On Monday last week, I made the decision to dissolve the House of Representatives early this week. Since taking office last September, I have consistently stated that the responsibility of politics is to ensure the peace of mind of our citizens and to safeguard people's daily lives.
In order to discharge this responsibility, my cabinet has focused all its energies on economic and stimulus measures. Abnormal circumstances require extraordinary countermeasures. We have passed four budgets.
Although we are still facing austere economic circumstances, the policy effects are gradually appearing, bringing some bright signs in the Japanese economy. Production has started to grow in business with many related industries and a broad base, such as eco-cars and energy-saving home appliances. We have placed particular emphasis on maintaining employment.
For businesses which fail to increase sales despite all efforts and find it difficult to maintain employment, we have expanded the employment adjustment subsidies, thus supporting the employment of more than 2.5 million people. We have also enhanced support for micro, small and mid-sized enterprises.
Approximately 800,000 companies, or one in five of about 4.2 million small and mid-sized enterprises nationwide, are making use of a total of approximately 16 trillion yen in loans and credit guarantees. Securing their cash-flow has led to the job security of a great many people, numbering more than 5 million.
I will resolutely pursue economic countermeasures so that Japan will regain its vitality and each household and micro, small and mid-sized enterprise can sense economic recovery. Meanwhile, I have also done my utmost for the security of Japan.
We have strengthened the Japan-US alliance, the cornerstone of Japanese foreign policy and the pillar of our security. In close communication, President Barack Obama of the United States and I are collaborating in efforts to address issues, not least the financial crisis and others including the North Korean issue and the fight against terrorism.
North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests are a real threat to the safety and peace of mind of the Japanese people in their daily lives. Japan took a leading role in the United Nations Security Council in sending a resolute message to North Korea. We are currently preparing a law for inspection of North Korean cargo, so as to render the Security Council resolution effective.
The bill has already been passed by the House of Representatives, and I call for the cooperation of the opposition in the Diet for its enactment.
To Japan, which relies on the Middle East for 90 percent of its crude oil, measures to counter piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden and the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan are of vital importance for maintaining our livelihoods. In order to achieve peace in the region, we have responded boldly in cooperation with other countries around the world.
The responsibility of politics is none other than to safeguard people's daily lives and to protect Japan. As I am in a position of responsibility, I must clarify the fiscal revenues for policies and the path to restore fiscal health in the long term.
I must also show a clear diplomatic vision to protect the people. I will work together with the people to create a vision of the future of Japan. How do we balance the enhancement of the social security system, such as pensions, medical care, and nursing care, with the rebuilding of public finances?
How do we work with the international community to address the North Korean issue, which threatens the security of Asia, and the piracy issue, and to fight against terrorism?
For these difficult issues, I will listen to what the people have to say and dedicate myself to fulfilling my political responsibility to safeguard people's daily lives and to protect Japan.
Lastly, on the website of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet we created a new section under the title of a "Japan which I Seek to Achieve," which introduces my views on the following four topics*: achieving a society providing peace of mind; foreign policy; growth strategy; and global environmental issues. Please take a look.