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民主党政権実現 変化への期待と重責に応えよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 31, 2009)
DPJ must be responsible, live up to expectations
民主党政権実現 変化への期待と重責に応えよ(8月31日付・読売社説)

People's dissatisfaction with the Liberal Democratic Party's politics and their expectation that a new administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan can bring "change" has ushered in a historic change in power in this country.

 The DPJ romped to a landslide victory in the House of Representatives election Sunday, handing the LDP its most devastating defeat since the party was formed.

This is the first time since the end of World War II that an opposition party has won a single-party majority in the lower house and brought about a change in administration.

DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama, who is expected to be named prime minister in the special Diet session to be convened soon, will bear the heavy responsibility of managing the country.


Disappointment and weariness

The largest cause of this sea change in public sentiment lies in the LDP itself.

Policies taken by the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, which espoused the importance of market principles, widened disparities in society, devastated the country's medical and nursing care services and impoverished many rural areas.

Koizumi's successors--Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda--abruptly resigned as prime minister.

Prime Minister Taro Aso, who took over from Fukuda, suffered a string of self-imposed setbacks with verbal gaffes and other blunders that raised questions about his ability to serve as prime minister before he could correct the policy line taken by the Koizumi administration.

The LDP lost its status as the largest party in the House of Councillors after a thumping defeat in the 2007 election. Subsequently, the LDP's support organizations and industrial groups that traditionally supported the party began to increasingly distance themselves from the LDP.

In short, it can be said that the LDP's historic defeat was brought about by the collapse of its structural reforms that went too far, its leaders' failure to live up to their responsibilities and their lack of leadership ability, the alienation of its traditional support base, and weariness and disappointment with the administration that had been in power for a long time.

In addition to criticizing the LDP's failings, the DPJ wooed discontented voters by putting forward policies including support for households, such as a monthly child allowance for families and a gradual phasing out of highway tolls, as well as adopting election campaign tactics that included fielding a diverse range of candidates.

In the previous lower house election, the LDP was blessed with strong and favorable winds whipped up by the postal service privatization debate and the divisions wrought by the party's decision to put "assassin" candidates on the official party ticket to run against those LDP members who opposed the Koizumi-led postal reform drive and were forced off the party ticket.

The winds of change then took a sudden turn, swinging behind the DPJ, which advocates a change in power--and the favorable conditions have remained since the dissolution of the lower house, culminating in heavy damage to the LDP's junior coalition partner, New Komeito, too.

This development should be interpreted as meaning that the overwhelming sentiment among voters was to give the DPJ a chance to hold the reins of power, despite anxiety in the electorate about how a DPJ-led administration might fare.

Despite the DPJ's landslide victory, however, it does not mean voters have given the party an open-ended mandate.


Review election pledges

A new cabinet to be formed by Hatoyama is to carry out policy measures based on the schedule presented in the DPJ's election manifesto. However, the new government should not stick to its "election" pledges so much so as to destabilize people's lives.

Its most important task is to put the Japanese economy, which is now in the process of recovering from a serious recession, on a steady road to recovery. Given the deteriorating employment situation, public spending on economic pump-priming measures must be continued seamlessly.

When drafting the next fiscal year's budget, the new administration needs to give top priority to boosting the economy.

In the realm of foreign and security policy, the change of government will not be accepted as an excuse to tear up international agreements. The new government must seek to achieve consistency in this country's foreign policy and firmly maintain the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Since it does not have a single-party majority in the upper house, the DPJ will start talks soon with the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party about the formation of a coalition government.

One major concern is the huge gap between the DPJ and the SDP regarding their basic policies on foreign and security affairs, including the participation of the Self-Defense Forces in international peacekeeping activities.

A political situation in which a small party can use its casting vote to push around a major party would be extremely harmful. The DPJ should approach the talks determined to scrap plans for a coalition with the SDP if they cannot reach an agreement on fundamental policies.

The DPJ has set a goal of "bidding farewell to bureaucrat-led policy-making."

But the DPJ should not be under the illusion that bureaucrats will dance to the party's tune simply by establishing a politician-led "National Strategy Bureau" or by assigning a bevy of lawmakers to positions within each government agency or ministry.

Lawmakers will be scrutinized for their ability to use bureaucrats to serve their purposes, rather than to act hostilely against bureaucrats. Lawmakers should know that only when they win the trust of bureaucrats will they be able to effectively implement policies.


Can LDP make comeback?

The LDP was formed in 1955 through a marriage of conservative parties to counter the Japan Socialist Party, which in that year merged the rightist and leftist socialist parties.

The ideological clash between the LDP and JSP that was dominant in those days has since evaporated, and the JSP the nation knew then no longer exists. The LDP's crushing defeat in Sunday's election completed the demise of the so-called 1955 political system that centered around the LDP and the socialists.

The LDP must brace itself for an extended period in the opposition camp. The party will need to dust itself off and rebuild itself almost from scratch if it wants to be a viable political party that can occupy the position of one of the two major political parties--together with the DPJ.

The LDP was temporarily ousted from power in 1993 in the wake of money-for-favor political scandals. Since then, it has remained at the helm of the government by forming coalitions with the JSP, Komeito and other parties.

The LDP has been forced by the voters to start over--after having neglected to reform itself.

The party will be pressed to drastically change everything from its political philosophy to its policies and its structure under a new party leader who will replace Aso ahead of the upper house election next summer.

The LDP must present healthy, sound policies and bolster its ability to counter the DPJ-led administration if it wants to be a key player that can level criticism at the government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 31, 2009)
(2009年8月31日05時28分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-31 09:32 | 英字新聞

衆院選:民主単独で300議席超へ 鳩山政権誕生が確実に


(Mainichi Japan) August 30, 2009
Opposition Democratic Party of Japan set to win election in landslide
衆院選:民主単独で300議席超へ 鳩山政権誕生が確実に

The largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is set to score a landslide victory in Sunday's general election, likely capturing more than 300 of the 480 seats in the House of Representatives, according to Mainichi Shimbun exit polls.

The DPJ is certain to take over the reins of government, putting an end to the 10-year-old coalition government comprised of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito (NKP).

DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama will be elected prime minister at a special Diet session that must be called within 30 days after the polling day under the Constitution, and form a Cabinet.

The LDP is expected to suffer a humiliating defeat, possibly falling short of 100 seats.

The focal point of Sunday's general election has been whether the DPJ will take over the reins of government or the LDP-NKP coalition will stay in power.

Vote counting began immediately after almost all of about 51,000 polling stations across the country closed at 8 p.m.

As of 10:40 p.m., the DPJ had won 243 seats, the LDP 62, NKP 11, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) five, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) two, the People's New Party (PNP) two, the Your Party (YP) three and the New Party Nippon (NPN) one, while the Japan Renaissance Party (JRP) had won no seats. Four independents have also been elected to the chamber.

All winners in the nation's 300 single-seat constituencies (SSC) will be announced by about 1 a.m. on Monday and all those elected in the proportional representation blocs (PRB) will be determined by around 3 a.m.

The voter turnout was 53 percent as of 7:30 p.m., down 2.65 points from the previous election in 2005. However, as the number of those who cast absentee ballots was more than 50 percent more than the previous election, final voter turnout is expected to be above that in the previous election, which stood at 67.51 percent.

A confidence vote among the public for nine Supreme Court justices, who were appointed after the previous Lower House election, was also held simultaneously with the general election.





毎日新聞 2009年8月30日 21時02分(最終更新 8月30日 22時08分)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-30 23:49 | 英字新聞

きょう投票 1票が日本の進路を決める

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 30, 2009)
An election that will chart Japan's future course
きょう投票 1票が日本の進路を決める(8月30日付・読売社説)

Which political party and which candidates should be entrusted to take the helm of this nation?
Today, Aug. 30, is the polling day for the 45th House of Representatives election. It is an election that will determine Japan's future path.

Voters must choose whether to continue under the current administration of the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito, or to switch to a new administration centered on the Democratic Party of Japan.

The election campaign has focused not only on a straight evaluation of the accomplishments and policies of each party. Voters also have had to weigh up which party most deserves to govern.

The LDP had to fight the election campaign in the face of a strong voter backlash.

After an overwhelming victory in the lower house election in 2005 under the administration of then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the premiership changed hands three times, passing to Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda and then Taro Aso. The party was subject to persistent criticism for passing the reins of government from one party head to another.

Since taking power in September, Prime Minister Taro Aso showed himself to be inconsistent and indecisive at a number of crucial moments, such as when he failed to explain what the flat-sum cash benefit program was meant to achieve. Each time he floundered, he pushed down the LDP's approval rating.

For the DPJ, doubts have been raised over its ability to govern due to its composition--a motley collection of politicians from different parties ranging from conservatives on one side of the political spectrum to former members of the now-defunct Japan Socialist Party on the other.
In addition, some observers have expressed caution over the party's desire to form a coalition with the Social Democratic Party, which has very different national security policies from the DPJ.


Vote on policies, not feelings

Some observers have said that the vote likely will reflect dissatisfaction with the LDP or anxiety over the DPJ, rather than voters' active decision to continue with an administration formed of the LDP-Komeito coalition or move to one centered on the DPJ.

However, the results of the lower house election will have a direct bearing on this nation's future.
It cannot be correct to decide which party and politician to choose simply on the basis of one's discontent, anxiety or a fleeting emotion.

Policies must, first and foremost, be the key criteria for deciding who to vote for.

Each party conducted its campaign by first drawing up a platform covering the policies each would implement during the four-year House of Representatives term.

Policies on pensions, health care, child-rearing and education, which are of great interest to voters in this nation that is rapidly aging and has a very low birthrate, as well as funding for those policies, surfaced as major issues in the election campaign.

The LDP stressed it would introduce drastic reforms of the taxation system, including an increase of the consumption tax rate, to provide stable financing for the social security system. The LDP did not clarify when it would raise the consumption tax, saying only that it would occur after the nation achieved 2 percent year-on-year economic growth.

The DPJ listed many schemes that would provide direct payment of benefits to households as a way of boosting spending, such as child-rearing allowances. It said it would fund the measures by cutting spending in other areas, for example suspending nonessential projects. The party said it would not raise the consumption tax rate before the next lower house election.


Leadership important

Differences among the two key parties in the fields of diplomacy and national security are conspicuous, such as whether to press on with the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

It is important to calmly assess the persuasiveness of each party's policies. We hope voters will thoroughly examine each party's stance.

Choosing between the party leaders is as important as choosing policies.

If the LDP and Komeito secure a majority in the lower house, Aso will hang on to the premiership. If the DPJ and other opposition parties take a majority of the seats, DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama will be appointed prime minister.

Aso has criticized the DPJ's foreign and security policies as lax, stressing at the same time that only the LDP is able to govern responsibly.

Hatoyama, however, has said that a bureaucrat-led political system would continue if an LDP-led regime continued, and has pointed to the importance of a shift to an administration led by the DPJ, which he said would be more people-focused.

Unless the lower house is unexpectedly dissolved or the prime minister is replaced, this lower house election will select a leader who will guide this nation for the next four years. We hope that voters will consider the remarks Aso and Hatoyama have made during the election campaign.


Will the young vote?

In the polling booth, voters have to write down on the ballot paper the name of the political party they wish to vote for in the proportional representation block and the name of their preferred candidate for the single-seat constituency. The qualifications of each candidate to be a lawmaker is an important element to consider when making this judgment.

If a candidate was an incumbent lower house lawmaker prior to the dissolution of the Diet, his or her past achievements and Diet performance can, of course, be used to make this decision. If a candidate is running for the first time, voters are recommended to carefully study the candidate's political views contained in public bulletins published during campaigning.

In a democracy, ultimate power rests with the people. We hope each voter will cast his or her vote responsibly, after comprehensively judging each party's policies, each party leader's competence and each candidate's insight.

The number of people who already have cast their ballot in early voting prior to Sunday's lower house election has dramatically increased. This indicates high interest in the election. A recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey showed that 79 percent of those polled said they definitely would vote.

Among those in their 20s, however, the figure stood at just 56 percent. It is extremely regrettable if younger people feel that "politics won't change even if we vote" and have given up hope.

Social security system reform and job-creation measures, which once again emerged as major points of contention in the election, are issues that no one can remain indifferent to.

We hope young people will go to the polls and exercise their right to choose their future.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 30, 2009)
(2009年8月30日01時15分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-30 10:47 | 英字新聞

雇用と物価 デフレに至る悪循環を防げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 29, 2009)
Deflationary pressures must be nipped in bud
雇用と物価 デフレに至る悪循環を防げ(8月29日付・読売社説)

Utmost caution must be exercised to prevent falling prices and the worsening employment situation from allowing deflation to take a vicelike grip on the nation's economy.

The nation's key consumer price index in July fell 2.2 percent from a year earlier, marking the first fall in the 2 percent range in the postwar period.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in July climbed to a postwar high of 5.7 percent, up 0.3 percentage point from the previous month.

The worsening employment situation is eroding workers' incomes. Tightening the purse strings at home leads to sluggish sales of products and, in turn, to falling prices. As companies struggle with falling sales, they resort to restructuring and other measures to cut costs, exacerbating the grim employment situation. The latest government figures on prices and employment show that a vicious cycle of deflationary pressures is becoming increasingly real.

Whichever party takes power after Sunday's House of Representatives election, the new administration must do everything it can to arrest these deflationary pressures and boost the economy.

The sharp price falls are due mainly to the drop in oil prices that soared last year. Gasoline prices fell as much as 30 percent from last year, lowering overall prices about 1 percent.

But prices, excluding those of energy-related products, fell 0.9 percent. The rate of fall was about the same as that in fiscal 2001 during a serious deflationary period.


Domestic demand weak

The current deflationary trend should not be waved off as a temporary phenomenon caused by the correction in oil prices after they skyrocketed last year. Rather, weak domestic demand should be considered the major cause of falling prices.

The nation's real gross domestic product for the April-June period returned to positive growth for the first time in five quarters. However, the improvement was mainly attributed to a recovery in exports and policy initiatives under the government's stimulus package that, for example, increased sales of energy-saving home appliances. Worryingly, overall domestic demand remains weak.

Boosting consumption is critical for a full economic recovery. However, sales at department stores and supermarkets have been lethargic for a prolonged period, and sales at convenience stores, which had been brisk, registered a record plunge in July.

Consumers are cutting back spending on foods and other daily necessities. Both the number of shoppers and the amount each shopper spent at convenience stores decreased last month.


BOJ has role to play

Fierce price wars might be good news for consumers, but excessive discounting would add to a deflationary spiral, in which the economy heads south while prices fall.

For the time being, we think it is necessary to bolster domestic demand through economic pump-priming and employment support measures.

The Democratic Party of Japan has indicated it will overhaul the supplementary budget compiled for boosting the economy if it takes power. We agree that it is important to eliminate wasteful spending, but austerity measures such as drastic cuts in spending on public works projects should be avoided.

The Bank of Japan's monetary policy has a crucial role to play. Although the central bank has kept its key interest rate near zero, real interest rates will rise if prices fall. This would sap the impact of the bank's low interest rate policy.

If the deflationary trend gets stronger, the central bank should consider taking additional measures, such as increased purchases of long-term government bonds and the introduction of a quantitative easing policy setting a target for the outstanding balance of current account deposits held by private financial institutions at the central bank.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 29, 2009)
(2009年8月29日01時03分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-29 07:44 | 英字新聞

新型インフル ワクチンだけには頼れない

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 28, 2009)
Vaccine isn't the only weapon against new flu
新型インフル ワクチンだけには頼れない(8月28日付・読売社説)

Expectations are rising that infections of the H1N1 strain of influenza A and further outbreaks could be prevented once the vaccine for the new flu becomes available.

However, it is far from a foregone conclusion that things will pan out as expected. Even past epidemics of seasonal influenza have not been repulsed by a vaccination program.

Of course, vaccination can work to a certain extent. During ordinary flu seasons, vaccinated people will develop only relatively mild symptoms even if they become infected with the disease.

Medical experts also point out that the spread of infection could slow if a large number of people are vaccinated. If the number of patients falling into critical condition is reduced thanks to a vaccination program, front-line doctors and hospitals would have more time to treat flu patients in general.

However, the flu vaccine has the major drawback of providing only weak preventive effects. This is different from the vaccine for measles, which can prevent the disease developing once a person is inoculated. Furthermore, vaccination in general has very minor side effects.

The government must explain the limited effectiveness of the flu vaccination to the public. The most important thing is to help people understand that inoculation is not the only countermeasure against the new influenza strain.


Prevention better than cure

Obviously, preventing infection is the best way to defang the new-flu threat. Regularly washing one's hands and gargling are quintessential rules for preventing infection. Members of the public also must bear in mind that they will be unable to avoid infection if the virus spreads widely because most people are not immune to the new flu.

However, it also should be remembered that most people, excluding small children and people with kidney and other chronic diseases, would likely display only mild symptoms even if they catch the new flu. Of course, people with mild symptoms should be careful not to spread this disease.

Meanwhile, the shortage of vaccine for the seasonal influenza has often caused widespread consternation.

Worryingly, the same problem has become apparent regarding the new-flu strain. Domestic manufacturers are working flat-out to produce a vaccine for the new flu, but they are unable to produce enough to meet the nation's requirements. Japan reportedly faces a shortage of about 20 million doses. However, panic over the new-flu vaccine must be avoided.


Govt must pull out all stops

The government must immediately discuss and decide who should be given priority in receiving vaccinations. It makes perfect sense that medical workers and people likely to develop serious symptoms should they catch the new flu be given priority. However, the current projected supply of vaccine is not sufficient even to cover these high-risk groups.

The government should take every possible measure to acquire enough vaccine to combat the new flu.

Importing vaccine from the United States and European countries has been touted as the best solution to meet this shortfall. However, the government has not yet settled on measures to confirm the safety of imported vaccine and detailed procedures to deal with possible side effects.

Until 15 years ago, the government required every primary and middle school student to be vaccinated against influenza. However, mandatory vaccination was terminated because of lingering doubts about its effectiveness and possible side effects.

The government must tread carefully to ensure a sense of mistrust against flu vaccine does not take hold among the public once again.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 28, 2009)
(2009年8月28日01時16分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-28 09:09 | 英字新聞

放送・通信融合 新たなルール整備が必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 27, 2009)
New regulatory system needed for airwaves
放送・通信融合 新たなルール整備が必要だ(8月27日付・読売社説)

Through technological innovations, new types of services that are not covered by existing regulations targeting broadcast and communications services have emerged. To make such new "buds" part of the industry's growth strategy, related rules and regulations need to be reviewed.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's advisory panel on information and communications services has compiled a proposal to drastically review regulations on broadcast and communications services.

The proposal calls for reviewing the current regulatory categorization of services based on the type of operation, such as wired or wireless services, and instead recategorizing the services based on function, such as program production and radio transmission.

There are as many as nine major laws governing information and communications services. The laws include a number of regulations that do not match the actual situation. It therefore is of great significance to remove barriers between broadcast and communications services, eyeing the integration of those services.


Function key under plan

Under the envisaged new regulatory framework, there would be no distinction between communications and broadcast services. Services would instead be categorized into three areas--program contents offered to viewers; transmission infrastructure such as communications networks and transmitting stations; and transmission services for conveying information to viewers.

The regulations on radio waves, which separately target broadcast and communications services, would be relaxed so that broadcast stations could distribute their programs on cell phones and broadcast their programs via cell phone antennas.

By reforming regulatory categories so they are based on functions, it would become easier for broadcasters to operate their program production and transmission services in separate corporate entities. Local broadcasters would be able to improve management efficiency by jointly using transmission equipment. It also would be possible for outside businesses to enter the broadcasting services field by renting other companies' equipment.

An invigorated business environment would result in expanded and cheaper communications and broadcasting services. The industry should strive to create new services by putting consumers' interests first.

Some observers have pointed out that under the new regulatory framework it would be easier for the government to intervene in the content of programs, a situation that would threaten the independence of broadcasters.

The proposal says there would be no new regulations imposed on information on the Internet, and that editorial freedom in respect of broadcast programs would be stipulated under the law. It is essential to give due consideration to freedom of expression during the process of drafting related bills.


Fix administrative structure

The Democratic Party of Japan, in its policy pledges for the upcoming House of Representatives election, suggested that administration of broadcast and communications services be taken out of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's jurisdiction to prevent the government from intervening in broadcast services.

The main opposition party called for the creation of an independent administrative commission, modeled after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, to which administrative power would be devolved from the ministry. The DPJ apparently intends not only to revise the current regulations, but to reform administrative structures as well.

But transplanting a U.S. model alone would not ensure the smooth operation of broadcast and communications administrative services. What is necessary first and foremost is to review the current administrative structure that involves the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and a cabinet member whose portfolio includes information technology policy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 27, 2009)
(2009年8月27日01時30分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-27 09:19 | 英字新聞





スラチャイは小学館のbookshelf 2.0を愛用しています。






srachai from khonkaen, thailand

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-26 20:06 | 英字新聞

アジア外交 膨張する中国とどう向き合う

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 26, 2009)
China, Asia policy vital part of election debate
アジア外交 膨張する中国とどう向き合う(8月26日付・読売社説)

In the campaign for Sunday's House of Representatives election, the contending political parties have all touted their policies on Asian issues, but what voters really want to hear about is how the parties intend to fulfill their campaign promises and what actions the parties will take to solve the problems at hand.

In its manifesto, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan promises to create an East Asia Community. The central plank in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Asia platform is to tie Japan's economic growth to that of Asia. New Komeito, the LDP's ruling coalition partner, also touts the promotion of economic integration in Asia.

East Asia consists of several countries with a broad spectrum of political systems. It is a realistic choice to move toward economic partnership among them as a first step toward closer integration. Sixteen countries, including India and Australia, plan to soon start discussing an East Asian economic partnership agreement.

There are many problems to overcome to achieve such an agreement. Negotiations between Japan and Australia on a free trade agreement faltered over liberalization in the agricultural sector. Negotiations with India and South Korea also are sluggish and have made little progress.


Farm policy vs trade policy

The DPJ modified the expression in its manifesto concerning a Japan-U.S. free trade agreement after opposition from agricultural organizations. It is difficult to harmonize domestic agricultural policies and trade liberalization.

If political parties intend to promote the idea of creating an East Asia Community or the importance of economic partnership, they should clearly explain to voters how they will overcome these obstacles.

Among Asian issues, of particular importance is Japan's relationship with China in light of China's emergence as both an economic and military superpower. All the parties call for strengthening ties with China, but none outline specific measures for accomplishing this goal.

It is natural for Japan to develop closer economic ties with China, but the nation must consider ways to safeguard its intellectual property rights and protect itself against the kind of widespread production of knock-off merchandise and pirated DVDs rampant in China.

As Japan largely depends on China for its food, it also is important to ensure food safety. There has been no progress in clarifying what happened in the food poisoning cases involving frozen gyoza dumplings made in China.


Numerous pressing concerns

In addition, there are many other pressing issues between the two countries, including treaty negotiations for a joint gas field development project in the East China Sea and securing a stable supply of rare metals from China.

China's rapid military buildup also is a vital issue for East Asia.

China's defense spending has grown by double-digit percentages for 21 consecutive years. Chinese naval vessels are expanding their operational areas south into the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. China makes no secret of its intention to construct an aircraft carrier.

It is necessary to tenaciously urge China to be more open about its military policy, including the reasons behind its military buildup--whether, for example, it is only for national defense or for securing sea lanes.

In addition to relations with China, there are other points of contention over Asian policy in the election, including how to handle the threat of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. There is limited time before voting day, but we hope that the political parties will deepen their debate over foreign policy in Asia to address these vital issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2009)
(2009年8月26日01時23分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-26 09:22 | 英字新聞

雇用対策 若者の就労支援が緊急課題だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 25, 2009)
Helping youth find jobs is an urgent task
雇用対策 若者の就労支援が緊急課題だ(8月25日付・読売社説)

The upcoming House of Representatives election will be held amid growing concern over employment. Though individual parties have proposed measures to tackle the employment crisis, none offers a quick fix.

Voters should carefully consider what effect particular policies will have on their workplace.

The government and the ruling parties have taken emergency countermeasures for employment-related problems in the fiscal 2009 supplementary budget and through other means. The Liberal Democratic Party is quite right to tout these policies in its manifesto for the lower house election. They include drastic expansion of job-training programs and an emergency employment project under which local governments would create jobs with grants from the central government.

The nation's unemployment rate stands at 5.4 percent. There is growing speculation that it is only a matter of time before the rate tops the current post-World War II record high of 5.5 percent. Will it be possible to put the brakes on this worsening trend? The effectiveness of the job-creation measures will be tested against such circumstances.


DPJ wooly on dispatch issue

Three opposition parties--the Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party--have pledged to strengthen measures to boost employment in a common policy pledge. The measures include setting up a system to help those seeking jobs and banning, in principle, the dispatch of temporary workers in the manufacturing sector and to daily-paid jobs.

The system to assist job-seekers is meant to provide financial assistance to nonregular workers and others who are not covered by unemployment insurance while they are participating in job-training programs. The government and ruling parties have already introduced a similar system in the supplementary budget for fiscal 2009.

While the system established by the government and the ruling parties is a temporary measure that will expire in three years, the opposition parties propose a permanent system. However, the government and the ruling bloc plan to examine the advisability of extending the system after studying its effects and the employment situation. In this regard, there is no major difference between the two systems.

As for the dispatch of temp workers in the manufacturing sector, the DPJ proposes to set up a system for jobs requiring specialized skills and knowledge, and allow those engaged in jobs that fall into this category to be employed as dispatch workers. But the party has failed to spell out the details of the system it envisages.

Moreover, what will happen to the nearly 500,000 people who are currently dispatched as temp staff in the manufacturing industry? We suspect they will end up shifting to other unstable positions, such as subcontractor jobs, in which people are hired by one company to work at another firm. It will be impossible for us to judge how effective the proposed system will be unless the party provides a clear picture of how it plans to secure employment in the manufacturing sector.


Future in hands of young

The LDP also takes the position of banning the dispatch of workers to daily-paid jobs, in principle. However, there is a demand for short-term jobs from both employees and workers. We believe what needs to be done first is to set up a simple, smooth system for introducing work to job seekers, instead of relying on temporary staffing service firms.

The government must also make efforts to widen a system to hire dispatch workers as regular employees in cooperation with the business sector. At the same time, it needs to take into account the danger that simply regulating a flexible working style may leave people out of a job.

As society is steadily graying while the birthrate is declining, the number of unemployed and nonregular workers is increasing among young people, who are expected to play central roles in society in the future.

How can we nurture young people who are motivated to work and support them? This is an urgent problem for us to tackle, regardless of which party or parties takes the reins of government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 25, 2009)
(2009年8月25日01時26分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-25 08:53 | 英字新聞

成長戦略 本格回復の展望が見えない

Both LDP, DPJ's recipes for growth lack punch
The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 24, 2009)
成長戦略 本格回復の展望が見えない(8月24日付・読売社説)

Although the nation's economy has come out of its worst period, no clear direction for a full-scale recovery can be seen.

Amid such circumstances, attention in the House of Representatives election campaign is focused on political parties' strategies for achieving a steady economic recovery and stable growth.

High economic growth can no longer be expected for the Japanese economy, which is mature. However, economic growth is indispensable for supporting a society in which the majority of people can maintain modestly satisfactory living standards and live without significant anxiety for their future.

Firstly, the economy needs to be righted again in a steady manner.

Secondly, the framework of the nation's economy, which is highly dependent on exports, must be reformed to balance domestic and foreign demand. Structural changes in the economy, including shrinking domestic demand due to a declining population and aging society, and the aggravating factor of international competition resulting from the rise of emerging economies, also need to be dealt with.


LDP policies already on menu

The Liberal Democratic Party has pledged a numerical goal for the economic growth rate and a deadline for achieving it in the party's election campaign platform, promising to achieve 2 percent year-on-year economic growth in the second half of fiscal 2010. The party also said it will create domestic demand worth 40 trillion yen to 60 trillion yen and secure about 2 million jobs over the next three years.

Credit should be given to the LDP as the party has vowed to achieve specific goals. Its stated policies of fostering vitality in the private sector through providing support for research in environmental industries and other growth areas while continuing to implement economic stimulus measures also are laudable.

But specific measures drawn by the LDP are less persuasive, as existing policies are listed in the manifesto, such as expansion of solar power generation and boosting sales of energy-saving home electrical appliances through utilizing the eco point system. They alone do not seem capable of realizing the goals the LDP has set.


DPJ not saying who'll pay bill

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan has not set target figures for economic growth and other issues. The rate of economic growth will affect how major tasks, such as fiscal reconstruction and social security system reform, are approached. If the DPJ claims it is capable of taking the reins of government, it should spell out goals.

The DPJ's strategies for economic growth mainly consist of measures to directly provide benefits to boost household budgets, such as child-rearing allowances, making public high school education free of charge and scrapping highway tolls. The DPJ's manifesto says its strategies will boost consumption and transform the nation's economy into one led by domestic demand.

While households receiving benefits will increase their consumption, domestic demand will cool off if public works projects are slashed. Reviewing already-formulated budgets also has downsides. In the first place, consumption will not become self-sustaining merely by dint of the government handing out cash to support household budgets.

To expand consumption steadily, it would make more sense to enhance trust in the social security system, thus shifting the excessive amount of savings, which households hoard because of fears about the future, into use for consumption.

Holding off on raising the consumption tax rate for the next four years, which the DPJ has pledged in its campaign platform, will not secure stable financial resources that are vital for strengthening the social security system. A mood of anxiety will spread, dampening consumption.

We hope that DPJ lawmakers will engage in fundamental discussions on strategies for economic growth with an eye toward the future.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 24, 2009)
(2009年8月24日01時26分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-08-24 07:53 | 英字新聞