Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.11 (Dec. 21, 2006 - Jan. 4, 2007) ============================================================
* Next issue will be delivered on January 11, 2007.
[Hello, this is Shinzo Abe] -- Message from Prime Minister
My first Diet session as Prime Minister drew to a close on December 19 after a period of 85 days. Many important bills were passed during this session, including a bill concerning the Fundamental Law of Education, bills on the transition to the Ministry of Defense, and a bill to promote the decentralization of power from the central to local governments. I am very grateful to the Diet members of both houses for their sincere deliberations on the legislation, and I would like above all to express my appreciation for the understanding and support of the people of Japan.
This is the first time that the Fundamental Law of Education, which can be considered the "constitution" of education, has been amended in the 59 years since its establishment.
The postwar education system contributed greatly to improving the educational level of the Japanese people. I strongly feel, however, that it left behind the essential Japanese values of self- discipline, a spirit of public-mindedness, and affection for one's community and national traditions. As adults, we must impart these values to children.
Sixty years after the end of World War II, fewer and fewer children live with their grandparents. Likewise, the number of children who have brothers or sisters is declining and there is less interaction among people within the same community. In light of these major changes in families and communities and the decline in their ability to fulfill the educational roles they performed earlier, it is now necessary to advance educational reform with the firm determination of our whole society. The new Fundamental Law of Education confronts these issues head on and reestablishes precepts and principles for education in the 21st century. With this law as the cornerstone, I will advance educational reforms.
December 18 marked the 50th anniversary of Japan's admission to the United Nations. In my address at a ceremony held in Tokyo to mark this anniversary, I talked about Japan's contributions to world peace and stated the necessity for UN reform. The structure of the UN Security Council in particular has hardly changed in the more than 60 years since the UN was founded, despite heightened expectations for its functions after the end of the Cold War. It must thus be reformed to reflect the realities of the 21st century.
On the day of Japan's admission to the UN, then Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu gave an address before the UN General Assembly. He said Japan is "the product of . . . the civilizations of the Orient and the Occident" and that is why it can be "a bridge between the East and the West." He also declared to the representatives of the member nations that Japan was "fully conscious of the great responsibilities of such a position."
To this day, Japan's determination to fulfill those responsibilities in the international community has not wavered in the slightest. Fifty years have passed since Japan's admission to the UN, and our country now has the capacity to assume major responsibilities for maintaining international peace and security. I firmly believe that Japan should become a permanent member of the Security Council so that we can fully live up to that responsibility.
This year has passed by very quickly. With only ten days remaining in 2006, this will be the last e-mail magazine of the year. Since starting this e-mail magazine after I assumed the office of Prime Minister, I have received as many as 10,000 messages of warm support and encouragement as well as strong criticism from readers. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my special thanks to all of the readers of this e-mail magazine.
Tomorrow, December 22, is the winter solstice. It is the day of the year with the shortest daylight hours and longest night. In Japan, there is a custom of eating pumpkin or taking a bath floating with yuzu, a kind of citron, on this bitterly cold winter's day to ward off colds and other ailments.
At the moment, the norovirus is rampant, and the number of people infected is at an all-time high. The Government is taking all possible measures to deal with the virus, but prevention is the most important method of all. Please be sure to heat your food well and wash your hands thoroughly so that the virus does not win.
- Answer to the quiz in the Japanese Version E-mail Magazine
Q: How do you say "kokkou-seijouka" in English?
- Rescue Robots
- Japan-India Summit Meeting (December 15, 2006)
- Prime Minister Abe Welcomes Prime Minister Singh and the First
Lady of India (December 14, 2006)
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