Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.31 (May 15, 2008) ============================================================
"A friend in need is a friend indeed. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
The cyclone that struck Myanmar has wrought enormous damage and has taken more than 20,000 lives. I understand that a great many people have had to take refuge.
The earthquake that occurred in Sichuan Province has already claimed more than 10,000 lives. Many buildings have been destroyed and more than 20,000 people are still missing. My heart grieves each time I see a local report and learn of the plight of the many children who are buried under the debris of their collapsed school and are suffering so greatly.
I understand that strenuous rescue efforts are being made on the ground in the afflicted areas. For our part, Japan has already provided initial assistance in kind, including tents, to both countries. I have informed the governments of both nations that Japan will continue to provide whatever assistance it can.
At times of large-scale disasters, cooperation through personnel assistance is also important. Japan has, furthermore, informed both governments that it is ready to proactively provide personnel assistance upon request, including the dispatch of emergency medical teams.
When the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake hit Japan, countries from around the world made offers to provide assistance to our country. Damage inflicted by natural disasters is not "somebody else's problem." A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Even after the rescue operations have finished, both countries will face a long road to recovery from the effects of the disasters: there will be much work to do to safeguard the lives of the many people afflicted by these disasters and to reconstruct the stricken areas. Japan will provide as much cooperation as it can, together with the international community.
A while back, I promised that revenue sources earmarked for roads will be reallocated to the revenues used for general purposes from the next fiscal year, so that they may be available for various policies other than those for roads, including the enhancement of medical services and countermeasures against the declining birthrate. This policy has already been adopted by the Government and the ruling parties, and it was reaffirmed through a Cabinet decision on May 13.
Going forward, I will launch discussion on how to make use of the reallocated revenues as we consider what is really necessary from the perspective of the people. I will advance work to clearly specify the details of the reallocation, including necessary legal revisions.
I certainly hope that the members of the opposition parties will come on board, so that we can formulate an even better structure for the reallocation.
The system of earmarking revenue sources for roads has been maintained for more than half a century. Still, I can assure you that the Government and the ruling parties will make their utmost efforts to abolish the system from the next fiscal year and reallocate revenue sources for roads to the revenues used for general purposes, just as I promised.
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