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The 85th ‘Smile Message' from the Mayor (January 7th)

Each month, the mayor prepares a message directed towards the councillors of city hall. As this message is openly available in Japanese to be read by the people of Miyakonojo, it has been translated here in order to openly demonstrate the current beliefs and intentions of city hall, its councillors, and our Mayor.

 

January 7th, 2020 (Tuesday)

Happy New Year everyone. To all of our staff, I hope that you, your families and your friends had a wonderful time welcoming in the New Year. Last year, in accordance with the change in Emperor, we entered into the new era of Reiwa, marking a major turning point for our country as a whole.

During this, and looking back on last year's city planning, with a focus on the understanding of our citizens, thanks to the hard efforts of our staff, I believe we were able to move forward with a variety of policies. To all of our staff, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks.

With regards to our primary projects, including the Shibushi Expressway project, we have opened up the road from the Yokoichi interchange through to the Hiratsuka interchange, which now makes half of the expressway open for usage. From hereon in, we expect that the end of the 2020-2021 financial year will have 70% open, and that the 2021-2022 financial year will see 80% of it open. With regards to the short-term full opening of the expressway, solid progress is being made.

Furthermore, we have now installed air conditioning in all of the 54 primary and middle schools throughout Miyakonojo. Alongside these planned improvements to our children's learning environment, we have also become the first city in the prefecture to establish a consultation corner for those who have recently lost loved ones (Okuyami Madoguchi), as well as having introduced the Miyakonojo Philosophy, putting us well on the road to providing ever-greater service to our citizens.

Additionally, through efforts put into the Furusato Nozei program, not only are we continuing to promote the region to external interests, but considerations regarding a renewal of the Miyakonojo Roadside Station are now possible as a result.

Further to all of this, we are continuing to make progress with a number of other measures. Amongst these, as announced in January 4th's “8th Annual Most Livable Country Town Ranking" made by Takarajima Co. Ltd., under the classification of cities with more than 100,000 citizens, we improved significantly from last year's 27th place nationwide to 10th, and secured the number 1 position in Kyushu.

I am extremely pleased to be able to say that it is thanks to the efforts made by our staff that we have been able to receive such a high evaluation in these rankings. Once more, I would like to offer all of our staff my heartfelt gratitude. Taking these results as an opportunity, let us all continue to work hard to realise an ever greater number of our policies, and strive to receive an even greater evaluation.

In our city, for example, with our city center's core facilities at Mallmall as a base, I would like to see the promotion of inner-city living and supporting the opening of new stores lead to a more lively downtown Miyakonojo.

With regards to the establishment of the Yamanokuchi Prefectural Athletics Arena, construction works will begin in earnest as of this year, so let's continue to work earnestly alongside our prefectural partners.

Also, in regards to support payments for child medical services, as of April this year, the target age group will be extended from preschoolers through to primary and middle school children. The current services provided to preschoolers, which include exemptions from all admissions, costs related to commuting, as well as pharmaceutical fees will remain as they were. For primary and middle school students, admissions and pharmaceutical fees will be waived, and with respect to commuting, costs will be reduced to 200 Yen per medical facility visited, reducing the financial burden for all households raising children.

As I have previously stated, alongside continuing to progress with our current projects, there will also be new projects to proactively engage in, and insofar as keeping to ‘Southern Kyushu's Place to Be: The Establishment of a Leading City' and ‘A City Overflowing with Happy Faces: The Realisation of the Smiling City of Miyakonojo', we must continue to ‘earnestly challenge' the tasks before us. As such, I hope that I can count on everyone's increased efforts in the coming year.

Finally, I would like to talk shortly regarding the ‘Miyakonojo Philosophy', This month, I would like to talk about the 1st Section's 3rd Chapter ‘Possessing A Passion, and Pushing Forwards Earnestly', and the first entry therein, ‘Impassioned From Within'. You will find the following entry on pages 22-23 of the handbook that you have in your possession:

‘Just as there are things that are self-igniting, flammable or non-flammable, so too are there people who possess within themselves the ability to ‘self-ignite' through their own enthusiasm and passion, those who become impassioned through contact with a source of ignition (‘flammable'), and those who will not become impassioned, even in proximity to a source of ignition (‘non-flammable').

Of course, we all aim to be ‘self-igniting' persons. With passion and enthusiasm, as well as a strong will, you will become a person capable of acting proactively and thinking for themselves, and through involving the people around you, enable your organisation to manifest great strength.

In order to become impassioned from within, you must come to like the work and people around you, as well as possess a great dream or a distinct goal.'

Over this New Year's break, I had a little bit more time than usual, and managed to get through 4 books, one of which was the English-born Samuel Smiles' ‘Self Help'. This book, throughout the turbulent Edo to Meiji period, was said to have been a best-seller alongside Yukichi Fukuzawa's ‘An Encouragement of Learning', but what is most importantly stated in this book is this: ‘You have your own way to make'(1). In reality, Yukichi Fukuzawa's An Encouragement of Learning focuses on the phrase ‘Become independent!', or in essence, ‘those who do not possess the will to be independent will inevitably come to depend on others. Those who depend on others will inevitably come to fear those upon whom they depend.'

I feel that the above pieces share a common thread with Miyakonojo Philosophy's ‘Impassioned From Within'.

From the position of a city Mayor, the ability to raise our organisation to a higher level is dependent upon the number of people who are ‘self-igniting'. In other words, it is absolutely key that we increase the number of people who possess ‘through their own will the ability to forge their way through their life and work'. As to why, if one considers what should happen if those who are impassioned from within were to leave the organisation, there would in an instant be no one left to spark the organisation's fire from within, leaving it to become burnt out. With no heat left, there is no way for any form of chemical reaction to take place, and the organisation will inevitably lose its invigoration and cease striving for greater success.

Based upon the thought processes in the previously mentioned Self Help, as well as An Encouragement of Learning, each of us must indeed, with respect to one's own life and work, possess the passion, enthusiasm and strength of will to ‘make one's own way through their life and work', think for oneself, and be proactive. Becoming such a ‘self-igniting' person can be strongly connected to the result of improving and invigorating an organisation. Following this line of thought, as a human being, it may well be that very little, if anything at all, has changed with regards to the fundamental problems and tasks we are faced with. Let us all work hard towards becoming impassioned from within! 

Well then, to finish off the first smile message for the year, I would like to wish everyone the best for the year ahead, with the hopes that it is full of wonderful moments and happiness. I look forward to working with you all again this year.  

 

 

 (1) Following a search through ‘Self Help', the original Japanese quote is believed to be sourced from chapter IX, wherein Samuel Smiles quotes an exchange between Lord Melbourne and Lord John Russell. The final passage of this exchange is included here in full:

‘The young should never hear any language but this: ‘You have your own way to make, and it depends upon your own exertions whether you starve or not.''

 

'Smile Message' Audio

You can find the Mayor's Smile Message in audio form on the Japanese Page (Japanese Only).

 


For inquiries in English, please contact: City of Miyakonojo, Internationalisation Promotion Office, Address: 6-21 Himegi-cho, Miyakonojo-shi, Miyazaki-ken, Japan 885-8555

Phone (Domestic): 0986-23-2295

Fax: 0986-23-3223

Phone (Intl.): (+81) 986-23-2295

Email: intl@city.miyakonojo.miyazaki.jp

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