Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

On Sunday―yesterday―I welcomed the youngest guests I have ever had since assuming the job of prime minister.  I had a courtesy call from eight students representing the six prefectures of Tohoku and received a powerful message that "high school students want to be proactive in their engagement" towards the reconstruction of Tohoku, their home region.  I tipped my hat repeatedly to the students' high level of awareness of issues, with our discussions ranging from not only the desirable state of politics to the uniformity of media coverage.

To achieve the reconstruction of the disaster-stricken area, we need a tremendous amount of energy for "rebirth," enough to exceed the energy of destruction from the massive tsunami.  Also indispensable are the sensibilities of young people, who are upright and flexible.  It is extremely promising to see the generation that will shoulder the responsibilities of the coming years thinking of the region's future as their own issue.

I could not help but think of how important it is to advance politics that gives proper consideration to young people who are not able to vote and to future generations that are yet to be born.

On Friday of last week, a Cabinet decision was taken on "outlines" for the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems.  We are now sending out a video message to the Japanese people that I recorded addressing part of my thoughts towards this reform.

Much of what I said may be things that people have heard before, but I put my thoughts together once more, incorporating messages to multiple generations.  I would be very pleased if you would take a look at it.

Since last week, in addition to the courtesy call by the high school students, I have had the opportunity to receive messages from young people in a variety of ways.  This becomes a somewhat personal story, but I would like to share with you two episodes from among them.

The first is that books of poems by the young poet Ms. Katsura Ohgoe of Sendai have been published.  I have already written in this blog about how I came to quote her poem "A crown of flowers" in the policy speech I made to the extraordinary session of the Diet last autumn.  I recently received another letter from her and was informed that since the end of last week, two collections of her poetry have become available in bookstores nationally.  Her warm words, which she brings forth despite disabilities, give encouragement to a great many people as true "seeds of hope."  I hope that her words reach the hearts of as many people as possible.

The other story is a sad one.  A young local assembly member, with whom I have often been of the same mind, passed away last week on the 14th.  The man was Mr. Takamichi Hasu, a city council member in the city of Midori in Gunma Prefecture.  He was only 30.  He died of cancer of the kidney.  He promoted a local manifesto and there were great expectations for his future activities within his local government.  His passing is truly regrettable.

The other day I read his posthumous writings that he had penned before his death.  In them are his thoughts during his illness and also a call of encouragement to me.

He writes touching upon a speech I had made during the DPJ presidential election, in which I had made an appeal saying, "What morning glories need in order to produce lovely flowers early in the morning are the darkness of night and the cold."

He writes that a great number of Japanese people who heard that speech, including those in the disaster areas, the unemployed, and the sick, compared the hardships that had befallen themselves to "the darkness of night and the cold," and that, thinking of the morning that is certain to come, "they must surely have thought that their own hardships would surely yield beautiful morning glory blossoms for themselves as well."

Upon hearing my speech in his hospital bed, between his tears there in bed he wrote about the feelings stirred in him towards thoughts of recovery, then calls on us "not to forget."  I am reproducing a portion of his writings below.

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No matter how hard you look, it is impossible to get a clear view through the darkness of night when you are looking from a brightly lit place.  Yet conversely, bright places can be seen with great clarity when you look out from the darkness.

There are corners of the local areas that can't possibly be seen from within Nagatacho.  Naturally, it is not just the disaster-stricken areas hoping for reconstruction that await the morning sun.  There are places all throughout Japan where the people are enduring things in the darkness of the night.  I would like the Nagatacho politicians to go visit those places.

I am looking forward to the activities of this dojou ("loach" referring to the Prime Minister) serving as the dojou ("soil") that will push aside adverse circumstances and shine on us the light of Japan's daybreak, bringing countless lovely morning glory flowers into bloom.

――――――――

As I read this at night, I found myself unable for some time to suppress the feeling of being close to tears.

The robust message from the young people of Tohoku towards reconstruction.  The words overflowing with warmth that a young poet continues to provide to so many people, despite disabilities.  The regret concerning the young politician who fought his illness right to the end but was struck down before he could fulfill his aspirations, and his call out to the people left behind.

I took to heart each of these aspirations in earnest, in my own way.  Putting these aspirations into tangible form is the responsibility of the politicians alive at this moment.  We must put into concrete form politics that gives proper consideration to the future of this country.

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
February 20, 2012

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