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パレスチナ和平 米国の仲介努力は奏功するか

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 30, 2013
Israeli-Palestinian talks resumption 1st step in U.S. Mideast peace effort
パレスチナ和平 米国の仲介努力は奏功するか(7月29日付・読売社説)

It is imperative to ensure that emerging positive signs in the Middle East result in a resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians after a hiatus of about three years.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has pressured Israel and the Palestinian Authority since March, announced on July 19 that both sides “have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Ministerial-level officials from both parties are to meet in the near future to work out the terms and preconditions for the negotiations, according to U.S. government officials.

The Palestinian Authority has set the goal of establishing a Palestinian state, and Japan, the United States and European nations as well as Arab states have thrown their support behind this goal.

Kerry’s endeavors pay off

The long-envisaged establishment of a Palestinian state, however, will not be possible without Israel’s agreement. We strongly hope the Israelis and Palestinians hold direct talks to begin the process of having the two sides live side by side in peace and security.

The broad agreement is the fruit of mediation efforts by Kerry, who, after assuming the post of secretary of state in February, traveled many times to the Middle East.

With upheavals continuing in the wake of the Arab Spring, U.S. policies have been put to the test. While the civil war in Syria has bogged down with no clear end in sight, Egypt, a major power in the Middle East, has been unable to resolve its political problems.

It appears the United States hopes to play a role conducive to stabilizing the Middle East situation by using its diplomatic leverage to bring about peace between Israel and Palestinians.

The basic accord to hold preliminary talks appears partly due to Israel’s adopting more moderate policies after realizing its inflexible hard-line stance in dealing with the Palestinians left it internationally isolated.

In a U.N. General Assembly session last year, a resolution in favor of giving the Palestinian Authority the status of a “nonmember observer state” was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote despite intense opposition from the United States and Israel.

Israel’s sense of crisis increased when the international community, particularly Israel’s biggest trade partner, Europe, intensified criticism of Israel’s continuing construction of settlements in the West Bank.

A freeze in settlement construction would help pave the way for realizing a resumption of dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, must resolve the current situation in which its authority is limited only to the West Bank, with the Gaza Strip remaining under the control of the Islamist organization Hamas. This is essential for the Palestinian Authority if it wants to show that it is the proper party to negotiate with the Israelis.

Japan must help out

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida toured the Middle East region last week. In separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he pressed them to resume peace talks.

In addition, Kishida conferred with ministers from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan over ways to utilize an agricultural park to process farm produce. The park is under construction in the West Bank city of Jericho with the support of Japan.

The agreement among Kishida and the others on the project should be rated highly.

Japan must continue to make such diplomatic efforts by extending a helping hand to encourage peace moves by the Israelis and Palestinians.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 29, 2013)
(2013年7月29日01時19分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-31 07:40 | 英字新聞

朝鮮休戦60年 平和妨げる北朝鮮の核武装化

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 29, 2013
Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions continue to be impediment to peace
朝鮮休戦60年 平和妨げる北朝鮮の核武装化(7月28日付・読売社説)

The 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice in the Korean War comes as North Korea continues to push ahead with its nuclear programs.

The Korean War began with the North’s invasion of the South in 1950, and claimed the lives of more than 3 million people before the armistice was signed three years later.

Fierce fighting between U.S.-led U.N. Command forces backing South Korea and China, which deployed Chinese People’s Volunteer Army troops because it feared North Korea would collapse, ended with a divided Korean Peninsula in the absence of a peace treaty.

China’s change of mind

The North and South are continuing their military confrontation across the Demilitarized Zone, and there is a danger the situation could explode into an armed conflict.

North Korea, which falsely claims the armistice was a “victory,” celebrated the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice on Saturday with a massive military parade in Pyongyang.

The scale of the parade was aimed apparently at flaunting the power of Pyongyang’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, the first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, while diverting the people’s increasing discontent over the country’s wrecked economy.

The biggest concern for Japan and other countries is the beefing up of North Korea’s nuclear programs, which Kim has been promoting. Massive throngs of armed soldiers marched in the Pyongyang parade as if trying to impress the rest of the world with the strength of the North’s ability to wage war with missiles and nuclear weapons.

As a matter of course, North Korea has been forced to pay the piper. The U.N. Security Council has imposed economic sanctions on Pyongyang for repeatedly carrying out nuclear tests and test-launching long-range ballistic missiles.

China’s recent change from its conventional stance of fully defending North Korea appears to have made the international coalition against the North more solid.

During the military parade, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao stood alongside Kim on the podium overlooking Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square. Li reportedly told Kim that Beijing was determined to maintain its policy of pursuing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, working to ensure peace and security on the peninsula and resolving tensions through dialogue and consultations.

This can be taken as a message to Pyongyang to return to the six-nation talks, as Beijing is resolved not to allow North Korea to possess nuclear weapons or engage in military provocations.

China, as the largest donor country and trade partner of North Korea, has a life-or-death influence over the North. Beijing’s stance on seeking North Korea’s denuclearization will now be put to the test.

In regard to North Korea’s call for a direct dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington, the United States has made such a dialogue contingent on the North abandoning its nuclear ambitions. This condition is quite reasonable.

North must heed others

Pyongyang, for its part, must heed the voices of Japan, the United States and South Korea, which are calling on the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula has changed dramatically since the signing of the armistice.

For one thing, South Korea has established diplomatic relations with China, and the value of its trade with Beijing has expanded to such an extent that it has surpassed its combined trade with Japan and the United States.

North Korea has made the choice of becoming a nuclear power, with the result that it cannot normalize diplomatic relations with Japan or the United States. As it has been driven into a corner, Pyongyang has even declared it is ready to “pull out of the deal” concerning the armistice agreement.

Japan, the United States, China and South Korea must remain vigilant to prevent North Korea from conducting new nuclear tests, missile launches or military provocations by firmly maintaining stringent sanctions to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programs.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 28, 2013)
(2013年7月28日01時09分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-30 07:39 | 英字新聞

首相アジア演説 ASEAN重視戦略の表明だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 28, 2013
Abe’s increased focus on ASEAN partnership a strategic move
首相アジア演説 ASEAN重視戦略の表明だ(7月27日付・読売社説)

A speech made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday served as a strong message to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a key economic and security partner of Japan.

During his visit to Southeast Asia, Abe delivered the speech on the Japan-ASEAN relationship in Singapore.

Using an airplane to describe relations between Japan and the rapidly growing region, Abe said, “Japan and ASEAN are like twin engines on the right and left wings.”

The prime minister also said his Abenomics economic measures would benefit ASEAN countries as both Japan’s imports from and exports to ASEAN members have doubled over the past decade. Abe is apparently determined to further bolster Japan-ASEAN ties.

Both Malaysia and Singapore, which Abe visited this week, are participants in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. Japan will likely seek ways to partner with them when the TPP talks enter the final stage.

Beyond economic alliance

Abe stressed that the nation’s relationship with ASEAN encompasses more than economic matters, saying the ties are “meaningful in ensuring regional security, particularly freedom of navigation at sea.” This year marks the 40th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN friendship and cooperation.

He made such remarks apparently with China in mind, as Beijing has attempted to assume control of the East and South China seas. Especially now, when Japan’s ties with China and South Korea have become strained, it is strategically significant for the government to deepen its partnership with ASEAN.

On Friday, Abe also met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who has been touring Asia. This meeting was seemingly effective in highlighting the Japan-U.S. alliance, which could be conducive to ensuring peace and prosperity in Southeast Asia.

Abe was to meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino in Manila on Saturday. During the meeting, Abe was expected to express his intention to provide the Philippines with patrol ships through the Official Development Assistance program.

The Philippines has been at loggerheads with China over the sovereignty of the Scarborough Shoal and other territories in the South China Sea. In light of this, helping the Philippines boost its maritime capability could serve as a symbolic aid gesture to benefit the whole ASEAN community.

Look to China allies

This is already Abe’s third visit to Southeast Asia since returning to power. Of the 10 ASEAN member countries, he has visited seven.

Cambodia and Laos, both nations that have close ties to China, are among the ASEAN members. With due consideration for local circumstances in both countries, the prime minister should also visit these nations in a bid to increase their understanding of Japan.

China has apparently attempted to undermine Japan-ASEAN relations due to its alarm over Abe’s aggressive diplomacy in the region.

To prevent military tensions with China from escalating, it is vital for Japan to seek regional stability in line with international regulations and the spirit of the rule of law by working together with the United States and other countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2013)
(2013年7月27日01時26分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-29 07:09 | 英字新聞

TPP交渉参加 攻守両にらみ戦略で挽回せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 27, 2013
Hammer out effective strategy to redeem lost time in TPP talks
TPP交渉参加 攻守両にらみ戦略で挽回せよ(7月26日付・読売社説)

At last Japan has entered talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade agreement, which have so far been conducted by 11 countries, including the United States.

Regarding Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed, “We will make full use of our negotiating power to protect what needs protecting and push for what we want, to seek the best way to serve national interests.”

To ensure that this country can make up for the time lost due to its late entry into the TPP talks, the government must beef up its defensive and offensive strategies.

The latest round of TPP negotiations took place in Malaysia from July 15, and Japan joined the talks as the 12th member for only two and a half days in the final phase of the round that ended Thursday.

By taking part in the talks, Japan received for the first time a pile of texts on the TPP negotiations comprising 29 chapters on such subjects as abolition of tariffs, intellectual property rights and investment.

Talks may be prolonged

It is of great significance that Japan can now grasp the entire picture of issues that have been discussed among TPP members.

The next TPP gathering is scheduled for late August in Brunei, while consultations on the TPP between Japan and the United States will be conducted in parallel with the Brunei round from August on.

The government must waste no time working out how to deal with the increasingly accelerating pace of the TPP talks by making a detailed analysis of the assertions of each participant country.

The United States and some other TPP participants have set a goal of finalizing a basic agreement in the negotiations by October and concluding the talks by the end of the year. The TPP representative of Malaysia said in a news conference on Thursday that his country will energetically engage in discussions to complete them as scheduled.

However, the TPP countries are still at loggerheads regarding the abolition of tariffs, the main point of contention, which has apparently caused the negotiations to stall.

Given the current pace of the talks, it is unlikely they will be concluded by the end of the year. Indications are that the negotiations may continue into next year.

Although Japan, as a late starter, remains in a difficult position in the negotiations, prolonged talks may give Japan more room to make up for lost time.

In its platform for the recent House of Councillors election, the Liberal Democratic Party pledged to “give top priority to securing exemption of five agricultural products,” including rice and wheat, from tariff abolition.

In the upper chamber election, Toshio Yamada of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA Zenchu) secured his reelection as one of the highest-ranking winners in the proportional representation contest. Yamada has pledged to press the government to protect national interests without fail in the TPP talks.

Another upper house member, Hidehisa Otsuji, who ran in the Kagoshima prefectural constituency on a platform of opposing the TPP, won an upper house seat for the fifth time.

‘Going on the offensive’

While some LDP legislators remain firmly opposed to the TPP, the government and the LDP must buckle down to swiftly push ahead with concrete measures for improving the competitiveness of the nation’s agriculture, in preparation for further opening of the domestic farm market to foreign competition.

Given that the TPP is aimed at a high degree of trade liberalization, protecting rice and other farm products as exemptions from tariff abolition will not necessarily secure Japan’s national interests.

A well-balanced strategy must be hammered out in this respect.

Of higher importance for Japan is to “go on the offensive” by increasing exports of motor vehicles and electronics through tariff abolition, as well as establishing an environment conducive to business activity through such steps as lifting restrictions on capital investment from abroad.

The envisaged TPP pact will constitute a huge free trade zone accounting for about 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

Japan must utilize the TPP to tap the vigor of other economies in Asia, to spur the nation’s economic growth.

How can Japan play a leading role in crafting trade and investment rules in Asia? How to address this challenge is of crucial significance, and could determine the fate of the growth strategy on which the Abe administration has placed such importance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 26, 2013)
(2013年7月26日01時18分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-28 07:54 | 英字新聞

憲法改正 実現への布石を周到に打て

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 26, 2013
Prepare carefully for long, winding road of amending the Constitution
憲法改正 実現への布石を周到に打て(7月25日付・読売社説)

Debate on amending the Constitution has taken concrete form since the recent House of Councillors election. It is imperative that discussions on the issue be developed further.

We urge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration to carefully and throughly take steps to gather momentum to realize the goal of amending the Constitution.

A point of contention during the upper house campaign was whether to change Article 96, which stipulates procedures for constitutional revision. Parties have argued over whether to relax the requirements for amending the Constitution.

Currently, the approval of at least two-thirds of the legislators in both chambers of the Diet is necessary to initiate amendments to the top law. After the upper house election, the parties that actively support amending the Constitution--the Liberal Democratic Party, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party--still did not have a two-thirds majority in the chamber. Hurdles remain high for amending the top law.

However, if the seats held by New Komeito--which favors adding new philosophies and provisions to the Constitution without changing the existing ones--are factored in, that would achieve the two-thirds requirement. Komeito’s actions hold the key to constitutional revision.

Komeito should present ideas

According to the party’s pledges for the upper house election, it seeks to discuss a number of issues regarding “adding new elements” to the Constitution: environmental rights, expanding the scope of local autonomy, stipulating the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in the top law and how the nation should contribute to the international community.

We urge New Komeito to hold thorough discussions on the issues and specify its ideas in a draft proposal. That would help clarify the similarities and differences between New Komeito and other parties, such as its coalition partner, the LDP, on the issues. It would also help expand discussions on amending the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Your Party has said there are other things to be accomplished before amending the Constitution, including civil service reform. The party has proposed radical ideas for civil service reform, such as eliminating the jobs of 100,000 national government officials and allowing government officials to be laid off as easily as employees at private companies, in exchange for giving them the right to strike.

We can never agree to making such reforms a precondition for amending the Constitution, as the two issues can be dealt with simultaneously.

Start from pending issues

Abe has said he will deal with constitutional revision “without haste, and move forward on the issue with persistence.” The prime minister stressed he will first deal with unresolved issues involving the National Referendum Law, which was enacted during the first Abe administration. We believe Abe’s decision is appropriate, as those issues will lay the basic groundwork for amending the Constitution.

The National Referendum Law stipulates procedures for a national referendum for constitutional amendments. It allows those aged 18 and older to participate in such referendums.

To be consistent, the law’s supplementary provisions require lawmakers to discuss lowering the minimum voting age for elections, which is stipulated in the Public Offices Election Law, and the age of adulthood stipulated in the Civil Code, from the current 20 to 18. The provisions also call for the review of the National Civil Service Law, which limits the political activities of government officials.

All the issues are long overdue. Lawmakers were expected to reach conclusions on the issues before the National Referendum Law was put into force in May 2010.

We urge both the ruling and opposition parties to start discussions on the unresolved issues as soon as possible.

Even if the Diet succeeds in initiating constitutional amendments, it is the public that makes the final decision on revising the Constitution via referendums. A majority of all votes cast in a referendum is needed to amend the Constitution--it would never be an easy task.

LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba has revealed the idea of hosting meetings across the nation aimed at explaining to the public the necessity of amending the Constitution. The meetings would be carried out as easy-to-understand dialogues, according to Ishiba.

To amend the Constitution, efforts to nurture public awareness of the necessity of constitutional amendments are essential. There are three years left, at most, before the next national election. The time should be used strategically for the goal of amending the Constitution.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 25, 2013)
(2013年7月25日02時15分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-27 08:25 | 英字新聞

夏休みの安全 子どもを犯罪から守りたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 25, 2013
Children deserve to have a safe and crime-free summer vacation
夏休みの安全 子どもを犯罪から守りたい(7月24日付・読売社説)

School is out for summer, and children are free to play outdoors. Yet even at this happy time, measures must be taken to ensure no children fall victim to crimes during their summer vacation.

In late June, a man with a knife injured three first-grade primary school students in front of the gate to a ward primary school in Nerima Ward, Tokyo. The incident took place while the boys were on their way home from school. In mid-July, a fifth-grade primary school student suffered serious injuries when she was beaten by a man on the street in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki Prefecture.

National Police Agency statistics remind us of the disturbing reality that not even children under 13 are safe from criminals. Crimes against them include a significant number of serious offenses, such as sexual assaults and attacks resulting in grave injuries.

Parents should immediately call the police if their children have been spoken to or followed by suspicious persons.

Adults must stay on guard

It is essential for the police to thoroughly investigate such cases, while also providing information about suspicious individuals to local organizations likely to be affected by such incidents, including school authorities and neighborhood associations.

School administrators have taken measures to better protect the safety of their students in recent years. The move was prompted by a stabbing incident that took place in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, in 2001 at a primary school affiliated with Osaka Kyoiku University. Eight students at Ikeda Primary School were killed by a knife-wielding man, and many others were injured.

Ikeda Primary School has set up a class called “anzen-ka” (safety course) in which students are encouraged to discuss what they should do if they face such situations as total strangers talking to them on the street. An increasing number of schools are adopting similar safety education programs.

A large number of primary and middle schools have installed security cameras and other protective devices around their buildings and grounds, hoping to detect any suspicious person attempting to intrude.

In other cases, parents accompany their children to and from school, while crime-prevention volunteers from neighborhood associations patrol school-commuting roads. Local communities are making progress in implementing various steps to prevent children from becoming crime victims.

However, defense of children tends to become lax during the summer vacation. Particular attention should be given to the safety of children during certain hours of the day--for instance, when they are playing outdoors, and while they are on their way to and from cram schools and or swimming courses. At such times, it is difficult for grown-ups to keep an eye on children. Given this, it is advisable to make sure children carry crime prevention buzzers with them when they go out, so they can sound an alarm if necessary.

Teach kids to be alert

Most importantly, children should be taught how to escape from crimes targeting them. They need to develop such awareness on a routine basis, when it comes to averting potential danger.

For instance, it is a good idea for both parents and children to confirm whether any hazards exist in their neighborhood, such as a vacant house into which children could be taken or an unlit street. Parents would be well advised to tell their children to stay away from such high-risk places.

In many areas around the nation, shops, private homes and other buildings have been designated as emergency shelters for children. Those in charge of such shelters agree to provide temporary protection for children who encountered danger, and report it to the police. If they have been taught where such facilities are located, children will be able to run to the shelter when they recognize danger.

Other facilities that can play a role in crime prevention include convenience stores that stay open round the clock or till late at night.

It is essential for families and local communities to join hands in making sure children can spend the summer vacation in safety.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 24, 2013)
(2013年7月24日01時22分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-26 07:43 | 英字新聞

安倍政権の課題 国力の向上へ経済に集中せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 24, 2013
Abe administration must focus on economy to enhance nation’s power
安倍政権の課題 国力の向上へ経済に集中せよ(7月23日付・読売社説)


The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must make all-out efforts to revitalize the national economy and concentrate on enhancing national power.

The administration has made a new start after the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito scored an overwhelming victory in Sunday’s House of Councillors election.

Abe met with Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi Monday to confirm their policy of strengthening cooperation. It will be necessary for the two parties, which failed to put forth common campaign platforms for the upper house poll, to steadily promote coordination on various policies.


In a news conference on Monday, Abe stressed he would put utmost priority on economic policy, saying, “Ending 15 years of deflation will be a historic undertaking.”

The foundation for social security, diplomacy and security cannot be bolstered unless the country can regain a strong economy and national power. Revitalizing the national economy is a way of meeting the expectations the people expressed in the upper house election.

Sales tax hike key issue

The biggest focal point for the moment is whether the government will decide to raise the consumption tax from 5 percent to 8 percent in April as scheduled.

Abe said he would make a prudent decision by autumn after analyzing such economic data as the real-term gross domestic product for the April-June quarter, which will be released on Aug. 12.

The economy has been picking up steadily due to the effect of Abenomics. But raising the consumption tax before a full-scale business recovery may affect the economy adversely. Some of the prime minister’s economic advisers have come out in favor of postponing a tax increase.

On the other hand, the nation’s fiscal condition is the worst among industrialized countries. Japan has made an international pledge to implement midterm fiscal reconstruction. The adverse effect of postponing a consumption tax increase on the government bond market is also a matter of concern.

In a recent Moscow meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 economies, Finance Miniser Taro Aso said the tax increase would be carried out as scheduled. Abe faces a hard policy decision on how to reach a balance between economic growth and fiscal reconstruction.

Discussions on the consumption tax hike will be also unavoidable from the standpoint of promoting reforms of the social security system. Based on conclusions of the national conference on social security reform to be announced in August, the government needs to set forth policies to curb medical bills and pension benefits, which have been burgeoning due to the graying of society, as well as concrete measures to deal with the declining birthrate.

The government is being put to the test over how to implement a growth strategy, the “third arrow” of Abenomics after bold monetary easing and fiscal stimulation.

Abe regards the autumn extraordinary Diet session as an opportunity to realize his administration’s growth strategy and is aiming for early passage of a bill to boost the competitiveness of the Japanese industry, including an investment tax cut to encourage businesses to make capital investment.

Boosting the vitality of Japanese companies could help realize a virtuous circle of wage hikes and an expansion of job opportunities.

In promoting the growth strategy, however, it is essential to secure a stable supply of electricity.

TPP talks in full swing

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has launched safety checks of nuclear power plants seeking to restart their idled reactors in line with new safety standards. To efficiently implement various kinds of safety checks, the safety examination system of the NRA should be reinforced.

Abe’s leadership is also needed to win the understanding of local governments and communities to resume the operations of nuclear plants.

The government should promote a realistic energy policy, while considering its impact on the economy, employment and the global environment.

Also important are the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which Japan will join for the first time on Tuesday. Japan should seize the opportunity to promote free trade and bring out the vitality of Asia.

Efforts must also be made to boost the international competitiveness of our agricultural sector in preparation for market liberalization.

On the diplomatic front, the biggest issue is how to improve bilateral relations with China.

Abe said, “The important thing is to have heart-to-heart talks with each other,” emphasizing the importance of dialogue. Also needed are persistent diplomatic efforts by both Japan and China to solve their differences.

China is still behaving provocatively by having its marine surveillance vessels sail around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. It was also recently learned that China is developing a new gas field near the median line between Japan and China in the East China Sea, which is escalating bilateral friction.

With China’s recent aggressive and intimidating actions and its military buildup, and North Korea’s nuclear and missile development threats, Japan’s security environment has been deteriorating.

Review collective self-defense

It is only reasonable for the government to review its interpretation of the Constitution with regard to the use of the right to the collective self-defense, a pending issue for many years. Such a review would strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance.

An expert panel of the government will compile a new report on the issue by mid-October and is expected to propose that Japan should exercise its right to collective self-defense. Based on the proposal, the government should proceed to change its interpretation of the supreme law.

The nation’s security system needs to be strengthened by establishing the Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, promoting the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to the Henoko district in Nago and compiling new National Defense Program Outlines.

The next national election is not scheduled for three years. It is crucial for Abe to proceed with diplomatic and security issues step by step, together with his economic policy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 23, 2013)
(2013年7月23日01時31分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-25 07:37 | 英字新聞

参院選自公圧勝 数に傲らず着実に政策実現を

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 23, 2013
Coalition must not be arrogant but should firmly pursue policy goals
参院選自公圧勝 数に傲らず着実に政策実現を(7月22日付・読売社説)


The ruling coalition parties have scored a resounding electoral victory following their landslide in the December 2012 House of Representatives election.

In Sunday’s House of Councillors election, the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, garnered a majority in the 242-seat upper chamber, including seats that were uncontested this time.

It is of great significance that the divided Diet, in which the upper house was controlled by opposition parties, has been brought to an end.

There is no national election scheduled for up to three years.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration has now acquired an environment that will allow it to buckle down to various policy tasks. Among them are making the nation’s economic recovery compatible with fiscal reconstruction, strengthening the country’s security arrangements and considering the wisdom of revising the Constitution.

However, neither the LDP nor Komeito should be complacent or arrogant about their newly won political power but instead should engage in managing the Diet considerately and respectfully.

Voters favor stability

The divided state of the legislature developed six years ago as a result of the first Abe Cabinet’s suffering a crushing defeat in the 2007 upper house contest. Abe’s triumph this time has avenged that defeat.

When the outcome of the latest upper house race began emerging late Sunday night, Abe said on a TV program his administration was given a “great voice of encouragement from the public, which wants a political process capable of making decisions, achieving a stable government and moving ahead with our economic policies.”

The stagnation and political turmoil caused by the divided Diet were major factors behind the anomaly of a new prime minister every year. Many voters this time favored political stability as pointed out by the prime minister.

The prime minister’s package of economic policies, dubbed Abenomics, was the focus of contention in the upper house election and can be said to have won the public’s confidence, at least for now.

However, Abenomics has not yet produced any conspicuous improvements in the income of ordinary citizens or employment. It remains unclear whether the national economy can really break away from deflation.

To meet the public’s expectations for economic revival, the prime minister must do his utmost to produce tangible results by mobilizing all available resources of the government and the ruling coalition parties.

The resounding win of the LDP, the only party in the latest upper house election that did not call for “reducing nuclear power generation to zero,” can be considered proof that voters favorably evaluated the party’s down-to-earth approach to energy problems.

Moves for realignment

The LDP was strong enough in the upper house race to score 29 wins versus two losses in single-seat prefectural constituencies, while also garnering seats in all multiple-seat constituencies. Komeito also performed well in securing upper house seats.

The LDP’s victory in prefectural constituency contests owed partly to the poor performance of opposition parties, just as in last year’s lower house election, and to the circumstances under which they found themselves scrambling among themselves for upper house seats.

Voter turnout, meanwhile, fell well below the level in the previous upper house election. It seems some voters averse to the LDP might have chosen to abstain from voting.

The DPJ suffered a crushing defeat, the worst since its inauguration, in the upper house election. In many cases, the party was defeated by other opposition parties even in multiple-seat prefectural electoral districts.

There can be no denying that the desire to “punish” the DPJ for a pile of policy blunders while in power remains deeply ingrained among the public.

The election result shows the DPJ, as in the past, lacked solidarity as a party. One such example is that former Prime Minister Naoto Kan openly backed a candidate in the Tokyo constituency who had to run as an independent after the party dropped her from its ticket.

Taking into consideration the DPJ’s dogmatic “out-and-out opposition” in the Diet and its ambiguous stance on such key issues as the Constitution, the DPJ failed to attract the votes of those critical of the Abe administration.

DPJ leader Banri Kaieda expressed his intention to stay on as head of the party. The party leadership has no option but to clarify responsibility and start afresh after reflecting on its crushing defeat in the latest election. If it fails to do so, it may cease to be one of the two major parties in the next lower house election.

Those who bolted from the DPJ also failed miserably in the latest election. People’s Life Party failed to win a seat even in the Iwate constituency, the home base of its leader, Ichiro Ozawa, symbolizing his declining political clout. Green Wind lost its seat in the upper house.

While Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party saw gains in their upper house seats, the parties cannot be considered to have solidified their foothold as the “third major force” in the upper house.

During the election campaign, Ishin no Kai coleader Toru Hashimoto criticized the DPJ for being supported by labor unions of public servants and asserted the need of forming a “new opposition party” that has no affiliation with business organizations and “can rival the LDP.”

The opposition camp is certain to reorganize in a bid to explore a way to create a force that can fight the ruling coalition.

The JCP, which advocated “confrontation with the LDP,” made major gains in the election, as it did in the recent Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. The low voter turnout must have served as a spur to the highly organized party.

Focus on growth strategy

For the time being, the Abe administration will deal with the tasks of implementing its growth strategy plans, deciding whether to raise the consumption tax rate as planned and reviewing the government’s interpretation of the Constitution with regard to the right to collective self-defense. It also intends to proceed with the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and the establishment of the Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council.


All of these are important issues that affect the nation’s future.

We hope the administration will realize them by strategically setting priorities.

Abe said, “Now that the divided Diet has come to an end, we can no longer lay the onus on the opposition parties” if the ruling camp fails to handle these tasks adequately. How well the government and the ruling parties can deal with these issues will be tested in the days ahead.

Another focus will be on Komeito’s future actions. During the campaign, the party said it would act as a brake on some of the LDP’s policies.

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi has even said the party would “adamantly oppose” a review of the government’s interpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, as Abe advocates.

Abe needs to consult with Yamaguchi afresh over the tasks facing the ruling coalition. It is vital for both to cooperate by communicating with each other well so they can properly manage the powerful ruling parties.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 22, 2013)
(2013年7月22日03時38分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-24 07:10 | 英字新聞

性犯罪の起訴状 被害者匿名が必要な時もある

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 20, 2013
Crime victims’ names should be kept anonymous in some cases
性犯罪の起訴状 被害者匿名が必要な時もある(7月19日付・読売社説)

Should the real names of victims of crimes be mentioned in an indictment? In a rare development, the court and prosecutors involved in a case are locking horns on the matter.

In a bill of indictment for an indecent assault charge, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office left out the name of the victim, who was a minor. The Tokyo District Court disputed the omission and called for the name to be given.

If prosecutors refuse to comply with the court’s request, it is feared that hearings for the case will be canceled following the dismissal of the prosecution.

The minor in the case was assaulted in an indecent manner in a park restroom. In response to a complaint filed by the child’s parents, the prosecutors indicted a man in his 20s. The parents told the prosecutors up front they would “withdraw the complaint if the child’s name were revealed.”

This is probably because they feared the accused might harbor a potentially dangerous grudge against their child, among other concerns.

Law murky on issue

Indecent assault is an offense that can only be prosecuted after a complaint is filed. Therefore, indictment is not possible without a complaint. The prosecutors, it may be said, had no choice but to withhold the victim’s name in the indictment to prevent the family from having to bear the burden of the offense on their own.

The child was presumably selected at random by the accused. Even before the assault, the alleged offender was not aware of the name of his victim. Disclosing the name in the prosecution process could become problematic from the standpoint of protecting victims of crimes.

The district court took issue with the prosecution’s omission out of concern that withholding the victim’s name would undermine the criminal trial system, which is based on the use of real names. Though there is no such specific requirement in the Criminal Procedure Code, in principle the victim’s name is usually mentioned in addition to other information such as the time and date of the crime committed against that person.

Behind this practice is the idea that if the victim’s name, which is an indispensable element in establishing a crime, is not identified, it could disadvantage the accused when the defense is making a rebuttal.

In fact, in trials over molestation and other crimes, lawyers have proved the accused’s innocence by constructing an effective defense based on information gathered through acquaintances of people claiming to be victims.

Still, it should not be assumed that the names of sex crime victims should always be withheld in indictments.

Overly strict stance

In the case in question, the accused has not disputed the facts presented. If the child’s name remains hidden, it should not negatively affect the court hearings. The district court’s request for disclosure of the name seems to be an excessively rigid stance.

The need to protect victims in judicial procedures was highlighted in connection with a stalking and murder case that occurred last autumn in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture.

When police read the victim’s address aloud as written on the arrest warrant, the offender was made aware of the victim’s whereabouts and found the new address after being released from jail. This provoked the final tragedy in which the victim was murdered.

In a trial at the Kobe District Court’s Himeji branch, a victim’s name was written in katakana on an indictment. This is one example showing that trial and error continue on this issue on the judicial front.

The Supreme Court’s Training and Research Institute for Court Officials will soon investigate the issue of anonymity by reviewing cases that have set precedents on the matter. It is essential for the results of such research to be utilized to help judges facing these kinds of decisions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 19, 2013)
(2013年7月19日01時49分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-23 07:42 | 英字新聞

エジプト情勢 民政復帰への道のりは険しい

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 21, 2013
After military coup d'etat, Egypt faces bumpy road to civilian rule
エジプト情勢 民政復帰への道のりは険しい(7月20日付・読売社説)

Egypt’s provisional government has been inaugurated, led by interim President Adly Mansour. Mansour replaced former President Mohammed Morsi, who was dismissed in a de facto military coup d’etat.

In fact, it is a military-led government. Defense Minister Abidel Fattah el-Sissi retains his post and doubles as the first vice premier. Many economic experts have been appointed as Cabinet ministers in light of the people’s discontent over the worsening economic situation and to make a show of the government’s emphasis on economic policy.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other leaders of secular groups have been given key government posts.

But the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s support base, refused to join the interim government.

Stability cannot be expected

Given that the Islamist elements are not taking part in the government, it is hardly possible to expect the political situation to stabilize.

Since the military took the extralegal step of detaining Morsi, who was elected by popular vote, Brotherhood supporters have continued protests in the streets, demanding Morsi’s reinstatement. Increasingly bloody consequences are feared in the wake of clashes between Brotherhood supporters and government security forces and other incidents.

Mansour has announced a political road map for return to a civilian government, probably with the aim of stabilizing national sentiment.

The road map calls for a committee of experts from legal and other fields to draft a proposal on constitutional revision by October. The proposal will be put to a national referendum by November. A parliamentary election is scheduled to be held by January, and a procedure to elect a president will start after a new parliament is convened.

But will things turn out as planned? A bumpy road lies ahead.

If Islamist forces are eliminated, the process will lack legitimacy. The interim government and the Brotherhood should sit down at a negotiating table as early as possible. Naturally, Morsi’s release is a prerequisite for this.

In addition to restoring public safety and achieving a return to civilian rule, the interim government must strive to overcome an economic crisis. In particular, it is essential to bring back foreign tourists and investments.

Gulf monarchies vow aid

Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies, which are wary of the growing influence of Brotherhood elements in their own countries, have pledged to provide a huge amount of economic assistance for the Egyptian provisional government.

Using such aid as leverage, the interim government must work toward resolving a shortage of foreign exchange reserves and achieving a full-scale economic recovery.

Protracted chaos in Egypt would inevitably destabilize the Middle East as a whole, and spikes in crude oil prices and other destabilizing factors would adversely affect the world economy.

Japan, the United States and European countries have not suspended economic assistance to Egypt despite the coup. This is because they put priority on the stabilization of Egypt. They should cooperate in urging the military and interim government to realize national reconciliation and a return to civilian rule as early as possible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 20, 2013)
(2013年7月20日01時02分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-07-22 08:00 | 英字新聞