At the outset, I must say that it is most regrettable that no solution has yet been achieved in the occupation of the Japanese Ambassador's Residence in Peru. My heart goes out to those who have been taken hostage as well as to their families, when I think of the hardships and anxieties that they are enduring. Refusing to yield to terrorism, the Government is working tenaciously in the realization that the sanctity of life is uppermost, to achieve a peaceful solution and the early release of all the hostages. The international community is united in standing firm against terrorism. I place my fullest confidence in President Alberto Fujimori, and I intend to remain in close contact with the Government of Peru and concerned countries as I devote my utmost efforts to attaining a peaceful resolution to this incident as soon as possible and to realizing the release of all the hostages.
Acts of terrorism are a grave challenge to all states and societies, and it is essential that the international community respond with one voice. Japan, too, based on international agreements, will advance a full range of antiterrorism measures both at home and abroad as it further expands its capacity to respond to incidents such as acts of terrorism which can have a serious impact on the peace and safety of the country.
I recently visited the nations of Southeast Asia. During that visit, I witnessed how that region, based on democracy and an open and free market economy, has developed into the so-called "center of world growth," and I actually had a palpable sense of the dynamism and confidence in their future that pervades those societies. Meanwhile, the United States is revitalizing its economy through deregulation and technological innovation, while Europe, advancing monetary union in addition to market integration, responds to globalization.
During the fifty years since the end of World War II, Japan has, aimed to achieve an affluent standard of living for its people, while seeking equality among all walks of life and across all of its regions. Our current systems namely, administrative systems, regulations on private-sector activities, social security and welfare structures, educational administration, and relations between the central and regional governments have in general functioned effectively for a long time in achieving that goal. As such, those systems are deeply rooted in Japanese society. However, we are now in an era when the world is rapidly becoming integrated and when people, products, capital and information flow freely, and it is clear that the current framework is an obstacle to the vigorous development of our country.
As soon as possible, therefore, we must create an economic and social system which can lead the global trend. Changing systems that are deeply rooted in our society will only happen with great difficulty. What is more, these systems are intricately interlinked. That is why I say that we must be bold in taking an integrated approach to resolute implementation of reform in six areas: administrative, fiscal, social security, economic, and financial system reform, as well as educational reform.
Changing the structures of our society alone will not realize the kind of society which I hope to create. I believe that it is the role of politics to create an environment in which all of the people living in our country can uphold justice and fairness, show compassion to others and especially to the weak, respect their elders, and love with all their hearts their hometowns, their nation and our irreplaceable earth. Since I became Prime Minister, I have been tackling issues related to Okinawa as the top priority of our national policy. Taking the position that the burden which has been borne by the people of Okinawa should be shared equally by all of the people of Japan, I will continue to do my best on this issue.
Based on this fundamental recognition, with coordination that is founded on the tri-party agreement with the Social Democratic Party of Japan and New Party Sakigake, I will gather together the creativity and passion for the future of all those who share my views, and I will strive in both foreign and domestic policy to ensure that all of the people can greet the 21st century with feelings of hope. …