Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 184 (April 14, 2005)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
The cherry blossoms were later than normal this year, but it seems they burst into full bloom in the blink of an eye. I am sure that many of you around the country spent time outside, relishing the beauty of the blossoms.
The other day, a foreign visitor to Japan said to me, "Before I arrived here I had imagined that the topic of conversation here would revolve around Japan's famous IT industries and manufactured products. But that wasn't the case at all. All anyone would talk about was flowers and trees." I think that is a reflection of how much Japanese people appreciate nature.
The new Official Residence was completed this week and unveiled to the public. The building used to house the working offices of the Prime Minister, and in the redevelopment work it was shifted southward by 50 meters. Some new features were added while preserving the original structures that exist from the time of its construction in 1929. I will also be using the new Official Residence to hold meetings with distinguished guests from abroad.
The new Official Residence will be fitted with equipment for solar power generation and wind-power generation. Not only that, it boasts the world's first-ever household fuel cell system. This system extracts hydrogen from city gas and induces a chemical reaction with the oxygen in the air to generate electricity and heat. It is a system that substantially reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Through such efforts, the new Official Residence will become an environment-friendly building.
We planted cherry trees facing the road on the east side of the new Official Residence. In the springs to come, I am sure that passersby will be able to feast their eyes on the trees as they grow large and stretch out their blossom-laden branches.
Many of you must have newly embarked on your career paths this spring.
Recently, the number of so-called freeters, or part-time workers, has been increasing among young people. This number has grown by a million people in the past decade, reaching more than two million in total. There are 640,000 young people dubbed NEETs ("not in employment, education or training") who are neither in school, looking for a job nor receiving vocational training.
This month, the government launched a new employment measure for young people. It set a goal: to enable 200,000 "freeters" to find jobs by the end of FY2005. This is an attempt to help young people find jobs with confidence and drive.
The government also intends to join forces with the local community and economic and labor circles in order to promote measures to eliminate employment mismatches which occur when people can find jobs, but none that are ideally suited to them.
Over the weekend, some demonstrators in China hurled stones at the Japanese Embassy and stores run by Japanese companies, causing damage such as broken windowpanes. The Chinese side has responsibility for ensuring the safety of Japanese nationals who are in China. They must clearly recognize that responsibility, and I have requested that China take all possible steps to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
There may be differences in opinion between Japan and China from time to time. I believe that what is essential between states is not to emphasize the points of contention, but to cooperate with an eye to the future.
We are faced with a mountain of domestic and international issues. I will advance reforms from my unswerving stance without fear, without flinching, and without being bound by convention.
* 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.
- Japan-Colombia Summit Meeting (April 11, 2005)
- Unveiling of the Completion of the Prime Minister's New Residential Quarters (April 11, 2005)
- Prime Minister Hosts Cherry Blossom Viewing Party (April 9, 2005)
- Prime Minister Attends the Central Meeting of the Traffic Safety Campaign (April 7, 2005)
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