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Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.19 (February 21, 2008) ============================================================

"No effort spared on the search. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Yasuo FukudaProfile Japanese

No effort spared on the search. This is Yasuo Fukuda.

The day before yesterday, an accident occurred in the waters off the coast of the Boso Peninsula, when an Aegis system-equipped destroyer of the Maritime Self-Defense Force collided with a fishing vessel.

Above all else my hopes are for the safety of Mr. Haruo Kichisei and his son Tetsuhiro, who were aboard the fishing vessel. The search for them is continuing night and day, not only by the Self-Defense Forces, the Japan Coast Guard, and the Fisheries Agency, but also with the cooperation of many fishing vessels.

My thoughts go out to the Kichisei family and their friends, who are deeply concerned for their loved ones out in the cold winter sea. No words can describe their anxiety. I want to assure them all that we are doing everything that can possibly be done to rescue the father and son as soon as possible.

I wonder if it really was impossible to prevent this accident from occurring. Was it really impossible to find the two men immediately after the collision? No matter what exactly occurred and no matter how this ends up, the fact that the Self-Defense Forces, who are charged with protecting the lives of the people, were involved in such an accident is deeply regrettable.

At any rate, the fact that a vessel of the Self-Defense Forces, who are expected to constantly be prepared to deal with any emergency situation that may arise, actually collided with a fishing vessel can only mean that they did not maintain a sufficient level of alertness.

A thorough investigation will be made to identify the cause of this accident and to ascertain the actual facts of what took place. Based on the results of that investigation, we must implement a structure that ensures that such an accident can never again occur.

Moreover, there was a significant delay in the transmission of information about this accident, with the Defense Minister not receiving a report for approximately 90 minutes.

Similarly, in the incident of toxic substances being mixed in with frozen dumplings made in China, we saw the problem of a delay in transmitting information. We must not allow internal issues within the administrative structure, such as the over-compartmentalized organization of the bureaucracy, to result in life-threatening delays of information.

In particular, the fact that there was a delay in the Self-Defense Forces, where a high degree of discipline is required, in communicating information about such a serious accident can only be described as indicative of the lack of a crisis management mentality. Minister of Defense Shigeru Ishiba immediately implemented a review of modalities for conveying information, and I believe there is a need to strive toward its thorough implementation as we go forward.

Each and every employee of the Ministry of Defense and every single member of the Self-Defense Forces must take to heart the anger of the people that is being directed at the Ministry of Defense. Without the trust of the people, they cannot be entrusted with the defense of our nation.

Clearly, our top priority right now is to focus all of our efforts on the search for Mr. Kichisei and his son. At the same time, we must learn what we can from this accident and fully clarify all of the problems that must be addressed in the organization of the Ministry of Defense in order to reform it into a structure that is truly worthy of the trust of the people of Japan.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matushige Oono
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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