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大阪ダブル選 「都構想」への関門はなお多い

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 29, 2011)
Many hurdles ahead for an Osaka metropolis
大阪ダブル選 「都構想」への関門はなお多い(11月28日付・読売社説)

Former Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto won Sunday's Osaka mayoral election. Hashimoto, who heads Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka restoration group), a local party, had resigned as Osaka governor to run in the mayoral race.

In the Osaka gubernatorial election, Ichiro Matsui, the local party's secretary general Hashimoto named as his successor, also won.

The party's victories in the elections represented a success for Hashimoto's strategy of engineering the double election, stepping down as governor before his four-year term of office was due to expire.

The main issue in the double election was Hashimoto's proposal to establish an Osaka metropolis.
In an envisioned overhaul of the local administrative system, he called for the reorganization of the Osaka prefectural government and the Osaka and Sakai municipal governments into a metropolis that provides administrative services in a wider area.

As for the areas currently under the jurisdiction of the Osaka and Sakai municipal governments, Hashimoto proposed dividing the cities into 10 to 12 special administrative wards that will provide services for local residents and introducing elections by popular vote to choose ward mayors, as in Tokyo.


New sources of revenue

Hashimoto called for conserving fiscal resources by eliminating overlapping administrative services by the prefectural and municipal governments and promoting growth strategies by consolidating industrial policies and projects to improve infrastructure.

Matsui also urged implementing the plan.

Other candidates supported by prefectural chapters of the Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party failed to win broader voter support as they were unable to present clear counterproposals against Hashimoto's Osaka metropolis proposal.

The election results apparently reflect voters' desire for strong leadership and bold system reforms to revitalize Osaka.

If the outcome of Sunday's elections helps end what Hashimoto called the "100-year battle between the Osaka prefectural and Osaka city governments," it will certainly benefit residents of Osaka Prefecture.

Another issue of contention in Sunday's elections was Hashimoto's high-handed tactics.

Hashimoto managed to increase his support by treating public officials and others opposing him as "resistance forces," causing friction with them in the process.

In some ways, it is understandable that rival candidates attacked Hashimoto as "dictatorial."

Hashimoto should humbly take to heart the votes cast against him.

Moves will now accelerate in Osaka Prefecture to realize an Osaka metropolis.

Those promoting the idea will have to present specific plans on how to divide cities into wards as well as how to secure tax and fiscal resources and sufficiently explain the plan's benefits to voters.


Election only first obstacle

The double election was only one hurdle that must be cleared before establishing an Osaka metropolis.

Various other hurdles are expected ahead, including approvals by local assemblies, local referendums and revisions of the Local Government Law.

Expected to be particularly difficult are legislative procedures that will be necessary to transform the prefecture and the municipalities into a metropolis.

This is because such procedures will require drastic reviews of what forms local government organs and administrative systems should take.

Not a few among the ruling and opposition parties oppose the Osaka metropolis plan. DPJ Policy Research Committee Chairman Seiji Maehara said, "[The plan] is meant to strengthen the authority of prefectural governments, which runs counter to our party's policy."

Osaka is faced with grave problems.

But many of them, such as a faltering local economy and an increasing number of welfare recipients, cannot be resolved simply through reform of the administrative system.

The reform of the public servant system Hashimoto pledged during the election campaign will also be tested.

What actions will Hashimoto, who managed to build political foundations both in Osaka prefectural and city governments, take now?

We hope he will present us with tangible outcomes through his "system restoration."

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 28, 2011)
(2011年11月28日01時18分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-30 07:18 | 英字新聞

欧米経済混乱 余りにも遅い危機封じ込め策

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 28, 2011)
Measures to contain crises in U.S., EU too slow
欧米経済混乱 余りにも遅い危機封じ込め策(11月27日付・読売社説)

There is no resolution in sight for Europe's debt crisis, while in the United States, talks between Republicans and Democrats collapsed over the issue of slashing the U.S. federal deficit.

This is a serious situation in which the economic turmoil in the United States and European countries may spread to other economies.

European countries and the United States need to act quickly to contain the crisis.

Indexes of major stock markets around the world, including those in Western economies and Asia, declined across the board last week.

Tokyo stocks fell below 8,200 for the first time in about 32 months.

On foreign exchange markets, the euro fell as low as the 102 yen level against the yen.

The major factor that roiled the markets is that eurozone countries have been slow to work out measures to deal with the sovereign debt crisis, and Germany and France have failed to coordinate their efforts to tackle the crisis.

In Italy, the country most affected by the debt crisis triggered by Greece, there was a change of administration.  ギリシャ危機が飛び火したイタリアでは、政権が交代したが、

But the market apparently remains skeptical about whether the new government can effectively carry out fiscal reconstruction.


Italian bond yields hit 7%

For this reason, the yield on 10-year Italian government bonds rose to the 7-percent level again, bringing into question the country's ability to put its fiscal house in order on its own.

The yields on government bonds of other European countries, including Spain and France, have also risen.

One shocking development is that Germany failed to raise as much money as it hoped in a recent auction of 10-year bonds, reckoned to be the most creditworthy bonds in Europe.

Institutional investors have apparently shied away from buying.

Germany is considered to be the "final fortress" in the battle to resolve the debt crisis.

Precautions are needed to prevent the credit uncertainty from spreading further.

The government bonds of Portugal and Hungary were also downgraded recently.

European countries must, first of all, implement measures to assist Greece, the epicenter of the crisis, and stem the crisis from spreading beyond Italy.

Decisions have been made too slowly on concrete steps to expand the European Financial Stability Facility, the entity tasked with supporting crisis-hit eurozone countries.

To stabilize the market, it is essential for both Germany and France to join forces and deal with the issue promptly.

The European Union has proposed the 17-member eurozone countries issue "euro bonds" to tide over the crisis.


EU looks to common bonds

The EU has a common currency in the euro.

However, as the fiscal conditions differ among the member countries, the EU has concluded it would be better to monitor the fiscal conditions of member countries as a precondition for issuing common bonds.

We can understand the purpose of the common bond, but these reforms cannot deal with the currently raging crisis.

The EU nations should prioritize their policies.

On the other hand, it is also worrisome that in the United States, the talks between Republicans and Democrats collapsed over concrete steps to slash U.S. deficit spending by at least 1.2 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.

The collapse came as the sides failed to iron out their differences, with Democrats calling for increasing taxes on the rich and cutting government spending, and Republicans opposing tax increases.

The road to the country's fiscal reconstruction remains uncertain.

If the turmoil over fiscal management and in politics continues in conjunction with political jockeying with an eye to next year's presidential election, credit-rating agencies may again downgrade U.S. government bonds, as they did this summer.

The global economy remains on a tight-rope.

It needs to be stabilized as quickly as possible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 27, 2011)
(2011年11月27日01時22分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-29 04:20 | 英字新聞

社説:「女性宮家」 皇室の将来へ論議を



(Mainichi Japan) November 26, 2011
Discussion needed on plan to allow women to keep Imperial status after marriage
社説:「女性宮家」 皇室の将来へ論議を

In-depth discussions are needed on the proposed reform of the Imperial Household, including a system to allow women to retain their Imperial status even after marriage.

The government is set to consider introducing houses for female members of the Imperial Family so that they can retain their Imperial status after marriage, for fear that the number of Imperial Family members would otherwise decrease.

It is a matter closely related to how to ensure stable Imperial succession.

Imperial Household Agency chief Shingo Haketa has recently told Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda that the matter is of great urgency for the Imperial Household because many female members of the Imperial Family are nearing marriageable age, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura.

Specific actions have not been taken yet to address the issue, but Fujimura told a news conference that the government will consider the matter while taking into consideration discussions by all levels of society.

The Imperial Household consists of Emperor Akihito and 22 other members of the Imperial Family, and six of eight unmarried female members are adults.

The Imperial House Law stipulates that female members of the Imperial Family must leave the Imperial Household once they get married to commoners.

The law also states that only male members of the Imperial Family in the male line can accede to the Imperial Throne.

The order of succession to the throne is Crown Prince Naruhito, his brother Prince Akishino and Prince Hisahito. 現在その順位は皇太子さま、弟の秋篠宮さま、その長男の悠仁(ひさひと)さまと続く。

Prince Hisahito, 5, the son of Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko, is the Emperor's only grandchild who can accede to the throne.

There have been calls for many years urging female members of the Imperial Family to retain their Imperial status after marriage for fear that Imperial succession will be unstable in the long term if the current system is retained.

The previous Liberal Democratic Party-led government set up an advisory panel comprised of experts on how to ensure stable succession to the throne when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was in office.

In November 2005, the panel stated that it is extremely difficult to maintain the current system which limits those qualified to accede to the throne to male members of the Imperial Family in the male line.

It then issued a report recommending that female Imperial Family members and their descendents be allowed to succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne as long as the principle of prioritizing the eldest child in line to the throne is retained, and that women retain their Imperial status even after marriage.

A bill to revise the Imperial House Law based on those recommendations was to be submitted to the Diet.  そして皇室典範改正案が国会に提出されるはずだったが、

However, the recommendations were met with stiff opposition.

The issue was shelved after the birth of Prince Hisahito in September 2006.

A system under which female members of the Imperial Family would retain their Imperial status after marriage would help maintain the number of Imperial Family members to a certain level and could expand the scope of those qualified to accede to the throne.

Needless to say, a conclusion on the issue should not be hastily drawn.

Open public discussions and understanding are indispensable.

The post-war system that recognizes the Emperor as a symbol of the state has been understood and loved by the public based on the philosophy that the "Imperial Household is open to the public and coexists with society."  戦後、象徴天皇制は「開かれた皇室」「国民とともにある皇室」という理念で理解され、親しまれてきた。

Introducing a new system that matches the times would never contradict with keeping up the tradition of the Imperial Household cultivated by its long history.

Since his enthronement, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have actively promoted exchanges with members of the general public, and visited areas hit by serious natural disasters to cheer up victims.

The Emperor's visits to former battle sites to pay respect to war victims have shown how the Imperial Household should exist in the Heisei Era.

Frank and open discussion on how to ensure stable Imperial succession will be consistent with the philosophy of the modern Imperial Household.

It should not be an all-or-nothing approach.

Members of the public have a wide diversity of opinions and proposals.

Discussions on the issue should be mature while taking into consideration recommendations made by the government advisory panel six years ago.

毎日新聞 2011年11月26日 2時31分

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-28 05:05 | 英字新聞





--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 25
EDITORIAL: Reduce pension benefits to original levels

It is hard for elderly people to hear their pension benefits will be reduced.

But if levels remain as they are, pause for a moment to think about the impact this will have on their children and grandchildren.

Welfare minister Yoko Komiyama has floated the idea of lowering monthly pension payments.

In fiscal 2011, pension payments were 2.5 percent higher than they ought to have been.

Komiyama's proposal is to return pension payments to original level in phases.

The problem dates back to 1999, when the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito were in power.

That year, consumer prices dropped slightly.

To correspond with the drop, pension benefits for fiscal 2000 should have been lowered automatically.

However, the government made an exception and decided to maintain pensions at the same level on grounds the economy would deteriorate further if those benefits were reduced.

The exception remained in place for three consecutive years until fiscal 2002.

Apparently, the ruling coalition did not want to alienate pensioners when it came time to vote in elections.

Since then, each time a proposal was made to keep pensions at the same level, a bill was submitted and the Diet unanimously approved it.

The issue of "excessive payments" was supposed to have been resolved by not raising pension benefits when prices rose.

With deflation, when prices go down, the gap between the actual amounts of pension benefits paid versus the "original levels" has continued.

During government screening of wasteful projects to cut costs, the panel overseeing the matter pointed out that the cumulative overpayment of pension benefits had reached 7 trillion yen ($93.3 billion) and said this should be eliminated.

We totally agree, and believe this should be done as soon as possible.

Although some Democratic Party of Japan lawmakers are raising objections, this hurdle must be overcome. 民主党内から反発の声が出ているが、乗りこえなければいけない。

Otherwise, we will be passing on the burden to future generations.

With lower birthrates, the number of people of working age who pay pension premiums is decreasing.

Meanwhile, people are living longer. This inevitably means payments of pension benefits are increasing.

If no action is taken, the burden on working people will become excessively heavy.
For that reason, the rise in pension premiums is scheduled to end in fiscal 2017.

That way, the size of the pie used to pay pension benefits will be kept within a certain framework.

Moreover, when prices keep rising, a system called "macroeconomic slide" is applied.

It is aimed at curbing the amounts of pension benefits in accordance with the decline in the number of working people, coupled with the rise in longevity.

But the system will not work unless the current pension benefits are lowered to "original levels" and prices rise to some extent.

Unless this rule is re-examined and the system is changed so that it can be invoked even when prices fall, pension benefits of future generations will decline even more.

We can fully understand the anxiety of elderly people who must rely on pensions to make ends meet.

But younger generations, including the children and grandchildren of today's pensioners, are also feeling great trepidation about their future pension benefits.

We as a nation should give serious thought to this problem, with special feelings of consideration to younger generations.

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-27 05:13 | 英字新聞




投稿者:srachai2011-11-21 10:32

投稿者:srachai2011-11-25 08:57


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 24
EDITORIAL: In Egypt, young people hold the key to progress

The latest bloody clash between Egyptian security forces and protesters in Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the revolution that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak as president in February, underscored the tough challenges facing the "Arab Spring" movement.

Security forces used strong-arm tactics to crack down on the protesters, causing many casualties among the young crowd demonstrating against the military leadership.

Mubarak's resignation supposedly ended Egypt's iron-fisted rule. But the recent actions of the military-led interim government are all too reminiscent of the Mubarak regime's responses to dissent.

In Egypt, the first round of elections for the People's Assembly, the country's principal legislative body, is due to start on Nov. 28.

After three rounds of elections for both houses, the new parliament will be convened in March.

Young Egyptians who gathered in Tahrir Square harbored deep resentment toward the military, which took power after the spring revolution.

The interim government appointed by the military demanded that all political forces, prior to the elections, accept the "basic principles of the Constitution," which would exempt its military budget from civilian oversight.

It is clear that the military is trying to preserve its privileges.

The bloody clash followed a protest rally organized by an Islamic group that is expected to make strides in the elections.

Young protesters who attended the rally continued their demonstration in the square.

Many young Egyptians are indignant about the fact that senior officials of the Mubarak regime still hold posts in government organizations while senior police and security force officers who led violent crackdowns against citizens remained in their posts without being held accountable for their actions.

The use of force in response to the latest wave of protests has effectively reinforced the claim by young people that nothing has really changed.

After three days of deadly clashes, the top military commander said the army "does not aspire to hold power" and promised that presidential polls will be held in June 2012 to facilitate the transition to civilian rule.

The commander also said he had accepted the Cabinet's resignation. He said the military had reached an agreement with the main political forces on the formation of a new Cabinet supported by the whole nation.

However, the protesters rejected the deal. They have demanded an immediate end to military rule so that a newly empowered civilian government can resolve the crisis.

Their anger is understandable.

But we hope the protesters will stay focused on securing the parliamentary elections scheduled to start next week and not lose sight of their goal, which must be accomplished through the election process.

It must not be forgotten, however, that Egypt and its society are facing the colossal political challenge of how to deal with the deep-rooted anger that has gripped its young population.

Its people have an average age of 24.

During Mubarak's time, a small number of the wealthy elite with connections to senior government officials enjoyed huge advantages in employment and promotion.

The corrupt politics of patronage led to high unemployment among young people and a wide gap between rich and poor, resulting in various social problems like an increasing number of young people who cannot afford marriage.

This time, the military held talks with former opposition parties, including Islamic groups, to find a way out of the crisis. What we find highly questionable was the military's decision not to hold any dialogue with the angry youth.

The driving force of the revolution was a new generation of Internet-savvy young people armed with the ability to make the most of mobile phones.

The military rulers need to understand that the process of "democratization from the top" without the involvement of these young people cannot solve their anger. To continue to ignore them would risk further dissent and unrest in Egyptian society.

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-26 05:49 | 英字新聞


(Mainichi Japan) November 23, 2011
One-person play by actress brings voices of disaster victims to wider audience

When I saw a one-person play about earthquake and tsunami evacuees by actress "mic" during a charity event this past summer, I felt my spirits lightened.

The actress played the roles of three disaster victims -- elderly and middle-aged women who lost their homes to the tsunami that followed the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and a fisherman who had resolved to continue his work.

The play was held at an evacuation shelter on the Oshika Peninsula in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, one month after the disasters.

Though the ways the three speak is stooped in sorrow, their Tohoku dialect always sounds gentle.

"mic, don't hesitate to come back here when things are hard," one of them said.

The three are not fictional characters.

The actress says she reproduced the words of three people she actually met at a shelter.

In a survey after the performance, many members of the audience said they felt they had directly heard voices of the disaster-hit residents that are not reported by news organizations.

Even though the play was done by one person, the dialogue seemed to the audience like the disaster victims' real voices.

About 10 years ago, mic was in a car accident and fought for her life.

It happened after she had made up her mid to be an actress following her graduation from university.
In her mind, the massive damage that the disasters caused to many people in the Tohoku region may have shared similarities with her harrowing experience a decade ago.

"I was so shaken (after the March disasters), I couldn't do my job at all," mic recalls.

While repeatedly visiting the evacuation shelter where the three were staying, their lives took root in her mind as a story.

Furthermore, the actress's parents' home in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, was damaged by the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995.

She says her mother says, "I never forget the taste of boiled potatoes I got from volunteers at the time."

Those volunteers were from the Tohoku region.

The actress will perform the play at a hall in Kobe on the evening of Nov. 26.

She believes that Kobe residents will understand the feelings of evacuees from the Oshika Peninsula, and hopes that she can return the favor to Tohoku people for extending relief to Kobe quake victims 16 years ago.

Proceeds from 3,000-yen admission fees for her Kobe performance will be fully donated to disaster-hit areas.

(By Takahiro Takino, Tokyo City News Department)

毎日新聞 2011年11月16日 東京朝刊

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-25 04:43 | 英字新聞

「もんじゅ」 政策仕分けにはなじまない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 23, 2011)
Monju reactor program not appropriate for budget screening
「もんじゅ」 政策仕分けにはなじまない(11月22日付・読売社説)

The Government Revitalization Unit has proposed a drastic review of the Monju program, which aims to develop a next-generation nuclear reactor. The review will include whether the program should be scrapped.

During the unit's policy review session that started Sunday, all seven members of the screening committee, which includes Diet members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, criticized the program. "More than 1 trillion yen has been injected so far, but the program has borne no fruit," one screener said.

However, discussions lasted only for several hours and focused on how to use the program budget efficiently. There was almost no review of technical issues or verification of the program's merits and demerits from the viewpoint of long-term energy policy.

We cannot help but call the budget screening session a mere political performance that took advantage of the general atmosphere of "opposition to nuclear power generation" caused by the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.


Maintenance takes 20 bil. yen a year

The Monju prototype fast breeder reactor has been mostly suspended since operations began in 1994, due to a series of problems including a sodium leak in 1995.

Just maintaining the reactor costs about 20 billion yen a year.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, an independent administrative institution, is responsible for research and development on the Monju project. Budget screeners raised such questions as, "Wasn't there laxity because you're a public research organization?" or "Was there no waste of money?" We think the screeners had sufficient reason to ask such questions.

However, Japan has been promoting the study of fast breeder reactors in an attempt to more effectively use uranium.

Fast breeder reactors can convert a type of uranium that cannot be burned in conventional nuclear reactors into plutonium that can be used as fuel.

The program has its eye on the future of Japan, which is a resource-thirsty country.

Countries such as China and India have also been developing such reactors, and China began experimental power generation this summer.

European countries and the United States are giving much attention to whether the stable operation of Monju in Japan, as an international R&D base for fast breeder reactors, is possible.

It is indeed problematic if the screeners do not take into account these circumstances and international trends.

Organizations such as the government's Energy and Environment Council and the Atomic Energy Commission have been reviewing nuclear power policy, and are scheduled to reach a final conclusion next summer.

The fate of the Monju program will have to be decided at that time.


Optimum energy mix needed

Nuclear power generation needs to be discussed from a long-term point of view, and the best combination of energy sources for the country must be chosen.

However, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said during the budget screening session that if all the research funding for nuclear power plants was put into studying renewable energy sources, the nation's power needs could be satisfied.

This is not an easy task when we consider current technology levels.

Edano is downright irresponsible.

The ongoing budget screening has been dubbed a "policy proposing type screening." I

n addition to the Monju program, the session also discussed an R&D program on nuclear fusion among other nuclear programs.

However, as in the Monju case, the budget screening members were obsessed with the efficient use of money.

The nation's important policy measures must be decided through discussions from various angles.

In that sense, the budget screening has its limitations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 22, 2011)
(2011年11月22日01時16分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-24 04:00 | 英字新聞



--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 22
EDITORIAL: Lessons from Aum Shinrikyo's crimes must be handed down

All the trials for the series of crimes perpetrated by the Aum Shinrikyo cult are now over.

Already, as many as 22 years have passed since the 1989 murder of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto and his family, which marked the beginning of the grisly saga of crimes committed by the cult's members.

And 16 years have passed since cult founder Chizuo Matsumoto, also known as Shoko Asahara, was arrested and indicted.

Many Japanese probably still remember what they were doing on that day in 1995 when the group carried out the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

To Japanese of a certain age or younger, however, all these murders and terror attacks carried out by Aum cultists probably look like what happened in a distant world.

Whenever the cult and its atrocious acts are discussed, we are told not to allow these incidents to be forgotten. We couldn't agree more, given the shock and consternation the group's crimes caused not just in Japan but in the rest of the world.

In a society regarded as affluent and safe, a group that justified murders was born. And many young people apparently lost their sense of morality as they got involved in the group and brought ruin upon themselves.

Japanese who lived in the era when Aum Shinrikyo was active have a duty to pass the facts about the cult and its crimes to generations who will be the leaders of tomorrow so that the lessons learned from the experiences will not be lost.

The trials have brought to light some new facts about why these indicted former members joined the group and how they committed the crimes. But they have left many important questions unanswered.

There are inevitably limitations to what the trials of individual cultists facing criminal charges can reveal about Aum Shinrikyo and its deeds.

It is crucial to lay a solid foundation for a continued public conversation about Aum based on the outcomes of the trials.

People and organizations in the private sector, including academics and media, will have to play the leading role in such efforts.

But the Diet, for instance, should also do its part by taking steps like commissioning a research team to interview people concerned and collect and analyze related records to share with the public.

Many former members say they intend to keep facing their past involvement in the cult and trying to deepen their thoughts.

Society should pay serious attention to their soul-searching and thoughts, and hold sincere conversations with them.

We hope such steady efforts will help prevent a recurrence of similar tragedies.

Aum's crime rampage has brought about some important changes in Japanese society.

In the area of criminal justice, laws and systems have been reformed to eliminate lengthy trials and establish the rights of crime victims.

But Japan still has a long way to go to reach the international norm in its ability to deal with organized crimes.

The challenge facing Japan is how to build up a society where people can live with a sense of security while reining in excessive investigations and law enforcement actions.

This challenge requires continued and careful debate for building consensus among the people.

Another important consequence of Aum's crimes is weakened resistance to the death penalty within our society.

Public opinion has been demanding severe punishment for heinous crimes, while the judiciary's judgments that reflect the popular trend have reinforced the hard-line public attitude toward the issue.

Japan has been bucking the trend of international opinion that calls for abolition of capital punishment.

Deciding on whether Japan should stay the course is another serious challenge Aum Shinrikyo has left us to tackle.

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-23 05:40 | 英字新聞

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:愛という言葉にご用心 /東京


(Mainichi Japan) November 20, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Be cautious about the word 'love'
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:愛という言葉にご用心 /東京

Recently, I encountered the word "love" on two occasions in one day.

Unfortunately, the situation did not involve someone confessing their love for me -- the word was used at two separate press conferences, which I watched on TV.

The first was a news conference by Hidetoshi Kiyotake, the general manager of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, which he organized to publicly criticize the club's chairman, Tsuneo Watanabe, for intervening in the club's personnel affairs.
Kiyotake repeatedly used the word "love," saying, "I love the Yomiuri Giants, baseball, and the fans.  まず最初は、巨人軍の清武英利球団代表の会見。同球団の渡辺恒雄会長が人事について不当な介入をした、と批判した会見は大きな波紋を呼んだが、その中で何度も「愛」という単語を口にした。「私は、巨人軍、野球、ファンを愛しています」

The second was a news conference by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, held after his decision to have Japan join Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

Noda, meanwhile, proudly stated, "I love Japan from the heart," after which he told reporters about his childhood at his mother's farmhouse.

As I was watching, I couldn't help but wonder why the two leaders used that word.

The pair appear to have wanted to emphasize that their claims during their respective news conferences were not driven by their self-interest but by pure love.

However, we can't put our trust in someone simply because they have used the word "love."

As high school ethics textbooks say, there are two types of love: "Agape," which describes unconditional benevolence that does not seek anything in return, and "Eros," which usually characterizes affection between romantically involved couples.

In the case of the latter, there is almost always the need for love in return.

Sometimes, people will say "I love you" in a carefully calculated ill attempt to seduce someone and use them for personal gain.

In my consultation room, that is often the case -- I have had a number of patients seeking help after someone's "love" has betrayed and hurt them.

But let's return to the two leaders in question -- Kiyotake and Noda. Which type of "love" they were referring to?

Undoubtedly they would argue that they were speaking of an unconditional love -- benevolence.

However, we cannot naively trust such statements.

I'm sure that there were many people who, after listening to both leaders' comments, thought, "You won't fool me.
There must be something going on behind the scenes."

The fact that Japanese leaders speak about love so easily is a rather new cultural phenomenon, I feel.

While there may be people who would perceive it a nice thing for middle-aged men to speak about love so openly, I feel a little bit uneasy about it.

The reason is that, quite frankly, it sounds fake to me. Do they say "I love you" to their wives and children as part of their everyday lives? I honestly doubt it.

There is a need to be cautious about the word "love" -- that is the feeling I got from the two leaders' press conferences.

毎日新聞 2011年11月15日 地方版

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-22 07:11 | 英字新聞

ミャンマー改革 民主化加速が促す中国離れ

オブジェクション! 中国だってミャンマーに投資する権利はあるはずです。




The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 20, 2011)
Increase support for democratization of Myanmar
ミャンマー改革 民主化加速が促す中国離れ(11月19日付・読売社説)

At a summit meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Indonesia on Thursday, Myanmar won approval to chair the regional bloc in 2014.

Military rule has been replaced with a civilian government in that country, and Myanmar President Thein Sein has been forging ahead with reform of both the political and economic systems, as shown by such moves as the beginning of dialogue between the president and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the release of political prisoners and the introduction of foreign capital.

The ASEAN decision to allow Myanmar to assume the responsibility of chairing the regional bloc can be considered a reward for these moves toward democratization.

ASEAN's chairmanship rotates each year. In 2005, Myanmar was scheduled to act as chair in the following year, but objections from the United States and Europe, and from within ASEAN, over Myanmar's human rights violations under military rule forced the country to give up its bid.


China expanding clout

The chair of ASEAN hosts various conferences relevant to the grouping, including the East Asia Summit, in which the United States and Russia take part.

The decision to designate Myanmar as ASEAN chair in 2014 means Myanmar has acquired a foothold for returning fully to the international community.

Its economy having stagnated under military rule, Myanmar is the poorest member of ASEAN.

By making the best possible use of the opportunity to serve as chair, Myanmar should strive to rebuild its economy in a way conducive to having the United States and European countries alleviate or lift their economic sanctions and to encouraging the inflow of foreign capital.

During the years of sanctions by the United States and Europe, China expanded its influence over Myanmar through economic assistance.

China is believed to have coveted Myanmar's wealth of natural resources.

Apparently in connection with this, President Thein Sein announced toward the end of September that Myanmar would halt construction work on a giant dam for hydraulic power generation in Myanmar that had been undertaken by China.

In October, Thein Sein visited India for the first time since his inauguration as Myanmar president, reaching an agreement with Indian leaders on assistance to improve Myanmar's infrastructure, a move indicating the country's desire to lessen its dependence on China.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has deemed the ongoing changes in Myanmar to be strategically important and is working to improve relations with the country, including possibly easing economic sanctions, as shown by a decision to send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Myanmar in December.

Due attention must be paid to the possibility of the United States, China and other countries jockeying more energetically for influence in Myanmar.


Japan-ASEAN declaration

In a meeting with Thein Sein on Friday on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda expressed his support for the changes in Myanmar and rightly prodded the nation to make further efforts toward democratization.

Japan, for its part, should implement as early as possible official development assistance to Myanmar, as the government has decided to resume such aid.

It is also of high importance that Japan adopted a joint declaration with ASEAN leaders for the first time in eight years.
In the declaration, this country stated its readiness to cooperate with ASEAN for disaster management and preparedness, while pledging to extend to ASEAN members 2 trillion yen worth of cooperation to improve infrastructure, including improvement of transportation networks in Indochina.

Japan's contribution is only natural, as the country has received significant assistance from ASEAN members in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

With flooding in Thailand still continuing, international cooperation for disaster management is increasingly important.

Strengthening cooperative ties with ASEAN, which has long been friendly to Japan, is sure to further enhance mutual confidence.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 19, 2011)
(2011年11月19日01時06分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-11-21 00:58 | 英字新聞