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民主党大会 新党も選択肢


January 30, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Main opposition DPJ holds convention, may merge to form new party
民主党大会 新党も選択肢

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan may seek to form a new party through a proposed merger with a smaller opposition party ahead of a parliamentary election this summer, DPJ President Katsuya Okada said Saturday at a party convention in Tokyo.

Okada expressed his intention to begin negotiations with Japan Innovation Party leader Yorihisa Matsuno over the idea of merging their parties in an effort to confront the ruling bloc in the upcoming House of Councillors election.

The two parties formed a joint parliamentary group in the House of Representatives in December. Differing opinions remain, however, among the members of the two opposition parties about the proposed merger.

"The formation of a new party is not being ruled out as an option. What is important is whether we would be able to share policies and philosophies in common and whether we would be able to pursue political cooperation to earnestly try to take over the reins of the government," Okada said.

"I hope to hold substantive talks with Mr. Matsuno, leader of the Innovation Party. The outcome we would agree on would be presented to party organizations," he said.

Matsuno and Rikio Kozu, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, were among the guests at the DPJ convention held at a Tokyo hotel.

The DPJ adopted a fiscal 2016 action plan stressing the importance of opposition forces getting together to fight the ruling bloc led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in the upper house election, citing the possibility of a lower house election being held at the same time.

The DPJ was in power for three years through December 2012.


民主党大会 岡田氏「新党も選択肢」 維新と直接交渉へ







岡田代表の発言 骨子

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-31 09:24 | 英字新聞

日銀 2%目標へ強い意志…マイナス金利導入

January 29, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
BOJ shows strong will to achieve 2% inflation target
日銀 2%目標へ強い意志…マイナス金利導入

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Jan. 29 announced plans to introduce a negative interest rate to demonstrate its strong commitment to achieving a 2 percent inflation target.

The central bank took the initiative after concluding that it would be difficult to attain its objective at an early date by simply focusing on monetary volume through massive purchases of government bonds.

The BOJ maintains that its ''qualitative and quantitative monetary easing'' policy has produced results. Its decision to add interest rates to that policy reflects the central bank's plan to implement a flexible monetary policy.

In its new outlook report, the BOJ aims to achieve its inflation target in more than four years, instead of an initial objective of around two years. It says it is difficult to attribute the difficulty in achieving the 2 percent target to oil price declines. The BOJ was under pressure to further strengthen its monetary policy.

Financial markets have experienced confusion due to the Chinese economic slowdown and falling crude oil prices since the start of this year. If the BOJ had failed to take additional monetary easing measures, its resolve to achieve its 2 percent inflation target would have been questioned, and it would have faced the disappointment of its monetary policy having reached its limits.

The BOJ thus was under pressure to implement a new set of monetary easing steps to surprise markets and renew its strong will to achieve a 2 percent inflation target.

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-30 06:48 | 英字新聞

18歳選挙権 参院選の投票機会を広げたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Expand voting opportunities for youths in upper house election this summer
18歳選挙権 参院選の投票機会を広げたい

The central and local governments, as well as political parties, must cooperate to create an environment in which young people who become newly eligible voters can use that right properly.

A lawmaker-initiated bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law was approved unanimously at a special committee of the House of Councillors. The bill is designed to eliminate cases in which young people who are expected to change their residence this spring cannot vote in the House of Councillors election slated for this summer. The committee’s approval makes it certain that the bill will be passed into law shortly.

Under the current law, only eligible voters who have lived at their present residence for more than three months are listed on the voting register of municipal governments — villages, towns, wards or cities — and are able to cast ballots.

Should the upper house election be officially announced on June 23, with voting to be held and the ballots counted on July 10, that would prevent from voting young people aged 18 or 19 who may change residences in order to enter the next stage of education or start working on March 23 or later.

This would have affected about 70,000 of the about 2.4 million youths who are expected to become newly eligible voters. With the legal revision, they will be able to cast their votes in the municipality where they lived before their move.

The lowering of the minimum voting age to 18 will encourage the young generation to participate in the political process, and may be an important turning point in expanding the base for democracy. Settling the legal deficiency and securing their opportunity to vote are appropriate measures.

The election administration commission of each municipality must expedite such efforts as making systems modifications to voter registration to ensure smooth implementation.

More voting venues

The central government plans to submit a bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law, designed to enhance voters’ convenience, and have it passed into law.

Presently, voting on election day is limited to one polling place designated for each voter. With the government-initiated revision, voters will also be able to submit their ballots at a “common voting place,” to be newly set up at such venues as commercial facilities and stations. Voting hours will also be extended on days prior to the election day.

The revision is also intended to expand the range of minors allowed to accompany a voter into a polling station from infants, as stipulated in the present law, to people under 18. This is expected to help future voters feel familiar with casting ballots.

We hope the central and local governments will proactively work on building an environment in which voters are able to cast their votes with ease, while adopting all possible measures to prevent such dishonest acts as double voting and avoid errors.

The turnout rate in various elections has been declining over many years, and the low interest in politics among young people is also a cause for concern. It is necessary to proactively enlighten young people about the importance of elections, which are the basis of democracy.

With an eye on the upper house election, political parties are throwing their energy into holding discussion meetings to be attended by legislators and students, and into transmitting information. We hope the parties utilize their exchanges with young people in their policy making.

Schools have already started such activities as inviting people including officials from local election administration commissions to help students learn about the Public Offices Election Law and the voting process and hold mock elections with fictitious candidates. With cooperation from such entities as local assemblies, opportunities should also be increased for students to talk with assembly members.

It is important to promote more pragmatic learning aimed at enhancing young people’s awareness as voters, while securing political impartiality.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 28, 2016)

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-29 11:56 | 英字新聞

代表質問 不平等克服へ政策競え

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 27
EDITORIAL: Parties should focus on correcting social disparities, not election
(社説)代表質問 不平等克服へ政策競え

How can we overcome social disparities that have become too commonplace today?

This was one of the urgent questions posed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Diet on Jan. 26, the first day of this year’s questioning session by lawmakers representing their parties.

The Diet has a host of other crucial issues to address, such as the economy, diplomacy and national security, as well as the money scandal embroiling Akira Amari, the minister in charge of economic revitalization.

But the growing disparities around the nation between regular and part-time employees, men and women, the big cities and the provinces and so on, are in special need of prompt attention.

Democratic Party of Japan leader Katsuya Okada said, “We would like to propose specific measures for correcting the disparities and ensuring a fair distribution of benefits.”

One of the initiatives he proposed was to increase the per-child amount of child-care benefits, and to raise the upper age limit for eligible children. To secure funding, Okada suggested increasing tax on financial incomes and reinforcing the progressivity of income and inheritance taxes.

Prime Minister Abe promised in his policy speech to take further steps to realize his “equal pay for equal work” concept. Okada asked if Abe’s objective matches the DPJ’s demand for “equal treatment” of regular and part-time employees.

Japan Innovation Party leader Yorihisa Matsuno referred to the number of people who are not paying into the national pension program and demanded swift action.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the relative poverty rate in Japan was 16.1 percent in 2012, which represented a gradual year-on-year growth. Limited to younger households consisting of members under 30 years old, the rate was 27.8 percent, and a much higher 54.6 percent for single-parent households.

Acknowledging this reality, Abe replied, “We will continue to review and improve matters related to employment and social security to prevent the disparities from becoming permanent.”

But the prime minister’s response to Okada’s proposals was somewhat too abstract to be satisfactory.

In his policy speech on Jan. 22, Abe attacked opposition parties and said, “An attitude of spending all one’s time simply criticizing, without putting forward any counterproposals, and expecting that everything will ‘all work out somehow’ is truly irresponsible towards the public.”
Abe then addressed the opposition camp, saying, “Instead, shall we not pit concrete policies against each other and hold constructive discussions?”

When he said that, he must have been thinking of the attitude of the DPJ and other parties toward the national security legislation and constitutional amendment. But surely, it is anything but “irresponsible” to resist any policy that goes against the Constitution. And it is only natural to be alarmed by the prime minister’s resolve to change the Constitution at all costs.

In fact, it is the prime minister himself who needs to live up to his responsibility of responding “concretely and constructively” to questions and proposals put forth by the opposition camp.

With the Upper House election coming up this summer, the current Diet session is expected to be a “short-term battle.” But there are numerous issues that need to be discussed, and the money scandal must be probed to everyone’s satisfaction.

The session must not be allowed to become an ugly sparring contest, fought only with the upcoming election in mind.

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-28 11:29 | 英字新聞

中国の人権弾圧 身勝手な力の統治が目に余る

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China must desist from its hardline moves to suppress human rights
中国の人権弾圧 身勝手な力の統治が目に余る

Chinese President Xi Jinping has apparently been further escalating his rule with force.

The Xi administration put in force an “antiterrorism law” this month. The law makes it obligatory for Internet service providers and others to provide technical support to Chinese authorities to help decrypt information to prevent terrorist activities. The law also prohibits media from reporting terrorist activities in detail on the grounds that it might inspire copycat attacks.

Concerns are only rising in the international community that restrictions on activities of foreign companies operating in China and controls on the freedom of speech and news reporting will be tightened further in the country.

The antiterrorism law defines terrorism as “propositions and actions that generate social panic by such means as violence so as to achieve their political objectives.”

It is problematic that there is a possibility that by merely making propositions that are not accepted by the Chinese authorities, one can be punished. The definition of terrorist activities is also vague, leaving plenty of room for discretion.

There is a serious possibility of the authorities’ using the law arbitrarily to suppress the Uighur minority group under the guise of taking measures to fight against terrorism committed by Islamist extremists.

Late last year, prior to the enforcement of the new law, a Beijing-based reporter for a French news magazine who wrote articles critical of China’s policy on the Uighur minority was effectively expelled from the country.

China, under the one-party rule of the Communist Party, touts “the rule of law.” But there is no judicial independence in the country. The law is a means to carry out the rule of the party thoroughly.

Ominous disappearances

Neither can it be overlooked that the authorities, in an arbitrary crackdown, have detained a large number of lawyers and activists who were striving to defend human rights.

Earlier this month, a Swedish man working on human rights issues in China was taken into custody. He was detained for allegedly “posing a threat to national security,” by extending support to human rights lawyers with financial aid from foreign nongovernmental organizations and other entities.

Xi has been solidifying his power base by removing his political enemies through the exposure of their corruption. Despite that, however, he may still harbor a strong sense of crisis over the possibility that public discontent, rooted in factors such as the country’s economic slowdown, may swell because such values as democracy and human rights may spread in society.

Also, it cannot be tolerated that China has been bringing its high-handed methods to Hong Kong, where the “one country, two systems” applies.

In Hong Kong, five people related to a local bookstore — its shareholders, the store manager and others — reportedly disappeared. The store was selling “banned books” that are critical of China, and their publication or sale is prohibited in mainland China.

The Chinese authorities admitted that two of the five are indeed in mainland China, but emphasized that they went there of their own volition.

The authorities are trying to fend off criticism that, with no investigative authority, they have allegedly taken people related to the case from Hong Kong to the mainland and put them into custody.

Should the hauling of those people before the Chinese authorities be a fact, it is a grave situation that would overturn Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy.” It is the responsibility of the Xi administration to give a thorough explanation of the matter not only to the residents of Hong Kong but also to the world.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 26, 2016)

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-27 12:54 | 英字新聞

廃棄食品問題 問われる日本の「食」

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 24
EDITORIAL: Waste resale scandal puts safety of Japan’s food industry into question
(社説)廃棄食品問題 問われる日本の「食」

Industrial food waste, which should have been properly disposed of, has been found to be circulating in the market disguised as food products.

The illegal sale of waste food items by an industrial waste disposal company in Aichi Prefecture surfaced after frozen beef cutlets discarded from Ichibanya Co., operator of a national chain of curry houses, were found on sale. There are indications that some of the cutlets had thawed before they appeared on the market, which could have harmed consumers' health.

The company’s chairman has admitted to his lawyer that he committed the irregularity for the sake of sales. We are only left to stare dumbfounded at the way rules were ignored.

One hundred and eight other items were found at facilities of a company in Gifu Prefecture, which bought the cutlets from the industrial waste disposal company and resold them. To current knowledge, those products come from manufacturers and distributors based in 25 areas ranging from Hokkaido to Miyazaki Prefecture.

The food items, likely diverted off legal sales channels, include products from such major firms as Aeon Co. and Marukome Co.

We are only left to watch the extent of the scandal’s reach. We hope the police will investigate the case through and through. The government should also conduct a nationwide survey.

The frozen beef cutlets in question, which had been discarded due to the suspected mixing in of foreign substances, returned to the channels of budget markets and were passed on among more than one tier of brokers after they were sold by the company in Gifu Prefecture.

“We never suspected the products were waste items, because we know stock items are sometimes distributed at low prices,” one of the brokers said.

But how could one assess the safety of food products without identifying their origins?

Irresponsible transactions could pour cold water on serious efforts at offering budget prices to meet consumer demand and on the activity of food banks and other entities that are providing surplus food items, which have no quality issues, to impoverished people and others.

Ichibanya, which saw its products mishandled, had left the cutlets intact when it commissioned the industrial waste disposal company to dispose of them. They ended up being sold illegally, partly because they retained the appearance of food products.

Ichibanya made the right move by promptly formulating improvement measures after the scandal came to light. The company has said it will henceforth ensure its waste food products are destroyed so they can no longer be reused, or alternatively, if that is not possible, make sure its employees attend the disposal process, down to the final stages, for visual confirmation.

We hope those measures will help prevent a recurrence of improprieties.

Other food manufacturers should also intensify their monitoring to ensure their waste items are being properly processed.

The waste management and public cleansing law stipulates that dischargers of business-related wastes should be responsible for their disposal.

Two and a half million tons of food items are discarded annually in Japan as industrial waste. That immensity is partially attributed to the so-called “one-third rule” of the food industry, a business practice whereby products are not allowed to be delivered to retailers when one-third of the period from the manufacture date through the best-before date has passed, and whereby retailers take them off the shelves when two-thirds of that period have elapsed.

Mass disposal of food products that remain edible is a built-in feature of Japan’s food industry. One could say the latest scandal thrust that reality back into the spotlight.

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-26 11:26 | 英字新聞

科学技術計画 次代の暮らしに役立つ開発を

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Pursue scientific advancements that will facilitate life for future generations
科学技術計画 次代の暮らしに役立つ開発を

Efforts should be expedited to create and improve a structure in which the strength of Japan’s long-cultivated science and technology will flourish.

The government endorsed at a Cabinet meeting the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan, a five-year program devised to lay down guidelines for the nation’s science and technology policy, effective next fiscal year.

One of its main pillars is to build what can be described as a “super-smart society” that will network such apparatuses as robots, artificial intelligence and information technology equipment.

If widely spread, much of this technology, including nursing-care robots, will help enable people to live comfortably. It can be widely applied in such fields as transportation, medical and financial services.

In the United States, various corporations are moving forward with projects that transcend their primary lines of work, as illustrated by Google Inc.’s ambitious efforts to build a self-driving car. Although Japan has a large number of information-related companies and researchers, there have been conspicuous delays in this respect due to such factors as their less-than-satisfactory financial strength.

The new basic plan has pointed to the necessity of building and improving facilities and an information infrastructure that can be shared by corporations. To survive international competition in this field, the public and private sectors need to make integrated efforts to achieve this goal.

Another feature of the latest basic program is that an independent heading has been given to national security for the first time. This is aimed at emphasizing the importance of reinforcing cooperation between the government, industry and academia in the field of defense, thereby further encouraging the private sector to join the desired endeavor.

Increase researchers

With China’s increased maritime and space activities, acts of international terrorism and cyber-attacks in mind, the basic plan will also seek to promote necessary research and development from now on. Efforts should be made to successfully put into practical use such technology as drone control techniques, a field of study in which universities are already making progress, as well as ultrahigh-performance resin.

It is worrying to note the decline in the competence of Japan’s scientific research. The basic plan expresses a sense of urgency about the lack of a desired increase in the number of theses in the realm of natural science, as well as those authored jointly with foreign scientists.

Being quoted by many scientists is proof of the excellence of a thesis. Since the beginning of this century, Japan has suffered a continued decline in the ranking of nations whose top-level theses are frequently quoted.

A major task facing the country is how to increase the number of researchers who can actively work internationally. Extending long-term assistance to scientists, not just excessively emphasizing their immediate accomplishments, is essential for the pursuit of this goal.

In many cases, young researchers who have obtained doctorates end up with limited-term positions at universities and elsewhere. They cannot afford to spend sufficient time on research activities. The situation has been viewed as a matter of social concern.

We believe increasing the number of researchers with stable positions will be conducive to improving Japan’s research and development abilities.

Little progress is being made in increasing the percentage of female scientists. This is evident from one of the targets cited in the fourth basic plan, which sought to increase the percentage of women researchers to 30 percent of all newly employed scientists. This target remains unmet.

Advancing scientific technology that explores the unknown fields requires a diversity of human resources. It is also indispensable to facilitate an environment conducive to scientific work, so talented researchers can actively work to the fullest.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 24, 2016)

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-25 11:18 | 英字新聞

甘利氏献金報道 疑惑解明へ説明から逃げるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Amari must not avoid explaining about scandal involving political funds
甘利氏献金報道 疑惑解明へ説明から逃げるな

A politics-and-money scandal involving Akira Amari, state minister in charge of economic revitalization — who has been acting as a control tower of the economic policies of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — has emerged.

Amari must unravel the facts promptly and make full explanations.

The scandal was reported by Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine. The magazine alleges that Amari and his secretaries received illegal donations from a construction company in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, in return for extending influence to resolve an issue of compensation over a land dispute involving road construction.

His secretaries were allegedly involved in negotiations over compensation with the Urban Renaissance Agency. The value of the funds and entertainment that the construction company allegedly provided Amari and his close aides is said to total ¥12 million, including ¥500,000 in cash Amari reportedly received at his ministerial office in November 2013.

If the allegations of influence-peddling and acceptance of cash prove true, it will have serious consequences. Amari and his secretaries may face charges of graft for influence-peddling and violation of such laws as the Political Funds Control Law.

What kind of relationship did Amari’s office have with the construction company, and how were the secretaries involved in the negotiations for compensation? What actually happened in connection with the alleged donations? Amari must conduct detailed investigations into these matters and provide compelling explanations.

Concerning the allegations involving his secretaries, Amari said verification will be conducted by a team that includes specialists. Depending on the results of the probe, his supervisory responsibility for secretaries may be questioned.

Minimize impact on TPP

Amari declared during a news conference that he “did nothing illegal.” But he acknowledged part of the magazine report, including meeting with officials of the construction company. He said, “There are some discrepancies between what was reported in the article and what I remember.” These explanations are not enough to dispel the suspicions.

In regard to the allegation that he received cash, Amari said, “Within a week, I will check my memory and speak about it.” As he stated, he must hold himself accountable.

Amari represented Japan in the negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which will be signed in a ceremony scheduled for Feb. 4. He will take charge of answering interpellations during the current Diet sessions on TPP-related bills.

It is necessary to minimize the impact of the scandal on deliberations on TPP bills.

Three ministers — including Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi — have resigned over scandals involving politics and money since the second Abe Cabinet was inaugurated in December 2012.

In charge of promoting Abenomics economic policies, Amari is a principal minister of the Abe Cabinet along with other Cabinet members including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. The latest scandal is considered more serious than the past cases and may shake the backbone of the Abe administration, depending on how it evolves.

Entrusting Amari with how to deal with the matter, Abe said he believes “Amari will be accountable.” Ahead of the House of Councillors election set for this summer, Abe must realize the stern fact that dark clouds have started forming over his administration and remain alert.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 23, 2016)

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-24 09:40 | 英字新聞

ジャカルタテロ 「イスラム国」の脅威アジアに

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Jakarta terrorist attacks show threat posed by ISIL has reached Asia
ジャカルタテロ 「イスラム国」の脅威アジアに

It has become clear that the threat of terrorism, influenced by radical ideology, has spread from the Middle East, Europe and the United States to Southeast Asia.

A group of men exploded bombs and exchanged gunfire with police in central Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population. Eight people, including four perpetrators, died and more than 20 others were injured.

The scene of the attacks was in a downtown area where a large commercial facility is located. The Japanese Embassy is also nearby. As in the case of simultaneous terrorist attacks carried out in Paris in November last year, the latest attacks were made against “soft targets” such as a coffee shop, where security is relatively light.

The authorities are investigating the incident as terrorism masterminded by an Indonesian militant who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group and is now living in Syria. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Such despicable brutality that indiscriminately attacks ordinary citizens and foreigners is intolerable. The international community must urgently strengthen cooperation in antiterrorism measures.

It was reported that the mastermind of the Jakarta attacks has been attempting to establish a Southeast Asian branch of ISIL and may have tried to expand ISIL’s influence in the region by waging terrorist attacks using Indonesian collaborators.

Promote unity

If this is true, it is a serious problem. The authorities must strive to uncover the whole truth of the latest incident and restore order.

It is also necessary to counter ISIL’s propaganda campaign by promoting unity among moderate Muslims.

Activities of terrorist organizations have been abating in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries in recent years since the authorities tightened their crackdown on such groups.

But these countries must stay alert against a possible revival of domestic terrorist organizations at the instigation of ISIL and the possibility that a united front between ISIL and those organizations will become more active.

It is said that about 380 people from Indonesia have joined ISIL. From Southeast Asia as a whole, about 600 people are said to have joined ISIL and other militant groups.

It is worrisome that there is an increasing risk that well-trained militants may return to their countries and commit large-scale terrorism.

In connection with this, the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations must strictly implement immigration controls and other measures.

ISIL has clearly said that Japan is one of its targets. Terrorism that has reached Southeast Asia is not someone else’s problem. In December, the government established Counterterrorism Unit-Japan (CTU-J), which is tasked with consolidating information regarding terrorism overseas.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida stressed, “By utilizing the unit and other resources, we want to take steps to thoroughly ensure the safety of Japanese nationals overseas.” To this end, it is essential to share terrorist information with ASEAN countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 20, 2016)

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-23 09:29 | 英字新聞

甘利氏疑惑 「記憶あいまい。きちんと整理し説明したい」


January 21, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Amari says memories of meet where he allegedly took 500,000 yen payment 'vague'
甘利氏疑惑 「記憶あいまい。きちんと整理し説明したい」

参院決算委員会 第三者交えた調査の意向を明らかに

Cabinet minister Akira Amari said on Jan. 21 that he can't remember what happened during a visit to his office when, a weekly magazine alleges in its latest issue, he personally accepted 500,000 yen from a Chiba Prefecture-based construction company.
"I remember accepting visitors, but my memories of what happened are vague," Amari, minister in charge of economic revitalization, said during a House of Councillors Audit Committee meeting. He also stated that "a thorough investigation will be conducted so that I can fulfill my responsibility to explain the situation." Amari furthermore indicated he intended to include third parties in the probe.
The weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun carried an article in its Jan. 21 issue stating that Amari had accepted money from the construction firm in return for dispute mediation services provided by the minister and his aides.

"I will fulfill my duties with all my energy," Amari said, denying any intent to resign over the allegations. Regarding his aides' involvement, however, Amari said that "I first heard of it in media reports, and I'm now trying to confirm the details." Amari is the Abe government's point man on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal, and the minister said he would do his utmost to prevent the money scandal allegations from affecting Diet deliberations on the treaty.

In response to a question from opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) lawmaker Misako Yasui, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said of Amari, "I believe that he will fulfill his responsibility to explain the situation."

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that "of course we are setting up Mr. Amari's scheduled appearance" at the planned Feb. 4 TPP signing ceremony in New Zealand. Suga also revealed that the government is setting up Amari's trip to the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Opposition parties intend to use Diet deliberations to question Amari thoroughly over the possible money scandal. DPJ Diet affairs chief Yoshiaki Takaki stated, "Even as (Mr. Amari) pushes major changes to the lives and livelihoods of farming families, these allegations surface. This is an enormous problem." Takaki also said his party would "naturally be looking into" the prime minister's responsibility.

Japan Innovation Party Diet affairs head Takashi Ishizeki added to the chorus of opposition party dismay over the possible scandal, saying, "From the perspective of the Japanese people, from the true feelings of the masses, I condemn this. The (ruling) Liberal Democratic Party is returning to its roots."

(no english part observed)

by kiyoshimat | 2016-01-22 11:32 | 英字新聞