Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 188 (May 19, 2005)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
On Monday this week, May 16, I met with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority.
The issue of peace in the Middle East intricately intertwines elements of both history and religion. It affects not only the Middle East region itself, but also has an impact on other countries around the world. Stability in the Middle East can therefore be said to have a direct link to world stability and prosperity.
For many readers I imagine that the word "oil" is the first thing that springs to mind when talking about the Middle East. Japan indeed relies on the Middle East for nearly 90 percent of its crude oil imports. As a matter of fact, the first oil shock occurred immediately after I was first elected to the Diet. I remember only too well the turmoil that the oil shock caused in Japan.
For Japan, however, the importance of the Middle East does not begin and end merely with oil. In all aspects from politics to economy to culture, the situation in the Middle East region today has far-reaching effects on Japan.
The world holds high hopes for the peaceful coexistence of Palestine and Israel. Meeting face-to-face with President Abbas and learning about his strong determination to realize peace in the Middle East, reaffirmed my strong resolve that the international community must unite and support the peace process.
Japan has built friendly relations with all the countries in the Middle East. Therefore, I believe Japan is in a unique position to contribute to the peace process in ways no other country can. Japan will actively provide support that it is possible and appropriate to provide.
At the meeting, I expressed my willingness to host a trilateral summit meeting in Tokyo with the participation of Japan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel, if the two countries so desire. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel is scheduled to visit Japan in the near future, and I will be discussing this issue with him as well.
Japan has developed as a peaceful nation while receiving the generous assistance of the international community of which Japan is a member. Working from the basis of its own experiences, Japan intends to do everything it can to assist countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East that seek the assistance of the international community.
According to preliminary reports on the economy in the three-month period between January and March this year, growth in real terms was 1.3 percent over the previous quarter. This is equivalent to an annual growth rate in the Japanese economy of 5.3 percent. This growth cannot be attributed to public spending such as public works projects, nor does it rely on exports. Rather, it was supported by rising domestic demand consisting of personal consumption and capital investment by companies. This is an extremely favorable and promising trend.
While some regions continue to face hard times, I will continue to pursue economic reforms to sustain this positive trend and improve the regional economies across Japan.
* 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.
- Japan-Palestine Summit Meeting (May 16, 2005)
- Japan-Finland Summit Meeting (May 13, 2005)
- Japan-Cambodia Summit Meeting (May 12, 2005)
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