<   2012年 08月 ( 31 )   > この月の画像一覧

河野談話 「負の遺産」の見直しは当然だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 30, 2012)
Kono's 'comfort women' statement must be reviewed
河野談話 「負の遺産」の見直しは当然だ(8月29日付・読売社説)

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak's recent visit to the Takeshima islands has reignited the so-called comfort women issue.

It is undeniable that a 1993 statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono is the root cause of the controversy. The government should review this statement, prepare a new concept concerning the issue and convey it to the public and the international community.

At a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said his administration would adhere to the Kono statement. However, Noda added that the government "was not able to confirm the forcible recruitment [of comfort women] from documents, so the [Kono] statement was based on interviews with comfort women."

Jin Matsubara, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, proposed that ministers should debate the comfort women issue from the standpoint of reviewing the Kono statement.

The 1993 statement said: "The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to a request from the military.

"In many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, and so on, and that, at times, administrative and military personnel directly took part in the recruitments."


No verification

However, the government could find no documents proving the military or other government authorities forcibly recruited comfort women. The Kono statement was based solely on the statements of former comfort women and there were no investigations to verify their remarks.

At the time, several South Korean women identified themselves as former comfort women and demanded an apology from the Japanese government. We assume the government took into account Japan's diplomatic relations with South Korea when it issued the Kono statement.

However, as a result of the statement, the international community came to believe things that were not true, such as the Imperial Japanese Army systematically and forcibly recruiting women to make them "sex slaves."

The U.S. House of Representatives and the European Parliament adopted resolutions condemning Japan on the comfort women issue, and called on the Japanese government to apologize.

Up to now, however, no evidence proving the forcible recruitment of comfort women has been found.

When the U.S. House of Representatives was discussing the comfort women issue in March 2007, the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a written reply to a question posed by a Diet member on the issue. The reply said "descriptions directly indicating forcible recruitments by the military and other government authorities had not been found in documents" unearthed by the government.

The response clarified the government's stance that documents supporting the Kono statement did not exist, although at the same time it adhered to the statement.


'Negative legacy' of LDP

However, if the situation is left unchanged, it will be difficult to dispel the international community's misunderstandings on the comfort women issue.

It was reasonable for Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto to call on the government to review the contents of the Kono statement after saying the statement--which was not authorized by the Cabinet--and the 2007 written reply contradict each other. He also said the statement was the "main cause" of Japan-South Korea friction.

The government must take measures to prevent misunderstandings on the comfort women issue from spreading further.

As there is no conclusive evidence that the Imperial Japanese Army forcibly recruited comfort women, the Noda Cabinet should review the Kono statement--a "negative legacy" of Liberal Democratic Party administrations--and explain the government's stance on the issue to the public and the world in a manner easy to understand.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 29, 2012)
(2012年8月29日01時18分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-31 07:27 | 英字新聞

与野党の対立 衆院選改革の放置にあきれる

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 29, 2012)
Failure to address election system reform deplorable
与野党の対立 衆院選改革の放置にあきれる(8月28日付・読売社説)

The current ordinary Diet session closes in less than two weeks and many legislative issues are still pending. Both the ruling and opposition camps must work tirelessly to reach accords on them until the last minute.

The biggest concern is that the Diet has yet to realize the House of Representatives' electoral system reform, although the Supreme Court has ruled the current disparity in the weight of votes between the most- and least- represented constituencies is "in a state of unconstitutionality."

The Democratic Party of Japan voted on a DPJ-sponsored election system reform bill in a special lower house committee on Monday in the absence of opposition parties. The DPJ is poised to pass the bill in a plenary session of the lower house on Tuesday.

The opposition bloc, as a matter of course, has opposed the DPJ's actions.

Given that the DPJ will be unable to obtain approval from the opposition that controls the House of Councillors, it is certain the bill will be scrapped when it fails in the upper house. This will leave the state of unconstitutionality unresolved.


DPJ out to put off election

Having the bill hastily approved by the committee is presumably motivated by a desire to shift the blame for failing to achieve electoral reform to the opposition.

DPJ Acting Secretary General Shinji Tarutoko has lambasted the opposition parties for "taking a stand even against rectifying the gap in the weight of votes."

The DPJ, however, has persistently spurned the idea of cutting five single-seat electoral districts before other election system issues. This is the only option the DPJ and the major opposition parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, agreed to on the election reform issue. The DPJ should be held responsible for stalling this reform.

In light of the irresponsibility of the DPJ, the party is not qualified to criticize the opposition. The DPJ has employed the tactic of delaying the legislation in a bid to postpone the lower house dissolution and a general election.

The DPJ-sponsored bill entails not only a five single-seat constituency cut, but also the reduction of 40 proportional representation seats. It also includes the partial adoption of a seat allocation formula in proportional representation contests favorable to small and midsize parties, which Komeito has demanded.

Electoral system reform based on such a hodgepodge of arguments backed by different parties is unintelligible to the public. Introduction of a seat allocation formula designed to give disproportionately preferential treatment to small and midsize parties may be a constitutional violation, according to some analysts.


Opposition equally at fault

The LDP is set to submit a censure motion in the upper house against Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda as early as Wednesday.

The censure motion will likely pass the upper house by an opposition majority. If the opposition boycotts all Diet deliberations after that, the current session could end with many issues unaddressed.

Citing reasons to censure the prime minister, LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki claims Noda's ability to tackle the problems facing the country "has reached its limit."

However, the opposition is just as responsible for the turmoil in the nation's politics.

A case in point is a government plan for a bill to issue deficit-covering government bonds.

Should the bill fail to pass, it would become impossible, at some point, to implement the state budget. The opposition parties have continued to assert they will not cooperate unless the DPJ commits to an exact date for the dissolution of the lower house.

Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada has said, "There is a possibility of a power change [in the next general election] and the opposition should stop these maneuvers."

While Okada is right, the DPJ should remember that, when it sat in opposition, it also used budget-related bills, including one to issue deficit-covering bonds, as bargaining chips.

If the censure motion is passed by the LDP, Komeito and other opposition parties, the relationship of trust between the DPJ and the two major opposition parties would almost certainly collapse.

A censure motion, which has no binding power, must never be exploited in a power struggle.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 28, 2012)
(2012年8月28日01時45分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-30 07:12 | 英字新聞

北極海開発 日本の発言権をどう確保する

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 28, 2012)
Japan needs to gain voice in Arctic Ocean development
北極海開発 日本の発言権をどう確保する(8月27日付・読売社説)

Countries such as Russia and Canada are maneuvering more actively to stake out advantageous positions in using the Arctic Ocean for shipping routes and in developing natural resources there. Japan also should become actively engaged in drafting rules on developing the Arctic Ocean.

Though long covered with thick ice, the Arctic Ocean recently has attracted attention as its ice is rapidly melting due to global warming.

The ocean's shipping routes, possible only in summer, have elicited interest as they are the shortest way to link Asian countries--the world's growth center--and Europe. Not only oil and natural gas but also gold, copper, nickel and other minerals are believed to be in abundance below the Arctic seabed.

The Antarctic Treaty has frozen territorial claims in the Antarctic continent and surrounding seas and prohibits military use of the area, but there is no such treaty for the Arctic Ocean.

Due to the lack of an international treaty, eight countries--the United States, Russia and other coastal nations--and indigenous minorities make up the Arctic Council, a forum to discuss rules on use of the Arctic Ocean.


Blatant moves by China

Meanwhile, China's moves are a cause of concern. Like Japan, China does not border the Arctic Ocean. Nonetheless, China considers shipping routes and natural resources there among its maritime interests and is trying to increase its influence over the ocean as a national strategy.

China's large icebreaker Xuelong has been on a research voyage in the ocean since early July. It took a shipping route north of Russia and in mid-August became the first Chinese ship to traverse the Arctic Ocean.

Beijing is also actively undertaking summit diplomacy with member nations of the council. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Sweden, which currently chairs the council, and Iceland in April, while President Hu Jintao visited Denmark in June. They were able to reach agreements with leaders of those countries to enhance bilateral relations.

However, the efforts by China, which has a massive military force, to promote its maritime interests in the ocean are so blatant that other countries have become vigilant.

Utilization of the Arctic Ocean also is essential for the growth of the Japanese economy. Nonetheless, it is apparent Japan has started out late in the game.


Join Arctic Council

Three years ago, the Japanese government applied to the Arctic Council to obtain observer status. China and South Korea completed such applications ahead of this country.

How much a country contributes to the council's activities is said to determine approval as an observer. We think the government first should join the council as an observer and then enhance its information gathering activities to secure a voice there. The nation must accelerate its preparations to deal with issues concerning the Arctic Ocean.

The government also must promote summit diplomacy to strengthen Japan's relations with Russia and northern European countries. Japan also needs to undertake full-fledged research activities in the ocean.

It is unavoidable that the Chinese and Russian navies will become more active in seas north of Japan. The government will need to discuss with the United States how to build up Japan's defenses against them.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 27, 2012)
(2012年8月27日01時27分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-29 06:55 | 英字新聞

エネルギー選択 「意識調査」はあくまで参考に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 27, 2012)
Don't take results of nuclear power surveys too seriously
エネルギー選択 「意識調査」はあくまで参考に(8月26日付・読売社説)

It is problematic to decide the nation's energy strategy, which affects the fate of Japan, through an approach that resembles a popularity contest.

Since the outbreak of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a considerable number of people are demanding the nation break away from its dependence on nuclear energy.

Securing the safety of nuclear power plants is of course important. However, factors such as economic efficiency and a stable energy supply are also important in deciding the nation's energy policy. As a country poor in natural resources, Japan needs to have various sources of electricity, including nuclear power plants, to ensure a stable power supply.

Thus the government should promote a realistic energy policy of utilizing nuclear power plants from a mid- and long-term standpoint.

The government recently released the results of multiple surveys that asked the public to choose from three scenarios on the percentage of nuclear power generation in 2030: zero percent of all power generation, 15 percent, and 20 percent to 25 percent.

The government conducted 11 public hearings, solicited public comments and held a deliberative opinion poll. In all three methods, those who chose the zero percent scenario outnumbered those who selected the other two.


Avoid slipping into populism

However, it is too early to conclude that the results truly reflect public opinion on the nation's nuclear energy policy.

Many people who participate in public hearings and submit comments are eager to express their opinions on the nuclear power plant issue. They tend to prefer a nuclear-free future.

A random telephone survey was conducted in the first stage of the deliberative opinion poll, and respondents were asked if they wished to participate in the following discussion stage. Only about 300 people participated in the second stage.

It is important for politicians to listen to the voices of the people. However, there is a risk that politicians may slip into populism, depending on how much they rely on public opinion.

A member of an expert panel tasked with analyzing the results of the surveys said, "We don't need politics if opinion polls decide everything."

The results of the surveys should be used as one element in discussing the nation's nuclear policy. The government should avoid having the results directly influence its energy policy.


Risks of zero percent scenario

Meanwhile, the surveys also highlighted a problem the government has to tackle. In the deliberative opinion poll, 41 percent of respondents supported the zero percent scenario before the discussion, but the figure increased to 47 percent after the discussion.

At the same time, the percentage of people who gave top priority to "securing safety" in the nation's energy policy increased after the discussion to about 80 percent. This change seems to be the reason why the number of people who chose the zero percent scenario increased.

However, everyone is highly concerned about the safety of the energy supply. We assume that was the reason only a low percentage of respondents chose "stable energy supply" and "prevention of global warming."

If all nuclear power plants were abolished in the nation, it would slow down the economy, resulting in higher unemployment and poverty. Ordinary citizens would be hit hardest, but strangely, understanding of this fact has yet to spread among the public.

Along with beefing up its efforts to enhance the safety of nuclear power plants, the government must provide information to citizens that helps them choose appropriate scenarios for the nation's future energy policy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2012)
(2012年8月26日01時28分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-28 05:31 | 英字新聞

首相「領土」会見 国際社会へ反転攻勢の一歩に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 26, 2012)
Govt must stress sovereignty over isles to intl community
首相「領土」会見 国際社会へ反転攻勢の一歩に(8月25日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda held a press conference Friday on the dispute involving the Takeshima islands and other territorial issues. This occasion should pave the way for Japan to take the offensive in seeking understanding of the issues both at home and abroad.

Noda said at the press conference, "We'll deal with the issues calmly but uncompromisingly with unwavering determination."

"They're Japanese territory both historically and under international law," he said, referring to the Takeshima islands. "In keeping with international law and justice, the proper path is to hold debates and settle the matter at the International Court of Justice."

We consider it highly significant that the prime minister stated explicitly that his government will protect the nation's sovereignty over the islets.

South Korea has reinforced its illegal occupation of the Takeshima islands through such actions as building a structure there. Japan protested the actions, but it is hard to say that Tokyo has taken effective countermeasures.


Take advantage of legal action

It is vital for Japan to make the legitimacy of its territorial claim and the reasoning behind it widely known to the international community by taking the dispute to the international court. The government also needs to make efforts to help as many people as possible properly understand the Takeshima issue by explaining it thoroughly.

Noda also spoke about the recent illegal landing on the Senkaku Islands by Hong Kong activists. "The government will make every effort to strengthen the nation's information-gathering ability and take all possible measures to improve its policing and surveillance capabilities in the surrounding waters" to prevent such incidents in the future, he said.

To maintain and stably manage the Senkaku Islands, which are under Japan's effective control, the government faces the urgent task of nationalizing the islets. To that end, it is important to closely cooperate with the Tokyo metropolitan government, which plans to purchase the islands.

The government must not fail to strengthen the abilities of the Japan Coast Guard and the Maritime Self-Defense Force to swiftly respond to illegal landings on the islands and intrusions into Japan's territorial waters by foreign countries.


Noda letter not re-sent

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has decided not to resend the personal letter from Noda to South Korean President Lee Myung Bak that South Korea rejected and returned to the ministry by mail.

Returning a personal letter from a national leader is unusual and considered disrespectful. However, we can understand the decision by Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and other government officials to accept the returned letter, considering "the dignity" of Japanese diplomacy. The decision was based on the logic that Noda's message, which calls Lee's visit to Takeshima regrettable, has been conveyed to Seoul.

The House of Representatives on Friday adopted a resolution condemning Lee's visit to Takeshima and his remarks seeking the Emperor's apology to Koreans who died while fighting for Korea's independence. The resolution demands that South Korea halt its illegal occupation of the islands and Lee withdraw the remarks about the Emperor. The remarks have sparked criticism not only in Japan but also in South Korea. Seeking the withdrawal is reasonable.

We view the resolution as well-balanced because, among other things, it calls South Korea a vital neighboring country of Japan. However, it is disappointing that the resolution was not approved unanimously as the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and others opposed it.

Japan and South Korea share common security interests on such issues as North Korea's nuclear program. We urge Seoul to handle the territorial issue with a cool head without losing sight of the broader significance of the two countries' relations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 25, 2012)
(2012年8月25日01時29分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-27 07:11 | 英字新聞

竹島・尖閣審議 民主は「配慮外交」を反省せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 25, 2012)
DPJ must reconsider overly conciliatory stance on Takeshima
竹島・尖閣審議 民主は「配慮外交」を反省せよ (8月24日付・読売社説)

When handling a territorial issue, it is essential for the government to assert the nation's stance resolutely while keeping a cool head in pursuit of a peaceful solution to the problem.

A session of the House of Representatives' Budget Committee was held on Thursday for intensive deliberations on diplomatic issues.

In response to an announcement by the South Korean government earlier on the day that it would return a letter Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda sent to South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, Noda expressed his displeasure, telling the session Seoul's action constituted "behavior utterly devoid of reason."

The act of sending back the prime minister's letter, which expressed regret over Lee's surprise visit to the Takeshima islands on Aug. 10, is, without a doubt, particularly disrespectful in terms of diplomatic norms and cannot be overlooked.


Diplomacy cast aside

No matter how different two nations' views on an issue may be, a bare minimum of etiquette in diplomatic relations must be upheld by each country. South Korea has now crossed the line with this recent development.

The government should file a firm protest with the South Korean government.

In doing so, however, it is important Japan conduct itself in full conformity with diplomatic protocol.

In the Budget Committee session, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba stressed that South Korea is "illegally occupying" the Sea of Japan islets, known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea.

Out of diplomatic consideration for South Korea, the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan has used the expression "rule without legal grounds" in reference to the matter since Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada served as foreign minister. Gemba is the first Cabinet minister to have used the phrase "illegal occupation" to refer to the issue.

The change of wording is seriously overdue.

There can be no denying that disproportionate concern by the DPJ administration about inciting conflict with a partner country, even over an issue affecting the nation's sovereignty, has led South Korea to harbor the misconception that Japan is a country that backs down easily.

Although the issue of compensation for the so-called comfort women in South Korea has been completely resolved, DPJ Policy Research Committee Chairman Seiji Maehara recently unveiled a plan to study the feasibility of "humanitarian measures" related to the matter. This may have caused South Korea to have false expectations about further steps from the Japanese side.

The government must do some serious soul-searching about the recent string of events in bilateral relations and carefully consider how to deal with the situation effectively.


Parties need to work together

In Thursday's Budget Committee meeting, Noda expressed his intention to seek an apology and a retraction of Lee's remarks demanding the Emperor apologize for the wartime past.

In a similar event, a spokesman of South Korea's Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry has demanded Gemba back down from his statement about South Korea's "illegal occupation" of the islets and pledge to avoid making similar remarks in the future.

Given the circumstances, Japan-South Korea relations have now begun a negative course.

Even if the two countries confront each other on the Takeshima issue, overall bilateral relations should be prevented from further deteriorating.

It is evidently important for both nations to continue working-level discussions, including negotiations for concluding a free trade agreement between Japan, China and South Korea.

During the Budget Committee session, the Liberal Democratic Party lashed out at the government for its failure to prevent a group of activists from Hong Kong from illegally landing on the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. It also criticized the government's failure to charge the activists on suspicion of obstructing Japanese officers from performing their duties.

It is highly desirable, however, for both the ruling and opposition camps to cooperate in steering the nation's diplomacy, particularly in the case of territorial disputes.

It would be regrettable for the LDP to make a point of finding fault with the government for its handling of territorial disputes.

There are a host of issues that must be addressed on a suprapartisan basis, such as the proactive expression of Japan's stance on territorial disputes to the international community and the improvement of history lessons in school education.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 24, 2012)
(2012年8月24日01時23分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-26 07:16 | 英字新聞

シリア混迷 周辺諸国の不安定化も心配だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 24, 2012)
Syria's civil war could destabilize neighboring countries
シリア混迷 周辺諸国の不安定化も心配だ(8月23日付・読売社説)

With Syria's civil war deepening, there appears to be little chance for a ceasefire in the conflict. There are concerns the civil war could even spill over into neighboring countries.

Journalist Mika Yamamoto was shot dead earlier this week in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo while covering the conflict.

Yamamoto's death highlighted the reality that urban districts, home to ordinary Syrians, have become battlefields between government forces and rebels. The United Nations estimates more than 18,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011.

Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who served as the joint U.N.-Arab League special envoy, failed to broker a ceasefire and members of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria have left the country.

Former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi has been named as Annan's replacement. However, it is unlikely he will be able to fulfill his role, considering that the U.N. Security Council has been hamstrung as the United States and other Western countries are at odds with Russia and China over possible solutions.

With no end in sight in the country's civil war, it is inevitable the bloodshed will continue to worsen.


Sectarian conflicts emerging

Rebels have expanded their hold over more areas of Syria, while government forces have been trying to maintain control of major cities by mobilizing all of their overwhelming forces.

However, more and more officials in President Bashar Assad's inner circle have been defecting, including the prime minister who fled the country earlier this month.

Despite these developments, Syrian forces still stand by Assad mainly because members of the Alawite community--an offshoot of Shiite Islam that serves as a power base for the president--hold key military positions.

The Alawites, which are a minority in Syria, have been ruling the Sunni majority population and the civil war has increasingly taken on shades of sectarian violence.


Refugees becoming a burden

Worrisome is the ever growing possibility that Syria's deepening turmoil could destabilize the entire Middle East.

Earlier this week, several people were killed in neighboring Lebanon as Alawite and Sunni militia exchanged gunfire. The fighting shadowed the pattern of Syria's civil war.

Turkey, to the north of Syria, has been watchful to see how Kurds in the country react to the civil war, as it could reignite the Kurdish independent movement in Turkey.

The civil war has created more than 170,000 Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations. Accommodating them has placed a great burden on neighboring countries.

Syria's neighbors face their own possible conflicts. The situation could further deteriorate if Syria distributes the chemical weapons it is believed to possess to terrorist groups and other organizations.

Russia bears a heavy responsibility as it has long supported the Assad regime. It should work together with the United States and other Western countries to put strong pressure on Syria for an immediate ceasefire.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 23, 2012)
(2012年8月23日01時45分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-25 06:58 | 英字新聞

衆院選政権公約 実現可能な政策へ論議深めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 23, 2012)
Deeper discussions needed for realistic manifestos
衆院選政権公約 実現可能な政策へ論議深めよ(8月22日付・読売社説)


Unless policy pledges are feasible, politics will be unable to make any progress. This is the bitter lesson learned from the failed manifesto of the Democratic Party of Japan.

With the dissolution of the House of Representatives and a general election expected to take place "sometime soon," ruling and opposition parties are gearing up for the election. The major issue is how the DPJ will revise its manifesto, a document cynically called "a synonym for lies" that has disgraced the party.

The main campaign issues in the next lower house election are shaping up to be the consumption tax rate increase, Japan's possible participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, and the nation's nuclear and energy policies.


Specify fiscal resources

Policies quickly cobbled together just before an election tend to become "discount sales" that smack of populism and suck up to voters' interests. We hope each party holds down-to-earth discussions, even during the current Diet session, to come up with realistic policies.

The most glaring fault of the DPJ manifesto for the 2009 lower house election was the party's insistence that--without mentioning a consumption tax rate hike--it could find 16.8 trillion yen in fiscal resources to implement its policy pledges through such measures as overhauling budget allocations. There was never any prospect this could be achieved.

The DPJ must now be painfully aware just how poorly thought-out its manifesto was.

Referring to the manifesto for the next lower house election, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said at a general meeting of DPJ lawmakers of both Diet chambers on Aug. 8, "It's necessary to thoroughly and carefully discuss these issues within the party and make innovative efforts to ensure these discussions are 'visible.'"

Noda's argument sounds reasonable, but it also sounds like words of reflection. It is essential that many lawmakers are involved in the manifesto-compiling process and fight the election with a shared awareness.

There are probably concerns that if party members openly discuss policy matters, they would reveal their cards to other parties. But this process would be a yardstick voters could use when deciding who deserves their ballot.

If the lower house is not dissolved during the current Diet session, both the DPJ and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party should make their presidential elections, both scheduled for September, an opportunity to set the course for their election manifestos.

We also think it necessary to again consider what the point of an election manifesto is. A party that is in opposition may not know well how the system works until it takes power. Unpredictable events may occur, such as major disasters and abrupt changes in economic and international situations.

A party in power should flexibly revise or withdraw its policy pledges if its manifesto obviously becomes unrealistic or difficult to achieve.

Rather, it is preferable to carry out policies that are necessary and serve national interests, even if they run counter to the manifesto. In this instance, reasons for the policy change must be explained to the people.

Needless to say, it is essential for politicians to deliver on their pledges. But it is insincere to insist on adhering to policies that are no longer useful. It benefits nobody to fall into a trap of "manifesto supremacism."


A manifesto is supposed to be part of a cycle: parties try to achieve their stated aims, and voters evaluate the party's level of achievement in the next election. However, the DPJ manifesto has caused fundamental problems in state politics.


Problems in DPJ manifesto

The first problem involves a House of Councillors election.

After acknowledging its visions had been overly optimistic, the DPJ revised part of its 2009 election manifesto when it drew up the party's pledges for the 2010 upper house election. In connection with the consumption tax, the 2010 campaign manifesto stated, "Suprapartisan discussions will be started on drastic reform of the tax system, including the consumption tax."

But afterward, the promises for the 2010 election were put to one side and debate focused on the advisability of sticking to the manifesto for the lower house election.

How can the manifesto for a lower house election be tied to campaign pledges for an upper house election? The DPJ must clarify its stance on this point as well as its handling of the pledges for the upper house election in which it suffered a major setback.

A consumption tax increase was a central point of contention in the DPJ presidential election last summer. Noda was elected after clarifying his position in favor of a consumption tax hike. This also marked a policy change by the party.

Voters cast ballots after not only measuring the extent to which a manifesto has been achieved, but also evaluating whether such a policy change is worthwhile.


Diet will stay divided

Secondly, the next lower house election will inevitably be fought on the premise that the Diet will remain divided.

This is because neither the DPJ nor the LDP holds a majority by itself in the upper house. No matter which party wins the lower house poll, it will need to form a coalition with a party--or parties--with similar policies to form a stable government after the election.

Cooperation from opposition parties will be crucial for achieving policy goals.

It is natural for parties to advocate their policies in lower house elections, but in view of the likelihood of a coalition government and a divided Diet, it is not realistic to give specific promises, such as setting deadlines for implementing policies.

We urge all parties to compile campaign pledges for the next general election without pursuing populist lines so they can take responsibility for Japan's future.

Voters, for their part, must understand fully that there are limits to the implementation of campaign pledges.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 22, 2012)
(2012年8月22日01時51分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-24 05:51 | 英字新聞

中国反日デモ 邦人の安全確保へ沈静化図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 22, 2012)
Beijing should ensure safety of Japanese in China
中国反日デモ 邦人の安全確保へ沈静化図れ(8月21日付・読売社説)

Following the illegal landing by Hong Kong activists on one of the Senkaku Islands last week, anti-Japanese demonstrations have spread in China. The Chinese government should quickly take action to calm the situation.

Anti-Japanese demonstrators, who support China's territorial claim to the Senkaku Islands, took to the streets in about 25 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, on Sunday. In Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, and other cities, demonstrators became violent and smashed the windows of Japanese restaurants.

The large-scale demonstrations imperil Japanese who live in China. The Chinese government has a weighty responsibility for causing turmoil by tacitly approving the demonstrations. We urge the Chinese authorities to do everything they can to secure the safety of Japanese individuals and companies in the country.

The Chinese government obviously is trying to counter Japan's moves over the islands, but at the same time it apparently wants Chinese people to vent their frustrations over economic disparities and other domestic issues through the demonstrations. Some observers say the "anti-Japan card" was used as a tool in the power struggle ahead of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China in autumn in which the Chinese leadership will undergo a complete change.


Attitude unlikely to change

It is highly likely China's anti-Japan attitude will remain unchanged. The Japanese government needs to respond to the situation while keeping in mind that problems stemming from China's domestic circumstances will continually occur.

The Chinese government criticized the landing by 10 Japanese on Uotsurijima island, one of the Senkaku Islands. However, this criticism is way off the mark. Vice Foreign Minister Kenichiro Sasae is correct in rebutting the protest by Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua by saying, "The latest move [by Japanese individuals] comes against a backdrop of the landing by Hong Kong activists."

What the Japanese government should do first is gradually strengthen the management of the Senkaku Islands. The Tokyo metropolitan government, which plans to purchase three of the islands, has applied to the central government for permission to land on the islands.

It is essential for the central government to steadily put the Senkaku Islands under state control in cooperation with the metropolitan government.


Territorial protection essential

Aside from a bill to revise the Japan Coast Guard Law, which would allow JCG officers to apprehend criminals on uninhabited islands, it is also an urgent task to develop a system to protect Japanese territory and territorial waters.

Akihisa Nagashima, a special adviser to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, said on a TV program that the government "will review territorial patrol operations, including relevant legislation."

Jin Matsubara, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, said, "We should treat illegal entry into the country to violate Japan's sovereignty separately from ordinary illegal entry and heavily punish the former illegal entrants."

Japan's preparedness for national crises such as unlawful intrusions into its territory is woefully inadequate.

Japan had to take this problem to heart on a number of occasions after the incursion of North Korean spy ships in 1999. At that time, The Yomiuri Shimbun proposed "territorial patrol operations" as a new duty for the Self-Defense Forces and that the SDF be commissioned to conduct "guard-and-watch" missions.

Illegal landings by anti-Japan organizations, such as in the latest case, may be a frequent occurrence in the future. The government should also consider legislation to beef up territorial patrol operations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 21, 2012)
(2012年8月21日02時06分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-23 06:30 | 英字新聞

原発ゼロ発言 無責任な楽観論を振りまくな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 21, 2012)
Denuclearization is not a viable option
原発ゼロ発言 無責任な楽観論を振りまくな(8月20日付・読売社説)

It is irresponsible for a Cabinet minister in charge of promoting exports of nuclear power plants as part of Japan's growth strategy to state that the nation's ratio of nuclear power generation to total electricity output should become zero as soon as possible.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano recently visited Vietnam, where Japanese firms have won tentative orders to construct nuclear reactors, and signed an agreement with the Vietnamese government under which Japan would cooperate to create a system necessary for the introduction of nuclear plants.

Edano told the media Japan has a responsibility to contribute to the international community by disseminating nuclear safety technology abroad.

Before visiting Vietnam, however, Edano said he believed the ratio of nuclear power generation in Japan's total electricity output "should become zero as soon as possible." Does this mean he will sell nuclear reactors to other countries while abolishing them quickly in his own country? How can he win international trust that way?

If this nation decides to abolish nuclear power generation, it will not be able to foster nuclear power experts. This means it would not be able to maintain its contribution to Vietnam in terms of nuclear safety. Edano should withdraw his contradictory remarks on denuclearization.


Zero option unrealistic

The government has presented to the public three scenarios on the ratio of nuclear power generation in 2030: zero percent, 15 percent, and 20 percent to 25 percent. Without doubt, the most unrealistic among the three is zero percent.

If the ratio were reduced to zero percent, the damage to the Japanese economy would be immense. According to the government's estimate, Japan's gross domestic product would drop by 50 trillion yen.

The private sector's outlook in this respect is also bleak. The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) warned that the number of unemployed would increase by 2 million under this scenario. The steel industry, which consumes huge amounts of electricity, said this scenario suggests their businesses would have to close as electricity bills could increase up to two times.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has instructed ministers concerned to study what challenges the nation would face if the ratio became zero and to work out measures to overcome them. We cannot turn a blind eye to his instructions if they are aimed at arming the government with theories justifying denuclearization.


Edano irresponsible

We are extremely worried when we hear casual opinions voiced by some members of the Noda government despite painful calls from the economic sector that Japan can do without nuclear plants.

It is particularly distressing when Edano, a minister responsible for both the stable supply of electricity and industrial development, is spreading such overoptimistic views.

In saying that zero percent is a viable option, Edano said, "It will rather benefit the economy as long as we do it right."

He meant it would lead to expansion of domestic demand if renewable energy sources replaced nuclear reactors.

However, the reality is harsher. Germany has decided to promote renewable energy ahead of Japan, but it has come up against a number of negative factors, such as sharply increased financial burdens on households because of higher electricity bills, and the bankruptcy of German solar panel makers overwhelmed by an influx of lower-priced Chinese products.

It is extremely dangerous to decide on an energy strategy that affects the fate of Japan on the basis of such uncertain hopes.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 20, 2012)
(2012年8月20日01時32分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-08-22 05:20 | 英字新聞