Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.24 (April 5, 2007) ============================================================
"Hello, this is Shinzo Abe" -- Message from the Prime Minister
This is a poem written by Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801).
The cherry trees on the grounds of my office are now in full bloom. The cherry blossom is a symbol of the beauty of Japan, and the deep affection of Japanese for cherry blossoms has remained unchanged since time immemorial.
Last week I met former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Mr. Kissinger told me that although he had visited Japan many times in the past, this was his first trip during the cherry blossom season. He also shared with me that every year he looks forward to the cherry blossoms coming into bloom in Washington, D.C.
A great many cherry trees are planted on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, and a cherry blossom festival is held every year during this season, attracting crowds of people from all across the United States.
Washington's cherry trees were officially presented to the United States in the Meiji Era as a gesture of friendship between the two countries by Yukio Ozaki, who was then Mayor of Tokyo. For roughly a century, ever since those 3,000 seedlings crossed the Pacific Ocean, the cherry blossoms in Washington have continued to present this aspect of Japanese beauty to the American people.
I imagine that Japanese people who have traveled the long way to the United States through the years must have been struck by the beauty of the cherry blossoms in full bloom, and felt proud anew to be Japanese.
The blossoming of the cherry trees is the quintessential sign that spring has arrived. This is the season when many people, hopes and dreams in hand, make a new start in their lives, whether it be entering a new school or starting new lives as adults. This year in particular, it is also the spring when baby-boomers are beginning to reach retirement age and start new lives.
Many fresh recruits have joined the Government as well, fired up with ambition as they embark upon their lives as civil servants.
Major reform is under way concerning the roles that civil servants should be playing, and the public's view of civil servants has become more severe. Under these circumstances, in an address yesterday I offered advice to the members of the civil service, urging them to be keenly aware of the "new image of the national civil servant." Specifically I told them, "I want you to be civil servants who care most about what is actually going on where policies are carried out. I want you to act on and practice your ideas."
To all those who are joining us as civil servants at this point in time, I strongly hope that you will take on your duties with the courage to open up a new era.
I myself began my career as a politician at a major turning point, when the two-party "1955 System" was reaching its end. This was when the Liberal Democratic Party handed over the reins of power it had held for 38 years. Although the party returned to power a year later, it was because I started my life in the world of politics during this time of historic change that I learned many things.
Do not settle for the existing system.
I would like to send these words of encouragement to all those who, amidst the cherry blossoms in full bloom, are about to take up new challenges in a new environment.
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