Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 181 (March 24, 2005)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
The budget for FY2005 passed the Diet yesterday, March 23. I am grateful to all those people whose efforts and cooperation enabled its passage.
In the FY2005 budget, the defense budget has been decreased for the third consecutive year, and the budget for public projects has been reduced for the fourth year running, achieving for the first time in three years a reduction in the amount of general expenditure to below the previous year's level. The only budgetary items to have received an increase are those that are crucial to the development and well being of Japan, namely social security and the promotion of science and technology.
The result of this budget has been to achieve a decrease in the new issuance of government bonds for the first time in four years. By advancing the reform of special public corporations, we have also been 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, to 17 trillion yen.
The Japanese economy has achieved a recovery on the back of the ingenuity and vigor of the private sector and the regions of Japan, without resorting to reliance on financial priming from central government in the form of public investment. While there are still stringent conditions in the localities, we will continue to advance structural reforms based on the policies of "leaving to the private sector what it can do" and "leaving to the localities what they can do."
The current session of the Diet is seeing the deliberation of many important bills, including those related to the privatization of postal services. My resolve remains unwavering and I remain "prepared at all times as if on a battlefield."
On March 20, a large earthquake struck the Kita-Kyushu region, centered on the waters just off the coast of Fukuoka. Many people are still being forced to live as refugees, and particularly hard hit are the islanders of Genkaijima. I would like to offer my sincere condolences for those who fell victim to this disaster and offer my best wishes to all those who were adversely affected.
I am sure that the days pass with unease and worry in the disaster region. The Government will do everything it can to realize restoration and reconstruction from the damage.
In the small hours of March 21, the three sailors who had been taken captive by pirates in the Straits of Malacca were freed safely. I was most relieved to hear the news.
Although we have been cooperating with the Asian countries to deal with the scourge of piracy in the seas in and around the Straits of Malacca, we must further strengthen our measures against piracy to make doubly sure that such an incident never occurs again.
Tomorrow, March 25, will see the start of the Exposition of Global Harmony (2005 World Exposition), in which over 120 countries as well as international organizations, companies and local governments are participating. I attended the opening ceremony today. The theme of the exposition - "Nature's Wisdom" - has given me food for thought on how humankind can aim to live in harmony with the environment.
The venues for the exposition that lie in the hills east of the city of Nagoya were built in consideration of the natural environment, felling as few trees as possible and leaving the natural landscape unchanged. Although the crockery and cutlery to be used at the restaurants in the venues may look and feel like normal plastic, they are in actual fact made from products that are biodegradable. The Nippon-Kan, or Japan Pavilion, hosted by the Japanese government, will be utilizing exclusively a variety of new and renewable energy sources that are environmentally-friendly, including solar energy, as well as fuel cells that use methane gas emitted from the raw waste produced on site at the exposition.
I very much hope that everyone who travels to the exposition will thoroughly enjoy themselves, while at the same time considering a path to the future whereby humankind and nature can live in harmony.
Of equal importance to the protection of the natural environment is food safety. Food is a requisite for good health. Above all, safe and delicious food is provided to us by the benevolence of rich and verdant nature. A number of issues concerning food safety have recently been receiving attention, including that of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). I will continue to take the issue of food safety most seriously and my basic will remains unchanged to promote food education.
* 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.
- Prime Minister Delivers an Address at the National Defense
Academy Graduation Ceremony (March 21, 2005)
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