Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.13 (January 18, 2007) ============================================================
"Hello, this is Shinzo Abe" -- Message from the Prime Minister
For me, January 9 to 15 was a week of traveling the globe, starting off with visits to European countries and finishing on Cebu Island with my attendance at the East Asia Summit (EAS).
I was on the move every day, literally living out of my suitcase. Even with such a hectic schedule, I was able to pay a visit to the Headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) -- the first ever by a Japanese Prime Minister -- where I delivered a policy speech and strengthened our bonds of trust with 26 world leaders.
I feel confident that the key phrase "shared values," which I wanted to stress strongly, was well-received by the people of Europe. It is a great achievement that I was able to extend and enhance this circle of cooperation to include Asia as well.
Summit meetings are occasions for serious talks among world leaders, as we each carry on our shoulders the national interests of our respective countries. Not only the other leaders, but the entire world is listening carefully to our every word. Leaders must speak convincingly, choosing words carefully while paying attention to their counterparts' reactions and expressions. At events such as the EAS where leaders gather together, we also give great consideration to whom we will meet and talk.
Summit diplomacy does not take place only in the meetings. In fact, it begins with the very first step onto foreign soil.
My overseas visits begin with a deep breath of fresh air as the door of the government plane is opened. I then make my way down the steps to a warm welcome from my hosts. In one European country, I was received by a brass band playing the Japanese national anthem. On another occasion, I was welcomed by military police standing in perfect formation. In the Philippines, women dressed in colorful ethnic costumes performed a beautiful dance for me.
Whether as an individual or as a nation, a guest's first impressions are vital for a host. The same is true for the guest as well. I was fully aware that close attention was being paid to my every move by people around the world eager to learn about the Prime Minister of Japan.
I act at all times with the keen consciousness that each and every action that I make has an effect on people's opinions of Japan.
The Diet session will convene starting next week. The Abe Cabinet will submit a number of important bills this session, including a concrete plan for rebuilding education and a bill to reorganize the operations of the Social Insurance Agency from scratch, as well as the draft budget for FY2007.
I am looking forward to heated policy debates for Japan's future. I will strive to provide explanations and deliberations that are as clear as possible in order to obtain the people's understanding.
From a Refugee Camp - UNHCR Field Operation
By Kaoru Nemoto, Head of Sub-Office in Damak, Nepal, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation
My "workplace" is the camps in the dense forest area in the south east corner of Nepal, far form the usual image of the Himalayas of Nepal. Some 106,000 refugees from Bhutan have been forced to live in seven refugee camps for sixteen years.
They are sheltered in the huts made of bamboos and live on rice distributed to them as part of food ration. The camps have become more congested over years with a natural population growth without any camp expansion.
The Nepalese began arriving in Bhutan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, coming to work on construction projects and to settle in the sparsely populated areas along the Indian border. They were allowed to enjoy Bhutanese citizenship under the Bhutan's Nationality Law of 1958. Ethnic Nepalese living in the southern lowlands were ethnically as well as religiously different from the mainstream ruling Druk majority. As a result of a series of ethno- nationalist policies adopted by the Bhutanese government in 1980s including the 1985 Bhutanese Citizenship Law, many ethnic Nepalis were deprived of their citizenship and were forced to leave the country. The protests by ethnic Nepalis against these restrictive measures also resulted in their expulsion or forceful eviction from Bhutan. Since the early 1990s, at the request of the Government of Nepal, UNHCR has been providing protection and assistance to these refugees in coordination with government authorities as well as partner agencies.
After 16 years, these camps look like a "typical Nepali village with bamboo and thatch huts." There are basic infrastructures provided by UNHCR such as schools, health centres, community halls, disability center, and child play centers. As these refugees from Bhutan are not allowed to be engaged in gainful activities outside the camps, they are dependent on assistance from the international community. UNHCR provides for the basic protection and assistance as well as facilitates in finding durable solutions for the refugees.
UNHCR and the Government of Nepal started a census exercise of the refugee population in camps in eastern Nepal in November 2006 to have better information, to provide better protection, assistance, and solution to an estimated 106,000 refugees. Since the Government registered refugees from Bhutan when they first arrived in Nepal in early 1990s, this is the first systematic review of the entire refugee caseload. Existing information and data thus needs to be validated, cross checked, updated and recorded in a new database system.
In this joint operation by the Government and UNHCR to be completed in spring 2007, about 50 UNHCR supported census staff are dedicated to collect information, take photos and enter data from some 1,500 individuals per day. Improved data on "who is who," "who is where," and "who has what needs" will help the Government and UNHCR improve planning, delivery and monitoring of assistance. The most exciting part of the census for many of the refugees was when their individual photographs were taken. Some refugees appear in front of the camera with their best clothes. Some children cry out of nervousness. These photographs will be used to issue photo identity cards after the completion of the census process. For a refugee who cannot turn to his/her country of origin for national protection, an ID card from his/her asylum country is an important protection tool, including for identity purposes.
A lot of efforts have been made to launch this landmark exercise of census, including negotiation with the Government. I am fortunate to be the head of an office in charge of its implementation at this historical event in this protracted refugee situation where there is some glimmer of hope that repatriation, albeit it limited may be possible as well as an alternative solution including third country resettlement. Being encouraged by the tremendous energy owned by the refugees who have not lost their hope in this 16-year-long protracted refugee situation, I would like to continue a good work together with a regular team of some 50 staff coming from ten different countries at the UNHCR Sub-Office in Damak.
* From a Refugee Camp
- Answer to the quiz in the Japanese Version E-mail Magazine
Q: How do you say "tsuujou-kokkai" in English?
- Multiculturalism in Japan
- The ASEAN+3, Japan-ASEAN and East Asia Summit (EAS) Summit Meetings (January 14 to 15, 2007)
- Prime Minister Visits Europe (January 10 to 13, 2007)
- New Year's Press Conference (January 4, 2007)
- New Year's Reflection (January 1, 2007)
- Reader's Comment on the e-mail magazine is available only to the subscribers.
- Click below to make comments on administration of Japan
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