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Policy Statement Speech (June 17,2011)

Policy Statement Speech

I would like to mark the opening of the third Hiroshima City Council regular session of 2011 by offering my sincere respect to all Council members.

Leading up to the Mayoral election held on April 10, I appealed for a revolution of the municipal government we have seen in place until now. Thanks to the support of the citizens, I was chosen as the person to lead our administration in the creation of a new era for Hiroshima.

To begin, I would like to again offer my solemn prayers for the souls of the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as offer my sympathies to everyone who has suffered due to the disaster. Since March 12, the day after the earthquake struck, we have dispatched city workers from numerous fields including fire services, water services, health care, medical treatment, welfare, sewerage, architecture, and general administration to help with rescue and support activities. In addition, we have sent monetary contributions and relief supplies for those in need of assistance.

I sincerely hope for the speedy recovery of disaster-stricken areas and the re-stabilization of the lives of everyone affected, and I would like for us to continue placing efforts into necessary rescue and support activities in the future.

Here, I would like to formally state my beliefs regarding fundamental ways of thinking about the promotion of municipal government as well as give an explanation of my main policies.

Regarding the promotion of municipal government, I believe it is my biggest duty to make Hiroshima into a city that we can proudly show to the rest of the world. I intend to make this happen by facilitating open dialogues with citizens, creating a clear vision, and boldly implementing that vision. By following these steps, I hope to restore vitality to our city administration.

The “dialogue” I speak of does not refer to simply having one conversation after another. Instead, it represents the process of building healthy collaborative relationships and gathering knowledge and strengths from all parties involved. This very process will uncover Hiroshima’s hidden qualities, and I will take the lead in ensuring that it is carried out accordingly.

Through sincere dialogues with our citizens, I will invoke a spirit that represents hope for our children’s futures, kindness for the elderly, and encouragement for the younger generation.

Through dialogues with City Council, I will establish better relations while ensuring transparency and an appropriate level of tension.

Through dialogues with city workers, I will create a relationship with a focus on collective discussion and hard work in place of the traditional “top-down” relationship.

Through dialogues with the business community, I will forge sound partnerships that will lead to true urban revitalization.

Through dialogues with neighboring cities and towns, I will draw out creativity in our region under relationships based on mutual respect and cooperation, instead of a single hegemonic relationship consisting of a parent city and satellite cities.

And through dialogues with the prefectural government, I will create a more enhanced collaborative relationship so that our city can contribute to the development of the entire prefecture.

The “vision” I speak of is both a dream and an outlook that must be constructed with full intentions for success. Holding this dream means to most importantly think clearly about how we will mold Hiroshima’s image as a city of Peace. Additionally, it means to think clearly about which of our city’s qualities can be held with pride.

I will be specific. Hiroshima, which arose from the ashes from the world’s first atomic bombing, must stand as an International City of Peace in which the Spirit of Peace is nurtured more than any other city on earth. This International City of Peace will attract people from all over the world and promote efforts for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of lasting world peace.

Furthermore, the individual livelihoods of the people residing in this International City of Peace must be stable. To me, this idea refers to an environment in which the citizens have an optimal work-life balance. It is an environment in which steady work is available, job satisfaction is high, people have no worries about nursing care or medical care, children are raised in safety, people enjoy relaxing time with their families, sports can be enjoyed freely, and outstanding cultural arts are appreciated. In other words, it is an environment that I believe is appropriate for an International City of Peace. “Work Life Balance” is the phrase that I chose to represent this image of civic life.

Drawing upon the vital energy of our city will be essential in making this International City of Peace a reality that is maintained throughout the years to come. In its role as the central city of the prefecture, Hiroshima must be capable of establishing a foundation as a local government, utilizing relationships with neighboring cities and towns, and bringing vitality to the entire prefecture.

It is also important for us to apply urban development measures aimed at boosting economic and cultural activity in inner-city areas. In particular, I believe that it is necessary to adopt a new “oval-shaped inner-city development plan” with two cores situated in the east and west—the area surrounding Hiroshima Station and the grounds of the former Hiroshima Municipal Baseball Stadium. These core areas will serve as engines that generate vitality and liveliness for the entire city center. However, in order to achieve a full economic and cultural boost, it is essential that we enhance loop transportation services that connect these eastern and western cores.

At the same time, the land, sea and air transportation system that connects different points within our city with outside areas is a constant source of energy for Hiroshima. Therefore, we also must establish fast, cost-competitive logistics and passenger transport networks.

The “implementation” of this vision refers to seriously confronting ongoing circumstances while giving priority to that vision. As we are subject to challenging fiscal conditions, we must use our strong will to make decisions on what needs to be done and what can be done right now. In other words, the meaning of the word “implementation” will be to reliably enact public policy by making the right decisions and concentrating on a course of action, while keeping the scale of our budget in mind.

In order to make this possible, I will steadily push for administrative and fiscal reform. As one part of this reform, I will place efforts into a complete overhaul of administrative operations. However, this restructuring will not only consist of staff and budget cuts. I view it as a positive process that will provide a future outlook for sustainable, healthy operations within Hiroshima’s public and private sectors. With this new perspective, we will add a spark into city life that will eventually lead to increased tax revenues. To be specific, we will enact multifaceted economic and employment-related policies that will lead to high job satisfaction.

Moreover, it is important to strengthen our abilities to plan and promote economic and employment-related policies as part of our overall efforts to boost creativity within Hiroshima City and its surrounding areas. To support these efforts, I have drawn out plans to engage in new collaboration with neighboring cities and towns by forming a council to revitalize our greater community.

Now, I would like to give an explanation of the main policies that I wish to develop using the fundamental ways of thinking I just mentioned. They come in the form of three pillars.

The first pillar encompasses efforts to develop Hiroshima into a “city overflowing with vitality.” The daily lives of our citizens are supported by many small and medium-sized businesses. To combat the ongoing recession and challenging employment conditions, I will put forth efforts to support these firms so that we may foster lively industries. Building on this perspective, I will re-examine the bidding system for public projects.

I will stimulate the local business community, which already boasts excellent technology. In addition, I will promote eco-friendly business through the discovery of technology related to medical treatment, social welfare and the environment. Furthermore, I will work to accelerate the integration of urban services. Through these efforts, I intend to revitalize our economy and increase overall employment. At the same time, I will strive to promote our agriculture, forestry and fishery industries as well as work to revitalize Hiroshima’s shopping arcades, which remain close to the hearts of our citizens. Moreover, I will strengthen efforts to revitalize the Shoko Center district by promoting efficient land use while also working to attract companies to our city, especially in the Seifu Shinto area.

As you well know, tourism is not only defined by visitors coming to a certain area to enjoy its scenery. It is also an experience in which visitors connect with the local people and take part in the culture and day-to-day life of that area. In addition, tourism is a source of vital energy for our entire city as well as various businesses in the region.

I will promote tourism business with the aim of providing superior hospitality while taking advantage of the high-reputation associated with Hiroshima’s culture and World Heritage sites. Furthermore, I will push for an overall revival in tourism throughout the entire city so that tourists say to themselves “I want to come back to Hiroshima,” or “I want to live in Hiroshima.”

As part of this tourism revival, I will push for further development of the “Hiroshima, City of Water” concept and carry out promotional activities for the national sweets exposition that will be held in Hiroshima in the spring of 2013.

Such a city overflowing with vitality needs an urban infrastructure to serve as the source of that energy. In turn, it is essential for us to make constant infrastructural improvements. Building on this perspective, I will push for the realization of my oval-shaped inner-city development plan, beginning with the re-development of the area surrounding Hiroshima Station. To add, I will re-examine plans regarding the use of the grounds of the former Hiroshima Municipal Baseball Stadium and work towards its commercialization. Furthermore, our administration will consider various policies for the use of the former site of the Hiroshima-nishi Airport and work to revitalize the area in cooperation with the Hiroshima Prefectural government.

We will also work together with the Prefecture to develop short, medium, and long-term policies that will result in improved accessibility to Hiroshima Airport. Specifically, we will work for accelerated improvements to Hiroshima Expressway Routes 3 and 5, the Higashi-Hiroshima Bypass, and the Aki Bypass. Additionally, we will push for the enhancement of public transportation, including functional improvements for JR trains, streetcars, and buses.

The second pillar encompasses efforts to develop Hiroshima into a “work-life balance-oriented city.” Work-life balance has practically become a worldwide standard for urban development in the 21st century, and I fully intend to place efforts into activities aimed at achieving this goal.

I will collaborate with the Prefecture and national government to improve individual working environments while promoting efforts in support of increased regular employment as well as occupational independence for young workers. I will also promote programs that support improved employment and working conditions for women. And, so our city becomes a place where infants and toddlers are no longer left waiting, I will promote efforts to increase and expand private nursery schools while working to achieve a combined system of nursery schools and kindergartens. Moreover, I will push efforts for a gender-equal society as well as stop all efforts associated with establishing a new children’s ordinance.

My plans for enhancing medical treatment will consist largely of efforts to improve disease prevention measures and make functional improvements at city hospitals. I also will support Hiroshima Prefecture’s efforts to create a local radiotherapy center so that our area becomes a hub for cancer treatment. Additionally, I will work to improve relief measures for our aging hibakusha.

I will work to enhance the support system for the elderly in our region while also promoting the normalization of roles for disabled persons. In addition, I will strive to secure public transportation services in our suburban communities, where the population continues to grow older.

I will apply efforts that define the roles of families, schools and communities in bettering education so that we may have a system in which adults provide good examples to children. At the same time, I will promote measures aimed at not only the improved the overall academic skill and physical fitness of elementary and junior high schools students, but also enhanced school administrative systems and facilities.

With regards to sports promotion, I will make it my duty to renew Hiroshima’s status as a “sports kingdom.” Specifically, I will work to revitalize sports activities for citizens as well as improve the overall competitiveness of Hiroshima-based teams and individual athletes. Furthermore, I will put forth measures to strengthen collaboration with Tops Hiroshima while also supporting Japan’s traditional martial arts and promoting sports-based youth development programs.

With regards to promotion of culture and the arts, I will dedicate myself to the revitalization of culture and arts-related activities for citizens. I will work to improve parks and other facilities where people can fully enjoy Hiroshima’s scenery during each of the four seasons. In addition, I will promote music and other cultural events featuring acts such as the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra.

I will push for the effective use of the grounds of the former Hiroshima University Headquarters by working to establish the structure and features necessary to transform the area into a true hub for knowledge.

I will also work to promote the revitalization of our mountainous areas and suburban communities through the use of each area’s resources and special qualities. Additionally, I will promote increased productivity throughout our entire region by improving the infrastructure of areas with a large accumulation of commercial businesses. Furthermore, I will promote the development of a safe and secure local community with low crime and accident rates.

I will promote environmental policies aimed at the reduction of greenhouse gases emitted by businesses and households alike, as well as those in support of the realization of “Hiroshima, Zero-emissions City” through garbage reduction efforts and proper processing of waste and recyclables.

Finally, using lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake, I will re-examine disaster preparedness planning for our region and push for increased earthquake-resistance features for schools and other facilities.

The third and final pillar encompasses efforts to further develop Hiroshima into a “city that shares its hopes for peace.” I will build on the accomplishments of my predecessors and assume an active role in creating a nuclear-weapon-free world of lasting peace. Additionally, I intend to strengthen existing collaboration with citizens and NGOs as well as have people visit Hiroshima from all over Japan and the entire world so that they may share our spirit. In order to make this happen, I will promote efforts in support of A-bomb survivor testimonies while also working to collect and utilize A-bomb materials as well as preserve and maintain peace memorial facilities. Furthermore, I intend to present an organized plan to give new life to the paper cranes donated by people from Japan and other areas of the world, using our citizens’ ideas as a basis.

I realize that we have to confront our ongoing financial and administrative circumstances in order to begin implementation of these efforts now. Therefore, I plan to apply several measures aimed to fiscally prepare us for the implementation process, including the reduction of mayoral retirement allowances as well as salary and personnel cuts. Furthermore, I sincerely hope that the City Council will make appropriate decisions regarding Council member remuneration and the total number of seats as part of the overall efforts to improve our administration.

This brings a close to my statement regarding the direction of municipal policies for the next four years. Remembering my motto “lead, cooperate and collaborate,” I am determined to fulfill my role as Mayor of the City of Hiroshima by steadily promoting necessary policies within all areas of our city government.

I strongly look forward to the continued support of all City Council members as well as that of the many citizens of Hiroshima. Thank you.

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