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Abe Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.10 (December 14, 2006) ============================================================

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

Prime Minister Shinzo AbeProfile Japanese

My First School Lunch in 40 Years

Hello, this is Shinzo Abe.

The Japanese character meaning "life" was chosen as the word most representative of 2006.

On one hand, the birth of His Imperial Highness Prince Hisahito opened our eyes again to how a new life can bring happiness and hope to our own lives, giving us another chance to appreciate the preciousness and value of life. But on the other hand, this year we have also witnessed a number of heartbreaking incidents of children taking their own lives -- lives that had come into this world with the blessings of everyone surrounding them -- after being bullied.

I visited an elementary school in Tokyo last week in hopes of getting a feel for the educational environment children are in today and talking to them in person.

It was my first visit to an elementary school in the 40 years since I graduated from my own. Over lunch, I had a chance to hear, in their own words, what children are really thinking. Many shared with me that they enjoy extracurricular activities and sports. They also asked me unpretentious questions, such as, "As a child, did you have a goal in life?" These questions reassured me that children have hopes and dreams for what they want to pursue in the future.

I was a bit worried that the children would tense up with the press crew in their classroom, but the close bond the class shared and the warm smiles they gave me as we talked impressed me strongly.

I have kept in close touch with my elementary school friends, meeting with them frequently even now after 40 years. Exciting times spent together with friends, even if you occasionally argue, will become a precious memory later in life. It is my hope that children will possess the kindness to go over and talk to another child they see all alone. I was able to convey this message during my visit to the school.

I will never stop reminding all children that there are people who care about and love them, and that bullying is a shameful deed.

In cooperation with local communities, I will enhance even further a system through which children can seek help or advice even at night and on weekends and holidays. I will also set up places all over the country where children can play and study with a sense of security so that they will not be left alone after school.

I have renewed my resolve to do my utmost so that our children do not lose their smiles and will be able to achieve a bright future that fulfills their hopes and dreams.

On December 8, the Cabinet made a decision to change the system under which all tax revenues earmarked for road projects, including the gasoline tax, are automatically allocated to road development. It was decided that the pertinent law will be amended during the ordinary Diet session in 2008.

In last week's e-mail magazine I wrote about advancing major reform to this system, which no one has dared to alter for half a century. Although it was a very difficult issue and provoked a wide range of opinions, I feel confident that I have been able to make good on what I promised the nation.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of the Philippines. I flew there this past weekend, and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and I discussed enhancement of our bilateral relations and North Korea issues, among other topics. Despite a tight schedule of arriving in Manila after midnight on Friday and leaving early Sunday morning, it was a meaningful meeting for the peace and prosperity of Asia.

Deliberations in the Diet are reaching their final stages as the current session draws to a close. The Abe Cabinet's top priority agenda is rebuilding education. I will devote all my energy to reconsidering education from its basic principles as we take the final steps toward enactment of the bill concerning the Fundamental Law of Education.

[Learning Media English with E-mail Magazine]

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

Q: How do you say "douro-tokutei-zaigen" in English?
A: Tax revenues earmarked for road projects.

[What's New in Government Internet TV]

- ABDUCTIONS by North Korea - Abe Administration:Policy Profile

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Prime Minister Visits the Philippines (December 8 to 10, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe was received in a welcome ceremony and held a meeting with Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the President of the Philippines.

- Government and Ruling Parties Council on Tax Revenues Earmarked for Road Projects (December 8, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe said, "we must change the system under which specific tax revenues are allocated solely to fund roads."

- Prime Minister Visits an Elementary School (December 7, 2006)
Prime Minister Abe enjoyed talking with the students over a lunch of rice with seaweed and teriyaki spearfish.

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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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