Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 171 (January 13, 2005)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
Leaders from countries and international organizations around the world assembled in Jakarta, Indonesia last week on January 6 and pledged to provide assistance to countries that have suffered damage from the recent tsunami that struck the shores of the Indian Ocean. The leaders are resolved to stand together and extend aid under the leadership of the United Nations.
Japan has numerous bitter experiences of its own with tsunami. As you all know, the Japanese word "tsunami" is well-known and commonly used in English.
When the Ansei-Nankai earthquake struck what is present-day Hirogawa Town in Wakayama Prefecture over a century and a half ago on December 24, 1854, Hamaguchi Goryo, a member of a powerful family in the area, instinctively realized that a tsunami was coming as he watched the water recede all the way back from the shore immediately after the earthquake. In order to quickly warn the people in the village below and guide them in their escape through the progressively approaching dusk, he set fire to his precious rice field which was ready to be harvested. This anecdote was captured in the short story by Lafcadio Hearn (who later became Japanese and took the name Koizumi Yakumo) and the revised children's version was used in 5th-grade Japanese language textbooks in the 1930s and '40s. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore told me when I met him at the meeting in Jakarta that he had heard of this story.
The Republic of Maldives completed its 15-year long effort to construct levees and embankments around Male Island, where the capital is located, with the aid of Japanese economic cooperation. Thanks to this enhanced protection the island was spared from major damage to houses and other buildings although some flooding did occur.
The damage and pain suffered by the people of the disaster-stricken areas is the pain of Japan itself, as a member of the Asian community. The Japanese government will provide assistance to the maximum extent possible in three ways: physical and financial resources, human resources, and knowledge and expertise on tsunami.
The solidarity of the international community in the face of the immense, unprecedented level of damage caused by the tsunami was achieved without delay with swift implementation of assistance activities. On top of the efforts put forth by the governments of countries and international organizations, what strikes and encourages me most is that people, including children, athletes, companies and organizations around the world, have taken this disaster to heart as their own problem and extended a helping hand.
I made a trip to the Kansai region on January 7 and 8. I took a tour around manufacturing sites equipped with Japan's latest technologies, which remain a key factor to Japan's economic recovery and for Japan to become a leading nation for science and technology.
At the plant for liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions in Mie Prefecture, I observed the manufacturing procedures of large-size LCDs. I learned that the ordinary looking LCD is actually an outcome of precision techniques and once again felt the significance of advanced technologies. Of note also is that this plant is very environmentally-friendly as it was designed to cyclically use resources without emitting any waste or plant effluent generated in the production process.
I can boast about its excellence with pride to the world as it not only produces novel and refined products but also gives consideration to environmental protection using the latest technologies.
In Kyoto, I had the opportunity to take a look at the mass spectrometer that Mr. Koichi Tanaka, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002, is studying and developing. Although the technology was slightly beyond my understanding, I have been told that the mass analysis of protein invisible to our eyes greatly lends itself to the early detection and treatment of diseases and likewise to the development of new medicines.
At the end of my round of visits, I attended a cherry blossom tree planting ceremony in Osaka. The city of Osaka was built by the people of the private sector and not by the government. As a matter of fact, most of the 808 bridges over the Yodo River in the city were built by civilian hands. There now is a plan to employ the independent spirit of the people of Osaka to create a street lined with a row of cherry blossom trees to revive the vibrant atmosphere of the city.
"It is a pleasure when, rising in the morning, I go outside and find a flower that has bloomed that was not there yesterday."
Then-President Bill Clinton recited this waka poem in his welcome speech when Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan visited the United States a while back. He praised the rich sensibility of the Japanese who are drawn to and moved by the ordinary but absolute beauty of nature.
It was written by Tachibana no Akemi, a scholar in the Edo Period, depicting the joy of waking up to find flowers that have bloomed overnight when they were but buds the day before. Excitement and joy is anywhere and everywhere, and I believe that love for nature is important at all times in any world.
I am deeply touched by the efforts of the people of Osaka working to create the best and most beautiful cherry blossom tree decorated street in not only Japan but also the entire world, and for each and every one of the citizens' determination to make Osaka a tidy and clean city. What inspires me even more, however, is their drive and energy to put this into practice.
I must say that this move by the people of Osaka to further develop and improve their city by their own hands rather than relying on an administrative body is a prime example of my policy of "leave to the private sector what it can do." As I was planting the young cherry blossom tree with the children, I prayed that it will grow into a "large tree" just like that of the "buds of reform."
It is the foremost role of politics to create a society in which the private sector can fully exercise its ingenuity, motivation and drive. I will continue to vigorously push forward reforms under the policies of "from the public sector to the private sector" and "from the central government to the local governments."
* 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.
- Representatives of "Ship for World Youth Program" Pay Courtesy
Call on Prime Minister (January 12, 2005)
- Prime Minister Koizumi visits Factories in Mie and Kyoto
Prefecture (January 7 to 8, 2005)
- Special ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on Aftermath of Earthquake and
Tsunami (January 6, 2005)
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- Click here to make comments on administration of Japan.
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