<   2011年 09月 ( 35 )   > この月の画像一覧

ロシア次期政権 不安も伴うプーチン氏再登板

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 29, 2011)
Putin's expected return to Kremlin worrisome
ロシア次期政権 不安も伴うプーチン氏再登板(9月28日付・読売社説)

At a recent congress of the ruling United Russia party, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed his intention to run in the presidential election to be held next March.

Putin served as president for two terms spanning eight years until 2008. If he regains the presidency, he likely will hold the reigns of power for an exceptionally long time.

Incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev will reportedly become prime minister.

This transfer of power, widely believed to be based on an agreement the two made earlier, is hard to understand.

Medvedev has called for the need to establish judicial independence and promote economic reforms, including the development of cutting-edge industries.

However, he has not achieved these goals.

His expected exit from office likely will disappoint reform-minded intellectuals who had hoped he would stay on as president.


Resurgence of tight rule?

There are concerns over the new administration's style of governance.

While Putin was president, he strengthened law and order and achieved economic growth, successfully ending the chaos inherited from the previous administration of President Boris Yeltsin, under whom Russia's gross domestic product declined continuously.

This is a factor behind Putin's relatively high popularity among Russian people.

On the other side of the coin, Putin put principal industries under state control and placed his right-hand men as executives at key corporations.

He had no qualms about shutting down businesses that did not operate as he wished by resorting to extralegal means.

Media organizations were strictly controlled, and a reporter who wrote antigovernment articles was shot dead.

Rule over minority ethnic groups in the North Caucasus region was tightened.

If Putin merely adheres to similar governance methods after returning to office, he will not be able to resolve the knotty issues facing Russian society.

As for the crucial issue of the economy, Russia has not broken free from its reliance on natural gas and other resources.

The sudden dismissal recently of the country's reformist deputy prime minister, who had called for fiscal discipline, has created uncertainty about the future.

An increasing number of Russian people are reportedly thinking about getting out of the country.

The new administration will get bogged down sooner or later if it fails to promote democratization and economic structural reform.


Territorial issue still pending

Japan, for its part, will be watching closely to see whether Putin's return to the Kremlin will help find a resolution to the territorial dispute with Russia.

Last November, Medvedev visited Kunashiri, one of four disputed islands off Hokkaido, becoming the first Russian or Soviet head to do so.

His visit, timed to take advantage of the disarray embroiling the Democratic Party of Japan-led government, poured cold water on Japan's demands that the four northern territories be returned.

Putin has gone no further than admitting the validity of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956, which pledged "the return of Habomai and Shikotan islands to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty."

But some observers point out that Putin could begin to attach greater weight to Russia's ties with Tokyo as a check against China's rise.

Japan must develop strategic diplomacy vis-a-vis Moscow to advance negotiations on the territorial dispute.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2011)
(2011年9月28日01時31分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-30 03:55 | 英字新聞



It is unbelievable how time flies!

วัน ワン(平声3-3) wan  日
เวลา  ウェーラー(平声3-3) wee(i)laa  時間
ช่าง チャーン(下降声5-1) ch>aang  職人(ここでは職人の意味ではなくって、直前のเวลาを修飾する。あえて日本語に翻訳すると、時間ちゃん^^)
ผ่าง パーン(低声1-1) ph,aang  通る、通過する
ไป パイ(平声3-3) pai  行く
ไว ワイ(平声3-3)  wai  (速度や動作が)素早く、機敏に
เหลือเกิน ルア(上昇声1-5)カーン (平声3-3)  l<u(i)a kaa(*)n  過度に









ปลา プラー(平声3-3)plaa 魚
ป  頭子音 p
ล  頭子音  l
า  母音 aa


by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-29 10:36 | ラオス語


(Mainichi Japan) September 28, 2011
Rich Japanese should not receive tax breaks despite signs of fleeing overseas

A growing number of Japanese people are reportedly moving to Singapore where income and corporate tax rates are far lower than their home country.

A friend of mine who previously worked as a bureaucrat said celebrities were among those who have moved to Singapore.

I will withhold their names as it doesn't matter if they have chosen to live away from Japan.

However, the friend fears that higher tax rates will certainly prompt companies and human resources that are indispensable for Japan's growth to flee abroad sooner or later.

To prevent the outflow of key businesses and human resources, it is necessary to lower tax rates.

Corporate tax rates and the maximum rate for income taxes in Singapore and Hong Kong are less than half those in Japan, and these two territories levy no inheritance tax. In terms of tax rates, Japan cannot compete with them.

The friend warns that Japan will hollow out unless it substantially cuts taxes even though such a measure could stir criticism that Japan gives favorable treatment to businesses and wealthy people.

I share the rich exodus fears of my friend, but if Japan gives excessively favorable treatment to major companies and rich people, it will have harmful effects on society.

An article that Warren Buffet recently contributed to The New York Times has drawn worldwide attention.

In his article Buffet said he paid 17.4 percent of his taxable income as taxes, below the 20 percent that one of his secretaries paid, because most of his income is earnings from investments.

Buffet then called for higher tax rates for wealthy people.

Buffet was ranked second in U.S. magazine Forbes' list of the richest people in the country, while the Koch brothers, who own a petrochemical conglomerate, were ranked fourth.

(この部分英訳抜けです^^ by srachai)

Thanks to a rise in the prices of resources, the value of the brothers' combined assets has risen from 34 billion dollars four years ago to 50 billion dollars today.

However, it is notable that the number of employees at the company that the brothers run decreased from 80,000 to 67,000 even though they have become wealthier -- a fact that dismisses U.S. conservatives' claims that if the rich are given preferential treatment, less wealthy people will also get a small share of their benefits, eventually making everyone happy.

As the next U.S. presidential election approaches, President Barack Obama has ended his conciliatory stance toward the Republican Party and has become confrontational.

The liberal president has gone back to his principle of raising taxes for the rich and using increased tax revenue to finance public works projects.

The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who is also regarded as a liberal, has adopted three basic principles of not saying anything unnecessary, not showing off and not standing out.

Can he overcome Japan's various crises with such simple principles? No doubt, Japan is set to hollow out.

(By Michio Ushioda, Expert Senior Writer)
毎日新聞 2011年9月28日 東京朝刊

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-29 04:17 | 英字新聞

医療情報電子化 被災地から全国へ展開したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 27, 2011)
Computerizing medical records will save lives
医療情報電子化 被災地から全国へ展開したい(9月26日付・読売社説)

The March 11 disaster has thrown into sharp relief the importance of making medical information such as clinical records digitally available.

The lesson must be reflected in future medical reforms.

Medical records at many hospitals along the Tohoku coast were lost in the huge tsunami.

Even when their patients were taken in by other hospitals, it took some time for doctors to determine the most effective treatments because there was little information on hand about the patients' ailments, such as high blood pressure, and prescription drug records.

Such a lack of medical information was also one of the major difficulties faced by doctors from across the country when they gathered at evacuation centers.

The lives of more disaster victims could have been saved if records of their examinations and treatments had been quickly confirmed online.

In its own disaster reconstruction plan, Miyagi Prefecture put forth "a medical integration plan utilizing information and communication technology."

The prefecture is divided into seven medical regions, each with its own core hospital, but the plan calls for making information about clinical records, prescriptions and nursing care electronically available and administering it in a streamlined fashion for all regions through a data center.

Authorized medical institutions and nursing care facilities would be able to access the information online via an Internet service.


Govt support vital

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry is considering subsidizing the application of cloud computing to medical records.
This would be a move in the right direction, and we urge the ministry to give it sufficient support.

Electronically available medical information is useful not only in times of disaster but also in ordinary times.

For example, cooperation between major hospitals and nearby clinics and between home-visit nurses and nursing care services could be made easier.

Superfluous medical examinations and inconsistent drug prescriptions could be averted.

Patients taken to hospitals for emergency treatment could receive the most appropriate treatment more quickly.

Computerization of medical information would also be helpful in regions suffering from a shortage of doctors.  医師不足に苦しむ地域医療の現状を、改善する方向にもつながるはずだ。

More integrated record-keeping among medical institutions would make it less necessary for local governments to maintain major central hospitals, thus facilitating a more efficient dispersal of personnel.


A medical reform drive

The shortage of doctors is most serious in disaster-damaged areas.

This is one of the reasons behind Miyagi Prefecture's call for computerization of medical treatment information in its rebuilding plan.

Iwate and Fukushima prefectures must make similar efforts.

Computerization of medical information had been called for since before the March 11 disaster.
The government's IT Strategic Headquarters, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, among others, have been trying to achieve such a system.

But actual progress so far has been limited to trailblazing hospitals and local governments.

Of course, sufficient measures must be taken to protect personal information.

High costs and other challenges must be overcome. But the creation of an online medical information on a prefectural basis would be a significant achievement.

We hope reforms in medical record-keeping, beginning in disaster-devastated areas, will spread throughout the country.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 26, 2011)
(2011年9月26日01時04分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-28 04:57 | 英字新聞

パレスチナ 国家樹立と和平に近道はない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 26, 2011)
No shortcut to statehood for Palestinians
パレスチナ 国家樹立と和平に近道はない(9月25日付・読売社説)

For Palestinians to achieve the status of a true independent state, they have no choice but to negotiate with Israel.

They should bear in mind that quick resumption of negotiations is the key to achieving this goal.

The Palestinian Authority on Friday submitted a letter to the United Nations asking to join the international body, an attempt to shelve efforts to establish a state through negotiations and instead directly seek recognition of Palestinian statehood from U.N. members.

With this move, the Palestinians effectively thrust a letter of no confidence at the United States, which has been working as a mediator between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

For a state to join the United Nations, the U.N. Security Council must advise the General Assembly to accept it.  国連加盟には、安全保障理事会による総会への加盟勧告が必要だ。

The council plans to meet soon to discuss how to handle the Palestinians' request.

The United States, a permanent member of the Security Council, has expressed its intention to veto any council move to recognize Palestinian statehood.

But there are concerns the situation will become even more complicated if the council actually votes on the issue.

If the United States uses its veto, it will inevitably heighten anti-U.S. sentiment, destabilizing the situation in the Middle East even more.


Resume talks quickly

To avoid such a development, the international community must seek ways to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

The international powers known as the Quartet on the Middle East--the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations--presented a new road map to both sides Friday, under which Israel and the Palestinians will decide on an agenda for negotiations within a month and reach an agreement by the end of next year.

The international community, including Japan, must do its utmost to realize the road map.

The Palestinian Authority is acting hastily to obtain recognition as a state apparently because its people are increasingly disillusioned by the lack of prospects for building a Palestinian state 20 years after the start of the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinians managed to win autonomy under an agreement with Israel.

However, subsequent negotiations for a Palestinian state remain stalled.

In the meantime, Israel has built one settlement after another in occupied land Palestinians consider part of their territory for a future state, effectively turning it into Israeli territory.


U.N. application a last resort

The Palestinian Authority apparently filed its statehood application with the United Nations as a last resort to escape a dead end.

However, as U.S. President Barack Obama said in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, it will be impossible to establish a Palestinian state or achieve the peaceful coexistence of two states without an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

There are no shortcuts to that goal.

The Palestinian Authority has a problem that needs to be resolved: Hamas, an Islamic fundamentalist group that does not recognize the existence of Israel, rules the Gaza Strip.

As an initial step, the Palestinians need to settle their internal divisions.

In the increasingly volatile Middle East, Israel is about to lose its stable relationships with Turkey and Egypt, which have served as cornerstones for its security in the region.

To prevent itself from being further isolated, Israel must freeze its settlements in the occupied land, as requested by the Palestinian side, and resume negotiations for peace.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 25, 2011)
(2011年9月25日01時09分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-27 04:50 | 英字新聞

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:甘い言葉にご用心 /東京

(Mainichi Japan) September 25, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Don't be fooled by spiritual fraudsters
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:甘い言葉にご用心 /東京

Recently, the head of a religious group called "Shinsekai" (World of God) was arrested for tricking customers into paying for expensive "prayers" and "spiritual items." The transactions didn't happen at a cult hall somewhere, but at around 200 "healing salons" around the country. It's said that over the course of seven years, the salons received almost 18 billion yen from their customers.

I once saw on television an interview with a woman who went to a similar salon and paid over one million yen after the staff there tricked her with words like, "A prayer is necessary to improve your fortune." The woman was living in Tokyo alone and trying to make a career for herself, but she started to feel discouraged, that her efforts were not being rewarded. That was when the salon's advertisement of a "detox of mind and body" drew her in. The salon had seemed nice to the woman and had given her hope that she could maybe change her life for the better.

The kinds of people who fall victim to this kind of fraud are generally hard working, sincere types who are troubled by work, health, or love. They wonder why, even though they have worked so hard, they are not better rewarded. Before they know it, they are pulled in by fraudsters' claims that "the key to solving your problems is here." and they put themselves under the control of fraudsters.

Of course, the people most at blame here are the fraudsters, who try to make profit off of other people's problems.

Still, we who can become their victims need to keep something in mind: be careful of help or goodwill that comes with strings attached.

We have a tendency to think we mustn't depend on others and therefore push ourselves too hard. I think that it would be OK for us to show more weakness to others and let them know when we need help.

However, when we ask for help and those who approach ask for large sums of money or conversion to a religion, we should be on guard.

There is a saying in Japanese that "a drowning person will clutch at even a straw," and I can understand such feelings well. However, these days there is help on offer besides fraudsters and religious cults. There are NPOs and government-run counseling services for a variety of problems that trouble us. Though it may take some work to discover the one we need, it is a much better option than being drawn into a spiritual healing salon that promises on its signboard to solve all of our problems.

Almost all the things that bother us can be solved. However, it takes a little time and effort. Please be wary of tempting claims that a single prayer or a single item can instantly solve your problems.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2011年9月20日 地方版

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-26 03:33 | 英字新聞


--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 23
EDITORIAL: Summit a starting point for rebuilding Japan-U.S. ties

Japan's diplomacy is back at the starting line -- again.

During his visit to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with U.S. President Barack Obama.

They agreed to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Noda said proudly after the summit, "I got off to a good start in forging a personal relationship of trust (with him)."

Good. Obama has been in office for less than three years, but he already has met four Japanese prime ministers--Taro Aso, Yukio Hatoyama, Naoto Kan and now Noda.

In this age when summits figure prominently in world affairs, such frequent changes of leadership cannot be conducive to the development of strategic diplomacy.

Nor could any true relationship of trust be forged between leaders in just one brief meeting.

Building mutual trust requires giving due consideration to each other's brief agenda while keeping one's word, and working together to meet various challenges.

Steady collaboration, backed by constant effort, is the key.

Noda has only just got to the starting line.

The biggest obstacle in Japan-U.S. relations is the relocation issue concerning the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.

Even though Obama was meeting with Noda for the first time, he made no bones about wanting tangible results.  大統領は初顔合わせにもかかわらず、具体的な結果を明確に求めてきた。

Noda responded that he would "do his utmost to win the understanding of the people of Okinawa" to act on the current Japan-U.S. agreement.

Washington's irritation with the absence of progress on the Japanese side is quite understandable.

But it is now obvious to anyone that "winning the understanding of the people of Okinawa," as Noda put it, is a pipe dream.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima recently spoke in the United States and demanded in no unclear terms that the Futenma airfield be relocated to outside his prefecture.

Should Tokyo and Washington forcibly implement their agreement, Nakaima warned, "There will be a vehement anti-base movement throughout the prefecture, and this could negatively impact the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty."

Nakaima's message, conveyed directly to people in the United States, carries tremendous weight.

If the security treaty is to be maintained in a stable fashion, Tokyo and Washington have no choice but to explore workable plans.

The practicability and resilience of the alliance are being tested.

In his foreign policy debut, Noda confirmed the Japan-U.S. alliance as the basis of Japanese diplomacy.

Noda is now required to confirm Japan's position in the multipolar world of international politics and pursue sincere but tough diplomacy.

For that, he must help create a stable order in East Asia and the Asia-Pacific region based on a strong Japan-U.S. relationship.

In particular, he must attempt to mend relations with China, which derailed after a row over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea last year.

Noda is scheduled to visit China in October, and then he will participate in multilateral diplomacy through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in the United States and the East Asia Summit in Indonesia, both in November.

We hope he will use these occasions to produce a rounded picture of Japanese diplomacy.

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-25 06:26 | 英字新聞

政策決定過程 機能するシステムを構築せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 23, 2011)
Establish policy-making system that gets job done
政策決定過程 機能するシステムを構築せよ(9月22日付・読売社説)

The government and the Democratic Party of Japan are broadly rethinking their policy-making process.

The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his ruling party should establish a policy-making framework that can function effectively, drawing on the bitter lesson learned from the turmoil experienced under the governments of his predecessors, Yukio Hatoyama and Naoto Kan.

The Noda administration has created a council of representatives from the government and the ruling parties in preparation for the compilation of the next fiscal budget.
The council comprises the prime minister, relevant Cabinet members, and chief policymakers and other senior officials from the DPJ and its junior coalition partner, the People's New Party.

The move is intended to clearly show the government and the ruling parties are ready and willing to act as one in putting together the new budget.

Noda has already said government policies will be finalized only after obtaining consent from the chairman of the DPJ Policy Research Committee.

He has also reinstated the DPJ Tax Research Commission, which the party scrapped when it came into power two years ago.

In addition, the prime minister has established a six-member council that will grant final approval for major government policies.
The new organ includes the prime minister, the DPJ secretary general and other representatives from the party's top three organs.


Party more prominent

Taken as a whole, the ruling parties are more strongly represented in the new policy-making framework than in the past.

This shows the DPJ has, in effect, retracted its pledge to ensure the government assumes the sole responsibility for policy-making--a promise that was trumpeted in the party's manifesto for the 2009 general election--instead of sharing that task with the ruling party.

The DPJ Policy Research Committee was scrapped by Hatoyama's administration, but this hampered efforts to smoothly coordinate policy, leaving many DPJ members strongly dissatisfied with their lack of involvement in the process.

Kan's government reinstated the DPJ's policy research panel, but only as an organ tasked with advancing policy proposals. Ultimately, the committee was merely used as a tool for party members to vent their frustration.

It is safe to say the attempts by the Hatoyama and Kan governments to better promote policy coordination ended up as idealistic but unrealistic slogans, due to the lack of experience and ability displayed in that undertaking by senior officials of the government and the ruling coalition.

We find it reasonable for Noda to reconsider relations between the government and the DPJ, apparently hoping to avoid going the same way as Hatoyama and Kan.

The current divided Diet--the opposition-controlled House of Councillors and the ruling coalition-dominated House of Representatives--can pose a dilemma for the government. In many instances, it will be impossible to translate government policies into action unless a consensus is formed between the ruling and opposition camps through negotiations.

Given this, greater policy-making power vested in the DPJ-PNP ruling coalition would benefit the parties when it comes to policy negotiations with the opposition camp.


Doubts remain

However, we have some misgivings about the new policy-making structure.

The ruling parties could come to hold more power than the government, leaving important government policies at the mercy of the ruling coalition.

The fortunes of the Noda administration depend on whether it will be able to properly deal with immediate tasks, including plans to temporarily increase taxes for post-quake reconstruction and raise the consumption tax rate to help rework the social security system.
Key issues also include whether the nation will join negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade pact.

Efforts by Noda to tackle these challenges at his initiative should not be frustrated as a result of resistance from DPJ officials and members.

The DPJ's top cadre, including party Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi and Policy Research Committee Chairman Seiji Maehara, should work together in harmony with the Cabinet to exercise sufficient leadership over their party.

The top echelon will be tested over whether it can make the DPJ shed its existing image as "a ruling party that cannot make decisions."

The Noda administration is also considering a plan to create an organ tentatively called the "national policy council" that will lead economic and fiscal management.

We hope the government will make clear-cut decisions about what kind of role will be played by which government organ.

If the policy-making system used by the government and the ruling coalition is vested with greater transparency and functions properly, we believe the opposition parties will find it easier to join negotiations with the ruling camp.

The prime minister must strive to set up a framework that would facilitate consensus between the ruling and opposition camps over policy issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 22, 2011)
(2011年9月22日01時55分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-24 06:26 | 英字新聞

サイバー攻撃 防衛産業狙った“戦争行為”だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 22, 2011)
Cyber-attacks on defense contractor are 'acts of war'
サイバー攻撃 防衛産業狙った“戦争行為”だ(9月21日付・読売社説)

The recent cyber-attacks on a leading Japanese defense contactor must be taken extremely seriously.

About 80 servers and personal computers of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. were found to have been infected with computer viruses after being penetrated from outside the company.

The hacked machines were at MHI's 11 key manufacturing plants across the country, including factories that produce submarines, destroyers and nuclear power plants.

The viruses are considered dangerous because they are designed to remotely operate infected PCs from outside to steal information.

IHI Corp., another heavy electric machinery maker, has suffered similar cyber-attacks.


A national security threat

At present, there has been no confirmation that MHI's product information has been leaked. But if defense secrets are stolen, it will have a grave impact on public safety and national security.

After being contacted by MHI, the Metropolitan Police Department has launched an investigation into the incident as a case of suspected espionage.

All-out efforts must be made to identify the perpetrator or perpetrators.

There is a high possibility the attacks on MHI were launched overseas.

The records of the infected servers showed they were connected with Web sites in China and Hong Kong.

An analysis of the viruses showed text in Chinese appeared on a screen for a hacker to remotely control the infected PCs.

When the National Police Agency Web site was inundated with a massive amount of data last September and July this year, 90 percent of the data was found to have originated in China.

Cyber-attacks on government organizations and businesses have occurred frequently in recent years.

The United States unveiled a policy in July that would allow the country to take rigorous measures against cyber-attacks, which it considers acts of war.

It is urgent to build an international system for jointly investigating cyber-attacks.


International cooperation network

The United States and major European nations have signed the Convention on Cybercrime to cooperate in such fields as the provision of investigative information.

In June, Japan at long last finished the domestic legal process needed to join the pact.

To deter cyber-attacks, it is crucial that affected parties share information about the damage incurred and use this data so damage can be prevented from expanding and security measures can be improved.

Questions have been raised about why MHI did not report the virus infection to the Defense Ministry immediately after it realized in mid-August that it had been attacked.

If information about contracts for equipment involving defense secrets is thought to have been leaked, contractors are required to inform the ministry immediately.

How will the government offices concerned--including the Defense Ministry, the NPA and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry--handle this case in which companies involved in defense and advanced technologies are targeted by cyber-attacks?

Their systems for working together need to be reexamined and strengthened.

In August, the NPA and 4,000 domestic firms inaugurated a network system to share information on cyber-attacks.

The public and private sectors should bolster their cooperation in such fields as fostering personnel with the skills to combat computer viruses.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 21, 2011)
(2011年9月21日01時27分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-23 02:03 | 英字新聞


--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 20
EDITORIAL: U.S. must play role of fair mediator in the Middle East.

Violence begets violence.

A series of wars, conflicts and other acts of violence that have occurred during the 10 years since the Sept. 11 terror attacks against the United States in 2001 have forced all of us to confront this grim truth.

The United States responded to the terror attacks by launching wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. During that time, the Palestinian conflict intensified while strife among religious sects in Iraq deepened.

Terrorists staged large-scale attacks in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

After the bloodshed of the past decade, the revolutions that unfolded in Tunisia and Egypt, where peaceful demonstrations by citizens toppled dictatorships, were all the more striking and amazing events.

The wave of democratization in the Middle East, which has come to be called the "Arab Spring," has brought a ray of hope to the region by showing that the cycle of destruction can now be replaced by the process of construction.

The former U.S. administration of President George W. Bush started the war in Iraq, saying it was determined to advance the cause of democratization of the Middle East.

As a result, elections went ahead in various parts of the region, including Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian territory.

Saudi Arabia held its first local assembly votes.

But no real progress toward democracy was achieved.

The elections resulted in increased political strength and influence of anti-America, anti-Israel groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and Hamas of the Palestinian Authority. After these developments, the United States stopped talking about democratization of the region.

--People standing up--

Autocratic governments in the Middle East took advantage of America's silence to roll back the movement toward democracy.

During Egypt's parliamentary elections last November, the authorities manipulated the vote to eliminate opposition forces.

As their authoritarian governments refused to embrace change, people in the Arab world became aware of their power to move their nations toward democracy and stood up against the dictatorships.

Libya, where protests against the regime boiled over into civil war, has started moving toward establishing an interim government.

The people are gaining political power not only in the countries where the old autocratic governments have already collapsed, but also elsewhere in the region.

Syria has been caught up in protests for the past seven months despite a ferocious government crackdown.

In another sign of the sea change occurring in the region, a growing number of women in Saudi Arabia are beginning to drive cars in open defiance of an official ban on female drivers. And women have been posting images and videos of themselves behind the wheel on the Internet.

There are also some troubling moves.

In Egypt, angry protests provoked by the recent killing of Egyptian soldiers by Israeli forces led to the storming of a building housing the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

There is strong criticism among Egyptians against such violent actions.

Demonstrations, when they spiral out of control, can lead to xenophobia, upsetting the balance of peace.

The country is susceptible to disturbances partly because elections have been delayed and there is not yet a legitimate parliament or government in place.

It is clearly necessary to quicken the process of democratization.

If elections are held, it is certain that Islamic groups will sharply increase their parliamentary strength.

We hope these groups will transform themselves from the opposing forces that they have been until now into responsible political entities that can play constructive roles in nation-building.

Egypt is facing a raft of formidable challenges, such as administrative reform to stamp out the corruption and cronyism that infested the authoritarian government. It must also tackle serious unemployment and housing problems among young people, who account for more than half of the population.

The Islamic groups need to grapple with these tough challenges by proposing specific plans to promote economic and social development.

There are concerns in the United States and Europe about the implications of increased political influence and power of Islamic groups.

But leaders in the West should regard the Arab Spring as an opportunity to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between their countries and Islamic forces.
They need to support the Arab people's efforts to establish democracy and build new nations.

--Despite anti-American sentiment, U.S. must serve as a fair mediator--

In May, U.S. President Barack Obama declared, "It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy."

That being the case, the United States needs to brace itself for likely manifestations through elections of the antagonism and hatred toward Americans that have grown among people in the Middle East over the past 10 years.

People across the Islamic world saw the Iraq War, which Washington cast as a fight for "liberalization," as an act of "invasion."

While the Bush administration claimed it was fighting a "war against terrorism," many Arab people supported attacks against the United States as "jihad."

Under pro-American dictatorships in the region, anti-American feelings among people were suppressed for decades.

But such public sentiment can no longer be kept in check.

It is vital for the United States to start serious efforts to build from scratch relations based on mutual trust with people in the Middle East.
The country's ties with the region have been seriously damaged through the flawed war against terror.

Washington should insist that Persian Gulf states which still maintain iron-fisted rule to start moving toward democracy.

It should also make all-out efforts to solve the Palestinian problem, which is at the heart of the caldron of violence in the Middle East.

The U.S. administration's Middle East policy will face an important test soon when the Palestine Liberation Organization submits an application for recognition of Palestinian statehood to the U.N. Security Council.

The Obama administration has vowed to veto the request for Palestinian statehood.

But it must remember that Obama, in a speech delivered in September last year to the U.N. General Assembly, said, "When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that can lead to a new member of the United Nations--an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel."

The Middle East peace process was disrupted mainly by Israel's move to restart settlement construction.

Washington could trigger a fresh wave of anti-American protests in the region if it only vetoes the Palestinian bid to become a member state of the United Nations without making any effort to urge Israel to take positive steps to revive peace talks.

The United States needs to convince people in the Middle East of its commitment to playing the role of fair peace mediator. This can only be achieved through explanations and actions.

Its role is vital for the future of the peace process.

--Opening a new era in the Middle East--

The "Arab Spring" also requires Japan to start building new relations with those in the Middle East who have become the leading power in politics.

The region's efforts to seek cooperative ties with the United States, Europe and Japan and receive intellectual and technological support from these countries for their nation-building will help lay the foundations of democracy in the region.

We hope mutual understanding between the Middle East and the industrialized world will open up a new era of peace and prosperity in the region.

by kiyoshimat | 2011-09-22 07:14 | 英字新聞