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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 172 (January 20, 2005)
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[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile


Remembering the disaster


Junichiro Koizumi here.

A decade ago, the city of Kobe was struck by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. On January 17, various ceremonies and events were held in and around Kobe in memory of the disaster.

Here in Japan we can never forget the heartfelt support and assistance we received from the people of other countries in response to the damage wrought by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and again by the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake last year.

In moving towards reconstruction, it is vital that we continue to combine efforts that are mindful not only of the physical reconstruction of villages, towns and cities, but also pay heed to the communities there, and the hearts and minds of residents. With this in mind, we should strive towards the goal of becoming a disaster-resilient nation.

Over the course of ten years, great improvements have been made in disaster preparedness measures. For instance, at the time of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, firefighters in neighboring towns found that they could not work together due to differences in the specifications of their hoses and equipment. Learning from this experience, fire hoses have been standardized so that now they can all be used interchangeably.

Prior to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, many local governments did not ask the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to take part in their disaster preparedness drills. However, it is now the case that joint drills are routinely held, leading to stronger cooperative ties between local governments and the SDF.

I attended the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction taking place in Kobe from January 18, and delivered an address in my capacity as representative of the host country. In my address, I spoke about the government and private sectors learning from the experience of the immense level of damage suffered from the earthquake a decade ago and working together to promote the development of communities that are better able to withstand disasters. I also mentioned work to expand and strengthen the immediate response structures and support capabilities in times of disaster.

Assistance provided by volunteers is equally valuable. A great number of volunteers rushed to the aid of the disaster-stricken region at the time of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, but unfortunately, the conditions at that time prevented them from fully extending the assistance they were so willing to provide. Given this experience, at the time of the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake last year, some volunteers coordinated other volunteers who had assembled to help out, allowing a structure where the volunteers could provide assistance that fully utilized their abilities.

I stressed the importance of the assistance provided by volunteers at the conference in Kobe.

As part of Japan's international cooperation in disaster reduction, I have proposed the Initiative for Disaster Reduction through ODA to ensure the inclusion of disaster reduction perspectives in the provision of overseas development assistance. I also announced that as a member of the Asian community, Japan will further advance cooperation in disaster reduction utilizing the Asian Disaster Reduction Center.

Many of you may remember the story of "Fire of the rice field" I shared in last week's e-mail magazine. Hamaguchi Goryo, who saved the lives of many people in his village from a tsunami, sacrificed his belongings and property to construct an embankment along the seashore near his hometown after the tsunami. I heard that the town was again saved from fatal damage when it was hit by another tsunami some 90 years later thanks to this embankment.

It is often said that "disasters strike when you least expect them." What is important for us is to take this saying to heart and share experiences gained from disasters with the world as we work together towards disaster reduction.

The regular session of the Diet is scheduled to convene tomorrow, January 21. At the opening of the Diet, I will be delivering a speech that outlines our basic policies for national administration.

During this Diet session I will endeavor to obtain approval as soon as possible first for a supplementary budget for reconstruction activities and then for next year's budget. The bill concerning the privatization of the postal services, which is at the heart of the structural reform of the Koizumi Cabinet, will be submitted to the Diet and I will make every effort towards its enactment.

There is no end to reform. I will continue to advance reforms vigorously, working for a brighter future for Japan.


* 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.


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[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Japan-Canada Summit Meeting (January 19, 2005)
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/koizumiphoto/2005/01/19canada_e.html
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting and a joint press conference with Mr. Paul Martin, the Prime Minister of Canada.

- Japan-Andorra Summit Meeting (January 19, 2005)
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/koizumiphoto/2005/01/19andorra_e.html
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Marc Forne Molne, the Prime Minister of the Principality of Andorra.

- Japan-Zambia Summit Meeting (January 18, 2005)
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/koizumiphoto/2005/01/18zambia_e.html
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, the President of the Republic of Zambia.

- United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction (January 18, 2005)
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/koizumiphoto/2005/01/18bousai_e.html
In the first day of the conference, Prime Minister Koizumi stated that Japan would spare no effort in promoting the highest level of international cooperation on support to countries struck by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

- Kantei Conference: "Privatization of the Postal Services: Fundamental Reform from Public to Private" (January 17, 2005)
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/koizumiphoto/2005/01/17conference_e.html
The conference was convened for the purpose of gathering the opinions of experts from both Japan and abroad, regarding the privatization of the postal services.

- Japan-Poland Summit Meeting (January 14, 2005)
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/koizumiphoto/2005/01/14poland_e.html
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Mr. Marek Belka, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland.

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General Editor: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Chief Editor: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiken Sugiura
Publication: Cabinet Public Relations Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8968, Japan


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