The opinions and materials contained herein do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the Government of Japan.
Japan Now Vol. 7, No. 5 (October 6, 2011) 

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  • Inauguration of the Noda Cabinet

  • Basic Policy: Noda Cabinet Decision

  • Message from Japanese Women's National Soccer Team

  • The Prime Minister Visits Prefectures Affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake

  • For the Love of the Game: SportsUnited's Visit to the Ambassador's Residence

  • Friendship on the Final Frontier: Space Agencies Work Together to Understand our Earth


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    Inauguration of the Noda Cabinet

    Noda Cabinet

    Noda Cabinet
    (© Cabinet Secretariat,
    Cabinet Public
    Relations Office)

    -Cabinet Secretariat,
    Cabinet Public Relations Office

    September 2, 2011

    On September 2, 2011, the Noda Cabinet was inaugurated.

    Upon the formation of a new Cabinet, Mr. Osamu Fujimura, the new Chief Cabinet Secretary, announced the list of Cabinet members at the Prime Minister's Office.

    Later, the investiture ceremony of the Prime Minister and the attestation ceremony of the Ministers of State were held at the Imperial Palace, marking the official inauguration of the Noda Cabinet.

    Returning to the Prime Minister's Office, new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda held a press conference, which was followed by the first Cabinet meeting and the taking of the commemorative photograph.

    Further reading:

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    Basic Policy: Noda Cabinet Decision

    First Noda Cabinet meeting

    The first Cabinet Meeting
    (© Cabinet Secretariat,
    Cabinet Public Relations Office)

    -Cabinet Secretariat,
    Cabinet Public Relations Office

    September 2, 2011

    The three political-level appointees [of each Ministry], headed by each Cabinet Minister, will devote themselves to their duties in accordance with the following Basic Policy.

    We will revisit the starting point of the change of Government in 2009, and in accordance with our concept of "putting people's daily lives first," we will work towards the realization of politics that is oriented towards the general public, thus ensuring that the people of Japan can feel the true significance of the change of Government.

    Each Cabinet Minister will work in close cooperation with his or her Cabinet colleagues without seeking to further the interests of only one ministry, and will make concerted efforts under the leadership of Prime Minister Noda to address policy challenges both domestically and overseas. In addition, each Cabinet Minister will practice "dialogue-based politics," listening humbly to the voices of the people of Japan and providing clear explanations, as well as promoting cooperation between ruling and opposition parties.

    In order to root out "waste in public administration" and break free from vested interests, we will...

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    The Prime Minister Visits Prefectures
    Affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake

    Prime Minister Noda offers silent prayer

    The Prime Minister offers a
    silent prayer at the former
    Rikuzentakata City Office
    Building. (© Cabinet
    Secretariat, Cabinet Public
    Relations Office)

    -Cabinet Secretariat,
    Cabinet Public Relations Office

    September 8, 2011

    Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited Fukushima Prefecture to gauge the extent of the damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake and to exchange views with local municipalities and relevant parties.

    First, the Prime Minister visited J-Village in Naraha Town, Fukushima Prefecture and gave words of encouragement to the people and the Self-Defense Force (SDF) members who are engaged in the work there. Then, after changing into protective gear, the Prime Minister ... (more)

    -Cabinet Secretariat,
    Cabinet Public Relations Office

    September 10, 2011

    Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, and Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture, to gauge the extent of the damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake and to exchange views with local municipalities and relevant parties.

    Arriving at Matsushima Air Base of the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) by SDF aircraft, the Prime Minister travelled to Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture and observed the damage to the Kesennuma Joint Government Building and fish market. The Prime Minister then ... (more)

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    For the Love of the Game:
    SportsUnited's Visit to the Ambassador's Residence

    Ambassador Fujisaki with Sports United athlete

    Ambassador Fujisaki
    and Embassy staff
    laugh and joke with
    young athletes of the
    SportsUnited delegation.

    -Jeff DeMars
    Embassy of Japan

    On the evening of August 15th, the conversations taking place at the Residence of Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki weren't focused on politics or the economy, but on batting practice and Bingo. Alongside Japanese diplomats and program directors, 16 teenage baseball players and their coaches, all visiting from the earthquake and tsunami-affected Tohoku region of Japan through the Department of State's SportsUnited program, took time out of their busy itinerary to visit the Ambassador's Residence. The halls of the home were filled with warm smiles and laughter as SportsUnited's first Japanese delegation joined the Ambassador for a relaxing night of celebration and games.

    During their two-week trip to the U.S., SportsUnited's Japan Delegation kept a tight schedule, packed with seminars, clinics, and a whole lot of baseball. In addition to meeting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr., the athletes and their coaches were constantly honing their baseball skills through batting practice, fielding, and pitching clinics sponsored by many different D.C.-area baseball and softball teams and sports programs, including Ripken Baseball.

    This special evening began with a moment of silence, both for those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and in honor of the anniversary of the end of WWII. Refreshments and the touching speeches of Ambassador Fujisaki and two of the young Japanese delegates, Itsuki Nishiyama and Tomoko Kanouya, followed. While Kanouya thanked SportsUnited for such a precious opportunity in the wake of the hardship following the March 11 events, Nishiyama commented that, "It has been fun interacting with Americans," and added, "I want to learn (baseball) techniques in the United States that I cannot learn in Japan." In his speech, Ambassador Fujisaki encouraged the young athletes to keep in touch with each other, and expressed hope that, "...students like you can cooperate with each other and hang in there."

    The remainder of the night was filled with fun and entertaining activities planned by Embassy of Japan staff. In addition to a delicious meal that included Japanese curry rice, pasta, and sushi, the teenage delegates and their coaches enjoyed a round of trivia, a group-wide game of Bingo in which everybody left with collectible gifts donated by Embassy staff, including World Series baseball memorabilia, posters, and a White House notebook. The evening closed with a once-in-a-lifetime sportscast of professional baseball results from across Japan by Ambassador Fujisaki himself.

    While the visit was filled with noteworthy highlights, perhaps the most emotional came during a presentation of the Soran Bushi, traditional Japanese fishing dance and song, arranged and performed for the Ambassador and Embassy staff by the SportsUnited delegates. The performance brought smiles to the faces of everyone present, and seemed to speak for all of Japan in illustrating the dedication, work ethic, perseverance, and most importantly, the strong hearts of a society fighting back and recovering from national tragedy.

    More than the bond of country shared by these young baseball stars, their coaches, and Embassy of Japan diplomats, moments like these throughout the Japan delegation's visit to the Residence illustrated the extraordinary powers of sports. Transcending divisions like age and geography, young athletes and diplomats alike left with stronger friendships, new comrades, countless stories, and lasting memories forged by a common passion for baseball and softball. For the love of the game, it was a magical and uplifting night.

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    Friendship on the Final Frontier:
    Space Agencies Work Together to Understand our Earth

    Artist's rendition of International A-train

    Artist's rendition of the
    International A-train of
    satellites over Earth.
    (© NASA)

    -Susan Laszewski
    Embassy of Japan

    The recent closing of the United States space shuttle program may have been the end of an era for NASA. But as our world heads into a new era, one in which the global community is increasingly interconnected, the role of space agencies is as important as ever. And it's not all star gazing and moon walks. One of the most important roles of space agencies today is turning their gaze back earthward.

    On Thursday, September 15, three of the world's most prominent space agencies took one small step into the JICC auditorium to discuss the giant leaps that can be made in the field of Earth Observation through international cooperation. Representatives from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NASA, and the European Space Agency (ESA), along with the European Commission Joint Research Center (EC JRC) gathered at the “Earth Observation Seminar on International Cooperation,” co-hosted by JAXA and the Embassy of Japan, to listen to some of their own speak on recent advancements in the field.

    Before the eight speakers dove into the hard science of it all, Counselor Takashi Inutsuka of the Japanese Embassy took a moment to thank NASA, ESA, and all the other agencies for their help following the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. In the days after the earthquake, 14 different countries were able to provide as many as 5000 images of the affected areas from 27 different satellites. Some of the data in these images proved crucial to rescue and recovery missions.

    Sharing images is just one of the many ways in which international cooperation comes into play in Earth Observation. In his keynote speech, Dr. Michael Freilich of NASA said the clearest example is joint hardware: of NASA’s current 15 missions, 11 of them feature hardware from other agencies. Dr. Stephen Briggs of ESA shared similar thoughts, joking that it was lucky the seminar was focused on international cooperation, as it would have been difficult to find any examples of ESA missions that don't incorporate international collaboration in some way or another.

    Another method of collaboration is what Dr. Freilich calls the "harmonization of co-orbiting missions." This is the principle behind the International A-train, also known as the "Afternoon Constellation" in which 5 satellites from NASA, ESA and France's CNES, travel the same orbit collecting the same sets of data. JAXA’s new satellite, the GCOM-W1, is scheduled to get on board the A-train next year. With "a little bit of rhythm and a lot of soul," they'll be able to collectively compile enough data for a clearer picture of earth processes.

    There's one method of collaboration that it seems agencies should be exploring more: division of measurement responsibility. Household chores can get done quicker through a division of labor, but sometimes you just don't trust your partner to sort the laundry correctly. Similarly, a division of measurement responsibility for space agencies would require a high level of trust and a willingness to exchange data. As Dr. Freilich admits, "we're not quite there yet."

    But, like in many relationships, love can be a strong motivator to work on trust issues. The recent disasters in Japan have shown that despite the borders and oceans that divide us, there is a lot of love in the international community. Looking down on earth from above, space agencies have a unique insight into the interconnectedness of all of us earthlings and are leaders in using that interconnectedness to the benefit of all. As Dr. Freilich concluded, "We've got to tap into the brain power of the entire species on the globe in order to understand this earth we live on."

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    © Embassy of Japan