Fukuda Cabinet E-mail Magazine No.38 (July 3, 2008) ============================================================
* Next issue will be delivered on July 11, 2008, due to the G8 Hokkaido
"Before Tanabata, the Star Festival. This is Yasuo Fukuda."
The price of crude oil recently topped 140 dollars a barrel, setting yet another record high.
This month, the prices for essentials, including gasoline, electricity and gas, have gone up again, one after another. I understand that people are finding it harder and harder just to make ends meet. What is more, the price rises are having a severe impact on industries such as fisheries, agriculture and forestry, and transport, above all on the management of small and medium enterprises and micro-enterprises. I learned that the situation is even harder for those people living in places such as remote islands.
Next week, I will call on the leaders of other countries at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit -- and will take other opportunities to do so as well -- for international coordination to stabilize the price of crude oil, which is determined by the international market.
Meanwhile, the Government has compiled a package of financing measures for small and medium enterprises and other emergency measures as an immediate response, and has already started implementing some of the measures that incorporate actions that can immediately be taken. I will respond flexibly using whatever measures are necessary while keeping a close watch on the trend in the price of crude oil, among other matters.
However, what is most important from a long-term perspective is to bring about a society that is not dependent on oil and other fossil fuels -- in other words, a low-carbon society. The achievement of such a society is the fundamental solution to the problem.
Each and every one of the people is a protagonist in this undertaking. If we are to transform our society into a low-carbon society, it is essential that everyone takes action, starting with a review of his or her own lifestyle.
Japan has, in any case, long valued the spirit of "mottainai," which means not letting things that have value go to waste. As such, I believe that an energy-saving low-carbon lifestyle is not so difficult for Japanese people to achieve. In fact, I am sure that it is already in our blood.
The other day, I attended the Award Ceremony for the Energy Conservation Contest. On that occasion, I heard various snippets rich in the unique wisdom of housewives from Mrs. Hitomi Ozawa, who won the Prime Minister's Award for the household sector.
By putting a range of ingenious ideas into practice, Mrs. Ozawa was able to reduce the amount of energy used in her household by 18%. She cut the time needed to heat a pan on the gas stovetop through the use of a handmade insulating cover that cooks using waste heat, and she reduced the amount of detergent and water needed for the laundry by weighing each load before washing it.
"The key is to enjoy whatever things you are doing without taking it too far," said Mrs. Ozawa, but it really is true that from small beginnings come great things. I take my hat off to the wisdom of housewives, which not only stretches the family budget but can also help to save the planet.
Global environmental issues will be a major topic of discussion at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit. Starting this year, I will make July 7, which is also the first day of the Summit, Cool Earth Day, a day for the Government and the people to think and act together in order to achieve a low-carbon society.
Various events are being planned for Cool Earth Day. One of these is the Tanabata Light Down -- July 7 being, in Japan, the day of Tanabata, or the Star Festival. That evening, over 70,000 facilities and households across the country will switch off their lights from 20:00 to 22:00.
As a first step that we can take, in our everyday lives, toward an energy-saving lifestyle, I invite you all to try turning off the lights in your house and stepping outside to enjoy with your family the sight of the Milky Way in the night sky.
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