What's up around the Prime Minister

Thursday, October 1
Film Director Kurosawa Receives People's Honor Award

At a ceremony at the prime minister's official residence Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi presented the People's Honor Award to the late film director Akira Kurosawa. His eldest son, Hisao Kurosawa, accepted the award certificate and plaque and a commemorative Arita-ware vase on behalf of his father, who died on September 6.
The prime minister praised Kurosawa's achievements, saying, "As one of Japan's leading film directors he created numerous masterpieces over many years. His works deeply moved the Japanese people with their vivid imagery and warm human love, and mark a brilliant page in the history of world cinema."
At a press conference following the ceremony, Hisao Kurosawa said, "This award is from the people, who laughed and cried [at my father's films]." Akira Kurosawa was the fourteenth recipient of the People's Honor Award.

Wednesday, October 7-Saturday, October 10
President of Republic of Korea Visits Japan

President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea made a state visit to Japan and met with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at Akasaka Palace. After the summit the two leaders signed a Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration.titled "A New Japan-Republic of Korea Partnership Toward the Twenty-first Century" and an Action Program including regular summit meetings. This was followed by a joint press conference.

Thursday, October 15
Prime Minister Visits SME Techno Fair '98 and SME Business Messe '98

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited the SME Techno Fair '98 and the SME Business Messe '98, being held at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center in Ariake, Tokyo, and exchanged views with heads of small and medium-sized businesses concerning the economy and other issues. Examining the exhibits, the prime minister questioned exhibitors about sales and other business-related matters.
Afterward he talked with the heads of seven small and medium-sized businesses. The business leaders complained of the difficulties caused by the inability to obtain loans and the high cost of advertising and other sales efforts. The prime minister responded, "I know times are hard, but please keep up the good work."

Friday, October 16
Prime Minister Attends Meeting of Prefectural Governors

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi attended the government-sponsored meeting of the nation's prefectural governors in Tokyo. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya, governor of Saitama Prefecture and president of the National Governors' Association, said, "The corporation enterprise tax and individual inhabitants tax are the core prefectural taxes, and their reform will have an enormous impact on fiscal management." Governors of urban prefectures also complained of the worsening fiscal situation and urged that the 7 trillion yen in permanent tax cuts promised by the prime minister be borne by the national treasury.

Monday, October 19
Prime Minister Delivers Opening Address at TICAD II

The Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development, cosponsored by Japan, the United Nations, and the Global Coalition for Africa, was convened at a Tokyo hotel. TICAD II, which followed the first such conference in 1993, was attended by representatives of 82 countries, including Western and Asian countries, and some 40 international organizations. The themes of the conference were socioeconomic development and the prevention of conflict in Africa.
Delivering the opening address, the prime minister pledged the strengthening of human resources development assistance through South-South cooperation in a way that would make the most of the experience of Asian nations and said that Japan was studying new debt relief measures that would in effect waive repayment of Japanese yen loans extended to the poorest African countries through 1997. The prime minister also said, "I cannot overemphasize that political stability, through the resolution and prevention of conflict and the advancement of democratization, is indispensable for development in Africa."

Monday, October 19
Prime Minister Meets with Malaysian Prime Minister

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who was in Japan to attend the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development, and revealed that Japan was studying extending yen loans and loans through the Export-Import Bank of Japan to Malaysia, which had been hard hit by the Asian economic crisis. Prime Minister Mahathir requested US$1.9 billion in yen loans for infrastructure-building projects, and Prime Minister Obuchi said that an Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund assessment mission would soon be sent to Malaysia.

Tuesday, October 20
Prime Minister Meets with OAU Secretary General and Heads of Six African Countries

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met separately with Salim Ahmed Salim, secretary general of the Organization of African Unity, and the leaders of Ethiopia, Ghana, and four other African states, all of whom were in Japan to attend the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development.
In his meeting with OAU Secretary General Salim, the prime minister touched on the continuing civil strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo and requested that the OAU strengthen efforts to resolve the conflict, saying, "We would like to see the OAU play an active role in resolving [the conflict]." OAU Secretary General Salim said that early the following week the OAU would hold a meeting in Zambia concerning the conflict in Congo. He said that conflict prevention was crucial and requested Japanese assistance to strengthen the OAU.

Wednesday, October 21
Prime Minister Meets with U.N. Secretary General

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met at the prime minister's official residence with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who was in Japan to attend the Second Tokyo International Conference on African Development.
Referring to permanent membership for Japan on the U.N. Security Council and other U.N. reforms, the prime minister said, "Speedy reform is needed to maintain and strengthen the U.N.'s authority and confidence in the organization," and noted that some Japanese feel that it is unfair for Japan to keep paying U.N. contributions when the United States' contributions are in arrears and no progress on Security Council reform is evident. Secretary General Annan said that he totally agreed on the need for swift U.N. reform.

Thursday, October 21
Prime Minister Meets with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met at Akasaka Palace with Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who was on his first state visit to Japan. They agreed to strengthen the existing cooperative bilateral relationship, signing and issuing a Joint Statement Concerning Cooperation Directed Toward the Twenty-first Century Between Japan and Saudi Arabia.
The prime minister expressed Japan's wish to expand cooperation with Saudi Arabia in regard to various key issues. Crown Prince Abdullah said that his purpose in visiting Japan was to build a partnership between the two countries and that he believed the bilateral relationship would develop further. He also requested increased Japanese investment in Saudi Arabia.
The Japan-Saudi Arabia Cooperation Agenda, signed by representatives of the two governments on October 21, outlines five areas of bilateral cooperation: human resources development; the environment; health, science, and technology; culture and sports; and investment and joint ventures.

Monday, October 26
Prime Minister Meets with Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met with Shaikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, first deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Kuwait. The prime minister expressed the hope that in negotiations over renewing Arabian Oil Co.'s drilling rights in Kuwait, which expire in 2002, the Kuwaiti government would take into consideration the role that Arabian Oil had played in creating bilateral ties of friendship.
In response, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sabah said that he hoped that the talks over granting drilling rights would be brought to a fair conclusion. He also expressed his government's support for Japan's becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Wednesday, October 27
Prime Minister and Kyrgyz President Sign Joint Declaration

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met with President Askar Akaevich Akaev of the Republic of Kyrgyz, and the two leaders signed a joint declaration concerning bilateral friendship and cooperation. The joint declaration points out the importance of development of the Central Asian region and welcomes Kyrgyz's progress in democratization and transition to a market economy. President Akaev also met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura and requested that Japan accept more trainees from Kyrgyz.

Wednesday, October 28
Prime Minister Visits a Nursing Home and Child Care Facilities

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited a nursing home and child care facilities in Tokyo to hear people's views firsthand in order to apply them to measures to deal with Japan's declining birthrate and graying society. He first visited a nursing home that also houses a children's day care center. After having lunch with the nursing home residents and children, he talked with nursing home residents, family members, and middle school students working as volunteers.
During lunch the children pelted him with questions, asking him what a prime minister does and what his favorite foods were. He then visited a Jidokan (children's hall). Some mothers said that because of poor housing conditions they hesitated to have more children even if they wanted to. The prime minister replied that he wanted to put in place firm measures to improve housing conditions.

Thursday, October 29
Prime Minister Meets with Indian Former Prime Minister

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met with Inder Kumar Gujral, former prime minister of the Republic of India. The prime minister expressed his regret over the nuclear tests conducted by India in May and said he hoped that India would cooperate with initiatives toward nuclear nonproliferation. He requested India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and take other positive steps, and asked that this message be relayed to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Former Prime Minister Gujral replied that India was surrounded by nuclear states and, not being under the nuclear umbrella, had to consider its defense in those circumstances.

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