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My aspirations are to make Japan a country in which every citizen can say, “I feel fortunate to be born in Japan”.

Member of the House of Representatives Hon. Hideki Makihara https://hmacky.net/

I entered politics out of patriotism. My aspirations are to make Japan a country in which every citizen can say, “I feel fortunate to be born in Japan”. There are many good things in Japan, one of which is that there are opportunities for anyone willing to make the effort. Children from families with economic hardships, however, face real challenges, such as the education gap and chain of poverty.

Children cannot choose the family they are born into. In the hope of helping such children and breaking the chains of poverty, I played a leadership role in legislating a private members’ bill and guidelines on child poverty, as a founding member and Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Group for Promoting Measures against Child Poverty. We have also allocated a budget for the program for creating secure space for children.

As the State Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, I was also involved in the amendment of the Child Abuse Prevention Act.

Out of a sense of crisis about young people’s indifference to politics and as the first Chair of the supra-partisan Parliamentary Group on Youth Policy Promotion, which is constituted by young parliamentarians under the age of 50, I have made various proposals for promoting young people’s participation in politics. While the voting age is 18 in Japan, the age at which one can stand as a candidate is 25, so that young people can vote but cannot stand in an election. We are seriously discussing ways to lower the eligibility age for candidacy.

I think Japan’s biggest strength is its “people”. Japan is geographically disadvantaged, its natural resources are mostly imported, and its food self-sufficiency rate is low compared to other countries. In spite of this, it is the strength of its “people” that has made Japan’s development possible.

On the other hand, I was deeply shocked to learn from news reports of a series of frauds involving a subsidy program for small business owners and proprietors affected by the coronavirus pandemic, a program that I put all my efforts into as the State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

While I am dismayed with the drift towards self-centeredness in a country in which “people” are its most valuable asset, there is a need to think carefully about Japan’s future. It will be essential to properly understand and impress upon ourselves that each and every person in this country is important as we try to build this country.

Interviewed in October 2020

※The titles shown are those held at the time of interview.

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