Koizumi in Sweden

Japan's prime minister Junichiro Koizumi is visiting Sweden today. A press conference will be webcast on the Swedish government website after he visits the Täppan kindergarten in Stockholm. Koizumi's website with his ideals and milestones has some fun information about his heros (including Winston Churchill!) and The spirit of "kome hyappyo" (one hundred sacks of rice):

The domain of Nagaoka was impoverished in the Boshin Civil War of 1868-69 at the time of the Meiji Restoration. In 1870 the domain of Mineyama sent a hundred sacks of rice to Nagaoka as assistance. Most of the domain officials wanted to distribute the rice immediately, but the grand councilor, Torasaburo Kobayashi (1828-77), decided to sell the rice and use the proceeds to build a school instead. His reasoning was that if the rice were simply distributed it would be gone in only a few days, but if it were used to educate people, in future they would be able to generate wealth worth tens of thousands of sacks of rice.

Prime Minister Koizumi maintains that the spirit of the hundred sacks of rice -- the willingness to endure pain today for the sake of a better tomorrow -- is what is needed in today's Japan.

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