Noda vows ‘major reforms’ in message to Davos forum

Kyodo

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he was determined to carry out social security, tax and administrative reforms to bolster Japan’s fiscal standing in a video message broadcast at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.

“I will surely realize major reforms to forge a sustainable social security system and maintain fiscal discipline in Japan,” he said in the message broadcast at a side event titled “Japan Night.”

“I believe that in today’s Japanese society, social consensus toward reform can be generated if politics has strong will and the ability to get things done.”

Elaborating on Japan’s medium- to long-term growth prospects, Noda said Japan will aim to promote high-level economic partnerships, such as one involving Japan, China and South Korea, and the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, an Asia-Pacific free-trade initiative.

Noda also said Japan will “continue to lead the world” in promoting renewable energy.

More than 10 months after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated the northeast, Noda, who became the nation’s sixth prime minister in six years in September, said normality has returned to Tokyo, its surroundings and other areas not directly hit by the natural disasters.

“Many Japanese firms achieved restoration at an astounding speed, with the supply chain having fully recovered,” he said.

With regard to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, the prime minister said the badly damaged reactors at the Fukushima Prefecture facility reached a “state of cold shutdown” late last year and said the accident is “no longer a major impediment to conducting business in Japan.”

Noda was invited to attend the annual forum but declined because the Diet is in session.

Kan makes Davos appeal

DAVOS SWITZERLAND
KYODO

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan has called for the creation of international standards to ensure the safety of nuclear plants and for discussions on atomic waste processing at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

On the second day of the annual WEF forum in Switzerland, Kan spoke at a meeting on responding to multiple crises and reported on Japan’s response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis.

“There are international regulations for nuclear weapons, but the safety of nuclear power generation is left to the sovereignty of each individual country,” Kan told reporters after the meeting Thursday.

Kan, who was prime minister at the time of the triple disasters, said his own mentality has changed since March 11 and he has started calling for an end to nuclear energy.

As a first step toward achieving this goal, Kan stressed the need to create international rules governing nuclear safety, especially in light of probable nuclear accidents and possible terrorist attacks.

Regarding the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Kan said he was “very sorry” that information on the crisis was not communicated adequately enough.