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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 231 (April 20, 2006)

[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile Japanese

"Mottainai Furoshiki"

Junichiro Koizumi here.

This Tuesday, I went to the "FUROSHIKI" Exhibition held in Tokyo.

I think "furoshiki" embody the traditional wisdom of the Japanese people. It is a piece of cloth that can be wrapped in so many ways, allowing us to easily carry a great variety of items including of course square boxes, but also even large watermelons and 1.8 liter liquor bottles. The appeal is that it may be folded up into a small size when not being used.

I hear that used grocery bags from supermarkets and other stores thrown out as waste amount to 600,000 tons every year.

If people used furoshiki instead, waste will decrease. It may also serve as an opportunity for people to think about creating a recycling-oriented society where great care is taken to look after things. Minister of the Environment Yuriko Koike created the "Mottainai Furoshiki" with that in mind ("mottainai" could be literally translated as "don't waste what is valuable"). The "Mottainai Furoshiki," so ravishing that it may even be used as a scarf, is made of recycled PET bottles and has a birds-and- flowers pattern from the Edo period.

Aside from the "Mottainai Furoshiki," striking furoshiki by approximately 30 designers and artists who were moved by this idea were on display at the exhibit. There were many intriguing furoshiki such as one with a design of kumadori (shading) makeup used in kabuki plays, one with a design of music scores, and even one with pictures of the many ways of wrapping a furoshiki.

In the old days, people used to carry gifts of any form and size in a furoshiki. Once serving its purpose, the furoshiki was folded up into a small size and people went home light-handed. Furoshiki is compact and easy to carry around and does not take up space at home. It is so convenient that there is nothing more one can ask for.

In this e-mail magazine I have introduced various efforts closely intertwined with our daily lives and which anybody can practice as ways to deal with environmental issues such as COOL BIZ and sprinkling water on the ground to lower the temperature. I hope that everyone reexamines the appeal of furoshiki in a different light and thinks about protecting the environment while enjoying the traditional culture of Japan.

I will continue to promote the "3Rs" movement of "reducing" waste, "reusing" products and "recycling" resources, while keeping close to my heart the notion of "mottainai," a concept based on taking great care to look after things, in order to realize both environmental protection and economic development.

The administrative reform promotion bill was approved by the parliamentary committee of the House of Representatives yesterday. It is scheduled to be voted on at the plenary session of the House of Representatives this afternoon.

This is a bill to realize important reforms with a view to creating a more simple yet efficient government by looking into the possibility of leaving more tasks currently administered by the government in the hands of the private sector and examining whether there are ways we can draw on the ingenuity and innovation of the private sector, as well as realizing a 5 percent net reduction of civil servants over the next five years.

At the deliberations in the House of Councillors I plan to answer the questions earnestly and clearly and see to it that the bill is enacted at the earliest date possible so as to pick up the pace of administrative reform.

*Editorial Note:
An enjoyable introductory program on "Mottainai Furoshiki" is broadcast on Channel 11 (FUROSHIKI) of the Government Internet TV (Japanese only).

* 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]

- Prime Minister Views "FUROSHIKI" Exhibition (April 18, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi said, "They hardly look like furoshiki. They are beautiful pictures, indeed artworks. . . . A slight change of inspiration can make things so enjoyable."

- Japan Prize Laureates Pay a Courtesy Call on Prime Minister (April 18, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi received a courtesy call from Sir John Houghton and Dr. Akira Endo, who received the award for their achievements in science and technology.

- Japan-Cameroon Summit Meeting (April 17, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with His Excellency Mr. Paul Biya, the President of the Republic of Cameroon.

- Prime Minister Hosts Cherry Blossom Viewing Party (April 15, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi hosted the annual cherry blossom viewing party at the Shinjuku Gyoen and chatted with the guests and joined in their photographs.

[The Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine]

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General Editor: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jinen Nagase
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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