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Monthly News for May, 2003

May 21, 2003

Presentation by Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa (Nagata-kai)

On April 9, the LDP's International Bureau hosted Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa at its Nagata-kai Lecture Series, a study session held for Japanese-speaking diplomats.
Finance Minister Shiokawa shared his views on the Japanese economy. "Although reforms that will continue until 2006 may result in some economic hardships, the ensuing period of recovery is projected to have a two percent economic growth rate." Shiokawa also touched upon the issue of the importance of the social safety net by saying "we must act quickly to set up an effective social safety net, which requires us to manage finance as well."
Finance Minister Shiokawa then fielded questions from diplomats on many issues including Japan's position on the rebuilding of Iraq, deflation policy, attitudes toward cleaning up non-performing loans and public works reforms.

Brazilian Specialist on Electronic Balloting Systems Visits Hiroyuki Hosoda, Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy and Minister of State for IT Policy.

On April 10, Brazilian technical consultant and Special Advisor to the TSE, Mr. Paulo Seiji Nakayama, visited Hiroyuki Hosoda, Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, and Minister of State for IT Policy. Mr. Nakayama explained how "Brazil introduced this system in 1996 and it was in use everywhere by 2002. It has many merits with respect to spoiled ballots and speeding up vote counting." An actual ballot machine was brought into the Minister's office and a demonstration was held whereby Minister Hosoda could try the machine for himself. As the former Director-General of the Election Bureau of the Party, Minister Hosoda is knowledgeable about the election system and electronic balloting systems. He expressed his appreciation: "this has been a valuable consultation. In the future, I would like to look further into the introduction of such a system."

Bill Frist, U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Meets with the Secretary Generals of the Three Ruling Parties

On April 15, U.S. Republican Senator and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist met with the Secretary Generals of the LDP, New Komeito and the Conservative Parties at the National Diet.
Senator Frist touched upon the Iraq War and requested Japan's cooperation for the rebuilding of Iraq after the war. Secretary General Yamasaki replied, "We wish to dispatch personnel to work with the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA)."
Senator Frist also spoke of his meeting last month with the families of the victims abducted by North Korea. "In regard for the feelings of the families, I wish to cooperate in order to solve this issue by all means." Senator Frist then asked whether Japan might arm itself with nuclear weapons in view of the North Korean situation, to which Secretary General Yamasaki clearly explained "Japan's Three Non-Nuclear Principles make this impossible."

Member of the Political Bureau, Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, Meets with the Secretary Generals of the Three Ruling Parties

On April 16, Yu Zhensheng, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, met with the Secretary Generals of the LDP, New Komeito and Conservative Parties in the National Diet.
Mr. Yu discussed the nature of Sino-Japanese relations. "Sino-Japanese ties have become more and more important over the course of relations that celebrated their 30th anniversary last year. Although there have been some problems over the years, it is imperative that such difficulties be overcome by not only mutual understanding, but also exchanges at the political and civilian levels."
With regard to this, LDP Secretary General Yamasaki expressed his hopes that he can count on the good offices of Mr. Yu and the new leadership after the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year.

Meeting between the French Ambassador and Secretary General Yamasaki

On April 17, French Ambassador Bernard de Montferrand visited LDP Headquarters to exchange opinions with Secretary General Yamasaki on such matters as the Iraq and North Korean issues. Secretary General Yamasaki offered his opinion regarding cooperation for rebuilding Iraq: "It was a painful decision to express our support for the US-UK led invasion of Iraq. Japan wishes to cooperate as Iraq begins reconstruction and we envision an important role for the United Nations in these efforts." Montferrand replied, "It is important to rebuild under United Nations auspices, in view that it cannot be done by one or two nations alone. This is a role that the UN must play with the consent of the Iraq people and the region."
With respect to the North Korean question, Secretary General Yamasaki said, "A solution to the abduction, nuclear and missile issues is the necessary prerequisite to normalcy talks and economic cooperation." Montferrand replied that the European Union wishes to cooperate to reach a solution in consultation with Japan, Korea and other countries concerned.

Beginning of the China Study Group

On April 17, the LDP International Bureau started the first meeting of the China Study Group for Diet Members with an interest in Chinese politics and economics. Hidetoshi Kaneko, editorial writer for the Mainichi Newspaper, gave the inaugural lecture on the significant personnel changes in Chinese politics, prospects for the system under President Hu Jinatao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao as well as the continuing influence of Jiang Zemin.

Kuwaiti Ambassador Meets with Secretary Generals of the Three Ruling Parties.

On April 21, Kuwaiti Ambassador Al-Sabah met with the Secretary Generals of the LDP, New Komeito and the Conservative Parties at the National Diet. They exchanged opinions on rebuilding Iraq after the war and the Middle East situation.
They spoke of a possible visit to Kuwait: "The Kuwaiti government would be very welcoming. We are hoping for Japan's role in promoting peace and security in the Middle East region." Secretary General Yamasaki replied, "the Iraq question has finally been resolved after 13 years since the end of the Gulf War. With discussions of rebuilding underway, Japan wishes to contribute to the stability of the Middle Eastern region." The Iraqi Ambassador concluded by expressing appreciation for Japan's contribution to the Gulf War 13 years ago.

Indonesia's Speaker of the National Assembly Visits Secretary General Yamasaki.
Indonesian Speaker of the National Assembly Amin Rais met with Secretary General Yamasaki and former Agriculture Minister Tsutomu Takebe. Speaker Rais discussed his candidacy for next year's Presidential election, in which he is said to be one of the leading candidates.
"As one of Indonesia's most important friends, I wish to further friendly relations between our countries."
He offered a harsh opinion with respect to the Iraq war. "It was a unilateral war conducted by the United States and the United Kingdom. We must criticize this action." Secretary General Yamasaki explained Japan's position by saying that "While Japan has adopted a different opinion from Indonesia, we wish to cooperate as we enter a new stage of reconstruction."
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