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Official Residence

Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 193 (June 23, 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, 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 Two

[The new Prime Minister's Official Residence]

--- Prime Minister Koizumi, you have moved into the new Prime
Minister's Official Residence. Have you made yourself at home?

(Prime Minister Koizumi)
I am starting to get used to my new surroundings. As long as I have a place to sleep I am happy.

--- We've heard that the latest new energy systems have been
installed in the new Prime Minister's Official Residence. How are

The Residence utilizes solar energy generation, wind power generation and fuel cells. Given the importance of considering a future-oriented energy policy that moves us away from over-reliance on oil, the new Prime Minister's Official Residence is blazing a trail in the use of environmentally-friendly energies. On the other hand, there are more and more motorized contraptions today--even curtains can be opened or closed using a motor--and sometimes I do not even know which button to press.

--- In the past, you have mentioned that stress is its own kind of
stress relief. Have you been able to relax at the new Prime
Minister's Official Residence? Do you employ any special means to
help you relax, for example playing music as you fall asleep?

I listen to music all the time, but what works for me is having a TV in my bathroom.

--- So you take long baths?

No, I take quick baths. I am usually in and out in three to four minutes.

--- And the TV extends your bath by about how many more minutes?

Well, when I take a bath during a news program, I tend to stay in the tub anywhere between five to ten minutes, until the news report ends.

[ The garden of the Prime Minister's Office ]
---The garden of the Prime Minister's Office is now complete and
is stunningly beautiful.

The other day, I took my first walk in the garden since its completion. During the construction work, the curtains on the windows of the Prime Minister's Office facing the garden remained closed, but now they are finally open. This gives an even better and improved view of the pond in the garden and the surrounding greenery. It is very soothing to be able to enjoy the greenery of the garden and the water of the pond.

We initially received criticism that the Prime Minister's Office was too plain and bare. Therefore, I proposed that more sculptures and paintings be brought in. I mean, there is no need to buy such art works, but considering the fact that there are so many people who submit their works and win awards at various exhibitions, we should look for people who are willing to lend us such works to be exhibited at the Prime Minister's Office. There are many such people.

--- Looking at things under a different light and from a new perspective, I suppose?

Yes, you could say that. It has been the practice not to change the paintings hung on the walls of the Prime Minister's Office. These paintings are on display throughout the year. However, it is difficult to find a painting that suits all four seasons. So I just thought we should use a more spring-like painting during the spring, and one that gives off a more winter-like atmosphere during the winter. It's just commonsense.

There is no need to buy expensive paintings when we could just borrow them from people. There are many people who would be happy to lend us their works. That's why we are currently trying to exhibit as many works as possible on a rotating basis. I think this makes everyone happy.

When you go to an art exhibit, there are many sculptures and paintings crammed into a small space with a lot of people crowding around these works. Compared to this, the Prime Minister's Office has a great deal of free space. That's why I suggested opening up and holding exhibitions so that visitors can more freely enjoy the art works in a space bigger than many exhibition sites.

[ Methods for dealing with stress ]
---Do you spend your time listening to music and reading books on your days off?

I watch movies from time to time. I like listening to music the most.

--- What have you been listening to lately?

I enjoy a good variety of music, ranging from classics, popular, and opera to what is referred to as "new music."

--- How about books? I expect that it is rare for you to have the
luxury of sitting down and reading a book considering your busy schedule.

Yes, it's true that I've found myself increasingly lacking the time to read a long book from cover to cover. I do read documents relating to questions in the Diet or look at lists of potential questions and answers for Diet deliberations. Let me tell you, after reading those it is easy to have a good night's rest!

--- It's a shame that you should classify those things as your reading.

I meet foreign leaders on many occasions, so I need to be up-to-date on events and hot topics in those countries. This is especially true as many foreign leaders have been visiting Japan lately. Do you know of the country Andorra?

--- No, I've never heard the name before. I think it could be the
first time for many of the readers too.

Andorra is located between France and Spain, with a population of 70,000.

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are just some of the countries that gained their independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many new countries emerged at that time. We are welcoming visits to Japan by leaders from these countries as well.

Another example is the separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There are also Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia--former Soviet-bloc states which achieved independence. Africa comprises a great number of countries. Japan is now the place for world leaders to visit with the EXPO 2005 Aichi, Japan currently under way.

[ Memorable incidents when reflecting on the past four years ]
--- A great many events have taken place over the past four years.
Are there any specific moments that have left a special impression
on you, whether it be in policy formulation or meeting with people
from different backgrounds?

There are several happenings that stick in my mind. One being the time a decision had to be made whether I would go to North Korea or not, and the other being the deaths of Ambassador Katsuhiko Oku and First Secretary Masamori Inoue in Iraq. After that incident, the decision fell to me on the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Iraq. The decision I had to make at that time also left a deep impression on me.

--- So you think diplomacy is hard in that sense?

It is difficult. Depending on the issue at hand, I hear voices raised in support and in opposition, even from the people who support me. When I ask for opinions from people I trust, I invariably receive the whole range of responses from "do it" to "don't even think about it." It eventually comes down to me alone to make the final decision after listening to those opinions.

There will always be pros and cons. Take the dispatch of SDF to Iraq for example. Over 70 percent of the public was against this move. My visit to North Korea was another such instance. Although it would be nice if everybody supported my views and decisions, in reality that is not always the case.

--- Then how do you make decisions?

After listening to opinions from both sides, I have to make a choice of what works best. It comes down to my choice and my decision alone. I do, however, ask for opinions from experts in the relevant areas until I come to a decision. It is very hard considering that even amongst the experts there are different opinions and the same goes for political commentators and academics too. Ultimately, only the passage of time reveals whether a decision was the right one or not.

--- What about the results?

The results will make themselves apparent in the future.

--- So are you torn inside when making a decision?

It is never easy to make a decision, but I think that is the appointed lot of a prime minister.

[ Message to the readers ]
--- Finally, could we ask you for a message to the 1.62 million
readers of this e-mail magazine regarding your enthusiasm on the
upcoming 200th issue in August?

Considering that over one million readers take time to look at the e-mail magazine, I am very conscious of not boring people with dull and unexciting topics. My vision for the e-mail magazine has always been to search for ways in which to make it appealing to the readers.

Every week I try to raise a topic that readers can talk about with their family members and friends. It is therefore important to include casual and contemporary topics. It is important for me to not just spout forth with impassioned words, but instead to raise issues that families and friends can casually talk about together.

People may start up their conversation with a question like, "Hey, did you read Prime Minister Koizumi's e-mail magazine today?" to which some might answer, "Yes, he said something like . . . ," or "He mentioned something good," while there may be times when people will go, "He's talking nonsense." I hope that the e-mail magazine will spark conversations in this way.

In raising subjects naturally through conversations that begin with words like, "What do you think about the Prime Minister's thoughts on this?" or "What is happening with this issue?" people become more attuned to social and political trends. Each week I will continue to seek creative ways in which to send out this e-mail magazine to its many readers.

--- Thank you very much.

Thank you.

* "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-Czech Republic Summit Meeting (June 22, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Jiri Paroubek, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.

- Japan-Tunisia Summit Meeting (June 22, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Mohamed Ghannouchi, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tunisia.

- The 16th Meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy (June 21, 2005)
At the meeting, the "Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform 2005" was submitted to Prime Minister Koizumi.

- Japan-Republic of Korea Summit Meeting (June 20, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Roh Moo-hyun, the President of the Republic of Korea, at the Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.

- Prime Minister Attends Memorial Service for the War Dead in Io Island (June 19, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi visited Io Island, Tokyo, where the Japanese and US troops fiercely fought during the Pacific War, to attend the memorial service.

- Speaker of the National Assembly of the Iraqi Transitional Government Pays a Courtesy Call on Prime Minister (June 17, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi presented Speaker Al-Hasani with a photograph collection which depicted Japan's post-war reconstruction.

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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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