<   2013年 06月 ( 30 )   > この月の画像一覧

物言う株主 企業価値向上へ対話の道探れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 29, 2013
Firms, shareholders must pursue dialogue to raise corporate value
物言う株主 企業価値向上へ対話の道探れ(6月28日付・読売社説)

Activist shareholders, including foreign funds that apply pressure on corporate management, have made their presence felt at recent shareholders meetings for the first time in a long time.

Through their resurgence, Japanese firms face a heavy challenge regarding how to improve corporate value through management reform.

The annual wave of general shareholders meetings of companies with business terms that ended in March has passed its peak. Activist shareholders were at center stage.

At a meeting of Seibu Holdings Inc., its largest shareholder, Cerberus Capital Management LP, argued against management policy and proposed eight director candidates of its own. But the U.S. fund failed to gain majority approval for its proposal as all the candidates recommended by Seibu were elected to the board of directors.

Before the shareholders meeting, Cerberus had pressed for reform of Seibu’s management through such moves as a takeover bid. Seibu argued against the Cerberus reform plan, leading to deepened confrontation with the U.S. fund. But Seibu appears to have managed to block the Cerberus offensive for the moment.

Nevertheless, Seibu’s reform is still pending as it seeks to be relisted. The company must tackle that difficult challenge while relations with its largest shareholder go unrepaired.

Questions to answer

Sony Corp. had been asked by a U.S. fund, one of its major shareholders, to spin off its movie and music business and list the new entity on the stock market. But Sony took a wary stance toward dividing up its businesses, arguing that synergistic effects can be expected with the manufacturing of TV sets and other businesses.

At its shareholders meeting, however, Sony was pressed on the separation issue by other shareholders. As a result, Sony announced a plan to study the demand. Improving earning capacity through reconstruction of its main line of business, including production of TV sets, has now become an important task for the Sony management.

Stable shareholders, including banks and business customers, account for a majority of shareholders in Japanese firms, so management often lacks a perspective of paying attention to shareholders. Japanese companies tend to put a low priority on earnings power and returning profits to shareholders.

More parties heard from

Abenomics, the economic policy pursued by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has drawn fresh global attention to the Japanese economy. As a result, the ratio of foreign holders of Japanese equities reached a record high of about 30 percent as of the end of March.

In addition to foreigners, the number of Japanese shareholders who strongly press demands, such as expansion of profits to improve corporate value, is certain to increase. Management must be prepared to listen sincerely to shareholders’ voices.

It is laudable that Toyota Motor Corp. and many other Japanese firms decided at this year’s shareholders meetings to adopt outside board directors, thereby meeting the requests of shareholders.

Nonetheless, shareholders’ demands for short-term stock price increases and higher dividends are not always right. Investment in personnel training and research and development is also vital from the viewpoint of enhancing corporate competitiveness in the medium and long term.

Management has a responsibility to present reasonable policy and continue dialogue with shareholders even if it turns down their specific demands.

Improving corporate value is a common goal for firms and shareholders. They will be required to accelerate management reform amid their tense relationship.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2013)
(2013年6月28日01時27分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-30 06:50 | 英字新聞

通常国会閉幕 首相問責で野党は何を得たか

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 28, 2013
Opposition parties lost more than they gained through censure
通常国会閉幕 首相問責で野党は何を得たか(6月27日付・読売社説)

The ordinary Diet session has closed in a terribly disorganized manner.

On Wednesday, the last day of the Diet session, the House of Councillors adopted a censure motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Democratic Party of Japan, Your Party, and other opposition parties voted for the motion in the opposition-dominated chamber.

Then the opposition parties refused deliberations of bills in the upper house, behaving as if such refusal was reasonable. Key bills, such as those to revise the Electric Utility Law and the Daily Life Protection Law, were scrapped as a result. A bill to formulate a basic law on the water cycle, which was submitted as lawmaker-initiated legislation to protect water sources, was discarded as well.

The censure motion was submitted by the People’s Life Party, Green Wind and the Social Democratic Party. They condemned Abe for his recent skipping of deliberations at the upper house Budget Committee, claiming the act “violates the Constitution.”

Clear political motive

It is clear the motive of the three parties was to use Abe’s absence from certain Diet deliberations as a tool to launch an offensive against the Liberal Democratic Party ahead of the upcoming upper house election. Do they really think such actions will be welcomed by the public? If so, we have to warn them that they have made a glaring mistake.

In the first place, were Abe’s actions really worthy of censure? Abe absented himself in response to the unilateral decision by Budget Committee Chairman Hajime Ishii, a DPJ member, to hold intensive deliberations at the committee meetings, using the chairman’s authority to hold such meetings. The ruling parties said a no-confidence motion against upper house President Kenji Hirata, which had been submitted earlier, should be dealt with first, and boycotted the deliberations.

That was the reason why Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended Abe’s actions, saying that the prime minister had “sound justification” for skipping the deliberations. We believe Suga’s explanation has some validity.

On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to understand why the DPJ’s upper house caucus decided to vote for the censure motion.

On Tuesday, the DPJ assured the ruling parties that it would prioritize the passage of important bills and thus will not agree with the censure motion.

However, the next morning, the DPJ abruptly changed its attitude, having been persuaded by Your Party and other opposition parties. If the DPJ had kept its initial stance, the key bills would have been able to pass the Diet smoothly.

We believe the DPJ itself still has a vivid memory of being distressed by censure motions, which lack legally binding power, when the party held the reins of government. DPJ Secretary General Goshi Hosono defended the party’s action by saying, “The LDP has no enthusiasm for completing the bills.” This remark is a transparent attempt to dodge the DPJ’s responsibility and shift blame to the LDP.

This Diet session’s top political issue was electoral system reform for the House of Representatives. Regarding that issue, the ruling parties exchanged documents with opposition parties confirming that “once the upper house election finishes, parties will immediately resume negotiations and reach a conclusion” on drastic reform, including a reduction in the number of lower house seats.

However, if the parties continue insisting upon only their own ideas for reducing lower house seats and do not compromise, and if they continue their attitude of putting party interest above national interest, making such agreements will be absolutely meaningless.

Creating a third-party body

To break the impasse on the issue, Abe revealed a proposal at a press conference held after the end of the Diet session. “I would like to suggest establishing a third-party organization [on electoral system reform], which comprises experts from the private sector, within the Diet,” Abe said. We believe this is a sound proposal.

The organization should have binding power so the parties would comply with the conclusion of experts.

Meanwhile, during the Diet session, the Commission on the Constitution in both the lower and the upper house has vigorously discussed the issue of amending the Constitution, even debating on the specific contents of each amendment. Constitutional amendments are likely to become a major point of contention in the upper house election. We urge parties to make concrete proposals during the election campaign, so that the voters can make informed decisions on the issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2013)
(2013年6月27日01時17分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-29 07:52 | 英字新聞

離島防衛訓練 自衛隊に海兵隊機能が必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 26, 2013
SDF must be equipped with functions like those of U.S. marines
離島防衛訓練 自衛隊に海兵隊機能が必要だ(6月25日付・読売社説)

To bolster the defense of Senkakus and other remote islands, the Self-Defense Forces urgently require upgraded capabilities similar to those of the U.S. Marine Corps, such as the ability to carry out amphibious landings and rapid deployment.

The SDF and the U.S. military have been conducting joint exercises in California for the defense of remote islands. This is the first time the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces have all conducted overseas exercises with the U.S. military.

During the training, the U.S. military’s new MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft landed on the deck of an MSDF destroyer. The GSDF’s Western Army Infantry Regiment, which is primarily responsible for the defense of remote islands, was engaged in joint training with U.S. marines to regain remote islands captured by an enemy.

These are practical exercises to meet the needs of the times, as the defense of remote islands is of increased importance.

Chinese expansionism

Training has been conducted with the Chinese military as the supposed enemy. China called for the training to be canceled as its timing overlapped with a U.S.-China summit meeting. It is natural that Tokyo and Washington refused the Chinese request.

Under the banner of making China a maritime power, that country’s navy, air force and State Oceanic Administration have been bolstering their equipment, openly aiming to expand their territorial and national interests in the East and South China seas.

Intrusions by China’s maritime surveillance ships into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands can be dealt with by the Japan Coast Guard. But to deter Chinese special forces from occupying the islands, it will be indispensable to improve the quick reaction capabilities that can be acquired through the joint exercises of the SDF and U.S. military.

Military threats to Japan have changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War. Invasions of remote islands can be considered “new threats” along with missile strikes, terrorist attacks and cyber-attacks. SDF personnel allocations, equipment and training must be reexamined in accordance with the changed threats.

Defense of remote islands will be a core of the new National Defense Program Guidelines to be compiled by late December.

It will be essential to augment the GSDF’s Western Army Infantry Regiment, which plays a central role in defense of the Nansei Islands stretching from Kagoshima Prefecture through Okinawa Prefecture, as well as to obtain equipment such as amphibious landing vehicles. To secure naval and air supremacy, it will be necessary to increase the number of MSDF destroyers and ASDF fighter jets and early warning aircraft so as to strengthen warning and surveillance activities.

New hardware needed

Procurement of the Global Hawk, an unmanned surveillance aircraft, must be accelerated while introduction of Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft must be studied earnestly.

Amphibious vehicles and Osprey aircraft will be useful for rescue operations and relief activities in damaged areas in times of major disasters such as earthquakes.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has boosted the defense budget for the current fiscal year, the first increase in 11 years, reversing the trend of year-on-year erosion in defense spending. Given the worsening of the security environment around Japan, defense spending must be increased next fiscal year and onward. But a huge hike cannot be expected in light of stringent fiscal conditions.

It is essential to allocate defense budgets on a priority basis, such as by expanding allocations for bolstering “dynamic defense capabilities” that emphasize troop mobility, particularly for defense of remote islands, while curtailing spending through cuts in the number of GSDF personnel, consolidation and abolition of bases and efficient procurement of equipment.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 25, 2013)
(2013年6月25日01時27分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-28 07:47 | 英字新聞

首相沖縄訪問 政府一丸で基地負担を減らせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 25, 2013
Govt needs to make unified efforts to reduce burden on Okinawa
首相沖縄訪問 政府一丸で基地負担を減らせ(6月24日付・読売社説)

To reduce the excessive burden on Okinawa Prefecture of hosting U.S. military bases, the government must make unified efforts.

On Sunday, the 68th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the prefecture and attended a memorial ceremony held to console the souls of those who died in the battle.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Ichita Yamamoto, state minister for Okinawa affairs, also attended the ceremony. It marked the first participation by foreign and defense ministers since such ceremonies were first held in 1962.

To tackle the Okinawa issues, it is essential that the ministries concerned closely cooperate with each other and coordinate views with local governments in a multitiered manner.

‘Visible’ reduction

Following the ceremony, Abe said his government would implement measures to reduce the burden of Okinawa “visibly.” With regard to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, Abe said the Futenma base should not be permanently used. “We’d like to make efforts to realize the relocation of the base as soon as possible,” he said.

The governments of Japan and the United States announced in early April that the tracts of land, more than 1,000 hectares when combined, that are now used for the six U.S. military facilities in the southern part of the prefecture will be returned to Japan over the next 10 to 16 years.

The quickest way to reduce Okinawa’s burden of hosting the U.S. bases is to steadily implement this plan. It is particularly important to realize the relocation of Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to the Henoko area of Nago.

Both governments agreed on June 13 that the return of the residential area of western Futenma used by Camp Zukeran in Ginowan, originally scheduled for next fiscal year, would be carried out within this year.

This can be highly evaluated as part of the government’s efforts to improve the environment for Okinawa Gov. Yoshikazu Nakaima to approve the reclamation of land from public waters, planned in line with the relocation of the air station to the Henoko coastal area.

It is important for the central and local governments to hold talks over those areas that are to be vacated with the return of the U.S. military facilities and discuss ways to use them more efficiently. Such efforts should be made in tandem with the implementation of various measures designed to promote the local economies of Okinawa. They would certainly enhance the significance of the return of the U.S. bases to Japan.

Promotion of economy

After the ceremony, Abe and Nakaima exchanged views over how to promote the Okinawa economy. While fostering their relationship of trust, Abe should win a broader understanding of Nakaima over the Futenma relocation to the Henoko district.

On the other hand, the reduction of Okinawa’s burden of hosting U.S. bases should be made, in principle, while maintaining the deterrence of the U.S. forces stationed in Okinawa Prefecture.

This is essential because the ability to respond rapidly and maintain mobility of the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. forces stationed in Japan has become more important in the light of the nuclear and missile development by North Korea and the rapid military buildup and aggressive actions of China.

The town assembly of Yonaguni, Okinawa Prefecture, approved on Thursday the lease of land to the central government needed for the deployment of a Ground Self-Defense Force unit on the Yonaguni Island to monitor coastal areas.

The Defense Ministry and the town were once at odds over the payment of cooperation expenses to the town concerning the deployment of the GSDF unit. But they are expected to conclude the lease contract later this week.

For both the SDF and the U.S. forces in Japan to operate effectively, it is essential for both to build stable and amicable relations with local officials concerned. The Defense Ministry needs to continuously deepen its ties with Okinawa by making use of various opportunities in the days ahead.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2013)
(2013年6月24日01時40分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-27 07:44 | 英字新聞

都議選自公完勝 アベノミクスへの期待票だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 25, 2013
Abenomics helped LDP, Komeito score huge victory in Tokyo poll
都議選自公完勝 アベノミクスへの期待票だ(6月24日付・読売社説)

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been given a significant boost. It remains to be seen whether the voters’ verdict this time will affect the outcome of next month’s House of Councillors election.

In the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election on Sunday, all of the Liberal Democratic Party’s candidates were elected, and the LDP regained its status as the largest party in the assembly. The LDP’s coalition partner, New Komeito, also succeeded in having all of its candidates elected, and it took over as the second-largest force.

The LDP and Komeito, which form the ruling coalition, threw their support behind Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose and together far exceeded a majority of seats in the 127-seat assembly. The metropolitan government will certainly gain stability.

DPJ trounced

As there were few contentious issues on how to steer the administration of the metropolitan government, the assembly election, the first major electoral contest since the second Abe Cabinet was launched in December, focused mainly on the public’s evaluation of Abenomics, the Abe administration’s handling of economic policies.

Given the landslide victory of both the LDP and Komeito, it can safely be said the Abe administration’s key policies and its government management received a favorable rating from Tokyo voters.

However, there have been a number of recent cases in which candidates backed by the LDP have lost to incumbents in local contests, including the June 16 gubernatorial election in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Commenting on the results of the Tokyo assembly election, Abe told reporters, “What we need now is to brace ourselves by deepening our sense of humility.”

The DPJ, which became the largest party after the previous Tokyo assembly election in 2009, suffered a shattering defeat, plunging to fourth position in the assembly. This appears to reflect the deep-rooted distrust of voters after the party committed a number of serious blunders over the handling of national politics. It is evident that the party has failed to stop its decline in strength.

In its latest electoral campaign, the DPJ stressed the negative aspects of Abenomics by taking note of the current erratic fluctuations of stock prices and exchange rates. The party’s unyielding reproach against the government without offering counterproposals apparently failed to satisfy the electorate.

In the upcoming upper house race, the DPJ should have in-depth policy discussions with the LDP by presenting specific policy measures that offer an alternative to government policies.

Despite fielding a large number of candidates in the Tokyo assembly race, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) fared extremely poorly. This was probably due to remarks by the party’s coleader Toru Hashimoto regarding the issue of so-called comfort women.

During the campaign, former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, the other party coleader, complained about Hashimoto. In response, Hashimoto hinted he might step down from the party’s top post depending on the outcome of the Tokyo contest.

It should be noted that Tokyo is Ishihara’s hometown. The disastrous defeat of Ishin no Kai should be attributed partly to the dwindling influence of Ishihara over Tokyo voters.

Link with upper house race

Your Party, which withdrew from an electoral cooperation accord with Ishin no Kai because of the Hashimoto remarks on the comfort women issue, did remarkably well considering it fought the election single-handedly. The party seems to have obtained some degree of support from floating voters who are averse to the LDP and the DPJ.

The Japanese Communist Party doubled its seats in the Tokyo assembly to become the third-largest party in the assembly. This may be due to the low turnout compared with the previous Tokyo assembly election as well as its solid support base on the strength of its organizational skills.

Attention is now focused on how the respective parties’ vote-garnering capabilities that have been demonstrated in the Tokyo race may affect the electoral landscape for the July upper house election.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2013)
(2013年6月24日01時40分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-26 08:03 | 英字新聞

中国海洋強国化 地域の緊張どこまで高めるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 24, 2013
How far is China going to heighten tensions in the region?
中国海洋強国化 地域の緊張どこまで高めるか(6月23日付・読売社説)

As long as China has committed itself to taking a path of “peaceful development,” it must take the initiative and relax tensions in its international relations.

The administration of President Xi Jinping, which has declared this year the “first year for making China a maritime power,” has been accelerating moves aimed at forcibly enclosing the East China Sea and South China Sea.

In late April, Beijing started cruise tours to the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, triggering a fierce reaction from Vietnam, which has been locked in a territorial dispute with China over the islets.

Each cruise tour comprises about 200 passengers who can swim and go sightseeing on the islets, in what appears to be an attempt to make the visitors tangibly feel that China wields effective control over the chain. The scale of the tours is likely to be expanded.

‘Patriotic education’

Beijing launched the cruise tour program after the city of Sansha was placed in charge of administering three island groups--the Paracel Islands, the Spratly Islands and the Macclesfield Bank--in June last year.

The cruise tours of the Paracels are considered part of China’s “maritime version of the patriotic education program,” along with the planned construction of a national maritime museum in the suburbs of Tianjin, northern China, with a view to broadening public support for Beijing’s bid to secure its maritime interests.

On Wednesday, Xi met with his Vietnamese counterpart on his trip to China. A joint statement released after their talks stated the two countries will “remain calm and avoid action that could complicate or escalate a dispute.”

That these two countries at loggerheads have agreed to prevent any further deterioration of ties over the dispute should be welcomed. It is crucial, however, that China and Vietnam abide by the accord, rather than just letting it end up as words on paper.

In May, Chinese surveillance ships started patrols in waters surrounding the Spratly Islands that have been under the effective control of the Philippines. This is similar to China’s regular patrols by surveillance vessels since last year in waters around the Scarborough Shoal near the Macclesfield Bank.

In February, Beijing’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, docked for the first time at its homeport in Qingdao, Shangdong Provice. China is believed poised to have the Liaoning set out for a long-distance voyage before the end of the year. Flaunting its bolstered naval capabilities may be designed to put pressure on Japan, the United States and other countries.

Chinese surveillance ships have continued to make regular intrusions in waters near the Senkaku Islands, Okinawa Prefecture.

In the latest U.S.-China summit meeting, President Barack Obama was quoted as telling Xi that the U.S. government would not accept China intimidating Japan, a U.S. ally. This remark can be interpreted as a warning to China over repeated provocations by its ships in the waters. Obama’s remark is important in that it will solidify the Japan-U.S. alliance.

‘Shelving’ logic irrational

We cannot overlook the fact that high-ranking officials of the Xi administration are trying to change the status quo over the Senkakus by reiterating that the issue “must be shelved.”

Fundamentally, no territorial problem between Japan and China exists, so there is nothing to be shelved.

Back in 1992, China itself did away with the logic of “shelving” the dispute by stipulating explicitly for the first time what it claims to be China’s “sovereignty” over the Senkaku Islands in its Territorial Waters Law.

In a series of meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be held from late this month to early July, discussions will be made on various issues, including the principle of the “rule of law” in the South China Sea.

At these meetings, the Japanese government must actively explain the historial facts involving the Senkakus and the urgent need to strictly abide by internationally acceptable rules so as to persuasively convey Japan’s position.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 23, 2013)
(2013年6月23日01時32分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-25 06:31 | 英字新聞

米核軍縮提案 中国の核増強にも目を向けよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 23, 2013
Obama's call for U.S., Russian N-cuts should help boost stability in Asia
米核軍縮提案 中国の核増強にも目を向けよ(6月22日付・読売社説)

U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposal for Russia to start new negotiations to reduce both sides’ nuclear weapons should lead to enhancement of security in Asia amid a growing mood for nuclear disarmament.

In Berlin, Obama recently made a speech seeking such negotiated cuts with Russia.

Obama said he wants to reduce the maximum number of U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear warheads by one-third from 1,550--set under the New START, which stands for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty--to about 1,000 each.

He also intends to target smaller, tactical nuclear weapons, which are less powerful, for the proposed cuts.

The U.S. president appears to have used the speech to express his willingness to continue to pursue nuclear disarmament during his second term in office after achieving the conclusion of the New START in his first term.

Prospects of N-talks unclear

However, Russia has given the cold shoulder to Obama’s call, with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin saying Moscow “can’t take such a proposal seriously.”

Russia is strongly concerned that U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Europe could weaken its nuclear deterrent capability.

Therefore, prospects of the proposed nuclear disarmament negotiations are dim. But the United States and Russia, both nuclear superpowers, in particular bear responsibility for ensuring world stability.

At present, there are reportedly more than 10,000 nuclear weapons in the world, of which 95 percent are owned by these two countries. It is not convincing if they urge other countries to refrain from having nuclear weapons or to reduce their nuclear arsenals without making any reductions themselves. We hope the both countries will keep that point in mind and sincerely work on nuclear reductions.

In making the proposal, Obama also said his country would work together with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies to seek cuts in U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons.

N-weapons spreading in Asia

Meanwhile, the ability of Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his vision and work to seek “a world without nuclear weapons,” likely will be tested over his future efforts in Asia, where nuclear weapons have spread.

Currently, China has about 250 nuclear warheads. China, India and Pakistan have been building up their nuclear arsenals while North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, pressing ahead with its efforts to develop nuclear missiles.

In Japan, which depends on the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” amid such circumstances, some people may worry that Washington’s push for nuclear reductions could have adverse effects on regional stability in Asia.

However, Obama said in the Berlin speech, “I’ve determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent,” even if the United States and Russia reduce their nuclear weapons in line with Obama’s proposal. Such remarks are reassuring.

Meanwhile, we urge China to promote nuclear reductions in tandem with the United States and Russia. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Obama have agreed to push for North Korea’s denuclearization. To urge Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons, however, Beijing should scale down its own nuclear capability.

Also, to allow the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to come into force as early as possible, Washington and Beijing should work together to build support in their countries to ratify it.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 22, 2013)
(2013年6月22日01時33分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-24 07:35 | 英字新聞

FRB出口戦略 市場の混乱防ぐ舵取りが要る

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 22, 2013
Fed needed to steer policy for preventing market turmoil
FRB出口戦略 市場の混乱防ぐ舵取りが要る(6月21日付・読売社説)

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board is poised to begin scaling back by the end of the year its third round of quantitative monetary easing, a huge stimulus program known as QE3 that has helped shore up the U.S. economy.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in a press conference Wednesday following a two-day meeting of the bank's monetary policy panel, the Federal Open Market Committee, revealed for the first time the central bank's “exit strategy” for normalizing its ultra-easy monetary policy.

Regarding QE3, under which the the Fed purchases Treasury and mortgage-backed bonds at a monthly pace of $85 billion (about 8.2 trillion yen), Bernanke said it would be “appropriate to moderate the monthly pace of purchases later this year...and we will continue to reduce the pace of purchases in measured steps through the first half of next year, ending purchases around mid-year,” as long as the country sustains its economic recovery.

Sign of confidence

The Fed's announcement of a policy shift toward reducing QE3 and clearly stating a goal for ending it, while predicated on the condition that the U.S. economy continues to grow as expected, received attention worldwide and is certain to have wide-ranging effects.

Ever since the financial crisis that erupted following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the U.S. central bank has carried out quantitative easing three times to end the crisis and prop up business activity.

The long-awaited launch of an exit strategy signals the central bank is ready to make a major change to policies that were aimed at coping with an emergency situation.

Bernanke’s bold remarks appear to be backed by confidence in the fundamentals of the U.S. economy, which have indicated recovery recently. He may also have thought it necessary to dispel a sense of uncertainty in the market over the future of U.S. monetary policy.

Stock prices in New York, however, tumbled on Wednesday with the Dow Jones industrial average closing more than 200 points lower than the previous day, while prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange also dropped sharply on Thursday.

These declines were largely due to a surge in investors selling shares out of fears that cash flowing into the market may dwindle.

In the wake of Bernanke’s statement, concerns will likely persist over erratic fluctuations in stock prices and foreign exchange rates in the world's markets, which will present the Fed with the knotty task of preventing market confusion.

Toward the end of last year, the Fed said it would not lift short-term interest rates from zero until the unemployment rate shrinks to 6.5 percent, while also keeping an eye on inflation. The easy-money measure has been in place since December 2008.

It is widely believed, however, that the U.S. jobless rate will not move from the current 7.6 percent to the Fed's target until 2014 at the earliest. Improvement in the U.S. employment situation has remained slow, making a full-fledged economic recovery uncertain.

Learn from U.S. challenges

Moreover, possible adverse impacts on business activities of fiscal belt-tightening by the administration of President Barack Obama cannot be underestimated.

Will the Fed be able to lift its zero interest rate policy after bringing QE3 to an end without causing market tumult? In this respect, we urge the central bank to use all the tools at its disposal to maintain a “dialogue with the market.”

The Bank of Japan, which has also implemented an extraordinary monetary easing policy, should learn from challenges the Fed is now addressing.

The BOJ needs to maintain its focus on ending deflation and resuscitating the national economy to maximize the effects of its monetary policy. But sooner or later, the central bank will need to seriously examine how it will dial back these policies.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2013)
(2013年6月21日01時20分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-23 06:39 | 英字新聞

G8首脳宣言 日本経済が久々に示す存在感

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 21, 2013
Japan, Abenomics grabbed spotlight at G-8 summit meeting
G8首脳宣言 日本経済が久々に示す存在感(6月20日付・読売社説)

For the first time in many years, a Japanese prime minister has grabbed the spotlight in the international arena. Now all eyes are on whether Shinzo Abe can steadily implement his policies to rejuvenate Japan’s economy, a pledge the prime minister presented to world leaders at the recent Group of Eight summit meeting.

The summit meeting, held at Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, concluded Tuesday after the adoption of a joint statement. Leaders of Japan, the United States, Germany, and other G-8 nations took part in the meeting.

“Global economic prospects remain weak,” the statement said, stressing the necessity for countries “to press ahead with the necessary reforms to restore sustainable growth and jobs.”

The eurozone economy is still trapped in negative growth, and the growth of China and other emerging nations, which have been serving as the locomotive of the world economy, has lost steam. It was absolutely necessary for the G-8 nations to reconfirm their unity at the summit.

Expectations for Abenomics

One of the agenda items discussed at the meeting was Abenomics, the economic policy of the Abe administration. During the meeting, Abe told world leaders that “Japan’s economic development will give a boost to the economic progress of the world.”

It is noteworthy that the statement referred to the so-called “three arrows” of Abenomics--bold monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and growth strategy. The statement gave a positive assessment to Abenomics, saying that the three arrows would underpin the nation’s growth.

Japan must work hard to meet this global expectation and speed up its efforts to conquer deflation and rejuvenate its economy.

However, the statement did not forget to make requests of Japan, whose fiscal condition is the worst among advanced nations. Japan needs to “address the challenge of defining a credible medium-term fiscal plan,” the statement said.

The Abe administration plans to draw up a medium-term fiscal plan this summer. It is crucial for the government to show in the fiscal plan a concrete path toward simultaneously achieving the goals of economic growth and fiscal rehabilitation. After announcing the plan, the government must make wholehearted efforts to realize it.

The statement said open trade is a key engine of global economic growth. It listed ongoing free trade talks, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership framework talks in which Japan is involved, and added that the G-8 nations “aim to finalize all these deals as soon as possible.” In this regard, we urge the Abe administration to speed up its preparations for agricultural liberalization.

Regarding the problem of tax avoidance, or global companies trying to reduce their tax payments by exploiting low tax rates of certain countries, the G-8 leaders agreed to speed up their efforts to create an international legal framework to prevent such moves. This is an important step forward--we urge Japan to play a leading role in establishing a framework that enables countries to fairly collect taxes from companies.

Pile pressure on N. Korea

The G-8 leaders also agreed to take concerted action on measures against terrorism in North Africa, in light of January’s hostage crisis at an Algerian natural gas complex. This is also a laudable development.

The joint statement demanded North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and refrain from taking provocative actions. It also urged Pyongyang to address the concerns of the international community over its human rights violations, including the abduction issue.

We believe it suggests that Abe’s message on North Korean problems was appreciated by the G-8 leaders. Abe has been keen to express Japan’s stance on the issue.

The G-8 leaders should also seek to join hands with China to urge North Korea to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions as well as obligations stipulated in a joint statement issued in six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

(From the Yomiuri Shimbun, June 20, 2013)
(2013年6月20日01時28分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-22 06:51 | 英字新聞

G8とシリア 依然見つからない内戦の出口

The Yomiuri Shimbun June 20, 2013
No end in sight for Syrian civil war, as arms support grows on both sides
G8とシリア 依然見つからない内戦の出口(6月19日付・読売社説)

How can the Syrian civil war be brought to an end? Leaders of the Group of Eight major powers should do their utmost to put an agreement on this issue reached in their latest meeting into practice.

Regarding the Syrian situation, a focus of attention at the two-day G-8 summit meeting in Northern Ireland, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other leaders agreed to seek an international conference as early as possible to end the bloodshed in the Middle East country.

The agreement came after U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in a separate meeting to hold such a conference.

Although Obama and Putin reiterated their shared recognition that an international conference is important for dealing with the Syria situation, their views on the matter still differ widely.

A quagmire of violence

During the summit meeting, Obama and Putin were unable to resolve their differences. While Obama considers the creation of a transitional government in Syria without Syrian President Bashar Assad as a goal of the envisaged international conference, Putin opposes any move to remove Assad from power.

The Syrian civil war has turned into a quagmire, with the violence becoming increasingly severe. The death toll has topped 90,000 in the about two years since demonstrations calling for Assad's resignation started. The situation is serious.

The international community is divided into pro-Assad and anti-Assad groups.

The European Union, which has criticized the suppression of human rights by the Assad administration, lifted a ban on arms exports to Syria, paving the way for supplying weapons to Syrian rebels.

The United States, meanwhile, has decided to provide military assistance to the Syrian rebels, after saying it had evidence that the Assad administration had used chemical weapons. It is widely believed that Washington will soon provide Syrian rebels with ammunition and other military supplies.

In contrast, Russia, which backs the Syrian government, argued that the United States’ assertion is groundless and plans to support the Assad administration by offering surface-to-air missiles.

Lebanon’s Hizbollah militia, which is supported by Iran, has recently joined the Syrian government forces. There is no sign of the war subsiding.

It is necessary to get facts about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government, which is one reason for the mutual distrust between Washington and Moscow.

Peace talks needed

Unless peace talks get on track, the Syrian civil war may drag on and there also is concern that it could destabilize surrounding countries.

Taking advantage of the ongoing civil war, Islamic militants linked to Al-Qaida, an international terrorist network, have expanded their influence. Is there not a risk that some of the large amount of arms to be distributed could land in the hands of terrorist groups?

Meanwhile, the number of Syrian refugees who fled to Jordan and other neighboring countries has exceeded 1.5 million. Taking in these refugees is a heavy burden for those countries.

During the G-8 summit meeting, Abe announced the government will offer $10 million in emergency grant aid to assist evacuees in Syria and refugees, as well as provide yen loans worth $120 million to Jordan.

It is necessary to seek a political solution for ending the Syrian civil war, and G-8 countries must provide as much humanitarian assistance as possible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2013)
(2013年6月19日02時11分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-06-21 06:47 | 英字新聞