"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Press Conference by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

[Date] June 1, 2016
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional translation
[Full text]


PRIME MINISTER ABE: The ordinary session of the Diet closed today. Through the laws and budget that were passed during this session, new efforts to bring about a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged will start one after the other. These initiatives will include expanding nursing leave benefits, preparing nursing care and childcare arrangements, subsidizing 100% of the costs of fertility treatment, and increasing the childcare allowance for single-parent families.

We will put the brakes on the trend towards an aging society and falling birthrate and create a society in which all people are able to feel their purpose in life. And, we will take a major step in order to carve out a future in which all citizens play active roles. I believe that this Diet session became "the Diet that takes on challenges looking towards the future."

At the same time, emerging and developing economies are currently in a downturn and the global economy is facing large risks. I shared this recognition the other day with the world leaders who came together for the G7 Ise-Shima Summit.

The recent Kumamoto earthquakes dealt a blow to the economy and to people's daily lives across a wide reach of Kyushu, including the tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and other sectors in Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures.

These are all new downside risks for the Japanese economy. In the worst case, there is also a risk that we will return to the long tunnel of deflation once more.

Now is truly the time for us to rev up the engine of Abenomics to the greatest possible extent and shake off such risks. In order for us to free ourselves in a single stroke we must increase our speed to the greatest extent possible in order to achieve "escape velocity."

Will we accelerate Abenomics further, or turn back? This will be the biggest point at issue in the coming House of Councillors election.

I am determined that Japan, as the Presidency of the G7, will take the lead in shifting into action the agreement we compiled in Ise-Shima. In order to shoot the "three arrows" of Abenomics once again with full force, I intend to take integrated and bold economic measures this autumn.

The most important thing is to carry out structural reforms and stimulate private investment that will bring about future growth.

We will aim at the early entry into force of the TPP. Furthermore, we will create new investment opportunities by expanding to the globe free and fair economic zones in which good quality items are evaluated as such, including the Japan-EU EPA.

We will make the greatest possible use of the current zero interest rate environment to boldly spur private investment that looks ahead to the future.

We will develop "infrastructure oriented to the 21st century" through a new system of low-interest loans. By accelerating the plans for the Chuo Maglev Shinkansen and expediting the construction of the planned Shinkansen, we will create at the earliest possible time a "corridor for vitalizing local regions" that integrates the entire nation into a single economic zone.

We will push forward vigorously with investments that focus on a future society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged, such as preparing day care centers and nursing care facilities.

The greatest challenge is reforming the work system to make diverse work arrangements possible.

We will sever the practice of working long hours. We will ensure equal treatment regardless of the form of employment one has. And we will make equal pay for equal work a reality. Through our determination to eradicate from Japan the expression "non-permanent employment," we will raise the level of overall income and reliably expand domestic demand.

Together with these reforms, we will carry out full-fledged reconstruction measures, grounding them thoroughly in the needs of the disaster areas while taking into account the feelings of unease of the Kumamoto earthquake disaster victims as earthquakes continue to strike even now.

We will cooperate within the G7 and, in order to strengthen global demand, press forward boldly with investments in fields that will contribute to future growth. We will generate from Japan technological innovation that leads the rest of the world, including in artificial intelligence and robotics. I intend to carry out economic measures that firmly support domestic demand.

In addition, I will talk about raising the consumption tax rate to 10 percent, scheduled for April 2017.

In the general election one and a half years ago, I promised to create the necessary economic circumstances for raising the consumption tax rate from April 2017. And I have been pressing forward vigorously with Abenomics.

Currently, the ratio of job offers to job seekers is at a high level not seen in 24 years. Moreover, this is not a phenomenon limited to our cities. Broken down by work location, all 47 prefectures from Hokkaido to Okinawa now exceed a ratio of 1.0. This is the first time that has ever occurred. It means that we have succeeded in creating a situation in which there is more than one job for every person seeking work.

The number of permanent employment positions, which had been declining steadily since the Lehman Brothers' collapse, last year switched to an increase for the first time in eight years, increasing by 260,000 people. The job placement rate for graduating high school students this spring hit a 24-year high. The job placement rate for graduating university students is at an all-time high. The number of bankruptcies of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has also decreased by 30 percent compared to the figures before the change of government. It has been 25 years since the last time the number of bankruptcies declined this far.

As for rises in income, a survey by RENGO, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, indicates that we were successful in realizing the highest level of wage increases, including for SMEs, since the beginning of the 21st century for three consecutive years: two years ago, last year, and then again in spring this year. That is the highest level since the beginning of this century. We have succeeded in bringing this about. Moreover, wages for part-time workers have also recorded an all-time high. By no means was this only the pay of people working at a certain portion of large corporations rising. It was that the hourly wages of people working as part-timers also hit an all-time high. I would very much like for you to take note of this.

We have been creating employment and increasing incomes. Although we have still come only halfway, Abenomics has been steadily delivering such results.

However, the global economy has changed at a speed beyond our imagination over the past year or more, with increasing unpredictability.

The greatest concern is the "clouds" that can be seen over China and other emerging economies. The prices of crude oil and other commodities have dropped at a level comparable with that during the financial crisis after Lehman Brothers' collapse, and investments have declined, imparting tremendous damage to emerging economies and developing countries' economies.

This means that the global economy might well lose its "growth engine" and there are concerns about the weakness in global demand and the slowdown in growth.

Experts on the global economy are sounding the alarm bells about exactly these points.

We have held seven meetings of the International Finance and Economic Assessment Council, at which I listened directly to the views of Nobel laureates in economics Professor [Joseph] Stiglitz and Professor [Paul] Krugman, and other economic experts from the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Many of those experts anticipate a further worsening of economic conditions this year and next, as a result of sluggish global demand.

At the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, the other G7 leaders and I had frank discussions about this risk that the global economy faces. As the outcome of our discussions, we agreed that "in order to avoid falling into another crisis" we would "take all appropriate policy responses in a timely manner," a position set forth in the Leaders' Declaration.

The risks that we currently face are now entirely different from the kind of financial turmoil occurring during the financial crisis after Lehman Brothers' collapse. However, we must learn from that experience.

Although the global economy experienced negative growth in 2009, as of the previous year, in 2008, the risks were not fully recognized, as seen in, for example, even the IMF forecasting close to 4 percent positive growth. This 4 percent positive growth forecast turned into negative growth at a stroke, a situation that was difficult to recognize until immediately before it occurred. This is the dreadful nature of a crisis when a risk becomes manifest.

By no means am I taking a pessimistic look at the future of the global economy.

However, we must be prepared for risk. I believe that we should take proper measures in order to accurately recognize the risks that are there at present and avoid falling into a crisis.

Under the agreement reached by the G7 the other day and our shared recognition of risk, Japan will mobilize all policy measures, including accelerating structural reforms and making use of fiscal policies. It is within that context that I have taken the decision that we must postpone raising the consumption tax rate, which could cause domestic demand to lose momentum.

I wish to address until when we will postpone this.

It has been pointed out that in China and elsewhere, responses to excess capacity, non-performing loans, and other structural issues have been slow, and the recovery of emerging economies may take some time. Against that backdrop, I considered postponing raising the tax rate as long as possible, as there are concerns that the slowdown in global demand may be prolonged.

However, I will not lower the flag of rebuilding public finances. We must secure international confidence towards Japan. We will also carry out our responsibilities to hand down our social security system to the next generation. The stance of the Abe Cabinet on these matters is unshakable.

We will firmly adhere to our goal of achieving fiscal soundness for fiscal 2020. In keeping with this, we will raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent in October 2019, just slightly before then, delaying the raise in rate by 30 months. At that time, we will introduce reduced tax rates.

As a result of three years of Abenomics, tax revenues at the national and local levels combined have increased by 21 trillion yen. By means of the two and a half year postponement, during that time we will accelerate Abenomics still further. In doing so, I intend for us to secure further increases in tax revenues and aim to bring the primary balance into a surplus in fiscal 2020.

One and a half years ago when I dissolved the House of Representatives, I declared very clearly at this very spot that there would be no further postponement in raising the consumption tax rate to 10 percent. I repeatedly pledged that unless something happened at the level of the financial crisis after Lehman Brothers' collapse or the level of a massive earthquake, we would raise the rate to 10 percent on schedule in April 2017.

The global economy now faces a major risk. However, speaking quite frankly, at present a situation at the scale of the financial crisis after Lehman Brothers' collapse has not arisen. This is a fact.

Naturally I also do not intend to position the Kumamoto earthquakes at the scale of a massive earthquake disaster to make them the grounds for a further postponement. Using the earthquakes politically in that way would be highly disrespectful to the disaster victims who are working so earnestly for reconstruction.

In this way, this decision I have made to again postpone the raising of the consumption tax rate is a new decision that is different from what I have pledged until now. I also take very sincerely the criticism that this contravenes the public pledge I made.

If I am going to make a decision that is different from what I have pledged thus far regarding the tax system, which greatly impacts people's lives, in light of the fact that taxation is truly democracy, then I should do so after first asking for the judgment of the people.

Without the trust of the people, the government cannot stand. The government cannot do without the trust and cooperation of the public. Through the House of Councillors election -- a national election -- I wish to seek a mandate from the people regarding this new decision I have taken.

Beyond going to the public for a mandate, I will aim for the ruling coalition to obtain a majority of the seats up for reelection.

This is in fact a high target, one which surpasses the number of seats we now hold going into the election. Moreover, the opposition parties have shelved their policy differences and are moving forward with jointly-backed candidates aiming at this election, going so far as to shelve their policy differences. This will be a very rigorous election campaign indeed. I am prepared for that.

However, I am determined that once the ruling parties of the LDP and Komeito solidly receive a public mandate of the majority of the contested seats, we will submit relevant bills to the extraordinary session of the Diet in the fall and accelerate Abenomics further.

Nine years ago as Prime Minister I suffered a crushing defeat in the House of Councillors election that summer, after which I resigned my post as Prime Minister.

The setback of that time is still deeply etched into my mind even now.

There is no path forward other than to move forward together with the people through gaining the public's understanding. This is all the more so when difficult policies are at issue. These are my reflections on that time. For more than three years, I have been pushing ahead with national policymaking on the basis of these reflections.

We were able to accelerate Abenomics thanks to the great amount of support we received from the public in the general election four years ago, the House of Councillors election three years ago, and the general election a year and a half ago.

As a result, there has undoubtedly been a sea change in the mood permeating society. It is a fact that the mood has changed significantly. While we are only midway towards our goals, employment is certainly rising while income too is definitely increasing.

Shall we not move forward dynamically along this path? We must not move backward to the stagnant era of four years ago.

Now as the global economy faces risks, we must rev up the engine of Abenomics as much as possible, in the same way that a rocket breaks free from the atmosphere. We must increase our speed still further so that we can achieve the "escape velocity" to break free from deflation.

In order to do that, I will need the support of the people once more. I ask for the public's understanding and support.


REPORTER (MATUMOTO, JIJI PRESS): I am Matsumoto with Jiji Press.

I would like to ask you about the consumption tax.

Mr. Prime Minister, at the press conference in November 2014 when you last postponed the raising of the consumption tax rate, you declared that you would definitely raise the rate to 10 percent. First of all, what are your thoughts regarding your political responsibility for having failed to bring about what you stated you would do?

In addition, you extended until October 2019 the timing of the next tax rate increase, but your own term as President of the LDP is until September 2018, meaning you have set the increase for a time that extends beyond your own term in office. Opposition parties and others are claiming this is irresponsible. How can you ensure that the tax rate hike will take place in October 2019?

Moreover, there are concerns that stable financial resources for social security and other areas are insufficient. I would like to hear your thoughts, if any, on how you will secure stable financial resources, including your concrete schedule for doing so.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: As I stated in my opening remarks, China and other emerging economies are in a downturn. In that context, within the global economy there are concerns about slumping demand and decelerating growth. Regarding such risks within the global economy, at the recent G7 Ise-Shima Summit, a summit where Japan served as the Presidency, we shared a common recognition of this state of the global economy and its risks. Against that backdrop, we agreed to take all appropriate policy responses in a timely manner in order to avoid falling into a new crisis. This is included clearly in the G7 Ise-Shima Leaders' Declaration.

Through cooperation with the G7, Japan must mobilize all possible policy measures going forward, including accelerating structural reforms and fiscal strategies. I consider this truly to be the responsibility of a country demonstrating leadership, namely as the one that compiled the Leaders' Declaration this year as the Presidency. It is exactly within the context of such risks -- that is, within the context of needing to take every possible response against a backdrop of this risk of slumping demand and decelerating growth -- that the G7 will push forward with the policies of the "three arrows," the "three arrows" of policy responses that we in Japan have been advancing. We in the G7 share that understanding. And, while we share this recognition, I believe that Japan has responsibility as the Presidency that led these discussions.

It is against this background that, as I stated a little earlier, in terms of political responsibility, it can be said that my statements here differed from what I stated in the past. It is certainly true that nothing has happened at the scale of the financial crisis after the Lehman Brothers' collapse and that we have also not been struck by a massive earthquake. Therefore I must listen to the voices of the public regarding this new decision I have taken.

There must be no taxation without representation. Taxation is the very manifestation of democracy. This way of thinking is consistent in the approach I have taken. If I am going to render a new decision about the tax system that has major impacts on the daily lives of the public, then I would like to submit a bill in that regard to the extraordinary Diet session this autumn after taking to heart the criticism that this decision is different from what I had decided before, including the criticism you mentioned just now, and also taking to heart the judgment of the public.

It is really a question of what is democracy. That is what we will seek the public's opinion on through this election. We wish to carry out our political responsibilities properly, prevailing solidly in the upcoming election by listening to the voices of the people. Through the upcoming House of Councillors election, which is a national election, I intend to seek a popular mandate.

And, upon receiving a public mandate of solidly winning a majority [of the contested seats] in this election, at the extraordinary Diet in the fall I intend to get related bills enacted specifying a consumption tax rate increase from October 2019. In addition, I am determined to accelerate Abenomics still further by taking comprehensive and bold economic countermeasures.

By confronting the risks facing the global economy through joining forces with the other G7 nations on the basis of the agreement reached at the recent G7 Ise-Shima Summit, I will make my best efforts to prepare an environment in which the tax rate can be raised from October 2019.

There was also the comment that this exceeds my term of office as President of the LDP. In order to revive the economy, it is necessary to truly get the economic engine spinning at the greatest possible speed and truly rev up Abenomics to the greatest possible extent all the while adding as little strain as possible as we advance Abenomics. In addition, we will achieve escape velocity and break free from deflation. In doing so, I intend to truly carry out the responsibility of the G7 serving as a driving role in the economy as it confronts these risks.

In order to do so, as I mentioned earlier as well, I considered postponing it as much as possible, but I have no intention of lowering the flag of simultaneously pursuing fiscal reconstruction. In that light, I judged October 2019 to be the most appropriate timing. Quite the contrary, I thought I should not take this decision based on the term of office of the President of the LDP, as this is a matter of the economy, which greatly impacts people's daily lives.

If we err in this, we will return again to the deflation that continued for 20 years. We will return to circumstances in which there are no jobs to be had no matter how hard one tries. We will return to a situation in which wages never go up no matter how diligently one works. I did not take this decision facilely saying, 'well, this is how long I'll be office, so we'll keep it within that time period.' I chose that timing because I thought it was correct in terms of the economy.

We must not warp our judgments based on the party President's term of office. I imagined that naturally there would be that kind of criticism. However, for example, the target of bringing the fiscal 2020 primary balance into the black is also a target that exceeds my term in office, but I took a decision to properly realize this target as well. We will reliably pave the way to making this a reality during my term in office. I considered this to be a responsibility that I must carry out.

In addition, regarding social security, considering the balance between the benefits and obligations, as we raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent, until the time we actually do so, it will not be possible to do everything in the same way as if the rate had in fact been raised. I ask for your understanding regarding that point.

I think it is irresponsible to issue deficit-financing bonds to provide all those benefits and cover all social security expenditures, as the Democratic Party calls for. We will not do anything irresponsible such as using deficit-financing bonds as a source of revenue to enhance social security. I wish to state clearly first of all that the LDP and Komeito as the ruling coalition will absolutely never do such a thing.

However, the Abe administration is unwavering in its determination to support families with small children. We will carry out as pledged the securing of childcare arrangements for 500,000 children, with an aim to reach that goal by fiscal 2017. We will also definitely move forward on schedule in preparing nursing care arrangements for 500,000 people, aiming to eliminate the need to leave one's job to provide nursing care.

Moreover, I intend to secure financial resources including using the fruits of Abenomics, and then implement as a priority the policies and measures related to the Plan to Realize the Dynamic Engagement of All Citizens, including improving the treatment of childcare providers, nursing care providers, and others.

As a result of these three and a half years of Abenomics, national and local tax revenues combined have increased by 21 trillion yen. When I was advancing this economic policy, I think that very few people said tax revenues would increase as a result. Although I said that tax revenues would definitely increase, that claim was subject to severe criticism. Despite such criticisms, as a result of advancing this Abenomics policy, national and local tax revenues increased by 21 trillion yen combined.

Therefore, even looking at just this one aspect, I think it cannot be said that our policy has been a failure. If the Democratic Party says our policy failed, then I would like for them to work together with the Communist Party and put forth an alternative policy.

That will truly lead to a relapse. We wish to further increase tax revenues by firmly proceeding down this path. We intend to increase tax revenues even more by accelerating Abenomics a degree further. We will also enhance social security to the greatest possible degree by making use of the fruits of Abenomics. Regardless, we intend to set priorities and put forth the greatest possible effort as we formulate the budget going forward.

REPORTER (MIYAZAKI, TV TOKYO): I am Miyazaki with TV Tokyo.

Regarding the House of Councillors election, in your opening statement just now, you touched on the points of contention as well as the line separating victory from defeat, but what are you thinking with regard to the date?

Also, in making the decision to again postpone the raising of the consumption tax rate, did you not consider asking for the judgment of the public by having elections for both the Upper and Lower Houses on the same day? Although you have shelved the dissolution of the House of Representatives at this juncture, your response is garnering attention within both the ruling and opposition parties.

I would like you to give your views regarding the timing of the next House of Representatives election, taking into account the expiration of your term of office, in moving towards the end of your term of office in December 2018.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: First of all, the House of Councillors election will be held on July 10. The public announcement of the election will be set for June 22, in consideration of the memorial service in Okinawa commemorating the fallen [on June 23]. We will take a Cabinet decision on this tomorrow.

The most important point at issue in this House of Councillors election is truly whether we will advance Abenomics vigorously or turn back. In my view, that is what this election will decide. Within that context, this is an election for seeking a public mandate, so I am determined to fight this election campaign with all my might, so that the ruling parties of the LDP and Komeito acquire the majority of the seats being contested.

Then, as for holding a Lower House election on the same day, I said just now that I want to seek a public mandate, and since the beginning of this week, we have been in circumstances in which a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet was submitted by the opposition parties. In light of that, since it is a no-confidence motion, it means that the sponsors want the Cabinet to resign en masse. [Democratic Party] President Okada didn't say what his thinking was, but I believe that it naturally also contained a sense of demanding a dissolution. As a result, I can't deny that at that time the thought of dissolving the House of Representatives did flash through my mind.

However, in the areas affected by the Kumamoto earthquakes, a large number of people are forced to take shelter as evacuees even now. It is a situation in which the preparations are quite a challenging task, even holding only the Upper House election. In consideration of this and other factors, I took the decision to seek a public mandate in the House of Councillors, which is also a national election.

Within that context, if [we were seeking to win] a majority of seats in the House of Councillors as a whole, we already have the portion of seats secured in the previous election. While there are significant advantages to that, if we are to seek a mandate, and therefore not counting those, then we will set as our goal a majority of the seats being contested, making it a challenging campaign ahead. I have made up my mind to win those seats and secure a mandate.

Also, my term of office is not until December 2018 but rather September 2018. As for whether we will have an election [for the Lower House] during this term, at this stage, I have not given it even the slightest amount of thought.

REPORTER (UCHIDA, ASAHI SHIMBUN): I am Uchida with the Asahi Shimbun.

I would like to ask about the number of seats you aim to win in the House of Councillors election. Just now, you stated a goal for how many of the contested seats you want the ruling parties to win, but I believe previously you also indicated your thoughts towards aiming for supporters of amending the Constitution winning two-thirds [of the total number of seats in the House of Councillors]. Please share your views once more regarding whether or not you will aim to win two-thirds [of the total number of seats] in the upcoming House of Councillors election, as well as whether or not you will aim to propose revisions to the Constitution during your term in office, should you have a two-thirds majority in the House.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: With regard to revising the Constitution, as I have been saying up until now, securing two-thirds of the seats in both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors is not such an easy feat. For example, I have been saying that it is impossible for the ruling parties of the LDP and Komeito to secure more than two-thirds of the seats in each House. As they carry out discussions at the Commissions on the Constitution of Japan, in which they take up the Constitution clause by clause, possibilities begin to arise once they say, for example, 'yes, we could support it if that were the case', or 'if we refine the phraseology in just this way then the number of legislators who would support the revision would increase.'

For this election as well, we have put forth a draft for the amendment of the Constitution of Japan, but it is not a case of gathering support saying, "Here is what we are going to do, so who will support us so that we can get two-thirds?" In this way, it is not such an easy task, and instead a statement of our determination, so to speak. Victory or defeat in an election is always a matter of the ruling parties securing the majority, is it not? If not, then how would you determine the winner? It would mean that even an opposition party which is nowhere near holding the reins of government could be said to have "won." As just common sense -- and I think this is common sense for elections around the world -- for example, in the House of Representatives, it is the side that takes the majority in the election that assumes the reins of government. It is therefore only natural that that is the juncture separating victory and defeat. I would assert that deeming victorious any political party taking less than that number of seats is, in itself, quite strange. All this is to say that if I were to state where the juncture is between victory and defeat, I think it would certainly be at the point where a majority is achieved.

Therefore, as I have said repeatedly just now, in ordinary circumstances, taking a majority in the House of Councillors for this election would mean that we include the over 60 seats we already hold as a result of the previous Upper House election, since the House of Councillors election is a matter of who will hold the majority over a long span of six years. Had I not stated I would seek a mandate from the people for having announced something new and different about the consumption tax rate compared to what I stated previously, then I would have set a goal of the LDP and Komeito maintaining a majority in the House of Councillors overall. However, in this election, that is not the case. I stated that I wish specifically to ask the will of the people in this national election, and that is why I set forth a challenging goal of winning the majority of the contested seats.

REPORTER (HARA,NHK): Mr. Prime Minister, at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit, there was a common understanding that the G7 nations should carry out fiscal strategies and investments that will enable the middle class to reap economic benefits. In response to the fact that there has been only tepid growth in individual consumption, there are criticisms that the middle class has been shrinking or that economic disparity has been widening. How do you regard such points that have been made?

Also, as you postpone the increase in the consumption tax rate, do you have any intention to adopt economic countermeasures to expand the middle class?

PRIME MINISTER ABE: There were discussions on the importance of the middle class at the summit as well. I myself stated that the middle class is crucial and that the middle class is necessary for ensuring social stability, so to speak, and that it won't do not to place high importance on the middle class.

In keeping with that approach, we have been advancing various policies until now in Japan as well. Through the "three arrows," we have succeeded in creating a situation in which we are not in deflation any more.

Against that backdrop, I said earlier that the hourly wages for part-time workers had risen to the highest levels ever, thanks to, for example, moving non-permanent workers into permanent positions and raising the minimum wage for three years in a row. The hourly wages for part-time workers has risen to their highest levels ever as a result of raising the minimum wage for three years in a row, at the high levels of 15, 16, and 18 yen per year—high levels for three years running.

You pointed out that in order to enable the middle class to continue to have hopes for the future, government spending and private sector investment will be critical. I agree with this entirely. In order to do that, we have laid out as a goal the realization of a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged and are devoting our all-out efforts to alleviating the burden of educational expenses and to creating an environment in which child-rearing and nursing care are compatible with employment.

Given these measures underway in Japan, I appealed to the other G7 leaders that we need to commit to further investment by both the private and the public sectors in the areas of cultivating human resources, education, and the like. We reached agreement to ensure that growth benefits all layers of society and to make further investments in human resource development, education, and other areas conducive to economic growth.

Going forward, based on this agreement reached by the G7, this Leaders' Declaration regards the middle class as important, as I stated earlier. For that reason, we are pressing forward in achieving a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged. We concurred that the essence of such a society should be reflected into the G7 agreement and indeed it was incorporated as I mentioned just now. Given that agreement, we intend to advance measures that will help to bring about a society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged, including further improvements in the treatment of non-permanent workers through realizing equal pay for equal work, improvements in the treatment of childcare providers and nursing care providers, and a further expansion of childcare and nursing care arrangements and of scholarship systems.

A society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged is one in which all people are able to live active lives. For that exact reason, if we press forward with it, the middle class will most certainly increase and we will build a society in which everyone has opportunities, rather than one in which wealth is concentrated in only a limited number of hands and only a certain portion of society has opportunities, as is happening now in the West, as it were. We will build a society that provides opportunities for everyone. Building a society in which everyone is able to make use of his or her abilities is the society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged that we are promoting, and I believe that the discussion points that were brought up during the G7 Ise-Shima Summit correspond with both the discussions we have carried out in Japan and the policies and directions that Japan should take.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: Thank you very much.