Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 145 (June 24, 2004)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
Yesterday, on June 23, I attended the Memorial Ceremony of the War Dead in Okinawa. Just as was the case on June 23 two and three years ago, the rainy season had already lifted in Okinawa and the ceremony took place under an azure sky, bathed in bright sunshine.
Every time I visit Okinawa to offer flowers to the souls of the war dead, my determination that "such a brutal war should never be repeated" is reinforced.
It seems that the world is unable to rid itself of conflict. On the other hand, there are people who seek peace and devote themselves to efforts for reconstruction. In Iraq, on June 30, sovereignty will be transferred to government by the Iraqi people, opening a new passage towards a full reconstruction of Iraq with the cooperation of countries around the world.
When the war in Iraq first began, there were differences in the stance taken by countries around the world. Recently however, the United Nations (UN) Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution calling for member countries to cooperate in reconstruction assistance to Iraq. With this resolution in place, sovereignty will be handed over to the new government led by Iraqi people. Although severe conditions still prevail, Iraq is advancing steadily one step at a time towards reconstruction.
At the Sea Island Summit, I talked with President Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar of the Iraqi Interim Government. He highly praised the activities of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) in Samawah and had warm words of appreciation, telling me that the people of Iraq welcome and truly appreciate the activities of the JSDF. He expressed his strong hope that the JSDF will continue their assistance activities.
I believe that the realization of a stable democracy in Iraq is vital both for Japan and the entire world, and it is with this belief that I wish to continue the assistance activities of the JSDF in Iraq.
Nonetheless, what is important to remember is that Japan cannot provide the same kind of assistance as the United States or United Kingdom. There are four principles with which the JSDF shall comply: Firstly, to operate under Japanese national command. Secondly, to restrict their activities to non-combat areas. Thirdly, to not be an integral part of the use of force. Fourth and finally, to operate within the framework of the Law Concerning the Special Measures on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq. While complying strictly with these principles, Japan, as a member of the UN, must implement responsible activities that are appropriate for Japan.
As has been the case until now, Japan will continue its provision of humanitarian and reconstruction assistance by the JSDF in Samawah, now as part of the multinational force created under the unanimously adopted UN Security Council resolution, the dispatch of which has been requested by the Iraqi Interim Government. This assistance, in tandem with economic cooperation, shall serve as the two wheels on the axle of Japan's assistance to Iraq.
Some of you may be concerned about the terminology of a multinational "force," but in this case the role played by the multinational force is completely different from the one that was established to repulse Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. This time it is a multinational force mandated with the task of reconstructing Iraq and carrying out humanitarian assistance activities.
I wish to provide reconstruction assistance that the people of Iraq will remember in the future as the hand of assistance lent to Iraq at its most crucial time by Japan.
The day before yesterday, on June 22, I had a meeting with Prime Minister Bertie Ahern of Ireland, holder of the EU Presidency, and President of the European Commission Romano Prodi. It was wonderful to see them again so soon after our meetings on the occasion of the Sea Island Summit.
Speaking of the Summit, the leaders of each country enjoyed interesting conversations in addition to discussions over serious issues involving world politics and economy. One example is the question Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada, who participated in the Summit for the first time, shot me as soon as he saw me, "Mr. Koizumi, do you really like Presley?"
A similar episode happened with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, who had traveled with me on the government plane to Japan two years ago after the Kananaskis Summit to watch the final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. After the Japan-Germany Summit Meeting at the Sea Island Summit, given that we had taken a plane together before, Chancellor Schroeder suggested that together we ride one of the carts used for moving around the venues. I took the wheel and with Chancellor Schroeder at my side, we drove around the summit venue.
President George Bush asked me "Do you still have that poster of 'High Noon' I gave you three years ago?" to which I responded "Of course I do." With Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, I chatted about music, in particular opera and music composed by Giuseppe Verdi and the violin pieces by Niccolo Paganini, whose works I like. We also talked about Italian actresses such as Sophia Loren. All these conversations are enjoyable.
President Jacques Chirac of France confided in me that he has his own stock of his favorite shochu (Japanese liquor) and enjoys watching Sumo matches. He expressed his interest in visiting Japan again. President Vladimir Putin of Russia told me that his daughters love Japan.
I talked with Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom about the book "Self-Help" by Samuel Smiles, a British writer, which is often translated as "Jijyoron" or "Saigoku Risshinhen" in Japanese, and told him that it was a bestseller in 19th century Japan, during the Meiji Era. This is just a snapshot of the various conservations I have with world leaders.
Ten countries became new members of the European Union (EU) on May 1, making it the world's biggest integrated economy with 25 countries, 450 million people and 28% of world gross domestic product (GDP).
During my student days, the EU did not exist in its current form, but was still a loose grouping known as the European Community (EC). When I first heard of the plan to create a single EU currency I thought it was just a pipedream, but a single currency has indeed been realized in the form of the euro. The countries are all reaching across their borders to cooperate ever more deeply. I think that is wonderful.
The Olympic Games will open in Athens in August, less than two months away. The Olympics are a truly international event and I hope that the Olympic athletes from around the world will pit their sporting skills against each other in an honorable and sporting fashion when they gather in Athens. The Japanese athletes are currently in preparation for Athens, and I hope you join with me in wishing them, and athletes from other countries, the best of luck in Greece this summer.
* 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.
- The Memorial Ceremony to Commemorate the Fallen on the 59th
Anniversary of the End of the Battle of Okinawa (June 23, 2004)
- Japan-Ireland Summit Meeting and 13th Japan-EU Summit Meeting
(June 22, 2004)
- Awards Ceremony to Present the Prime Minister's Commendations for
Contributors to the National Greening Campaign (June 22, 2004)
- Japan-Republic of Nicaragua Summit Meeting (June 17, 2004)
- Press Conference by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi After the
Closing of the 159th Session of Regular Diet (June 17, 2004)
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