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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.38 (July 19, 2007) ============================================================

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

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese


The Weight of Responsibility


Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

The activities of the third-party committee are now fully under way to respond to the pension record problems. Last week, the committee determined that pension records need to be corrected in 15 cases -- cases in which the Social Insurance Agency has no record of pension contributions and in which pension subscribers have no receipts or other documentation to verify their payments.

In this way, the path has been set to enable the provision of pension payments to those who are rightfully entitled to receive them.

The 50 regional third-party committees nationwide have begun accepting applications from the public. As I have been promising, the Government will resolve the problems, step by step, from the standpoint of the people.

Over the past week, natural disasters wreaked havoc in Japan, which was hit by Typhoon No. 4 and an earthquake that occurred off the coast of the Chuetsu region centered on Niigata Prefecture. I would like to offer my sincerest prayers for the people who lost their lives in these disasters. I also wish to extend my deepest sympathy to all those affected.

In the wake of these disasters I am even more keenly aware of my responsibility as the head of the administrative branch to protect the lives and wellbeing of the people of Japan.

Typhoon No. 4 was the largest typhoon ever to occur in Japan in the month of July. Though the Government had strived diligently to issue related warnings, the typhoon, overlapping with the heavy rains brought by a seasonal front, caused extensive damage.

It was the day after the passage of the typhoon, when I was in Nagasaki for the election campaign, that I was informed of the devastating earthquake in Niigata.

It was just this past February that I visited Nagaoka City in Niigata Prefecture, which had only three years ago sustained damage from a large earthquake, and now this one again in Niigata. In my mind's eye I still have a vivid picture of the people living uncomfortably in temporary housing units.

I returned to Tokyo from Nagasaki and then immediately headed to Kashiwazaki City. I saw for myself the extent of the serious damage, such as collapsed tiled-roof houses and cracked or undulating asphalt roads.

"I have no choice but to stay here. My house was completely destroyed."

Such were the words spoken to me at a gymnasium that is serving as an evacuation center. There, I listened to people who lost their homes speak painfully about their experiences. Even during these conversations I felt a large aftershock. For many people I believe each jolt becomes a reminder of the earthquake, conjuring up a deep sense of fear.

"There isn't enough water." "Will food be brought in?" "Bathrooms aren't easily accessible." "I'm worried about the health of the elderly." The people's anxiety about their future livelihood must be growing bigger and bigger in the hot and humid gymnasium.

Our first and foremost priority is to clear up these anxieties of the people. To this end, the Government as a whole will make efforts in cooperation with the local governments of the stricken areas.

First, the Government is determined to make every effort to provide livelihood assistance, such as food, water and medical care. We will also take all possible measures to ensure lifelines, such as restoration of electricity, gas and running water.

A series of problems have come to light after the earthquake. A fire broke out at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station right after the earthquake, and there was a delay in putting out the fire. There was also a significant delay in the announcement and report to the Government of a leak of water containing radioactive materials by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the power station operator. It's no wonder that the people's anxiety and distrust over the safety of nuclear power keep rising.

Needless to say, ensuring the people's safety is of utmost importance. It is likewise important to fully disclose information to the people harboring anxiety. I have given strict instructions to TEPCO to ensure that it establishes a rigorous system for thoroughly reporting such matters to the Government. Moving forward, we will continue to take every possible step.

My responsibility is to protect the lives and wellbeing of the people of Japan, as well as to ensure the people's safety.

I will steadily advance all possible measures, one by one, to fulfill the grave responsibility entrusted to me as Prime Minister. I am firmly resolved to devote my full efforts to ensuring that the people in the disaster-stricken areas can return to their normal lives as quickly as possible.


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[What's New in Government Internet TV]

- Prime Minister's Week in Review (July 2 to 8, 2007)
http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/prg/prg1267.html

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[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Prime Minister Visits the Site Affected by the Niigataken Chuetsu-oki Earthquake in 2007 (July 16, 2007)
http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/abephoto/2007/07/16jisin_e.html
Prime Minister Abe observed the extent of the damage at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station, and visited an elementary school where people are taking refuge.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan


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