Support for the victims of a volcanic eruption and economic stability are just two of the many things the public wants from the Cabinet of new Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Chiseko Nakamura, 50, who has lived in a shelter in Date, Hokkaido, since her house was damaged by the eruption of Mount Usu in March last year, said Thursday she wants members of the new Cabinet to visit the area and provide the victims with more support.
She said her only income is the money — less than 60,000 yen a month — she earns removing the volcanic ash that has accumulated in the nearby hot springs resort.
The job was created under the government’s emergency employment program for the devastated area — and the income is clearly not enough.
“Everybody here wants a job. Last year, Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Chikage Ogi visited the area, but she only gave us words of condolence,” Nakamura said.
Yoshikazu Takizawa, the 55-year-old president of a construction company in Nagano Prefecture, said he wants the new Cabinet to come up with policies to stabilize the economy.
“Private-sector demand will not be generated unless the Cabinet succeeds in allaying the anxieties currently plaguing society and offers hope for the future,” he said. “I want the new administration not to forget the role of the construction industry in propping up the economy.”
Yuichi Ozawa, 48, who has grown shiitake mushrooms for 30 years in the town of Kuju, Oita Prefecture, expressed disappointment with Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party.
“The LDP, which I have supported for such a long time, has done nothing for farmers,” he said. “I want the government to invoke an emergency import curb against dried shiitake from China, as the increase in imported fresh mushrooms has caused a decline in sales of dried shiitake as well in the market.”
Zenko Nakamura, 54, head of a civic group in the city of Nago, northern Okinawa, opposing the relocation to the city of the operations of U.S. Marine Corps helicopters now at the Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, expressed reservations about the new Cabinet. “I am frightened to hear hawkish remarks by Mr. Koizumi on diplomatic and military issues,” he said.
Den Miyake, 61, who runs home renovation business classes for unemployed people in cooperation with a labor union, has high hopes for the Cabinet because it includes such people as Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka and Nobuteru Ishihara, minister in charge of administrative reform and deregulation. Both are committed to undertaking difficult tasks.
“I think this Cabinet has been long anticipated by the public and will go down in history,” Miyake said. “I want it to make use of the experience of people over the age of 60, as there are many older people who are still active and able to work.”
Teruko Watanabe, a 41-year-old single mother and freelance writer who specializes in single mother issues in Tokyo, hopes the new administration will not follow policies that will exact a toll on the socially weak.
She said she is skeptical about the appointment of five female Cabinet members.
“I am not sure how much they can do for socially deprived people, as they are all among the elite of society,” she said. “But Mr. Koizumi himself is a single father and I expect him to create a society where a single parent can easily raise kids.”
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