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雇用不安 新成長戦略で働く場確保を

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The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 30, 2009)
New growth strategy needed to protect jobs
雇用不安 新成長戦略で働く場確保を(11月30日付・読売社説)

At the end of last year, a large number of manufacturers across the nation fired temporary workers even before their work contracts expired. To help those who lost jobs, a civic group set up a tent camp, called Toshikoshi Hakenmura (village for temporary workers to see out the old year), in Tokyo's Hibiya Park. A year later, the country's employment situation has grown even more serious.

How effective will the government's emergency employment measures be? The government must do all it can to alleviate the severe employment situation as the year-end approaches.


Situation in rural areas bleak

Kitakami, a city located in the southwest of Iwate Prefecture, has some of the leading industrial parks in the country. Blessed with vast plains and abundant water, the city capitalizes on its good location connected to an expressway.

With a large number of leading companies having set up plants there, the city until recently enjoyed a reputation as having successful industrial parks where a variety of industries are concentrated. Yet the tide of recession is sweeping toward the city.

At Iwate Toshiba Electronics Co., a Toshiba Corp. subsidiary located in an industrial park in the northern part of the city, a vast plot of land lies vacant next to the firm's semiconductor plant.

Toshiba announced in 2008 it would build a new plant in Kitakami to produce cutting-edge NAND flash memory products. But the firm decided early this year to postpone construction of the plant due to flagging sales of semiconductors and a serious downturn in business. The site for the planned flash memory plant will soon see its second winter.

Under the initial plan, the plant was scheduled to start operation in spring 2010 and employ about 1,000 new workers.

About three years ago, the ratio of job offers to job seekers in the city rose to about 1.9 thanks to companies that flooded to the city to open new plants. As a result, the city ran short of workers. But now, the job-offers-to-job-seekers ratio has nosedived to about 0.3. Kitakami Mayor Akira Ito awaits the day when Toshiba decides to start the construction.

The mayor has been visiting companies with branches in the city, asking them to hire even one more employee, in what he calls his "plus one" campaign.

This situation is not confined in Kitakami, but can be seen across the country. NEC Corp. has closed its liquid crystal panel plant in Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, while Honda Motor Co. postponed operation of its new plant in Yoriimachi, Saitama Prefecture.

Listed companies' midterm earnings reports for the period ending in September showed that their business performance is improving. But they are still cautious about making capital investments as they strive to cut costs to be globally competitive.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry announced Friday that the number of jobless people was 3.44 million in October, while the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.1 percent. The nation's job-offers-to-job-seekers ratio remains at a low level, at a seasonally adjusted 0.44.

Under its slogan of "From concrete to people," the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatomaya touts a policy shift that allocates taxpayers' money to programs related to people's lives, rather than to public works programs, as was seen in the past. This policy shift has slashed the number of public works projects, which local economies rely heavily on, dealing a heavy blow to the economies, which were already suffering from the ongoing wave of corporate restructuring.

The government, which compiled emergency employment measures in October, has begun studying additional employment measures for inclusion in the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2009.


Bolder steps needed

With the number of jobless rising, there are fears of downside risks for the economy, making it vitally important for the government to come up with new bold measures.

The pillar of the emergency employment measures is the provision of assistance to those who have lost their jobs and are in poverty and distress, and to new graduates, as well as the creation of jobs, mainly in such areas as nursing care, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, for about 100,000 people by the end of this fiscal year.

With the measures, the government aims to make the Hello Work job placement offices one-stop centers that, as well as helping unemployed people find jobs, can also help those who have become homeless as a result of losing their jobs find accommodation. But these measures are nothing new.

Meanwhile, to encourage firms to temporarily lay off rather than fire employees, the government will ease requirements for receiving a governmental subsidy to defray costs relating to layoffs.

Steps such as these would go some way to protecting jobs. But subsidies like the one for firms furloughing workers should be expanded, while the government should carefully design job-training programs.

The ratio of college students graduating next spring who have received unofficial job offers hovered at around just 60 percent as of October, leaving the job situation for job-hunting college students extremely tight. To avoid creating a generation of unemployed people, it is an urgent task to boost such assistance.

What is probably important in the mid- and long term is to expand job opportunities.

Although the government has set a target of creating 100,000 jobs, that figure is dwarfed by the number of jobless, which has ballooned to 3.44 million.

Expanding cooperation among the sectors of agriculture, commerce and industry will reinvigorate these primary industries and boost tourism, the government should mobilize all workable policy steps so as to create more jobs in rural areas.


Domestic industries at risk

Job-creation measures will also directly lead to measures to prevent the hollowing out of domestic industries.

Driven by fierce price-cutting competition for their products at home, more and more companies are shifting their production bases out of the country, further reducing the number of job opportunities. As a result, the Japanese economy is in danger of falling into a vicious cycle in which it becomes increasingly anemic.

For such reasons, the government needs to hammer out a new growth strategy that will revitalize domestic industries and regional economies.

The promotion of new industries that can capitalize on Japan's strong points, such as those in the area of environmental protection, will generate economic vitality and create jobs. The government needs to present a clear-cut vision to give domestic industries and regional economies hope for the future.

In this respect, the key will be to generate demand in other Asian countries for Japanese goods by reinforcing product-development and export strategies targeted at consumer markets in Asia.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 30, 2009)
(2009年11月30日01時11分  読売新聞)


by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-30 12:25 | 英字新聞

CO2削減 米中の目標公表で弾みつくか

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The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 29, 2009)
U.S., China could lead way to post-Kyoto deal
CO2削減 米中の目標公表で弾みつくか(11月29日付・読売社説)

The United States and China, the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gas, have recently announced their medium-term targets for CO2 emission reductions. We hope their commitments will add momentum to the drafting of a fair framework to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012.

The United States has set itself a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. The U.S. targets also include a 30 percent reduction by 2025, 42 percent by 2030 and 83 percent by 2050.

However, a 17 percent cut from 2005 levels actually represents a reduction of just a few percent from 1990 levels. This contrasts sharply with the target set by the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which aims to curb this nation's emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels.

The U.S. targets are very realistic, as restoring the economy is currently Washington's top priority.


China emissions could grow

Meanwhile, China, which has recently surpassed the United States to become the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, has announced it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2020.

The Chinese target of cutting emissions per unit of GDP is different from those adopted by Japan and the United States, which aim for reductions in total emissions volume. Under this approach, China would be allowed to emit more CO2 if its GDP grows.

China is apparently trying to trumpet to the world its contribution to tackling greenhouse gas reduction without damaging its economic growth. It also has stressed that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a "voluntary action based on our own national situation."

This indicates that Beijing is wary of entering into internationally binding deals on emissions reductions.


COP15 nations divided

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Climate Change Convention (COP15) will start in Copenhagen on Dec. 7. The U.S. and Chinese announcements of midterm targets is undoubtedly one step forward in the lead-up to COP15 discussions that will focus on a post-Kyoto Protocol international framework to be followed from 2013.

In reality, however, there is still a gulf of opinion between major industrialized countries and developing countries on how to tackle climate change. It already appears almost impossible for a post-Kyoto Protocol framework to be adopted in the Danish capital in December. The focus of attention has already shifted to whether the COP15 nations can reach a major political agreement that could lead to the adoption of a new protocol next year.

Moves by the United States and China hold the key to the success of the talks.

There is concern that some developing countries are leaning toward a possible extension of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. The Kyoto Protocol lacks teeth as the United States has withdrawn from it and China, as a developing country, is not obliged to cut its emissions under the pact.

Hatoyama has made an international pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent without seeking the backing of the Japanese public. As a precondition for committing the nation to this target, however, he has stated that all major nations must sign on to a post-Kyoto Protocol framework.

Japan must steadfastly maintain this condition at the upcoming COP15 talks.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 29, 2009)
(2009年11月29日01時13分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-29 12:03 | 英字新聞

事業仕分け 政治家が責任持って決定を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 28, 2009)
Budget decisions rest with lawmakers
事業仕分け 政治家が責任持って決定を(11月28日付・読売社説)

The Government Revitalization Unit on Friday ended its nine-day budget screening session to identify wasteful spending in fiscal 2010 budget requests for government-led projects.

The unit judged that many of the 449 projects it examined should be abolished or downsized. The task force also demanded that some funds already distributed to independent administrative organizations and public-interest corporations be returned to the national coffers.

The money to be returned and savings raked in from the abolished projects outlined in the initial budget requests will top 1.6 trillion yen.

Although this is still short of the government's target of 3 trillion yen, the savings could be used as a precious financial resource for next fiscal year's budget.

However, the first attempt to broadcast part of the government's budget drafting process live on the Internet created many problems.

Some members of the unit's screening teams, comprised of lawmakers and experts from the private sector, basked in the public exposure and often played to the gallery, snapping at officials from the government organizations to give them explanations on the projects. It was appalling behavior.

The criteria by which budget examiners were chosen from the private sector also remain unclear.


Changes needed

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said he plans to continue the budget screening in and after fiscal 2010. If so, we think it is necessary to revise the rules for running the session--such as by giving sufficient opportunities for budget briefers to answer questions and clarifying the standards by which budget examiners from the private sector are selected.

Many questions also have been raised about why some government projects were subject to the screening when it was obvious they could not be discussed properly in just one hour.

Projects that fell under this category included allocations for the so-called sympathy budget for U.S. military forces in Japan, the Foreign Ministry's support of international institutions and funding to promote science and technology.

These matters are all closely related to what the nation should be and its future. They cannot be solved so easily.


Science gets cold shoulder

Perhaps the biggest controversy during the screening was the panel's decision to effectively freeze the budget for a next-generation supercomputer project.

Nobel laureates and business leaders have poured scorn on this decision, saying that short-term cost-effectiveness was not the proper standard for evaluating science and technology projects. They also warned that Japan could eventually lose the global race to develop advanced technology.

We wholeheartedly agree with them. The unit might have lacked the strategic thinking needed to deduce what fields should be given priority in budget allocations from long-term and international points of view.

It was also regrettable that the unit decided to abolish a project to encourage children to read books.

Ill-advised judgments made by the panel this time around must be corrected in the future.

The decisions made during the budget screening session are not final. The government could treat them as a set of criteria for making decisions on the budget, but it should not be bound by them.

The responsibility for deciding how to treat the unit's judgments in the budget drafting process now rests in the hands of this nation's lawmakers.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 28, 2009)
(2009年11月28日01時49分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-28 05:33 | 英字新聞

円急騰 ドル離れ進む世界の投資資金

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 27, 2009)
Yen's surge doesn't deserve appreciation
円急騰 ドル離れ進む世界の投資資金(11月27日付・読売社説)

The yen's value has surged as selling pressure on the U.S. dollar has accelerated on foreign exchange markets. This situation could deal a devastating blow to the tottering Japanese economy.

The yen jumped to a 14-year high in the 86 yen level against the dollar Thursday in Tokyo. The dollar seems to be declining across the board against the euro and currencies of newly emerging economies.

Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii indicated the government would intervene in the currency market if exchange rates "move abnormally." U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke also warned against sharp falls of the dollar when he stated recently that the Fed would monitor changes in the value of the greenback.

As dollar-selling pressure appears unlikely to ease anytime soon, the appreciation of the yen and depreciation of the dollar likely will continue for some time. Monetary authorities in Japan and the United States, and other countries for that matter, must work together to moderate excessive fluctuations in currency markets by exploring the possibility of market interventions.


U.S. economic woes

The biggest cause of the falling dollar is the expectation that the United States' ultralow interest rate policy will remain in place as the U.S. economy continues to sputter.

The U.S. unemployment rate has risen to 10 percent. Nascent indications are that this could be a jobless recovery. Some observers have even suggested that U.S. authorities are tacitly tolerating moderate falls in the dollar to stimulate the economy through growth in exports.

A more worrying problem is that the so-called dollar carry trade--investors selling dollars with relatively low interest rates and instead investing in higher-yielding currencies--has kicked into gear.

The yen carry trade was commonplace from about 2004 through 2007. This time around, the dollar is shaking up money markets around the world.

The price of gold has surged to a record high near 1,200 dollars an ounce in New York. This also is a sign that investors are discarding the greenback because gold is purchased as an alternative currency to the dollar. Crude oil and grain prices also have been creeping up as investment funds are diverted into these markets.


Exporters in peril

A sharp rise in the value of the yen and a plunge in the value of the dollar could spell disaster for the Japanese economy, which remains mired in deflation and has yet to get on the path to a full recovery.

Many exporting companies had assumed the yen would average about 90 yen per dollar throughout the second half of this fiscal year. If the yen continues to appreciate sharply against the dollar, these companies would take a battering. These exporters are a driving force of the nation's economy; any faltering by them could throttle the economy again.

Furthermore, the euro's surge could stall a full recovery of the European economy. Concern about economic bubbles is rising in newly emerging nations such as Brazil, which have been magnets for investment funds.

A fall in the dollar would throw the world economy into confusion. To ensure this does not come about, it is essential that the United States emerge from a jobless recovery and regain confidence in its currency. To this end, we consider it imperative that the United States implement effective measures to boost employment.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 27, 2009)
(2009年11月27日01時33分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-27 09:45 | 英字新聞

日米密約調査 核抑止力の低下は避けよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 26, 2009)
Pact probe must not dilute U.S. N-deterrence

A full investigation into alleged secret pacts involving the entry into Japan of U.S. nuclear weapons--among other issues said to have been agreed between Tokyo and Washington--is essential to recover public trust in this nation's diplomacy.

However, the probe must not be allowed to weaken the effect of the U.S. forces' nuclear deterrence.

A panel of experts set up by the Foreign Ministry to investigate the alleged pacts will hold its first meeting Friday.

Based on the results of an in-house Foreign Ministry investigation, the panel members will interview retired ministry officials before submitting a report to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in January.

The panel will examine four alleged secret pacts, including one said to have been inked in 1960 when the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised. This agreement reportedly effectively allowed U.S. military ships and airplanes carrying nuclear arms to visit or pass through Japan without prior consultation between the two governments.

Disclosed U.S. diplomatic documents and the testimony of a former administrative vice-minister for foreign affairs have already undermined the credibility of the former government's official denial of the existence of the pacts. Furthermore, the ministry's latest probe unearthed a document supporting the pacts' existence.


Extenuating circumstances?

It is highly significant that Okada is launching his own inquiry after the Democratic Party of Japan wrested power from the Liberal Democratic Party and he was made foreign minister.

If the DPJ-led government was to officially admit the existence of the secret pacts based on the results of the inquiry, it would be the first step to dispelling the sense of mistrust felt by the public.

However, we can understand the circumstances under which the government at that time deemed it necessary to draw up a secret deal with the United States to secure the effectiveness of the U.S. "nuclear umbrella," while consideration likely was paid to the antipathy of Japanese people toward nuclear arms during the Cold War period.

We expect the panel members to take into account the historical background of the period and try to discern how such pacts might have been thrashed out.

Secrets are an inherent part of diplomatic negotiations. During such bargaining, there is much information that cannot immediately be disclosed in terms of maintaining relations of trust with a partner country and preventing harm to the people concerned. However, it is important to deepen discussions on the kind of circumstances in which it is appropriate to disclose such information after a certain period of time.

Hereafter, discussions must be held to review the three nonnuclear principles of not producing, not possessing and not allowing the entry of nuclear arms into this country.


Looking ahead

Japan's present security situation is becoming increasingly unstable in light of North Korea's declared possession of nuclear weapons, for example. This makes it necessary to maintain and even improve the U.S. forces' nuclear deterrence.

In 1991, the United States removed tactical nuclear weapons from its military ships and nuclear submarines. This made the entry of nuclear weapons into Japan unlikely, at least for a while. But in the medium-to-long term, there is no guarantee that a neighboring country will not threaten the security of this nation with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

A founding principle of national security is that a country must remain militarily flexible to deal with changing situations.

We believe it may be time for the government to seriously consider introducing "2-1/2 nonnuclear principles," which would still prohibit the deployment of nuclear arms on the ground but would allow ships and airplanes carrying nuclear weapons to visit Japan.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 26, 2009)
(2009年11月26日01時06分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-26 09:54 | 英字新聞

エネルギー課税 暫定税率廃止分をどう補う

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 25, 2009)
エネルギー課税 暫定税率廃止分をどう補う(11月25日付・読売社説)
Energy tax needed to cover revenue shortfalls

Revision of the tax system for the next fiscal year is now focused on an environmental tax--an envisaged tax sought by the Environment Ministry to tackle global warming.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama plans to scrap provisional higher gasoline tax rates and other auto-related taxes in April, as stipulated in the Democratic Party of Japan's campaign manifesto. The measure stands to cost the central and local governments about 2.5 trillion yen in revenue.

To address this problem, it has been proposed that the government transform the current gasoline tax and the light oil delivery tax with provisionally higher tax rates into a new environmental tax, from which about 2 trillion yen of tax revenues could be generated.

Given the dire fiscal situation, we believe the government should withdraw the decision to abolish the provisional higher tax rates. But if the government does go along with the plan, it will need to take steps to make up for the expected revenue shortfalls, introducing some form of new tax on energy.

The new tax proposed by the Environment Ministry is designed to impose a small tax on a broad range of fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas. As for gasoline and light oil, the ministry plans to impose additional taxes on the stages of retail sale and shipment.

Apart from the tax rates, the envisaged tax has the same structure as that for the petroleum and coal tax, the gasoline tax and the light oil delivery tax.


Minimal end result

Once the provisional higher tax rates are abolished, gasoline prices will drop 25 yen per liter from the current price. But the Environment Ministry projects that the envisaged tax will raise the gasoline price by 20 yen per liter, with the end result of making the price of gasoline only 5 yen lower per liter than the current price.

With the exception of those in the United States, taxes in other major countries are markedly higher on gasoline compared with other fuels. In this regard, people may find it easy to accept the proposed plan.

However, the ministry's plan has its own problem--it sets tax rates for natural gas and coal at more than double the current rates.

Even accounting for lower gasoline prices, the average household is projected to shoulder about 1,100 yen more in energy costs each year.

The changes are expected to have an even greater impact on the steel and electric power industries. Given this, the government needs to be careful when it comes to imposing higher taxes on gas and coal.


Timing important

Some within the government are calling for a two-tier approach, initially abolishing the provisional higher tax rates in April and introducing a new energy tax about six months later.

This apparently is meant to begin with tax cuts times to suit the House of Councillors election scheduled for next summer. However, if the introduction of these measures is staggered, gasoline prices will significantly fluctuate each time.

In that case, confusion similar to that experienced in spring last year when the provisional higher tax rates were temporarily suspended will reemerge. We should avoid such a situation.

The Environment Ministry intends to have the revenues from the environmental tax allocated from the general fund mainly for environmental measures. The government will decide where specifically to spend expected tax revenues through discussion among government bodies.

We urge the government's Tax Commission to deepen discussions on what form the environmental tax system should take.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2009)
(2009年11月25日00時47分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-25 06:30 | 英字新聞






たった今 floor plan (平面図)が仕上がりました。
明日はsection (立面図)を4方向から描いて設計図は完成します。



by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-24 16:14 | 英字新聞

国際機関援助 「倍加」を表明して削減とは

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 24, 2009)
Robbing Peter to pay Paul
国際機関援助 「倍加」を表明して削減とは(11月24日付・読売社説)

Though Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised the international community that Japan will boost its assistance to developing countries, the government has cut its support for international organizations that play key roles in aid projects. This is contradictory and unacceptable.

The amount of Japan's contributions to international organizations has been decreasing every year since the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi moved to reduce official development assistance as part of its structural reform program that recognized no "sacred cows." The contributions have fallen by more than 40 percent from the peak year of fiscal 2001.

Against this background, Hatoyama, in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September, vowed to double Japan's efforts to assist developing countries, in close cooperation with international organizations, raising expectations among those organizations for an increase in the amount of Japan's contributions to them.

But the actual amount of contributions, measured in terms of budget requests for fiscal 2010, already has fallen below that of fiscal 2009. In addition, some of the contributions have become a target of the budget scrutiny aimed at cutting wasteful spending in ministries' fiscal 2010 budget requests that is being conducted by the Government Revitalization Unit.


Groups play role Japan can't

International organizations targeted in the government's panel's budget screening include the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) and the U.N. Volunteers--hardworking organizations that dispatch staff to Afghanistan and other countries.

The government has pledged up to 5 billion dollars (about 450 billion yen) in aid to Afghanistan for nonmilitary purposes over a five-year period beginning this year. The aid is intended to provide vocational training for former Taliban soldiers and promote agricultural development and other worthy goals.

But it will not be easy for Japanese people to work in Afghanistan under the aid programs unless the security situation there improves. Japan's aid programs, therefore, will probably be carried out in the form of providing funds to the UNDP and other international organizations and having them dispatch their staff and volunteers to Afghanistan.

The government likely intends to secure a budget for funds to have international bodies carry out Japan's aid programs, separately from its contributions. Considering the current situation, in which Japan has no choice but to rely on international bodies to execute its aid programs, it does not make sense to slash contributions to international organizations, which are mainly used to defray their operating costs.


Nation's reputation at stake

Japan has seen its reputation as a major contributor to international organizations dwindle. Some observers have linked the reduction in the amount of Japan's contributions to the dearth of Japanese executive staff in international organizations and their absence on such organizations' boards.

The budgets for international organizations, meanwhile, have ballooned. It is important for this country, as a contributor, to urge the organizations to keep a ceiling on their swelling budgets. Japan also should increase its efforts to increase the number of Japanese staff in international bodies.

It goes without saying that Japan must pursue these two goals as well as contribute funds to international organizations. But we fear that cutting such contributions willy-nilly could lower Japan's profile in the international community.

We do not want to see a situation in which the government attaches so much importance to budget screening to cut wasteful spending that Japan's diplomacy ends up being harmed.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2009)
(2009年11月24日01時08分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-24 06:34 | 英字新聞

犯罪白書 窃盗と覚せい剤の再犯を断て

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 23, 2009)
Take steps to stop repeat of theft, drug crimes
犯罪白書 窃盗と覚せい剤の再犯を断て(11月23日付・読売社説)

Taking appropriate measures to prevent the repeat of thefts and stimulant-related crimes is an important task when it comes to building a society in which people can live with peace of mind.

This year's white paper on crime, which was released by the Justice Ministry recently, raises the theme of developing measures to prevent repeat offenses. The 2007 white paper also focused on repeat offenses, and since then the ratio of recidivists to the total number of perpetrators of crimes cleared by police or other investigative authorities has been increasing, hitting 42 percent last year.

Taking effective measures to thwart recidivism holds the key to maintaining the country's public safety.

The 2009 white paper on crime analyzed the current situation of theft and stimulant-related crimes, whose recidivism rates are particularly high. The analysis found that more than 70 percent of convicts serving prison terms for either of the crimes had previously been jailed for the same crime.

The recidivism rate for these crimes is extremely high, compared with other crimes, proving that once people committed theft or stimulant-related crimes, they tend to reoffend.


Ex-convicts need jobs

Shoplifting is the most common type of theft. "Lack of income to cover living expenses" was given as the top motive for committing this crime among both male and female offenders. The recidivism rate of perpetrators of theft who had a regular job, meanwhile, tended to be lower than that of part-time workers or unemployed people.

It is vital that the Justice Ministry and Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry cooperate and enhance support for people discharged from prison to help them find a job at Hello Work employment service offices and other places. Though the economic situation is severe, it is indispensable to encourage employers to hire such people.

The recidivism rate for stimulant-related crimes is also high among unemployed people. It should be noted, however, that the recidivism rate of those who are single and live alone is higher than that of those who are married and live with their family or other relatives even though they work full-time.

To prevent repeat stimulant-related offenses, it seems necessary for the people they live with to keep a watchful eye on them. The role of parole officers, who regularly examine urine samples taken from those living alone and check their living situation, is even more important.


Rehabilitation centers vital

The Justice Ministry is developing self-rehabilitation promotion centers that provide support for released prisoners, whose treatment is often difficult. But opposition from residents has held up plans to develop such centers.

In addition to correctional education at prisons, the government should establish a system that would offer educational programs at those centers to teach people who served time in prison for stimulant-related crimes how to stop using stimulant drugs and help them reintegrate into society.

As symbolized by arrests of TV celebrities, the widespread abuse of stimulant drugs is becoming a serious social problem. The Justice Ministry needs to appeal to the public the necessity of operating such centers and win their understanding.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 23, 2009)
(2009年11月23日01時05分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-23 07:58 | 英字新聞

スパコン凍結 科学技術立国の屋台骨が傾く

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 22, 2009)
Supercomputer vital to Japan's scientific future
スパコン凍結 科学技術立国の屋台骨が傾く(11月22日付・読売社説)

Is the new administration's stance on science and technology about to be called into question due to its budget measures?

In its review of ministerial budget requests for fiscal 2010, which is aimed at cutting wasteful spending, the Government Revitalization Unit has decided to "effectively freeze" a project by the Education, Science and Technology Ministry to develop a next-generation supercomputer.

The supercomputer would be used for science and technology research.

The world's leading supercomputers can make calculations one million times faster than a standard personal computer.

They have more than 1,000 central processing units--the brains of a computer--as well as other components that allow for higher computing speed.

Most supercomputers are huge and due to the heat they generate while making calculations need to be installed in a large, well air-conditioned room.

The machines are used for simulations in a wide variety of fields, including climate-change prediction, aircraft design and genetic research. They are indispensable to those who need to conduct tests in fields where practical experiments are nearly impossible to do and they cut the time it takes to carry out research, thereby keeping research costs down.

In light of these important roles, there is a fierce global competition to develop supercomputers and the Japanese project is going up against the world's best. Does the government intend to undermine advancement in key research areas?


U.S. leading the way

Currently, the United States is leading the race to develop supercomputers that are even better than the world's leading models, which have reached speeds of about 1 quadrillion calculations per second.

Japan's next-generation supercomputers aim at improving this calculation performance by the power of one. Such an improvement would see the period taken to develop an aircraft, in simple terms of calculation, lowered to a 10th of the time it currently takes. That would bring huge benefits.

However, it is not easy to improve performance by the power of one over what are already cutting-edge machines. To that end, it is necessary to develop improved circuitry, including better semiconductors, a basic part of every computer. The private sector cannot take on such a massive task alone.

The United States and other countries develop supercomputers with financial backing from their governments. Japan also included about 27 billion yen for this purpose in the fiscal 2010 budget requests.


Govt backing crucial

During scrutiny of the budget request relating to the supercomputer project, government panel members made comments such as, "Is it really necessary to aim for first place [in this field]?" or "It's better to purchase such equipment from abroad." But these observations of the current situation are both poorly expressed and inaccurate.

Unless Japan makes an effort to take the lead in supercomputer development, it will not rank with the superpowers in the field.

Japan ranked first in the world in terms of supercomputer calculation speed in 2002, but lost the top spot 2-1/2 years later. Today, it languishes in 31st place, behind even China and South Korea.

Buying a supercomputer from abroad can prove very difficult because nations closely guard the secrets behind their state-of-the-art technology. Japan would be reduced to purchasing only midranking supercomputers in terms of processing capacity.

If researchers cannot use cutting-edge supercomputers in Japan, it could lead to a brain drain of capable researchers. An overseas report has already appeared in which it was said that Japan's science and technology spheres would fall into decline if the supercomputer project was frozen.

Budget requests for other science and technology-related projects also were severely scrutinized. It is natural to want to cut wasteful spending in the budget requests, but we do not want to see a situation emerge in which Japan's science and technology lifeline also is cut.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 22, 2009)
(2009年11月22日00時10分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-11-22 12:29 | 英字新聞