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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 161 (October 28, 2004)

[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile

Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake and a Japanese national taken hostage in Iraq

Junichiro Koizumi here.

The earthquake in the Chuetsu region of Niigata Prefecture that occurred on October 23 caused unbelievable destruction and brought great misery upon us. As I visited the site on October 26, I saw many people who were suddenly robbed of their homes, others who had lost their loved ones and many more who were at an utter loss, unable to return to their homes with aftershocks still looming.

I offer my sincere condolences for those who lost their lives in this disaster. My heartfelt encouragement goes out also to all the people still suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake.

I witnessed with my own eyes the massive cracks in the ground, collapsed roads and remains of trees unnaturally unearthed by landslides. I also met the people afflicted by the earthquake, who are now forced to take shelter at gymnasiums, in tents and even inside their cars. They voiced many concerns about insufficient food supply, lack of blankets to keep warm from the steadily approaching winter, the need for counseling and adequate toilet facilities.

The local organizations and the government will work together in assisting those affected by the disaster. We must consider how to respond to their needs and concerns.

At the same time, volunteers were sweating away to help the local residents in need. I also spotted student volunteers among the adults providing a helping hand. One person who had suffered great damage from this earthquake said to me, "Being helped by volunteers my child's age has been a tremendous encouragement. We have to get back on our feet again."

No doubt, not only those affected by the disaster, but people in the local government in charge of disaster prevention must also be very weary from the countless hours of effort to assist those in need. Some have even worked themselves to the point of exhaustion. Considering that there are people in charge of disaster prevention at local governments across the country, I will find a way to bring them together so that they can come to each other's aid.

Listening to all the various opinions and requests and thinking carefully about what we can do to help the people, I will do everything to come up with a precise disaster response.

Typhoon No. 23 that struck Japan last week left deep marks in various regions in Japan. Yesterday, on the morning of October 27, I flew to Toyooka City in Hyogo Prefecture to size up the condition of the damage. I saw muddy houses and a bag manufacturing factory which had been flooded by water that almost immersed the entire first floor. This terrible situation persists even one week later. Things that have been soaked through with water cannot be used, and water-soaked machines at factories can no longer fulfill their function. The damage caused by the typhoon and earthquake are both terrible and such disasters must each be comprehensively addressed.

Early in the morning yesterday, a Japanese national was taken hostage by an armed group in Iraq. I have already explained my stance on this a number of times in this e-mail magazine, but let me repeat myself. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces in Iraq are conducting humanitarian and reconstruction assistance activities for the Iraqi people. I have no intention to terminate their activities.

The act of taking hostage an innocent Japanese national in Iraq is nothing but an act of terrorism and must not be tolerated. I demand the immediate return of the hostage and will work relentlessly to get the hostage back by calling for cooperation from the countries around the world as well as from the Iraqi people, who understand Japan's good intentions.

Yesterday evening, I invited the athletes who performed magnificently at the Paralympic Games in Athens to my office to congratulate them on their achievements. The Japanese athletes won a record 52 medals. Medalist or not, I caught glimpses of refreshed smiles on the athletes' faces brimming with a sense of fulfillment from the severe trainings they had endured and from having demonstrated their best at the games.

Taking those smiles of the athletes to heart, I will vigorously advance the reforms without losing faith, despite any and all difficulties I may face.

* 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.

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Prime Minister Koizumi Honors the Japanese Paralympic Team (October 27, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi commended the Japanese Paralympic team which won a record 52 medals in the history of Japanese participation.

- Prime Minister Koizumi Visits Disaster Site of Typhoon No. 23 (October 27, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi examined the condition of the damage and encouraged the residents in Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture.

- Prime Minister Koizumi Visits the Disaster Site of Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu (Central Niigata Prefecture) Earthquake (October 26, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi made observations of the disaster areas and visited the high school and civic gymnasium where many residents have evacuated to and are taking refuge.

- Japan-Hungary Summit Meeting (October 25, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Ferenc Gyurcsany, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary and signed a Joint Statement.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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