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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.28 (May 10, 2007) ============================================================

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

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

Visit to the United States and Five Middle East Countries

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

Between April 26 and May 3, I visited the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt.

In the previous edition of this e-mail magazine, sent out on the day of my departure, I mentioned my feelings toward the upcoming meeting with President Bush. I am pleased to report in this week's edition that President Bush and I were able to deepen our friendship and trust -- in fact, we are now on a first-name basis, calling each other "George" and "Shinzo."

My wife Akie and I were able to enjoy dinner with the First Lady and President Bush, and the President and I also held a summit meeting at Camp David, the presidential retreat that has featured so prominently in history on so many occasions. There was also a luncheon that featured that quintessentially American fare, a large cheeseburger.

Over the course of my two days in the United States, the President and I spent a total of six hours in talks. We were able to converse at length in a relaxed atmosphere and our discussions covered a wide range of topics. We discussed our views on diplomacy, North Korean issues, the economy, as well as energy and the environment. We even chatted about the outstanding performance of Japanese baseball players in the Major League.

When we were invited to dinner, the First Lady and President Bush gave us a tour of the private quarters of the White House. They showed us some furniture presented by Japan and sent back by Commodore Matthew Perry. I felt a surge of emotion when I realized that this furniture had watched over the progress of Japan-U.S. relations for over 150 years, from the last years of the Tokugawa Shogunate to now.

Dialogue with the U.S. Congress is also extremely important. I had talks with the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives across party lines, and we were in complete agreement on the importance of further strengthening the Japan-U.S. Alliance and of Japan and the United States working together to tackle global issues.

Both President Bush and the leaders of Congress voiced their agreement over broadening and deepening advances in the irreplaceable Japan-U.S. Alliance, building on our unshakeable partnership. I regard this as a significant outcome of my U.S. visit.

The Middle East is also a vitally important region to Japan. Not only does most of Japan's oil imports come from the Middle East, but peace and stability in the region are essential to the stability and development of the whole international community.

The countries of the Middle East are gripped by a sense of crisis over the reliance of their economies on energy alone, and they are placing great emphasis on human resources development and education with a view to the future. People in the UAE greatly admire Japanese education and are very keen for their children to attend the Japanese school there. Qatar is also trying to introduce Japanese-style education. Building multi-layered relations between Japan and the Middle East in areas such as culture, education and industry that go beyond the traditional relations centering on trade in oil will benefit the development of both sides.

During my visit to the Middle East I was accompanied by an unprecedented total of 180 Japanese businesspersons from not only the energy industry, but also a wide range of other industries, including information technology and finance.

Both my concept of shaping a "New Era of Japan and Middle East Relations" and the Japanese business world's strong interest in the Middle East were supported and welcomed in the countries I visited, and I sensed the magnitude of the region's expectations of Japan. I am confident that this approach will provide the spark to diversify and deepen the relationship between Japan and the countries of the Middle East.

I was amazed to see the progress in highway construction made in Saudi Arabia since my last visit three years ago, as well as the vitality of the UAE and of Qatar, where I saw many skyscrapers under construction. In Dubai I attended a luncheon at a hotel built in the shape of a sail rising 321 meters above ground level, the tallest hotel in the world. I was able to gaze out across the emerald blue sea and survey the gulf coast city with its flourishing development.

In Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, I gave my encouragement to the members of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) engaged in overseas activities.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) is carrying out fuel supply operations in the Indian Ocean for foreign vessels as an anti-terrorism measure. The Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) is involved in transportation duties to Iraq. As I watched our officers and others going about their duties energetically and in perfect order, their morale and discipline clear to see, I knew we were depending on the right people.

The unrelenting efforts of each and every member of the SDF working in the field overseas have earned Japan much esteem in the international community. The SDF members carrying out difficult duties in harsh environments far from their families and loved ones have my very deepest respect.

It was a whirlwind eight-day itinerary, with five nights spent on the ground and three nights on board an aircraft, but it was an extremely fruitful trip.

With the feeling of accomplishment from my visit to sustain me, I will put my every effort into the Diet deliberations on important bills and other domestic and international tasks that await me ahead.

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[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Prime Minister Visits the United States and the Middle East (the Arab Republic of Egypt) (May 2, 2007)
After being welcomed at Cairo International Airport, Prime Minister Abe held talks with Mr. Mohammad Hosny Mubarak, the President of Egypt, at one of the Presidential Palaces.

- Prime Minister Visits the United States and the Middle East (the State of Qatar) (May 1, 2007)
The Press Statement between Qatar and Japan noted the decision of the two sides to launch informal talks to start bilateral investment agreement negotiations.

- Prime Minister Visits the United States and the Middle East (the State of Kuwait) (April 30 to May 1, 2007)
Upon arrival in the capital city, Kuwait, Prime Minister Abe received a welcome ceremony at the airport.

- Prime Minister Visits the United States and the Middle East (the United Arab Emirates) (April 29 to April 30, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe held talks with His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, at Mushrif Palace.

- Prime Minister Visits the United States and the Middle East (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) (April 28, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe said, "I would like to make further efforts to build a multilayered relationship."

- Prime Minister Visits the United States and the Middle East (the United States) (April 26 to April 27, 2007)
On the morning of April 27, Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with President Bush at Camp David.

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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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