The Discussion Group on Children's Future and the World, a private advisory council to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, submitted to the prime minister the proposals arrived at in the course of its six meetings. The council was formed in December 1997 to respond to the prime minister's request to consider what is needed to produce Japanese people who can make their way in the world and to study the kind of international exchange and environment conducive to doing so. The proposals pointed out the importance of the family, schools, and social environment for cultivating children's qualities and developing their abilities and listed the tasks and policies required in each of these areas.
Their Imperial Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi flew to Amman, Jordan, to attend the funeral of His Majesty King Hussein bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at Ragadan Palace. The previous day the prime minister had issued a statement on the death of the king.
After the funeral the prime minister conveyed his condolences to King Hussein's successor, His Majesty King Abdullah bin El Hussein. He also met briefly with President Bill Clinton of the United States, President Jacques Chirac of France, and other leaders.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi attended the National Ceremony to Celebrate National Foundation Day at Hibiya Public Hall, Tokyo. The ceremony was organized by the Foundation for Celebrating National Holidays and supported by the Prime Minister's Office and other bodies. In his remarks, the prime minister said, "We need to build a new system to deal with the twenty-first century. We must pursue a third reform, following on those after the Meiji Restoration [of 1868] and World War II."
As part of his series of "dialogue gatherings" to meet the people, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited Tama New Town in Tama City, Tokyo, and exchanged views with shopkeepers and other residents. The purpose of this dialogue gathering was to hear residents' views firsthand so that they could be incorporated in urban and housing policies.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi visited the Yokohama City Office to observe the city's preparations to distribute local-area shopping coupons to elderly residents and residents with children under 16 years of age. This initiative, being implemented by municipal governments throughout the nation, is aimed at stimulating consumption. Yokohama will be distributing shopping coupons to some 710,000 people, among the largest eligible groups in any municipality. Yokohama Mayor Hidenobu Takahide explained that shopping coupons would be distributed at the city's 145 middle schools in mid-March and detailed the antiforgery measures taken in printing the coupons. The prime minister encouraged the mayor and municipal staff, saying, "I am sure this is difficult, but please persevere."
Members of the sixth Japanese contingent of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which had been providing transportation and other secondary support for UNDOF in the Golan Heights, Syria, since August 1998, met with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi at the prime minister's official residence to announce their return. The prime minister thanked them for their efforts and said, "I believe your work was extremely important as a personnel contribution to Japan's efforts for Middle East peace."
The ministerial-level conference on dioxin policy, which is to consult on measures to combat environmental pollution from dioxin, held its first meeting at the prime minister's official residence. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi opened the meeting, saying, "Addressing dioxin countermeasures represents an urgent task for the sake of protecting the people's health. I hope the government will unite in advancing policies to create a society in which people can live in peace of mind."
The Economic Strategy Council, an advisory council to the prime minister, submitted its final report, "Strategies for Reviving the Japanese Economy," to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. The report outlined five key strategies: (1) a scenario for economic recovery and guidelines for sustainable national finance, (2) creation of a "sound, creative, and competitive society" and preparation of safety-net measures; (3) final resolution of the problems arising from the collapse of the bubble economy and construction of a financial system for the twenty-first century; (4) revival of vigorous, internationally competitive industry; and (5) strategic infrastructure investment and revival of local communities for the twenty-first century.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met with Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia, who had been in Tokyo since February 23 for the third meeting of the Consultative Group on Cambodia, organized by the World Bank and hosted by Japan. Prime Minister Obuchi declared that Japan hoped to strengthen economic assistance to other Asian countries by moving quickly to revive its own economy. Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his thanks for Japan's decision to resume yen loans to Cambodia.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi viewed Eugène Delacroix's 1830 masterpiece "La Liberté guidant le peuple" (Liberty Leading the People), on display at the Tokyo National Museum. Exhibition of the painting is part of the activities of the Year of France in Japan, designed to further develop Franco-Japanese exchange. In September 1997, during the Year of Japan in France, the wooden statue Kudara Kannon, a national treasure belonging to Horyuji temple, Nara, was exhibited at the Louvre, Paris, the first time it had been displayed outside Japan.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi chatted with students at Wakei Juku, a student dormitory in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, as part of his series of "dialogue gatherings" to meet the people. The objective of this dialogue gathering was to ensure that students' views were reflected in educational reform. The prime minister responded to various questions and opinions from the students for about an hour. He also emphasized the importance of human relations.