Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 155 (September 16, 2004)
*Next issue will be delivered on September 24 (Japan Time)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
Visit to Brazil
On Monday, September 13, I left Tokyo and after a plane journey of twenty-four and a half hours I have finally arrived in Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Brazil is currently home to more than half of the people of Japanese descent living abroad. In actual fact, my own cousin immigated to Sao Paulo 48 years ago, and albeit for a brief time in the city, we had a reunion for the first time in many years.
In Sao Paulo, my first visit was to the site of restoration works to the banks of the Tiete River, which are being undertaken with economic cooperation from Japan. In the afternoon, I traveled first by plane and then by helicopter 350 kilometers north of Sao Paulo to Pradopolis, where I saw the sugarcane fields, orange groves and a sugar refining plant.
This region was one of the first to be settled by immigrants, who in 1908 sailed on the Kasato Maru, the first ship to carry immigrants from Japan, to Santos, a port town close to Sao Paulo. As I viewed the vast expanse of the sugarcane fields from the air, I dropped a bouquet of flowers to commemorate the unimaginable hardships those first immigrants must have experienced. Looking down from the plane, I spied the words "Welcome Prime Minister Koizumi" written in enormous letters on the ground of an athletic field. Although it was not on my schedule, I landed there and received a rapturous welcome from the children and grandchildren of the immigrants, and talked with them about various things.
In Brazil, ethanol extracted from sugarcane is mixed with gasoline and used as fuel for vehicles. We must try and see if this innovation is something that could also work in Japan.
I have also been able to meet and talk with former participants in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, who traveled from Brazil to Japan to teach foreign languages and to take part in international exchange at the regional level. In addition to the former JET participants, I have also met with Japanese business people, whose visit to Brazil coincides with my own, as well as representatives of leading Japanese companies in Brazil. All of these encounters have left me with the real impression that Japan and Brazil are two countries that share a very close relationship.
Next I will be traveling to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, to hold talks with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. I will discuss with him the ways in which we can enhance the friendly and cooperative relations between our two countries.
When speaking of Brazil, the Olympic marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima is someone who springs to mind. Notwithstanding the incident in which he was blocked during the race and finished with a bronze medal despite leading for most of the way, his smiling face at having reached his goal touched and cheered us all.
On Friday, I will travel to Mexico, where I will meet with President Vicente Fox, and sign the Japan-Mexico Economic Partnership Agreement, before moving on to New York next week to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Given the number of difficult issues that exist at home and abroad, this week and next week I will concentrate my efforts and apply myself to various diplomatic issues.
* 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.
- First Day of Prime Minister's Visits to Brazil
(September 14, 2004)
- Twenty-fourth Meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal
Policy (CEFP) (September 10, 2004)
- Thirty-ninth Meeting of the Council for Science and Technology
Policy (September 9, 2004)
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