Last week, including the weekend, was a truly busy week.
On the 18th I visited Fukushima Prefecture for the second time since assuming office. While the schedule was quite tight as it was just before my visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK), I made this visit because I wanted to see for myself the state of efforts to decontaminate family homes, and also because I wanted to hear directly the unfiltered views of people living in temporary housing and of parents with children, before winter arrives.
In the village of Otama, I had the chance to enjoy an onigiri (rice ball) made of delicious Fukushima-grown rice. This year's rice harvest reaching consumers, including the rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture, has had its safety confirmed through surveys of radioactive materials conducted in two stages, before and after harvesting. Wanting to assist even if only slightly in dispelling unsubstantiated reputational damage, I gave instructions to switch all the rice I eat at the Prime Minister's Office to rice harvested in Fukushima Prefecture, and already from lunch on the 21st, I have been eating delicious Fukushima-sourced rice harvested this autumn. As the government is committed to the exhaustive disclosure of information, I would like to ask the public not to be swayed by baseless rumors, but instead to take trips to the disaster-impacted areas, purchase products originating in these areas, and so on, in order to support the area affected by the disaster.
I came right back to the Prime Minister's Office and then departed soon afterward for the ROK. On the morning of the 19th, the following day, I had a meeting with President Lee Myung-bak for the first time since our talks at the United Nations General Assembly, making this our second opportunity to meet. Japan's relationship with the ROK, which has been evaluated over the years as "close and yet distant," has been buoyed by the recent boom in Korean culture within Japan, resulting in what I consider major shifts taking place in the undercurrent. I felt keenly that in speaking with President Lee, we succeeded in discussing matters based on our convictions as politicians, rather than simply exchanging our respective positions as a matter of form. For our next meeting, I would like President Lee to visit Japan. By engaging in mutual visits on a regular basis, I believe that we will deepen our relationship of trust still further, speaking our minds honestly as we talk together.
Even after I arrived back in Japan, there were several meetings, one after the other, addressing items my Cabinet has deemed important. These meetings included those of the "Local Sovereignty Strategy Council," the "Council for the Realization of the Revival of the Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery Industries," and a meeting of the "Government Revitalization Unit." I really rolled up my sleeves to put a lot of effort into these, giving various instructions once again to the ministers in charge. Over the weekend, I had a meeting with Mr. François Fillon, Prime Minister of France, who was visiting Japan and I attended the opening ceremonies of both the Tokyo International Film Festival and the China-Japan Screen Image Exchange Program.
The Tokyo International Film Festival was also attended by Mr. Jackie Chan. While Japan received support from the movie industry both in Japan and abroad in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, what I would very much like the readers of this blog to know is that one of the people taking the lead in these efforts was Mr. Jackie Chan. I expressed my gratitude to him once again on behalf of the Japanese people.
Recalling Mr. Chan's masterpieces such as Drunken Master and The Karate Kid within my remarks, I reflected for a moment on "the power of films." As someone who has watched a lot of movies over the years, there have been several in which I have gotten deeply emotionally involved. One which I can say had a particular impact on my life was an old American movie called Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring James Stewart. It tells the story of a politician who takes action in order to protect the environment. It caused me to think deeply about a number of matters, such as one's conscience as a politician and the ability to follow through on things, in keeping with one's conscience.
Good movies change people's lives and their impressive nature spreads, regardless of national boundaries. I can't help thinking I would like politics also to have just such a presence in society.
An extraordinary session of the Diet has convened, with a 51-day session. On Friday, I will make my second policy speech to the Diet since taking office.
(Some of the websites linked from this post are provided in Japanese only)