Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 213 (December 1, 2005)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
On November 24, I visited the Japan Coast Guard's disaster prevention base in Yokohama, and made on-site visits to the customs authority which police the shoreline area as well as the immigration authority.
Japan is an island country surrounded by sea. It brings us many blessings, but at the same time, protecting the vast expanse of ocean is an enormous undertaking. The Japan Coast Guard is in charge of such tasks as ensuring maritime traffic safety, maritime rescue and protecting the marine environment, and responding to suspicious vessels that trespass Japan's territorial waters. I had an opportunity to observe the security training and underwater training for the rescue of persons missing or hurt, which was like a scene lifted right out of an action film.
It is the job of customs and immigration authorities and quarantine stations to check the people and cargo arriving from across the sea, and to enforce quarantines. At the port, various authorities cooperate and are on the look out for any suspicious movements and work to prevent the introduction of communicable diseases.
One cannot predict when a terrorist attack or accident will occur. I got a renewed sense that we are able to cope with disasters and respond to crimes precisely because there are people undergoing rigorous training and making continuous efforts in ways we may not know to continue unremitting surveillance.
Last Sunday, on the final day of the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament, Yokozuna Asashoryu won an unprecedented seventh consecutive title including all six consecutive tournaments this year starting with the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament and ending with the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament. Furthermore, his 84 wins in a year tops the record for the most number of wins, setting a magnificent record.
Actually, when Asashoryu visited my office last year, he made a request to me, saying, "I would like to receive the victory trophy directly from you." I promised him then that "I would go if you sweep all the tournaments in the year, from the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament up to the Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament." And this year, Asashoryu won brilliantly all six tournaments. Keeping with my promise, I flew to Fukuoka to hand Asashoryu the Prime Minister's Cup. At the awards ceremony, I congratulated him, saying, "The new record, the magnificent record--both are remarkable! Congratulations!" I believe he has become one of the greatest Yokozunas and will surely go down in history.
The one and only sumo wrestler to beat the strong Yokozuna Asashoryu in this last tournament was the Bulgaria-born Kotooshu, who yesterday was promoted to the rank of Ozeki. His achievements are astounding. The world of sports is also going global, and Japanese baseball and soccer players are distinguishing themselves on the world stage. In turn, in the world of the Japanese traditional sport of sumo, foreign-born sumo wrestlers are doing remarkably. Japan has truly opened itself to the world--It is wonderful that more people in the world are getting to know sumo. At the same time, I do hope Japanese sumo wrestlers will improve their own records as well.
This week, we were able to get as far as deciding on the policies of outstanding reforms, namely, the reform of government-related financial organizations, the reform package of the three issues on subsidy, tax sources and local allocation tax under the principle of "from the state to the region," and the reform of the medical system. It is because the privatization of the postal services at the very "heart of the reforms" was realized with the strong support of the people that secondary and tertiary reforms can be pursued and the opposing forces in the backwaters have given up. This made it possible for us to sprint ahead toward reform.
I will further advance reforms toward the budget formulation in the end of the year.
The falsification of data on the level of earthquake-resistance of apartment buildings and hotels is a grave issue that concerns the people's safety and peace of mind. According the highest priority to the safety of tenants, hotel users, and residents in the vicinity of these buildings, we must first and foremost have a firm grasp of the actual situation and consider the measures to be taken. We must thoroughly examine which aspects were inadequate and what could have been done better, and come up with measures to prevent any recurrence of data falsification.
* 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 Meets with the King of Morocco (November 29, 2005)
- Prime Minister Receives a Report of the Tax Commission (November 25, 2005)
- Prime Minister Receives a Report of the Advisory Council on the Imperial House Law (November 24, 2005)
- Prime Minister Observes "Shoreline Measures and the Disaster Prevention Base" at Yokohama Bay (November 24, 2005)
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