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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 238 (June 15, 2006)

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

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile Japanese

* June 14 marked the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine. As a celebration of this milestone, we bring to you an interview that Prime Minister Koizumi gave to the Editorial Division.

"Lion Interview" Photo

"Lion Interview" Part One

[On the fifth anniversary of the e-mail magazine distribution]


--- Thank you very much for your time today. Already the Japanese version of the e-mail magazine celebrated its fifth anniversary.

(Prime Minister Koizumi)

It is quite an achievement and very impressive that it has over 1.6 million subscribers. There is so much to be grateful for. Not many weekly or monthly magazines sell a million copies, right? I would like to extend my appreciation to all the dedicated readers of this e-mail magazine.

[ 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany ]

---Did you watch the Japan-Australia match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup on June 12?

Yes I did. From the beginning I was anticipating a thrilling match and could feel the excitement rising within me. I was all tense in my chair with my hands in fists. Then it happened at the end, the very second you thought Japan would win the game. Japan allowed three goals in a row to Australia. It was unfortunate, very unfortunate.

Even a fraction of a millimeter determines a win or loss in soccer. Sometimes powerful shots do not score while weaker shots do. It reminded me that one must stay sharp until the last moment.

The goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi was making fine saves and Shunsuke Nakamura wearing the number 10 uniform made a goal, so I was truly delighted and excited. But the Australian team cut in swiftly through a small gap at the end.

--- You met coach Zico and were presented a uniform. Were you by any chance wearing it as you cheered for the Japanese team?

No, I was not wearing the uniform, but it is placed or hung near where I watched the game.

--- Everyone in Japan is probably disappointed with the outcome of the game on the 12th. Could you please give us your general overview of the next game or the last game?

There are times when you win and times when you lose. I think the key is not to dwell on a game from the past and move onto the next. The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is a perfect example. The Japanese team lost the first two games but won their third. What is past is past and so it is important to concentrate on the future. As the wise said, "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." They should just exert their talent and skills to their fullest.

--- Do you watch soccer games frequently?

Lately, yes. I also watch games other than the Japanese ones. If you watch a number of games, you could eventually tell if it is a good game or not. All the teams, including the Japanese team, are very competitive. Good games are always stimulating, even if Japanese players are not playing.

Sports are much fun whether it is baseball, golf, or a combat sport. I was very excited for the WBC game. I watched Ichiro, the players on the Republic of Korea team and the Cuban team and others with my stomach twisting and heart pounding until the very end of the tournament.

[ Domestic visits ]

---In the past three weeks, in place of your days-off you made a chain of visits to Fukushima Prefecture, Okinawa Prefecture and the Hokuriku region. Please share with us any memorable moments from the visits.

All the places I visited were memorable. Approximately 100 places were selected to be listed in "My Journey: the Best 100," which provides information on places to visit to enjoy the historical, cultural and traditional aspects of Japan while enjoying the travels. The list also includes places that I wish for the people of Japan to learn about. They were chosen out of close to 1,000 recommendations made by people in the travel industry and experts on travel as well as people who like to travel.

The first place I visited was Noto, which was chosen as the best place to visit in "My Journey: the Best 100," as well as Kanazawa and Takaoka. The hot springs as well as the Kutani style potteries and Wajima-nuri (lacquered) ware were excellent. Kenrokuen, said to be one of the best gardens, was indeed beautiful and I sure enjoyed all the places I visited.

If you are interested, the Agency for Cultural Affairs will be happy to introduce to you all the places that were recommended, including those ranked in the best 100. The places were selected to meet various traveling styles, such as for people making daytrips or those who might be able to travel for two to three days. It is also suited for those who want to make a number of short visits to the places listed over a two to three year span.

Actually, it was President Jacques Chirac of France who gave me the idea. He brought the topic up during his last visit to Japan.

Today, approximately 16 million Japanese people travel overseas each year, but only about 6 million foreign visitors come to Japan. The city of Paris alone annually receives 50 million visitors from around the world. That is ten times more than Japan.

I want more foreigners to visit Japan, so I asked President Chirac for a good advice as the president of France, the country which welcomes one of the largest numbers of tourists in the world. President Chirac then told me, "Japan has a lot of charms," and that "First of all, Japan has appetizing food, not only sushi. Being able to eat appetizing food is what I look forward to the most when traveling."

I hear that President Chirac has visited Japan as many as 50 times. No leader in the world has made as many visits to Japan as President Chirac. In addition to being a fan of sumo, he is well-versed in Japanese history, more than me in fact, beginning with the Jomon culture, Yayoi culture, and the Edo period.

As President Chirac says, Japan has many charms which set it apart be they its history or traditions. His advice was that Japan must do more to convey what it is that make Japan so wonderful and different from other nations. In his words, Japan is not doing enough in this regard and that is why even many Japanese people do not know about the unique charms of their own nation.

He is right I thought and I went straight to Dr. Hayao Kawai, the Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and relayed President Chirac's advice to him. Since we all like to travel, I asked Commissioner Kawai to invite people to submit their recommendations on wonderful places to visit, not only to attract more foreigners to Japan but on places where Japanese people, too, can enjoy and learn about Japanese history, culture and traditions while traveling. Those places that have been selected make up "My Journey: the Best 100."

I cannot go to all the places. However, I would like to find time to visit some of these places once a month or so and enjoy a pleasant trip while at the same time helping to revitalize the regions.

My second trip was to Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture, where I visited the Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Hall. As you may recall I came up with the idea to establish the Hideyo Noguchi Award on my recent visit to Ghana in Africa. Japan already has an award called the Hideyo Noguchi Award, but it is an award that is given to Japan's medical scientists.

Many people in Africa are suffering from diseases. It is a region in the world that is faced with the highest share of diseases and hardships. Dr. Hideyo Noguchi was nominated for the Nobel Prize but was not awarded the prize.

Of course Japan does aspire to win a Nobel Prize. However, we should also think about honoring those who are making contributions in other areas of the world, like an award that is comparable to the Nobel Prize for those people who are fighting diseases that Africa is suffering from, as well as medical researchers and practitioners. I raised this idea with President John Agyekum Kufuor of Ghana, and he was very much in favor of it.

Although the award will honor those who are making contributions to the practice of medicine in Africa, the recipients of the award will not be limited to people of Africa. The recipients may be Americans, Europeans, or Asians including Japanese. This will be an award that is level with the Nobel Prize for people who are making efforts in African medicine.

The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) is well preserved in Ghana, where I found the microscope that Dr. Noguchi used at the time and even his head statue. When I went to Ghana, President Kufuor told me that he had been to the Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Hall in Japan and asked me if I had been there. But no, in fact I had not been to the memorial hall in Japan. I better go there I thought and visited the memorial hall, which also gave me a chance to go around to the other wonderful places in Aizu.

Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare of the Commission of the African Union (AU) (the AU is comprised of 53 member states) will be visiting Japan in the near future. He is also largely in favor of the idea of establishing the Hideyo Noguchi Award. Japan will first formulate a proposal, and then with the support of Chairperson Konare and President Kufuor, the first award ceremony will be held in 2008. That is to say, in the year 2008 it will be exactly 80 years since Dr. Noguchi died in Ghana. Furthermore, it is the year in which the fourth TICAD will be convened in Tokyo.

TICAD is the abbreviation for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, and it is convened once every five years. The heads of state of African countries will gather in Japan for the conference, and this would be an opportune occasion to hold the award ceremony, that is, once every five years.

Even with the many categories of the Nobel Prize, a prize amount of around 100 to 200 million yen is awarded to each category. It may be a little inappropriate to imagine that the prize amount for the Hideyo Noguchi Award will be larger than that of the Nobel Prize. However, it is not just a matter of the prize amount. With all respect for the Nobel Prize, I hope the Hideyo Noguchi Award will be comparable to the Nobel Prize while it may not be more grandeur. We are now in the process of forming the basis for the proposal, and I expect that many donations will be made for this award.

Next week we will continue with the second round of the Lion Interview.

* "Lion Interview" Photo

* 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.

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Meeting of the Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters (June 8, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi said, "we were able to decide on the new Intellectual Property Strategic Program today. . . . I would appreciate your continued cooperation in this endeavor."

- Japan-Botswana Summit Meeting (June 8, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with H.E. Mr. Festus Gontebanye Mogae, the President of the Republic of Botswana.

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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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