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Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.22 (March 12, 2009)

"Readers' questions"
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Taro AsoProfile Japanese

"Your mother is alive. Don't give up hope."

These were the words spoken in Japanese by former North Korean agent Kim Hyon-hui when she met yesterday with Mr. Shigeo Iizuka and Mr. Koichiro Iizuka, the brother and eldest son of Ms. Yaeko Taguchi, the abduction victim who is said to have taught Ms. Kim Hyon-hui the Japanese language. The image of Mr. Koichiro Iizuka embracing Ms. Kim Hyon-hui was truly moving.

I am really glad that the wish of Messrs. Iizuka, who have long sought a meeting with Ms. Kim, has come true. I wish to express my gratitude for the cooperation of the government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and all those involved.

The abduction issue is one of national sovereignty. I will continue to tackle this to the best of my ability, with the determination to do everything I can for the immediate return of all abduction victims.

This week, I would like to respond to some of the questions from readers. Since the launch of the Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine, I have received a large number of questions on government policies, politics, my health, and so on. I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a few of them.

"Mr. Aso, what do you think your role is within the overall political trend of Japan? What are you inheriting from your predecessors, and how do you intend to pass this on to your successors?"

My mission is to defend people's daily lives, to restore our confidence and pride as Japanese, and to build a dynamic Japan.

Since the dawn of history, Japan has maintained its unbroken tradition. As an integrated state, we have strenuously walked a path of independence. Even when faced with crises, we have overcome them, and turned them into phenomenal successes. This is the essence of Japan's history, and we must uphold this magnificent tradition.

It is we who created the prosperous and safe Japan of today; and it is we who will build a future for Japan. I will guard our good tradition, and help it to grow. To do so, I will reform what must be reformed.

I believe it is my fate to have become Prime Minister, to face the current financial crisis stemming from the United States, said to occur only once in a century.

We should never be pessimistic. I am certain that Japan excels in its strength to resolve, with wisdom and technology, the issues that the world must address, such as global environmental issues.

I will take this once-in-a-century crisis as a one-in-a-million opportunity, and use all my might to accomplish my mission. Let us all work together, and do our best to return Japan to a nation that is both positive and strong.

"What is it like living at the official residence, now that you have moved there?"

When I came to see the residence with my family before moving in, none of the furniture was in place, so it seemed rather cold and lifeless. My first impression was that it was like a model room.

My houses in Tokyo's Shibuya and in Kyushu were old and drafty. This was good in the summer, but in the winter they were terribly cold. When I moved to the official residence, I found it airtight and unexpectedly warm. Since I am very sensitive to the cold, this was a nice surprise.

My wife brought chairs and accessories with her, and bought extra items. She has been working hard to make it a more comfortable place to live.

I have now started to understand the expression "home is where the heart is."

"I think you look tired since becoming Prime Minister. How much weight have you lost since you came to the position?"

Recently, I have received a lot of messages from readers of the e-mail magazine, asking if I had lost weight and encouraging me to take good care of my health. I am truly grateful for everyone's thoughtfulness.

My weight has not changed since assuming the office of Prime Minister. My body fat is still around 15 to 16%. Every day I eat well and sleep well. Since becoming Prime Minister, I have begun to take brisk walks in order to relieve my fatigue after mentally exhausting work. I walk for between 30 and 40 minutes, roughly once every two days.

I lead an orderly lifestyle. In addition to stretching, I do exercises such as sit-ups, back exercises, and push-ups, about 50 of each every day. My waist has even become 2.5cm smaller, thanks to my increased exercise.

I am in good condition, both mentally and physically. Deliberations on the budgets and related bills are continuing daily in the Diet. Their passage will constitute the best possible economic countermeasures. I will make my utmost efforts to implement, as soon as possible, measures for Japan to be the first country to emerge from the recession.

I continue to look forward to hearing your questions and opinions.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Taro Aso
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jun Matsumoto
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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