Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi took the opportunity Saturday of a cherry blossom viewing party he hosted at a Tokyo park to emphasize that his structural reform policy stands firm.

About 8,000 people, including ambassadors to Japan, members of political and business circles as well as men and women from the sporting world, attended the event at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Gyoen gardens.

“This is a gathering to view cherry blossoms,” the prime minister said before looking around and adding, “But we are unable to see cherry blossoms any more.”

Japan’s cherry blossom season, which began unseasonably early this year, is already over.

Continuing on a more serious note, Koizumi added, “No growth without structural reforms. This path has not changed a bit. I will steadily achieve reforms and create a base for Japan to recover properly.”

Koizumi posed for photographs with singer Sayuri Ishikawa and actress Yuki Amami.

Koizumi left the party about 20 minutes early after being surrounded by a crowd of people asking to shake hands with him and take photographs.

After returning to his official residence, a tired-looking Koizumi said, “There were people, people, people.”

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