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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.30 (May 24, 2007) ============================================================

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

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

Education Makes the Man

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

A shooting and hostage standoff incident occurred last week in Nagakute Town in Aichi Prefecture, taking the life of a police officer. I am deeply grieved that this young man, who had his whole life before him, was killed in the line of duty while working to resolve the incident. I sincerely pray that his soul will rest in peace. I am firmly determined to do everything in my power to eliminate violence and eradicate the illegal possession and use of firearms in this country.

The top priority task of the Abe Cabinet is to rebuild the educational system. On several occasions I have shared my vision for education with you in this e-mail magazine. At the end of last year, the Fundamental Law of Education was amended for the first time in the 60 years since its establishment, and the Government in response has submitted three bills to the Diet in order to establish concrete steps for implementing the law.

Experts today often call attention to declines in children's morals and in their desire to learn. Bullying in the school setting has become a serious issue, and it has also come to light that compulsory school curriculum requirements have not been met in all cases. Schools and boards of education have been unable to respond appropriately to these issues, and the Government, which bears responsibility for securing the lives and safety of our children and safeguarding their right to receive an education, must reflect gravely on this situation.

It is often said that "education makes the man." Whether or not children encounter good teachers exerts profound and long-term effects on the course of their lives. I personally count myself as blessed to have been taught by many wonderful teachers from my elementary school days right through university.

I acknowledge the many outstanding educators who are making determined efforts. However, it is also a fact that some teachers are unsuited to or incompetent at their profession. The existing system guarantees teachers their jobs for their entire life and allows them to continue teaching regardless of their aptitude. Is such a system really the right one, considering the rapid changes in the times and advances in technology?

What I would like to see is for teachers to engage in education with confidence and pride. I want them to teach with a sense of responsibility and intensity, never shirking the need for constant self-improvement.

One of the three bills submitted to the Diet would require teachers to receive training once every ten years so that they acquire new skills. Those teachers unsuited to teach under any circumstances would retire from teaching. I am convinced that such an arrangement will produce better results for the children and also for the teachers themselves.

Meanwhile, there is an increasing burden placed on teachers to handle non-teaching tasks such as administrative and clerical work. It must be tough for teachers to concentrate on teaching and guiding children while they are so busy. Clerical work in our schools must be processed efficiently in order to secure and increase the amount of time teachers spend in contact with their students.

Novice and veteran teachers hold equal positions in schools. I think that many problems could be overcome if responsibilities were assigned in a way so that the more experienced could mentor the less experienced. This would allow schools to harness their intrinsic functions as organizations.

I will see to it that education is supported through organizational strength. Enabling the creation of positions for senior teachers and supervising teachers in school is one way to develop such an environment.

The purposes of the three education bills are to build organizations at the education site that can develop the talents of all children while squarely tackling issues such as bullying, and to establish a system that enables the Government to carry out its responsibilities in the field of education.

"People need to recognize that precious things exist within them."

These are words of the 19th century scholar Shoin Yoshida, a man whom I respect deeply. He said that each of us possesses something wonderful, and we each have to discover and acknowledge this quality within ourselves.

When people come to recognize that they too possess something of excellence, this becomes a source of self-respect and it even leads to self-control. It is my sincere wish that all children will come into contact with teachers who discover and recognize the individual talents of their students.

Neglecting or abandoning children who have trouble or find it difficult to keep up with lessons at school is absolutely unacceptable.

Schools are not the only players in education; families and local communities are stakeholders also. What is important is that education be rebuilt by society as a whole with each party involved considering the education issue their own. I am resolved to carry out my responsibility to open up a new era in education and guarantee every child in the country the opportunity to acquire a strong sense of discipline and high academic capability.

[What's New in Government Internet TV]

- Akihabara - Hobbyist's Paradise

- Prime Minister's Week in Review (May 7 to 13, 2007)

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Japan-Malaysia Summit Meeting (May 22, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe said, "I would like to visit Malaysia in August to promote further development of our bilateral relations."

- Prime Minister Receives the Score of a Song for the Campaign against Drug Abuse (May 21, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe said, "As songs have no national boundaries, I would like to expand the circle of people fighting against drug abuse globally, with songs playing a central role."

- 1st Meeting of the Council on Reconstruction of a Legal Basis for Security (May 18, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe attended the 1st meeting of the Council on Reconstruction of a Legal Basis for Security.

- Headquarters for Promoting the Welfare of Disabled Persons (May 17, 2007)
Prime Minister Abe asked further effort for bringing about "a society where everyone, with or without disability, can lead a comfortable life without anxiety in their own home community."

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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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