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ソウル不当判決 日韓合意に反する賠償命令だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 13, 2013
Seoul court ruling on damages defies 1965 Japan-ROK accord
ソウル不当判決 日韓合意に反する賠償命令だ(7月12日付・読売社説)

A South Korean court has handed down a ruling that could worsen relations with Japan. It was an unjust decision.

In an appellate case sent back from the Supreme Court, which involved four South Koreans seeking compensation for damages from Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., a descendant of the companies they had been forced to work for during wartime, the Seoul High Court ordered payment of 100 million won (about 8.8 million yen) to each of the plaintiffs.

This is the first time that a South Korean court has ordered a Japanese firm to pay damages to former forced laborers.

The ruling is totally unacceptable because it obviously violates the agreement on property claims and economic cooperation that was reached when the two countries concluded a treaty to normalize relations in 1965. The accord clearly stated that the issue of property claims was “resolved completely and finally.”

In its 1976 white paper on funds deriving from property claims, South Korea’s Economic Planning Board listed construction of a steelmaking plant, dams and highways as concrete examples of how $500 million in grants and other funds the country received from Japan in the name of economic cooperation had been used. The white paper clearly stated that “its usefulness cannot be belittled.”

Erroneous judgment

Nevertheless, South Korea’s Supreme Court said in a May 2012 ruling that “claims by individuals have not yet expired.” The current ruling is based on that erroneous judgment.

Some of the plaintiffs filed a similar suit in Japan but their loss was finalized by a Supreme Court decision.

The Seoul High Court’s decision this time demonstrates disregard for the final decision in this country. It is natural that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “We cannot accept a decision that doesn’t comport with Japan’s position.”

There are five other similar lawsuits filed against Japanese firms. The latest decision will inevitably have an influence on future court rulings. It is feared that more South Koreans who were once forced laborers will file class action suits, causing new problems between the two countries.

In the first place, the South Korean government itself is obliged to pay compensation for damages suffered by South Koreans during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. The $300 million Japan paid in grants to South Korea contained “the funds to resolve the compensation over forcible recruitment.”

Because the South Korean government did not sufficiently pay out this compensation money, dissatisfaction has been smoldering among many South Koreans who were excluded from compensation for individuals.

Moreover, the South Korean government has failed to give sufficient explanations to its own people.

Fostering ill will

As Seoul has intensified antagonism against Tokyo in recent years, over topics such as sovereignty over the Takeshima islets and perceptions of history, unfounded demands against Japan have been flaring up again.

A sudden shift by the South Korean judiciary from its conventional stance is not completely unrelated to the rise of anti-Japan sentiment in the country.

The normalization of bilateral relations opened the way to tremendous progress for South Korea. The financial resolution of damages from the past was determined diplomatically and is fundamentally a matter to be dealt with domestically in that country. It is unreasonable that South Korea persistently continues to point its accusing finger at Japan.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 12, 2013)
(2013年7月12日01時26分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:06| Comment(0) | 読売英字


香山リカのココロの万華鏡:別れが悲しいのは病気? /東京

July 07, 2013(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Is mourning the loss of a loved one an illness?
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:別れが悲しいのは病気? /東京

In May, the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," used by psychiatrists around the world as a basis for making diagnoses, received a major revision that has become a large topic of discussion in psychiatric circles.

Among the revisions made, what bothers me is the deletion of "bereavement exclusion" in the section on depressive disorders. In the previous version of the manual, there was an exclusion saying that when people lost a loved one, they shouldn't be diagnosed with depression for the next two months even if they showed symptoms of it. In the new version that exclusion is gone, and the death of loved ones is generally treated the same as other stress or shock factors, with patients to be diagnosed with depression if they show depression symptoms for two weeks.

To be frank, I am doubtful of the correctness of this change. I myself lost my father over two years ago, and I feel that since then my view of the world has greatly changed. I continue to go to work because I can't leave my job unattended, but sometimes I am struck by indescribable feelings of emptiness.

I often see people in my consultation room who complain of sadness and regret after the loss of a spouse or child. I sympathize with them greatly, because considering how much I am affected by the loss of my aged father, the loss of one's child seems like it must be unbearable. Except in extreme cases, I don't feel like labeling these people as "depressed." However, if I send them away with a diagnosis of "completely normal," patients having trouble sleeping can't get prescriptions for sleeping medicine, so with no other choice I diagnose them with "insomnia," or with "psychogenic reaction," a response to temporary but harsh psychological stimuli.

Perhaps before long, I will have to tell a person who comes complaining that, three weeks after a family death, they feel down and without energy, "That's depression. Let's take some antidepressants and get better."

In our lives, we have many sad and hurtful experiences. That is something all people face, and one might even say the ability to mourn deeply and for a long time is a defining characteristic of humanity. A society that labels that without exception as "depression" is both shallow and dull.

The Japanese Society of Mood Disorders has not yet announced how it will react to the revised manual, but I hope that they will say, "Being sad because of a family member's death is not an illness."

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2013年07月02日 地方版
posted by srachai at 07:50| Comment(0) | 毎日英字


13参院選 TPP交渉 参加出遅れに危機感が乏しい

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 12, 2013
Political parties lack seriousness over Japan’s late entry in TPP talks
13参院選 TPP交渉 参加出遅れに危機感が乏しい(7月11日付・読売社説)

How should Japan deal with negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement?

Each political party is accountable for its stance on the TPP during the ongoing campaign for the House of Councillors election.

The U.S. Congress likely will complete procedures soon over Japan’s entry into TPP negotiations, following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement of Japan’s intent to join the talks. Eleven countries, including the United States and Australia, are scheduled to hold a new round of TPP talks in Malaysia on July 15-25. For several days toward the end of the round, Japan is expected to finally be able to sit at the negotiating table.

With its population shrinking, Japan needs to tap into Asia’s vitality by promoting free trade in an effort to buoy its economic growth.

Japan must catch up

Aiming to reach a broad agreement within the year, the 11 countries are likely to step up TPP negotiations. Japan has lagged behind in the TPP talks, but it must explore ways to catch up with its negotiating partners in creating trade rules.

Although Japan faces these difficult circumstances, the parties’ campaign pledges indicate they do not feel the urgency of the TPP issue. As a result, the TPP has not been a major contentious topic in the campaign.

Regarding the TPP issue, the Liberal Democratic Party has stressed it would seek the best possible path in line with national interests by protecting what needs protecting and pushing for what the nation wants.

In its comprehensive policy package, however, the LDP has called on the government to place priority on ensuring that five key agricultural items, such as rice and wheat, will be exempt from tariff elimination in TPP negotiations. It also calls for the government not to hesitate to pull out from the trade talks if the items are not protected. The LDP’s Hokkaido chapter has taken an even tougher stance, saying it will stand firm and not accept tariff elimination without exceptions.

As the prime minister has vowed to enter TPP negotiations “with the determination to secure national interests,” Japan needs to flex its bargaining muscle.

Along with its coalition partner, New Komeito, the LDP should support the government and reflect national interests in TPP-related policies.

It is also vital for political parties to propose feasible measures to make the nation’s agriculture competitive in preparation for further market liberalization.

Active debate urged

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party, both pushing for Japan’s entry into the TPP talks, have called for a review of a measure to reduce rice production, an overhaul of agricultural cooperatives and other reforms. We urge the parties to have a vigorous debate on these issues.

Meanwhile, the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, has pledged in its campaign platform to seek high-level economic partnerships and take the lead in drawing up global trade rules. But at the same time, it has also said, “We will take up the TPP issue without hesitating to withdraw [from the TPP talks].” The party’s proposed measures to beef up the agricultural sector appear vague.

The Japanese Communist Party, the People’s Life Party, the Social Democratic Party and Green Wind all have opposed Japan’s participation in the TPP talks. However, Japan, which thrived as a trading country, is unlikely to be able to develop a vision for the future if it decides to stay away from such a free trade framework in Asia.

The TPP negotiations address not only tariff elimination but also a wide range of other areas, such as rules for investment and intellectual property protection. How can Japan take advantage of the TPP to boost its competitiveness? We urge voters to closely look at each party’s proposal on the TPP.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 11, 2013)
(2013年7月11日01時26分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:52| Comment(0) | 読売英字


13参院選 社会保障 負担増の論議は避けられない

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 11, 2013
Don’t shirk discussions on raising the elderly’s social security burden
13参院選 社会保障 負担増の論議は避けられない(7月10日付・読売社説)

Amid a chronically low birthrate and rapidly aging population, Japan’s spending on social security, including pensions, medical care and nursing care, has been continuously increasing.

How can a sustainable social security system be built? This is an important issue in the upcoming House of Councillors election.

The Liberal Democratic Party has unveiled policies to promote wider use of cheap generic drugs and prevent people from receiving treatment at more than one medical institution for the same disease or sickness. These policies show the LDP has a sense of urgency on this issue.

However, a glance at the campaign pledges of the political parties, including the LDP, reveals that they are hesitant to ask the public to pay more for their social security system.

Elderly should pay more

For example, increasing the proportion of medical expenses that elderly people must pay out of their own pocket is one issue that needs to be addressed.

The Health Insurance Law and others stipulate that people aged 70 to 74 must pay 20 percent of their medical expenses when they are treated at a hospital. Despite this, government administrations since 2008 have capped this figure at 10 percent as a special measure, apparently for fear of sparking a backlash from the elderly if they increase it.

We think this figure should be raised to 20 percent, as set by law, to curtail public spending.

However, the LDP, New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan do not mention this issue in their election pledges. The Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party oppose raising this figure.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura expressed his intention to review the special measure at a press conference Tuesday, but he did not set any time frame for abolishing it.

How can snowballing medical spending be rolled back? How can financial resources to fund the medical care system be secured? We urge all parties to deepen discussions on these matters.

It is utterly irresponsible of the DPJ, the JCP and the SDP to insist on raising medical fees, which will inflate government spending on medical care, without explaining where the money to cover the cost will come from.

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) has proposed benefits for the elderly be reduced to more reasonable levels. The proportion of medical bills people are required to pay at hospitals differs between age groups. Ishin no Kai has proposed that this proportion be set at a uniform rate, so people shoulder medical expenses commensurate with their income.

Ishin no Kai also calls for raising the eligibility age for pension benefits. These issues deserve to be discussed in detail.

Measures to deal with the low birthrate also are important.

Help people have kids

The number of births in Japan fell to a record low of 1.037 million last year. A relentless decline in the number of people in the working generation that supports the elderly will imperil the very foundation of the nation’s social security system.

It is essential to create an environment in which more people can raise their children while continuing their careers. Amid public calls for eliminating the waiting lists for licensed day care centers, political parties are in step when it comes to improving child care services.

The LDP touted that it will ensure child care facilities are capable of accepting 400,000 more children by the end of fiscal 2017. However, many problems need to be solved before this target can be achieved, including how to cooperate with local governments on this matter. The LDP must present specific steps for reaching this goal.

The nation’s budget for measures to deal with the low birthrate is small compared with those of the United States and European countries. It is necessary to correct the current social security benefit setup, which is generous for the elderly, but relatively light for working and child-raising generations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 10, 2013)
(2013年7月10日01時52分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:21| Comment(0) | 読売英字


中国とガス田 一方的な開発は認められない

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 10, 2013
China’s unilateral development of gas field cannot be tolerated
中国とガス田 一方的な開発は認められない(7月9日付・読売社説)

The latest development is serious and certain to raise tensions in relations between Japan and China, which are already at loggerheads over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

It was recently learned that China is developing a new gas field near the median line between the two countries in the East China Sea, an area where a common borderline has yet to be defined.

It can be said that China’s hard-line stance under President Xi Jinping has become clear, with his administration trying to expand his country’s maritime interests by force or through a number of faits accomplis.

In June 2008, Japan and China agreed that both countries would jointly develop the Shirakaba gas field (called Chunxiao in China) located near a median line drawn at equal distances from the coastlines of the two nations. Both countries also agreed they would designate specific waters that straddle the median line to jointly develop, while agreeing to continue negotiations over possible joint development in other waters.

China claims wider EEZ

The agreement was made as both countries were unable to close the rift in views concerning the delineation of their respective exclusive economic zones, in which nations have sovereign rights over seabed resources. Japan asserted that a median line should be drawn at equal distances from the coastlines to delineate respective EEZs while China claimed an EEZ that stretches farther east, saying its continental shelf extends to the Okinawa Trough.

The area where China has recently been confirmed to have begun establishing a drilling facility is located about 26 kilometers west, toward China, of the median line favored by Japan. The unilateral act of China’s developing the area without a bilateral accord with Japan is intolerable.

It stands to reason that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has criticized China by saying, “We want China to abide firmly by the bilateral accord.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also lodged a protest over China’s latest action.

But a spokesperson of China’s Foreign Ministry said there was nothing for China to be criticized for as the development activity is in Chinese waters. Does this mean China is saying there is nothing wrong with its developing an area closer to China from the median line?

The latest gas field development attests to the Xi administration’s intention of accelerating China’s drive to become a “maritime power,” by promoting natural resource development in the East China Sea, as it is doing in the South China Sea.

China has not only repeatedly had its surveillance ships enter Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands but also had its marine research vessels intrude into Japanese waters recently. The country has also dispatched other survey vessels to an area within Japan’s EEZ, about 85 kilometers north of Okinotorishima island. These developments indicate that China is trying to expand its maritime interests even in the Western Pacific Ocean.

Japan must press for talks

The recent spate of China’s maritime activities is probably the Xi administration’s attempt to raise pressure on the Abe administration. Japan, in the meantime, should press China to resume the bilateral talks on the joint development of the East China Sea in accordance with the 2008 bilateral accords, while remaining unruffled by China’s pressure.

To begin with, it is China that unilaterally discontinued the bilateral talks over an accord on the joint development of a natural gas field in the area in question, following a collision between a Chinese fishing vessel and Japan Coast Guard patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands in 2010. Even since, Beijing has refused to accept Japan’s requests to resume the talks.

As long as China continues to take such a stance, its image of being “a power of a different nature” that easily breaks its promises made in intergovernmental accords will remain fixed in the international arena.

The Xi administration must suspend the gas field development in question and agree to resume the bilateral talks.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 9, 2013)
(2013年7月9日01時52分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:17| Comment(0) | 読売英字


米機密漏洩事件 問われる情報管理のずさんさ

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 9, 2013
U.S. information leakage shows sloppiness in managing secrets
米機密漏洩事件 問われる情報管理のずさんさ(7月8日付・読売社説)

A single individual has shaken up the world.

The individual is Edward Snowden, a former systems analyst with the U.S. National Security Agency whom the NSA has accused of illegally gathering and spreading information.

Snowden has asked 26 countries in South America, Europe and other regions for political asylum, but he has been stuck in the transit zone of Moscow’s international airport for as long as two weeks.

In Hong Kong a month ago, the 30-year-old former systems analyst leaked to major U.S. and British newspapers that the NSA, using a surveillance and monitoring system it built in strict secrecy, was gathering a large amount of information from e-mails, Internet phone conversations and online video sites.

Veil of secrecy

Regarding his motivation for revealing NSA’s global monitoring activities, Snowden, who was not a regular NSA official but an employee with one of its contractors, told the media his conscience did not allow him to remain idle while the privacy of a huge number of individuals was being infringed upon.

The NSA is an intelligence organization shrouded in secrecy. It has facilities around the world, including Japan.

Even so, we cannot help but feel astounded that the U.S. government’s confidential information can be divulged by an individual in the private sector so nonchalantly.

For the purpose of processing the immense amount of information they have collected, U.S. intelligence agencies have reportedly entrusted the task to an increasing number of private-sector IT companies. As a result, the number of people in the private sector who have access to top U.S. government secrets is said to be about 500,000.

Only three years ago, a U.S. Army private first class leaked a large amount of U.S. diplomatic information to the WikiLeaks whistle-blowing site. More than 250,000 pieces of information were leaked.

The sloppiness of the U.S. government’s information management must be questioned.

The administration of President Barack Obama has charged Snowden on a number of counts, including violation of the anti-espionage law, calling for countries concerned to cooperate in handing him over to the United States. This action shows how grave the impact the Snowden case has had on the U.S. government. Washington is apparently doing its best to prevent further confidential information from being divulged.

As this is the age of Internet, gigantic amounts of electronic information travel around the world. The Internet traffic has mostly been through the servers of major U.S. telecommunication firms.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, U.S. efforts for beefing up Internet surveillance activities with cooperation from telecommunication firms with the aim of preventing terrorist activities has been an open secret.

Protect whistle-blowers

The question is whether the widespread monitoring operations are conducted legally.

Obama recently went on record as saying the surveillance activities, with the cooperation of telecommunications companies, are “completely legal” and are necessary to protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

The NSA chief stressed the usefulness of the surveillance activities by saying in congressional testimony that the agency has successfully thwarted “more than 50 cases” of terrorist attacks in more than 20 countries.

However justifiable the purpose for surveillance may be, information-gathering operations lacking appropriate constraints could lead to the abuse of power.

Snowden failed to abide by procedures stipulated for in-house whistle-blowing. He may or may not have feared that he could be ignored and arrested.

To stem the divulgence of information, it is also important to protect whistle-blowers.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 8, 2013)
(2013年7月8日01時42分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 06:25| Comment(0) | 読売英字


13参院選 エネルギー政策 電力安定で経済再生に弾みを

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 8, 2013
Stable supply of power essential for reinvigorating the economy
13参院選 エネルギー政策 電力安定で経済再生に弾みを(7月7日付・読売社説)


Electricity, the “blood” of the economy, must be cheaply and stably secured to revive the Japanese economy.

There are 50 nuclear reactors in Japan, but only two of them, at the Oi nuclear power station of Kansai Electric Power Co., are operating. The nation’s supply and demand of electricity are as shaky as a tightrope now.

Nuclear reactors whose safety is confirmed must be restarted one by one to eliminate the power shortage.


All the parties except the ruling Liberal Democratic Party state in their policy platform for the upcoming House of Councillors election that nuclear power generation should be terminated in the future. But none of them have presented an effective plan to secure power. They should face up to the harmful effects on business, employment and the global environment that denuclearization would cause and discuss more realistic energy policies.

The LDP stipulates in its election pledges that the state should make utmost efforts to obtain the consent for reactivation from local governments hosting nuclear power plants. This is an appropriate pledge as a responsible government party.

Check N-plants quickly

New safety standards for nuclear power plants become effective on Monday. Based on the new standards, electric power companies will ask the Nuclear Regulation Authority to check the safety of their nuclear reactors for reactivation.

The authority should carry out safety inspections without delay.

A worrying factor is the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. in Niigata Prefecture. Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida has presented difficult demands for restarting the reactors. If the reactors are not restarted, power supply in TEPCO’s service area will not become stable, and this could cause TEPCO to post an ordinary loss for the third straight year, resulting in a management crisis.

After the House of Councillors election, the LDP and the government must jointly do their best to obtain the consent of local governments hosting nuclear power plants.

In its policy platform, the LDP has also presented a policy of increasing official assistance for exports of Japanese technologies related to infrastructure, including nuclear power generation. It is important to accelerate exports of infrastructure as a pillar of the government’s growth strategy.

The LDP also needs to coordinate policies with its coalition partner, New Komeito. In its policy platform, Komeito has not rejected restarting nuclear reactors, but it stipulates that the party aims to stop the use of nuclear power generation as soon as possible.

We expect the LDP and Komeito to explain to voters in an easy-to-understand manner to what degree the two parties differ in their perceptions concerning nuclear power generation.

DPJ policy unrealistic

Among the opposition parties, the Democratic Party of Japan, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party approve the restart of nuclear reactors at present, but they also stipulate they would aim to terminate the use of nuclear power in the future.

The DPJ’s electoral pledge of “reducing to zero the nuclear power generation in the 2030s” is in line with the energy policy adopted by the administration led by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, which ended in December.

The content of the policy, worked out in the autumn of last year, was unrealistic, so the Cabinet did not adopt the policy because of adverse reactions from various quarters, including the business world and the Aomori prefectural government, which has taken the approach of expediting a nuclear power policy, and even the United States.

The Japanese Communist Party and People’s Life Party, for their part, even oppose reactivation of nuclear power plants that have been idled.

The facile argument seeking to break away from nuclear power generation seems to be pandering to the voters. It appears to be aimed at ramping up public support for the parties making the argument by exploiting people’s insecurities caused by the March 11, 2011, accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Although no major power blackout has taken place since the Fukushima accident, it is Pollyannaish to assume the nation’s electricity demand can be met without nuclear power. Due attention must be paid to the current stringent supply-demand situation of electricity in which thermal power stations, including superannuated ones, have been run at full blast.

Additional fuel costs of utilities to make up for power shortages because of the stoppage of their nuclear power stations stand at nearly 4 trillion yen a year. As a result, a colossal amount of the nation’s wealth has been flowing abroad to import fuel for thermal power generation, while electricity charges have continued to rise.

TEPCO, KEPCO and Kyushu Electric Power Co. have already raised power rates, while three other utilities, including Hokkaido Electric Power Co., have applied to the government to boost charges.

According to one estimate, electricity charges could double from the current level in the event of “zero nuclear power generation.”

Various assertions are being made to defend the wisdom of abolishing nuclear power, such as the claims that hikes in electricity charges can be curbed by reforming the current power supply system and that the nation can attain economic growth without nuclear power generation through investment in renewable energy projects such as solar power. These arguments, however, are mostly cases of wishful thinking and lack convincing grounds.

The parties advocating abolition of nuclear power must produce credible measures regarding how to avoid the negative impact on the national economy and people’s livelihood that would result from denuclearization.

Instead of the futile dichotomous debate over the use of nuclear power versus zero nuclear power, a cool-headed discussion should be conducted in a way that suits the reality of Japan’s energy circumstances.

Renewable energy sources have a number of shortcomings, including the fact that the amount of electricity they produce can erratically fluctuate due to climate conditions. Renewables cannot replace nuclear power generation, at least in the near future.
posted by srachai at 07:02| Comment(0) | 読売英字


エジプト政変 大統領の失政が招いた軍介入

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 7, 2013
Egypt’s leaders must quickly come to terms to guard regional stability
エジプト政変 大統領の失政が招いた軍介入(7月6日付・読売社説)

Mohammed Morsi, who became Egypt’s first democratically elected president one year ago, has been outsted in a de facto coup by the military.

The country’s transition to democratic rule, which was championed in the wake of a dictatorship, is now facing a critical test. Tensions between the military and Morsi supporters have been rising, inciting concern that a wave of clashes between the two forces could aggravate the turmoil.

The military deposed Morsi as president and placed him under arrest, claiming the country was on the verge of a security crisis. Adly Mansour, the supreme justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, has been sworn in as interim president until a new leader is elected.

The military has suspended the Islamist-drafted Constitution and announced a plan to call a presidential election in the near future, but there has been no indication the chaos will subside.

The coup was triggered by a string of massive demonstrations calling for Morsi’s resignation on the anniversary of his first year in office. Since then, the square in central Cairo has been swamped with protesters every day. The scale of demonstrations is reminiscent of those that led to the toppling of the long-standing regime led by President Hosni Mubarak.

Repeated clashes beween pro- and anti-Morsi elements have claimed lives in various parts of the country.

Policy gaffes sparked crisis

The leading factor behind the rebellion was a series of policy blunders by Morsi.

Morsi was elected with a campaign pledge to improve Egyptians’ livelihoods, but food prices have been skyrocketing and fuel shortages have reached a dire level.

Additionally, public safety has deteriorated due to an increase in heinous crimes. The number of international tourists and the amount of foreign investment have dropped with no sign of recovery.

Morsi unilaterally issued a decree to bolster the power and authority of the president. He pushed through the enactment of a heavily Islamic Constitution in line with the policy of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails. His political stance has drawn a backlash from secular and liberal forces.

Widespread political unrest and a rapid expansion of anti- government movements, it may be said, gave the military a pretense for political intervention.

The military-led interim government will be challenged over its ability to restore stability and resume a democratically oriented process for reconstuction of the country.

Calm reconciliation needed

The military has been trying to quell protests by force, including detaining many leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, for its part, has called for supporters to hold rallies across the nation. It is feared such a defiant stance could further aggravate the situation.

Europe, the United States and Japan, which have backed the democratization of Egypt, expressed concern about the military’s dismissal of Morsi while avoiding direct criticism of the armed forces and calling for a prompt return to civilian control.

To move forward, the military and the Brotherhood must come to the negotiating table and realize national reconciliation as soon as possible.

In Tunisia and Libya, which are both Egypt’s neighbors, the road to democracy was rocky following the collapse of despotic rule. Syria is still suffering from a civil war.

To ensure regional stability, it is indispensable for Egypt, a major power in the area, to swiftly resolve the internal chaos and continue on the path toward democracy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 6, 2013)
(2013年7月6日01時29分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:29| Comment(49) | 読売英字


参院選公示 政治の「復権」へ論争を深めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 6, 2013
Deepen debate on issues to revitalize political system
参院選公示 政治の「復権」へ論争を深めよ(7月5日付・読売社説)


Can Japan restore its national strength? We have come to a critical time, when we have an opportunity to make a choice with the future course of this country at stake. Voters must listen seriously to what political parties and candidates advocate, to get the measure of their policies and competence.

Official campaigning for the 23rd election of the House of Councillors began Thursday.

Japan is now confronted with many grave, difficult-to-solve problems:

How does it break away from decades of a deflation-plagued economy to make compatible its two goals of economic growth and rebuilding its deficit-ridden government? What steps must be taken to create a solidly sustainable social welfare system in the face of the rapidly aging society with a low birthrate? What should this country do to reconstruct its diplomacy amid the increasingly volatile global and Asian situations to ensure Japan’s national interest?

None of these tasks can be accomplished easily.

End sense of stagnation

Furthermore, an abnormal state of affairs has continued in which the prime minister changed every year since 2006.

Because the prime minister and cabinet members changed so frequently up until the House of Representatives election last year, the central govenment’s bureaucratic machinery tended to go on the defensive, leaving the nation unable to build relationships of trust with foreign leaders and conduct full-fledged diplomatic activities.

Because of the divided Diet, in which the opposition controls the upper house, bills of key importance have frequently failed to pass the legislature. As stagnant politics has become commonplace, the public has been enveloped in a sense of stagnation as well.

Whether it is possible to end this situation is the biggest focus of attention in the upper house election.

In his first campaign speech for the upper house contest Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared, “We keenly hope to eliminate the divided Diet, and we ask you, the electorate, to throw your strong support behind us,” stressing his goal of garnering a majority in the upper chamber through the combined strength of the Liberal Democratic Party and its ruling coalition partner, New Komeito.

To be sure, his government will find it difficult to fully address big policy tasks without stabilizing its power base.

Banri Kaieda, leader of the No. 1 opposition Democratic Party of Japan, emphasized the same day, “We must confront the administration of Prime Minister Abe, which is going to disrupt the livelihood of the people.”

The opposition camp is determined to stop the ruling coaliton from gaining a majority in the upper house, arguing the importance of the opposition’s role of holding the ruling coalition in check to prevent it from going astray.

Rating the Abe Cabinet

While a House of Representatives election is a contest in which voters decide which party or parties should take power, an upper house election is an interim evaluation of the ruling parties by voters.

In the upper house races in 2007 and 2010, the electorate handed down harsh verdicts against the government in what seemed like a backlash in reaction to the ruling coalition’s unexpectedly hefty victories in the previous lower house elections. This created the divided Diet.

If the Abe administration can reverse these precedents and put an end to the divided Diet, the administration will be able to establish a decision-making framework to decide on key policy matters swiftly and boldly by the next Diet election. It is likely this will lead to the revitalization of the nation’s political system.

What voters should bear in mind in making their choice is how to evaluate the achievements of the Abe administration and weigh them against the policies being touted by each political party and candidate in the upper house race.

Concerning the current administration’s Abenomics economic policies, the LDP has included in its campaign platform an economic growth target of about 3 percent in nominal terms and a policy of tax incentives for investment and drastic corporation tax cuts.

It is laudable that the Abe government has brought about such results as the correction of the yen’s strength and higher stock prices, and achieved Japan’s participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

On the other hand, some have said the benefits of Abenomics have only been enjoyed by some of the public.

Criticizing Abenomics as having caused such side effects as price hikes and radical fluctuations in interest rates, the DPJ asserts that it will seek to expand the income of ordinary citizens and middle-class people.

However, the party’s growth strategy lacks concrete measures. It leaves something to be desired for a party that has been teetering on the brink after its crushing setback in the recent Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election.

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) calls for bolstering competitiveness and cuts in income and corporation taxes. Your Party aims to attain a nominal growth rate of 4 percent or more by pushing drastic regulatory reforms.

No matter how attractive policies are, they will have no persuasive power unless accompanied by fiscal resources and a roadmap for their achievement. We ask the parties to deepen their debate on economic policies.

In regard to nuclear policy, the LDP takes a positive view of restarting nuclear reactors after they are judged safe and promoting exports of nuclear power plants. This is consistent with the party’s emphasis on economic growth.

The opposition parties are all in favor of immediately or eventually eliminating all nuclear reactors, including the DPJ’s call for “ending nuclear power generation in the 2030s.” But their stances are vague concerning measures to secure substitute energy sources and in harmonizing their antinuclear positions with measures for economic growth.

Probably because of the DPJ’s failure to carry out the policies it presented in its unrealistic campaign platform for the 2009 lower house election, all the parties’ campaign pledges are more like slogans and their abstractness is obvious. They must discuss more concrete measures regarding social security reform and diplomatic and security issues.
posted by srachai at 19:03| Comment(0) | 読売英字


ARF閣僚会議 国際的に孤立が極まる北朝鮮

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 5, 2013
North Korea must adjust stance in face of heightened isolation
ARF閣僚会議 国際的に孤立が極まる北朝鮮(7月4日付・読売社説)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the first secretary of the country’s Workers’ Party of Korea, must soberly accept the reality that his country’s isolation under the sanctions of the international community has intensified and shift to a policy of abandoning Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

A ministerial meeting of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum, attended by foreign ministers from 26 countries including Japan, the United States and China, as well as the European Union, was held in Brunei and adopted a chairman’s statement.

The statement stipulates that most ministers urge North Korea to comply with its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions and that most ministers call on North Korea to abide by its commitments under the September 2005 six-party joint statement. The chairman’s statement thus urges North Korea to take action toward abandonment of its nuclear program.

North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun made a rebuttal to the ARF statement, saying among other things that the deterioration of the situation on the Korean Peninsula stems from the United States’ deep-rooted policy of hostility toward North Korea.

No supporters

However, none of North Korea’s comments were included in the statement. This has significant meaning, as it symbolizes the fact that not a single country stands with North Korea.

The statement is part of a series of international measures to pressure the reclusive country following the U.S.-China summit talks and the Group of Eight summit meeting, both held in June.

Since last year, North Korea has launched a long-range ballistic missile and conducted a third nuclear test despite international warnings. Each time, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to strengthen sanctions against the country.

The ARF statement also stipulates that most ministers reconfirmed their nations would “fully implement” UNSC sanction resolutions on North Korea. This can be regarded as a declaration of the participating nations’ determination not to loosen restrictions on Pyongyang.

North Korea’s recent shift to a policy of dialogue, away from its brinkmanship strategy of creating crises through provocative remarks and actions, must be proof of its struggle to find a way to escape from its current situation, in which it can barely prop up the economy due to the pressure of sanctions.

Take concrete action

North Korea has been asking the United States to accept its proposal for dialogue without preconditions.

If the United States accepted that by willingly overlooking North Korea’s selfish actions of repeating nuclear tests and missile launches, it would simply be repeating the past. In that sense, it is quite appropriate for Japan, the United States and South Korea to demand North Korea take concrete action toward denuclearization of the country.

North Korea’s Pak resorted to deception over the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, saying that the issue “has been completely resolved.” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida flatly rejected Pak’s statement as “in contradiction of the facts,” based on the past sequence of events, including North Korea’s promise to reinvestigate the matter. Kishida further called for concerted action by the international community, claiming other countries than Japan have had people abducted. His actions were quite appropriate.

The chairman’s statement also touches upon the importance of addressing international humanitarian concerns. This indirectly reflects Japan’s strong demand for resolution of the abduction issue.

There must be no normalization of relations between Japan and North Korea without a comprehensive solution of the latter’s nuclear and missile development programs and the abduction issue. The government needs to firmly maintain this stance and persuade Kim Jong Un to move things forward on the abduction issue, while tightening the noose around North Korea.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 4, 2013)
(2013年7月4日01時36分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:46| Comment(0) | 読売英字