January 1(Saturday)

Lessons from living to 100: Another New Year's reflection


The other day, I received a splendid crane made carefully by hand through origami papercraft from a woman living at a group home for the elderly in the Tohoku region.  She gave it to me in return for my having sent her a commemorative gift on Respect for the Aged Day to celebrate her 100 years of longevity, and she attached the following letter.


She gave me as a gift the crane appearing in the upper right of this photo.


I was delighted beyond words, and everyone around me claims I've become younger as a result.  I now hope to live a long life in good health and good spirits, exactly as this certificate states.  Through your gift I have come to feel very keenly that there are good things to be had simply through living.  I make everyone laugh when I say I'm determined to stay in good health and good spirits until I'm 200 years old.


Prime Minister Kan, please take good care of your health as well.  And please do your best for the sake of Japan to make day-to-day living even a little bit better.  Though my ability is limited, I am supporting you.


I thought that this was truly pointing to the way of the country towards which we should strive in the years to come.  A society in which all citizens live their daily lives in good health and good spirits, in which people believe that "there are good things to be had simply through living."  Beginning this year, I want us to set off down the path once more towards just such a Japan.  Towards an open Japan.  Towards a society in which human suffering is reduced to a minimum.  Towards politics that rectifies absurdities.  Let us begin 2011 looking resolutely forward.  I will work to carry out my mission with my utmost efforts, to make a start so that when this woman reaches her goal of the age of 200 she will be able to look back and say, "It was truly a bright society in the 100 years making up the latter half of my life."




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