<   2009年 03月 ( 13 )   > この月の画像一覧

出先機関工程表 首相は不戦敗を繰り返すな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 31, 2009)
Aso mustn't buckle on decentralization plan
出先機関工程表 首相は不戦敗を繰り返すな(3月31日付・読売社説)

A loss by default is the only way to describe Prime Minister Taro Aso's capitulation to those lawmakers acting on behalf of specific interest groups and bureaucrats with vested interests, both of whom oppose the decentralization of power.

The government recently formulated a road map for the reform of government branch offices as part of decentralization efforts. However, the road map failed to incorporate any concrete plans as to whether any branch offices would be eliminated or consolidated, while it shied away from any move to cut 35,000 central government officials at these offices. These matters have been put off until a decentralization reform outline scheduled to be compiled by the end of this year.

In its second package of recommendations submitted in December, the Decentralization Reform Committee proposed the abolition and consolidation of Construction and Transport Ministry regional development bureaus and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry regional agricultural administration offices. The committee of experts and others also recommended the operations and projects of these bodies be taken over by local municipalities.

Attention focused on the extent to which the government road map could incorporate the committee's recommendations as policy.

Aso has championed decentralization as a top priority for his Cabinet. Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kunio Hatoyama has resolved to knuckle down and start discussions with ministries that have bristled at the decentralization plan, even if it means "becoming their punching bag," he said.

However, no ministerial-level negotiations have been held, and the road map has been stripped of any hard-hitting content.

Tough times no excuse (英文翻訳抜け?)

Admittedly, this is a difficult time to be formulating such a road map.

With the economy tanking and the government being called on by all and sundry to take robust and quick economic and employment measures, moves to devolve power and staffers to local municipalities have screeched to a halt.

The weakening of Aso's leadership due to dismal approval ratings for the Cabinet also has given cover to lawmakers lobbying for the interests of specific groups and bureaucrats scrambling to protect their vested interests.

However, we think this excuse is unacceptable. Reforming government branch offices is a historic task that has been left untouched during the reorganization of central government ministries and agencies.

Many government branch offices are not closely supervised by the Diet and local assemblies or watched by residents. This lax oversight has given rise to a spate of scandals, such as wasteful spending of road-related tax revenues by construction ministry regional development bureaus, and poor supervision of rice tainted with pesticide or mold by the farm ministry's regional agricultural administration offices.

The transfer of government branch offices' work, officials and budgets earmarked for their projects to local municipalities will help revitalize regional areas and invigorate local economies, and streamline administrative duties by the central government and local municipalities by eliminating overlaps.

Key election issue

A sharing of roles, in which local municipalities basically handle regular work and projects during normal times and let the central government step in to deal swiftly with emergencies such as recession and major disasters, should have been discussed over the years.

Another loss by default on this matter would be inexcusable. The government should quickly start coordinating with relevant bodies so it can incorporate specific goals into its decentralization reform outline at the end of the year. The prime minister and the internal affairs and communications minister will need to exercise leadership should the going get tough during this process.

Decentralization will be a key issue during the next House of Representatives election campaign. The Democratic Party of Japan has trumpeted a radical policy to abolish and cut back government branch offices should it take office.

If the ruling parties postpone reform of government branch offices until after the lower house election, they would leave themselves open to accusations that their words contradict their actions. We hope the ruling coalition holds its nerve and puts up numerical targets concerning the shift of government branch offices' operations and projects to local municipalities, as well as in cuts to the number of central government officials working at these offices.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 31, 2009)
(2009年3月31日01時30分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-31 22:11 | 英字新聞

全国学力テスト 全自治体の参加を歓迎したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 30, 2009)
Truly nationwide tests should be welcomed
全国学力テスト 全自治体の参加を歓迎したい(3月30日付・読売社説)

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry's annual nationwide academic achievement exams will finally become deserving of their name next month, when they are conducted for the third time.

The Inuyama Municipal Board of Education in Aichi Prefecture, which had refused to participate in the scholastic ability tests for the past two years, has made an about-face and will take part this year.

This decision means the next nationwide tests, which are scheduled for April, are expected to be conducted by every local government across the country. The incumbent Inuyama mayor made no secret of his preference for joining the test during his successful campaign for election at the end of 2006. This has helped pave the way for the city to finally participate in the exams.

The nationwide exams test sixth-grade primary school students and third-year middle school students on their knowledge of arithmetic, mathematics and Japanese.

The tests should be conducted regularly and the results carefully dissected so education officials can determine how to improve students' academic abilities. This will be all the more important because the tests will become "nationwide exams" both in name and reality.


Useful data awaits

Children who will take the tests in April took part in the country's first nationwide physical test last year. Students' lifestyle habits are surveyed concurrently with both academic and physical tests. These surveys could provide important data on the relationship between lifestyle habits and academic and physical performance.

Students who took the first round of scholastic ability tests as sixth-graders at primary school will next year take the tests as third-year middle school students.

Results of these two tests likely will help the ministry pinpoint how students develop their scholastic abilities by examining what classes they have taken and how they study.

The ministry should compare the test results children get as sixth-grade primary school students with their results as third-year middle school students, to improve education policies and brush up teaching guidelines. Only through such efforts will the tests be able to fulfill their principle purpose.

Meanwhile, the education ministry's operational procedures for the tests tightened controls on providing data on exam results to relevant organizations.

However, if the ministry remains unwilling to disclose details of the test results, it will be difficult to reap any benefits from the exams.

It is extremely short-sighted to think that disclosing average percentages of correct answers and other data will lead to excessive competition and an obsession with rankings among schools and local governments. We think the ministry is disregarding the wishes of students' guardians and local residents, whose understanding and support are essential for making sure schools are managed smoothly.


Benefits already visible

Okinawa Prefecture, which ranked lowest in the achievement tests for two consecutive years, will start a teacher exchange program with Akita Prefecture, which retained its top position in several subjects. Kochi Prefecture, whose middle school students fared poorly in the tests, started promoting reforms to improve its education to the "national level as an initial step."

These moves would not have gotten off the ground if the results of each prefecture had not been disclosed. We believe test results should be disclosed in more detail by each municipality, although particular care should be taken not to single out schools with a small student roll.

This would require boards of education to disclose not only percentages of correct answers but also their analysis of test results and plans to improve students' scholastic abilities.

The controversy over Inuyama's participation in the tests focused on the roles boards of education should play.

Though boards of education are independent from mayors and governors to ensure education remains free from interference, this does not entitle the boards to be self-righteous. We believe the Inuyama Municipal Board of Education should have made more effort to accurately grasp what parents and other affected parties really wanted.

The government's Meeting on Education Rebuilding has been considering what form boards of education should take in the future even after it had released its third report in February. We hope the panel leaves no stone unturned in its discussions on the issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 30, 2009)
(2009年3月30日01時34分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-30 09:48 | 英字新聞

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by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-29 10:07 | アドセンス

アフガン新戦略 「対テロ連携」の再構築を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 29, 2009)
U.S. Afghan strategy requires intl support
アフガン新戦略 「対テロ連携」の再構築を(3月29日付・読売社説)

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday a comprehensive strategy for U.S. Afghan policy that marks a major change from the past one and he declared his aim to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaida."

In Afghanistan, Al-Qaida and the Taliban--the nation's former rulers--have been increasing their military offensive, resulting in expansion of their sphere of control.

As they have established operational bases in Pakistan, an Afghan neighbor, the U.S. operations to wipe them out from Afghanistan have been beset with difficulties.

If the terrorists are left unchecked, we may see another tragedy similar to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Driving the radical forces from Afghanistan and stabilizing the country is an important issue for not only the Obama administration but also for the entire international community.


New guideline on tackling terror

The new U.S. strategy will serve as the guideline for the U.S. administration as it fights terrorism. A key aspect of the strategy is its call for concrete achievements to be made in various fields, including military and reconstruction assistance as well as diplomacy. It also indicates a desire to strengthen cooperation with the international community.

In the military field, about 4,000 additional U.S. troops will be sent to the country to train the Afghan National Army and police force. Combined security force numbers in Afghanistan are set to increase by 60,000 to about 220,000 by 2011. This is seen as an attempt by the United States to bring about an end to Afghanistan's dependence on other nations for its security and to realize a U.S. military withdrawal from the country in the future.

Obama decided in February to deploy 17,000 troops to Afghanistan for the purpose of wiping out terrorists and maintaining security there. U.S. troops stationed in the country will swell to about 60,000, an increase that is a reasonable reaction to the aggravated security situation in Afghanistan.  先月には、テロ掃討や治安維持を目的に1万7000人の米軍増派を決定している。駐留米軍は6万人規模に膨らむ。アフガンの状況悪化に対応した措置である。

To aid the civilian population, the new strategy stipulates a beefing up of the number of U.S. experts in administrative, judicial, agricultural and other fields by several hundreds and an expansion of U.S. support for Afghan reconstruction. This is mainly designed to improve the Afghan government's ability to govern, prevent corruption and reinforce the national economic base--undercutting terrorism at its roots.

However, it is uncertain to what extent the new strategy can be effective in producing results in the complicated social situation that exists in Afghanistan, a multiethnic country where national reconciliation is fraught with difficulties. In August, a presidential election is scheduled. As the new strategy's first test, efforts must be made to ensure it proceeds smoothly.

Financial assistance to Pakistan also is an important pillar of the new strategy. The United States will extend 1.5 billion dollars in direct support to the Pakistani people every year for the next five years.

Pakistan's cooperation is indispensable for the complete removal of terrorist forces' operation bases in the country. However, the administration of President Asif Ali Zardari is being hounded by the opposition and the nation's political situation is quite unstable. Urgent steps must be taken to stabilize Pakistan.


U.S. call to share the burden

The United States plans to ask Japan and European nations to take on an appropriate share of the burden for the stabilization of Afghanistan at an international conference to be held Tuesday in the Netherlands, while at an April 17 meeting in Tokyo on assistance for Pakistan, nations also will be asked to make a similar commitment.

Japan already has announced financial support worth 2 billion dollars for Afghanistan, the third largest pledge after the United States and Britain. The Japan International Cooperation Agency and nongovernment organizations, among others, also have been contributing personnel to the country. It is important that Japan further reinforces such support programs in the future.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 29, 2009)
(2009年3月29日02時14分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-29 09:23 | 英字新聞

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by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-28 19:28 | アドセンス

破壊措置命令 北のミサイルに冷静に備えよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 28, 2009)
SDF must protect against a wayward DPRK missile
破壊措置命令 北のミサイルに冷静に備えよ(3月28日付・読売社説)

It is essential for national security that measures be taken to prepare for emergencies. We hope the Self-Defense Forces will take all necessary measures to protect this nation if North Korea launches a missile and it malfunctions.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the SDF for the first time Friday to destroy the North Korean missile if it fails after launch and falls toward Japanese territory.

The SDF will take a two-step approach, involving both ground- and sea-based defenses. Two Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers will soon be dispatched to the Sea of Japan, while Air Self-Defense Force guided-missile units will be deployed in the Tohoku region and surrounding areas that are located under the expected flight path of the ballistic missile.

It is important to act calmly as North Korea's missile launch approaches.

North Korea has said it will "put a satellite into orbit" and that Japan is not a target of its rocket launch.

If the missile travels without any mishap, it will not fall on the Japanese mainland or waters.

A problem could occur, however, if a rare mishap occurs involving certain malfunctions, such as one in which the missile's first-stage booster functions properly, but the second-stage booster then malfunctions, causing the missile to stall and fall on Japan.

If that were to occur, people's lives and property would be at risk. It is natural that the SDF should then try to intercept a missile to minimize possible damage.


United States within range

The North Korean weapon that poses the most direct threat to Japan is the Rodong intermediate-range ballistic missile, which is capable of hitting any point on the Japanese archipelago.

North Korea's long-range ballistic missile widens the threat to include the United States, which now finds itself exposed to danger because Alaska, Hawaii and Guam come within range.

U.S. spy satellites have been used to confirm missile launch preparations at an early stage.

If the SDF tries to intercept the missile, U.S. early-warning satellites also would detect the missile launch and Japanese and U.S. radars would then track it.

It is important that Japan and the United States closely share information and strengthen operational cooperation for that purpose.


Keep worried citizens informed

When North Korea launched seven ballistic missiles that fell into the Sea of Japan in July 2006, information on the missile launch sent by the central government to local governments and related organizations nationwide was delayed. Taking this into account, the central government will this time brief residents who live under the missile flight path on the deployment of guided missile units and how a wayward missile would be intercepted.

Before North Korea actually launches a missile, the Japanese government should put in place a system that allows it to swiftly convey all necessary information to people concerned to minimize public anxiety.

North Korea has announced it will put a "satellite" into orbit sometime between April 4 and 8, notifying aviation and maritime organizations of its plan in accordance with international norms. Japan, together with South Korea and the United States, must make diplomatic efforts until the last minute to call for a halt to the missile launch, while trying to gain the cooperation of countries such as China and Russia.

If North Korea goes ahead and launches a missile despite such efforts, Japan should put the issue before the U.N. Security Council where a strict response can be discussed. We must avoid a situation in which Pyongyang escapes criticism or additional sanctions for choosing to launch a missile.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 28, 2009)
(2009年3月28日01時34分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-28 13:37 | 英字新聞


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by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-27 09:33 | アドセンス

小沢代表進退 「世論」の逆風にたえられるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 27, 2009)
Can Ozawa survive public's chagrin?
小沢代表進退 「世論」の逆風にたえられるか(3月27日付・読売社説)

What should Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa make of the latest opinion poll results?

Two out of three voters in an ad hoc survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun said they were not supportive of Ozawa's decision to stay on as party leader following the indictment of his state-funded first secretary over alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law.

Ozawa has said that the issue of whether his staying on would affect the party is wholly in the hands of the public--for better or for worse. The negative public reaction reflected in the survey likely will put fresh pressure on Ozawa to decide on whether to resign.

However, this is not the only bad news for Ozawa and the DPJ.


Voter support fading fast

Asked in the survey whether Ozawa was accountable over suspected illegal donations made by a construction firm to his political fund-management organization, most of the respondents said "no."

Ozawa has held a number of press conferences since the scandal broke, during which he has claimed the allegations are minor and concern only formalities over donations made. He has thus failed to frankly answer questions that are at the heart of this political scandal, and the views expressed by voters in the survey are therefore only natural.

At the press conference following the indictment, Ozawa said, "My primary mission is to have parliamentary democracy take root in Japan through a change in power," a reiteration of his push for a DPJ victory in the next general election.

But the survey results do not match Ozawa's ambitions.

Regarding who is better suited to serve as prime minister, fewer respondents chose Ozawa than Prime Minister Taro Aso. In previous surveys conducted since December--even following the arrest of the secretary in early March--Ozawa had maintained his lead against Aso. But now the situation has suddenly been reversed.


LDP regains edge

In previous surveys when voters were asked which party would receive their support in proportional representation votes, the DPJ had a sizable lead over the Liberal Democratic Party. But the latest survey finds the two parties neck and neck. In a survey from early March, overall approval ratings for the two parties were almost level, but the latest survey now shows the LDP has pulled ahead of the DPJ.

The Aso Cabinet had seen its approval rating plunge since late last year, and the Cabinet's stability has looked in doubt. But adverse winds blowing against the Aso Cabinet have changed direction and are now buffeting the DPJ under Ozawa's leadership.

Criticism also has been voiced over the DPJ's decision to allow Ozawa to remain in his post. The public's disapproval is likely the result of party members failing to hold any constructive talks on the scandal involving the party leader.

However, with Ozawa expressing his intention to stay on, open calls within the party for him to step down have begun. Public sentiment expressed in the latest survey certainly will accelerate talks on the question of whether Ozawa should resign.

How will DPJ executives act given the current situation? This is a test of their collective ability to handle a crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 27, 2009)
(2009年3月27日01時32分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-27 08:37 | 英字新聞

政労使合意 雇用対策の有効性を見極めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 26, 2009)
Job-protection measures must be carefully gauged
政労使合意 雇用対策の有効性を見極めよ(3月26日付・読売社説)

In view of the serious economic situation, the government, workers and employers have agreed to cooperate to tackle employment instability.

The three parties agreed that they would make the utmost efforts for that purpose, including striving to preserve jobs. We hope that workers and employers of each company will be kept fully informed about the general intent of the agreement.

The government will shoulder most of the concrete measures to realize the agreement, which includes steps to support regular and nonregular workers, such as the expansion of subsidies and job training.

The content of the support measures resembles that of the additional emergency measures for employment that the ruling parties recently compiled. It seems that ideas for immediate measures are limited.

One of the main measures agreed among the three parties is to promote work-sharing to maintain jobs.  主な対策の一つに、雇用を維持するために仕事を分け合うワークシェアリングの推進がある。

Work-sharing represents an effort not to dismiss workers even if companies are forced to reduce production, and instead to maintain employment through employee furloughs and other steps. The rate for government subsidies for employment adjustment will be raised.

In addition, if a company maintains employment for nonregular workers, such as through overtime reduction, the government will provide a certain amount of money to the company to help it support affected nonregular workers for up to six months.


Securing reemployment key

Under the current economic downturn, many companies have cut production, and existing government subsidies for employment adjustment are, in most cases, used to maintain employment for regular workers. The agreed measure widens the scope of government subsidies for employment adjustment to include employment of nonregular workers.

The support measures also include a system to provide about 100,000 yen a month to those who are ineligible for employment insurance or those who have received all due welfare benefits during their job-training period. The measures will allow them to concentrate on job training by ensuring their livelihood for up to two years.

If the government does not prepare effective programs that lead to workers' reemployment, the job-training and livelihood security measures will have been for nothing. It also is important to foster sufficient human resources for nursing care services, environment-related jobs and other types of employment that are expected to expand in the future.

The government compiled one employment measure after another in the fiscal 2008 supplementary budget and the fiscal 2009 budget. A bill to revise the Employment Insurance Law to ease requirements for nonregular workers to sign up for employment insurance is expected to pass into law soon.

Concerning the additional measures, the government intends to include about 1.6 trillion yen for them in a fiscal 2009 supplementary budget. But some may get the impression that the government is putting priority on preparing the budget for the measures without hammering out each policy in detail.


Fixing economy top priority

In the past, sloppy employment administration, such as lavish spending of government subsidies, occurred without being questioned seriously. Therefore, the effects of the series of employment measures should be carefully assessed.

The three parties also agreed that the subsidies for employment adjustment and measures for the jobless are not a fundamental solution, and that the key employment measure is boosting the economy.

As mentioned in the agreement, utilizing every possible step for an economic recovery is the most important thing.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 26, 2009)
(2009年3月26日01時36分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-26 20:39 | 英字新聞


The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 23, 2009)

Diet should act fast to boost copyright laws

著作権法改正 違法コピーにご用心(323日付・読売社説)

Something should be done to address the widespread illegal copying of video and music files.


The government submitted to the current Diet session a bill to revise the Copyright Law that would make it illegal to download and copy video and music files illegally distributed through the Internet without the approval of copyright holders.


Distribution of illegally copied files through the Internet already is prohibited under current laws. However, it is not automatically illegal to download illegally copied files for personal use, if they are not being redistributed. This means it is effectively possible for video and music files to be downloaded from the Internet openly.



by kiyoshimat | 2009-03-23 10:17 | 英字新聞