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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 243 (July 20, 2006)

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

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile Japanese

Visit to the Middle East

Junichiro Koizumi here.

I attended the three-day long G8 Summit held in St. Petersburg, Russia from July 15 following my chain of visits to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan last week.

On July 12, during my visit to the Middle East, northern Israel was attacked by Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. As I met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel on that same day, our meeting took place in a tense atmosphere with notes being passed to him a number of times. While expressing my understanding of the outrage felt by the Israeli side regarding the attack, I asked Prime Minister Olmert to fully consider the importance of peace and for both sides to exercise self-restraint in dealing with this situation.

The following day I visited Ramallah in the Palestinian Autonomous Areas and met President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. In the afternoon I visited its neighbor country, Jordan. I flew over the Dead Sea and arrived in Aqaba, which is facing the Red Sea, where I met and dined with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The Middle East situation is very complicated and each country in the region has its own history and position. Although there is no easy path to peace, the countries all share the desire to bring peace and prosperity to the Middle East.

I proposed to the leaders I met this time that, "The one and only path that Israel and Palestine should take is co-existence and coprosperity. Although both sides seriously desire peace, a destructive force intervenes when they attempt to move toward a peace agreement. Japan can provide cooperation for peace in the Middle East region unique to itself and different from that of the Western countries. I wish for the four parties of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Japan to together advance the Corridor of Peace and Prosperity, an initiative which will contribute to peace through such measures aimed at enhancing the living standards of the people in the region."

All three leaders supported my proposal, expressing their wish to start a four-party talk at an early date, especially because of the tense situation we are now facing. The peace and prosperity of the Middle East is a vital issue that leads to world peace and stability of Japan. Japan will extend as much assistance as possible.

His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan enjoys driving, and he even drove me back from the royal palace to my hotel after our dinner. After the summit meeting in Jordan, I visited the ruins of Petra located approximately 100 kilometers north of Aqaba. Petra is a hub city which prospered over 2,000 years ago in the hands of the nomads and the Bedouins from the Arabian Peninsula. The ruins include a massive temple carved into a rocky mountainside in a desert, which is where one of the Indiana Jones films was shot. I lost my sense of time for a while to the magnificent sight.

At the G8 Summit held in St. Petersburg that took place over a course of three days from the 15th to the 17th, I had vigorous discussions with the leaders of the participating countries, even over meals. A diverse set of topics was discussed, from the Middle East situation, the issues concerning North Korea, terrorism, energy issues, and infectious diseases to issues concerning Africa.

Prior to opening the summit session in St. Petersburg, the United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the missile launches by North Korea. It is of great significance that the international community as one sent a unanimous, strong message to North Korea while overcoming the differences in opinions.

I also brought up this issue at the G8 Summit and stressed the need for international coordination to resolve the nuclear, missile, and abduction issues. The leaders participating in the summit shared the common view in this respect.

North Korea should consider this message seriously. We have not closed our doors to North Korea for holding discussions. North Korea should promptly return to the Six-Party Talks. It is under this framework that North Korea should consider its security and future economic development.

Japan will continue to persistently engage in efforts in coordination with the members of the Six-Party Talks and countries around the world, so that North Korea will not take thoughtless actions but instead act with responsibility and sincerity.

This was my sixth time to attend the G8 Summit. Ever since my inauguration, I have always considered fulfilling Japan's responsibility in the international community and making decisions that will benefit the people of Japan as my two main focuses of foreign policy.

Nowadays, international issues are directly linked to domestic issues, be they issues concerning economy, industry such as agriculture or fisheries, security, or medical care and infectious diseases. It has been my belief that in foreign policy while there is a divergence of opinions domestically and there are areas in which Japan can cooperate with the international community and those in which we do not share the same view, Japan fulfilling a major responsibility in the international community will ultimately benefit the national interests of Japan.

On the last day of the summit, July 17, I received a report in St. Petersburg that the redeployment of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), that had been providing humanitarian and reconstruction assistance activities in Samawah, Iraq, has been completed.

Fortunately the GSDF members were able to provide humanitarian assistance and reconstruction assistance without firing a single bullet or pointing a gun at anyone during their mission of two and a half years. Furthermore, I am delighted that all members were able to be safely redeployed from Iraq, with their work being highly appreciated by the Iraqi Government and its people.

I would once again like to express my respect for each and every member of the GSDF who engaged in assistance activities and have admirably completed their mission under a severe environment with the awareness that they were troops that implement the goodwill of the people of Japan.

Japan's assistance to Iraq will carry on, with the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) scheduled to continue their transport activities together with the UN and other countries.

The G8 Summit this year took place in St. Petersburg, the hometown of President Vladimir Putin of Russia. At the dinner, tofu topped with ice cream was served for dessert. By the way sushi is very popular in St. Petersburg and there are over 200 Japanese restaurants in the city, as well as over 400 non-Japanese restaurants that serve sushi. I once again realized how much Japanese food has become widespread and is being enjoyed around the world, although it was a little unexpected to find such a prime example in St. Petersburg.

When I returned to my lodging a little past eleven o'clock after the working dinner, the sun was just setting behind the horizon of the Baltic Sea. I watched with admiration the great natural beauty that spread before my eyes of the dark clouds against the red setting sun.

Watching the sunset, I renewed my resolve to fulfill a major responsibility in the international community for Japan's further development and the peace and stability of the world for the full remainder of my term.

* 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]

- The G8 Summit Meeting (St. Petersburg, Russia) (July 15 to 18, 2006)
Prime Minister Koizumi attended the G8 Summit meeting, and held talks with leaders.

- Prime Minister Visits the Middle East (July 11 to 15, 2006)

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General Editor: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Jinen Nagase
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
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