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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 178 (March 3, 2005)

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

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile

Urban Underground Farming Space

Junichiro Koizumi here.

Last Thursday, on February 24, I visited a farming space situated in the basement of a building in Otemachi in Tokyo. In the Japanese version of the e-mail magazine last month there was a contribution by the president of the company that created this underground farming space.

Going there, I found that prior to being modified for underground farming, the space was an underground bank vault, which is not out of the ordinary given that the building is located in a district home to the head offices of many banks. Despite the absence of sunlight with no windows in sight, the atmosphere was in no way gloomy thanks to artificial lighting provided by light emitting diodes (LED). In addition to tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce grown using hydroponics, I saw rice grown in a small rice paddy. I was told that the crops actually develop at a much faster pace compared to the outside world as computer-controlled artificial lighting and temperature enables climatic conditions to be created that are suitable for farming all year round.

However, I learned that even plants can be placed under stress due to constant exposure to sunlight, which retards their growth, and therefore the lights are switched off at night. The idea of plant stress was new to me, but I now know that plants just like humans need rest.

Although I had heard of this new form of farming, it was astonishing to actually see it with my own eyes. These ideas go beyond our ordinary imagination. Seeing this underground space impressed upon me that agriculture is a new industry with infinite potential yet to be discovered.

On February 26, I delivered the opening declaration at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Nagano Prefecture, a sports tournament for persons with intellectual disabilities. This is the first Special Olympics to be held in Asia and is benefiting from the participation of many countries.

In contrast to the chilly temperature of the skating rink where the ceremony was held, the atmosphere that filled the venue was warm and welcoming. I am sure that the tournament, which concludes on Saturday, has been a wonderful experience for all involved.

On my visit to the Special Olympics, I saw an exhibition of artwork and pottery by persons with intellectual disabilities. I felt that there are truly no boundaries in artistic expression.

For persons with intellectual disabilities to express themselves and interact with each other through sports and art with the warm support of many people is most important and valuable.

I was doubly delighted that day as right after giving the opening declaration, I received news of the successful launch of the H-IIA rocket.

Yesterday, the budget for next fiscal year passed the House of Representatives. The deliberations on the budget have now begun in the House of Councillors today. I will endeavor for the budget to be enacted at the earliest date possible as a step towards the promotion of reforms and economic vitalization.

Today is Girl's Day or Hinamatsuri in Japan. I am sure that many families have decorated their houses with festive dolls. Dolls have also been on display in the lobby of my office since last month, brightening up the place with their vibrant colors.

Girl's Day is a traditional Japanese festival celebrated to wish for the healthy growth of girls in the family.

A famous line by educator Yoshida Shoin says, "Parents care much more deeply about their children than their children do for them."

Parents' love for their children has remained strong and absolute throughout the ages. Children are treasures of society, and I wish for the healthy growth of all children.

* 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]

- Japan-Samoa Summit Meeting (February 28, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi met with Mr. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa and the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).

- Prime Minister Koizumi Attends the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Winter Games (February 26, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi visited the art gallery where paintings and ceramics made by persons with intellectual disabilities were on display, then attended the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics in Nagano.

- The 29th Meeting of the IT Strategic Headquarters (February 24, 2005)
At the meeting, the "IT Policy Package 2005: Towards the Realization of the World's Most Advanced IT Nation" was decided.

- Prime Minister Koizumi visits Underground Farming Space (February 24, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi visited the underground farming space and observed the tomatoes and other vegetables grown there.

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

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