<   2009年 04月 ( 21 )   > この月の画像一覧

消費者庁 できるか縦割り行政の打破

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 20, 2009)
Consumer agency must avoid turf wars
消費者庁 できるか縦割り行政の打破(4月20日付・読売社説)

Will a new agency be able to function as a sort of new control tower for administration of consumer affairs?

A new government organization will be inaugurated by the end of this year to replace the current system of consumer affairs management that has too often shown the negatives of sectionalism among ministries and agencies such as the failure to detect a spate of food mislabeling cases and to prevent accidents caused by defective products.

A bill to form a consumer affairs agency is highly likely to become law at the current Diet session as the House of Representatives approved it Friday.

The government and the ruling coalition parties initially submitted a bill to establish the envisaged agency as an external organ of the Cabinet Office, but the Democratic Party of Japan opposed it, making a counterproposal to set up a "board of consumers rights" as an organ independent from all the other government bodies.

However, the DPJ has come to a compromise and agreed to revision of a bill sponsored by the government and the ruling coalition parties.

The start of Diet deliberations on the bill has been delayed to a large extent, but it was significant that the ruling and opposition parties were finally able to reach political agreement.


Watchdog panel

A main point of their agreement was the position of a supervisory panel of experts, which was placed under the consumer affairs agency in the bill sponsored by the government and the ruling coalition parties.

In the revised bill, however, the panel was upgraded to a consumer committee ranking alongside the consumer affairs agency as a government watchdog.

The revised bill, which has incorporated some of the ideas presented by the DPJ, has granted the envisaged committee strong authority not only to keep an eye on the consumer affairs agency and demand reports from the other government organizations but also to advise the prime minister and other Cabinet members to address problems.

However, the ruling and opposition parties postponed dealing with many problems as they raced to a compromise.

First, the bill does not clearly show how the consumer committee and the consumer affairs agency should coordinate their actions and request the other government organizations to respond quickly when a consumer problem arises.


Danger of duplication

Meanwhile, if its secretariat is overexpanded, the consumer committee will be superfluous, becoming an entity similar to the consumer affairs agency.

It is also difficult to select members of the committee, who must come from the private sector.

The consumer affairs agency, and the other concerned ministries and agencies will jointly administer many laws related to consumer affairs. However, demarcation of jurisdictions of each ministry and agency remains unclear.

There is an urgent need to build a system within the consumer affairs agency, able to quickly collect information on risks to consumers' safety and prevent or minimize damage.

Such problems should be studied more closely to prevent confusion after the launch of the consumer affairs agency.

It is also very important that the ruling and opposition parties agreed to enhance central government support for expanding local consumer centers through an increase in the number of consumer counselors and other measures.

The number of such offices that are closer to consumers, where they can seek advice in a friendly atmosphere, should be increased.

Reorganization of the consumer administration does not immediately guarantee its smooth operation.

It is a fact that central government bureaucrats have so far given priority to manufacturing and industrial sectors. They must change their mentality drastically to focus truly on the people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 20, 2009)
(2009年4月20日01時27分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-20 08:38 | 英字新聞

海賊対処法案 安易な修正は避けるべきだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 19, 2009)
If the antipiracy bill ain't broke, don't fix it
海賊対処法案 安易な修正は避けるべきだ(4月19日付・読売社説)

Cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties is desirable to ensure the early enactment of the antipiracy bill. But such cooperation should not result in the bill being amended without due consideration, as changes could compromise the effectiveness of antipiracy measures.

Deliberations on the antipiracy bill started at the House of Representatives last week. The bill is aimed at enabling Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to escort not only Japan-related, but also foreign ships. Also, MSDF vessels would be able to fire at pirate ships that approach and pursue commercial ships with the aim of disabling them. These are the pillars of the government-sponsored bill.

MSDF vessels are now engaged in missions to escort Japan-related ships off Somalia based on the maritime policing provision of the Self-Defense Forces Law. But these activities are stopgap measures until the new law is enacted.

The MSDF vessels have already received rescue requests from foreign vessels on two occasions and repelled the pirates with long-range acoustic devices. Their use of weapons is largely limited as it is restricted by the Mariners Law.

An early enactment of the legislation is desirable if Japan wants to ensure the effectiveness of MSDF missions.


DPJ demands impractical

Of great interest will be how negotiations on amendments to the bill between the ruling and opposition parties turn out.

The Democratic Party of Japan has asserted that an antipiracy headquarters should be established in the government, and that MSDF personnel on the mission should have dual status as members of the headquarters. The party also calls for revising the bill to require Diet approval for antipiracy operations. The current bill only requires the government to report such operations to the Diet.

But we have doubts about the DPJ's demands.

The proposed antipiracy headquarters is modeled after the International Peace Cooperation Headquarters overseeing Japan's contribution to U.N. peacekeeping activities. Such a body, however, could well be superfluous as such a task can be assumed by the Defense Ministry.

It would be most effective to place MSDF vessels on antipiracy missions under the control of the Joint Staff of the Defense Ministry. A new body could cause confusion in the chain of command.

Some DPJ members even go as far as saying that the Japan Coast Guard should play a leading role in antipiracy missions, and that MSDF members should be transferred to the JCG when taking on such missions. Their assertion stickles over the form in which the mission is conducted and is utterly nonsensical.

Behind their assertion is a notion associated with the former Japan Socialist Party that holds that "the Self-Defense Forces are bad and should not be used unless this cannot be avoided," a line of thinking that emerged in the early 1990s, underpinning calls for establishing a separate body assigned to carry out peacekeeping operations.

It is only natural to utilize the organization that is most fit for a given mission. This is why the MSDF vessels were dispatched, not JCG ships.


Diet approval problematic

The DPJ's insistence that antipiracy operations must get Diet approval is not consistent with legal provisions governing SDF mobilization.

Maritime policing activities taken when foreign ships intrude into Japan's territorial waters do not even have to be reported to the Diet. Diet approval must be sought for exceptional activities, such as the mobilization of SDF troops when Japan is attacked or under the clear threat of armed attack, and when it is deemed that Japan's public order cannot be maintained by police.

If Diet approval was required and the DPJ supported Diet approval for the current antipiracy mission, there would be no immediate problem. But such a provision could hamper Japan's efforts to deal with piracy in the future if it became rampant in a different sea zone.

The ruling parties should be aware of these problems and deal carefully with amendment negotiations with opposition parties.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 19, 2009)
(2009年4月19日01時28分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-19 08:02 | 英字新聞

パキスタン支援 アフガンとともに安定を図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 18, 2009)
Stabilize Pakistan, Afghanistan together
パキスタン支援 アフガンとともに安定を図れ(4月18日付・読売社説)

To stabilize the situation in Afghanistan, which is struggling at the front line of the war on terrorism, support for its neighbor Pakistan must be expanded in a coordinated international action to bolster the security situation in both countries at the same time.

Thirty-one countries, including Britain, China and the United States, and 18 international organizations participated in a donors conference in Tokyo on Friday and decided to extend more than 5 billion dollars to Pakistan over the next two years. Japan and the United States each pledged 1 billion dollars.

Pakistan nearly defaulted on its debt last autumn, mainly because of the global financial crisis. Although the International Monetary Fund has decided to step in with an emergency loan program, the country was obliged to take steps to cut its fiscal deficit and adopt an austere monetary policy.


Militants hide out in Pakistan

Two militant groups--the Taliban, which opposes the Afghan government, and members of the international terrorism organization Al-Qaida--are holed up along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They have been attacking U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces deployed in Afghanistan from Pakistan. When they are repulsed by U.S. and NATO forces, they flee into Pakistan, complicating mop-up operations by the U.S. and European forces.

Development of the region around Pakistan's border with Afghanistan has lagged behind, and the majority of the population there is poor. Cuts in development project budgets and the tight monetary policy may worsen poverty there and heighten the risk that the area, already a hotbed for terrorism, will breed even greater numbers of militants.

A destabilized Pakistan would be a nightmare for the international community because the country possesses nuclear weapons.

The participating nations at the donors conference decided to extend huge financial support to Pakistan because they decided that the vicious circle between poverty and terrorism must be ended.

However, there is little ground for optimism about the situation in Pakistan. President Asif Ali Zardari, who took office last year, is in confrontation with the opposition leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and lacks charisma.

Another problem is the presence in the military and other sectors of the Pakistani government of elements sympathetic toward Islamic militants. Coupled with anti-U.S. sentiment due to across-the-border attacks by U.S. drones, the Taliban have expanded its sphere of influence.

Zardari told the Tokyo conference that he intended to maintain his country's antiterrorist policy and called for the cooperation of the international community in that endeavor. Japan, which hosted the conference, must support Pakistan through official development assistance and other programs.

Also, international support for Afghanistan should be reinforced.


Bigger role possible for Japan

The United States plans to send more troops to Afghanistan and expand its support for the livelihood of the Afghan people. The latter is a field in which Japan has long played a leading role, such as by constructing schools and clinics. Therefore, the scope for active involvement by Japan in the reconstruction of Afghanistan will expand, we believe.

But in reality, support programs in the field have been mainly limited to those conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and nongovernmental organizations. It has been pointed out that there is work in which the Self-Defense Forces can actively be involved, for instance, in participation in provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) and dispatch of transport helicopters.

Although SDF dispatches to Afghanistan may be difficult under the current Diet situation, the government should keep studying the possibility of sending the SDF to the country.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 18, 2009)
(2009年4月18日01時28分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-18 10:16 | 英字新聞





by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-17 13:04 | アドセンス

週刊新潮「誤報」 第三者調査で徹底検証せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 17, 2009)
Weekly magazine needs better standards
週刊新潮「誤報」 第三者調査で徹底検証せよ(4月17日付・読売社説)

Shukan Shincho, the weekly magazine that carried a series of articles in the form of first-person accounts from a man who claimed to have attacked reporters at The Asahi Shimbun's Hanshin Bureau in 1987, has published an article explaining how the magazine gathered materials for the articles, which have been found to be false.
In an article in the latest issue, which came out Thursday, the magazine appeared to be playing the victim, implying it was duped by the man. An explanation such as this is a far cry from being a thorough investigation of the matter.

After the series of articles was published, the man denied he was responsible for the fatal shooting when he was interviewed by another weekly magazine.

As a matter of course, Shukan Shincho then had to admit the man's account was false and apologize for the articles. But Shinchosha Publishing Co., which puts out the weekly magazine, should not leave the matter solely with the editorial staff of the magazine. The publisher should thoroughly examine the cause and background of the misreporting through an investigative panel that includes third-party members and find exactly where responsibility lies.


Confirmation lax

In the apology, the weekly magazine cited the failure to gather sufficient evidence to support the man's account as the reason why it ended up running false reports. This certainly seems to be the case. It also appears that much could have been verified with just a little bit of time and effort on such matters as where and how the man lived at the time of the incident.

Particular caution is needed when someone approaches a media organization in an attempt to sell information. It is likely that the weekly's slackness in its principal task of confirming information resulted in its swallowing of the man's false story.

The treatment given by the weekly to the man, which can be described as excessive, also should not be overlooked.

The man was given 900,000 yen in "manuscript expenses" as well as accommodation fees for three months. The weekly also shouldered a one-month advance payment for staying at an Internet cafe, which was necessary for the man to get a resident's registration, and helped the man find an apartment and obtain a passport.

Such cushy treatment could cause informants to tailor their stories for reporters by misrepresenting facts. This point should be investigated as well.


Explanation came too late

Also, the weekly has been too slow in providing a full account of the series of articles.

The articles were carried over four consecutive weeks beginning from late January.

Soon after the final installment was published, the Asahi carried a story on factual errors in the Shukan Shincho articles following a complaint by a former employee at the U.S. Embassy in Japan that the man had falsely said the employee asked him to attack the newspaper bureau.

The National Police Agency chief also in effect denied the credibility of the man's account.

Despite these developments, why did the weekly take so long to explain itself?

While the weekly is known for having exposed scandals involving politicians, it also has been accused in a number of cases of infringing on people's rights or of defamation.

In the latest article, the weekly argues that "weekly magazines have a mission to report in depth even 'events' and 'allegations' that have yet to be proved as truth." This kind of perception most likely caused the misreporting.

Recently, a series of court rulings have been made regarding slack reporting for articles in weekly magazines and have ordered publishers to pay huge amounts in compensation.

Shukan Shincho has lost several such court cases. In one of the cases, a district court ordered the president of the publisher to pay compensation, saying the president failed to effectively provide training for editors and establish systems to check articles before publication. The publisher must address these structural problems.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 17, 2009)
(2009年4月17日01時51分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-17 09:31 | 英字新聞

海兵隊移転協定 民主党は「反米」志向なのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 16, 2009)
DPJ taking wrong stance on marine relocation
海兵隊移転協定 民主党は「反米」志向なのか(4月16日付・読売社説)

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan has reiterated that the Japan-U.S. security alliance is the linchpin of this nation's security. But does the party really regard it this way?

The House of Representatives approved Tuesday an accord that commits Japan and the United States to following through on the planned transfer of U.S. marines from Okinawa Prefecture to Guam by 2014. But the DPJ voted against the accord.

Due to the constitutional superiority of the lower house, the accord will clear the Diet within 30 days regardless of how the House of Councillors votes on the bill.


Opposing accord unwise

Under the accord, 8,000 U.S. marines would be transferred to Guam, and Japan would shoulder 2.8 billion dollars for projects related to U.S. base facilities for the marines in Guam. This would result in a significant reduction in the prefecture's burdens in hosting U.S. bases. The measures must be implemented as stipulated.

The DPJ argued it opposed the accord as the disclosure of information on the relocation plan is not sufficient and the grounds for cost calculations have not been made clear.

Such problems have arisen mainly because the United States has yet to decide on certain details of the relocation plan. Of course, the government should call on the United States to cooperate in disclosing more information and see if it can reduce its financial burden.

But opposing the accord means something very different. It would not be wise to overturn the landmark accord that will see 8,000 U.S. marines leave the prefecture. Such a move would significantly damage the relationship of trust that exists between Japan and the United States.

The DPJ also opposes the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan within the prefecture. This relocation plan is seen as integral to the relocation of marines to Guam. The DPJ stance is that the functions of Futenma Air Station should be relocated outside the prefecture or abroad.

When Japan and the United States reached a basic agreement on the return of Futenma Air Station in 1996, it was premised on the air station being relocated within the prefecture. Even concerned local governments, including the Okinawa prefectural government, have accepted this, although they have called for minor adjustments regarding the location of alternative facilities. This is because the local governments want to see their burdens reduced as soon as possible.

Revisiting the plan to relocate Futenma within the prefecture would mean turning the clock back 13 years. Is the DPJ determined and confident enough to press ahead with undoing every bilateral agreement related to the relocation and to renegotiate with the United States to try to achieve a new agreement that would better serve Japan?

The DPJ also has called for the discontinuation of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean and for a review of the so-called sympathy budget allocation tied to hosting U.S. forces in Japan. DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa has said that the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet alone would be sufficient to secure the U.S. military presence in the Far East in connection with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

Such remarks could be interpreted as meaning Ozawa is taking an anti-American stance rather than acknowledging the importance of the Japan-U.S. security alliance.


Recognize responsibilities

It is not a bad thing per se to make demands of the United States. But it is a serious defect of the DPJ to make demands while failing to talk about the burdens it would take on to strengthen the alliance.

Prior to the next lower house election, the DPJ should hold intraparty discussions on its foreign policy and security platform so it can present comprehensive policies on these matters. This would be the minimum responsibility that a political party seeking to take power should fulfill.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 16, 2009)
(2009年4月16日01時32分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-16 12:00 | 英字新聞

安保理議長声明 北朝鮮の挑発行為を許すな

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 15, 2009)
Provocation by DPRK must not be tolerated
安保理議長声明 北朝鮮の挑発行為を許すな(4月15日付・読売社説)

It is an act of provocation by North Korea to resist a consensus decision reached by the international community.

The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted a presidential statement condemning North Korea's long-range rocket launch on April 5.

Immediately after that, North Korea announced it would boycott the six-party talks on the nation's denuclearization and restart its nuclear facilities.

Pyongyang's move will heighten tensions across East Asia and undermine efforts for peace and stability in the region.


United action needed

The five nations that with North Korea are involved in the six-party talks--Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States--must take strong and united action if North Korea violates the six-party talks agreement, which aims at dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programs.

The Security Council's presidential statement said North Korea's recent launch contravened Security Council Resolution 1718, and the Security Council demanded that the nation not conduct any further launches.

The statement, which did not take a position on whether the launch was to put a communications satellite into orbit or to test-fire a ballistic missile, unequivocally stated that the launch itself constituted a contravention of the resolution.

Pressure to stop North Korea conducting further launches would have been rendered toothless if the international community had accepted Pyongyang's claim that a satellite launch was within its rights as a sovereign state.

It is no surprise that the presidential statement reflected claims by Japan and the United States, in maintaining that no activity linked to a ballistic missile program could be tolerated.

North Korea had issued a strong warning stating that future six-party talks would not be held if the Security Council discussed the launch issue. An immediate release of an announcement by the North Korean Foreign Ministry condemning the presidential statement was predicted. However, its content cannot be overlooked.

Insisting it has a right to develop its space program, North Korea stated it would continue with launches in the name of its satellite program.

Ignoring a call in the presidential statement for an early resumption of the six-party talks, North Korea said it "will not participate in the talks any longer nor it will be bound by any agreement of the six-party talks."

In addition, Pyongyang's announcement that it would restart its disabled nuclear facilities and extract plutonium for nuclear weapons by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods equals an avowal to once again aim at developing a nuclear missile.

Playing its typical game of brinkmanship, North Korea may press the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama on an early resumption of U.S.-North Korea negotiations and seek to benefit from a resultant compromise deal.

But the six-party talks will lose all meaning if North Korea does as it has threatened to do, and restarts its nuclear facilities.


China should take leading role

The responsibility of China, the chair of the six-party talks, is growing more onerous. As the North's largest trading partner and biggest supporter, we hope China will take every effective measure it can against Pyongyang, including a strict application of sanctions on the nation.

This is a grave situation for Japan, which is located within the range of North Korea's Rodong missiles. In close cooperation with the United States and South Korea, Japan needs to search for effective measures to halt Pyongyang's nuclear development program.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 15, 2009)
(2009年4月15日01時39分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-15 15:49 | 英字新聞

安心社会の実現 経済危機後の展望が重要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 14, 2009)
Govt must rebuild as it puts out economic fire
安心社会の実現 経済危機後の展望が重要だ(4月14日付・読売社説)

The security of people's livelihoods cannot be assured by the implementation of short-term economic stimulus measures alone, because the source of anxiety is deeply rooted.

With Prime Minister Taro Aso in attendance, the government on Monday launched a new panel to discuss the realization of a society in which people can live with peace of mind.

The purpose of the panel is to discuss the future direction of the state and the shape of its basic policies. With its members drawn from a wide variety of fields, we can expect the panel's discussions to take a broad perspective.

Types of families and career paths are becoming diverse amid the effects of the rapidly declining birthrate and graying society as well as structural changes in the nation's economy. Although the political world is required to quickly deal with social and economic changes at home and abroad, it remains in turmoil and is unable to hammer out suitable policies.

After the economic bubble burst in the early 1990s, Japanese society was subjected to the radical remedies of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's structural reform efforts.


Reforms not always beneficial

Although the series of reforms yielded some successful results, including the disposal of bad loans held by financial institutions, it went too far and should rather be called market fundamentalism in some cases. The country's various institutions, including the social security system, have begun to fray around the edges.

Such market fundamentalism was responsible for bringing about the global economic crisis that has seen a great deterioration in the Japanese economy.

With the ongoing graying of society and increasing number of single-person households, the social safety net, which has been built on people's family and community connections as well as corporate welfare programs, is in urgent need of review.

What should the government do? What kinds of roles should local governments, regional communities, companies, families and individuals play? In answering these questions, the new panel must start its discussions from scratch.

The panel also needs to discuss in concrete terms how to rebuild each of the various social security systems such as medicare, nursing care and pensions as well as employment measures and welfare benefits, and measures to cope with the declining birthrate. Needless to say, discussions on how to secure financial resources for reconstructing social security, which have been lacking so far, will be vital.


Major undertaking

The panel likely will be led by Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, who is concurrently serving as state minister in charge of financial services and economic and fiscal policy.

In parallel with discussions at the new panel, the government's Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, which is supervised by Yosano, also is working on formulating a road map for solving economic disparities and carrying out social security reform. It is important for the two panels to work in tandem and work out ideas and policies.

Last week, the government and ruling parties compiled the country's largest-ever economic stimulus package that centers on a fiscal outlay of more than 15 trillion yen.

If we look at this economic stimulus package as a measure to hold back the conflagration in front of us, what the new panel will tackle is a new urban plan that will keep the burden to be shouldered by future generations to a bare minimum.

All preparations must be made so that the reconstruction of public welfare systems can be started as soon as it is certain the fire has been contained.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 14, 2009)
(2009年4月14日01時53分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-15 11:05 | 英字新聞


(Mainichi Japan) April 12, 2009
Boosting spirits with the power of corporate song

An executive of a world-renowned company once told me: "We all sing our company's song when our baseball team wins a game. That feels so good. It brings us a sense of unity with the players and the company, and makes us proud of our company."

As I nodded, he asked me, "Does the Mainichi Newspapers have a company song?"

At another major company, employees sing their corporate song and recite the founder's creed at their workplace and factories every morning. One employee in his 30s said it felt strange when he first joined the company, but now he's fully used to it.

"There's some invisible effect in it," he says.

When newcomers were asked what they thought the most unnecessary thing at their company was, the most common answer was the corporate song, described variously as "embarrassing" and "old-fashioned." However, the situation has changed of late.

In a book titled "Shaka" (Corporate songs, published by Bungei Shunju), corporate songs of about 40 major Japanese companies are listed, along with the history and episodes of each song. Since the lyrics of corporate songs reflect the spirit of the founders and management principles, they may be revised with the change of the times or corporate names.

"It's a philosophy etched in a musical score," says author Masazumi Yugari.

I listened to a CD titled "Shaka," released by King Records under Yugari's supervision, and was amazed by the diversity of corporate songs today -- ranging in style from J-pop, comic songs to rock. The image of corporate songs has changed.

There's even a company that has embarked on a corporate song-making business. President Ryuichi Nishio says, "During a recession, everyone wants to get uplifted. Corporate songs help them improve their motivation."

The Mainichi Newspapers does have a corporate song. Kyukin Susukida, a prominent poet in the late Meiji Era and a Mainichi employee, wrote the lyrics: "The light shines from the eastern sky, we stand raising the star as our banner." Unfortunately, the song is not sung at our initiation ceremony for newcomers or other occasions, and it's left languishing on the shelf. (By Hiroshi Ochiai, Sports News Department)
 毎日新聞にも社歌がある。明治後期を代表する詩人で、社員でもあった薄田泣菫(すすきだきゅうきん)が作詞を担当した。「光は東の空よりと かかぐる星の旗じるし……」と格調高い。残念ながら、入社式などで歌われることはなく、宝の持ち腐れになっている。(運動部)

毎日新聞 2009年4月11日 東京朝刊

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-13 08:55 | 英字新聞

日中韓首脳会談 「北」へ明確な意思表示が必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 12, 2009)
Intl community must unite on N. Korea
日中韓首脳会談 「北」へ明確な意思表示が必要だ(4月12日付・読売社説)

The international community has to stand together and clearly state its position to ensure North Korea refrains from further missile development and launches.

Prime Minister Taro Aso discussed issues related to North Korea on Saturday with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak in Pattaya, Thailand, where a series of regional summit meetings related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were scheduled but canceled due to chaos caused by demonstrations against the Thai government.

The three leaders agreed at their bilateral and trilateral meetings to accelerate negotiations on a U.N. Security Council presidential statement so that the council could send out a united message against North Korea's missile launch as soon as possible.

North Korea's missile, which is said to have been a modified Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, failed to separate its second- and third-stage boosters, and to place a satellite in orbit. However, its flight distance was estimated to have been more than 3,000 kilometers, which is much further than the Taepodong-1 missile test-fired in 1998 traveled.

The extended range achieved by the Taepodong-2 does not pose any additional direct threat to Japan. But, if it leads to a general improvement of North Korea's missile technology, it would increase the threat posed by Pyongyang's Rodong medium-range ballistic missiles, which can hit any part of Japan.


UNSC backing Japan stance

In any case, the latest missile launch remains an act that undermined peace and stability in Asia. If the international community takes an ambiguous stance toward Pyongyang this time, it would set a bad precedent that says a missile test conducted under the guise of a satellite launch cannot be denounced.

A draft presidential statement under negotiation at the U.N. Security Council includes a denouncement of the launch and a demand that Pyongyang refrain from test-firing a missile again. It also will list additional items to be put under embargo regarding North Korea to strengthen and strictly enforce the 2006 sanctions resolution.

If these contents remain in the document, the statement will be able to be evaluated as properly reflecting Japan's position. The government needs to continue making diplomatic efforts for a quick adoption of the presidential statement at the Security Council.


ODA key to diplomacy

Meanwhile, the main agenda at the scheduled ASEAN-related summit meetings was how to bring about a recovery of the Asian economy.

It is regrettable that the meetings were canceled, but the prime minister has already announced that Japan will provide 2 trillion yen as official development assistance for other Asian nations. It is important to set ODA projects in motion as soon as possible.

Japan's assistance to other Asian countries to help them stave off the economic crisis is significant in terms of preventing an escalation of the global recession that started in the United States. If the other Asian economies recover, it will eventually reward Japan.

ODA is one of Japan's most powerful diplomatic tools. Since all 10 member countries of ASEAN have official relations with North Korea, providing them with ODA indirectly helps Tokyo in its diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang.

However, Japan's ODA budget has been decreasing for 12 straight years and the amount is now exceeded by the United States and the major nations of Europe.

It is a matter of course that the efficiency of ODA should be improved, but the budget allocated for it also should be increased as soon as possible after so many years of decline.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 12, 2009)
(2009年4月12日01時46分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-04-12 09:55 | 英字新聞