Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 236 (June 1, 2006)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
On May 27, a large-scale earthquake hit Indonesia's Java Island and has led to a great disaster of over 5,700 casualties already. I would like to offer my sincere condolences for those who fell victim to this disaster and offer my best wishes to all those who were adversely affected.
Immediately after receiving a request for assistance from the Government of Indonesia, the Government of Japan dispatched to Java Island a Japan Disaster Relief Team comprised of 25 medical personnel, who are now providing medical treatments to the disaster victims. In addition, the Government has decided to provide financial assistance of 10 million dollars, as well as emergency assistance in kind including tents, water purifiers and electric generators, worth approximately 20 million yen. Moreover, we have decided to provide assistance through the dispatch of a Self-Defense Force (SDF) medical team, and have already sent out an advance team.
The Government of Japan will work together with countries around the world, the United Nations (UN) and other international organizations, private corporations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide assistance to the maximum extent possible.
I was informed of the large-scale earthquake while I was attending the Fourth Japan-Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Summit Meeting (PALM 2006) held in Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture.
PALM is a summit meeting held every three years with the participation of 14 Pacific island countries and regions including Papua New Guinea, in addition to Australia, New Zealand and Japan, with the aim of further strengthening our relations and for the further development of the Pacific region. It was my second time to take part in PALM after my first three years ago.
Among the participating countries, Tuvalu's entire landmass is only a few meters above sea level. Some of its people are moving to New Zealand in order to escape the disaster from which they are recently suffering--part of their islands submerge under water during spring tides, presumably due to global warming.
I also heard that a number of countries are facing difficulties in disposing the waste dumped illegally in the waters that are washing ashore. The people living on the west coast of Noto Peninsula in Japan, where I visited two weeks ago, and other areas along Japan's seacoast are faced with the same problem.
The conference venue had a beautiful ocean view from the window. We were able to discuss frankly the various issues faced by the Pacific island countries, including destruction of coral reefs and forests; global warming and other environmental issues; waste disposal; measures against earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters; measures against infectious diseases; and ways to build a stable nation.
Japan intends to further strengthen our cooperative relations with the Pacific island countries by further advancing our assistance toward the resolution of these issues as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
The rainy season had already started in Okinawa, but we were blessed with some sun during the meeting. After the banquet, I walked back from the conference hall to the hotel lured by a refreshing breeze. Shining stars covered the sky. It had been a while since I last watched the stars without being pressed for time.
After returning from Okinawa I convened a Security Council on Monday evening. On Tuesday a Cabinet decision was made on the government's policy for the realignment of US bases in Japan.
There is no change in the fact that the maintenance and further enhancement of the Japan-US Security Arrangements are important in order to ensure Japan's safety and to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. With the aim to reduce the burden of the local communities while maintaining deterrence, a comprehensive review will be conducted for the reduction of the number of personnel, relocation of bases and return of lands in Okinawa Prefecture, where the facilities and areas the US Army utilizes is particularly concentrated, as well as the relocation and return in such cities as Iwakuni, Yokota and Zama.
I will steadily advance this policy in close consultation with the local communities in order to gain their understanding and cooperation.
Today is the first day of June. This year I have decided to go to work in the COOL BIZ style, with no tie and no jacket, just like last year. Although summers in Japan are hot, let us use our energy sources wisely by dressing in comfortable clothes and setting air-conditioners at more moderate temperatures.
Yesterday, I received an Okinawan kariyushi shirt from Governor of Okinawa Keiichi Inamine. It can be worn as formal attire, and Governor Inamine said to me that people wear them at the Okinawan prefectural assembly. I also heard that it also serves as a jacket, so that people do not wear a separate jacket on top.
I wore the kariyushi shirt during PALM and spent the days comfortably. I hope to find more opportunities this year to wear it.
It is not that people must stick to the "no tie, no jacket" policy throughout the summer. All I am suggesting is that people have the choice of not wearing a tie or a jacket. I hope that you all will enjoy the summer fashion by selecting outfits that best suit the situation while have it also lend to global warming measures as well.
* 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.
- Yokoso! Japan
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- Japan-PIF Summit Meeting (May 26 to 27, 2006)
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