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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.6 (November 16, 2006) ============================================================
* Next issue will be delivered on November 24, 2006.

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

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

My Thoughts on the Fundamental Law of Education

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

The tornado that struck Saroma Town in Hokkaido has once again demonstrated the terrible damage that nature can wreak, and I pray from my heart for the repose of those who lost their lives in this unfortunate disaster. The Government has swiftly applied the Disaster Relief Act to implement a relief system in the region that includes the establishment of evacuation shelters and the immediate delivery of 400 blankets.

Now, those affected by the disaster face battle against the harsh, cold forces of winter. The Government will do its utmost, in cooperation with the local community, to enable the people of Saroma to resume their normal lives as quickly as possible.

Discussions are currently under way in the Diet on proposed amendments to the Fundamental Law of Education. I firmly believe that the Law must be amended now. My reasons are as follows.

It has been over half a century since the enactment of the current Fundamental Law of Education. The postwar education system, based on the principle of equal opportunity, contributed greatly to improving the educational level of the Japanese people, which in turn served to sustain our country's economic development. It also imparted the principles of the rights and liberties of individuals, as well as democracy and pacifism.

However, there is no denying that our education system has not sufficiently addressed ideas such as moral values, ethics and self-discipline. Experts today often call attention to the issue of declines in children's morals and in their desire to learn, and families and communities are said to be less and less capable at filling the educational roles they once did.

Against this backdrop, bullying in the school setting has become a serious issue, and it has also come to light that compulsory school curriculum requirements are not being met in all cases. Faced with such issues, children and parents must be overwhelmed with anxiety and must feel even more keenly that the current education system needs to be revamped.

We must nurture in children a sense of morality and discipline so that they understand that it is shameful to do something like toss an empty can into the ocean, even if such an act is not against the law. Children must also acquire and practice the kind of spirit of public-mindedness that teaches us that when we spot an empty can that has been thrown into the sea, we should pick it up and throw it away properly, without considering whether or not we will profit from doing so.

Education is not something that is achieved only in the classroom. Morals, a sense of discipline and a caring heart are also fostered through interactions with people at home and in the local communities.

I think it is essential for us to start by sharing with each other these fundamental views and values we have on education. Especially at a time like this, when we face a range of educational problems on a daily basis and with increasing numbers of people sensing that our education system is in a state of crisis, I believe that the first step toward rebuilding education is for all of us, both on the individual level and as members of families, communities and schools, to think about and determine what we ourselves can do.

This is what the new Fundamental Law of Education is all about. I strongly believe that the precepts and principles necessary for dealing with the recent educational issues have all been included in the Government's amendment bill. I will strive for the bill to be approved in the Diet at the earliest possible date so that we can formulate concrete educational policies on how to restructure public education and on the role that boards of education should be playing.

Tomorrow, November 17, I will be leaving for Viet Nam to attend the 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting. The leaders of 21 countries and regions around the Pacific Ocean will assemble in Hanoi.

In addition to economic cooperation, our discussions will cover a wide range of topics now facing the international community, from North Korea issues to nuclear capability and terrorism. As the leader of Japan, a responsible member of the international community, I will work to the best of my abilities both to contribute to the world and for the peace and prosperity of my homeland.

[Learning Media English with E-mail Magazine]

- Answer to the quiz in the Japanese Version E-mail Magazine

Q: How do you say "Shikyushiki" in English?
Try completing the following sentence.
I threw the (     ) (     ) (     ).
(quoted from Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.5)

A: Ceremonial first pitch.

[What's New in Government Internet TV]

- Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Japan-Ghana Summit Meeting (November 10, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, the President of the Republic of Ghana.

- Japan-Rwanda Summit Meeting (November 8, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Mr. Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda.

- 1st Meeting of the Asian Gateway Strategy Council (November 8, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe said, "I announced the Asian Gateway Vision, which will make Japan a conduit between Asia and the rest of the world in terms of the flows of people, goods, money, information, and culture."

- 1st Meeting of the Tax Commission (November 7, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe consulted with Mr. Masaaki Honma, the newly- appointed Chair of the Government Tax Commission, on a modality of the taxation system.

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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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