At the Grand Hall of his official residence, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi presented awards of praise to citizens who contributed to disaster prevention during the past year. During the week of September 1 each year, a ceremony is held to praise those who have distinguished themselves at times of serious natural disasters through such deeds as saving lives or preventing further expansion of the disaster.
Handing certificates of appreciation to this year's recipients,
"We thank and pay respect to people like you who have led life-saving activities, even at the risk of your own lives at times, in quake-torn areas, raging floods and other adversities, or who look out for danger, repair damage, and care for the injured."
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met President Kuniwo Nakamura of the Republic of Palau. The guest from the South Pacific was here to attend an "evening of Japanese-Palau goodwill" at a Tokyo hotel to mark the 5th anniversary of his country's independence.
President Nakamura is a second-generation Japanese. The Republic of Palau is a country of 200-odd islands some 4,000 kilometers south of Japan. A territory under Japanese mandate in prewar days, it is historically close to Japan.
At his office in the Japanese Diet (Parliament) building, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi greeted about 30 "international peacekeepers" who were to be dispatched to Bosnia and Herzegovina to supervise that country's general and local elections on September 12 and 13.
This was the 3rd time that Japan was helping Bosnia with electoral law and order. Dispatchees led by Teruaki Nagasaki, a councilor of the prime minister's office of cooperation for international peace, flew there on September 4 as members of OSCE, the European election supervisory organization.
Of this number, 18 were company employees and other members of the private sector, and about 10, or one third, were women.
Offering them words of encouragement, Obuchi said: "All of you will be making a vital contribution for peace in Bosnia. When I was there as foreign minister in April of this year, however, many landmines had not yet been removed, so I ask that you take special care in this regard as well."
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi attended a meeting to remember Yutaka Akino, a former assistant professor of Tsukuba University, who was sent to UNMOT in Tadzhikistan as its political attache and was killed in July.
Besides Akino's family, some 900 people representing the United Nations, Tsukuba University and other organizations gathered to mourn a tragic death.
Obuchi said in his speech: "We will immortalize Akino's will by resolving anew to make direct contributions to the international community."
The 1st meeting was held of the "Advisory Forum on the Year 2000(Y2K) Problem" formed by the "task force for the promotion of an advanced information society" headed by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. The forum issues recommendations to prevent the failure of computers to read the last tow digits of calendar years correctly after the turn of the millennium.
The forum decided on basic Government programs to (1) provide a guideline for over-all examination of Government computer systems in mock tests and (2) request key private industries such as finance to resolve the problem.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi attended the charter meeting of founders of "Japanese-Russian Friendship Forum 21" at the Parliamentary Museum in central Tokyo. Their objective is to promote the conclusion of a peace treaty between Russia and Japan and to include representatives of political, industrial and learned communities of both countries.
Obuchi said in his speech on Japanese-Russian relations:
"Russia currently faces extreme difficulties in political and economic affairs. But there is no change in Japanese agreement with Russia in Krasnoyarsk to 'endeavor to reach a peace treaty by the year 2000.' I will visit Russia in November and strive for a successful outcome."
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi embarked on a walking tour through townships in northern Tokyo to engage in dialogs with owners of small businesses in the area. This was an idea conceived by Obuchi himself.
In Kawaguchi, the first leg of the tour, Obuchi visited two manufacturers. He explained his mission to workers at one of the manufacturers during their lunch break: "I came because I wanted to see your workplace and listen to you to get first-hand knowledge on how to put the Japanese economy back on the right track again."
In Kita Ward, Tokyo, where he lives, Obuchi inspected confectionery and apparel stores. In another ward, he listened to a party of about 30 business owners. "My administration intends to take your views seriously," he said wherever he went.
Back home and reporting to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi was the peace cooperation corps sent in early September to Bosnia and Herzegovina to help the United Nations supervise general and local elections there on September 12 and 13.
"I am pleased you are safely home," Obuchi told them. "You accomplished your duties under severe conditions. That is a milestone in Japanese personal contributions to the international community."
As the leader of the Government's international peace cooperation corps, Obuchi presented each of them with a certificate of appreciation.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi gave a keynote address at the United Nations General Assembly on September 21. He severely criticized the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) for its latest missile launch, saying:
"Even if it were used to put a satellite on orbit, it poses a serious threat to Japanese security and peace and stability in northeastern Asia."
Obuchi strongly demanded that North Korea stop ballistic missile tests. He further named India and Pakistan as disturbers of peace for their nuclear tests last May.
Obuchi also called on the world's nuclear powers to further reduce their nuclear stockpiles, and urged more nations to participate in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). He said Japan would also take the initiative in efforts to strictly control the import-export traffic of components and technology related to nuclear arms and missiles.
While in the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi met President Bill Clinton at a New York hotel on September 22.
Their 3-hour dialogue focused on the current Japanese economy and international financial issues. Clinton emphasized, "The Japanese Government should quickly instill sufficient public funds to banks that can survive (before they go bankrupt)."
In response, Obuchi explained measures already being taken and said, "My administration shall in no way endanger the stability of the Japanese financial system as a whole." He also pledged to "take additional steps for the early recovery of the Japanese economy," meaning he would do so depending on the transition of business trends.
Referring to the recent missile test by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Obuchi agreed with Clinton that it was a regrettable event for security and lasting peace in East Asia including Japan. The two leaders also agreed that they would discourage North Korea from further developing or exporting missiles.
In his discussions with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at his official residence in Tokyo, Obuchi offered to "cooperate (with Singapore) to restore Asian economies." He referred in particular to the political and economic unrest in Indonesia and Malaysia. He added that the recovery of the Japanese economy would be crucial to economic recovery in Asian countries.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi was paid a courtesy visit by three schoolchildren from Kunashiri Island and Sergei Podolyan Anatoljevich, governor of the Kuriles from Etorofu Island.
"I'm much pleased to see the bilateral relationship coming closer this way," said Obuchi in greeting the guests. Former prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto had made a promise with Russian President Boris Yeltsin this past April that his Government would donate two diesel power generators to Etorofu residents, and a school bus, soccer balls and blackboards to children of Kunashiri. Since a change in leadership occurred after the promise was made, its fulfillment was left up to Obuchi as Japan's new prime minister.