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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 169 (December 24, 2004)
* Next issue will be delivered on January 6, 2005

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

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile

Ringing in the New Year

Junichiro Koizumi here.

Time flies and the year is already drawing to a close. This issue of the e-mail magazine wraps up the year 2004. I am sure that all of you are busy winding down the year at work or studying for entrance exams. With winter now upon us, my sympathy and concern goes out to those people who have had to endure natural disasters this year.

The government is making every effort towards the restoration of areas that were damaged by heavy rains and typhoons, the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake and other disasters that we have suffered this year, and it has also prepared a supplementary budget of 4.7 trillion yen in total, including funds for measures against disasters. The common practice when compiling a supplementary budget has been to increase the issuance of government bonds to build up financial resources, but this time issuance proved not to be necessary, thanks to an increase in tax revenues and the amount saved from the existing budget.

The budget for FY2005 is in the final stages of compilation and will be decided at the Cabinet meeting today. It is a budget committed to reform and one designed to promote structural reform with a sense of speed.

In the FY2005 budget we have advanced expenditure reform without exceptions. The budgets for science and technology and social security are the only areas to have received increases. On the other hand, the budget for public projects has been reduced for the fourth consecutive year, bringing total reductions in this area to 1.9 trillion yen, while at the same time, the budget for the new Mid-Term Defense Program was reduced for the first time, making FY2005 the third year in a row that the defense budget has decreased. Budgetary allocations have also been made for Kansai International Airport and for bullet train projects, but this was realized through reduction in the budget for public projects as a whole after reviewing each budget and tightening the budgets for other public projects.

Thanks to these efforts, we have reduced the amount of general expenditure to below the previous year's level for the first time in three years and the issuance of new government bonds also decreased for the first time in four years. By advancing the reform of special public corporations, we were also able to more than halve the amount of money appropriated for the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program, which used to finance these special public corporations, from 40 trillion yen a decade ago to 17 trillion yen. I am confident that the FY2005 budget is one that is sharp and tailored to fit the needs of the country.

There is a little over a week left of 2004. Reflecting back on the year, I am struck by the issues and challenges that emerged, and that on both the domestic and foreign fronts there was little respite as I worked to face these challenges.

Next year is the year of the rooster. The teachings of Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi refer to a "wooden rooster." He tells us that this phrase is used to evoke an image of a strong fighting rooster, which, as if made of wood, remains unfazed whatever the situation.

One of the grand champion sumo wrestlers of the Showa period Yokozuna Futabayama recorded a marvelous 69 consecutive victories. In failing to attain his 70th consecutive victory, his biggest match, he conceded, "I have yet to reach the level of a wooden rooster."

Although I too cannot become a wooden rooster, I am unwavering in my resolve to vigorously advance reforms.

I wish all of you a very happy New Year.

* 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]

- Ministerial Meeting on Economic Measures (December 20, 2004)
The "Fiscal 2005 Economic Outlook and Basic Stance for Economic and Fiscal Management" was approved at the meeting and then acknowledged at the extraordinary Cabinet meeting.

- Japan-Republic of Korea Summit Meeting (December 17, 2004)
Prime Minister Koizumi and President Roh discussed the promotion of negotiations for the FTA, the issues of North Korea and other topics.

- The Ninth Meeting of the Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters (December 16, 2004)
The action plan for the government to expedite the measures against counterfeit and pirated goods was decided upon at the meeting.

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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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