Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 248 (September 7, 2006)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations on the birth of the prince.
I am filled with great joy in hearing that Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino and the newborn prince are both in good health. I am sure that this joyful news has brought much happiness to the people of Japan.
I would like to join the people in expressing happiness and joy on the birth of the prince as well as extend my best wishes for his well-being.
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With the start of September, the mornings and evenings are beginning to feel cool although the sun still blazes during the day.
On September 1, National Disaster Prevention Day in Japan, a disaster prevention drill was held with the scenario of a magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurring early in the morning, with the epicenter in Tokyo Bay.
All the Cabinet members promptly gathered at my office and we established an emergency headquarters for disaster countermeasures. In the teleconference, which Governor Shintaro Ishihara of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government also took part in, we confirmed the level of damage to the core functions of the capital and the economy, and discussed the restoration measures. In the afternoon, amid the pouring rain, water transportation and emergency aid drills by eight prefectures and municipalities were conducted in the Arakawa riverbed.
This was my sixth time taking part in a disaster prevention drill as Prime Minister. It did not seem like a practice drill at all. I was very much ensured by the cautious and sharp moves of the participants.
I would like us all to be prepared for disasters in the spirit of "always be prepared and there is nothing to worry about."
Last Saturday, I attended the opening ceremony of the African Fair held in Odaiba, Tokyo. This event was held as part of the One Village, One Product campaign, which helps people in developing countries including African countries find, modify, and introduce to the world specialty goods of their countries. On display were vividly colored woven cloths, woodworks, coffee products, soaps containing a vegetable oil called shea butter, and many other attractive goods. The next booth over had a fashion exhibit featuring African cloth.
I learned why Ethiopian coffee is called mocha coffee when I made a chain of visits to Ethiopia and Ghana this May; it is because Ethiopian coffee used to be shipped from the port of Mocha in Yemen. Since my trip I have been enjoying Ethiopian coffee at my office from time to time.
In the hotel I stayed at in Ghana, a marvelously designed, human- shaped wooden lamp stand on the floor caught my eye. In fact, the Ambassador of Ghana to Japan was kind enough to bring a similar lamp to my office the other day, where it is now displayed.
There are many amazing things in Africa that are still unknown to us. It would be an excellent outcome if the African peoples' efforts to create high-quality products and sell them in countries around the world including Japan contribute to their nation- building. It is also my sincere hope that such efforts will help build even stronger friendly relations between Japan and the countries of Africa.
Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare of the Commission of the African Union (AU) has kindly contributed an article to this week's e-mail magazine. Africa is facing difficulties such as conflicts, poverty, and infectious diseases, and is in need of the international community's warm helping hand. Japan will continue extending cooperation to Africa so that our assistance and goodwill further reach the people of Africa, and for African countries to enhance the capacity to develop their nations themselves.
I will be leaving for Finland this afternoon to attend the Asia- Europe Meeting (ASEM), which will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its establishment. ASEM was started under the objective to serve as an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation beyond the regional frameworks of Asia and Europe and will be convened this time with the participation of leaders from 38 countries. As a responsible member of the international community, I will discuss with the world leaders various topics from politics, economy to culture and more.
Jean Sibelius who composed Finlandia comes to mind when I think of Finland. One of the things I am looking forward to in this visit is to experience the ambience that gave rise to the outstanding musicianship of Sibelius.
Japan and AU
By Alpha Oumar KONARE, Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Japan has increased its cooperation with Africa and launched various initiatives aimed at mobilizing international support for Africa's economic and social development in recent years. Its approach is laudable as it encourages the ownership and development policies by African countries.
It is also encouraging to note that Japan gives the following priorities to its assistance to Africa: (i) promotion of the process of democratization; (ii) implementation of economic reforms; (iii) human resources development; and (iv) conservation of the environment. These priorities are in line with those contained in the Strategic Plan of the African Union and those of the New Partnership for Africa's development (NEPAD).
Among the various actions taken by Japan in favor of Africa's development, it is important to mention the "Tokyo International Conference on African Development" (TICAD) in October 1993, which gave a new impetus to Japan's relations with Africa. Numerous follow-up actions have been taken by the Government of Japan, which has been providing financial assistance in support of (1)the democratization process in Africa; (2)the implementation of economic reforms; (3)the development of human resources and (4)the conservation of the environment.
The main conclusions of the first TICAD, which are contained in the "Tokyo Declaration", put particular emphasis on the importance of political and economic reform, regional cooperation and integration, and the role of the private sector for the successful development of Africa during the years and decades to come. The African Union supports these goals. It also urges African countries to learn from the successful development experiences of some Asian countries and promote South-South cooperation.
Apart from the full agreement that exists between Japan and Africa on the development priorities, the other signs of support shown by Japan and the Japanese people encourage Africa.
Noteworthy in that context is the exemplary conduct of high Japanese officials in the United Nations system, such as Madame Ogata, High Commissioner for Refugees(*) and Mr. Matsuura of UNESCO. Also the actions taken by JICA and numerous Japanese volunteers in Africa are highly appreciated by the African governments and populations.
Among the Japanese volunteers, the example shown by Doctor Hideyo Noguchi's actions deserves special recognition. Also Africa thanks Japan for having been the first to invite Africa to a G8 Summit in Okinawa.
What does Africa expect from Japan at this juncture? Japan's decision to double its official development assistance to Africa, during 2005 declared by Japan as the "Africa year" was a very welcome development. Now there is a need to strengthen the strategic partnership, which already exists between Africa and Japan.
There are already some positive examples of Japan's development assistance that deserve to be mentioned. One among them is the introduction of a new variety of a seed for rice cultivation "Nerika". The cultivation of this variety will, no doubt, contribute to self-sufficiency in food production in Africa.
Another example is the launching in July 2006 of a Prize in memory of late Dr. Hideyo Noguchi. This Prize will help fight against certain diseases in Africa. This Prize is to praise a pioneer who was liked and highly appreciated by the people of Ghana. Late Dr. Hideyo Noguchi remains a good example in human solidarity by both Africans and Japanese.
There are new projects in the implementation phase, which are the product of Africa-Japan partnership. These projects are:
- Infrastructure development;
I had the feeling that the media and political elite, including His Majesty the Emperor of Japan closely follow the situation in Africa, characterized by human sufferings.
However, there still a need is to popularize the knowledge of Africa in its diversity, its difficulties and root cause of these difficulties in Japan. Equally important would be to publicize the magnitude of assistance that Africa would need in order to successfully confront the challenges it is presently facing.
The 34 African countries represented by embassies in Tokyo, the growing number of African students and workers and soon the opening of the Africa House should contribute to other positive developments in future Africa-Japan partnership. This partnership must continue to be strengthened.
Two names come immediately to mind when reviewing the development of Africa-Japan partnership. First, Honorable Mori, former Prime Minister of Japan launched this partnership. Honorable Mori is an African, the keeper of the holly Temple.
The second, is also an African brother who has continued Mori's historical move, I am referring to Honorable Prime Minister Koizumi. He has visited Africa and the headquarters of the African Union. He organized TICAD III in Tokyo in 2003, welcoming 23 African Presidents within 48 hours.
Prime Minister Koizumi wants to share Japan's successes with Africa. This is the reflection of his profound belief in human beings and their sense of solidarity, work efforts and good governance practices. Prime Minister does everything in a style which unique and can seduce. He is discrete, alert, determined and has the urge to win and to teach.
I have no doubt in my mind that with Prime Minster Koizumi and because his actions, supported by Mori, he will pass on smoothly to his successor and in 2008, at the time of the fourth TICAD, TICAD IV, and the G8 Summit, Africa will have begun its own success story.
Africa will never cease to thank Koizumi, and he will always be with Africa.
* Editorial Note: Currently, Ms. Sadako Ogata acts President of Japan International Cooperation Agency(JICA)
* Profile of contributor
- Prime Minister Honors Contributors to Disaster Prevention (September 6, 2006)
- Opening Ceremony of the African Fair (September 2, 2006)
- Japan-Lithuania Summit Meeting (September 1, 2006)
- Disaster Prevention Day Drills (September 1, 2006)
- Prime Minister Visits Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan) (August 29 to 30, 2006)
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