What's up around Prime Minister

Wednesday, September 1
Disaster Prevention Day Drills Held

As part of Disaster Prevention Day observances the government undertook two comprehensive disaster-prevention drills. At the National Land Agency and in Fuji City, Shizuoka Prefecture, drills based on the assumption of a major earthquake in the Tokai region were conducted, while at the Prime Minister's Official Residence and in Koto Ward, Tokyo, drills based on the assumption of a major earthquake directly under the southern Kanto region were carried out.

The latter drills commenced at noon. In the Crisis Management Center in the Prime Minister's Official Residence Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and relevant Cabinet ministers met, whereupon the Headquarters for Emergency Disaster Control was set up and a headquarters meeting of the full Cabinet convened. After that the Prime Minister inspected the government's on-site disaster control headquarters in Koto Ward. These drills also involved the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the local governments of six surrounding cities and prefectures.

Disaster Prevention Day is held on September 1 every year in memory of the Great Kanto Earthquake, which assaulted Tokyo and its environs at noon on September 1, 1923.

Thursday, September 2
Prime Minister Meets with Republic of Korea Prime Minister

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met at Akasaka Palace with Kim Jong Pil, prime minister of the Republic of Korea, who was in Japan on an official visit. The two prime ministers reaffirmed continued close liaison among Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States to prevent further missile launches by North Korea.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Kim, Prime Minister Obuchi also proposed making 2002, when Japan and the Republic of Korea will cohost the World Cup soccer tournament, the "year of people-people exchange between Japan and the Republic of Korea," with the promotion of closer cultural, youth, regional, scholarly, and other forms of people-people exchange between the two countries. Prime Minister Kim reacted positively.

Friday, September 3
Prime Minister Honors Contributors to Disaster Prevention

In a ceremony at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi presented Prime Minister's Commendations to groups that had contributed significantly to disaster prevention by saving lives or minimizing the spread of disasters during fiscal 1998 (April 1998-March 1999). Twenty-eight groups were honored, including local fire brigades that had battled heavy rains and typhoons in August, September, and October 1998; the crew of the icebreaker "Shirase," which had gone to the rescue of the icebound Australian Antarctic observation ship "Aurora Australis"; and the disaster control headquarters set up by the Sasebo Maritime Safety Office to deal with the Republic of Korea cargo ship "Kae Chuck Jin," which had capsized off the coast of Japan.

Monday, September 6
Council of Food, Agriculture,
and Rural Area Policies Holds First Meeting

The Council of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Area Policies, an advisory body established in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in accordance with the Basic Law on Food, Agriculture, and Rural Areas (the New Basic Law on Agriculture), enacted this year, held its first meeting at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi sought opinions of the Council concerning policies the Government is to implement with regard to food, agricalture, and rural areas in fiscal 2000 (April 2000-March 2001) and a basic plan for food, agriculture, and rural areas. The council is scheduled to submit its opinions by the end of fiscal 1999. Professor Naraomi Imamura of Japan Women's University was chosen to chair the council.

Tuesday, September 7
Prime Minister Attends Meeting
of Prefectural Governors

The annual government-sponsored meeting of the nation's prefectural governors was held at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. In his opening remarks Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi noted that legislation to promote decentralization passed in July marked a major shift away from Japan's traditional centralized system of government administration and was designed to enable the building of a basic administrative system for central and local government suited to the twenty-first century. "It will build a 'bridge to prosperity' for Japan's economy and society," he said. "We will continue to actively address decentralization in response to the people's expectations." He added that development of local industry, including small and medium-sized companies and venture businesses, was essential to vigorous regional economies and pledged the entire Cabinet's active promotion, in cooperation with local governments, of comprehensive smaller-business policies responsive to a new age.

Friday, September 10
Police Sent to East Timor Report Return Their to Prime Minister

Three civilian police officers dispatched to East Timor as part of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) reported their return to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. The Prime Minister praised their activities, calling them "truly significant as a Japanese contribution to the United Nations and the international community."

Sunday, September 12-Monday, September 13

Prime Minister Attends APEC Summit in Auckland

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi attended the Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Auckland, New Zealand. Also participating were leaders of 20 other economies, including the United States, China, and Southeast Asian countries.

On September 12 the Prime Minister held talks with leaders of China, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea and the United States. That afternoon he and other leaders met with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).
The plenary meeting on September 13 featured discussion of the lessons of the Asian economic crisis and various economies' policy challenges, APEC's role in the world, and common understanding of the importance and benefits of the issues addressed by APEC. The Prime Minister observed that Japan's economic recovery was extremely important for the Asian and thus the world economy and expressed his government's firm resolve to achieve a full and sustained recovery.

The Leaders' Meeting closed with the adoption of a declaration titled "The Auckland Challenge." The declaration points out the importance of open markets in order to sustain the growth of the regional economy, which has begun to pick up, and recommends strengthening the functions of financial markets on the basis of the experience of the financial crisis. The declaration also expresses the support of all APEC members for the upcoming new round of World Trade Organization multilateral trade negotiations.
After the Leaders' Meeting the Prime Minister gave a press conference at an Auckland hotel.

Thursday, September 16
Prime Minister Attends National Conference
on Creating a Gender-Equal Society

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi attended the National Conference on Creating a Gender-Equal Society, cosponsored by the Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality and the Prime Minister's Office and held at the Tokyo Welfare Pension Culture Service Center (Tokyo Kosei Nenkin Kaikan). Addressing the conference the Prime Minister, president of the Headquarters for the Promotion of Gender Equality, said, "Passage of the Fundamental Law to Promote a Gender-Equal Society marks a new page in the history of Japanese society. To create a gender-equal society, it is essential that all perceive this as their own issue and take action on that basis and that the central government, local governments, and the public work together."

Friday, September 17
Prime Minister Meets with Prime Minister of Canada

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met at the Prime Minister's Official Residence with Jean Chrétien, prime minister of Canada, who was visiting Japan as the leader of Team Canada. Also present were provincial premiers and territorial leaders of Canada and ministers of both governments. The meeting featured wide-ranging discussion of the many issues facing the world in general and the Asia-Pacific region in particular. The two prime ministers stressed the need for expanded bilateral cooperation in addressing the global challenges of the new century.

"Canada and Japan: A Global Partnership for the Twenty-first Century," a joint press announcement issued after the meeting, states in part: "The two Prime Ministers confirmed the intention of the two governments to promote contact between regulatory authorities of the two countries with a view to enhancing understanding of their respective regulatory systems and facilitating trade in regulated products. . . . The Prime Ministers underscored the importance of the upcoming multilateral trade negotiations under the WTO, and shared the view that new trade negotiations are needed to expand global markets and strengthen trade rules."

Tuesday, September 28
Ministerial Conference on Measures Against Dioxins Meets

The Ministerial Conference on Measures Against Dioxins, comprising Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and 12 other Cabinet ministers, held its fifth meeting at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. The conference set the target of reducing the volume of waste for final disposal to half the fiscal1996 level by fiscal 2010 by promoting emissions controls and recycling. The conference also amended the Basic Guidelines for Promotion of Measures Against Dioxins to bring them into line with the Law Concerning Special Measures Against Dioxins, enacted in July.

Thursday, September 30
Government Countermeasures Headquarters Set Up
to Deal with the Tokaimura Nuclear Accident

On the occurrence of a nuclear accident at a uranium-processing plant in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, a government countermeasures headquarters headed by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi was set up. The Prime Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, the Director General of the Science and Technology Agency, the Minister for Home Affairs and Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, the Director General of the Defense Agency, and other relevant ministers, as well as the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretaries, the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management, and other government officials, met in the Crisis Management Center in the Prime Minister's Official Residence. The Prime Minister instructed the relevant Cabinet ministers and officials to put in place effective government arrangements to cope with Japan's first-ever critical-mass nuclear accident and ordered that the necessary measures be taken.

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