Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.43 (August 14, 2008) ============================================================
"Listen to the voices of the unheard. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
The Beijing Olympic Games commenced. I am sure a lot of Japanese people are following on TV the various contests that excite us day after day without having to forsake a good night's sleep, given the small time difference -- which was not the case with the 2004 Athens Olympics -- between Beijing and Japan.
The showing of the Japanese team in Beijing has been truly excellent, and has included swimmer Kosuke Kitajima's gold medal and new world record.
"As a mother, I could not have met this challenge without the understanding of my husband and the support of my family, the good cheer of my son. I am filled with feelings of sincere gratitude toward them."
With these words, judo practitioner Ryoko Tani, the first Japanese medalist at this year's Olympics, expressed her thanks to her family at a press conference.
Mrs. Tani is the mother of a two-year-old child. She spent a period away from judo because of the birth of her child. Since then, she must have made truly extraordinary efforts to brush off that break and maintain her world-class ability, balancing her training with child raising.
More than anything, such an accomplishment would have been impossible without the support of the people around her, beginning with her family.
"Without a single complaint Ryoko commits to training sessions, despite being pressed by the demands of a life centered on raising a child. I am just one of the many who must be inspired by her. The color of the medal may differ from the one she set out to win, but it glitters golden to me."
This comment from her husband attests to how Mrs. Tani's balancing of training and raising a child gives encouragement to the people around her, beginning with her family, who give her their support. It gives me a sense of the depth of the mutually-supportive family ties she enjoys.
I talked over the phone with judo practitioner Masato Uchishiba, Japan's first gold medalist in Beijing. He told me that the gold medal is "a good present" for his son. For Mr. Uchishiba as well, family support must have been a huge source of encouragement.
The Olympics provide excitement by giving us the chance to follow world-class athletes as they compete at the highest level. At the same time, the Games are an opportunity to remind ourselves of the importance of the family ties that are in the background of the spectacle.
The athletes who are competing at the Olympics as the representatives of Japan have been hearing the voices of the people cheering them on at the venues. But on top of this, the cheers of people following the Games in Japan, including of people they have never met or heard of, must also be reaching them.
There are times when I think that the feelings of many people are voiced by those who are not heard. So I ask myself, how can I listen to the voices of the unheard and how can I respond to such voices? I feel I have to use all my concentration in order to listen to their voices.
On Monday, we compiled an outline of the Comprehensive Measures for Bringing About Peace of Mind so as to respond to the rising prices and the economic downturn that are having a profound impact on the nation's economy. As I mentioned in last week's issue of this e-mail magazine, we will firmly implement effective measures to address the issues we face, including global warming and the worldwide surges in the prices of crude oil and foods.
We will draw up an overall picture of these comprehensive measures at the earliest possible juncture and do our very best to implement them without delay.
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