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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 234 (May 18, 2006)

[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile Japanese

Never forget the spirit of challenge

Junichiro Koizumi here.

On Tuesday, May 16, coach Zico and soccer player Tsuneyasu Miyamoto from the Japanese national soccer team for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany visited my office.

Coach Zico announced the national team members on May 15. I am sure it must have been tough to choose the 23 members from a large pool of excellent players.

I received a number 10 uniform from Mr. Miyamoto. To my happy surprise, it fit me perfectly. The material was thicker than I imagined.

The upcoming World Cup reminds me of four years ago. Right after the Kananaskis Summit in Canada, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany traveled with me on the government plane from Canada to Japan to watch the final match between Brazil and Germany in Yokohama.

This time, Japan is in the same group as Brazil in the first round. I sincerely hope that Japan will advance to the second round.

There is probably no other sport in the world that makes us more excited than soccer. What is important for Japan is to challenge ourselves. I hope that the members of the Japanese national team will play each game with the spirit of challenge.

Yesterday, I had a meeting at my office with Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the United Nations (UN) who was visiting Japan. This year marks the 50th year of Japan's accession to the UN. We had a good discussion on the UN reform and the international situation, as well as Japan's support to Africa which I announced during my latest visit to Africa.

Secretary-General Annan is from Ghana, one of the countries I visited on my recent trip. We also had a lively discussion on Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, who devoted his life to the study of yellow fever in Ghana.

There are still people in the world who suffer from poverty and infectious diseases. There are those who are working hard to build their own nation with their own hands while fighting the threat of terrorism.

Japan received warm support from the international community during our most difficult time after our defeat in the Second World War. Always remembering the assistance extended to us, we must fulfill our responsibility as a leading member of the international community to contribute to world peace and prosperity. We must do this by making use of our experience of developing peacefully, embracing the values of freedom, democracy and market economy for 60 years since the end of the War.

In no other time in our history has Japan enjoyed a society as prosperous, peaceful and free as now. At the same time, never before have there been so much discontent and dissatisfaction as today. They can be heard everywhere. That is indeed the difficult challenge in human society.

Still we must do what we should and ought to do while valuing the qualities that we must not lose as Japanese people. We will find joy and happiness in doing what needs to be done and overcoming the challenges we face, however difficult and tough they may be. That, I believe, is the strength of the people.

I am poised to do my best always with a spirit of challenge.

* 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.

[Special Contribution]

Engagement in cooperative assistance activities

By Ensign Yukako Ikeda, Assistant Communications Officer with the supply ship Omi

(Editorial Note) Following the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the United States (US), countries across the world have been cooperating in carrying out activities for clamping down on terrorism in Afghanistan. Pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, Japan conducts cooperative assistance activities, mainly the refueling of foreign ships (participating in the maritime interdiction operation as part of the anti-terrorism campaign) in the Indian Ocean by the Maritime Self-Defense Force.

At present, I am engaged in the cooperative assistance activity of supplying fuel to foreign naval ships stationed in the Indian Ocean as a member of the crew of the supply ship Omi.

In the approximately two months since we began full-scale activities after leaving Japan in March, we have taken part in more than 20 fueling missions for seven countries. Although I am kept busy, I am leading a fulfilled life every day.

My duties in the course of these maritime supply activities include talking by radio communication with foreign ships and producing telegram messages. Sometimes I have difficulties in making a prompt response, such as when the communication has not been properly set up, or when there is a demand for change in the supply start time or the amount of fuel just before fueling is due to commence.

Moreover, in addition to a harsh physical environment with the temperature rising to 40 degrees Celsius and a deck temperature that can rise above 70 degrees Celsius, we operate in an atmosphere of constant tension in which naval ships from various countries are clamping down on ships suspected of smuggling in the surrounding waters. Under such conditions, our work is far from easy. However, despite this situation, all the members of the crew remain steadily at their posts and carry out their duties in a straightforward manner.

In the course of this kind of supply activity, there have been small international exchanges through gifts and messages. We usually exchange commemorative items such as plaques. But one time, female Self-Defense Force (SDF) personnel aboard the Omi baked bread and gave it as a gift, for which we later received a "thank you" card.

In addition, we exchange messages using hand flag signal or an electronic signboard. I believe that the accumulation of these small exchanges has helped to deepen mutual understanding and cultivated trust over the more than four years of Japan's cooperative assistance activities.

The present contingent is notable for being the first in which female Maritime SDF personnel are included. I specialized in international relations at the National Defense Academy, where I learned the importance of international cooperation, and I hoped to be able to make a contribution to Japan's national defense in the future by serving on an active duty basis. So I am very happy to have the privilege of participating in the current mission, while at the same time I feel a sense of responsibility as a female member of the SDF.

Sixteen female SDF personnel are aboard the Omi. But many more female military personnel serve on the naval ships of the various other countries active in the Indian Ocean and all of us on the Omi are striving to serve with high morale so as not to be outdone by them. We sincerely hope that other female SDF personnel will follow us in serving on active duty.

In participating in the present activity, I have realized that Japan's activities of this kind are essential, and I have also gained considerable confidence that I myself can make some modest contributions to world peace and stability. Our duty is to complete our cooperative assistance activities and to return home safely. Lastly, I would like to ask for your continuous support for our activities.

* Profile of contributor

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Prime Minister Receives a Courtesy Call from Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan (May 17, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi introduced to Secretary-General Annan a plan to issue postal stamps to commemorate the 50th year of Japan's accession to the UN.

- Prime Minister Receives a Courtesy Call from Mr. Zico and Mr. Tsuneyasu Miyamoto of the Japan National Team for the 2006 FIFA World Cup (May 16, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi put on a memorial uniform with "KOIZUMI" printed on it and the jersey number 10, which was presented to him by Mr. Miyamoto.

- Prime Minister Koizumi Holds a Ceremony to Present Commemorative Gifts to Top Finishers of the 2006 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Turin (May 12, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi invited athletes at the 2006 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Turin and held a ceremony to present them with commemorative gifts.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jinen Nagase
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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