TOKYO — Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita pledged today to restructure Japan's markets to be "widely open to the rest of the world," and said he will create a society where Japanese feel the affluence they deserve.
In his first speech since becoming premier Nov. 6, Takeshita told the Parliament that Japan will adhere to international accords aimed at currency stabilization.
Takeshita, who succeeded Yasuhiro Nakasone as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and thus premier, spoke for 24 minutes before the Diet.
The 63-year-old premier said he will seek to overhaul Japan's industry by boosting knowledge- and technology-intensive sectors, and help small and medium-sized enterprises cope with the yen's nearly 80% rise against the U.S. dollar in the last two years.
Shift to Domestic Demand
"I intend to grapple with these issues both by restructuring the Japanese market to be widely open to the rest of the world and by shifting the Japanese economic base from one dependent on exports to one led by domestic demand," Takeshita said.
"If we are to harmonize the Japanese economy, which now accounts for over 10% of world GNP, with the rest of the world economy, I believe Japan must work actively on improving market access, liberalizing capital and financial markets, restructuring the economy, and all the other changes that are needed," he said.
Japan Has Benefited Most
Echoing complaints often voiced by Japan's trading partners, Takeshita said, "Japan is one of the countries that has benefited the most from free trade, and I hope the people will understand that these reforms are needed not simply to reconcile the Japanese economy with the rest of the world's economies but are indispensable prerequisites if Japan is to continue to develop."
Touching on his pet project, the furusato, or hometown plan, Takeshita said Japanese should feel richer than they actually do.
"The fact remains that the people do not feel that their lives have become as affluent as our economic growth would warrant," he said. He called his furusato concept "an effort to create a land in which all Japanese can lead happier, more comfortable and more rewarding lives."