Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 224 (March 2, 2006)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
The Turin Olympic Games came to a close on February 26. In figure skating, Ms. Shizuka Arakawa won the gold medal with her marvelous performance, and I was able to congratulate her directly over the phone. Her skating was breathtaking, and I also believe that her selection of music from Puccini's opera "Turandot" was an excellent choice.
In alpine skiing, Mr. Kentaro Minagawa and Mr. Naoki Yuasa placed in fourth and seventh respectively, becoming the first Japanese athletes to rank in the top eight of this sport in the past 50 years. Watching them on TV, I could not help myself from intensely cheering for them as I too like skiing. Mr. Minagawa came in only 0.03 seconds after the bronze medalist. According to Mr. Chiharu Igaya who won a silver medal 50 years ago, the difference comes down to 30 centimeters. He was very close indeed, but his performance at the Turin Olympics gives us hope for his future achievements.
I was greatly moved seeing the athletes working hard, regardless of whether or not they were able to reach their goals.
There was also Ms. Rena Inoue, who represented the US in the figure skating pairs event. Despite the loss of her father to lung cancer and she herself being diagnosed with lung cancer, she earned her ticket to the figure skating pairs event after obtaining US citizenship. She gave an outstanding performance, but more than that her life story itself is extremely touching and inspiring. I hope she will continue with her hard work.
I also learned that there were many other athletes who overcame injuries, illnesses or slumps by working extra hard. I wish that all the athletes will continue to take good care of themselves and work towards their goals in their respective sports as well as in life.
Recently, I frequently hear from people that, "There is both light and shadow to the reform. The social disparity widened as a result of advancing structural reform."
A certain level of disparity exists in any country at any given time. The question is then how to make a vibrant country and how to utilize the talents and skills which are unique to each one of us.
In my opinion, we should seek to create a society in which the diversity and differences among each and every individual are recognized, thereby encouraging people to enhance their talents and skills and utilize their ingenuity and innovation: a society where our efforts are rewarded.
Basically, I think it is important at any given time for companies, nations, communities and individuals to act with the spirit of "self-help and self-reliance." On the one hand the "spirit to help oneself" is essential to motivate us and remind us to assume responsibility for our actions, while the "self-disciplined mind" reminds us not to cause trouble to others.
At the same time, it is vital to think about how to help one another if there are those whose talents or skills are not enough to stand alone, as well as how public organizations or the government will extend assistance.
Upon advancing reform, people who are satisfied with or used to the current situation say that it is better to maintain the status quo. However, I have been advancing reform bearing in mind the question of how to make Japan a society in which the people's vitality could be exerted, and which provides abundant opportunities for each and every individual to realize their latent potential.
I am convinced that we must advance reform to create a society where even those people who have failed on their first or second attempt can keep challenging themselves instead of giving up. As the saying goes, "failure teaches success."
* The title of this column "Lion Heart" is a reference to the Prime Minister's lion-like hairstyle and his unbending determination to advance structural reform.
- Report by the Local Government System Research Council (February 28, 2006)
- The Meeting of the Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters (February 24, 2006)
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