In the period right up until I became Prime Minister, hardly a day went by without my embarking on a new leg on my nationwide travels. Whatever it is you seek to do, you must start by seeing things first hand. Though I have Diet deliberations to attend, I try to get out as much as possible to see for myself what is happening, rather than merely reading the reports I receive.
I have been concerned about retail prices and stocks in the stores running low, so I visited a supermarket on Sunday to see the situation for myself. I looked at the items in the supermarket and talked to people shopping there with their children.
At the supermarket, I saw that the prices of items such as pasta made from wheat flour had gone up. Packages of other wheat-based products still cost the same, though the quantities of the contents had been reduced. I also noticed that fish prices are more or less unchanged, reminding me of the difficulties that the people in the fishing industry are facing.
It obviously becomes harder for families to get by if prices of things like crude oil and cereals increase while salaries stay the same. We need to do something to ease the situation.
In the Comprehensive Immediate Policy Package announced the other day, the Government kept down the increase in the selling price of the wheat it imports to less than the actual increase in the wholesale price of wheat. The Government has also eased regulations on corporate stock buy-backs, so that the portion of company profits that would go on dividends can be channeled to the employees. I believe that we have to take whatever concrete actions we can, including measures in areas such as these that have an immediate impact on the people.
The main thing is to protect the people's everyday lives and the Japanese economy. I will compile new economic measures by the end of this month.
Measures to support the people's lives will come first and foremost. Also, there will be measures for micro-, small and medium-sized companies, which are hard hit by the financial crisis, and measures to vitalize the regions, which are affected straight away by fluctuations in business conditions. These are the focus of the new economic measures, along with the provisions of the supplementary budget passed last week.
The day before yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to extend the new Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.
Japan has been carrying out the replenishment support activities in the Indian Ocean, in line with our own national interest. As other countries step up the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan, it is out of the question for Japan alone to pull back.
Members of the Maritime Self-Defense Force are working in the scorching heat of the Indian Ocean. The turbulent sea is a constant danger. There is no harsher environment, but I trust that they, representing the nation, will succeed in their mission.
I will e-mail you again, soon. Thank You.