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Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.29 (April 30 - May 7, 2009)
* Next issue will be delivered on May 14, 2009.

"Safety and peace of mind for the people"
-- Message from the Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Taro AsoProfile Japanese

Since last week, swine influenza infection cases have spread in countries such as Mexico and the United States. The situation is one of international concern. In Mexico, many people have been killed by the disease, and a state of emergency has been declared.

It had been assumed that although swine influenza is caused as a result of viral infection, which causes the symptoms of influenza in pigs, it would not normally infect humans, except in rare cases involving direct contact with pigs.

In the early morning of April 28, Japanese time, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the increase in the number of human-to-human infection cases at the second meeting of the Emergency Committee comprising international experts. It subsequently raised the level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 3 to phase 4.

Faced with this situation, the Japanese government recognized the viral infection from pigs as pandemic influenza and established, at 8 a.m. of April 28, the Headquarters for Countermeasures against Pandemic Influenza. The Headquarters immediately formulated the basic policy of the government's responses and decided to take steps such as further strengthening of frontline measures.

Countermeasures against pandemic influenza constitute an important issue for national crisis management. The government will tackle this issue to its utmost ability, in order to defend the people's safety and ensure their peace of mind.

First, the government, in close collaboration with other countries, will maximize its efforts to collect information on cases of contraction of the disease abroad and on the pandemic influenza. It will endeavor to provide the people with the information in a swift and appropriate manner.

In addition to issuing information on the risk of infection, which recommends postponing travel to Mexico, providing information to Japanese nationals abroad, and supporting their return home, the government will thoroughly implement quarantine and examination at immigration so as to prevent as much as possible the entry into Japan of swine influenza viruses.

For infected individuals visiting Japan from a country where the disease is prevalent and for those who may be infected, legally-based steps are to be taken, segregating them for a short while in the vicinity of the airport or other point of entry.

At the same time, the government will work to obtain the virus strain for the pandemic influenza from abroad and work to develop a vaccine to aid in prevention.

At this point in time, no cases of infected individuals have been reported in Japan. Nevertheless, we will prepare for every eventuality, in case domestic incidence of the disease occurs, and work to provide information to healthcare professionals, while strengthening measures to collect information on the domestic situation. The government will also advance preparations for the establishment of consultation centers and fever clinics at health centers and hospitals.

The effectiveness of drugs such as Tamiflu has been recognized in cases overseas, and Japan has an adequate stockpile of these drugs.

The government's most important responsibility is to defend the people's safety and ensure peace of mind in their daily lives. The government will tackle the issue to the best of its ability by making use of all means available. For your part, I would ask that each of the people respond calmly to the current situation, while remaining vigilant for pandemic influenza.

* Profile of the Prime Minister

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[Prime Minister's Week in Review]
- Central Meeting of the National Spring Traffic Safety Campaign and other topics (April 13 - 19, 2009)

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[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Headquarters for Countermeasures against Pandemic Influenza (April 28, 2009) and others

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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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