Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 237 (June 8, 2006)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
Last weekend I visited Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture, the hometown of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, for what was my third consecutive weekend of domestic trips preceded by visits to the Hokuriku region and Okinawa.
I left Tokyo on Friday at 7 pm and arrived late at night at a traditional Japanese ryokan (inn) in Higashiyama hot springs, which are known as Aizu's back parlor. On the following morning I visited Ouchijuku, a historic quarter that once prospered as a post-station town on the Aizu West Road.
Designated as a preservation district of traditional buildings, the area has revived its streetscape from the Edo period by beautifully restoring the thatched roofs, taking down the utility poles, and removing the pavement to create a gravel road.
With the restoration of its old streetscape, the number of tourists to the area including those from overseas is sharply rising. The people of Aizu sure are people of wisdom.
I then returned to Aizu-Wakamatsu and had lunch at a medicinal herb garden called Oyakuen, a garden dating back to the Muromachi period. After climbing the Iimoriyama Hill where the young warriors of the Byakkotai died on their own swords, I visited the Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Hall in Inawashiro Town.
When I met President John Agyekum Kufuor in Ghana last month, he told me that he had visited the memorial hall when he stayed in Japan, and having never been there myself I had been meaning to visit it.
At the memorial hall, Dr. Noguchi's birth home is preserved along with many of his memorabilia. Seeing for instance the open hearth from which he suffered a burn as a baby, the books he read, his desk, and a letter from his mother, I was once again moved by the greatness of Dr. Noguchi.
Following Dr. Noguchi's death, the people of Fukushima Prefecture and those concerned with Dr. Noguchi built the memorial hall and have for many years continued to award the Hideyo Noguchi Commemorative Award for Medicine, which I find to be an invaluable contribution.
I have already mentioned in the e-mail magazine that I hope to establish an award commemorating Dr. Noguchi to honor those who have made contributions to the study and practice of medicine in Africa. It may not be appropriate to make the prize grander than the Nobel Prize and so what I will say is that I will endeavor to make this award comparable to the Nobel Prize.
In two years time in 2008, we will mark the 80th anniversary of the death of Dr. Noguchi, and in Tokyo we will convene the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which is held once every five years. I would like to take that opportunity to hold the first award ceremony when the heads of state of African countries will be gathered here in Tokyo.
Carrying on Dr. Noguchi's mission I intend for Japan to do its utmost for the improvement of medicine and the promotion of health in Africa and the rest of the world.
* 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.
- Prime Minister Visits Fukushima Prefecture (June 2 to 3, 2006)
- Japan-Antigua and Barbuda Summit Meeting (June 1, 2006)
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