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Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 177 (February 24, 2005)

[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
(Provisional Translation)

Prime Minister Junichiro KoizumiProfile

The notion of "mottainai"

Junichiro Koizumi here.

Last Friday, I met with Professor Wangari Maathai, Kenya's Deputy Minister of Environment. For a long time Prof. Maathai has devoted efforts to increasing greenery in Africa through promoting the planting of trees, and in recognition of her many achievements in this and other areas, last year she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Prof. Maathai told me how during her visit to Japan she had learned the word "mottainai," which could be literally translated as "don't waste what is valuable."

She noted how the people of Japan take great care to look after things, and remarked on the highly advanced state of environmental protection measures in Japan, pointing to the notion of "mottainai" that all Japanese people share as the reason for this. Prof. Maathai told me that she would like to spread this spirit of "mottainai" across Africa.

I completely agree with Prof. Maathai on the importance of this concept of "mottainai." I had thought that it was a concept that foreigners would not fully be able to grasp, but as I listened to Prof. Maathai I realized that I too should do my best to spread this "mottainai" spirit around the world.

At the Group of Eight (G8) Sea Island Summit last July, I proposed the creation of a society in which waste is reduced, reusable products are reused and waste recycled as a resource, and the leaders assembled at Sea Island indicated their agreement. I refer to this approach as the "3Rs" for "reduce," "reuse" and "recycle."

It is my intention to spread the 3Rs approach, together with the concept of "mottainai," to the world.

In response to last week's e-mail magazine on the issue of the Kyoto Protocol, many readers mailed in to say that they will think more about what they can do for the environment and asked for more detailed advice on what can be done in the home.

Greenhouse gases emitted from factories, offices and from modes of transportation such as airplanes and ships do indeed contribute to global warming, but so too does the carbon dioxide produced by households and private cars account for a significant share of greenhouse gases.

While it is of course important for central and local governments and industry to take the initiative and implement various measures, it is equally important for each and every one of us to begin to make efforts in our immediate surroundings, thereby making an individual contribution to the prevention of global warming.

For instance, even an adjustment of just one degree Celsius to the temperature of a heater or air conditioner would contribute to reducing Japan's total CO2 emissions by thousands of tons. Other effective measures to reduce CO2 emissions include turning off the main power or unplugging the TV overnight, using the water from taking a bath for laundry and bringing along your own shopping bag to save resources.

As for toilets equipped with a seat-warming function that are commonly used in Japan, closing the seat cover after use may reduce by 18kg the annual CO2 emissions for each household.

The Prime Minister's Official Residence to be completed this spring will be equipped with wind power generation and fuel cell power generation systems in addition to a solar power generation system. I too will make every effort in my immediate living environment, and will try to make a difference to global warming, however modest it may be.

The strictest regulation in the world will be imposed on diesel car emissions starting this October. I have further announced a policy to make the standards for this regulation even higher in 2009, which will practically eliminate emissions of particulate substances.

I will take every possible measure and endeavor towards the mutual achievement of environmental protection and economic development.

The 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games will begin this Saturday in Nagano. Special Olympics is an organization which aims to empower individuals with intellectual disabilities and encourage their participation in society. The Olympic flame that was carried all the way from Athens stopped by at my office during the torch run on the way to the venue of the opening ceremony in Nagano Prefecture.

The history of the Special Olympics dates back to the time when Ms. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of former US President John F. Kennedy, opened her own garden to hold a camp for people with intellectual disabilities to enjoy sports. This year's Winter Games will see the participation of approximately 2,700 athletes from 86 countries, where they will spend memorable times together, transcending national differences as well as language barriers.

I plan to attend the opening ceremony on Saturday and give my words of encouragement to the athletes. I hope that it will be a wonderful and exciting tournament.

* 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.

[What's up around the Prime Minister]

- Special Olympics World Winter Games Torch Bearers Pay Courtesy Call on Prime Minister (February 18, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi expressed his heartfelt respect and gratitude to those who worked hard to realize the Special Olympics and wished for the success of the games.

- Prime Minister Meets with the Deputy Minister of Environment of the Republic of Kenya (February 18, 2005)
Prime Minister Koizumi held a meeting with Professor Wangari Maathai, the Deputy Minister of Environment of the Republic of Kenya, who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her great achievement in spreading the "Greenbelt Movement."

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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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