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Politicians, straighten up!No.1 [2011/06/17]
Politicians, straighten up!No.1
(Is this really what you think is right)
--Comments and Reactions--

I have received words of encouragement and sympathies to the open letter I wrote, as an amateur writer, hoping that my sincere wish for the good of the country and of the people would be understood even if a little.

I have posted those that I have received from the leaders of municipalities throughout Japan, at my own discretion.


Mayor Masafumi Yoshioka, Sunagawa City, Hokkaido
The Great East Japan Earthquake which brought about a natural disaster beyond human knowledge, has left many people still missing while those who just managed to survive have lost almost everything that they owned.
The day of the earthquake and the tsunami we, at Sunagawa City set up the DMAT (Disaster Medical Team) right away and went to the disaster area with the Self-Defense Forces, from this northern land of Hokkaido to give assistance. We are continuing our relief assistance in fund-raising, dispatch of relief goods and human resources, as well as accepting disaster victims to our city.

The heads of the municipalities of the disaster affected areas and their staff, and all the rescue teams such as the Self-Defense Forces are working around the clock. At the same time there is mutual collaboration amongst the municipalities in various different ways with the common goal of restoration and reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas.
This is indeed the time that the entire nation must stand together united.

I would like to extend my deepest appreciation for all the support that the Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Mr. Sasakawa, you have given us. In addition I would like to commend you and express my sincere respect for the speedy rescue activities that you are deploying throughout the disaster-stricken areas.

Mayor Fukujiro Yabe, Aibetsu City, Hokkaido
I read your Seiron article, Mr. Sasakawa. What you say is indeed exactly what I share with you. I am of the generation that does not know the post-war period, but I have always been taught by my father that there is no difference between the life of a salaried worker or a farmer and that I must always be thinking of those around me first. My children who are in Tokyo now are being treated kindly by many people. I have raised my children with the same teaching that I have received from my father.

I am currently the head of a small town with lively citizens who are living a comfortable life. I started to work as a farmer immediately after graduating from high school where I was enrolled as a night student. My thoughts were always with Aibetsu town as I worked as a farmer. I was elected a member of the town assembly at the age of 44 and worked for 10 years. I felt that it was not possible to bring about any reform as a member of the town assembly and therefore I decided to run for the mayoral election but lost in the election 6 years ago. 4 years later I once again contested for the mayoral position, and this time I was elected, and since then I have constantly given thought of building a town to bring happiness to the townspeople. I have made a commitment that I would work for this town when I have the most energy, during the prime years of my life.

The people who are exposed to the crisis brought about by the earthquake, tsunami and radioactivity are the ones suffering the most from the massive disaster of March 11. As Chairman Sasakawa rightly wrote, we the heads of small towns are prepared to protect our towns at the risk of our own lives. At a time when only the people in Tohoku (northeastern Japan) region must bear the burden of suffering while the majority of the Japanese citizens are safe, it is absolutely out of the question that we will allow negligence on the part of parliamentarians. All the citizens of Japan will vote “yes” should a law to protect the disaster victims is enacted. I do not believe in the least that this is time for inefficient politics. During the reconstruction after World War II it was the smaller towns and villages that carried out efficient autonomous actions and provided education, mutually cooperative welfare activities and produced food. I believe that it was the rural power that regenerated Japan at that time.

We must never abandon our own town but remain there so that we will be able to nurture the younger generation and entrust them with our dreams with the words; “Young men and women, soar high into the world”. I believe that the reconstruction work will require 2 to 3 years from now. I have been talking to our townspeople that we must continue to support the survivors together with the Nippon Foundation.

Mayor Takeshi Kato, Nayoro City, Hokkaido
Your article has touched me, myself a politician. You made me look directly at myself to see if I was truly determined to fulfill my mission as a politician.
We must also recognize that it is we the citizens that elect the parliamentarians. What we can do now, is for each one of us to be ready with a determination to carry out our obligations in the situation that we are placed.

Mayor Sukenao Kudo, Nanbu Town, Aomori Prefecture
The comments of Mr. Sasakawa, a man that never fails to make good on his words with speedy decision making and action, are without a doubt the voice of the citizens of Japan today.

“What must we be doing now.”

Our Nanbu town set up evacuation shelters as power outage lasted for 3 days. After having confirmed that there were no major damages, we now are assisting in a small way in the area of Yamada town in Iwate prefecture where our youngsters are enjoying marine sports that is supported by Mr. Sasakawa every year . We will not let this lesson of the plight of the disaster victims and the damages in the area be lost and continue to act on our words as does Mr. Sasakawa.

Mayor Tomoo Okuyama, Funagata Town, Yamagata Prefecture
I would like to pay my respects to the Nippon Foundation for all the great support that you are giving the people in the disaster-stricken areas.
The reconstruction work and the support in the aftermath of the great east Japan earthquake is a major national issue and needs a political decision, as the fate of the country is at stake. How Japan will reconstruct is closely watched by the international community with great expectations as Japan is one of the major economies of the world.
Nevertheless the reality is that there is no manifestation of a speedy work to recovery. There are countless number of problems to be solved, to name a few, the reconstruction plan, spread of radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear accident, the rumor damage going around impacting agricultural products, decline of tourism.
One solution would be to commit financial and human resources into the disaster-hit municipalities. I greatly hope that the politicians have not forgotten that those that know the problems best are the municipalities that have actually been victimized and know the areas.
Let it be that the politicians keep this engraved in their minds that politics is not a top-down system for the people but politics has its raison d’etre only because the people are there.
I would like to express my appreciation, as it has been sometime that I have come across a sound argument, as was published in the Seiron.

Mayor Shoichi Iseki, Yanaizu Town, Fukushima Prefecture
Thoughts after reading Seiron

Our region was not built overnight.

It must be realized that we have toiled step by step in building our region taking into account our climate, topography, culture, tradition and unique characteristics.

Politicians, the work that you do is nothing but mere theory, dumping all responsibilities to others and nothing gets done at this time of the greatest tragedy that hit our country. What you lack is your refusal to take a bottom-up approach. You are not making any decisions on the spot. Politicians must understand the importance of standing in the shoes of those who have been victimized and take concrete action to resolve the existing problems. Politicians, make focused and discreet statements, take prudent action and use the bureaucrats.

Mayor Ryozo Shishido, Onomachi Town, Fukushima Prefecture
[Town that Smiles and Perseveres]

The Great East Japan Earthquake has brought about an unprecedented damage to our region. Among the stricken prefectures the prefecture of Fukushima has been met with earthquake, the great tsunami, radioactive pollution, and furthermore rumor damages and we are virtually in the epicenter of the disaster and there is no prospect of reconstruction.

While we are in the midst of such a massive disaster, the political scene of Japan is nothing but of grave concern. I agree totally to the statements made by Mr. Sasakawa in the Seiron. The politicians must think of what the demands and the wishes of the people are and to know what needs to be done and take speedy action.
We are committed to work united to reconstruct our region and we ask for your continued support.
Mayor Shinju Yamaguchi, Kasama City, Ibaragi Prefecture
The most important role of the government now, in this post-disaster period, is to make decisions and to act on those decisions. In any emergency it rests upon the top leader, the prime minister to take strong leadership, make decisions and act upon them if reconstruction is to move forward.
However, the politicians are spending their time in the diet on political infighting. There is no sign of “being ready to give their life” among them. It is very unfortunate and the trust in the diet and the government only continues to decline.

The most important role of politicians is to make decisions. We, the heads of municipal governments did not allow ourselves to remain stagnant after this massive disaster and we have made spontaneous and speedy decisions and acted upon them in our capacity as leaders. Looking at the results there might have been some mistakes made, but I believe they were all necessary actions to move forward.

I do not know what the parliamentarians have been doing after the March 11 disaster but as the head of one municipal government, I implore that they govern the country in a way as not to bring confusion and chaos to the victimized prefectures. At the same time I believe that there is much need to educate the citizens with the sense of responsibility that the citizens are in the position to nurture politicians. I also believe that the people must be fully in control of their opinion and not to be influenced by the reports of the mass media.

Mayor Tsukasa Okubo, Yachiyo City, Ibaragi Prefecture
This article is too good and too frank an argument for the Seiron.
Our city was also victim to the great earthquake and tsunami but we managed to use our reserve budget and have spent busy hectic days carrying out repair work of damaged facilities and roads.

Yet, today after 3 months since the disaster we see nothing but confusion in the diet, fighting over their rights and interests, and governance for the people in the disaster-stricken areas is totally dysfunctional.
It is not an exaggeration to say the “there are too many cooks spoiling the broth “in the current government.
It is my hope that we will have a true genuine leader that will be able to implement speedy reconstruction assistance.

Mayor Minoru Toyoda, Kita Ibaragi City, Ibaragi Prefecture
I totally agree with the article written by Mr. Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation, “Politicians, be straightened up--Is this really what you think is right?” Politicians are the people that bring confusion and chaos to the disaster-stricken areas.

We cannot even recover let alone reconstruct. It is the local municipalities that are moving forward with our own original ideas and plans. Central government is basically non-existent. National organ is non-existent. This is the thought from one head of one local municipal government.

I will protect the 47,000 citizens, until the politicians wake up. Until the Japanese government is fully functional although there is absolutely no prospect in sight. Maybe it is only a fleeting dream.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)