Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 233 (May 11, 2006)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
Last week, I made a week-long visit to Ethiopia and Ghana in Africa and Sweden in Northern Europe.
I met separately with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare of the Commission of the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia and with President John Agyekum Kufuor in Ghana. We discussed various topics including support to Africa and reform of the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
In total there are 53 countries in Africa. I was astonished to learn from Chairperson Konare that the continent has an area larger than the United States (US), China, India, and Europe combined!
When the UN was established about 60 years ago, there were only 51 member states in total and only four of them were from Africa. Now that number has increased to 191 with African countries accounting for over a quarter of the total.
Japan was able to rise out of poverty after the Second World War and develop through the assistance extended to us by the international community. We hope to apply this experience and provide as much support as possible to enable African countries faced with various issues including conflicts and infectious diseases to stand on their own.
Approximately 80 years ago, Dr. Hideyo Noguchi traveled to the distant land of Ghana, where he devoted his life to the study of yellow fever. In the course of his research he fell ill and died at the age of 51. The institute at which Dr. Noguchi studied yellow fever is in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and the microscope he used is still there.
I had an opportunity to view some memorabilia that trace back to Dr. Noguchi such as the letters addressed to him from Dr. Noguchi's mother and his wife, who was American. I was once again moved by the inquisitive mind and courage of Dr. Noguchi who, despite already earning fame in Japan and the US, decided to study in the far country of Ghana.
During my flight to Ethiopia, an idea sprang to mind to establish the Hideyo Noguchi Award. The award bearing the name of Dr. Noguchi will be presented to those who have made contributions to the study and practice of medicine in Africa, any person of merit whether they are African, Asian, or European.
I announced this idea at the joint press conference in Ghana with President Kufuor, and the local response was very positive and enthusiastic.
Chairperson Konare of the AU Commission (AU has 53 member states) is scheduled to visit Japan sometime soon. When he visits, I will listen to him with a view to establishing an outstanding award that is comparable to the Nobel Prize.
It was as if Dr. Noguchi was telling me to visit Africa. Of course Japan does aspire to win a Nobel Prize, but we also hope to establish the Hideyo Noguchi Award to carry on Dr. Noguchi's mission to make even a small contribution to the study and practice of medicine in Africa.
At my next destination of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, approximately eight hours by plane from Ghana, I met with Prime Minister Goran Persson and was granted an audience with His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf. The imperial and royal families of Japan and Sweden have active exchanges and our countries enjoy a friendly relationship. I am determined to ensure the success of this visit and further expand and develop our friendship.
In Stockholm, I visited a preschool. No matter where I travel around the world the universal and priceless smiles of children always lighten my heart. I was made keenly aware that there is much to learn from the experience of Sweden where efforts are being made so that people can focus both on work and child-raising.
At the Diet, deliberations are continuing on various items including the administrative reform promotion bill. I am poised to do my best to ensure that important bills are passed during the current Diet session.
* 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.
- Prime Minister's Interview for the Government Internet TV (May 10, 2006)
- Prime Minister Visits Africa and Europe (April 29 - May 5, 2006)
- Reader's Comment on the e-mail magazine is available only to the subscribers.
- Click below to make comments on administration of Japan
|Subscription||Back to the Top of the Koizumi Cabinet E-Mail Magazine|