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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 199 (August 4, 2005)

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

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile Japanese

Sprinkling water to stay cool

Junichiro Koizumi here.

It is now August, and the chorus of cicadas singing can be heard all around. The chirping cicadas can also be heard in the courtyard of the Prime Minister's Office, and investigating further, I found that there were little holes around the roots of the tree where the cicada larvae had crawled out of the soil. When I looked very closely around the holes, sure enough, the cicadas' shells were there, stuck to the back of the leaves. I was impressed that the cicada larvae had managed to survive, even though the entire courtyard had been dug up at the time of the construction of the new Prime Minister's Office.

As for the azure-winged magpies which had been nesting on the veranda of my official residence, the four chicks safely took flight from their nest the other day. I am energized by seeing these animals and insects that live through the blistering summer, even in the heart of the city.

Although the sun may beat down on us everyday from the early morning hours, what is exacerbating the soaring temperatures is the "heat island phenomenon."

What is the "heat island phenomenon?" This is when temperatures in the urban centers rise higher than the surrounding region. One of the causes of this phenomenon is the decreasing amount of greenery in cities due to the process of urbanization. Other causes are the growing number of asphalt roads and concrete buildings, as well as the heat produced from automobiles and air conditioners in buildings. If you were to actually measure it, the surface temperature of a road in the middle of summer is over 60 degrees Celsius.

In the old days, people used to sprinkle water on the ground in the summertime. The old saying that it becomes cooler if you sprinkle water still holds true. I never cease to be amazed by the wisdom of people of the past.

In the old days, people used to sprinkle water on the ground in the summertime. The old saying that it becomes cooler if you sprinkle water still holds true. I never cease to be amazed by the wisdom of people of the past.

In the past, restrictions on groundwater intake were imposed in Tokyo and the surrounding area because factories took up too much groundwater, causing subsidence. More recently however, the groundwater level has been rising, and the large volume of spring water gushing into the subway system and other areas has posed a variety of problems. Up to now, this spring water has been discharged into rivers, or it has been disposed of, at a charge, in the sewage system.

People have pointed out that such measures are wasteful of a valuable water resource. The concept of this experiment is to sprinkle spring water pumped up from subways onto roads, thereby generating a cooling effect. If you just sprinkle the water, it will only flow down the road and have little effect, so the idea is to install special water-retentive paving, and utilize solar power to sprinkle the water.

Making such efforts will, it is said, result in the surface temperature of these roads being around 10 degrees Celsius lower than ordinary roads. I have great expectations for this scheme.

The same day as the water-sprinkling demonstration, I also visited the shaft of the underground common conduit located at the Toranomon intersection. It is an enormous underground tunnel that serves as a storage space for lifelines indispensable for our daily lives, including electricity, gas, water and telecommunication networks. The advantages of an underground conduit are that it offers greater resistance to earthquakes and makes the management of the various lifelines running through it easier. An underground conduit also means that there is no need to endlessly keep digging up the roads. The city landscape also improves as utility poles are no longer needed.

I descended about 40 meters from ground level in an elevator usually used by workmen. I was astonished that such a massive underground space existed in the middle of the city.

The other thing I was surprised about was that women cannot work in the tunnel area. When I asked why that was, I was told that there is a law that prohibits women from working in underground shafts and tunnels. In an era in which a woman can be the commander of the space shuttle, I was astounded that such restrictions still exist. I immediately instructed that investigation begin on an amendment to the law to enable women who wish to do so to work in tunnels and similar places.

This week saw deliberation on the bill related to the privatization of the postal services move into its final stages. The bill sets out a structure whereby private-sector personnel will manage the three postal services--mailing, savings and life insurance--which are currently operated by about 380,000 civil servants.

I sincerely gave comprehensive answers to questions at Tuesday's Diet deliberations. I said that "this bill gives sufficient consideration to guarantee that post offices will not disappear from sparsely-populated regions or remote islands," and that "if privatization is realized, the post offices will not only be limited to the three postal services, but they will also be able to harness the knowledge and ingenuity that characterizes the private sector to launch various businesses that will be convenient for the people."

A proverb tells us, "those who travel 100 miles believe that 90 miles is only halfway." I will poise myself in facing the rest of the deliberations, and do my best to make sure that the bill related to the privatization of the postal services is enacted.

* 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]

- Japan-Nauru Summit Meeting (August 3, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Ludwig Scotty, the President of the Republic of Nauru.

- Indian Ocean Tsunami Orphans Pay a Courtesy Call on Prime Minister (August 1, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi stated, "I hope that you all will have hope and lead a lively life."

- Young People Taking Part in the Northern Youth Exchange Project Pay Courtesy Call on the Prime Minister (July 29, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi received a courtesy call from the young people descended from families who once lived in the Northern Territories of Japan.

- Prime Minister Tours around the National Diet Building (July 29, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi observed the water-retentive pavement device and sprinklers around the National Diet Building as well as the Toranomon Shaft of the Hibiya underground conduit.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiken Sugiura
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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