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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 192 (June 16, 2005)

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

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile Japanese

* August will see the 200th edition of the Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine. As a celebration of this upcoming milestone, this week and next week we bring to you an interview that Prime Minister Koizumi gave to the Editorial Division on the fourth anniversary of the launch of the e-mail magazine.

"Lion Interview" Photo

"Lion Interview" Part One

[On the fourth anniversary of the e-mail magazine distribution]

--- Prime Minister Koizumi, thank you very much for your time today.
Already four years have passed since the launch of the Japanese
version of this e-mail magazine. I believe you are the first
prime minister to have ventured to engage in such an exchange
with the people. What are your thoughts on the fourth
anniversary of the e-mail magazine distribution?

(Prime Minister Koizumi)
To be honest, I never thought that the e-mail magazine would last as long as four years. At the time of its launch my initial guess was that the readership would amount to between 100,000 to 200,000 people.

It was a great surprise to see the number of subscribers climb way beyond my initial expectations to over one million, and at one point even hit the two million mark. Even now, although subscriber numbers have fallen back a little, there are still around 1.6 million people.

Just thinking that over a million people take the time to read my e-mail magazine every week gives me great motivation. It also inspires me to express myself frankly and in my own words as much as possible.

Think about it. There are only a few weekly print magazines that sell over a million copies. Yet every week, more than a million people read my e-mail magazine. That is something to be truly grateful for.

--- Since distribution of the e-mail magazine began, can you recall
any readers' opinions that left an especially deep impression on you?

It was to mark the 100th edition of the e-mail magazine, when about 20 dedicated readers from around the country came to my office. The candid exchange of opinions we had at that time is something that comes immediately to mind. Of course, particular issues or incidents always spark a variety of arguments for and against, and these have included North Korea, Iraq and visits to Yasukuni Shrine. These varied opinions really bring home to me how closely the content of the e-mail magazine is followed. Whether I receive encouragement or criticism, it makes me happy because it means that good or bad, there is a response to the content of the e-mail magazine.

Knowing that the subscribers like an interesting read, I will carry on bringing up hot topics for everyone to enjoy.

[ On movies ]
---Hot topics. That's a good idea.

If hot topics are included then people start asking, "How was the prime minister's e-mail magazine today?" or talk about the content, such as "Oh, he met Steven Spielberg," or "I heard that he danced with Richard Gere."

I talked to film director Steven Spielberg the other day. It was fascinating. I've seen many of his movies including "Jaws," "E.T.," "Jurassic Park" and "Schindler's List."

--- Do movies like "War of the Worlds" appeal to you?

"War of the Worlds" hasn't been released yet, has it?

--- Well, yes, you're right. But I heard you said that you had seen
the movie a long time ago. . . .

That was about 50 years ago. Most movies back then were in black-and-white, but "War of the Worlds" was in color. That in itself was impressive. A meteorite hitting the earth and aliens emerging from the meteorite--that was really cool.

--- So you have been an avid movie viewer for a long time then?

I often watched movies in my childhood. There was a movie theater near my home, and I saw a lot of westerns and samurai sword fighting movies there. We watched three movies a day back then; people standing up the whole time. We saw three movies straight without ever sitting down, crammed into the theater.

--- Was this when you were a student?

Elementary school, I think.

--- Really?

Movies were tremendously popular at the time. Now, I get tired after watching one movie. I am so much of a movie fan that I really understand the feelings that are depicted in "Nuovo Cinema Paradiso." There is no difference in the way people feel about movies, be they in Italy, Japan or anywhere in the world.

---There is always a lot of information being circulated, but one
of the most recent headline grabbers is COOL BIZ.

I'm in another COOL BIZ outfit today. I will be putting a tie on later today though, for a meeting with a foreign leader. It is important not to cause offense to the people I meet and dress accordingly. If people choose to wear a suit and tie, it would be bad form for me not to reciprocate and so I put on a tie at such times.

It is also a bother to have to change clothes midway through the day, so I have taken to wearing shirts that I can easily combine with a tie and jacket.

--- How has COOL BIZ been received?

Everyone says it is really comfortable. Ambassadors from Arab countries visited me today and gave me their encouragement. I think there must have been representatives from around 20 countries. All of them were strongly in favor of COOL BIZ. They complimented me, saying that I had made a wise decision, and encouraged me on this dress policy, pointing out that it is good not having to wear a tie in the scorching Japanese summer.

The Arab ambassadors and I had our meeting in the morning. Some of them were in traditional Arab dress, with a turban on their heads and their characteristic garment flowing down to their feet. At first glance, it appears that the garment might be very hot because the entire body is covered, but the ambassadors assured me that in fact it was quite cool. Those who were not in traditional dress wore shirts without ties.

--- In other words, wearing what is appropriate for the region you
are in is important.

Also, when the summer comes, I am sure that women too will benefit from this policy. It has been the case that women have to bring cardigans for their commute into work because of the strong air-conditioning in the trains that is adjusted for men wearing suits and ties. Even when they arrive at the office, men remain in their full attire and so women wearing skirts have to cover their legs with a blanket. That will not be the case anymore.

Women do not wear ties and generally dress lighter than men. Many women have to think ahead each day as to how they are going to dress in order to keep themselves from getting cold on the train or at work. Many have therefore expressed their appreciation, pointing out that not turning the air-conditioning up too strong would have positive health effects.

I am sure that summer is not the only problem. In the winter too, when the heater is on full blast, men are working with their sleeves rolled up and sweating from the heat. There is no need to do that either. Instead of having the heating on so strong, we can conserve energy in the winter by setting the heating to a temperature at which people will not be cold if they wear cardigans or sweaters.

Even now, I'm not saying that no-one should wear ties.

With COOL BIZ, people are free to wear what individually suits them and is comfortable. People are not expected to wear a tie or a jacket. As long as your way of dressing does not create displeasure for other people, matters of dress are left up to individual common sense and taste.

I have, however, received complaints from the tie industry. Meanwhile, I have heard that the shirt industry is currently enjoying strong sales. At the shirt departments of department stores, shirts seem to be flying off the shelves with people queuing up at the cash registers to make a purchase.

On June 1, the first day of COOL BIZ, I wore an Okinawan kariyushi shirt. After that I received letters from people in Okinawa thanking me for wearing the Okinawan shirt.

I later heard that there were people who after seeing me on TV wanted to buy exactly the same Okinawan shirt that I wore--800 of them! It really does have an impact on people.

--- Is the temperature on the air-conditioner set at 28 degrees Celsius?

No, it's not yet necessary to use the air-conditioning right now.

--- That's true.

Actually, 28 degrees Celsius is quite hot. There was a funny episode on the first day of COOL BIZ. I had said that the temperature should be set at 28 degrees. On that day, regardless of the fact that the temperature outside was below 28 degrees, I felt really hot when I walked into my office. When I asked why, the response was that the temperature had been set at 28 degrees. It is these sorts of things that I wish people would not take so literally and deal with a little more flexibly.

What I had meant was that if it is a hot summer day and the temperature is above 28 degrees, then the temperature settings on the air-conditioner should be held down to 28 degrees. But if the temperature outside is 24 or 25 degrees, what is the reason for setting the air-conditioner at 28 degrees? If the temperature outside does not reach 28 degrees, nothing needs to be done, right?

[EXPO 2005 Aichi, Japan]
--- How was the Expo? You have visited the Expo site on three
occasions, and you saw some of the exhibitions for the first
time during your last visit.

My most recent visit was my third, following the groundbreaking ceremony and the opening ceremony. This time on Japan Day, I visited the Japan Pavilions and the remains of the Yukagir Mammoth with its enormous tusks. I wonder if eventually the remains of a whole mammoth will be excavated--they say there are still many which remain to be discovered. Those kinds of animals are so intriguing. To think that an animal of that size had been living on earth! It is fascinating that their remains are still here. It is incredible to think about the almost incomprehensible, countless number of different creatures that inhabit the earth. The Japan Pavilions were popular with the visitors to the Expo. There were many visitors when I went, and every exhibition was unique and interesting.

Summer holidays are approaching and the Expo is currently drawing in a bigger crowd than had been anticipated. Perhaps the Expo will top 15 million visitors over the six months that it is open.

--- The Expo has been getting favorable reviews by visitors from abroad.

Yes, I guarantee a day filled with enjoyment. I suggest that visitors use their time freely and stroll around the site instead of splitting up their day too much.

[Progress of structural reforms]
--- How are the Koizumi structural reforms going? Are they advancing steadily?

They are going well. The bill concerning the privatization of the postal services, which is at the heart of the structural reforms, will likely be voted on soon. After four years, the reforms have at last come this far. There has been a great deal of hard work involved in bringing opinion together, both externally and internally. The reforms are finally approaching their ultimate targets, and I will resist the opposition forces with firm determination and resolve.

--- You're enthusiasm remains unchanged?

Indeed, it will not change.

Next week we will continue with the second round of the Lion Interview.

* "Lion Interview" Photo

* 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-Kazakhstan Summit Meeting (June 14, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Daniel Kenzhetayevich Akhmetov, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

- The Intellectual Property Strategic Program 2005 (June 10, 2005)
The Strategic Program 2005 was decided upon at the Eleventh Meeting of the Intellectual Property Policy Headquarters.

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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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