Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 229 (April 6, 2006)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
The cherry blossoms around my office are in full bloom, and how beautifully the fleeting blossom petals dance in the wind! With the start of the new fiscal year, I imagine various ceremonies are taking place across Japan to welcome the incoming students and workforce.
In Kasumigaseki as well, the center of national administration of Japan, new civil servants have brought their enthusiasm to the job. Yesterday, on the first day of their joint training, I offered my words of encouragement to the newcomers who are responsible for Japan's future administration as members of the government.
In my address, I said, "You became a civil servant out of your own will and desire. You must never forget that. Whether you are facing difficult or tough times, 'never forget what it was like to be a beginner.' Do not wait for others to give you instructions; take initiative and serve as civil servants imbued with a sense of mission."
I have been elected to the House of Representatives 12 times and have been a Diet member for some 30 odd years, but I must admit that for my first four or five years as a Diet member I too had mixed feelings and at times felt distressed. Although I wanted to become a Diet member and chose to run for election and got into this line of work of my own will, I did a lot of thinking about whether a person like me was really up to the job or whether I am even right for the job of Diet member.
Weekdays were spent at the Diet, weekends were spent conducting campaign activities in my constituency, and there was no time to rest whatsoever. With this kind of on-the-go lifestyle, I frequently wondered whether I was up to the job of Diet member, both mentally and physically. Yet a person like me was still able to get this far, despite my concerns and uncertainties.
I believe it is a great privilege to be able to pursue a path one chooses with one's will. In the course of our long lives, people will inevitably experience hardships and difficulties. Sometimes you may just want to run away from your problems. In times like these, remember what it was like to be a beginner and overcome the difficulties. It is indeed when one overcomes difficulty that people feel the most sense of fulfillment.
And it is precisely during these difficult and tough times that I would like people to work hard with a positive attitude, confidence in their voice and enthusiasm.
On the evening of April 3, I went to see the opera "Turandot" of the Italian composer Puccini. At the theater, I watched the performance together with Ms. Shizuka Arakawa, the gold medalist in figure skating at the Turin Olympics.
"Turandot" is one of my favorite operas. In her Olympic gold medal winning performance, Ms. Arakawa skated to the beautiful aria titled "Nessun Dorma (Let No One Sleep)" from "Turandot." Coupled with her outstanding performance, her selection of music perfectly matched her elegant and graceful skating.
The cast sang dynamically and the orchestra played powerfully. Considering that I was able to see this great opera with the gold medalist, I guess I am a lucky person.
It has been nearly five years since I was appointed prime minister. I believe an ordinary person like myself was able to get to where I am today because of the support and cooperation I received from many people and the good luck that I have had. I feel that I am always being protected by something, that I am fortunate to enjoy the support of the people, and that I am a person of fortune. With these thoughts in mind, I must work hard to the best of my ability.
This week, deliberations on the administrative reform promotion bill have begun at the Diet. With a view to realizing a simple yet efficient government, I will strive for the early passage of this bill in order to proceed with administrative reform, including reducing the number of civil servants by 5 percent over the next five years; promoting the sale and efficient use of state-owned assets such as selling the housing units for civil servants in the central area of Tokyo; integrating most government-related financial organizations into one organization and privatizing the rest; and greatly reducing the number of special accounts.
* 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.
"Turkey, a close friend to Japan located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia" - Part II
By Yoichi Kanno, Chairman of the Japanese Society of Istanbul
Turkey is by no means a nation bogged down in the past glories of the Ottoman Empire. It is forecasted that Turkey will develop into a major consumer market, based on its population of over 70 million, which is larger than that of any European country except Germany, and its dynamic economic growth. Moreover, Turkey's present administration is powerfully promoting reforms and energetically carrying out the privatization of state enterprises.
At one time, the Turkish economy was described as a roller coaster economy due to the country's chronic economic instability. It used to be said that although Turkey had an enormous potential for economic growth, an unstable political climate and erratic policies were conspiring to bring the economy down. In recent years, however, with the goal of eventually joining the EU firmly in its sights, Turkey has been practicing a consistent policy and it is expected that this will result in the country's stable economic growth into the future.
Recently, the spotlight has been on Turkey as a manufacturing base for automobiles and home appliances for the European market. The Turkish people are traditionally an equestrian people, but it is said that they have also been engaged in manufacturing since long ago. Maybe this background is what makes the Turkish people well suited for modern manufacturing industries. Turkish products consistently obtain good reputation for their high quality.
The advances of Japanese companies in Turkey are also conspicuous. In 2005, a leading Japanese carmaker's local affiliate became Turkey's number-one exporter for the second successive year. A Japanese company is also currently working on the construction of a tunnel beneath the Bosporus, supported by financing from Japanese public funds. Furthermore, the Second Bosporus Bridge, which has become a symbol of Istanbul and about 40 percent of the thermoelectric power generation capacity of the Turkish state-owned electric power company were built by Japanese companies and funded by Japanese capital.
Turkey is a major agricultural country as well. Looked at in terms of the production volume of various produce, Turkey is ranked the world's fourth largest producer of olive oil, the second largest producer of pasta products such as spaghetti, the world's number-one producer of dried fruits, and so on. I wonder how many of you know for instance that a quarter of all the tomatoes used to make tomato ketchup in Japan are grown in Turkey.
Moreover, it seems that the other countries of East Asia are positioning Turkey as an important country within their international strategies.
China is exporting consumer goods to Turkey, such as competitively priced textile products and air conditioners, and recently it undertook the export of heavy machineries and power generation equipment as well. Also, with respect to the securing of energy resources in Central Asia, China is now extremely aggressive in securing gas and crude oil and taking various measures in rapid concession and is in competition with Russia and Western countries who wish to transport crude oil and gas to the West via Turkey and through the Bosporus.
The government and the private sector in the Republic of Korea (ROK) are working hand-in-hand in their attempts to make inroads into Turkey. The ROK's leading carmaker has established a Turkish production base, and companies of the ROK are positively engaged in the railway sector, too.
It is essential that the Japanese people should fully aware of the strategic importance of Turkey, which stands at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Those who are working in Turkey are trying to develop businesses that can make a positive contribution to the Turkish economy by introducing Japanese advanced technology and capital so as to strengthen further the ties between our two nations.
* Profile of contributor
* A cargo ship passing the Second Bosporus Bridge
- Prime Minister Delivers Address to New Civil Servants (April 5, 2006)
- Meeting of the Headquarters on the Promotion of Policies for Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas (April 4, 2006)
- Meeting of the Food Education Promotion Council (March 31, 2006)
- Cherry Blossom Queen and Princess Pay Courtesy Call on the Prime Minister (March 29, 2006)
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