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Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.24 (March 26, 2009)

"Supporting the realization of dreams"
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Taro AsoProfile Japanese

"Mr. Aso, what dream have you held since you were a child? My dream is to become a pastry chef. I wish you the best of luck with your work."

Last month, I had an opportunity to visit the Shinagawa Elementary School in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, to observe an open class. Mr. Hisaji Imamura, the school principal, recently sent me a collection of essays written by children on their impressions of the visit. The comment above was written by a girl in the second grade.

The essays were contained in two handcrafted booklets, each with a picture of the Diet building and a photograph of the children on the front cover. In the essays, the children wrote their honest comments about the day, including how surprised they were to receive a visit from the Prime Minister. Some children enthusiastically wrote of their dreams for the future, which included such goals as becoming an Olympic athlete or becoming a firefighter.

I observed a sixth grade social studies class. When the teacher unexpectedly called upon me to speak, I explained the structure of the Diet, among other topics. When I read in the essays that my explanation had been comprehensible, I was relieved to know that I had been of assistance.

I also joined the children for school lunch. The lunch box that day included dried seaweed in the shape of a heart -- perhaps because it was Valentine's Day. The lunch both looked good and tasted wonderful, all the more so when I remembered what school lunch was like when I was a child; we used to have things like bread rolls and skim milk.

During class and during lunch, the children were both articulate and well-behaved. When I think that these children will bear Japan's future, I cannot help but hope for their healthy growth.

Every child possesses diverse personal qualities and unlimited potential. In order to make the most of these traits, efforts are being made in Shinagawa Ward to boost the academic abilities of children in accordance with their stage of development. Among other actions, the Ward is utilizing the special zone system to introduce a unified elementary and lower secondary school system and start English-language education from the first grade of elementary school.

Distinctive initiatives are being carried out in other areas of Japan as well, outside of Shinagawa Ward. The visit to the school reinforced my belief that the government must work to provide all children with a good education.

We must cultivate human resources so that the people of Japan are prepared to act on the stage of the international community. We must also provide high-quality public education, through such efforts as the improvement of educational facilities. It is our duty to build a society in which our children's dreams can come true.

The graduation ceremony for the sixth graders of the Shinagawa Elementary School was held the day before yesterday. I was unable to attend, but I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to them. I would like to repeat something here that I wrote for the children when I visited them: act with cheerfulness, honesty, righteousness, and strength. I offer these words to the graduates, with the hope that each of them will be able to realize his or her dream.

The day before yesterday also marked exactly six months since I assumed the office of Prime Minister.

During the past half year, I have grappled head on with the unprecedented global economic crisis, with my policy centering on the "three-stage rocket" of economic countermeasures. Over the past six months, I made an all-out effort on countermeasures for the revival of business activity and economic countermeasures.

The fiscal 2009 budget and related bills -- the third stage of the rocket -- will enter into the final stage of deliberations tomorrow. The people are being put through a lot; they have anxiety over employment and are facing a sharp decline in their workloads. I will continue to do my utmost to help the economy recover as soon as possible.

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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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