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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.3 (October 26, 2006) ============================================================

[Hello, this is Shinzo Abe] -- Message from Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

Rebuilding Education

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

A month has passed since I assumed the office of Prime Minister. I have been working under a tight schedule, busy with the Diet deliberations as well as both foreign and domestic affairs, hardly having a chance to catch my breath. Realizing once again the gravity of the responsibility that now lies on my shoulders, I have steeled myself and am determined to carry out my duties to the fullest each day.

Tomorrow, October 27, marks the anniversary of the death of Shoin Yoshida, a great historical figure from my hometown, a man whom I respect deeply. Yoshida was executed on October 27, 1859, and on October 26, the eve of his execution and the same date as today, he spent the entire night writing a document known as "Ryukonroku," which is considered his last will and testament. It opens with the following poem:

"Though my life may end on the Musashi Plain, the Japanese spirit will yet remain."

The determination that he expressed in these parting words causes the spirits to rise.

Yoshida instilled aspirations in the youths of his day through education at his own school, known as Shoka Sonjuku. The school's graduates went on to form the core driving force of the Meiji Restoration.

One of those graduates was Shinsaku Takasugi, who facilitated the movement for reform to create a new Japan by organizing a volunteer militia unit, called the Kiheitai, in which social classes had no role. In the Japan of 150 years ago - when there were clear lines drawn between the social classes of samurai warriors, farmers, artisans and merchants - providing people with the opportunity to advance reform regardless of their social class was nothing less than revolutionary.

The character "shin" in my name "Shinzo" is actually taken from Shinsaku Takasugi.

Today's young adults and children who will shoulder responsibility for the next generation are the treasures of our society. At any given time or in any given country, education invariably plays a critical role in nurturing people with the vision and aspiration to build a dignified nation. As such, restrengthening the role that education plays is most important in order to nurture people who value their families, their communities and their country, and who cherish human life.

Today, children are taking their own lives after being bullied. Children are being abused by their own parents. I am utterly shocked to hear the frequent occurrence of such incidents. How are such tragedies possible? How is it that even children with their whole future ahead of them are being abused and bullied at home and in school, the very places that should protect and nurture them? I sent Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Eriko Yamatani and Head of the Education Rebuilding Council Office Hiroyuki Yoshiie to Chikuzen Town in Fukuoka Prefecture immediately after a student committed suicide there as a result of having been bullied in school. It is the basic stance of the Abe Cabinet to listen directly to the voices of the people concerned.

The Education Rebuilding Council, which I introduced in last week's magazine, held its second meeting yesterday. The 17 members passionately spoke their views on educational reform, an area of endless debate. All the views that were expressed are convincing because they are based on first-hand experience. I will devote my efforts to rebuilding education, to form the backbone of Japan's next century, by expanding the floor for discussion and lending my ear to a wide range of opinions.

Heated debate will soon take place in the Diet on proposed amendments to the Fundamental Law of Education. The situation surrounding education is changing greatly, as can be seen in advances in science and technology as well as in the declining birthrate and graying of society. The needs of our time require that we reform and return to a focus on the basics of education. I will make every effort to enact the bill concerning the Fundamental Law of Education to clarify the educational principles for the new era and to ensure education that will open the way to the future.

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Japan-El Salvador Summit Meeting (October 23, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Mr. Elias Antonio Saca Gonzalez, the President of the Republic of El Salvador.

- Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo International Film Festival (October 21, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe said, "I am very proud as Prime Minister of Japan to see first-class films brought together here in Tokyo, as well as to have excellent films introduced to the world . . ."

- Japan-Vietnam Summit Meeting (October 19, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung, the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

- Prime Minister Receives a Courtesy Call from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (October 19, 2006)
Secretary Rice said, "I have come to Japan first on this tour in order to make it clear that the U.S.-Japan alliance is strong and unshakable in any situation."

[Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine]

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General Editor: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Chief Editor: Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Hiroshige Seko
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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