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小沢氏再聴取 検察は改めて真相解明めざせ

Prosecutors should verify truth in Ozawa case
The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 17, 2010)
小沢氏再聴取 検察は改めて真相解明めざせ(5月16日付・読売社説)

The Tokyo District Public Prosectors Office's special investigation squad questioned Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa on Saturday. The questioning is part of prosecutors' reinvestigation into Ozawa's fund management body's alleged false reporting of political funds after the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution decided last month that he merits indictment over the case.

During the questioning, the prosecutors are believed once again to have asked Ozawa whether he was involved in falsifying the political fund report. Ozawa apparently denied involvement, as he did before.

It was the third round of questioning of Ozawa by the special investigation squad. Ozawa was surprisingly quick in responding to the questioning this time compared with the squad's request for its first round of inquiries in January, for which Ozawa refused to appear for more than two weeks, saying he was busy.

Three days ago, Ozawa expressed his intention to attend the Political Ethics Hearing Committee of the House of Representatives to explain the facts related to the allegations.


Ozawa should state his case

Since the prosecutors decided not to charge Ozawa in February, citing insufficient evidence, the DPJ heavyweight insisted there was no need for him to offer an explanation in the Diet, saying, "It's become clear that I didn't do anything wrong."

Ozawa might consider that declaring his innocence, both during prosecutorial questioning and before the Diet, would provide a good opportunity to fend off criticism that he has heretofore evaded his responsibility to offer an explanation.

From his response, Ozawa's strategy to draw a line under the scandal can be seen as follows: Sooner or later, the prosecutors will decide not to indict him. He then will offer an explanation over the scandal at the Diet's Political Ethics Hearing Committee and insist he has fulfilled his responsibility. At that point, the committee for the inquest of prosecution would not be likely to conclude he should be indicted.

The prosecutors should strongly recognize the significance of this time's questioning of Ozawa.

When the independent judicial panel decided that Ozawa merited indictment, some officials within the prosecutors office said the decision not to charge Ozawa would not be overturned unless they obtained new evidence.

Finishing the questioning as a mere formality while concluding from the outset Ozawa should not be indicted is an abdication by the prosecutors of their responsibility to verify the truth. Such an attitude also is tantamount to disregarding the committee for the inquest of prosecution, which gathers opinions of the general public.


Public trust undermined

Ozawa still bears a heavy political responsibility.

Ozawa's own fund management body, Rikuzan-kai, was at the heart of the scandal in relation to which the prosecutors charged three of Ozawa's former secretaries. How does Ozawa view his supervisory responsibility over his secretaries?

"A lawmaker is held responsible for a crime committed by his or her secretary." This is what Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said when he pointed the finger of blame at Liberal Democratic Party politicians. The public probably shares the same sensibility.

It is undeniable that the lawmakers' response of "making their inferiors carry the can," in which blame for transgressions is laid only on their secretaries, has increased people's distrust of politics. In opinion surveys, the great majority said Ozawa should resign as DPJ secretary general.

If the prosecutors decide again not to indict Ozawa, the committee for the inquest of prosecution will revisit the case. The questioning of Ozawa never ends.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 16, 2010)
(2010年5月16日01時31分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 06:55| Comment(0) | 読売英字


5月末決着 首相の言葉を誰も信じない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 16, 2010)
No one will believe Hatoyama's words
5月末決着 首相の言葉を誰も信じない(5月15日付・読売社説)

After breaking his promise to transfer the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture to somewhere outside the prefecture, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has effectively violated another promise, this one to settle the Futenma issue by the end of May.

The prime minister said Thursday that if necessary, he would make efforts to settle the issue "in June and even beyond." He thereby abandoned his end of May deadline, but on the following day, he again expressed his determination to resolve the issue by the end of this month.

Seeing Hatoyama running around in all directions, a great many people must now be unable to believe what he says. There must be practically no one in this country who believes the Futenma issue will be settled by the end of this month.

Hatoyama has maintained that "settling" the Futenma base relocation issue means reaching agreement with all the parties involved, namely the local governments and people of Okinawa Prefecture, the local governments of locations to which the Futenma base's functions would be relocated, the U.S. government and the ruling parties.

Ultimately, he failed one by one to obtain agreement from each of these parties and finally had to change the definition of settlement. This is the reality of the situation.


Premier lacks leadership ability

The ability to find solutions to serious problems and the decisiveness to put those solutions into practice are indispensable in a government leader. Hatoyama lacks these resources.

Hatoyama had a good chance to resolve the Futenma issue in December. However, he quickly postponed the settlement after Mizuho Fukushima--leader of the Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Japan's junior coalition partner--hinted the SDP would leave the coalition if the Cabinet allowed Futenma's functions to be transferred to the Henoko district of Nago in the prefecture.

Appointing Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano to coordinate the issue, Hatoyama launched a joint government-ruling bloc study panel on the problem of U.S. bases in Okinawa Prefecture, presided over by Hirano. Yet how can the government and the DPJ reach an agreement with the SDP, whose security policy is incompatible with that of the DPJ?


Poor negotiation tactics

The government's handling of negotiations on the Futenma issue with local government heads in Okinawa Prefecture and Tokunoshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture stands out only because it is primitive and poor.

Anyone could have predicted the Futenma issue would run aground if the candidate who opposed the relocation of Futenma's functions to the city won the Nago mayoral election in January.

Yet when the relocation opponent was victorious, Hirano said, "We don't have to take [the election results] into consideration," inviting the distrust of residents of the prefecture.

Like Hatoyama's visit to Okinawa Prefecture, Hirano's visit to Kagoshima Prefecture started from the wrong point and was never corrected. Instead of persuading those concerned with the issue, the visit only strengthened their opposition.

Hatoyama also failed to build up a relationship of mutual trust with U.S. President Barack Obama. Unable to have an official diplomatic meeting with the U.S. president as Japanese prime minister, there is no way for Hatoyama to make progress in bilateral negotiations.

Meanwhile, it is not appropriate for ministers involved with the Futenma issue to have continuously made remarks on their own.

In addition, the Hatoyama administration did not allow bureaucrats who are knowledgeable about past facts and developments regarding Futenma to be involved in the negotiations, in the name of "politics led by politicians." This too made resolving the issue difficult.

Hatoyama himself should of course be held politically responsible for inviting such a serious situation, but Hirano also played a major role. How do they intend to take responsibility?

The government and ruling parties will be unable to brighten their prospects on the Futenma issue if they simply continue what they are doing now.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 15, 2010)
(2010年5月15日01時09分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 13:31| Comment(0) | 読売英字




srachai from khonkaen, thailand

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 14
EDITORIAL: Futenma impasse.

Just two weeks remain before the expiry of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's self-imposed end-of-May deadline for resolving the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture. This was a promise he made not only to the Japanese people, but also to Washington.

Hatoyama repeatedly said he would find a solution by working closely with the U.S. government, Okinawa and local communities in deciding the relocation site. But it is now clear that there is no hope for him to honor his promise.

As things stand, Hatoyama will probably have to start anew from scratch.

Hatoyama seems to be trying to keep up appearances with a hastily arranged relocation plan. Meantime, his talks with Okinawa and Washington will clearly extend beyond the deadline he set to allow for final adjustments in the policy.

The plan he apparently has in mind will call for building a pier-type runway off the Henoko district of Nago in Okinawa Prefecture. Drills currently conducted at the Futenma airfield in Ginowan would be transferred to Tokunoshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture and Self-Defense Forces bases in other parts of the nation.

In a desperate attempt to avoid being humiliated in the Diet for failing to fulfill his promise, Hatoyama is knocking out a plan that is designed only to gloss over his faults and is supported by nobody. This will achieve nothing. It will only delay reaching consensus and completing the actual relocation. Hatoyama's missteps have thrown the issue into the realm of the "not-in-my-backyard" fight.

Hatoyama must own up to his political responsibility. He failed, not only on his promise to move the facility "at least" out of the prefecture, but also in settling the issue by his own deadline.

Hatoyama should, in point by point fashion, explain how matters reached this stage and apologize to voters, especially those in Okinawa Prefecture.

No communication between the leaders

Saturday marks the 38th anniversary of the U.S. reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty.

Previously, people in Okinawa didn't openly demand the relocation of U.S. bases out of their prefecture. That's probably because they didn't have the heart to pass on their burden to others.

But in the latest Asahi Shimbun survey of residents in Okinawa, 53 percent of the respondents voiced support for moving some of the bases in the prefecture to elsewhere in the nation, up from 38 percent in a poll last year. Public opinion in Okinawa has changed dramatically.

When Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan took power from the Liberal Democratic Party last year, the Okinawan people had high expectations that the new government would finally ease their burden of hosting the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan. Those expectations are now unlikely to be fulfilled.

Bitter disappointment and deep anger have caused them to feel that people on the mainland are discriminating against Okinawa.

It is impossible to keep the Japan-U.S. alliance on a stable footing without the support and cooperation of the local communities hosting U.S. bases. From this viewpoint, Hatoyama has done a serious disservice to the nation. His clumsy approach has served only to rub local residents the wrong way.

In the meantime, Japan-U.S. summit diplomacy has hardly functioned. During his meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama, Hatoyama should have talked candidly about his decision to reconsider the 2006 bilateral agreement to move Futenma to Henoko and sought the president's understanding.

However, there is nothing to suggest that the two men have had meaningful communication on the Futenma issue since then. This has made it very hard for the Hatoyama administration to offer a convincing explanation to the audience at home about progress in talks with Washington. It has become even more difficult for the government to persuade local communities to accept a fresh burden.


普天間移設 展望なき窮余の政府最終案

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 14, 2010)
Govt's Futenma plan a hopeless hodgepodge
普天間移設 展望なき窮余の政府最終案(5月13日付・読売社説)

The government has at last decided on its final plan concerning the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.

However, the plan is fraught with inconsistencies and problems, and has many fluid elements. We harbor grave doubts about whether the government plan will actually get off the ground.

The main pillar of this plan is a twist on the plan that has already been agreed to. Instead of constructing a V-shaped pair of runways on land reclaimed from the sea off the marines' Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago in the prefecture, the government wants to build an alternative runway on a so-called quick installation platform. Some helicopter troops and training exercises would be transferred to Tokunoshima island, Kagoshima Prefecture.

The government will study the possibility of transferring flight training conducted at Futenma Air Station and Kadena Air Base to several other areas in the country. The United States could also be asked to return shooting and bombing ranges on two small islands in Okinawa Prefecture.


Base to stay in Okinawa

The plan, for all intents and purposes, will relocate Futenma Air Station's functions within Okinawa Prefecture. However, this has been fiercely opposed by the people of Nago, three towns on Tokunoshima and the Social Democratic Party, a partner in the Democratic Party of Japan-led coalition government.

The Okinawa prefectural government, which initially approved the relocation within the prefecture as agreed to under the existing plan, has changed tack and is demanding the base's functions be shifted outside the prefecture.

The bottom line is that the final plan has cobbled together a mishmash of last-ditch ideas that might lesson the burdens on affected communities, in a bid to appease all the parties involved in the matter.

Although some training exercises that had been conducted at Kadena Air Base have been transferred elsewhere, the number of flights has reportedly remained unchanged. Furthermore, there is little likelihood that the United States will return the shooting and bombing ranges to Japan anytime soon.

The absence of a "control tower" overseeing the relocation has resulted in the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama dealing with all the parties involved in an exceedingly ad hoc manner. The government has ended up trumpeting please-all patchy ideas and facing opposition from all sides. Its handling of the issue has been extremely inept.

The whole point of the relocation was to reduce the burden shouldered by Okinawa Prefecture in hosting U.S. forces, while maintaining their deterrent. If the Hatoyama administration is sincere in achieving this objective, it should not reject the option of admitting it has strayed off course and returning to the original plan.


Deadline must be met

Several Cabinet members recently suggested a conclusion to the issue should be "put off" until after May 31, a self-imposed deadline by Hatoyama that he called a "promise made to the people." However, this would be tantamount to shifting the goal during a soccer match and would be unlikely to sit well with the public.

Hatoyama holds supreme responsibility for settling this issue. Even with only half a month left before the end of May, the prime minister has insisted almost daily that he would find a solution acceptable to Okinawa, the United States and the ruling coalition parties.

If Hatoyama fails to achieve this, criticism of the inconsistencies in his deeds and words will only grow shriller. Hatoyama's political responsibility as prime minister is grave.

Needless to say, the Futenma relocation is not the be-all and end-all of Japan-U.S. ties. However, any delay in settling this issue could have an immense impact on other aspects of the bilateral relationship.

Particularly disconcerting is the fact that there is no sign all parties with a stake in the matter will agree to the final plan.

In that case, the risk of accidents and the noise problems that the Futenma base poses to densely populated neighboring areas will remain, while the historic burden-lessening transfer of 8,000 U.S. marines to Guam could be stalled.

Once again, it will be Hatoyama who is to blame if that happens.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 13, 2010)
(2010年5月13日01時14分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 13:47| Comment(0) | 読売英字



( )で示しています。

(Mainichi Japan) May 12, 2010
Masked social withdrawal linked to Japanese culture

At the Sayama Psychological Institute in Saitama Prefecture stands a collection of sketches.
 (埼玉県狭山市の狭山心理研究所には一冊のスケッチブックが置かれている-by srachai)

The first drawing is too hard to make out. It almost looks like an expressionless "umi-bozu," a type of sea monster.
The second shows something like a person's face behind a stream of diagonal lines.

The third can actually be made out. It is the picture of a woman's head, as seen from behind.

(There is a vivid mole on back of the neck. -by srachai)

These pictures, sketched by reclusive patients at the institute, are of their "mother's face."

One wonders if their mothers ever looked at them when they were young.

The institute accommodates a number of patients between their 20s and 50s who have withdrawn from society.

Rather than focusing on cases in which people have shut themselves inside their rooms, facility therapist Yuichi Hattori, 60, has turned his attention toward "underlying social withdrawal" among people who normally appear cheerful.

They come from good families, have good academic backgrounds, and are amiable, but they cannot build relationships with other people.

They are concerned about the masks behind which they are hiding.

When the patients are asked during therapy to draw a picture of their mother on an A4-sized sheet of paper, none of them can draw the face -- this was the case in the dozen or so examples that I was shown.

Reclusive patients at the institute commonly come from homes that are concerned about social appearances.

They are well-off, but the father is absent.

The mother cannot express her feelings.

Children who are brought up in such an environment have no chance of having contact with other people.

They try to please their mother at home, and when they go out into society, they try to suit those around them.

But they don't know how to go about love.

They think that marriage is impossible and that babies are creepy.

"This is not just the case at our institute," Hattori says. "Social withdrawal is a pathology that has affixed itself to Japanese culture."

Such a culture values the home and groups over the individual, and approves of a dual nature of an outward and inner self. 個人よりも家や集団を優先し、本音と建前の二面性を容認する。

Rather then considering the question of good and evil, homes and society place importance on harmony.

"The people who have wiped out their own existence can't find themselves.

They look like good people but they can't make decisions, and are swayed by the opinions of those around them," Hattori says.

A therapist who has turned his face toward the cries of people's hearts from beneath their masks has unexpectedly traced the problem to Japanese culture.

When considering Japan's declining birth rate, the situation is foreboding.

(By Takahiro Takino, City News Department, Mainichi Shimbun)
毎日新聞 2010年5月12日 0時11分
posted by srachai at 10:07| Comment(0) | 毎日英字


携帯情報端末 日本上陸で広がる新たな波紋

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 12, 2010)
Will iPad change Japan's content industry?
携帯情報端末 日本上陸で広がる新たな波紋(5月11日付・読売社説)

SoftBank Mobile Corp. on Monday began taking orders in this country for the iPad tablet computer manufactured by Apple Inc.

The iPad is enjoying astonishing popularity in the United States--it debuted there April 3 and sold 300,000 units on that day alone. Less than one month later, 1 million units had been bought.

As a result of this higher-than-expected demand, however, the iPad's release was postponed in Japan and other countries outside the United States.

The secret behind its popularity is the public's view of the iPad as a next-generation information terminal, something different from a conventional personal computer or cell phone.

The device looks like a board and is about one-quarter the size of a broadsheet newspaper. It weighs about 700 grams and features an embedded, glass-covered liquid crystal display.

Users can carry the iPad like a memo pad and enjoy a variety of content, including photos, videos, electronic books and games, just by touching the display with a fingertip.


Universal appeal

Although it does not have vocal communication functions, iPad users can search for information and send and receive e-mails by connecting it to the Internet. It also has business applications, such as creating documents and spreadsheets.

Unlike a personal computer, there is almost no need for iPad users to learn difficult operations, and unlike a cell phone, they do not have to strain their eyes looking at a small display. In the United States, a broad range of people, irrespective of gender and age, are said to be purchasing iPads.

Will the device have the same popularity here as in the United States? One problem is that it is more difficult in Japan than in the United States to obtain content to watch or read on the iPad, such as videos and e-books.

In the United States, Apple offers services enabling iPad users to watch movies and television programs via the Internet. Users can also purchase a wide variety of e-books from Apple and major online bookstore Amazon.com over the Internet.

In the education field, moves are growing to digitize textbooks so students can read them on iPads.


A door to the future?

Online sales of videos and e-books in Japan are limited, partly because many copyright holders will not grant permission.

Is the iPad going to be a breakthrough that will expand such sales, like the 1853 arrival of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry and his "Black Ships" led to the opening of the nation?

The use of e-books particularly is increasing quickly in the United States and Europe, attracting attention in the publishing industry as a new source of revenue.

Japanese people are said to have a special affection for hardbound books. But if digitization creates more diverse means of reading, it might help promote the culture of the printed word.

It is regrettable, however, that in recent years this country has often fallen behind others in developing these kinds of electronic devices. Japan's technological and industrial capabilities seem to be on the decline. The government and the industrial sector must study ways to correct this.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 11, 2010)
(2010年5月11日01時37分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 09:06| Comment(0) | 読売英字


内閣支持率下落 首相は逆風に耐えられるか

buffet-バフィット→嵐、風に翻弄される (buffet-バフェイ→ ビュッフェと混同しない)、ややこしいですね。

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 11, 2010)
How much longer can Hatoyama hang on?
内閣支持率下落 首相は逆風に耐えられるか(5月10日付・読売社説)

Public support for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has been on a slippery slope downward.

Can Hatoyama implement policies while his administration is being constantly buffeted by unfavorable winds?

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun opinion survey conducted over the weekend, the public approval rating for the Cabinet has plunged to 24 percent. This figure represents less than one-third of the 75 percent of respondents who backed the Cabinet in a similar survey taken in September, when the administration was inaugurated. The disapproval rate, on the other hand, has jumped to 67 percent.

As a reason for their disapproval, more than 50 percent of respondents chose, "The prime minister lacks leadership."

Hatoyama asserted last summer the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture "should be relocated at least to a site outside the prefecture." This fanned the expectations of residents in the prefecture. However, Hatoyama backpedaled on this assertion during his visit to the island last week, saying it was "not a campaign pledge" of his Democratic Party of Japan.

Hatoyama visited the prefecture despite there being no prospect of breaking the stalemate over the base relocation. His string of verbal blunders have left many voters' hopes for his government hanging by a thread.


Accountability vital

One in two respondents to the Yomiuri survey said Hatoyama should step down if the Futenma dispute is not resolved by the end of this month. Undoubtedly, this reflects that many people value result-based accountability--a quality Hatoyama must show as the nation's leader.

Along with the contradictions between his words and actions, the issue of political ethics also has haunted the prime minister and his party.

It is extraordinary that Hatoyama and DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, who hold the top two posts of the ruling party, have been embroiled in political funding scandals.

The Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution late last month decided Ozawa "merits indictment" in connection with his political fund management organization's alleged falsification of funds reports in violation of the Political Funds Control Law. Asked in the survey whether the civil judicial panel's judgment was "proper" and Ozawa "should resign as party secretary general," about 80 percent of respondents answered affirmatively to each question.

A similar inquest panel earlier judged the prosecutors' decision not to indict Hatoyama over a funding controversy was "appropriate." But many voters do not believe Hatoyama has fulfilled his accountability over this matter.


Restore public faith

The panel's attached opinion mentioned "it is unthinkable that Hatoyama knew nothing about money provided by his mother" and called into question whether "politicians can be allowed not to take responsibility if they claim they entrust everything to their secretaries."

These points are common sense to the general public. Hatoyama and Ozawa, as well as DPJ lawmakers, appear to be taking such criticism far too lightly.

After learning of the inquest panel's decision, Ozawa said he had done "nothing to be ashamed of." If this is indeed so, he has no reason to evade meeting the opposition parties' request to testify at the Diet as a sworn witness over the matter. He should meet this request without hesitation and prove his hands are clean.

Public support for the DPJ is mired at the 20 percent level. The number of voters who plan to vote for the DPJ in this summer's House of Councillors election has been dropping steadily.

As indicated in the Analects of Confucius, politics can never be conducted if the people lose faith in it. The government and the DPJ must take this teaching to heart.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 10, 2010)
(2010年5月10日01時24分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:32| Comment(0) | 読売英字


英総選挙 伝統の2大政党制に試練の時

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 10, 2010)
Britain's 2-party system turned on its head
英総選挙 伝統の2大政党制に試練の時(5月9日付・読売社説)

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party was defeated in the general election on Thursday as the Conservative Party made dramatic gains to become Britain's largest party. The Liberal Democrats, the third-largest party, failed to increase their seats, contrary to earlier expectations.

However, the Conservatives fell short of winning an absolute majority of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, so the shape of the new British government still is undecided.

Britain's traditional two-party system, under which one of the two largest parties forms a stable government after securing a majority of seats, has begun to crumble.

In countries that have adopted a proportional representation system, it is common for no party to secure a majority of seats. However, it is the first time since 1974 for Britain, which has a simple single-seat constituency system, to face a hung parliament.

If either the Conservatives or the Labour Party want to form a stable government, they must both consider the coalition option by making overtures to the Liberal Democratic Party and smaller parties.

Whether a new administration can be launched smoothly is a challenge both major parties face.


Tories aided by Greece's woes

The Conservatives have become the largest party in Britain for the first time in 13 years, partly due to the euro crisis triggered by Greece's fiscal woes. The latest turmoil obviously helped the Tories, who do not want Britain to become a eurozone member and aim to regain the country's policy independence from the European Union.

The number of immigrants in Britain has risen to 14 percent of its total working population. The Conservatives' promise to stop the influx of immigrants to prevent the employment situation from worsening apparently appealed to the voters.

However, besides policies concerning the EU and immigrants, there are no distinctive differences between the two largest parties.

Both Labour and the Conservatives aim to make free competition consistent with social justice. In the general election, the swing in the vote was not significant enough to result in a landslide win. This is because the two parties failed to give the voters a range of options.

Britain's two largest parties have combined to win more than 90 percent of the vote in most general elections since the end of World War II. But the percentage fell below 70 percent in the general election in 2005 and further dropped in Thursday's general election. With its first-past-the-post system, the diverse will of the people is not reflected in the number of seats won.


Calls for electoral reform

As a result, a move calling for electoral reform has begun to emerge.

The Labour Party has proposed a change to the single-seat constituency system under which people would vote for more than one candidate, marking their ballots in order of preference. The Liberal Democratic Party is calling for a proportional representation system. The coalition talks will probably take up electoral reform.

During the general election campaign, a U.S.-style television debate was introduced for the first time and Liberal Democratic Party leader Nick Clegg soared in popularity at one point. The reason why this failed to lead to good results for his party can be put down to the existing electoral system.

In Japan, a two-party system finally emerged that allowed for a change of government. As Japan's politics is modeled on Britain's, we should closely watch what changes are made in that country.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 9, 2010)
(2010年5月9日01時08分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 09:44| Comment(0) | 読売英字


世界同時株安 ギリシャ危機の飛び火を防げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 9, 2010)
Prevent Greek crisis from spreading further
世界同時株安 ギリシャ危機の飛び火を防げ(5月8日付・読売社説)

Financial markets around the world are still shaken by the troubles in Greece, even though European countries and the International Monetary Fund have decided to extend financial assistance of up to A110 billion (about 13 trillion yen) to the country, which is struggling with a serious fiscal crisis.

Selling ballooned on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, mainly due to fears over the adverse effects of Greece's fiscal deficit. This, coupled with a sudden plunge in the market that is believed to have been caused by a trader who mistyped an order to sell a large block of shares, briefly pushed the Dow Jones industrial average below 10,000.

Affected by the New York sentiment, the Tokyo market was down across the board Friday, causing the Nikkei Stock Average to drop more than 400 points at one point.

Other major Asian markets such as Shanghai and Hong Kong also plunged, a situation that could be dubbed a spontaneous global market crash.


Not 'fire on the opposite shore'

Even for Japan, the European-born trouble for which Greece is basically responsible cannot be considered a "fire on the other side of the river," a Japanese expression for events that can be observed casually. Japan too needs to be on high alert, so as not to be burned by sparks drifting over from the crisis.

The assistance package from the IMF and the European Union is being extended on the condition that Greece implement measures to rebuild its public finances, including raising the rate of its value-added tax and of its taxes on luxury items, and cutting the salaries of public employees.

However, citizen demonstrations opposing the measures have intensified and even resulted in deaths. The chaos over fiscal rehabilitation within the very country at the center of the problem has been growing serious.

Within the countries who decided to extend a helping hand, including Germany, prevailing public opinion is against the increased burden expected to result from the aid package. This has begun to fray the unity within the eurozone toward resolving the problem.

The Greek crisis has had a ripple effect in markets in Spain and Portugal, which hold huge fiscal debts similar to that of Greece. People strongly fear confidence in the single currency of the euro may be undermined. Such psychological anxiety probably hit the stock markets hard.


G-20 too optimistic

The Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors held in April in the United States did not probe deeply into the Greek fiscal problem.

The finance chiefs may have concluded the problem should be left to the IMF and eurozone nations. We think this judgment was too optimistic.

Speculators may have taken advantage of this opportunity. Group of Seven and G-20 nations hereafter need to formulate countermeasures to deal with the situation more seriously.

Japan, still anxious over its own struggle toward economic recovery, also has a worsening fiscal problem.

Ninety-five percent of its national bonds are held in a stable manner by domestic investors, a situation quite different from Greece, where 70 percent of its national bonds are held by overseas investors.

However, the Greek economic chaos was triggered as its national bond rating was lowered. This country should see the Greek crisis as a valuable lesson to avoid a similar outcome.

What is most hurting the Japanese economy's confidence is the economic policy of the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which continues to dole out huge funds without showing a clear road map for fiscal rehabilitation. This needs to be addressed first.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 8, 2010)
(2010年5月8日01時07分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 11:46| Comment(0) | 読売英字


読売経済提言 政策を一新し停滞を打開せよ


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 8, 2010)
Govt must change economic tack
読売経済提言 政策を一新し停滞を打開せよ(5月7日付・読売社説)

The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has only aggravated this nation's fiscal condition through lavish government handouts that will do little to improve the economy. This has been exacerbated by the administration's failure to write proper prescriptions for recovering economic growth. The Hatoyama government's lack of sound economic management policies cannot be overlooked any longer.

This perception is the basis for the emergency proposal advanced by The Yomiuri Shimbun to press the government to fundamentally change its economic policies.

The greatest flaw in the Hatoyama administration's political approach lies with the priority it gives to ensuring the Democratic Party of Japan wins elections through policies and programs only aimed at pleasing the public, combined with its implementation at any cost of policies included in the DPJ's manifesto for last year's general election.

The prime minister should carry out responsible economic policies in line with the Yomiuri's latest proposal, to stabilize the nation's economy and society throughout the 21st century and achieve sustainable growth.

This country's economy is finally improving after months of being buffeted by the global recession. However, the nation cannot afford to feel at ease with this nascent economic recovery.

The nation's current macroeconomic condition is marked by a 30 trillion yen shortfall in demand. There has been downward pressure on prices, giving rise to chronic deflation.


Growth to slow

A package of pump-priming measures introduced by the preceding government led by the Liberal Democratic Party, including an eco-friendly car purchase incentive program, is losing steam. According to many observers, the current economic improvement likely will slow down in the latter part of the year.

However, the current government's pump-priming measures are amiss, despite the necessity of doing all it can to underpin the economy. Its "from concrete to humans" slogan is a perfect example of this in that the policy regards public works projects as evil.

The government budget for fiscal 2010 entails a hefty 20 percent cut in public works spending, a budget item highly conducive to stimulating the economy. The reduction is certain to deal a blow to regional economies, which rely heavily on public works projects.

Meanwhile, the current fiscal budget incorporates a massive amount of appropriations for dole-out programs, including child-rearing allowances. The Hatoyama government has given priority to honoring promises included in the DPJ manifesto despite being unsure how to secure a permanent source of revenue for the lavish handouts. Furthermore, direct allowances to households often end up being squirreled away, so it is difficult to expect the provision of such benefits will immediately improve the economy.

Increased spending for improving social infrastructure--including transport networks and school buildings and facilities that are earthquake-resistant--would spur economic growth and make people's lives safer. Given this, the government should improve the nation's social infrastructure, instead of regarding such public facilities in the same light as unnecessary buildings and equipment.


Govt bonds to the rescue

We propose no-interest bearing, tax-exempt government bonds be issued as a means of securing financial resources for achieving that goal. The issuance of such bonds does not entail new financial burdens in the form of interest payments, though purchasers are entitled to the reduction of and exemption from inheritance taxation. This means there is no threat of the state coffers being further depleted.

New financial means could be secured by encouraging people to buy such bonds with some of the estimated 30 trillion yen stashed at homes across the nation. Using such resources to carry out necessary projects would make it possible not only to ensure people use a portion of their money saved at home but also make headway in improving the nation's social infrastructure.

According to a Cabinet Office opinion survey, the greatest discontent felt by people about their current state of affairs is their lack of economic comfort and their uncertainty about their future. Nearly half of those polled gave this answer.

Giving lavish allowances alone will do nothing to dispel people's anxiety about the future. The first step to be taken in this respect will be to create jobs for people who want to work and enable them to support themselves economically. Employment stability would reinvigorate the economy, for example, in the form of expanded consumption.


Help care workers

Chances are high that more jobs will be created in the medical and nursing care fields, given the rising need for these services due to the aging of society. However, many people are quick to leave such jobs because of the strenuous working conditions and low wages. This has caused a chronic shortage of workers in these fields.

Wages and other labor conditions in these sectors need to be improved, thus making sure people find such jobs worthwhile. Public money should be used to help achieve this goal.

It is also necessary to hurriedly shore up the social security system to support people who cannot work because of illness or old age. Drawing a blueprint for a new system is pie in the sky if it is not supported by financial means.

The declining birthrate and aging population is forecast to push up the nation's social security costs by about 1 trillion yen each year. To accommodate this increase and transform the social security system into a sustainable scheme, it will be inescapable to raise the consumption tax rate--which stands at 5 percent--as a stable source of revenue.

Hatoyama should retract his earlier pledge to "freeze" the tax rate and start specific discussions on an increase in the rate as soon as possible. As a first step, it is necessary to try and increase the tax rate to 10 percent.

posted by srachai at 10:19| Comment(0) | 読売英字