpoint and circumstances, without each of the people there I wouldn’t have been able to understand the opinions and requests I was able to hear.

We were even able to involve people who moved to the especially harsh-weathered Hokkaido and started agriculture there. With Hokkaido’s short summers, they place their stakes on the crops that are frantically grown in that period, and it seems like they can grow things like sweet soba.

I also inquired about the stories of whether pigs raised in happiness make tasty pork, and whether rayu tastes good because it is made by smiling old people. I think that the deciding factor in making good quality food is, after all, “people”.

Besides that, there was also talk that the labor that connects the farmer and the consumer is an endowment of a storylike or entertainment nature. In this we can see many hints as to the future of Japan’s agriculture.

Eating is a behavior required to live. There are all those who concern themselves with “protecting life”, and hereafter the government– this administration– must be proactive in their support. I feel this way all over again.

We will have the videos from today for you as fast as we can. This time, like a continuation from last time, I got the sense of making new friends who together share this hope of changing this country for the better. It was truly an enjoyable time. Thank you very much. I am looking forward to next time, starting now.

From the ministry PR office: The particulars of the second Real Hato Cafe (video) can be perused on your PC at the following link.
Government internet television; Real Hato Cafe – Heisei Year 22, April 4

[Original post can be found here]

What the press conference looked like. (Ministry PR office photo)

When the administration was inaugurated in September of last year, some of the media for the weekly publications carried out an expansion of participants for the prime minister’s press conference.

After that, we’ve piled on Kantei security and in yesterday’s press conference, we were able to expand to “free journalists” and “net” reporters and further promote our openness. There are some imperfect points, but I’m bragging about this big step. Press conferences have hitherto been long and ascetic; I feel that adding a lively question and answer session was an immensely significant thing.

From now on, in order to aim for an opened-up Kantei and an opened-up administration, press conference locations will proactively be made open. I wish for the other cabinet ministers’ and my voices to be able to clearly communicate directly with the world.

Notice from the Ministry PR Office
Please peruse the particulars of the prime minister’s press conference at the following link.

[Original post can be found here]

For this second Real Hato Cafe as well, we received many wishes to participate from over 200 people, so thank you.

This time, the theme is “Food and Farming Cafe”. Also, a few days ago, in an international confectionery male-female pairs contest that was opened in Paris, a Japanese team won overall. Congratulations. That’s wonderful.

For me, Japan’s culinary culture, the business of food and drink, is tied to tourism and agriculture, so I would like to make it a pillar of our growth strategy. In this next Hato Cafe, I’m looking forward to being able to speak with people who are currently aiming to connect food-related occupations with agriculture.

By the way, my favorite sweet is… taiyaki.

[Original post can be found here]

We will be inviting a number of guests to the real Kantei teahouse for the second “Hato Cafe”.

For the first “Parenting Cafe”, we received numerous applications and were able to hear the participants’ valuable views. The normally stuffy-imaged Kantei echoed with children’s voices, so it became a significantly profound day.

Anyway, we are aiming for this second one to possibly involve students and employees of the food and agricultural industries, so the Kantei is considering inviting “Food and Farming” related people.

I think that Japanese agriculture has big potential. Japan’s food service industry is peerless in the world, but it is linked to tourism and other industries, and is being strongly discounted together with Japan’s safe and secure agricultural goods, even overseas. I would like to think about this future with everyone.

Of course, with agriculture and food enclosed by the strict circumstances, the status quo involves points that cause feelings of dissatisfaction with regards to the administration, so please let us hear your requests for deregulation and other things.
We will be looking forward to them.

(From the civilian working group to close the gap between citizens and the government)
In this “Hato Cafe”, an until-now-unusual assembly dialogue and town meeting, dialogue amongst fellow participants on the topics concerned is promoted; the prime minister will also participate in this roundtable format.

Accordingly, we thought of a few rules to oversee the administration of “Hato Cafe”.

  • It is not compulsory to give an opinion or draw a conclusion. However, we feel that, by accumulating dialogues, it would be nice to have Japan be a country where people can gather and vent.
  • Let’s not speak using terms like “in general…” or “ordinarily…”, but instead please use your own views and personal experiences to express, “This is how I feel”.
  • The Prime Minister will also be a participatory member of “Hato Cafe”. Everyone probably has a lot of questions for the Prime Minister, but please be careful not to concentrate on him.
  • Please keep your speech concise and easy to understand. Please listen to other people to the end, without interruption.
  • Coffee, black tea, Japanese tea and pastries have been prepared. Everyone, the Prime Minister included, can kindly help themselves.
  • (Concerning the applications)
    The Second Real “Hato Cafe” implementation outline will go as follows. For people wishing to participate, please apply with the application form, filling in the blank spaces of the necessary items on the application with clear answers. To let us read the replies, we will determine the participants by considering a balance in age range and type of occupation.

    Also, please acknowledge the traveling and personal expenses of individual participants.

    Applications will close on March 15th (Monday) at noon.

    The participating parties will be notified via a personal e-mail or telephone call by March 29th (Monday) (followed up by sending a participation certificate). From then, changes will be made to the announcement of the participants carrying the correspondence, so please acknowledge this beforehand.

  • Agenda / Location
    • April 4 (Sunday) 2pm-4pm
      Prime Minister’s Official Residence/Kantei (Chiyoda-ku, Nagata-cho)
  • Attending
    • Prime Minister Hatoyama and other members of the Kantei staff
  • Participant Requirements / Number of Participants
    • Those with occupations in food services and agriculture, and possibly students who are aiming for them, all concerning “Food and Agriculture”, on the order of 10 people
  • Notes
    • Childcare personnel are making preparations, so it is possible to bring your children. Also, we are preparing a waiting room, so it is possible for the spouses of the people who will be attending to wait with their children.

    How to apply

  • After filling in the necessary items on the application form, please send it in. (In the event of difficulties accessing [the form], fill in the following items and send them to this e-mail: cafe-entry@cao.go.jp.)
  • 1) Postal code, Address
    2) Full name (Pronunciation [Furigana])
    3) Gender
    4) Age / Birthdate
    5) Telephone number (Cell phone number)
    6) E-mail address
    7) Place of employment (School)
    8) Number of children, Ages, Genders
    9) If you are bringing your spouse and/or child, Their name (Furigana), Gender, Age, Birthdate, Place of employment (School), Address (if different from the applicant’s)
    10) Other question items to answer (within 140 characters each, respectively)

      I. Now, concerning food and agriculture, what kind of work are you doing? Please give us concrete information. (For people who think they want to do that kind of work in the future, what kind of work do you want to do?)
      II. Why do you work in a food/agriculture career? (Do you want to?)
      III. What do you think is the number one challenge in food/agriculture work?
      IV. What kind of country do you think it would be good for Japan to become?
      V. Do you have anything to tell Prime Minister Hatoyama?
      VI. Why do you want to participate in “Hato Cafe”?
      * In the case of those wishing for wheelchair access or sign language interpreters, please let us know.
  • Application period: 3/12 (Friday) to 3/15 (Monday) at noon
  • Selection process: In the event of a large number of applicants, we will decide by taking into account the contents of their answers, age range, and type of occupation.
  • Announcement of results: By 3/29 (Monday), we will get in touch with the chosen participants.
  • Warnings for successful applicants:

  • The Kantei is arranging to do an Internet video broadcast of the designated day on the Kantei homepage. Please make a note beforehand that there is a possibility that participants’ pictures and images will be distributed and reported on.
  • Upon the participants’ admittance, the participation certificate and the individual’s insurance card (in the case that you brought your spouse and/or children, theirs as well) are necessary. Those without their participation certificate and those who cannot confirm their identity cannot participate.
  • As a general rule, please utilize public transportation to get to the location.
  • We will not accept participants who did not properly fill out their personal information.
  • (For future inquiries on this matter)
    Chamber of the Cabinet Office in Charge of Citizen Dialogue
    Telephone: 03-5253-2111 (ext. 84308)
    Email: cafe-entry@cao.go.jp

    National Year of Reading

    03/07 (Sunday)

    [Original post can be found here]

    Photos taken and compiled by someone from the engineering office.

    I wonder if you are all aware of this. This year is the National Year of Reading. It began in January, but at Marunouchi in Tokyo, while exchanging ideas with Seigo Matsuoka, I bought a lot of books. There were books that appealed to me on whichever shelf, and also on the shelves were all kinds of devices, so the time I spent in the store I felt was short.

    Bookshops and libraries, where the knowledge of all times and places is collected, are important places of learning. Holding all kinds of books in your hands, with nothing but the soft sound of pages turning, is experiencing intellectual stimulation.

    Nowadays, during a session of the Diet, time so I can carefully read books is by no means easy to come by, so while I’m in transit or about to sleep, I have a book in my hands. So how about you all individually take advantage of the National Year of Reading and head out to bookstores and libraries more?