Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.17 (February 15, 2007) ============================================================
"Hello, this is Shinzo Abe" -- Message from the Prime Minister
On February 13, the Six-Party Talks concluded with the adoption of a joint statement. This agreement represents progress as a concrete step by North Korea toward nuclear abandonment.
Japan has been putting pressure on North Korea in cooperation with the international community. It is my hope that this pressure will lead to dialogue. I will not make any easy concessions, however. My policy is that Japan will not provide energy assistance to North Korea unless there is progress on the abduction issue. The international community understands this position. I will devote all my energy to the resolution of the abduction issue and restoration of regional peace and stability.
On February 12, I visited a center for children and youth in Tokyo. Here junior and senior high school students take the initiative in planning events such as lectures, live music performances, sports tournaments and exhibitions.
As soon as I stepped inside this facility, which is located in a quiet residential area, I discovered that it was full of excited youngsters. I took a thorough tour of the center, including the lobby, the gym, and the crafts and cooking room. Everywhere I went was brimming with the children's smiles and energy.
Mothers at a get-together for young children and their parents shared some of their concerns with me. "There's a long waiting list for my child to get into a nursery school. It's very difficult for my family." "There aren't enough safe places where I can let my child play without worrying." "It's still a few years away, but I'm concerned about whether my child will be safe on the way back from school." Hearing these comments, I became even more keenly aware of the need to create an environment in which parents can raise their children with peace of mind.
I also joined in some events with the children. It was quite a thrill to hold a basketball and a ping-pong paddle again for the first time in years. Although I could not play as well as I used to in my school days, I did manage to score one basket. I also had a go at free-climbing, which involves scaling a vertical wall, but I quickly realized that I should never have impulsively tried to imitate the children.
I next exchanged opinions with members of a junior and senior high school students' organizing committee. Although they were from different schools and grades, all of the children had great affection for the center, and they all enjoyed the activities there. They told me, "We have school friends at school and other friends here."
It used to be that people from different families and generations in the same local communities would help each other with child- raising. This kind of social interaction is gradually disappearing, however, which is precisely why children need this kind of place for social interaction.
The policy to expand nationwide the After School Hours Plan for Children and the Project for Support Centers for Child-Raising in the Regions is underpinned by my desire to provide as many children as possible with places where they can enjoy time with friends from different schools and grades, as well as with local community people. This is a first step toward the rebuilding of education by society as a whole.
Just after I had said goodbye to the children, I heard the tragic news of the death of Police Inspector Kunihiko Miyamoto, who was hit by a train on February 6 while trying to rescue a woman who had gone onto the tracks.
When I heard about this accident, I thought once again about how our police officers are working hard on the front line to keep us safe and give us a sense of security in our daily lives. I had been praying for Inspector Miyamoto's recovery, and this news was deeply saddening.
Inspector Miyamoto was an officer who listened to people's concerns every day, reached out to them, and was trusted by everyone. I hear that many people brought bouquets of flowers and paper cranes to the police box in Tokiwadai, Itabashi Ward, where Inspector Miyamoto was stationed, wishing for his recovery.
As a Japanese I am filled with pride for Inspector Miyamoto, a caring man with a strong sense of justice and responsibility toward his duties who tried to save the life of another without regard for his own safety. May his soul rest in peace.
*Editorial Note: Police Inspector Miyamoto was promoted from the rank of Police Sergeant on February 12.
- Welcome! to Beautiful Japan
- Prime Minister Visits the Center for Child and Youth in Suginami Ward, Tokyo (February 12, 2007)
- Key Strategy Council for "Japan Supporting Children and Families" (February 9, 2007)
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