<   2010年 06月 ( 30 )   > この月の画像一覧

名古屋場所開催 勧告踏まえて抜本的改革を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 30, 2010)
Take tough steps to restore sumo's honor
名古屋場所開催 勧告踏まえて抜本的改革を(6月29日付・読売社説)

The Japan Sumo Association has decided to open the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on July 11 as scheduled, despite an abnormal situation in which it will suspend many wrestlers, including seven in the top makuuchi division, from the tournament and put the JSA chairman on probation over the ongoing gambling scandal.

The JSA has forfeited the public's trust through the scandal over illegal betting on professional baseball games, and there are many who question its decision to hold the Nagoya tournament. Since it is going ahead with the tournament under such adverse circumstances, the JSA must quickly present cleanup measures rigorous enough to satisfy fans of the national sport.


Panel urged harsh penalties

The association's board of directors decided to accept recommendations made by a special investigation panel comprising 10 outside experts regarding conditions for holding the Nagoya tournament.

The panel recommended the JSA should dismiss or mete out heavier penalties against stablemaster Otake (former sekiwake Takatoriki), who is alleged to have habitually bet huge amounts of money, and ozeki Kotomitsuki, who was blackmailed by a former wrestler over his gambling.

In addition, the panel urged the JSA to put the other wrestlers involved in the illegal gambling and their stablemasters on probation. In line with the recommendations, the association decided to suspend a total of 14 wrestlers, including Kotomitsuki, from the Nagoya tournament. The stablemasters to be put on probation include JSA Chairman Musashigawa.

Otake and Kotomitsuki's punishment will be officially decided at the association board meeting scheduled for Sunday, but they are likely to receive tough penalties as recommended by the panel. Many sumo fans must feel sorry to see the misconduct of Kotomitsuki, the highest-ranked Japanese wrestler, and Otake, who took over the stable established by legendary yokozuna Taiho.


Lax management must end

The association initially intended to just give warnings to those who voluntarily confessed their involvement in illegal gambling. However, the general public would certainly regard such a penalty as too mild. The panel's recommendations apparently are a red card against the JSA's lenient attitude.

Whenever scandals occurred in the past, the JSA was often criticized for its lax crisis management. The closed-off nature of the association, which is run totally by former wrestlers, is likely responsible for its inability to cleanse itself.

The latest gambling scandal, which involves even stablemasters, makes it clear that the discipline of the professional sumo society cannot be maintained if this continues.

Two of JSA's 12 current directors now come from outside sumo, a change that stemmed from the deadly assault that occurred in the Tokitsukaze stable. The association's leadership has to be reformed through such drastic measures as further increasing the number of board directors from outside the sumo world.

While Musashigawa is on probation, Hiroyoshi Murayama, a former head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office who was invited to be a JSA board director, will likely be appointed acting chairman.

Even if the Nagoya tournament is held as scheduled, some sumo fans may complain that they do not want to cheer for the wrestlers in the ring. Certain sponsors have decided not to provide prize money for the tournament.

Concrete measures to reform the association and reeducate wrestlers must be devised urgently to make the Nagoya tournament a chance to restore the honor of professional sumo.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 29, 2010)
(2010年6月29日01時40分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-30 06:43 | 英字新聞

子ども手当 半額支給維持も容易ではない

discern ディサーム(発音注意) 感覚や理性で理解する

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 29, 2010)
No cash to spare for child allowances
子ども手当 半額支給維持も容易ではない(6月28日付・読売社説)

Child-rearing support measures require a balanced policy perspective and--more than anything else--fiscal resources to implement them.

The Democratic Party of Japan has dropped its ballyhooed policy of paying in full a 26,000 yen monthly child allowance starting in fiscal 2011 from its campaign platform for the forthcoming House of Councillors election.

The DPJ started the allowance system by paying 13,000 yen a month, half the originally set figure. Now the party claims it will "provide an additional allowance while securing fiscal resources." The additional allowance, however, will "take the form of building more nurseries and providing free school lunches to replace cash handouts."

The DPJ will no longer pay the additional child allowance unless fiscal resources can be secured, and it will reexamine the priority it placed on cash handouts.


DPJ right to change tack

This country is in dire fiscal straits, as exemplified by the issuance of government bonds worth more than tax revenue. Under these conditions, the provision of the 26,000 yen child allowance, which would require 5.4 trillion yen a year, is out of the question. The DPJ was right to change tack.

Social security budgets will increase by 1 trillion yen a year as our society ages. From next fiscal year, 2.5 trillion yen will be needed to pay for the portion of basic pension payments to be covered by the state. Given the serious fiscal conditions, it will not be easy to fund additional child allowances nor to maintain the current provision of half the promised amount.

In its vision on children and child-rearing, the government set a goal of increasing the capacity of nurseries by 50,000 children a year over five years.

It will cost 1.6 trillion yen to achieve this goal. Such an amount cannot be scrounged together simply by recasting the budget and cutting wasteful spending.


Tax hike unavoidable

Unless the consumption tax rate is raised, it will be difficult to boost measures to help parents raise their children. The DPJ needs to recognize this fact. Then the party should redesign its child-rearing policy comprehensively by studying what level of child allowance would be appropriate, and how it could be provided. This should be done in tandem with discussions on the advisability of raising the consumption tax.

Opposition parties also need to take such an approach. In its campaign platform for the July 11 election, the Liberal Democratic Party says it will "abolish nursery and kindergarten tuition fees." However, this would require at least 800 billion yen.

The LDP campaign pledges include "increasing the consumption tax rate to 10 percent," and details how necessary fiscal resources could be found. But the LDP should unequivocally tell voters that a hike in the consumption tax is the main premise for implementing measures that will greatly improve the social security system.

The British administration of Prime Minister David Cameron has put forth a policy of raising the value-added tax rate to 20 percent and freezing child-allowance payments for three years as it seeks to put Britain's fiscal house back in order.

Japan's fiscal conditions are tighter than Britain's. It is impossible to maintain the social security system without asking the public to shoulder an additional burden.

Voters need to discern which party will discuss and tackle this matter squarely and seriously in the upper house election.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2010)
(2010年6月28日01時56分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-29 06:56 | 英字新聞

G8サミット 日本の存在感低下に歯止めを

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 28, 2010)
Japan must halt decline of diplomatic clout
G8サミット 日本の存在感低下に歯止めを(6月27日付・読売社説)

The summit meetings of the Group of Eight major powers and the Group of 20 major industrialized and emerging countries are taking place in Canada.

While it is noted that Japan's clout in the international community has been on the decline for several years, Prime Minister Naoto Kan's diplomatic competence is already being put to the test in his first trip abroad as prime minister.

Addressing the global economy, which is being rocked by Greece's debt crisis, leaders of the G-8 major powers affirmed during their meeting the importance of tackling fiscal reconstruction while securing growth.

Kan explained and sought understanding for Japan's policy of increasing expenditures in the nursing and medical fields while pursuing economic growth and fiscal soundness.

After returning to Japan, Kan certainly will be pressed to give concrete form to measures, including the consumption tax rate hike, to reconstruct the country's economy and state finances.

The G-8 leaders also agreed Friday to pledge 5 billion dollars over the next five years to aid maternal and child health care in developing countries. Kan announced Japan would offer 500 million dollars in this sector.

Japan possesses various types of know-how in providing medical assistance. The government should conduct finely tuned strategic aid diplomacy.


Stability vital to natl interests

In the political arena, the March sinking of a South Korean naval patrol ship was another focus of attention at the G-8.

Maintaining peace and stability in areas surrounding Japan is directly linked to its national interests. To secure its say at the G-8 summit meetings and shepherd its assertions to reality, it is indispensable that Japan fulfill its role as a major power in the political and economic arenas.

However, Japan's position in G-8 diplomacy has been extremely tenuous in recent years. Different prime ministers attended past G-8 summit meetings, with Shinzo Abe participating in 2007, Yasuo Fukuda in 2008 and Taro Aso last year.

Every time the prime minister changes, the new premier has to rebuild relationships from scratch with his counterparts from each country. While summit diplomacy is becoming increasingly important, there is no way we can expect, under such circumstances, the prime minister to exercise leadership in diplomatic negotiations, such as with Russia over the northern territories dispute.


Kan must avoid Hatoyama rut

Kan's diplomatic competence is unknown, although as finance minister, he attended the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven major industrialized nations in February.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama drove Japan-U.S. relations astray with his go-it-alone judgment and immature approach.

Kan said he would try to promote diplomacy based on pragmatism, but he needs to humbly give ear to the advice of his specialists to avoid following the same rut as his predecessor.

A problem besetting Japan's diplomacy is its declining budget for official development assistance, which has been an important card for years.

The ODA this fiscal year dropped to nearly half the level of its peak in fiscal 1997. From its position at the top of world rankings for total assistance in 2000, Japan has remained in fifth place since 2007. Japan must stop its position from declining by boosting the assistance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2010)
(2010年6月27日01時24分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-28 07:09 | 英字新聞

W杯ベスト16 組織力生かしさらに上位を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 27, 2010)
Teamwork is Japan's World Cup weapon
W杯ベスト16 組織力生かしさらに上位を(6月26日付・読売社説)

Japan's national soccer team has qualified for the knockout phase of the greatest international event in its sport. We applaud the excellent performance of the team.

Defeating Denmark 3-1 in the first round of the soccer World Cup finals in South Africa, Japan has advanced to the top 16. This is our country's second time to qualify for the second round, following the 2002 World Cup finals jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea.

In the first half of the game with Denmark, Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo each scored with superb free kicks. Shinji Okazaki also netted a decisive goal in the second half.


Players made us proud

Seeing the Japanese players throw everything into defending against the Danes' fierce attacks, we were impressed with the national team's display of never-say-die spirit. As coach Takeshi Okada said, "I'm proud of these wonderful players."

The Danes' imposing physical stature and abilities seemed to put the Japanese at a disadvantage, but each player on the team fulfilled his particular role. Japan's victorious accession to the top 16 therefore should be attributed to its teamwork.

Japan's next game is with Paraguay on Tuesday. It surely will be a tough match, but we hope the team will exert all its strength to achieve a place in the top eight for the first time in history.

Expectations for the Japan team were not so high before the current World Cup finals kicked off, but after it beat Cameroon in its first game, public interest suddenly soared.

The average rating for the live broadcast of the Denmark game from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday was 30.5 percent of households with televisions in the Kanto region, with the highest rating reaching 41.3 percent. These are surprising figures given the early-morning time slot.

The second round is a knockout phase--losing just one game will eliminate a team. The voltage of excitement among fans is therefore certain to be crackling at an even higher level.


Asian teams ascendant

South Korea also has qualified to play in the top-16 second round. Unless teams from Asia perform well, the number of spots for the region may be reduced in the next World Cup finals. In this sense, too, it is good news that both Japan and South Korea have advanced to the second round.

Two unexpected developments were the exits of Italy and France, the champion and the runner-up, respectively, in the previous World Cup finals in 2006. Other leading European teams also have had tough games.

Many players on South American, African and Asian teams have played in the European leagues. These players improved their skills in Europe and now are threatening European teams in the World Cup.

South American teams, such as Brazil and Argentina, have so far performed well. Having seen the excellent individual skills of players on these teams, which the Japan players lack, we are impressed with the differences in playing styles.

With half of the 32 original teams eliminated, the best part of the World Cup finals now begins. We are even more excited to watch the fierce battles that will be fought to reach the world's top place.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 26, 2010)
(2010年6月26日01時08分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-27 09:08 | 英字新聞

参院選公示 政治と経済立て直しの契機に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 26, 2010)
Election chance to put politics, economy in order
参院選公示 政治と経済立て直しの契機に(6月25日付・読売社説)

Many people must feel that this country's backbone is in danger of splintering.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government, which replaced the coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito last autumn, has brought major confusion to the political arena, rather than ushering in a new era of politics.

The economy has been mired in deflation; glimmers of hope are few and far between.

Official campaigning for the House of Councillors election kicked off after it was officially announced Thursday.  24日、参院選が公示された。

We hope each political party will present practical "prescriptions" that can cure the ills afflicting this nation, including policies that can get the economy back on its feet and diplomatic and security policies for restructuring the Japan-U.S. alliance.


Weighing pledges

Nine political parties have selected candidates in the election. The July 11 poll has become a real scramble for votes. Voters should carefully examine each party's campaign pledges to determine whether they are realistic, and its candidates to see if they are trustworthy.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama lost the confidence of the public after being tarred by a money and politics scandal. He also severely strained this country's relations with the United States over the relocation of the U.S. military's Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture. As a result, he was forced to step down just over eight months after he assumed the premiership. He was replaced by Naoto Kan.

The candidates should first discuss what the two DPJ-led cabinets achieved and how they handled the responsibility of being in government.

The DPJ has been forced to revise the child-allowance program that headlined its manifesto for last year's House of Representatives election. Payments only started this month, but the lack of a revenue source has made the allowance untenable. Despite this, the DPJ has made no attempt to review and reflect on this and its other dole-out measures.


What's the difference?

The money scandals that tainted Hatoyama and former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa remain far from resolved.

We wonder how--and whether--the Kan administration differs from the previous administration.

The Hatoyama administration was characterized by populist policies, such as an array of dole-out measures and the manner in which budget screening was conducted; bureaucrat-bashing under the name of giving politicians a greater role in running the government; money-oriented politics fueled by huge sums of cash; undemocratic tactics to ensure there was no vocal objections to Ozawa's dictatorship in the party; pro-China leanings and keeping the United States at arm's length; and strong-arm Diet management by using the party's sheer weight of numbers.

Kan was deputy prime minister and finance minister in the Hatoyama Cabinet. Can he truly break free from the nature of the former administration?

The DPJ should have sought a mandate from the people by dissolving the lower house for a general election. But because the DPJ avoided this option, it needs to fully explain these issues, otherwise voters will not be armed with enough facts to make an informed judgment on election day.

The issue of raising the consumption tax rate will be a crucial test of the Kan administration's ability to deliver.

Kan called for creation of a suprapartisan panel to discuss drastic tax reform--including the consumption tax--and hinted at raising the tax rate to 10 percent.


Debate sales tax

Raising the consumption tax rate is an obvious step if one considers the nation's critical fiscal situation and ever-expanding social security costs. The LDP made the first move on raising the tax rate to 10 percent, the DPJ has followed. We applaud both parties for being responsible enough and having the stomach to squarely face this issue.

Yet, the DPJ's policy flip-flop has been derided by some as an attempt to deflect attention from the previous administration's shortcomings.

Kan should carefully explain the reasons why raising the consumption tax rate is necessary and how the revenue will be used. He also should unveil a detailed plan for reforming the entire tax system.

Political parties that have come out against raising the consumption tax rate need to show realistic alternatives for the sake of deepening tax system debate.

The framework of the DPJ-People's New Party coalition government may need to be redesigned depending on how the parties fare in the election. This could be a golden chance for political realignment.

A handful of new parties that proclaim themselves to be a "third force" behind the DPJ and LDP have fielded many candidates. Their campaigns could affect the election success of the two major parties.

The question on many observers' lips is whether the DPJ can snatch a majority in the upper house, which, when combined with its absolute majority in the lower house, would bring about a single party government.

If the DPJ falls short of this goal, the next focus will be on whether it can secure a majority in a coalition with the PNP. If the two parties lack the seats for a majority, the DPJ might have to hop into bed with some of the "third force" parties.

The LDP has made no secret of its target of preventing the ruling parties from gaining a majority in the upper house. It apparently intends to put a brake on DPJ-led politics by bringing about a "divided Diet" in which both chambers are controlled by different political forces.

What kind of administration does this nation need? Each voter should cast their ballot with this question firmly in mind.


Ideal upper house functions

The upper house, once dubbed the "chamber of wisdom," has long been ridiculed as the "chamber of political maneuvers."

The DPJ wanted to go into the election while the Kan Cabinet rides high in public support polls and closed the Diet session without extending it. An upper house plenary session to vote on an opposition-sponsored motion to censure the prime minister was not held. Such actions besmirch the upper chamber's once lofty image of being a home to "wisdom."

The DPJ, which became the largest party in the upper chamber following the previous upper house election, shot down bills and personnel assignment plans submitted by the then LDP-New Komeito coalition government to rattle the administration and threw the political situation into chaos.

Some observers believe the authority of the House of Councillors, which has become too powerful, should be reined in. We urge each party to debate how an ideal upper house should function.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 25, 2010)
(2010年6月25日01時22分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-26 08:28 | 英字新聞

所得税論議 最高税率引き上げは問題多い


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 25, 2010)
Don't be hasty to raise top income tax rate
所得税論議 最高税率引き上げは問題多い(6月24日付・読売社説)

An expert panel of the government's Tax Commission has drawn up a list of points of contention on tax system reform in an interim report it submitted to the commission.

With the nation's perilous fiscal situation in mind, the panel spelled out the importance of harnessing consumption tax as a stable revenue source to cover rising social security costs.

We think this is a reasonable suggestion.

However, we take issue with the panel's emphasis on reinforcing the progressive structure as part of this country's income tax system reform. Under the structure, an increase in individuals' income will catapult them into higher tax brackets.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has spoken publicly about the need to hike the consumption tax rate in the future. Kan seems to be trying to convince the public of the worthiness of taxing high-income earners more since a consumption tax hike would increase the financial burden shouldered by Joe Blow.


Missing the point

Indeed, some observers have pointed out that the consumption tax is regressive, which means the burden is relatively higher for low-income earners.

But that does not mean progressive tax rates for income tax should be raised. The panel is completely missing the point.

Consumption tax should be made less regressive by, for instance, reducing the tax rate on daily necessities.

Income tax revenue for fiscal 2009 is expected to dip below 13 trillion yen for the first time in 27 years, about half of the peak figure.

Currently, the burden rate of income taxation for individuals in Japan against national income is about 7 percent. The rate is 10 percent or higher in the United States and major European countries. It is a fact that income tax's role as the nation's core taxation has been eroded.

However, even if the progressive tax structure is fortified, the number of high-income earners who will pay the higher tax rates will not change. Therefore, any increase in income tax revenue growth will be marginal as a proportion of the nation's entire tax revenue.

The maximum tax rate imposed on individual income--through a combination of income tax and resident tax--was 88 percent in the 1980s.

Many people complained they lost their motivation to work because of this high rate. In response, the government cut the maximum rate to keep pace with tax system reform implemented in the United States and Britain.

The highest tax rate for income tax, with national and regional taxes combined, is now 50 percent. However, it still tops the 47.6 percent for New York City and 48 percent in France.


Lower taxable income level

We think the government should instead be cutting the lowest taxable income threshold for individuals.

Japan's lowest taxable annual income is about 3.25 million yen for a standard household consisting of a married couple with two children. This is quite high by international standards. Many people end up not having to pay tax.

If tax deductions are cut back, the lowest taxable income can also be reduced. Consequently, more income earners will be asked to pay more tax. This is inevitable if we consider a basic tenet of taxation--a wide proportion of the nation's people should bear the burden thinly.

The expert panel said fortifying the progressive structure of income taxation was important because the tax system's income redistribution function has been crippled, generating widening disparities among the people.

However, going too far in progressive taxation would be nothing but a prime example of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government's populist agenda. Before thinking about income redistribution, improving social security measures such as pension, medical care and nursing care programs should come first.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2010)
(2010年6月24日01時07分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-25 07:21 | 英字新聞


(Mainichi Japan) June 23, 2010
Taking a deeper look at Kan's realism

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's naming of his new Cabinet as the "Kihei-tai Cabinet" (Irregular Militia Cabinet) still doesn't sit right.

The Kiheitai was a militia formed in the Choshu domain (present day Yamaguchi Prefecture) toward the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, standing in opposition to the shogunate.

Many people have probably never heard of this militia, and the meaning of "Kihei-tai" in reference to Kan's Cabinet doesn't come across clearly -- to the man on the street, its significance is lost.

The adoption of such an odd name is a reflection of the prime minister's lack of preparation and direction. By referring to his Cabinet as a "Kihei-tai," does Kan plan to keep up with the idea of destroying the system?

In a question directed at Kan on June 15, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker Yoshimasa Hayashi, who is from Yamaguchi Prefecture, asked, "Are you a destroyer or a creator?" to which Kan replied, "Both."

During the question session, Hayashi made reference to the historical work "Yoshida Shoin," by the great pre-war journalist Soho Tokutomi, explaining, "For a revolution, three types of people are needed: thinkers, destroyers and creators."

Looking at Soho's original work, we see that the "creator" is a "constructive revolutionary." In giving an example, the journalist listed Cromwell, Napoleon, and Toshimichi Okubo, and noted that the reason they were successful in the final phase of their revolutions was that they were people who looked beyond ideals to the actual situation.

Looking beyond ideals to the actual situation probably means being a realist with a well-balanced feel for the situation.

Kan is a realist, which both the prime minister himself and others acknowledge. Amid the upheaval brought about by political realignment, he has chosen, as a party leader, to place priority on survival. His dry yet flexible approach that is not necessarily bound by ideals, duty or obligations comprises the basis of others' assessments of Kan's character.

This approach is evident in his relationship with labor unions. Kan comes from a background of citizen campaigning, and during his time in the Socialist Democratic Federation and New Party Sakigake, he was consistently critical of politics that relied on labor unions. However, that changed when he formed the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and teamed up with lawmakers from the former Social Democratic Party and Democratic Socialist Party. He placed priority on solidifying his base of support and started making an effort to cooperate with labor unions.

Kan's approach when it comes to former DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa is even drier. The two didn't get on well to begin with, and Kan didn't hesitate to criticize Ozawa. But in the autumn of 2003, as leader of the DPJ, Kan decided to merge his party with the Liberal Party led by Ozawa. After that, he was cautious not to quickly join in criticism of Ozawa that was smoldering within the DPJ, and solidified his chances of succeeding former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Kan's realism has also been displayed in his policies. In the book "90 Nendai no Shogen/Kan Naoto" (Testimonies of the 1990s -- Naoto Kan), published by Asahi Shimbun Publications in 2008, reference is made to Seiji Maehara, a particularly hawkish figure in the field of diplomacy within the DPJ. Kan is asked, "You're not as much of a realist as Maehara in diplomacy are you?" to which he responds, "Well actually, from my point of view, Maehara is more fundamentalist than pragmatic. I'm much more of a realist."

In his policy speech at the Diet and during a party leaders' question session, Kan stressed that he would deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance, and the policy of an "equal Japan-U.S. alliance" promoted by Hatoyama's administration vanished.

Kan also suggested raising the consumption tax to 10 percent, "using an LDP proposal as a reference" -- in other words a policy no different from that of the LDP.

I would like to laud this as the behavior of a realist, but when we've come this far the question arises: What exactly is realism?

The "Kojien" dictionary's definition of "realism" (genjitsu-shugi) translates as follows: "the attitude of handling affairs based on reality without adhering to a doctrine or ideals. There are times when the attitude of yielding to an established fact before one's eyes or opportunism has the same meaning."

So what is Kan's realism? Is it realism on the same scale as that used during the early years of the Meiji Period by Toshimichi Okubo, who observed the U.S. and Europe and decided to focus on internal affairs? Or is it the realism of the art of survival by the Kihei-tai of Japan's political center of Nagatacho -- suppressing Ozawa's group within the party for the time being and beating the LDP? That's the issue at stake. (By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2010年6月21日 東京朝刊

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-24 06:59 | 英字新聞

イルカ漁映画 問題あっても妨害は許されぬ

Freedom of speech and expression are the foundation of a democratic society. The obstruction of BBS postings by an administrator, through deleting some postings cannot be allowed.
Whatever the content of the postings, the free expression that is a BBS should be respected as much as possible, as long as a postings are not offensive to public order and morality.



The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 23, 2010)
Don't block a movie for being problematic
イルカ漁映画 問題あっても妨害は許されぬ(6月22日付・読売社説)

Freedom of speech and expression are the foundation of a democratic society. The obstruction of the screening of a movie, through intimidating protests or other means, cannot be allowed.

Some showings in this country of "The Cove," a critical portrayal of the dolphin fishing of Taijicho, Wakayama Prefecture, have been canceled. Three theaters in Tokyo and Osaka that had been scheduled to show the film announced in early June they would not.

They did so because an organization that believes the movie is anti-Japan warned the theaters it would take such actions as holding street protests using loudspeakers.

The organization did make repeated protests in front of the home of the president of the movie's domestic distributor, and in front of the distributor's office, provoking turmoil.

The operators of the theaters apparently feared that showing the film would cause trouble for audiences and people living nearby.


Don't give in to intimidation

In contrast, 22 other movie theaters throughout the country have decided to show "The Cove," some starting July 3. The distributor and these movie theaters have demonstrated their resolve not to yield to foul intimidation.

The people of this nation can help protect the right to free and varied speech by supporting this brave action. We hope the police will do everything they can to ensure security, to prevent any trouble caused by efforts at obstruction.

Made by members of a radical U.S. environmental protection group that visited Taijicho, "The Cove" won best documentary feature at this year's Academy Awards.
However, the filmmakers shot some footage by trespassing into an off-limits area without the permission of the town's fisheries organization.

The movie includes a scene in which dolphins driven by fishermen into the town's cove are killed, and the sea becomes red with the dolphins' blood. At another point, fishermen and the movie's crew argue about the filming.

The town's government and fisheries organization asked the distributor to cancel the movie's release because it may infringe on the image rights of the fishermen filmed. They also say it presents incorrect information regarding the concentration of mercury reportedly found in dolphin meat.


Freedom of expression key

In response, the Japanese distributor agreed to make some modifications, such as obscuring the faces of people in the dolphin fishing industry. However, there is no way to conceal the surreptitious filming. It may be true that some of the filmmakers' methods were problematic.

But whatever the content of the documentary, the free expression that is a movie should be respected as much as possible, as long as a film is not offensive to public order and morality.

If the content of the movie is problematic, people should first see it at a theater and then criticize it.

Two years ago, the domestic release of a Japanese-Chinese documentary made by a Chinese director about Yasukuni Shrine was canceled due to various problems, including street loudspeaker campaigns conducted by rightest organizations.

It is quite regrettable that similar incidents are happening again.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 22, 2010)
(2010年6月22日01時23分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-23 05:58 | 英字新聞

成長戦略決定 「絵空事」に終わらせるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 22, 2010)
Growth strategy needs more substance
成長戦略決定 「絵空事」に終わらせるな(6月21日付・読売社説)

The government has drawn up its new growth strategy. However, uncertainties remain over whether this strategy can achieve the anticipated economic growth by effectively tapping the vigor of private businesses.

The strategy is aimed at galvanizing seven fields, such as environment/energy and health, while accelerating moves to help the economy break free from deflation. It contains 21 measures for promoting what have been touted as national strategy projects to establish a strong economy.

Implementing these measures, the government calculates, will create more than 120 trillion yen in new demand and about 5 million jobs. This would generate average yearly economic growth of more than 2 percent in real terms and more than 3 percent in nominal terms in the decade to come.

The strategy contains some measures likely to be effective. But there is a question over whether it can bring about the sort of drastic impact the government is banking on. The government should prioritize the measures and enhance their efficacy.

Many of the measures are intended to back up corporate activity and boost the vigor of the private sector.


Boost corporate activity

One pillar of the strategy is to lower the effective corporate tax rate gradually from the current 40 percent or so to 30 percent or about 25 percent--the same level as in many other industrialized nations. This will reinforce the international competitiveness of Japanese firms.

The strategy calls for establishing a special committee representing both the private and public sectors to promote sales of social infrastructure projects in Asia, such as the construction of nuclear power plants and Shinkansen bullet train networks. If successful, the plan will bring in orders for huge infrastructure projects in the region.

However, the strategy is not without shortcomings. The practicality of some measures is debatable, such as the project to build an environmentally friendly futuristic city. Since the strategy is making plans for 10 years from now, it contains many rough and vague plans. These plans must be fleshed out in the years to come.

There are concerns about whether measures to revive forests and forestry will include simple handouts. We want the government to reexamine whether these measures are suitable for inclusion in its growth strategy.


Devil's in the (lack of) details

An overall problem is that the strategy lacked precise figures for the fiscal spending and costs that will be needed to carry out the measures, although it projected concrete figures--such as the demand that will be created--for the fruit of the measures.

Unless details are spelled out about how to fund these projects at a time when the state finances are in dire straits, none of the plans will get off the ground. A close eye will need to be kept on whether each measure has an effect commensurate with its cost.

Another matter of concern is the lack of clarity on how the measures will be carried out. Previous strategies were beset by failures due to conflicts of authority between government ministries involved in the projects. It is necessary to speed up efforts to establish a system that can promote several measures comprehensively and simultaneously.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government calls for banning in principle the dispatch of temporary workers to the manufacturing industry and reducing greenhouse gases by 25 percent--measures that could adversely affect corporate activity. These steps do not wash with its new growth strategy designed to help businesses.

The government should drop its adherence to its campaign pledges for last year's general election and instead devote itself to reviving the economy before all else.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2010)
(2010年6月21日01時41分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-22 07:49 | 英字新聞

消費税公約 引き上げを国民に堂々訴えよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 21, 2010)
Parties must stress need for consumption tax hike
消費税公約 引き上げを国民に堂々訴えよ(6月20日付・読売社説)

Ahead of the official announcement of the House of Councillors election on Thursday, the Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party recently hammered out drastic tax reform proposals, including raising the consumption tax rate.

It is the wish of many people to rehabilitate this country's state finances, the worst among leading industrialized nations, and make the social security system sustainable. To this end, a consumption tax hike is obviously unavoidable.

It is the responsibility of politicians to try to convince the public of the need for a tax increase, even if it is painful. We hope to see the matter actively debated during the upcoming upper house election campaign.

At a press conference during which Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the DPJ's campaign pledges, he referred to the consumption tax and said he would try to come up with an appropriate tax rate and tax reform proposals within the current fiscal year.

As for the consumption tax rate, Kan also said that he would use as reference the main opposition LDP's proposal of raising it to 10 percent from the current 5 percent. Kan's comment is a significant change from former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's policy of making the issue of a consumption tax hike a no-go area.

The consumption tax rate, which was introduced in 1989 at 3 percent, was raised to 5 percent in 1997. Since then, past administrations have not squarely addressed the consumption tax issue. Kan should be praised for announcing a policy of raising the consumption tax rate this time.

At the press conference, Kan also expressed his intention to seek the people's mandate on the issue in the House of Representatives election before implementing a tax increase. However, an ideal opportunity could be lost if Kan takes things slowly.


DPJ talk political posturing

Some DPJ members have said that if the DPJ proposes raising the consumption tax rate to 10 percent as the LDP has done, the issue would not be a point of contention in the upper house election. This is, however, nothing but conventional election posturing.

Kan's policy was met by a backlash within the DPJ. He should speed up intraparty discussions and establish his party's basic policy on the issue.

The nation's debt-laden finances are in a critical situation due to the Hatoyama administration's dole-out policies that stuck to the DPJ's manifesto for the lower house election last summer, in addition to lavish economic stimulus measures after the bursting of the economic bubble.

It is estimated that cumulative long-term debts at the central and local governments will rise to 860 trillion yen as of the end of the current fiscal year--1.8 times the country's gross domestic product.

The fiscal 2010 budget is abnormal, with tax revenues falling to about 37 trillion yen, lower than the new government bond issuance, which has swollen to 44 trillion yen.

Due to the country's graying population, social security costs, which currently total more than 20 trillion yen a year, will increase by 1 trillion yen every year.

In fiscal 2009, the government's share of contributions to the basic pension payments was raised to 50 percent from one-third. However, increased contributions are provisionally funded by surplus funds in special accounts, dubbed "buried treasure," and a permanent revenue source of 2.5 trillion yen will be necessary in fiscal 2011 and thereafter.

"Integrated economic, fiscal and social security reforms," as touted by the Kan Cabinet, can only be achieved with stable revenue sources.

However, the income and corporate taxes that have been an important source of government revenues have substantially decreased due to the prolonged recession and a series of tax breaks. Therefore, the last resort is raising the consumption tax, a revenue source that does not fluctuate significantly due to changes in economic conditions and that spreads the burden widely among the public.

The country's 5 percent consumption tax is exceptionally low compared with 25 percent in Nordic countries, 16 percent to 20 percent in Spain, Britain and Italy, and 10 percent in South Korea.

Sixty-six percent of the respondents to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted earlier this month said it is necessary to raise the consumption tax rate, greatly surpassing the 29 percent who said it is unnecessary. Many people lean toward the opinion that a consumption tax hike is unavoidable.


Where to spend revenue

Bones of contention regarding the consumption tax are not confined to such issues as the rate and timing of its introduction. Therefore, wide-ranging discussions will be needed.

The first point is where to spend the increased revenues from the tax hike. A 1 percentage point hike in the consumption tax rate would translate into a tax revenue increase of 2.4 trillion yen. If the tax rate is raised to 10 percent, tax revenues will increase by about 12 trillion yen.

Currently, revenues from the consumption tax are distributed among three fields: the basic pension program, health care for the elderly and nursing care. But Kan has expressed his intention to aggressively invest increased revenues in growth fields such as medical care and nursing industries in order to increase employment.

Using the increased tax revenues to expand government spending without careful consideration may simply repeat earlier mistakes. We believe the consumption tax will have to be spent exclusively for social security services.

Under the current system, 1 percentage point worth of revenue from the 5 percent consumption tax is allocated to local governments. In addition, a certain portion of the revenue is also provided to local governments as local tax grants. Consequently, the central government can spend only about 7 trillion yen out of the total consumption tax revenues.

Even if the consumption tax rate is raised to 10 percent, therefore, the central government is unlikely to have enough revenue from this source. The government may have to consider setting the rate at 15 percent or higher in the future, just as European countries do.


Help low-income earners

Another issue will be how to reduce the financial burden on low-income earners.

Because the consumption tax is imposed equally on everyone, those in low-income brackets tend to feel more of a burden than high-income earners.

To alleviate this problem, some countries have introduced a system under which consumption tax rates are set lower for food and other daily necessities. Such a system is worth considering in this country as well.

Another option may be to pay tax refunds to low-income earners to cover the cost of the consumption tax they pay for daily necessities. Before implementing such a system, however, it will be an urgent task for the government to consider introducing an identification number system for tax and social security in order to know which households will be eligible for the system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,June 20, 2010)
(2010年6月20日01時19分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-06-21 04:52 | 英字新聞