Aso Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.38 (July 9, 2009)
"At the G8 L'Aquila Summit"
I once again became keenly aware of the severity of the damage when I saw the earthquake-stricken region with my own eyes. Japan is one of the countries that are most prone to earthquakes. I conveyed to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Mayor Massimo Cialente a variety of measures for cooperation which apply Japan's experience and know-how to help the stricken area recover as soon as possible and enable the victims to return to their normal lives. I cannot help but hope that this G8 Summit should serve as a trigger for reconstruction.
At tonight's G8 working dinner, we plan to discuss issues in international politics. For its part, Japan intends to call for the G8 to strongly condemn missile launches and nuclear development by North Korea and to send a strong message to the nation, urging for concrete action for resolution.
The missile launches last week constitute a serious act of provocation to the security of the international community. They are in clear contravention of a United Nations Security Council resolution and are absolutely unacceptable.
In response to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, we have submitted a bill on special measures for cargo inspection to the Diet after Cabinet approval, in order to authorize cargo inspection for the prevention of the import and export of weapons by North Korea. Japan will continue to reinforce pressure on North Korea and measures against the country in full cooperation with the international community.
Prior to the G8 Summit, I visited the Vatican and had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. There are 1.1 billion followers of the Catholic faith worldwide. Enhancing relations with the Vatican therefore will lead to diplomatic strength.
My grandfather, Shigeru Yoshida, was the first Japanese Prime Minister to have an audience with the Pope after World War II. I am also Catholic myself. Meeting with the Pope gave me a renewed sense of determination.
The 1st Leaders' Summit, held in Rambouillet, France in 1975 was triggered by the first oil crisis which had a serious impact on the global economy.
The gravity of economic issues remains unchanged for this, the 35th Leaders' Summit in L'Aquila. Overcoming the global financial and economic crisis, which has occurred since the second half of last year, is a major subject on the agenda of this year's G8 Summit.
Thanks to the exhaustive efforts of each country and the implementation of countermeasures in a concentrated manner, the silver lining is coming into view bit by bit. The global economy is starting to show signs of partial recovery.
In Japan too, industrial production has shown significant growth for three months running since March this year. Beginning with the fixed-sum stipend, tax reductions for eco-cars and the introduction of eco-points for energy-saving home appliances have started to demonstrate effects supporting domestic consumption. Stock prices have also risen by approximately 30-40 percent.
Yet the situation remains serious in areas such as employment. The G8 has agreed that we will continue to do our utmost in economic countermeasures and report on the results at a summit on financial markets and the world economy in Pittsburgh in September.
The G8 Summit will soon reach its climax. As a representative of Japan, and of Asia, I will actively lead discussion for the resolution of various issues facing the international community.
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