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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 239 (June 22, 2006)

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

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile Japanese

Decision to redeploy the Self-Defense Force in Iraq

Junichiro Koizumi here.

The Japanese Government decided on June 20 that it will redeploy the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) troops in Samawah, Iraq.

This decision was based on consideration of the establishment of the Iraqi Government by the Iraqi people and the start of the process of transferring security responsibility in Al-Muthanna Province, where the GSDF troops have been operating, to the new Iraqi Government. Through close consultations with the United States (US) and other nations including the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia as well as the Multi-National Forces (MNF), the Japanese Government has also determined that the GSDF's humanitarian and reconstruction assistance activities in Samawah have fulfilled a certain role.

Even after the redeployment of the GSDF troops, the Air Self- Defense Force (ASDF) troops will continue to provide support for the activities of the United Nations (UN) and the ongoing activities of the MNF. As before, in close cooperation with the US and other countries around the world, the UN, and the Iraqi Government, Japan will assist the reconstruction of Iraq through Official Development Assistance (ODA), which is one of the "two wheels on the axle" of Japan's assistance, the other being the humanitarian contribution provided by the Self-Defense Force (SDF).

I believe the SDF has played a large role in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the infrastructure in Samawah through assistance such as water provision, medical services, and repair work on schools and roads. These efforts have been highly appreciated and have gained the confidence of both the Iraqi Government and the local people, and I think it is excellent that the GSDF will be able to redeploy on a note of gratitude.

All of this is owed to the efforts of each and every member of the SDF, who have worked actively and tirelessly under a severe environment with the strong awareness that they are troops that implement the goodwill of the people of Japan. I would like to express my most sincere respect and gratitude to the SDF personnel for their efforts in Iraq.

I would also like to sincerely thank the Iraqi Government and the people of Iraq, and also the US and the rest of the MNF, including the troops of the UK, Australia and the Netherlands, as well as their governments and peoples, who all have paid wide-ranging consideration toward ensuring that the activities undertaken by the SDF could be performed smoothly.

The Iraqi people are now endeavoring to build their nation on their own. What can Japan do to be of assistance to this nation-building effort? In cooperation with other countries and with the UN, Japan intends to continue to provide utmost assistance to aid Iraq in its essential task of nation-building.

Japan intends to extend assistance that in the future, when Iraq has established a stable government, will be highly appreciated in that the Japanese Government and the people of Japan extended a helping hand to the nation-building efforts of the Iraqi people when they were most in need of support.

I ask for the continued understanding and support of the people of Japan.

* June 14 marked the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine. As a celebration of this milestone, we bring to you an interview that Prime Minister Koizumi gave to the Editorial Division.

"Lion Interview" Photo

"Lion Interview" Part Two



--- You're wearing a smart, pink COOL BIZ shirt today. Have you gotten used to COOL BIZ now that it's in its second year?

(Prime Minister Koizumi)

Indeed. Once you know what it's like without a tie, you don't want to put it back on.

--- You mentioned before that you wear a tie when you have guests over.

I wear a tie according to the wishes of foreign leaders. I would not want to cause offense to the people I meet by not wearing a tie. A tie is considered to be a part of formal attire so to speak and to wear a tie is one way to show respect for your guests.

I ask my guests prior to their visits whether they would like to come in more casual attire, explaining to them that Japan is now practicing COOL BIZ. If they prefer wearing a tie, I will then follow suit. I welcome my guests in a style that matches theirs, with or without a tie.

--- Do you choose your own shirts?

I wear what people choose for me to wear.

--- You do not have a strong preference?

No, as long as it is not too loud. I don't feel strongly about what I wear as long as it is low-key, regular COOL BIZ, no tie style.

[ Issues to be tackled ]

---The Diet session ended last week. What are your thoughts on the Diet session?

This past Diet session focused on the administrative reform promotion bill. The bill provides the principle and policy of administrative reform under the policies of "leaving to the private sector what it can do" and "leaving to the localities what they can do." As the postal services were privatized last year, we must continue advancing administrative reform. It will be a law that gives us the direction in which we must proceed.

--- How about on the issues to be tackled?

Our challenges ahead are indeed financial rehabilitation, economic recovery and overcoming deflation. These are vital issues that may not go untouched regardless of who takes office or which party holds power.

--- Japan has really become a heavily fiscally-indebted country, has it not?

No measure can be put into practice without financial resources.

Everyone is for the general idea of cutting down expenditures, but naturally people are opposed to making cuts in their own budgets and ask for cuts to be made elsewhere. So even if there are strong protests against a tax increase and calls to cut down wasteful expenditures instead, it is no easy task to cut down expenditures with everyone believing that their own expenditures are not wasteful.

It will be an even more difficult task to advance budget cuts while gaining people's understanding. Some people have started calling for a stop on expenditure cuts, saying they have already made cuts wherever they could. At the same time, people also say no to increasing the tax rate, which is the only alternative to cutting down expenditures. There is no way to escape this dilemma regardless of which party becomes the ruling party.

--- Would you say that the approach you have taken for financial rehabilitation over the past five years in fact cut down expenditures?

I have been striving to cut down wasteful expenditures as much as possible without increasing the tax rate or the budget. Otherwise we are only left with the choice to either keep sinking deeper into debt or increase the tax rate.

That said, I have increased the budget for social security and science and technology, both of which are essential for Japan's future. I have slimmed down the overall expenditure, while I have increased the budget wherever necessary.

Financial rehabilitation may be realized by tax increase alone, but at the same time we must not drag down the overall economy and business activities. Attention should be paid to both, and maintaining a good balance between them is a complexity of political economy. Theory alone is not enough.

Academics call for a tax increase for financial rehabilitation and say it is irresponsible not to raise the consumption tax, but I don't believe this to be the general sentiment of the people. We must look at the overall picture of the economy.

Normally, the economy deteriorates when the budget and public construction projects are not increased. When I took office, I was warned that more companies would go bankrupt and more people would be unemployed if I advanced the disposal of nonperforming loans at a time when Japan was suffering from an economic downturn.

Nonetheless, I have advanced the disposal of nonperforming loans for the past five years. My effort has won over calls for an increase in public projects and has brought the Japanese economy back onto its recovery track by carrying out fewer public projects. What's more, there are higher tax revenues than what we had originally estimated. This is the obscure nature of economics, and the tricky part is deciding which path to take amid the various opinions.

[ Food education ]

---This month is Food Education Month, and the slogan is "let's eat breakfast together everyday." What are your views on this important movement?

Yes, especially for children. It's essential for children and their parents or children and their families to come together to share a complete breakfast. Food is our energy source.

Many people are paying attention to avoid becoming overweight, but I believe children still need to eat a complete meal; food provides fuel for our activities. The importance of food is something we will have to underscore even more from here on. We should move away from the mentality that it's fine as long as we take medication or that we can make do with dietary supplements and nutritive foods. Basically we have to eat. Use fresh and healthy ingredients, eat a balanced meal, and enjoy a nice home-cooked meal. These are indeed fundamental to our health.

I have also heard that some schools and companies started to serve meals in the morning since many people skip breakfast. I think this is a wonderful idea.

---Do you eat breakfast?

I have a light breakfast, maybe a cup of hot chocolate and some fruit.

---Could you share with us your advice on food to the readers of this e-mail magazine?

There's just so much information on food and health out there that it's not always clear what it is that we should be doing. My suggestion is to follow the three basic principles: eat properly, get the right amount of exercise, and get sufficient rest.

Of course you may want to see a doctor or take medication if you do find yourself sick, but you'll indeed make yourself sick if you don't follow these three basic principles and keep yourself busy with work.

Good work comes hand in hand with the three principles of a balanced diet, the right amount of exercise and sufficient rest. You should refrain from excessive drinking and eating and not think that all you have to do is take medication or go see a doctor if you don't feel well. Good health is about how we live our day-to-day lives.

First and foremost good health is the best possession. I hope everyone remembers to have a balanced diet, the right amount of exercise and sufficient rest, and takes good care of their health with a positive mindset.

---With your busy schedule I imagine that it must be difficult for you to get enough rest.

I try to. I try to rest on Saturdays and Sundays as much as possible. I can then catch up on my sleep (laugh). You can't go without sleep.

Rest helps build up our immune system. Humans have the ability to heal naturally, and in order to build up this natural healing power it is important to have a balanced diet, rest and the right amount of exercise. I tried to do this as best as I could and maybe that's why I got through these past five years hardly ever getting sick.

Everyone has worries so it's not worth losing sleep over them.

[ Looking back on the five years of the e-mail magazine ]

---What is particularly memorable from your involvement with the e-mail magazine over the past five years?

Every single week I was amazed at how fast the time flew by, that it was already time to work on the next e-mail magazine. The days went by before I knew it. These five years have truly gone by in a flash.

---Having continued with this e-mail magazine do you feel that you have really made a difference in promoting dialogue with the people?

Well the very fact that it has continued for this long says a lot about how many people read the e-mail magazine, so yes, it makes it worthwhile. I think the e-mail magazine, this method of communication, fits very well with the current times.

Every week I make an effort to make the contents of the e-mail magazine as clear as possible for our dedicated readers. I will continue to seek creative ways to clearly explain the Cabinet's policies through the e-mail magazine and ask for the continued support of the readers.

---Thank you very much.

Thank you.

* "Lion Interview" Photo

* 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]

- Joint Meeting of the Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures Against Crime and the Meeting of the Headquarters for Youth Development (June 20, 2006)
The Plan designed to protect children from turning to delinquency or being victimized by crime was decided at the meeting.

- Meeting of the Council on Measures for Society with Decreasing Birthrate (June 20, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi said, "Measures against decreasing birthrate are not an issue that can be resolved in a year or two."

- Meeting of the Japan Investment Council (June 20, 2006)
The government has decided on measures toward achieving the goal of doubling the balance of foreign direct investment to Japan as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) over a five-year period.

- Statement by the Prime Minister of Japan on the Redeployment of Ground Self-defense Force Troops from Samawah (June 20, 2006)

- Campaign against Drug Abuse (June 16, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi received a courtesy call from Ms. Aya Matsuura, a singer who is the poster model for the Campaign.

- Prime Minister Hosts the Welcome Reception for the World Economic Forum on East Asia (June 15, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi addressed, "Asia is a significantly influential area for the world economy in terms of population, economic vitalization, and other aspects."

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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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