Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 138
(April 22, 2004 - May 6, 2004)
* Combined issue due to the Japanese "Golden Week" holidays.
Next issue will be delivered on May 13(Japan Time).
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
"It is the wild cherry blossoms glowing in the morning sun"
I am happy that we were able to secure the release of all five Japanese nationals who had been held hostage in Iraq. The family members of the hostages must have been beside themselves with worry, and I can only imagine how relieved they now must be.
Since the news of the abduction of Japanese nationals first emerged, the government has employed all means in its power to secure the safe release of our people; three in the first case, and two in the second. I give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked so hard to achieve their safe release and for the support and cooperation of the many countries from all over the world, particularly to the Iraqi clerics.
The hostage situation presented us with a great challenge, in that we had to seek the safe release of the hostages, while not bending to the demands of the captors.
Given the current situation in Iraq, I cannot stress enough the importance of people realizing that, whatever their good intentions in going to Iraq may be, if they were to be captured it would create a great deal of anxiety and trouble for many other people.
During the course of this incident, I received messages from many of you "praying for the safe release of the hostages," as well as opinions that, "the government should ban travel to Iraq altogether."
It is a known fact that the Constitution of our nation protects the right of the Japanese citizens to choose their own residence or destination of travel. Currently, the government cannot forbid Japanese citizens to enter Iraq or to order them to leave that country. All it can do is issue a warning advising against entering a dangerous region such as Iraq.
Since February of last year, the government has issued many warnings, 14 of them this year alone, urging our nationals to stay away from Iraq and asking those inside the country to leave. I would ask all the Japanese people to take such warnings issued by the government with due seriousness.
There are people who have not responded to this appeal of the government and persist in entering or remaining in Iraq. I would strongly urge them to reconsider their positions.
This hostage taking has not undermined Japan's firm resolve to engage in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq. It is precisely because the situation in Iraq makes the activities of ordinary individuals impossible that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have been dispatched to engage in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance in Iraq.
The main player of the reconstruction of a new Iraq is not the United States, nor is it the United Nations. It is none other than the Iraqi people themselves. For this, the people of Iraq must find within themselves the strength to overcome conflicting opinions and pull together as one in the endeavor of rebuilding their own country themselves.
I want to emphasize the importance of the world coming together in international cooperation for the development of Iraq. By this, I mean not only the US but also the UN and other forms of international cooperation including countries such as France and Germany.
Countries all around the world are ready and willing to extend the hand of cooperation for the reconstruction of Iraq, and nothing would be better than for the Iraqi people to make use of this opportunity that is before them and see it result in a new Iraq.
Japan will continue to provide cooperation in all areas possible for the reconstruction of Iraq as a stable, democratic country by the hands of its own people.
I hosted the annual cherry blossom viewing party in the morning last Saturday at the Shinjuku Gyoen, a park in central Tokyo. It was too late for me to get a glimpse of the someiyoshino*1 but I could enjoy the spectacle of the wild cherry trees and double-petal cherry trees in full bloom.
Norinaga Motoori, a scholar of Japanese classical studies of the Edo Period read a poem in praise of the beautiful cherry blossom:
"If asked about the soul of Japan, it is the wild cherry blossoms glowing in the morning sun."
For poems on cherry blossoms, I also enjoy one by Saigyo-hoshi:
"But that I could die under the cherry blossoms in the glow of a spring full moon."
The Koizumi Cabinet will soon enter its fourth year. While the past three years have been intense and pressured, no matter what the weather, I will keep the idea of 'the wild cherry blossoms glowing in the morning sun' close to my heart at all times, and ceaselessly endeavor in my duties of national administration.
* The title of this column "Lion Heart" is a reference to the Prime Minister's lion-like hairstyle and his unbending determination to advance structural reform.
- Members of the Japan-Russia Eminent Persons' Council Pay Courtesy
Call on Prime Minister (April 21, 2004)
- Japan-Kyrgyz Republic Summit Meeting (April 21, 2004)
- Prime Minister Hosts Cherry Blossom Viewing Party (April 17, 2004)
- Reader's Comment on the e-mail magazine is available only to the subscribers.
- Click here to make comments on administration of Japan.
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