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New Year's Greetings

January 27, 2014

A Happy New Year to you all.

Since the LDP returned to government in December 2012, we have been actively tackling critical policy issues, ranging from fundamental recalibration of Japan's economic policy settings, participation in negotiations over the TTP Agreement, reprioritizing the reconstruction imperatives arising from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, securing the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games for Tokyo, to committing to raising the consumption tax from April 2014. The government has established a Japanese National Security Council and a National Security Strategy and reviewed the National Defense Program Guidelines. In short, we have devoted ourselves over the past twelve months to making the difficult but critical decisions facing Japan.

Much has been achieved but much more needs to be done. The challenge to restore Japan's economic strength and vitality has just begun. As we begin 2014, I am committed to redoubling my efforts to confront the challenges on the long path to recovery and revitalization of Japan.

This year Japan marks the third New Year since the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 yet many survivors and evacuees are still forced to live in temporary accommodation. I will accelerate measures to build new housing, in the fervent wish that by New Year's Day of 2015 many more displaced survivors will be resettled in new homes. It is also my fervent wish that the people of Fukushima who were forced to leave their homes due to the nuclear plant accident are able to return to the normality of their lives as early as possible. With that determination, I pledge to accelerate the reconstruction measures.

Over the past twelve months, growth in the Japanese economy has turned positive underpinned by the three pillars of monetary policy, fiscal policy, and growth strategy. However the challenge of deflation - which has plagued the Japanese economy for the past two decades - still remains. My job is only half complete. I will make every effort in 2014 to restore Japan's strong economy.

A major focus this year will be to increase jobs and raise income levels for those who would work hard. We want everyone in Japan to benefit from the renewed economy, regardless of the scale or geographical location of their enterprise. While the immediate goal is to stimulate activity, we must look beyond the economic horizon and plan for a Japan ten years, even 100 years from now. To that end, fundamental and sustainable reform over the long-term is essential.

As inter-dependency in the international community increases, Japan can no longer maintain and ensure peace by looking inward. We must play a more active role in keeping peace and stability in the world. What I call "active pacifism" will be Japan's diplomatic philosophy as we move forward in the 21st century. We will defend the life and property of our nationals, as well as our land, territorial waters, and airspace. We will make progress in fulfilling this pledge.

With regard to our 68 years old Japanese Constitution, I believe it is time for the entire nation to debate what changes need to be made in order to reflect the changing circumstances facing Japan and the global community. I fully appreciate that making amendments is the most significant reform in the post-war era. It will not be easy task, but this is no reason to back away from this important task.

What we have now is great hope for the future. The Japanese people exercised their democratic rights in the last general election and in last year's House of Councillors election. As a consequence, the Japanese political landscape has altered substantially. The economy is growing and our society is changing. I am confident that the Japanese people have the 'power' to maintain the progress we have achieved already. We can overcome any difficulties as long as we work together. We can return Japan to its position of eminence in the international community. This, I firmly believe as we enter 2014.

In closing, I wholeheartedly seek from the people of Japan their continued understanding and support, and I extend my best wishes for prosperity to all.

Shinzo Abe
Party President, The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan
January 1, 2014

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