Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 198 (July 28, 2005)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
The space shuttle, Discovery, was launched on July 26. Watching it blast off on TV, I was struck once again by the greatness of the human spirit to challenge. Right before my eyes was evidence that science and technology can be beyond our imagination.
I wish the astronauts a swift and safe return and understand that they must complete various tasks. The astronauts on this difficult and important mission are all exceptionally bright, talented individuals with great knowledge, skills, intelligence and physical ability. Two and a half years have passed since the space shuttle Columbia accident. I take my hat off to the many people whose endeavors have resulted in the resumption of the space shuttle launch on this occasion.
Mission Commander Eileen Collins and Mr. Soichi Noguchi, a Japanese mission specialist aboard the Discovery, are scheduled to contact Japan on the evening of August 4. If time allows, I would like to talk to them via video phone and ask them about outer space.
I had a meeting with President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine last week in my office. President Yushchenko is striving for democratization and the firm establishment of market economy in Ukraine. Even after being poisoned during the Ukrainian presidential campaign last year, President Yushchenko came through with flying colors to claim victory.
When Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, it had the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world after the United States and Russia. Since then, however, Ukraine has disposed of its entire nuclear arsenal, going as far as to accede to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a "non-nuclear nation."
President Yushchenko and I carried on our discussions about democratization and world peace well over the scheduled meeting time.
After our meeting, we signed the Joint Statement on a New Partnership in the 21st Century between Japan and Ukraine. President Yushchenko then returned to me the Japanese national flag that had been exhibited at the National Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Ukraine.
This flag belonged to a former Japanese soldier who was interned during the Soviet era. Finding himself in Manchuria at the end of the war, the soldier was transported to an internment camp in Siberia, where the flag was taken from him. Only the flag itself knows how it ended up in a museum in Ukraine. Now, after many years and by strange quirks of fate, it has found its way back to Japan.
The rightful owner currently resides in Oita Prefecture. I imagine that he has endured many hardships. The flag was returned safely to him yesterday.
The earthquake on July 23 was centered on the northwestern part of Chiba Prefecture and measured up to a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter Scale. Although there were reports of injuries, fences collapsing and billboards falling, thankfully there were no reports of deaths, missing persons or collapsed buildings. While damage was not on any significant scale, the confusion the earthquake caused was considerable.
Japan Railway (JR) and subway lines temporarily stopped running, affecting a great number of people. Expressways were also closed off, clogging the streets of the Tokyo metropolitan area with traffic. In addition, mobile phone networks became overloaded resulting in difficulties in making calls and many people found themselves trapped inside elevators that had stopped.
This earthquake has provided valuable lessons for us in considering our response to earthquakes in urban areas, including those centered around the Tokyo area. I intend to identify the areas to be reviewed immediately and the Cabinet as a whole will engage in work on this task.
* 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.
- Junior Reporters from Okinawa Pay Courtesy Call on the Prime Minister (July 27, 2005)
- The 14th Meeting of the Central Disaster Prevention Council (July 26, 2005)
- Awards Ceremony to Present the Prime Minister's Commendations for Contributors to the National Greening Campaign (July 26, 2005)
- Japan-Ukraine Summit Meeting (July 21, 2005)
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