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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.20 (March 8, 2007) ============================================================

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

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

Passage of the Draft Budget in the House of Representatives

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

"As reported by the Chairman, I hereby declare that the draft general account budget for fiscal 2007 has been passed."

In the wee hours of last Saturday, the plenary session of the House of Representatives resounded with loud applause. It was the moment that the first draft budget formulated by the Abe Cabinet passed the House of Representatives. I felt relief at having surmounted such an enormous challenge, and then steeled myself for the next challenge. "Now for the House of Councillors."

Had the budget not passed that day, it would have been difficult to execute the budget in the new fiscal year, which would have had a huge impact on the lives of the people of Japan. This circumstance makes the budget's passage all the more significant.

Over the last month, in preparation for the budget deliberations I have been intensively studying the content, principles, background, and detailed data of a broad range of policies. Once the deliberations have started, you never know how the debate will develop, and you cannot lose your focus for even a second.

The questions are extremely wide-ranging, and sometimes have little to do with the budget or policies. Some people have criticized my responses as too long, but I think I was able once again to explain the principles of the Abe Cabinet as clearly and comprehensively as possible. I kept in mind at all times the idea that I was responding not only to the individuals posing the questions but also to each and every citizen of Japan.

The draft budget for FY2007 is a clear expression of the principle that there can be no fiscal consolidation without growth. It provides for well-balanced budget allocations focused on our priorities of strengthening growth potential, helping people to challenge again, countering the declining birthrate, and rebuilding education, while thoroughly cutting expenditure in areas such as personnel costs for civil servants and public works projects. After a total of more than 150 hours of deliberations, the draft budget successfully passed the full House of Representatives. This is quite an achievement.

I got home that day past four o'clock in the morning. It was my longest day of work since I became Prime Minister.

After getting back to the Official Residence in the early morning and taking a brief rest, I went out to see a movie called "Aoki Ohkami" (The Blue Wolf), which depicts the life of Genghis Khan. It is an epic motion picture featuring 27,000 extras, equal to about one percent of the entire population of Mongolia (2.5 million people). The impressive sight of hordes of horsemen racing across Mongolia's vast and magnificent plains swept my sleepiness away entirely.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Mongolia. I met with Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar just recently. Mongolia has withdrawn its candidacy in the 2008 election for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in order to throw its support behind Japan. A number of Mongolian-born wrestlers are in the upper echelons of the sumo rankings in Japan. I hope that the friendship between our two countries continues to develop further.

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi once said, "The prime minister is like a caged bird 24 hours a day." I am now keenly aware of what he meant by that. Nearly every lunchtime and every evening I eat while in a meeting or grab a sandwich while perusing some documents. I have been living this kind of life for five months now, and these days I sometimes feel nostalgic for ordinary barbecue restaurants and ramen shops about town.

After watching the movie I stopped at a ramen shop for first time in ages. It was a hearty meal consisting of ramen noodles in a miso-based pork-stock soup with large chunks of boiled pork floating in it. There was something special about eating noodles after working all night.

Japan-North Korea Working Group discussions began yesterday in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. North Korea has to change its current attitude on the abduction issue and make sincere response to the issue. Discussions with North Korea are by no means easy, but I am determined to expend every effort to obtain results.

[What's New in Government Internet TV]

- Prime Minister's Week in Review (February 19 to 25, 2007)

- JAPAN BRAND The New Wave

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Japan-Bolivia Summit Meeting (March 6, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Mr. Juan Evo Morales Ayma.

- Message from Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, to Mr. Bertie Ahern TD, Taoiseach of Ireland, on the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Ireland (March 5, 2007)

- Prime Minister Meets with the Russian Prime Minister (February 28, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Mr. Mikhail Fradkov, the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

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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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