Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 226 (March 16, 2006)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
Last Friday, the bill promoting administrative reform that encompasses reducing the number of civil servants, sales of state-owned assets, reform of government-related financial organizations, reviewing of special accounts, and more, which I spoke of in last week's e-mail magazine, was approved by the Cabinet and submitted to the Diet.
The bill is important to realize a "simple yet efficient government" by advancing structural reform under the policies of "leave to the private sector what it can do" and "leave to the localities what they can do." I will devote my efforts to get the budget approved by the Diet at the earliest possible date as well as for the enactment of this bill.
Lately, I have been making daily trips between my office and the National Diet Building to attend the Budget Committee deliberations, and have also been meeting foreign guests in between. This month, I welcomed to my office Ms. Park Geun Hye, the Supreme Representative of the Grand National Party of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, the former Mayor of the City of New York of the United States.
Supreme Representative Park of the ROK and I had a stimulating conversation on the Japan-ROK match in the World Baseball Classic series held on March 5 and on expanding exchanges in the private sector. The Korean team won that game with their fine play. Today, Japan and the ROK will again face each other in the second round. I hope it will be a splendid game.
As for President Aliyev of the Republic of Azerbaijan and myself, we concluded a technical cooperation agreement and issued a joint statement on the development of the friendship and partnership between our two countries. Azerbaijan, bordering the Caspian Sea and with a population of approximately eight million, is a country about the size of Hokkaido. It has abundant oil resources and boasted an economic growth rate of 26 percent last year. President Aliyev and I thoroughly discussed such topics as global issues including United Nations reform and avian influenza, as well as cooperative relations between our countries over the next 50 years.
Mr. Giuliani, the former Mayor of the City of New York, and I both threw the ceremonial first pitches at an opening game of the 2004 Major League Baseball season at Tokyo Dome two years ago. We never ran out of topics to talk about given that I was with none other than Mr. Giuliani, who lowered the crime rate in New York and demonstrated extraordinary stewardship of the city with his crisis management abilities following the series of terrorist attacks in the United States. In addition to baseball, we discussed counter-terrorism measures and ways to build a safe and reassuring community.
Foreigners are not the only guests to my office. Two female students from Hokkaido, who were awarded for their outstanding performances at a high school speech contest on the Northern Territories, paid me a visit at my office. Not often can one speak in front of an audience and convey his/her thoughts the way one had envisioned without succumbing to stage fright or because we end up talking too fast. I hope that those awardees will both make use of their experiences from the speech contest and continue to keep up their efforts.
On March 9, last Thursday, I held a meeting of the Japan Investment Council. Some consider foreign investment a threat, fearing that Japan will be taken over if foreign investment to Japan increases. I beg to differ.
Foreign investment to Japan serves as a new stimulant for the Japanese economy. At the meeting, the president of an Australian company who started to make investments to construct a resort area for ski and golf in Hokkaido as well as the president of a Swedish furniture company who is expanding its company's stores here in Japan, both explained their businesses. They both emphasized that their businesses offered new and more choices to Japanese consumers and created new employment opportunities in the local areas.
The plan to double foreign investment to Japan over a five-year period has seen steady advancement and is most certain to be realized by the end of 2006, which we had aimed for. Therefore, we have decided to establish a new and grander goal to enhance foreign investment to Japan. The new goal aims to further double the share of investment stock to approximately 5 percent of GDP by 2010. We must make Japan an attractive market in the eyes of foreign companies.
There is good news from Turin on the great performances of the Japanese athletes competing in the Paralympic Games which started this past weekend. Ms. Miyuki Kobayashi won a gold medal and silver medal and Ms. Shoko Ota a bronze medal in the biathlon, and Ms. Kuniko Obinata silver medals in Alpine ski. I am sure that everyone will give their best performance.
* 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.
- Central Traffic Safety Policy Council (March 14, 2006)
- Japan-Azerbaijan Summit Meeting (March 10, 2006)
- Meeting of the Japan Investment Council (March 9, 2006)
- Winners of High School Speech Contest on the Northern Territories Pay Courtesy Call on Prime Minister (March 9, 2006)
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