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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.5 (November 9, 2006) ============================================================

[Hello, this is Shinzo Abe] -- Message from Prime Minister
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

Throwing the First Pitch at the Japan-U.S. All Star Series

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

It has recently come to light that throughout Japan compulsory high school curriculum requirements are not being met. The students who are affected must be overcome with anxiety as their university entrance exams approach.

All students suffer as a result of this problem: those who study all of the compulsory subjects according to the rules; those who, trusting that their schools were providing them the necessary courses, in the end were let down; and those who graduated from high school with the requirements unfulfilled.

Taking into consideration an appropriate balance between fair treatment of the problem and the burden on students, the Government studied this issue quickly but intensively and decided last week on measures to resolve the problem, including supplementary classes and submission of reports. Across our nation students are really struggling to deal with this situation, and I hope they will do everything they can to weather these difficulties somehow.

On November 3, Culture Day in Japan, I threw the ceremonial first pitch in the first game of the Japan-U.S. All Star Series, which took place in Tokyo.

When I was a boy I used to play catcher, but it had been about 30 years since I had thrown a baseball. In order to prepare for my big day, I put in some last-minute training the day before the game, throwing a ball around in the garden outside my office with Diet member Yoshitami Kameoka, who used to be the catcher for former professional pitcher Suguru Egawa when they were at Sakushin Gakuin High School together.

The stadium was packed to overflowing. Surrounded by the cheers and enthusiasm of the crowd, I was as nervous as when I answer questions in the Diet - even more nervous, actually. The ball failed to go in the direction I had envisioned, but true to his reputation, Major League catcher Kenji Johjima skillfully caught it in his mitt.

In the ensuing game, the first of the series, the U.S. team took the lead with a powerful homerun. The Japanese team followed hard on their heels, and it was a good game, ending with only one run separating the teams. I had a great time watching my first baseball game in a long time.

I too enjoy sports. In my student years, I practiced archery. Incidentally, I am currently Chairman of the All Japan Archery Federation.

In archery, athletes compete to win points by hitting a target with an arrow. They shoot at targets 80 or 122 centimeters in diameter from a distance of 30 to 90 meters, aiming to hit the innermost circle, which is one-tenth of the overall target size. In Olympic competition, archers shoot at a target with a 122-centimeter diameter from a distance of 70 meters.

In order to compete for an advantage of mere millimeters, which is rather like attempting to pass an arrow through the eye of a needle, enormous physical strength is needed. The ability to concentrate, however, is important above all. Through participating in the sport as a student, I was able to develop my powers of concentration and acquire the mental strength not to bow to pressure. What's more, the friendships I developed with other archers through our shared joys and sorrows continue to this day, and indeed are a valuable asset to me in my life.

[Learning Media English with E-mail Magazine]

- Answer to the quiz in the Japanese Version E-mail Magazine

Q: How do you say "Kaijo-soshi-katsudo" in English?
A: MIO (i.g. Maritime Interdiction Operation)

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Prime Minister Receives a Courtesy Call from Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of South Korea (November 6, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe congratulated Minister Ban on his assumption of the post of Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) from next January.

- Prime Minister Throws the Ceremonial First Pitch at the Japan-U.S. All Star Series (November 3, 2006)
After he threw the ceremonial first pitch, Prime Minister Abe, along with Ambassador Schieffer and Mr. Johjima, autographed a commemorative home plate.

- Prime Minister Receives a Courtesy Call from MLB Players Tadahito Iguchi and Kenji Johjima (November 2, 2006)
Mr. Johjima gave Prime Minister Abe a catcher's mitt that he had worn in actual games, and Mr. Iguchi presented a signed bat.

- Japan-Tanzania Summit Meeting (November 1, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe held a meeting with Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Chief Editor: Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Hiroshige Seko
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan

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