<   2014年 06月 ( 20 )   > この月の画像一覧

ODA大綱改定 平和構築へ戦略性を高めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Peace-building efforts should be strategic priority of ODA
ODA大綱改定 平和構築へ戦略性を高めよ

Japan should make active use of its official development assistance programs to help crystallize the goal of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in transforming the country into a “proactive contributor to peace.”

On Thursday, a Foreign Ministry panel of experts presented a report to Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida after wrapping up discussions on a review of Japan’s ODA Charter, a set of principles governing the country’s overseas development aid. The government is set to give Cabinet approval to a new ODA Charter by the end of the year, completing the first major review in 11 years.

The report cites the “pursuit of international peace through nonmilitary activities” as one of the guiding principles of ODA funding.

Conventionally, the government has banned assisting foreign military forces with Japan’s ODA. The report by the panel, however, recommends that aid to foreign militaries be permitted on a case-by-case basis, asserting that support for armed forces activities concerning nonmilitary objectives such as stabilizing citizens’ livelihoods and disaster relief “should not be excluded uniformly” simply because they are military-related.

A number of potential projects would be included in the envisioned uses of ODA funding, including improvement of ports, harbors and airports for joint military and civilian use and inviting military personnel from abroad for disaster relief training and other nonmilitary operations.

Many countries have been utilizing military forces in peace-building, the enhancement of people’s living standards and other objectives. ODA disbursements are an important diplomatic policy resource for Japan, and utilizing those funds for such purposes is commendable and in keeping with the philosophy of “proactive contribution to peace.”

Coordination with U.N.

Regarding ODA funding for the purpose of peace-building, the government has decided to provide the Philippines with 10 patrol boats using yen loans. A provision of patrol boats to Vietnam is also being considered.

China has been maneuvering to make maritime advances by force in the South China Sea. Helping the Philippines and Vietnam beef up their maritime security capabilities will help to ensure the safety of key sea lanes vital to maritime transport of trade and energy for Japan. Such strategic use of ODA must be expanded.

The report also proposes advocating strengthened coordination between Japan’s ODA and U.N. peacekeeping activities. This suggestion is based on the National Security Strategy approved by the Cabinet last December, which calls for a similar roadmap.

Under the strategy, Self-Defense Forces members participating in U.N. peacekeeping activities will engage in projects such as building roads and facilities, while the Japan International Cooperation Agency helps ODA-recipient countries expedite their nation-building endeavors. Every possible effort must be made to ensure optimal synergy between SDF activities and JICA operations.

Japan’s ODA missions are marking their 60th anniversary this year. The government’s budgetary appropriations for ODA projects peaked in fiscal 1997 at about ¥1.17 trillion, and have been on the decline, standing at about ¥550 billion for the current fiscal year, less than half the peak level. Now is the time to put the brakes on the downward trend in ODA outlays.

The report also stresses the significance of increasing the roles played by private-sector funds in developmental cooperation fields.

It is estimated that private-sector funds flowing from industrially advanced countries into developing countries total around 2.5 times as much capital as the aggregate of all global ODA.

Improving infrastructure in developing nations though an organic linking of government ODA with the business activities of Japanese companies should run parallel to Japan’s growth strategy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2014)

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-30 11:48 | 英字新聞

首相沖縄訪問 米軍基地負担を着実に減らせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Government must work to reduce Okinawa U.S. base-hosting burdens
首相沖縄訪問 米軍基地負担を着実に減らせ

The government must make utmost efforts to steadily ease the burden that hosting U.S. military bases places on Okinawa Prefecture.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a memorial service on Monday for those killed in the war commemorating the 69 years since the end of the Battle of Okinawa, which raged just before the Pacific War came to an end in 1945.

In a speech at the ceremony, Abe said: “We will give consideration to the feelings of the people of Okinawa and will do our best to reduce their burden for hosting the bases, while assuming a stance of carrying out what we can do as much as possible.”

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima last December approved a reclamation project necessary to transfer the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to the Henoko coastal district in Nago. Nakaima had previously called for “relocation to a place outside Okinawa” in a peace declaration at the ceremony for three consecutive years, 2011-13. This year, however, he changed his wording to shift away from insistence on a plan for relocation outside of Okinawa.

His difficult about-face on the matter came as strong calls persist among prefectural residents for relocation outside of Okinawa. To show good faith in supporting Nakaima after his wrenching decision, the government must implement various measures to reduce the prefecture’s burden in hosting U.S. military bases.

The Futenma issue is expected to be a major topic of contention in November’s gubernatorial election, as Nakaima’s term in office ends. Nakaima remains uncommitted on whether he will run for a third term. At the same time, the conservative mayor of Naha, an opponent of the Henoko relocation plan, has been seeking to run in the election.

To minimize the impact of the gubernatorial election results on the relocation plan, it is imperative to take every possible measure.

Advance return of Futenma

The central government reportedly plans to begin boring as part of soil investigations at the planned reclamation site in July and to advance construction work on replacement facilities ahead of schedule as much as possible. It is imperative that the planned return of Futenma Air Station and associated land to Japan, targeted for fiscal 2022 and onward, be advanced as much as possible by speeding design and construction.

Tokyo and Washington agreed last week to restrict entry into the area scheduled for land reclamation and the surrounding waters at all times.

This may be an inevitable step to preclude obstruction by opponents and avoid unexpected confusion. To help promote the work, not only the Defense Ministry but also the National Police Agency, as well as the Japan Coast Guard and other relevant organizations, must join hands in taking all possible measures.

The government is also looking into the possibility of drastically pushing forward the return of Camp Kinser in Makiminato, which has been targeted for return to Japan in 2024-25 or later.

Japan and the United States have also been negotiating to conclude a new agreement under which environmental surveys for U.S. bases to be returned to Japan would be conducted in advance. This could amount to a de facto revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. If such a change were to be realized, it would have a great significance.

As for training involving the U.S. military’s MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft deployed at the Futenma base, efforts must be made to move more training to areas outside of Okinawa Prefecture. It is essential that the prefecture’s heavy burden be shared broadly across the whole of Japan.

Moving forward with the realignment of U.S. bases in Okinawa, while maintaining deterrence capabilities of U.S. troops, and completing this work in conjunction with regional development, will be an important part of reinforcing trust between the Abe administration and the local governments and residents of Okinawa.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2014)

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-27 10:56 | 英字新聞

被災地の防潮堤 地域に応じた見直しが必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Seawall plans should be amended to suit the needs of local people
被災地の防潮堤 地域に応じた見直しが必要だ

Plans to build huge seawalls along the coastal areas hit hardest by the Great East Japan Earthquake have been met with staunch opposition from local residents one after another. We urge the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectural governments to calmly reexamine their seawall plans and alter them as necessary.

In the 2011 earthquake, 60 percent of seawalls with a total length of about 300 kilometers in the three prefectures were either seriously damaged or destroyed. The central and three prefectural governments are currently pushing a project to build 390 kilometers of new seawalls with ¥800 billion from state coffers.

To prepare for tsunami, adequately sized seawalls must be constructed. The problem is that many communities are opposed to the project as local residents consider the proposed walls “too high.”
“[The seawalls] will leave less land available along the coasts, adversely affecting fisheries” and “They will block ocean views” are two of the opinions expressed by local residents.

Miyagi Prefecture has yet to win approval for the project from 40 of 276 communities where the construction of new seawalls is planned.

Compared to the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which struck mainly urban areas, the disaster-hit regions in the three Tohoku prefectures are mostly depopulated. If the fishery and tourism industries on which local residents depend decline, their livelihood would be severely affected.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, is among those who have questioned the advisability of building such high seawalls, saying, “I’m not sure that reconstruction should be carried out in such a way that it will block ocean views.” We completely understand their concerns.

Study cost-effectiveness

The higher the seawall is the more effective it will be as a safeguard against tsunami. But on the other hand, higher seawalls are more expensive to construct, ruin scenic views and take a toll on the environment. Such seawalls also entail higher maintenance costs. Moreover, the life of concrete seawalls is roughly 50 years, which makes rebuilding them inevitable at some point in the future.

Also from the viewpoint of cost-effectiveness, the project should be carefully studied.

Each of the three prefectures has decided on the height of the seawalls based on guidelines compiled by an examination committee of experts at the Central Disaster Management Council. The standard of seawalls in the guidelines is to protect the lives and property of local residents in the event of a huge tsunami, which can occur once in a few decades or more than a century.

Under its plan, Miyagi Prefecture will raise the height of its seawalls from the pre-disaster average of four meters to 7.5 meters. That height, however, will be insufficient to block gigantic tsunami equivalent to those in the Great East Japan Earthquake, which are said to occur once in a millennium.

Instead, the purpose of building seawalls should be to reduce the force of tsunami, thereby securing more time for residents to flee the area. It is important to ensure the construction of seawalls is a part of comprehensive measures to minimize damage from a disaster that also include the establishment of evacuation centers and routes.

Some communities have lowered the planned height of seawalls, while taking such measures as transferring houses to higher ground and building seawalls in locations further inland.

If the prefectural governments insist on keeping the planned heights and invite a backlash from local residents as a result, it will further delay work to implement disaster management measures and scuttle efforts to rebuild communities, and placing roadblocks in the path of reconstructing people’s lives.

Bearing this in mind, the prefectural governments must listen to what local residents have to say.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 23, 201

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-25 07:30 | 英字新聞

河野談話検証 外交的配慮が事実に優先した

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Diplomatic consideration outweighed historical facts in Kono statement
河野談話検証 外交的配慮が事実に優先した

Once again a flaw in the 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on so-called comfort women has come to the fore.

A team of experts set up by the government has compiled a report examining the process of drafting the Kono statement, which was issued in August 1993 and expressed apologies and remorse to former comfort women.

South Korea demanded changes in certain expressions in the initial draft, saying The documents must be evaluated favorably by the South Korean people. The report shed light on the close coordination about the statement’s wording between the Japanese and South Korean governments.

Regarding whether coerciveness was involved in the recruitment of comfort women, a focal point of this issue, the 1993 statement said, “They were recruited generally against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc.”

In explaining why the statement used such expressions, the report clearly said, “...the question of how ‘coerciveness’ of the recruitment of the comfort women would be expressed and worded in the statement constituted the main issue of contention in the communication” with the South Korean side and “Coordination took place until the last moment.”

As for the Japanese military’s involvement in the establishment of comfort stations, the South Korean side insisted on using the expression “instruction,” which was rejected by Japan, the report said. Both sides eventually settled on the word “request” instead.

At the request of the South Korean government, the Japanese government interviewed 16 former comfort women, but the statement was drafted within the Japanese government before all the interviews were concluded.

Problem-plagued statement

It is clear that the government gave priority to making political compromises and paying diplomatic consideration over historical facts. It is a problem-plagued statement made jointly by Japan and South Korea.

Until this time, the Japanese government had avoided in-depth discussions to ascertain the facts regarding the issue of comfort women and the Kono statement.

Examining in detail the process of drafting the statement and releasing the results are meaningful in resolving misunderstanding in the international community about the issue of comfort women.

According to the report, the statement did not say the authorities were “forcefully taking away” women, as the Japanese government was not able to confirm it based on its investigations.

But at a press conference during which the statement was released, Kono responded to a question about whether women were forcefully taken away by saying, “We accept that to be the case.” Kono committed a serious transgression by further spreading wrong conceptions about the issue.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it clear that the government will not review the statement, a decision he probably made from the broader political perspective of seeking an improvement in relations between Japan and South Korea. Seoul, however, refuted Japan’s verification of the statement, saying the move could “impair the credibility of the statement.”

Since the Kono statement, there has been widespread misunderstanding in the world that Japan forcibly took away comfort women.

In the U.S. city of Glendale, Calif., Korean-Americans with strong ties with South Korea engaged in anti-Japanese activity by setting up a statue of a comfort woman.

The government has not launched effective counterarguments because of the Kono statement.

We believe it will eventually be unavoidable to change the statement.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2014)

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-24 07:17 | 英字新聞


June 19, 2014
EDITORIAL: Ishihara’s remark about interim storage facility adds insult to injury

No doubt about it. Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara’s insensitive remark about the problem of selecting a site to temporarily store radiation-contaminated soil reflected a slice of the grim reality of the terrible mess caused by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“In the end, it will come down to money,” Ishihara said, giving the impression that giving wads of cash to residents in Fukushima Prefecture was the only way to resolve the problem.

Indeed, there are a slew of issues in areas affected by the nuclear catastrophe that cannot be solved without payments of money. A huge amount of funds will be needed to pay compensation to victims, complete decontamination work of affected areas and rebuild disaster-hit areas. There is also the question of returning local residents to their homes and providing support for evacuees who are living in new areas.

But it is not money people in the affected areas in Fukushima really want.

What they really crave is a return to the good old days when they didn’t have to worry about radiation while working their rice and vegetable fields or spending their leisure time on the beach laughing with their children and grandchildren.

They know full well that they can’t get that life back. That is what makes their current situation all the more wretched.

It is the central government, not residents in areas around the Fukushima nuclear plant, that wants to solve all the problems with money.

Money is certainly a convenient tool. It seems to be a panacea for issues involving compensation.

Since the triple meltdown in 2011, however, money has been undermining the affected communities in Fukushima.

Some people in these communities have received payouts, while others haven’t. Some have received what was seen as “too much” compensation, while others felt the payments to them were “insufficient.”

Despite appearing to be neutral and impartial, the money has aggressively intruded into local communities, families and relationships between friends in a divisive manner.

Over the past three years, people in Fukushima have had enough painful experiences to make them aware of how money can create contradictions and emptiness. During the period, they have also had to fight the perception that they are pursuing money as their ultimate goal.

Given these circumstances, they have been struggling to pull themselves together, rebuild their relations with people around them and figure out how to live. It is people in Fukushima, not the central government, who have been addressing these weighty problems.

The same can be said about the proposed facility for interim storage of radioactive soil. The residents, quite naturally, do not want such a facility in their hometowns. But there can be no progress in the efforts to rebuild Fukushima unless contaminated soil can be stored somewhere.

Some people probably attended explanatory meetings for local residents as a way to escape from their anxieties and find answers for the way forward.

Ishihara’s remark broke the hearts of those people.

The government’s promise to dispose of the soil outside the prefecture within 30 years can now only sound hollow.

Which community outside the prefecture would be willing to accept a huge amount of contaminated soil?

The grossly irresponsible way the government has been making empty promises concerning the issue seems to be reflected in the callous attitude of the minister, who bluntly said that it is after all a question of money.

Since the controversial remark, Ishihara has been busy explaining what he meant and offering apologies.

The negotiations over the storage site have already been difficult and arduous.

It will be a formidable task to repair the government’s relations with the local communities that have been badly damaged by Ishihara’s gaffe.

Ishihara, the minister responsible for the issue of the storage site, didn’t attend any of the explanatory meetings held over a period of about two weeks.

Ishihara should visit the communities and listen to what their residents say.

Doing so would help him realize the grave implications of what he said and the seriousness of the damage it caused to the communities.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 19

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-23 13:39 | 英字新聞


June 18, 2014
EDITORIAL: Abe needs to get priorities right before reactor restarts

The central government has required all prefectural and municipal entities within a 30-kilometer radius of nuclear power plants to have their own emergency response plans.
This was one of the lessons of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Does it follow then that areas outside the 30-km radius are safe?

That is anything but the case, as indicated by estimates of predicted dispersions of radioactive materials made by local governments around nuclear power plants.

For example, the border of Hyogo Prefecture is at least 40 kilometers from the offline Oi and Takahama nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture, which operator Kansai Electric Power Co. intends to restart at an early date.

But the Hyogo prefectural government used data on past weather patterns to estimate what levels of radiation thyroid glands would be exposed to in the event of Fukushima-class disasters taking place at both the Oi and Takahama plants. It found that the doses could exceed the international benchmark of 50 millisieverts in seven days, even on Awajishima island, which is 150 kilometers from the nuclear power plants. Individuals exposed to radiation levels of 50 millisieverts or higher are advised to take iodine tablets to protect their thyroid glands from radiation.

Depending on wind direction, similar scenarios were also indicated for the cities of Kobe, Amagasaki, Nishinomiya and elsewhere along the Hanshin belt between Osaka and Kobe.

Simulations by the Shiga prefectural government found that, in a worst-case scenario, a Fukushima-class disaster at Oi could spread radioactive materials exceeding the international benchmark into the airspace above Lake Biwako, more than 40 kilometers away. Similarly affected areas could include parts of Kyoto and Osaka prefectures.

What do these estimates signify?


A major accident at a nuclear power plant releases radioactive substances, which will eventually contaminate surface areas. Under international standards, evacuations and decontamination work would be required in areas where an individual's total body irradiation level exceeds 100 millisieverts in seven days. In the event of a Fukushima-class disaster, the areas requiring evacuation and decontamination work would be roughly within a 30-km radius of the stricken plant.

But winds carry and spread airborne radioactive plumes further away. In areas where radioactive iodine in the atmosphere has not been sufficiently rarefied, thyroid glands are exposed to radiation and the risk of thyroid cancer rises, especially among small children. It is vital to put a system in place to speedily discern the spread of radioactive plumes and determine the right timing for people to take iodine tablets.

One other factor that must be taken into consideration is that when it rains along the plume's track, concentrations of cesium and other radioactive materials that have long-term effects will fall to the ground and contaminate the soil. When that happens, temporary measures will not be sufficient.

In the Fukushima Prefecture village of Iitate, about 40 km from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, rain fell just when a radioactive plume reached the community. Before the nuclear disaster, the villagers were in the process of building a self-sustaining farming operation in the belief that everyone could live happily. The village had not benefited financially from the nearby nuclear power plant. But since the disaster, the entire village has remained off-limits to the villagers.

The Union of Kansai Governments, whose members come from seven prefectures, including Osaka and Kyoto, has called on the central government to issue comprehensive guidelines on measures that should be taken in areas outside the 30-km radius from nuclear power plants, based on studies by local governments.

Viable evacuation plans, along with prepared guidelines, need to be in place before issuing the order to evacuate. Otherwise, chaos can result. This was made clear from statements given to the government’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations by Tetsuro Fukuyama, a former deputy chief Cabinet secretary who was in charge of the evacuation process during the Fukushima crisis.

Acknowledging the need for such guidelines, the central government states in its nuclear disaster response policy outline that the Nuclear Regulation Authority will consider defining the extent of evacuation zones and other matters. 国も必要性を認め、原子力規制委員会が範囲の設定などを検討すると、原子力災害対策指針に記している。

However, the NRA has yet to embark on this task in earnest, mainly because it is engaged in safety screenings ahead of nuclear power plant restarts.


With nuclear power generation, there is no such thing as "absolute safety"--no matter how stringent the regulations.  もちろん規制をいくら強めても「絶対に安全」はない。

If any nuclear power plant is to be put into operation, the very least that must be done is to get an accurate grasp of the areas that will be affected in the event of a disaster.
By the same token, residents of those areas need to be informed of the exact nature of the risks they face and the steps that will be taken in the event of a nuclear accident.

But to assume the central government understands this concept would be asking a lot.

Even though municipalities that host nuclear power plants will not be the only ones affected in a nuclear accident, the government's Strategic Energy Plan states that the central government "will strive to obtain the understanding and cooperation of people associated with the municipalities that host nuclear power plants" before restarting offline reactors.

Here, we can see right through the government's intent to press for the resumption of operations by taking advantage of those local governments' dependence on nuclear power plants for their fiscal and employment needs.

After the onset of the Fukushima disaster, Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada came up with the term "higai jimoto" to denote all local governments, not just those which host nuclear power plants, that could be seriously affected by a nuclear accident.

Kada demanded the central government recognize them all as affected parties and allow them to get involved in the process before restarting nuclear plants.

This is a legitimate demand. In reality, however, it is still only the municipal and prefectural governments hosting nuclear power plants that have any real say.

Toshiki Kudo, mayor of Hakodate in Hokkaido, who filed a lawsuit demanding the suspension of construction of the Oma nuclear power plant in neighboring Aomori Prefecture, warned that the same old "safety myth" of nuclear power generation will be perpetuated if the project is allowed to have its way.

"It will be game over for our country if the government stops trying its hardest to win the understanding of the people," Kudo said.

At a recent news conference on Japan's right to collective self-defense, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated that the government will "protect lives of the Japanese people." If he is genuinely committed to saving people's lives, he obviously needs to look squarely at all local communities that could be seriously affected by a nuclear disaster before he can even begin to argue in favor of restarting idle nuclear reactors.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 18

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-20 10:34 | 英字新聞

(社説)若者の意識 「どうせ」のその先へ

June 17, 2014
EDITORIAL: Young Japanese need help to outgrow defeatist mentality
(社説)若者の意識 「どうせ」のその先へ

An international survey has offered much reassurance to certain people who are pessimistic about Japan’s younger generations.
Some of these pessimists passionately argue that young Japanese do not take pride in their country because of “self-deprecating views” about Japanese history that have been firmly planted in their minds. Others vociferously claim that the consciousness of social norms among Japanese youth has declined because excessive individualism has prevailed.

They should feel a little easier now given the results of an online survey, conducted by the Cabinet Office from November to December 2013, covering males and females between the ages of 13 and 29 in Japan, South Korea, the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Sweden.
The survey drew responses from around 1,000 individuals in each country.
The findings were included in this year’s White Paper on Children and Young People that has been approved by the Cabinet.

Seventy percent of the Japanese respondents said they are proud of being their country’s nationals, the fourth-highest ratio following the figures for the United States, Sweden and Britain. In addition, 55 percent of the Japanese respondents said they want to do things that will contribute to their nation, the highest ratio among the seven countries.

When asked if they think individuals are free to do anything they want as long as they don’t cause trouble for others, only 42 percent of the Japanese young people said “yes,” a far lower ratio than the average of about 80 percent for the other countries.

Such a survey, of course, cannot reveal all of the views and feelings of young people. But it is still troubling to know that only 46 percent of the Japanese respondents felt content with themselves, compared with more than 70 percent in each of the six other countries.

How should we feel about the unique fact that far fewer young Japanese are content with themselves than those who are proud of their country?

The mind-set of children and young people of today offers hints about what is the invisible but prevailing mood in this society. There is no absolutely correct answer to the question. But we are tempted to think there is a strong undercurrent of a defeatist mentality symbolized by the Japanese word “dose” (anyway, in any case or after all) as used in such a sentence as “Dose dame da” (It's no use, anyway).

The survey found that just 62 percent of young Japanese had bright hopes for their future. Only 52 percent of the Japanese respondents were willing to tackle important challenges with enthusiasm even when success is not certain, while just 44 percent wanted to get involved in dealing with societal problems to make society better, according to the survey.
And only 30 percent of young Japanese said they think their participation may change even slightly the social phenomena they want improve. Japanese ranked at the bottom for all these questions.

“Dose” is a convenient word. If you don’t have high hopes, you can avoid disappointment. This can be described as a “happy” attitude toward life in this age of low economic growth.

If this “dose” mentality spreads, however, many people will view society, which they should shape themselves, as something that cannot be changed.

By playing certain roles in society, people fulfill their desire to be recognized by others and have positive feelings about their lives. A society dominated by the “dose” mind-set probably cannot perform that function well.

The current situation in Japan poses a serious test of the ability of the more-experienced adults to reject this defeatist mentality. They shouldn’t refuse this challenge by saying, “Such a naive approach can make no difference, anyway.”

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 17

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-19 07:32 | 英字新聞

イラク情勢緊迫 過激派の攻勢をどう抑えるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
What can be done to stop offensive by extremist Sunni insurgents in Iraq?
イラク情勢緊迫 過激派の攻勢をどう抑えるか

The situation in Iraq has become ever more strained. Rebels led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni extremist group advocating the creation of a new Islamic state, have seized several cities in northern Iraq.

The Iraqi administration of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is fighting back with air strikes, while recruiting volunteer soldiers from among his Shiite supporters.

This is indeed an alarming situation that increases the turmoil in the Middle East.

The ISIS is an Al-Qaida-inspired armed group. Having expanded its influence by riding the tide of Syria’s civil war, the ISIS is said to have grown to about 5,000 fighters. Upon entering another theater of war in Iraq, the group even declared it would eliminate the border with Syria.

The United States has announced a $10 million reward for its leader, who is dubbed the second Osama bin Laden.

Imposing strict Islam in seized areas, ISIS militants have killed people for refusing to pledge allegiance to the ISIS. This is a horrific situation from a humanitarian viewpoint. The United Nations has rightly condemned the ISIS, saying the executions were carried out immediately without any legal process. As the turmoil has been spreading, oil prices have begun rising on the market.

Maliki should also be held strictly responsible for having brought about the current situation. He has given preferential treatment to Shiites, who represent the majority of the Iraqi people, in the administration, while persistently driving out their Sunni political opponents.

Morale deteriorating

Even within the military forces and public security organizations, sectarian conflicts have surfaced, undermining the morale of personnel.

In the areas attacked by the ISIS, officers and soldiers are said to have fled, discarding their uniforms and equipment. These are the prices Maliki is paying for failing to pursue national reconciliation.

It would be difficult for his administration alone to stem the ISIS offensive. For the time being, it is necessary for the international community to support and cooperate with the Maliki administration to avoid further turmoil.

Holding the key to such efforts is how the United States reacts to the situation. U.S. President Barack Obama said he would not rule out any options. Later he sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, with possible air strikes in mind. But he remains negative about U.S. intervention in the conflict in Iraq and has already ruled out the possibility of putting U.S. troops on the ground there.

Obama was elected to the presidency by advocating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and completed their withdrawal in 2011.

The deteriorating situation in Iraq raises a question for Obama: Has the United States taken sufficient measures to maintain law and order in Iraq following its withdrawal?

A key point now is how Iran, a major Shiite country neighboring Iraq with a large influence on the Maliki administration, will act. The country is said to be ready to hold direct talks with the United States over assistance to Iraq, despite the fact that the two countries have broken off ties.

Other neighboring countries in the Middle East are urged to present a united front against the ISIS by joining international efforts.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 17, 2014)

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-18 14:53 | 英字新聞

(社説)諫早湾干拓 有明海再生は開門から

June 16, 2014
EDITORIAL: Open floodgates to restore the Ariake Sea
(社説)諫早湾干拓 有明海再生は開門から

The government is being forced to pay 490,000 yen (about $4,900) to plaintiffs per day as a penalty because it is not abiding by a finalized court ruling.

Needless to say, the fine is coming out of taxpayer money. The unbelievable penalty stems from a 2010 Fukuoka High Court ruling.

In 1997, Nagasaki Prefecture’s Isahaya Bay, located in the western part of the Ariake Sea in the Kyushu region, was closed off from the sea by a wall of floodgates for a government land reclamation project. As a result, a wide area of tidal land disappeared.

The 2010 court ruling ordered the government to open some of the floodgates within three years to assess the impact the opening will have on the environment in the sea. Though the deadline for the opening came in December 2013, the government has yet to comply.

Subsequently, the plaintiffs, many of whom are engaged in the local fishing industry, filed a petition with a court to require the government to abide by the ruling. As a result, the fine was assessed until the government complied.

Why does the government refuse to comply? The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says that the Nagasaki prefectural government and people engaged in farming the reclaimed land are opposed to the opening of the gates.

In November 2013, the Nagasaki District Court issued an injunction that sided with the farmers’ request barring the opening of the floodgates. The farmers also filed a petition to force the government to comply with the court's decision. Their demand that the government be forced to pay 490,000 yen to the plaintiffs per day if it opens the gates was also approved by the court.

Whether it opens the floodgates or not, the government has to pay a penalty. Saying, “Opening the floodgates or being prohibited from opening the floodgates, we cannot take sides on the two opposing positions,” the government is caught in a dilemma.

However, behind the conflicting court rulings is the government’s stubborn stance.

The government has yet to acknowledge the causal relationship between the closing of the bay and damage to the local fishing industry. The stance worked to the disadvantage of people engaged in fishing in the hearings at the Nagasaki District Court.

It is futile to spend more time for arguments in courts. It is the time to leave the judicial system for now and turn attention to the situation in the bay.

In the huge reservoir set up in the closed bay, the water quality has deteriorated, where noxious blue-green algae is being generated in large quantities every year. When the water level in the reservoir rises, the water there is discharged outside the closed bay. As a result, the reservoir has become a source of pollution in the Ariake Sea.

After the bay was closed, benthos, such as lugworms, decreased sharply in the entire Ariake Sea. Some researchers show that the decrease could be one of the causes of the damage to the fisheries industry.

In 2002, the agriculture ministry opened the floodgates for a short period. Then, the number of benthos increased sharply in less than a month. If seawater is allowed to flow into the reservoir, part of the purification function of the tidal land will be restored. As a result, a way to improve the environment in the reservoir and the Ariake Sea will be gained.

Opponents of opening the gates say that if they are opened, the livelihoods of farmers will be damaged. However, the ministry is showing confidence in measures to prevent adverse effects. If farmers have anxieties over these preventative steps, the ministry will be able to strengthen the measures.

What we cannot understand is the Nagasaki prefectural government's insistence on continuing to refuse even discussions on opening the floodgates. How much longer will it allow the conflict between local people to continue?

Now is the time for all the people concerned to combine their wisdom toward the restoration of the environment in the Ariake Sea and reconciliation between local people.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 15

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-17 12:36 | 英字新聞


June 14, 2014
EDITORIAL: Defense policy talks test New Komeito’s political integrity

In talks with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s initiative to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, junior coalition partner New Komeito is showing signs of accepting the policy switch if certain conditions are met.

With firm resolution, Abe is pursuing a formal Cabinet endorsement of a change in the government’s traditional interpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution.

New Komeito has discarded the option of dissolving its alliance with the LDP in order to protect its political integrity.
New Komeito appears to have given up hope of holding its own against the fierce political pressure from its much bigger ally, and has decided to focus on setting strict conditions for supporting Abe’s initiative.

No matter what conditions it may set, however, the fact is that New Komeito will endorse Japan’s exercise of the right to collective self-defense if it strikes a deal with the LDP. Compromising on this vital issue could create serious problems for the future. The party leadership should be aware of the huge political implications of its decision on this issue.

During talks between the two parties on June 13, Masahiko Komura, who represents the LDP side, proposed “three requirements” for Japan’s involvement in collective self-defense operations.

Komura’s personal proposal would change the first of the three requirements the LDP has suggested, which says that there should be urgent and unjust aggression against Japan.

The first requirement as proposed by Komura says: “An armed attack against Japan has started or an armed attack against another country has started and as a result there are concerns that Japan’s existence could be threatened and that the Japanese people’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness could be fundamentally violated.”

This proposal goes far beyond the “limited use” of the right indicated by the LDP. It could end up paving the way for the use of the nation’s right to collective self-defense in a wide range of situations.

The phrase that the people’s right could be “fundamentally violated” has been inserted in response to New Komeito’s argument.

This phrase was originally a part of the government’s 1972 statement, which said Japan is not allowed to exercise its right to collective self-defense. Komura has used an expression that was once used to describe a situation that allows Japan to exercise its right to individual self-defense in a cunning way that is useful for his purpose.

New Komeito believes that strict observance of the requirement would ensure that Japan’s actual use of the right to collective self-defense will be almost limited to situations in which U.S. warships carrying Japanese citizens for evacuation need protection.

But Komura’s proposal leaves room for a broader interpretation of the rule by containing the term “concerns” with regard to the possibility of the people’s right being “fundamentally violated.”

New Komeito is opposed to this potential loophole. The party is apparently trying to score at least some political points against the LDP by setting strict conditions.

Even so, there is no denying that New Komeito, if it accepts the LDP’s proposal, will help the Abe administration to change the government’s constitutional interpretation at will.

Imagine what could happen if this kind of departure from the rule of law is tolerated.

Isao Iijima, special Cabinet adviser, recently indicated the possibility of a change in the government’s interpretation about the constitutional principle of the separation of religion and politics. It was a thinly veiled warning to New Komeito, which is backed by the lay Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai.

Iijima’s remark is tantamount to the declaration that the powers that be might be free to change the official interpretation of not just the war-renouncing Article 9, but any other part of the Constitution that they don’t like.

Does New Komeito still intend to go along with the LDP’s attempt to force through an effective amendment to the Constitution?

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 14

by kiyoshimat | 2014-06-16 15:20 | 英字新聞