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五輪追加種目 「東京」を盛り上げる決定打に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Make additional sports events winning hits to enliven Tokyo Games
五輪追加種目 「東京」を盛り上げる決定打に

It is hoped that the new initiative in which host cities pick out additional sports to be held during their Olympic Games will help enliven the Games.

The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games on Monday decided on the additional events to be proposed to the International Olympic Committee. The formal decision on the additional events will be made at a general meeting of the IOC next summer.

Proposed were five sports with 18 medal events: baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing. For those athletes in the proposed sports, the increased likelihood that they will be able to participate in the Tokyo Games will certainly be great encouragement.

The implementation of the additional events and new competitions is one of the main features of the Olympic reforms, which the IOC has been promoting since late last year.

These are aimed at enhancing public interest in the Games by adding sports that are popular in the host country and sports in which athletes of the host country are likely to win medals.

Underlying the new initiative is a sense of crisis within the IOC. Due to such factors as local citizens’ opposition to massive financial burdens that are borne by host cities, a number of cities have recently given up bidding to host the Games in turn.

The Tokyo Games will serve as a test of whether the additional events can bring out new potential in the Olympics.

In Japan, baseball is a national sport. As there are many well-equipped stadiums, the overall construction cost of the Games would be reduced. The Tokyo organizing committee must cooperate with pro and amateur baseball circles to promote to the IOC the attractiveness of the sport that has taken hold in Japan.

Cooperation vital

Baseball was dropped as an Olympic event after the 2008 Beijing Games. Its failed candidacy since that time has been due chiefly to such negative factors as top players of the U.S. major leagues not participating in the Games, as the events were to be held mid-season for them.

It is essential for the Tokyo organizing committee to seek the cooperation of the major leagues as much as possible.

The beaming smiles of members of the Japanese national women’s softball team, who won gold at the Beijing Games, have made a great impression. The return of women’s softball to the Games is also a long-held wish in the world of softball.

This time, the strategy of newly establishing the World Baseball Softball Confederation and petitioning, jointly with men’s baseball circles, to the IOC for the return of women’s softball as a Games event is about to bear fruit.

Karate, which originated in Japan, has the advantage of being a sport with a large population of players the world over. For the competitions, existing facilities such as the Nippon Budokan can be used as venues. Such matters as making its rules known more widely will be a task for the future.

The selections of skateboard, sports climbing and surfing were made in line with the IOC’s desire to add sports that are popular among young people.

In connection with the Tokyo Games, the organizing committee has suffered major setbacks over the construction plan for the new National Stadium and the cancellation of the official emblem for the Games.

In order not to disappoint public expectations any more, the organizing committee must thoroughly prepare for negotiations with the IOC as it moves toward a final decision.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 29, 2015)

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-30 11:06 | 英字新聞

難民大量流入 欧州の支援策は奏功するのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Will refugee assistance measures by EU countries prove effective?
難民大量流入 欧州の支援策は奏功するのか

The true value of European Union cooperation will be put to the test through EU efforts to slow down the influx of refugees and illegal migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere and build a system to assist them in an orderly manner.

The EU recently held a summit of its leaders and pledged at least an additional €1 billion (about ¥130 billion) to international organizations, including the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This is to support refugees in countries neighboring Syria.

More than 4 million people have fled Syria, a country where a civil war continues, to such countries as Turkey and Jordan.

To reduce the number of refugees heading for Europe, it is vital to help stabilize the lives of people living as refugees in Syria’s neighbors. The EU’s assistance can be considered a desperate measure to tackle the refugee crisis, as a path to ending the civil war is not in sight.

The leaders of EU member countries have also agreed on establishing facilities for registering refugees and taking fingerprints in Greece and Italy, European gateways for refugees, by the end of November. It is to differentiate legitimate refugees from illegal migrants. The EU and its member countries will also cooperate in tightening border security.

A thorny problem for the EU is how to fairly share among member countries refugees who have entered Europe.

During a justice and interior ministers’ meeting, held prior to the summit talks, the ministers decided that the member countries would jointly take in 120,000 refugees, now hosted by Greece and Italy, over the next two years.

As Hungary, Slovakia and two other East European countries opposed the refugee sharing plan, the ministerial meeting had no other choice but to reach its conclusion through an unusual majority vote.

Sustainable system needed

The number of those refugees applying for European asylum is forecast to top 1 million this year. The latest decision on sharing refugees will be like a drop in a bucket, we think. Building a sustainable system to accept refugees is urgently needed.

The EU has hammered out the latest measures, including one to contain the influx of refugees, as its member countries are alarmed that the large numbers of refugees and migrants crossing their borders will threaten the social stability of their countries.

In Greece, a country burdened with fiscal woes, a far-right anti-immigrant party placed third in the general elections held on Sept. 20.

Germany, an economic powerhouse which has been generous in taking in refugees, began, in the middle of this month, limiting the influx of refugees with border checks. The measures are linked largely to protests by local authorities, whose capacity to accommodate refugees has surpassed their limits due to the upsurge in the influx. Also evident are the activities of ultra-right groups opposed to accepting the refugees.

The influx of refugees into Europe has now become an issue that the international community as a whole must tackle. The United States and Australia have pledged to accept more Syrian refugees.

Japan, for its part, has focused on extending such assistance as the provision of food to refugees in Syria’s neighbors and the improvement of water supply systems in these countries, contributing more than $1.1 billion (about ¥130 billion).

It is time for this country to rack its brains on how it can contribute further, in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2015)

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-29 11:02 | 英字新聞

米中首脳会談 「独善」で大国関係は築けない

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China’s self-justified stance won’t help build major-power relations
米中首脳会談 「独善」で大国関係は築けない

It will be impossible for China to build what it calls a “new type of great power relations” with the United States as long as it continues to challenge international order through self-justified conduct.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is making an official visit to the United States and held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

Obama expressed “very serious concerns” about Chinese cyber-attacks on U.S. corporations and citizens, and demanded Xi ensure a halt to such activities.

With a presidential election scheduled for next year, U.S. public opinion is increasingly harsh on China. It seems that Obama had to adopt an even more critical stance on China.

The two leaders agreed that their countries would not conduct or support cyberattacks to steal trade secrets and other confidential information. They also agreed to initiate a ministerial-level dialogue.

The question is whether this agreement will be followed by action. The international community must pay close attention to whether the mutual agreement will be truly honored by China, which has denied involvement in cyber-attacks.

The two leaders’ talks led to no agreement on the issue regarding China’s reef reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

At a joint press conference following the talks, Obama warned the Chinese leader on the issue. “The United States will continue to sail, fly and operate anywhere that international law allows,” he said. Xi, however, stood his ground firmly, insisting, “We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests.”

Arbitrary policy management

It has recently been found that China is building 3,000-meter runways on three of the reclaimed islands. If these facilities are completed, a vast expanse of waters in the South China Sea could, in effect, come under Chinese control, according to some experts.

China’s bid to change the status quo by force cannot be overlooked. The United States needs to join hands with Japan and other pertinent countries in urging China to exercise self-restraint in this respect. If China wants an equal relationship with the United States and a position as a major power in the international community, it should fulfill its share of responsibility for securing regional stability.

In making an official visit to the United States, Xi signed a contract for a huge purchase of 300 passenger airplanes with Boeing Co. It was evident that he tried to use the deal as leverage for wooing and winning over the U.S. business community.

However, the United States has a deepening distrust of China’s arbitrary policy management, which can be illustrated by its market intervention aimed at maintaining stock prices and the devaluation of the yuan.

At the press conference, Xi emphasized that China would attach importance to market principles. “There is no basis for the renminbi to be devalued for a long period,” he said. We hope the Chinese president will be as good as his word to carry out highly transparent reforms in accordance with international rules.

The two leaders reconfirmed their nations would increase cooperation in addressing climate change-related problems. Climate change may be one of the few areas in which the two countries can facilitate a cooperative relationship. China and the United States — the world’s largest and second-largest greenhouse gas emitters — should make steady progress in reducing their emissions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 27, 2015)

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-28 10:52 | 英字新聞

VW排ガス不正 顧客を欺く大規模な規制逃れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Consumers betrayed by VW’s scheme to evade controls on vehicle emissions
VW排ガス不正 顧客を欺く大規模な規制逃れ

Despite being touted as “clean diesel” cars, Volkswagen vehicles were found to have discharged emissions that far exceeded the required environmental standards.

This act betrayed consumers who are strongly concerned about environmental conservation and was extremely pernicious.

It was recently revealed that the German carmaker had taken illegal measures to ensure its vehicles passed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emission control tests.

The scheme involved software installed in diesel engines that was designed to make vehicles’ emission levels meet the standard required by the U.S. authorities — but only at the time of the emissions test.

When the vehicles were driven on the road, the engines were reportedly found to discharge nitrogen oxide at levels up to 40 times the standard.

Eleven million Volkswagen vehicles around the world have been affected by the test-rigging scandal. This includes a number of popular models, including the Golf.

In announcing his resignation to take responsibility for the scandal, Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said, “I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen group.” We have to say that Volkswagen lacks corporate governance despite its status as a world-leading carmaker.

Were company executives involved in the irregularities? We want the factors behind the misconduct to be thoroughly revealed by investigations by the EPA and others.

VW has Audi, Porsche and other carmakers under its wing. With fuel-efficient diesel vehicles as its mainstay product, VW doubled its global car sales to 10 million in the decade from 2004, thereby bringing it into competition with Toyota Motor Corp. for the No. 1 position in the world.

Heavy price to pay

However, the German maker has been forced to fight an uphill battle in the U.S. market, where strict emission controls are in place and there is strong competition from hybrid vehicles manufactured by Toyota and other carmakers. VW’s irritation over this, it could be said, led to the wrongdoing.

VW may be fined up to $18 billion (about ¥2 trillion), which would top its annual profits. The price for its misconduct is very heavy.

VW’s diesel vehicles are not officially sold in Japan, although they were scheduled to enter the market next year. The company will inevitably have to reexamine its sales strategy.

The European Commission, which is the executive body of the European Union, called for its member nations to conduct a fact-finding survey based on suspicions that carmakers other than VW have also engaged in misconduct. The automobile industry, which holds a key position in each country in which it conducts business, is being tested on its ability to cleanse itself of wrongdoing.

Fierce competition for fuel efficiency among car manufacturers could be behind the VW scandal. Consumers have a strong tendency to choose vehicles that perform even just a little better than others in terms of fuel efficiency. Moreover, many people have pointed out that even in Japan, there is a huge difference between the fuel efficiency figures in product catalogs and what is actually seen in normal use, which causes confusion.

A sincere attitude is needed on the part of carmakers to provide consumers with accurate information.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 26, 2015)

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-27 10:23 | 英字新聞

安倍総裁続投 「経済最優先」に軸足を戻せ



The Yomiuri Shimbun
Abe administration must focus on 'economy-first' policy priorities
安倍総裁続投 「経済最優先」に軸足を戻せ

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s basic stance of shifting the focus of his policy platform from the nation’s security to the economy revitalization is reasonable.

After being formally reelected as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the prime minister on Thursday held a news conference. He declared, “The nation is close to coming out of deflation,” emphasizing his intention to place maximum priority on economic policies.

He also indicated to increase the nation’s annual nominal gross national product to ¥600 trillion, compared to ¥490 trillion in fiscal 2014.

Fulfilling his ¥600 trillion target will most likely be difficult to achieve. As seen by the GDP’s negative growth rate in real terms for the April-June period compared to the previous quarter, the recovery pace has made little headway. Although the major companies have posted favorable business results, the performances of small and midsize businesses and the degree of vitalization of regional economies have shown limited progress.

Of the “three arrows” of the Abenomics economic policy package, bold monetary relaxation and ramping up fiscal measures have produced such positive results as rectifying the yen’s excessively high appreciation and helping boost stock prices. However, the other arrow — growth strategy — has yet to produce any tangible outcome.

Since the spring of last year, the Abe administration has placed particular emphasis on getting legislation passed to secure the country’s peace and security. The enactment of the security legislation can be said to have provided Abe’s new term with a good opportunity to return to the starting line at the time of the inauguration of the Second Abe Cabinet, which pledged to put economy at the top of its list of priorities.

In the second phase of Abenomics, the government must buckle down primarily to the tasks of strengthening up the growth strategy, such as by reforming tough regulations in the fields of medical services, agriculture and labor, as well as expanding infrastructure exports.

Hike wages, cut workload

At the news conference, Abe announced new “three arrows” to steer the administration’s economic policy: a combination of creating an “economy robust enough to nurture hopes of the public,” “dream-inspiring support for child-rearing” and “reassuring improvement of social security services.”

The newly defined tasks are quite different qualitatively from the initial three arrows, but the concentration on social security is understandable.

Regarding social security policy, the prime minister has hammered out a new goal of “reducing to zero the number of people who quit their jobs to provide nursing care.” Through such steps as increasing special nursing homes, the Abe administration will reduce the number of people waiting to enter such nursing facilities, who are required care at level 3 or higher on a scale of 5 nursing care requirements — which currently stands at about 150,000 — to zero by 2020.

The number of people, most of whom are in their 40s and 50s, who quit their jobs to provide nursing care has reportedly reached about 100,000 per year. Ensuring people in their most productive years remain among the working population must be helpful for the growth strategy.

The task of building special nursing homes will require a huge amount of financial resources. The task should be undertaken in a coordinated manner with the expansion of nursing care at homes which social security expenditures will reduce. To secure personnel necessary for proper nursing care services, measures must be taken to rectify low wages and the heavy workloads.

It is also important to make it easier for workers to obtain temporary absence from work and temporary paid leave for nursing care purposes. The percentage of those obtaining temporary absence for nursing care is currently no more than 3.2 percent. The statutory rule that allows those who need a temporary leave to utilize the system only once, in principle, per person in need for nursing care constitutes a major obstacle in this respect.

The government is now considering a revision to a law to allow people to take temporary leave more than once. While securing understanding and cooperation from companies, reform efforts should be made to turn the current system into one that is easier to use.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 25, 2015)Speech

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-26 09:44 | 英字新聞

子宮頸がん ワクチンの副作用対策を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Quick action needed in dealing with side effects of cervical cancer vaccine
子宮頸がん ワクチンの副作用対策を急げ

The most important task is to clarify any cause and effect relationship between the vaccinations and the side effects.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry recently delivered to an expert panel the results of a follow-up survey on patients who experienced negative side effects from a cervical cancer vaccine.

The ministry’s report confirmed 186 people had not returned to full health and were still suffering from serious side effects. In response to this finding, the panel decided to put off resuming recommending that people receive the vaccination. This recommendation has been suspended since June 2013.

The panel had no option on this matter, given that the cause of the side effects has yet to be pinpointed.

About 3.38 million women received the vaccination from December 2009, when the vaccine went on the market, to November 2014. The survey covered 2,584 of these women who reported suffering some sort of symptoms. The survey was able to confirm developments in the cases of 1,739 women.

The proportion of people who reported side effects is not remarkably high compared with rates in other nations, where such vaccinations are being increasingly widely done.

However, a significant number of specialists have said that Japan is conspicuous for patients suffering from comparatively severe symptoms. The various ongoing symptoms include headaches, fatigue, aching joints and a decline in cognitive function. These are serious health issues.

There were limits to how much data could be gleaned from this survey, which was based mostly on information these patients reported to doctors who treated them. There needs to be a detailed examination of the diagnoses and treatments given to these patients, as well as a comparative review of the health conditions of women in the same age brackets who did not receive the vaccinations, and other factors.

Reducing distrust vital

The health ministry will establish consultation counters in every prefecture and strengthen support provided to the victims, including treatment. It also has kicked into gear a stalled review of relief provided to people who suffered health problems.

It is impossible to reduce the risk accompanying a vaccination to zero. Advanced nations such as the United States and those in Europe have set up systems to quickly pay compensation when there are suspicions a vaccination has caused negative side effects. If the government takes a long time to provide relief, distrust would grow among patients and hamper steps to prevent infectious diseases from spreading.

We think such relief measures should be swiftly put in place in Japan, too.

The number of women in Japan with cervical cancer is increasing, with about 10,000 developing the disease each year. About 3,000 die from it annually.

The cervical cancer vaccine is said to prevent the virus that causes the cancer from being transmitted from men to women through sexual relations. In Australia, such a vaccine is administered to both males and females during routine immunizations.

Although the vaccine is currently not promoted in Japan, the system in place includes it among routine vaccinations for women. People wishing to receive the vaccine can have it subsidized by the government, but clearly the current situation does not enable them to take the vaccine with peace of mind.

Having regular checkups is important for detecting cervical cancer at an early stage. However, this does not contribute to preventing the disease, so the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology and other bodies have stressed the significance of the inoculations.

Reducing distrust in the vaccine will be a major prerequisite for achieving this. The health ministry must move fast on this issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 24, 2015)

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-25 10:58 | 英字新聞

日露外相会談 領土対立打開へ対話を重ねよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tenacious talks with Russia key to ending impasse in territorial dispute
日露外相会談 領土対立打開へ対話を重ねよ

Russia’s hard-line stance toward the northern territories has become more conspicuous. Nevertheless, the only way to improve Japan-Russia relations is for politicians of the two countries to hold talks tenaciously and repeatedly.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Monday in Moscow and protested a recent series of visits by the Russian prime minister and cabinet ministers to the northern territories, saying, “Their visits are extremely regrettable and not acceptable.” Lavrov reportedly refuted this by saying, “Russia has its own standpoint.”

On the other hand, Kishida and Lavrov agreed “to explore ways to a solution acceptable to both sides.” They also agreed to resume vice-ministerial-level talks early next month — for the first time in one year and nine months — regarding the conclusion of a peace treaty. The two countries will reportedly seek to hold talks between their top leaders and foreign ministers on the sidelines of international conferences.

Negotiations on the peace treaty have been suspended following sanctions imposed by Japan on Russia in connection with the Ukrainian situation and Russia’s retaliatory steps. We cannot expect immediate results, but we appreciate the fact that the two countries agreed to resume talks.

Kishida, who had postponed his visit to Russia, told Lavrov during the meeting, “Because there are issues pending between us, it’s all the more important to hold talks repeatedly.” His assertion is understandable.

However, the two countries stand far apart in their positions on the territorial dispute.

During a joint news conference after the meeting, Lavrov said: “We didn’t discuss the northern territories. The agenda of the talks was the conclusion of a peace treaty.”

Illogical argument

It cannot be overlooked, however, that Lavrov tried to justify the illegal occupation of the northern territories for 70 years and make it a fait accompli by saying “the reality of postwar history should be recognized.”

A joint statement issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 called for holding negotiations on a peace treaty based on all accords adopted by the two countries, including the Irkutsk Statement that specified efforts toward a solution to the sovereignty issue over the four islands off Hokkaido. In this sense, Lavrov’s argument is illogical.

It seems that Russia wants to draw concessions from Japan, such as the lifting of sanctions and economic cooperation, by swaying Japan through hard-line and moderate approaches.

Russia’s economy has been deteriorating due to economic sanctions imposed by the United States and European countries and the decline in crude oil prices. Russian expectations on Japan, it may be said, are reflected by the fact that Igor Shuvalov, first vice premier in charge of economic affairs, conferred with Kishida.

A focal point for the time being is whether Putin’s visit to Japan can be realized before the end of this year.

Japan is forward-looking in regard to Putin’s visit. But even if it is realized, it will come to nothing if meaningful talks are not held. It may end up merely disrupting the unity of the Group of Seven industrialized countries on anti-Russia sanctions.

Does Putin have the resolve and ability to earnestly tackle the tasks of repairing relations with Japan and proceeding with a solution to the territorial issue? The Japanese government must deal with the matter carefully after seeing Russian responses. Strategic negotiating capabilities are called for in this regard.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 23, 2015)

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-24 10:53 | 英字新聞

飲酒喫煙の年齢 18歳解禁は理解を得られない

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Drinking, smoking ban should stay when age of majority is lowered to 18
飲酒喫煙の年齢 18歳解禁は理解を得られない

Reducing the age of majority would affect various fields. It is essential to look into the advisability of meticulously revising relevant laws one by one.

The Liberal Democratic Party has put together recommendations to lower the age of majority set at 20 under the Civil Code to 18. The ruling party will report the recommendations to the government by the end of this month.

The move is in response to the enactment of the revised Public Offices Election Law under which the voting age has been lowered to 18. The age for exercising the right to vote should correspond to the age of eligibility for other rights and the obligation to take responsibility under the Civil Code.

If the age of majority is lowered to 18, it will become possible to take out loans and enter other commercial contracts without parental approval. Efforts must be made to promote consumer education at school and with other programs to prevent young people from falling victim to illegal business practices.

The LDP has postponed a decision on whether to lower the legal age for drinking and smoking.

Initially, the party tried to come up with a proposal to permit drinking and smoking from the age of 18 but kicked the plan down the road in the face of opposition from within the party and the medical world. The postponement is quite natural.

If smoking starts early in adolescence, it increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The Japan Medical Association warns that habitual smoking by those aged less than 20 adversely affects brain growth and leads to early onset of dementia and other diseases.

Adverse health impacts

Furthermore, the younger one starts drinking, the higher the risk of suffering from alcoholism, according to experts.

Considering the possible adverse health effects, lowering the age for permitting smoking and drinking will never obtain social understanding.

How to rein in social welfare spending amid dire fiscal straits is a huge challenge. From this point of view, too, no policy change that would entail an increase in medical spending should be made.

Drinking and smoking can also lead to juvenile delinquency. Moreover, student guidance at high school would become confused if students aged 18, who are allowed to drink and smoke, and those aged 17 attended the same school. Lowering the legal age for drinking and smoking would also make it more difficult for schools to give guidance to students under school rules that ban such behavior.

Concerning the minimum age for application of the Juvenile Law, the LDP has proposed lowering it from “less than 20” to “less than 18.”

To encourage rehabilitation for those aged 18 and 19 who will be excluded from the application of the Juvenile Law if the age of application is lowered, the party has called for implementing such probational measures as provided for by the Juvenile Law by prioritizing correctional education over punishment. This recommendation is reasonable.

Sending teenage violators to reformatories where correctional education is provided or placing them on probation to give them chances for rehabilitation in society is greatly helpful in preventing juvenile recidivism. If the age for application of the Juvenile Law is lowered to “less than 18,” it will be necessary to deepen discussions about when to apply probational measures to those aged 18 and 19.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 22, 2015)

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-23 11:06 | 英字新聞

生涯現役社会 高齢者の活躍の場を増やそう

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Increase opportunities for elderly to remain active in aging society
生涯現役社会 高齢者の活躍の場を増やそう

The average Japanese life expectancy stands at 80.5 years for men and 86.83 years for women. Both are projected to rise even more in the future. This will herald the era of 90-year life spans.

On Monday, Respect for the Aged Day, we should rejoice in the fact that Japan has become one of the world’s leading nations in terms of longevity.

Those aged 65 and over account for more than 25 percent of the overall population, and this figure is expected to reach 40 percent in 2060.

With Japan’s society aging faster, such serious problems as a shrinkage in the workforce and swelling expenses for social security programs have arisen.

It is important to increase opportunities in which the elderly who want to work can exhibit their ability so they can actively help support society. The creation of such a “society in which people actively contribute through their whole lives” will hold the key for Japan to overcome the ultra-aging of its society.

Fifty percent of those in the 35-64 age group want to continue working after 65. Aiming for the creation of a society in which people can actively contribute their whole lives will help enrich the lives of the elderly and financially stabilize their daily lives.

With the enforcement of the revised Law for the Stabilization of Employment of Elderly People in April 2013, all employees are allowed to stay on the payroll until they turn 65 if they want to. Yet the present reality is that work opportunities for those aged 65 and over are limited.

A report compiled in June by a study panel of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry proposed measures to promote the continued employment of those aged 65 and older and to boost support for skills development and the reemployment of middle-aged and older people, with an eye to the realization of a society in which people can actively contribute their whole lives.

More company opportunities

More businesses are keeping people on after they reach 65 by having them use their knowledge and experience to serve as advisers for young workers and allowing the elderly to work flexible hours to suit their lifestyle. We hope businesses will promote such measures in conformity with their needs.

Changes in the consciousness of workers are also important. To remain active in their later years, workers must make clear plans while still young and continually work to enhance their skills.

It is also important to create labor markets in which middle-aged and older people can change jobs more easily.

The elderly differ greatly from person to person in terms of health and economic status. To meet their diverse needs, it is essential for local governments, in cooperation with such entities as local economic organizations and nonprofit organizations, to build a system that can cultivate jobs for the elderly.

It will also become a challenge for society to reinforce the functions of human resources centers that offer light work and other suitable jobs to elderly people.

The government of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, has created job opportunities for elderly people in the farming and welfare sectors, under the concept of “offering jobs to help elderly people make their lives worth living.”

The prefectural government of Fukuoka has established a center to help elderly people find jobs or take part in volunteer activities until they reach the age of 70, or even older in some cases.

These efforts should help solve local problems, by, for instance, making up for labor shortages in nursing care and child care.

Expanding opportunities for elderly people to take an active role in society will also prevent them from becoming isolated in society and declining to the point that they need nursing care.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 21, 2015)

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-22 11:23 | 英字新聞

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「人間の底力」 /東京

September 20, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The potential of humans
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「人間の底力」 /東京

Torrential rain and flood damage recently struck the northern Kanto and Tohoku regions. I happened to be visiting the Tohoku region for work over the weekend, and even looking out from the window of the bullet train, I saw countless rice paddies and fields that had been flooded by water overflowing from streams and irrigation channels. If we were to include everything that wasn't reported, I wonder just how much damage there was.

On television I saw a reporter pointing a microphone at a person who had barely escaped with their life after their home had been flooded. This is a common sight during disasters, but reporters aren't as pushy as they used to be. Now more start off saying something like, "I'm sorry to be asking you at a time like this, but ..."

The people who respond all say things like, "It's the first time this has happened. I was shocked." And many of them make such comments as, "I'm just happy to be safe," or, "I'm thankful to have been rescued."

On TV and on the Internet, one hardly ever encounters people in such disasters getting angry and saying things like, "Why did this have to happen to me?"

Some people give accounts like, "Neighbors have evacuated together and are helping each other," or, "I spent the night in an isolated apartment, but residents brought food and shared it."

Meanwhile, rescuers and supporters -- from the Self-Defense Forces to firefighters and members of local bodies -- have gone beyond all expectations in their efforts to help.

In my consultation rooms, I hear so many tragic stories. "I was abused by my parents," one person says. "I was betrayed by a friend," says another. It leaves me tending to think, "Humans are bad by nature." I get the impression that humans are always cheating someone, always trying to get a good deal for just themselves.

But in the latest disaster, looking at the people who have cooperated with those around them in an attempt to overcome their difficulties, at those who have remembered to thank others amid such trying circumstances, and at those putting a full effort into saving and supporting victims, I'm compelled to amend my line of thinking.

Deep down, surely, people have compassion and kindness, thinking, "I want to help someone," or "I want to tell them, 'Thank you.'" But I guess that as they are forced into tough situations, those feelings are gradually pushed back, and people resort to attacking others or conning them to survive.

I convey my sympathy to those affected by the latest disaster. And in my words here, I leave my thoughts on the potential of humans that I have felt through the disaster.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2015年09月15日 地方版

by kiyoshimat | 2015-09-21 11:11 | 英字新聞