退任のご挨拶 (English version) - Ministerial Post Retirement Address

Ministerial Post Retirement Address

 

It has been a year on the dot since I was assigned my ministerial posts last August for a variety of responsibilities including Regional Revitalization, City, People, and Job Creation, Power Decentralization, Regulatory Reform, Administrative Reform, the National Civil Service System, the National Archives of Japan, Public Records Management, the Committee on the Authorization of Public Interest Associations, and the Protection and Management of Specially Designated Secrets posts – and with the anniversary, I filed my resignation today at the extraordinary cabinet meeting.

The year was eventful and fruitful to say the least. I pushed forward regional revitalization, first through setting a simple yet valuable definition of the concept as “raising the average income levels of regional areas,” and studying first hand cases all around the country in 303 areas of 144 cities, towns, and villages within 46 prefectures. As State Minister in charge, I had the opportunity to stand at the helm of government action, advancing local Abenomics. I took Regional Revitalization to action and restrained new facilities from being built by universities in Tokyo, and paired the policy with the promoting regional universities in the 2016 version of the City, People, and Job Creation Comprehensive Plan and the 2017 City, People, and Job Creation Basic Plan. Through setting the right gears in motion and accelerating a sophisticated and detailed action plan, I believe I made a genuine difference and fulfilled my assigned duties.

 

(At the Fukuoka City Employment Consultation Center during the first official study tour, August 28th, 2016)

 

Through 8 special economic zone inquiry conferences and 31 district assembly meetings during my tenure as minister responsible for National Strategic Special Zones, I assisted in creating welcoming environments for foreign workers, promoted inbound investment, and improved our country’s agriculture via 14 timely regulatory reforms. By lowering the minimum number of days for special wards’ home-sharing stays to two nights, we appropriately responded to recent lodging needs brought on by increased foreign and domestic tourism. Much needed action and reforms such as these amalgamated to the Amended National Strategic Special Zones Law during the ordinary diet session which established a regulatory sandbox, began the acceptance of foreign agricultural professionals, and empowered small-scale childcare services.

With our regulatory reforms that enabled the founding of a department of veterinary medicine for the first time in 52 years, we can now manage the lack of livestock veterinarians, develop innovative medicines, and increase protection from infectious diseases.

 

(At the 29th National Strategic Special Zones Advisory Council, March 6th, 2017)

To decentralize power out of Tokyo, we recently completed our preparations for the 7th Phase Decentralization Law, based on proposals from regional municipalities during this year’s ordinary diet session. The law helps transfer certain jurisdictions to specified municipalities and revisits regulations that pertain to rural areas of Japan. With the assistance of 311 official suggestions, which overwhelms last year’s number, I have confidence that the next minister in charge can heed these crucial voices to actualize the empowerment of regional areas.

 

As for regulatory reform, I immediately organized the Regulatory Reform Council upon my ministerial appointment, where experts dove into sprightly discourse on issues such as the finer aspects of home-sharing regulations, agricultural reform, rulemaking for flexible combinations of nursing insurance and services, and the reduction of administrative procedure costs for entrepreneurs. It is important to keep in mind that there will never be an end to regulatory reform. It takes a special seat within the three new arrows of Abenomics for good reason, and I sincerely hope that these sophisticated reforms continue to materialize.

(At the 14th Regulatory Reform Council meeting, March 29th, 2017)

 

There was also lively dialogue on the floor in the public records management arena. With a revision of guidelines due by the end of the year, we took solid measures to improve the quality of each government agencies’ public records management.

As for the disputed location of the new National Public Records Archive’s construction site, the Diet’s April 2017 Steering Committee decided that it will be on the national diet building’s front garden. It will be a crucial foundation for passing on to future generations the priceless documents that illustrate how our country came to be, and I eagerly await its completion.

 

(At the National Archives’ second 2017 exhibition event, August 1st, 2017)

 

As State Minister in charge of Administrative Reform, I immediately proposed applying Evidence Based Policy Making (EBPM) for reforming government statistics, starting with GDP figures, from day one of my ministership. Based on my suggestions, we established the Statistical Reform Promotion Council, where we paved the way for implementing sound EBPM and setting a powerful GDP centered on production. I genuinely hope to see the government continue on these policy paths.

 

(At the third Statistical Reform Promotion Council meeting, May 19th, 2017)

Finally, as State Minister in charge of the National Civil Service System, I coordinated an investigation of all government agencies and devised preventative mechanisms that can put a halt to the revolving door. We must ensure to never again allow actions that waver citizens’ trust.

 

(Salutations after an extraordinary diet meeting, August 3rd)

Although I understand that it was for a very limited amount of time, I wish to thank everyone for their guidance and encouragement during my deeply rewarding year. I appreciate all of your support from the bottom of my heart.

Kozo Yamamoto