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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.18 (February 22, 2007) ============================================================

"Hello, this is Shinzo Abe" -- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

"Song for Megumi"

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

Are you familiar with the American folk group Peter, Paul and Mary? With hit singles such as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Puff, the Magic Dragon," the group took the music scene by storm in the 1960s. In my junior and senior high school days, I too often listened to their songs, although the name of the group or the titles of its songs may not ring a bell with young people today.

On February 20, I met with Mr. Noel Paul Stookey, one of the members of the group. Mr. Stookey recently wrote a song called "Song for Megumi." It is a song dedicated to Ms. Megumi Yokota, who was abducted by North Korea.

Mr. Stookey was shocked by the fact that a young girl of 13 years had been kidnapped. Moved by her parents' many years of efforts to get their daughter back, he decided to create this song. I understand the proceeds from the song's CD sales will be donated to fund the efforts of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Yokota.

That day I was joined by Mr. and Mrs. Yokota to hear Mr. Stookey perform this song. As I listened to the sound of the quiet melody strummed on the acoustic guitar and the soft vocals -- a gentle voice one would use when speaking to a young girl -- an image of a happy Megumi together with her family floated before my eyes. I imagine that for Mr. and Mrs. Yokota the performance brought back memories of their daughter's voice and warmth.

Sometimes music resonates in people's hearts more deeply than words can. How scared and lonely the young girl must have been, separated from her parents at age 13. How deep and large the emotional scars must be for her parents, whose dear child was taken away. I would like for this issue to be resolved without further delay and for Mr. and Mrs. Yokota to be reunited with their daughter. Wrapped in the beautiful music, these feelings welled up inside me and made my heart ache.

It is truly wonderful and heartening that people overseas are interested in the abduction issue and are joining in our efforts to call on people around the world. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, whom I met with last night, also made it clear that the U.S. understands and supports Japan's position on the abduction issue.

Against this background of support from various people, I will, in cooperation with the international community, continue to make utmost efforts to resolve the abduction issue and do whatever it takes to restore regional peace and stability.

At the end of last week, members of the "Plum Mission" from Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine in Kyushu visited my office.

I received two small plum trees in blossom with beautiful red and white flowers. It feels so relaxing and calming to smell the fragrance of plums. The day was clear and sunny, and with the bright sunlight spilling into my office, a poem by Hattori Ransetsu sprang to my lips: "One plum blossom / One blossom's worth of warmth."

We have a saying, "The blossoming of plums precedes the flowering of 100 flowers." The plum buds begin to open in the bitter cold, and by the time the cherry blossoms bloom it is already spring. A new fiscal year will begin when spring arrives, and along with the flowering of the plum trees, deliberations on the budget for FY2007 have begun. I am ready for heated debates in the Diet, and will see to it that the budget, which has a direct connection to people's everyday lives, is passed at the earliest possible date.

[What's New in Government Internet TV]

- Monozukuri (Crafting)

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Prime Minister Meets with US Vice President Dick Cheney (February 21, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe said, "Japan and the United States are partners that share values. The Japan-US alliance is unshakable and indispensable."

- Prime Minister Abe Meets with Family Members of Abductees and Mr. Noel Paul Stookey (February 20, 2007)
After the meeting, Prime Minister Abe and the family members listened to a song Mr. Stookey had written in dedication to Ms. Megumi Yokota, one of the abductees.

- Japan-Czech Republic Summit Meeting (February 14, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Mr. Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic.

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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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