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巨大地震防災 強化地域の対策推進が急務だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 29, 2014
Designated quake areas must implement safety precautions immediately
巨大地震防災 強化地域の対策推進が急務だ(3月29日付・読売社説)

Countermeasures to deal with possible gigantic earthquakes and tsunami must be implemented without delay. It is hoped that the government’s designation of municipalities for boosting preparations for huge earthquakes will serve as an earnest step toward the local adoption of antiquake measures.

The government’s Central Disaster Management Council on Friday designated a total of 1,017 cities, towns and villages in Tokyo and 31 other prefectures for boosting measures against projected huge earthquakes with focuses in the Nankai Trough or the surface of Tokyo.

A Nankai Trough earthquake is projected to result in more than 300,000 fatalities and more than \200 trillion in damage. A massive temblor with a focus directly under Tokyo, meanwhile, is projected to leave more than 20,000 people dead and put the city at risk of losing its functions as the capital. Thus, countermeasures to prepare for disasters and reduce damage are extremely important tasks of fundamental concern to the nation.

Designated municipalities will each compile and implement a disaster management plan based on the special measures law for dealing with the two projected earthquakes, which was enforced late last year.

But municipalities with weak financial foundations will find limitations in pursuing countermeasures on their own. It is necessary for the government to effectively provide support by putting priority on their projects.

Under the terms of the special measures law, the government will shoulder two-thirds of the costs when municipalities designated for a Nankai Trough earthquake establish shelters to escape tsunami. It will also pay three-fourths of the cost for purchasing land to relocate primary and middle schools.

In the heart of Tokyo, where a major earthquake is expected to cause major damage, the procedures to approve work to widen roads and to construct or improve parks have been simplified.

It is hoped that such means of government support will be used effectively.

Local govts unprepared

Those municipalities must tackle a mountain of challenges. For example, only slightly more than 10 percent of cities, towns and villages required to take measures against tsunami have created hazard maps. Nearly 20 percent of the designated municipalities do not have a disaster management radio system for the local government to use.

A serious concern is that a number of areas are reluctant to take countermeasures, saying that they cannot possibly take steps when the projected damage is too great to handle.

In Nagoya, where vast areas are expected to be inundated by tsunami, work to make houses earthquake-resistant has not progressed as hoped. Many residents say they cannot bear the expenses of renovating their houses when they know their homes will be washed away by tsunami.

In parts of Shikoku, where tsunami measuring as high as 30 meters would hit as early as four minutes after the quake, some residents have given up all hope of escaping.

Whether residents can survive a disaster hinges upon the steady implementation of countermeasures. The central and local governments should explain the basic principles of disaster management to residents to win their cooperation in this regard.

The Central Disaster Management Council also compiled outlines for taking action against all possible huge earthquakes that could hit various areas across Japan, including the Nankai Trough region and Tokyo.

The outlines call for, among others, precautions in the event that the transportation network is paralyzed, dealing with people facing difficulties returning home, and making facilities to be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games earthquake-resistant.

The central and local governments should act in concert to fully meet such requirements.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 29, 2014)
(2014年3月29日01時35分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:57| Comment(0) | 読売英字


渡辺代表借入金 「もろもろ」で8億円が通るか

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 28, 2014
Watanabe must give solid, believable account of how \800 million was used
渡辺代表借入金 「もろもろ」で8億円が通るか(3月28日付・読売社説)

What on earth did an opposition party leader use the \800 million he borrowed for? Providing an answer to this question is his duty as the leader of a political party.

It has come to light that Yoshiaki Yoshida, chairman of the cosmetics company DHC Corp. and a supporter of Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe, loaned the politician \300 million about two weeks before the 2010 House of Councillors election and another \500 million a month before the 2012 vote for the House of Representatives.

Yoshida said he loaned \800 million to Watanabe as “election funds.” But neither reports on Watanabe’s campaign finances nor income and expenditure statements for his political funds mention the loans. It is possible Watanabe will be suspected of violating the Public Offices Election Law and the Political Funds Control Law.

In a news conference Thursday, Watanabe claimed the money he borrowed was “purely intended for my personal support.”

Asked what he used the money for, Watanabe said it had been spent “for various purposes deemed necessary for a politician” and said some of the money had been used to finance conference and travel expenses. He spoke with no apparent awareness of the possible illegality of his behavior, even pointing out that he had repaid part of the loans.

It seems that Watanabe hopes to ride out the scandal by insisting that the loans were for his personal use.

Parallel with Inose case

But there are parallels between the Watanabe loans and the money scandal surrounding former Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, in that both received a huge sum of money in the immediate run-up to an election. If Watanabe argues that the money was not for use in election campaigns, then it falls to him to explain in specific terms just how he spent it.

Even if the money was strictly a personal loan, many factors remain that cannot be overlooked.

The loans from Yoshida are not included in the outstanding loans detailed in a mandatory report of his personal assets. He said it was “a clerical error” and that he “wants to correct it,” but it is unlikely the public will accept it if he shrugs off the transfer of such an enormous sum as a simple clerical mistake.

It is hard to accept that Watanabe did not prepare documents acknowledging a loan of \500 million.

Watanabe said he would have the chairman of the party’s ethics committee probe any potential illegality in association with the borrowed money. But it is questionable whether suspicions can be eliminated solely through an in-house investigation.

Your Party has faced criticism for some time that its management is not democratic, with the party strongly characterized as a “private shop” that defers to Watanabe for all decisions on party matters.

Kenji Eda, who broke with Your Party due to a feud with Watanabe and formed the Yui no To party, said that Watanabe managed state subsidies paid to the party and legislation expenses alone, without consulting other party executives.

By taking advantage of personal ties with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Watanabe has promoted a stance of serving as a “responsible opposition party” by cooperating with the Abe administration on a policy-by-policy basis. Watanabe actively promotes changes to the interpretation of the Constitution that would make it possible to exercise the right to collective self-defense, a move backed by Abe.

Whether Watanabe will be able to maintain his political leadership is a matter of concern to Abe as well.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 28, 2014)
(2014年3月28日01時26分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:49| Comment(0) | 読売英字


核安全サミット テロ防止に問われる管理強化

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 27, 2014
Reinforced management of nuclear materials needed to prevent terrorism
核安全サミット テロ防止に問われる管理強化(3月27日付・読売社説)

In confronting the threat of nuclear terrorism, it is essential for countries to cooperate to thoroughly manage nuclear materials.

The Nuclear Security Summit, attended by leaders of over 50 countries, including major industrial nations and emerging economies, was held in The Hague, and the leaders adopted a joint communique.

The joint communique places the highest priority on preventing nuclear materials from being acquired by terrorists. It urges countries to accept the guidance mapped out by the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning the protection of their nuclear materials and facilities.

According to the IAEA, in 2013 alone there were 146 cases in which nuclear materials or other radioactive materials were traded illegally, stolen or lost. As we cannot deny the possibility of nuclear terrorism, countries concerned must take effective measures in line with the IAEA guidance.

It is also important that the communique encourages countries to minimize their stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and of separated plutonium, both of which can be used in nuclear weapons. This call is aimed at getting countries to hold down their stockpile of such materials and prevent nuclear materials from going into the hands of terrorists.

Any excess nuclear materials should be transported out of those countries and placed under the control of such nations as the United States, which is capable of disposing of such material responsibly.

In line with the purport of the communique, Italy, Belgium, South Korea and other countries have expressed their willingness to remove unnecessary plutonium and HEU from their countries.

Abe demonstrates resolve

Japan, for its part, has announced a bilateral agreement with the United States under which it will remove several hundred kilograms of HEU and plutonium used for the fast critical assembly at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and hand them over to the United States.

Such measures can be said to be in accord with the principles of the government, which has said the country “will not own plutonium for which no purpose has been set.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown his determination at the summit, saying “Japan has a responsibility to lead efforts to strengthen nuclear security” in light of its experience with the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

As Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic bombings in wartime and is also one with advanced technology in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, our country should take a proactive role in this field, too.

The Nuclear Security Summit started four years ago when U.S. President Barack Obama advocated a goal of realizing a nuclear-free world. Since then, the summit has borne definite fruit, for instance, in the prevention of nuclear terrorism. Yet it is problematic that there has been little progress in the reduction of nuclear arms themselves.

It is worrisome that among the five countries allowed to possess nuclear arms under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty−the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia−only China is believed to be increasing its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

China must stop its military buildup with nuclear arms, which has been a destabilizing factor for the world’s nuclear security environment, and reduce its nuclear arms together with other nuclear powers.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 27, 2014)
(2014年3月27日01時29分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:26| Comment(0) | 読売英字


G7VSロシア クリミア編入を前例にするな

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 27, 2014
Crimea must not become a precedent for stealing land from another country
G7VSロシア クリミア編入を前例にするな(3月26日付・読売社説)

Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula must not become a precedent for one nation stealing another nation’s land by force. The international community should reinforce its united front against Moscow.

Leaders of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations−Japan, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada−recently met in The Hague over the upheaval in Ukraine, denouncing Russia’s annexation as a “clear violation of international law.” The leaders decided to suspend their participation in the Group of Eight summit meeting to be held in Sochi until Moscow changes course.

The G-7 leaders also warned they will impose tough economic sanctions on Russia if the nation further escalates its actions, on top of penalties they have already imposed.

The success of the G-7 nations in building a united front and showing their resolve against Russia will undeniably strengthen the pressure they have put on the country.

At the meeting, Japan pledged up to \150 billion in aid to Ukraine, which now faces the risk of default. It is essential for Japan to join hands with the United States and European countries to support Ukraine, to stabilize the situation.

In reaction to the decisions of the G-7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is not clinging to the G-8 format. He suggested putting more focus on the U.N. Security Council and the summit meetings of the Group of 20 nations.

‘Russianization’ progressing

The reason behind Lavrov maintaining his assertive stance is the overwhelming public support in Russia for the annexation of Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently concluded that his strategy to annex the Crimean Peninsula was successful. It is unlikely that receiving some condemnation from the international community will be an incentive for Putin to give up Crimea. Ukraine has decided to withdraw its troops from Crimea, and the “Russianization” of the region, such as the circulation of the ruble, has begun.

There is one worrying move from Russia−the nation is now concentrating its troops on the southern and eastern borders of Ukraine.

If Russia begins a military intervention against Ukraine in regions other than Crimea, there is no doubt the United States and other G-7 nations will impose full-scale economic sanctions on Russia. The sanctions will not only hit the Russian economy, but they will also cause enormous repercussions to the global economy.

It is crucial that the international observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe enter Ukraine as soon as possible, and begin monitoring the security situation there to prevent tensions with Ukrainian citizens of Russian descent, which would give Russia the pretext for directly intervening in Ukraine.

The Crimea issue has massive implications for Japan, which faces China’s repeated intrusions into Japanese territorial waters in areas near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

During the G-7 meeting, Abe told other leaders that Japan will not tolerate any attempt to change the status quo by force. He then went on to say that the Ukranian issue is a problem for the entire international community, including Asia, and multiple nations reportedly agreed with his remarks.

It will be important for Japan to assert the legitimacy of its position on the Senkaku issue to the international community, and obtain the understanding of other nations over the issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 26, 2014)
(2014年3月26日01時47分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 08:38| Comment(0) | 読売英字


中韓首脳会談 鮮明になった「反日共闘」路線

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 25, 2014
China-South Korea summit clearly shows ‘united front against Japan’
中韓首脳会談 鮮明になった「反日共闘」路線(3月25日付・読売社説)

It seems fair to say that China and South Korea have demonstrated clearly their “united front against Japan” on history-related issues.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye met for talks in a suburb of The Hague where they highlighted the significance of a memorial hall dedicated to Korean independence activist Ahn Jung Geun in a train station in Harbin, China.

According to South Korean officials, Xi told Park he had given “direct instructions” for building the hall, while Park responded that the hall would strengthen ties between the two peoples.

We believe that what Xi offered Park was a united front in taking a hard-line policy against Japan, a policy that has support of the South Korean people, in a bid to draw the attention of the Seoul government.

Ahn Jung Geun assassinated Hirobumi Ito, Japan’s first prime minister. For Japan, the two nations’ praise for the opening of a hall dedicated to such a person is unacceptable.

Xi appears to have sought to drive a wedge in cooperative ties among Japan, South Korea and the United States ahead of their tripartite summit scheduled for Tuesday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. The Xi-Park talks threw cold water on the much-anticipated summit, which comes against a backdrop of deteriorating Japan-South Korea relations−a summit made possible through U.S. mediation efforts.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described the exchanges between Xi and Park and the praise Beijing and Seoul have expressed for Ahn as “founded on one-sided assessment” of history. He also pointed out quite reasonably that such public statements do not help to build peace and cooperation in the region.

A new anti-Japan symbol

During their talks, Xi also told Park of a “memorial stone” that China is constructing in Xian in Shaanxi Province, the city where a Korean anti-Japanese resistance force known as the “Korean Liberation Army” was based during the period of Japanese colonial rule. Park reportedly asked Xi to erect the memorial. Although there are few details about the resistance force, the memorial is certain to become a new symbol for anti-Japan sentiment.

There is also cause for concern that Park has been keeping step with China. Although she has not yet held talks with Japanese leaders, Park has met with Xi four times since her inauguration. She probably thinks stronger relations with China are important for her country’s North Korea policy and economic cooperation.

In contrast, she has effectively rejected Japan-South Korea summit meetings by imposing conditions concerning so-called comfort women and other areas of contention.

It is quite clear that neither the Japan-U.S. alliance nor the U.S.-South Korean alliance−both partnerships in which United States is the keystone−will function effectively without good Japan-South Korean relations.

The prospect of further strengthening Seoul-Beijing ties over history issues is worrisome.

Late last month, a Chinese court for the first time accepted a lawsuit in which former Chinese workers who were forcibly brought to Japan to work in Japanese companies during World War II are demanding apologies and compensation from the companies. Similar lawsuits have been filed in South Korea by former forced laborers.

This type of suit threatens to undermine the foundation of pledges made by Japan and by the two nations upon the normalization of diplomatic relations, and cannot be accepted.

It is important for Japan to make its case and demonstrate the legitimacy of its legal stance, not only to China and South Korea, but to the international community as a whole.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 25, 2014)
(2014年3月25日01時45分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 08:33| Comment(0) | 読売英字


消費増税の転嫁 不当な「買いたたき」を許すな

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 24, 2014
Browbeating smaller firms to avoid consumption tax burden unforgivable
消費増税の転嫁 不当な「買いたたき」を許すな(3月24日付・読売社説)

The increase in the consumption tax to 8 percent from the current 5 percent, effective from April 1, is drawing near.

While it is important to have the consumption tax increase included in the prices of goods, it also is essential to provide appropriate and easy-to-understand information of prices after the tax hike on products and services to avoid confusing consumers.

With the tax increase close at hand, many companies, including restaurant chains and railway operators, have been publicizing their plans one after another to add the tax hike to their prices.

A number of companies, meanwhile, plan to leave their prices unchanged in the face of the higher consumption tax. Corporate efforts to maintain current prices can certainly be called a significant pricing strategy.

However, unlawful attempts by major companies to use their strong positions to force subcontractors and wholesale suppliers to keep prices down must never be condoned. Such illegitimate actions could cause the business situations of many small and medium-size enterprises to deteriorate.

In October last year, the government put into force a law on special measures to ensure the smooth and proper shifting of the tax increase to prices and prohibiting efforts to refuse to pass the higher tax on to prices. A team comprising about 600 monitors has been set up to clamp down on refusals to shift the consumption tax increase on to prices. The monitors will maintain a tight rein over violations.

It is problematic that 850 businesses had been given administrative warnings over suspected violations across the country as of the end of February.

There is a possibility that major firms’ moves to try to force the higher tax burdens unlawfully on their subcontractors and suppliers may spread further after the consumption tax increase to offset increased tax burdens of the big firms. The government must maintain utmost vigilance.

Tax-exclusive price tags

A number of subcontractors and suppliers with business ties with large companies are likely to be reluctant to report to the government in the event of big firms refusing their requests to increase their prices, out of fear that their business partnerships could be severed in retaliation.

After the April 1 tax increase, the Fair Trade Commission and the Small and Medium Enterprises Agency plan to survey about 4 million small and midsize companies on the tax hike situation. The survey should help prevent unfair business transactions.

The government should not merely wait for businesses to provide relevant information. It should aggressively carry out fact-finding activities, such as by conducting hearings.

It is important for subcontractors and suppliers to take steps to defend themselves, such as documenting in detail the process of pricing negotiations with large companies.

Retailers generally have been obliged to put tax-inclusive prices on their products to enable customers to understand at a glance how much they have to pay, but the law for the special measures acknowledges that price tags might exclude the tax.

Given that the consumption tax is scheduled to be raised again, from 8 percent to 10 percent, in October 2015, this provision is aimed at allowing retailers to avoid changing price tags again.

Retailers should ensure that their prices are easy for consumers to understand, regardless of whether they include the tax hike or not.

Railway and bus fares in some regions are to be raised in increments of \1 for users of IC cards, while fares for those who pay in cash will be raised in \10 increments for the same railway and bus service sections.

It is quite possible that train and bus passengers will express dissatisfaction over the “double fare” structure. Efforts must be made to thoroughly familiarize passengers with the new fare system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 24, 2014)
(2014年3月24日01時29分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 06:57| Comment(0) | 読売英字


中国経済リスク 「影の銀行」収束への険しい道

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 23, 2014
China faces difficult task in trying to reduce risks of ‘shadow banking’
中国経済リスク 「影の銀行」収束への険しい道(3月23日付・読売社説)

China must rein in the expansion of “shadow banking” activities that are threatening to drag the Chinese economy down to avert financial turmoil. The Chinese government is now being confronted by a thorny policy-handling task.

A struggling manufacturer of solar cells and panels in Shanghai failed early this month to meet interest payments on corporate bonds it issued, the first debt default in the history of China’s corporate bond market.

In this connection, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said the government was prepared to allow defaults on some financial products. This switch on China’s financial policy is significant, and should be considered carefully.

Financial authorities in China have so far been bailing businesses and investors out of trouble, but there can be no denying that doing so has contributed to creating moral hazards among market players.

Allowing the solar equipment maker’s bond default may have been aimed at warning investors by informing them that there may be bond defaults in the future depending on circumstances.

This seems to indicate a sense of crisis that shadow banking, or financial transactions not mediated by commercial banks, have continued to bloat, threatening to gnaw away at the Chinese economy as a whole.

Many investors have flocked to speculative financial instruments, such as those marketed by nonbank entities trumpeting high yields. There have been many instances such as investment companies under the umbrella of local governments engaging in real-estate development projects by leveraging such investment funds, while companies unable to obtain loans from banks have been issuing corporate bonds with nonbanks as subscribers.

If a local government or company with a huge amount of liabilities faces a funding shortfall, it will be unavoidable for investors to suffer losses.

‘China risk’ affecting stocks

Even more troublesome is the fact that the actual state of shadow banking services has been shrouded in opacity. An estimate has been released that funds poured into shadow banking stand at a value amounting to half of China’s gross domestic product, so Beijing’s decision to place curbs on the swelling shadow banking money is right and proper.

In addition to the policy of allowing bond defaults, it is also noteworthy that Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan of the People’s Bank of China has said the central bank is considering the liberalization of bank deposit rates, the upper limits on which are currently fixed, in one to two years.

It seems that China’s financial authorities, through the liberalization of interest rates, are ready to brake the flow of capital that has been pouring into speculative financial instruments, as investors are averse to low-interest bank deposits.

Drastic reform measures for reducing shadow banking activities are indispensable. There also are concerns, however, over the adverse impact on the Chinese economy if the envisioned reform is undertaken too hastily.

The adverse consequences could be aggravated in the event of a contraction of credit, resulting in local governments and businesses to have cash-flow problems.

Stock prices in New York, Tokyo and elsewhere have continued to fluctuate erratically with the “China risk” being cited as one of the major factors behind the instability.

Will China be successful in dowsing the overheated economic bubble and in soft-landing the country’s economy, which has continued to slow down, by putting it on a stable growth track of around 7.5 percent a year?

China, the world’s second largest economic power, is continuing to walk on a tightrope.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 23, 2014)
(2014年3月23日01時42分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 08:05| Comment(0) | 読売英字


日本の温暖化 被害軽減へ効率的対応が要る

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 22, 2014
Reducing global warming effects is essential to Japan’s future
日本の温暖化 被害軽減へ効率的対応が要る(3月22日付・読売社説)

Efficient, effective measures must be implemented to curb the adverse effects of global warming.

An Environment Ministry research team has put together a report on the various effects of global warming on Japan.

It predicts that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, the average temperature in Japan is expected to rise by a maximum of 6.4 C, and the sea level is anticipated to go up by 60-63 centimeters, both by the end of this century.

In all likelihood, global warming will have a serious impact on people’s daily lives.

According to the report, the nationwide death toll from heatstroke and other results of global warming will more than double by the end of this century. Asian tiger mosquitoes, which spread infectious diseases, are expected to multiply in nearly every area of the country.

The northern limit for rice production will move further northward. It will become possible to grow Tankan mandarins, a subtropical citrus fruit, instead of satsuma oranges even in the Kanto region, while 85 percent of the country’s sandy beaches will disappear. These changes would deal a blow to such regional industries as agriculture and tourism.

Due to the elevation of the sea level, Okino Torishima, the southernmost island that marks the beginning of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, could submerge.

It is appalling to see predictions of such enormous damage. Annual flood damage, which totaled about \200 billion at the end of the 20th century, is expected to expand to a maximum of approximately \480 billion. The damage caused by high tides is likely to increase by about \260 billion a year.

Steps to minimize damage

Efforts must be made to reduce such damage as much as possible.

But it is not realistic to completely eliminate damage by reinforcing dams and river levees throughout the nation. Society must study “adaptation measures” that can accommodate climate changes while predicting to a certain extent the progress of global warming.

For example, it is imperative to study explicit, meaningful measures such as putting priority on hardware improvement in densely populated and industrial complex areas while trying to improve the compilation of hazard maps for evacuation in other areas.

It will be also necessary to promote research on breed improvements to develop agricultural products with high heat resistance, and conduct a green campaign to alleviate the heat island phenomenon in urban areas.

The government will compile specific adaptation measures in the summer of next year. It is crucial to make these measures capable of dealing flexibly with hard-to-predict climate changes.

Of course, the most crucial goal in efforts against global warming is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was natural for the report to point out that if cuts in gas emissions prevail globally, it will dramatically lessen the adverse effects of global warming on Japan.

Holding the key in this regard are China and the United States, which together account for more than 40 percent of the world’s total gas emissions. Japan should proactively commit itself to ensuring that a new framework for gas emission controls, which is scheduled to take the place of the Kyoto Protocol in 2020, leads to emission cuts by the two countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 22, 2014)
(2014年3月22日01時27分  読売新聞)


ネット託児事件 ベビーシッターの質も確保を

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 21, 2014
Recent fatal incident underlines need for ensuring quality of babysitters
ネット託児事件 ベビーシッターの質も確保を(3月21日付・読売社説)

A recent fatal case has brought into stark relief the dangerous aspects inherent in online babysitting service sites.

Kanagawa prefectural police have arrested a man on suspicion of abandoning the body of a 2-year-old boy he had been asked to care for via an online babysitting service site.

Even before the incident, the child’s mother, a resident of Yokohama, had previously used the man’s babysitting services through the online site, but had found various problems with his babysitting habits. However, this time the man used a fictitious name in an exchange of e-mails, and a proxy appeared at a designated meeting place. She entrusted the boy and his 8-month-old younger brother to the proxy, also a babysitter, without knowing the man in question would actually be babysitting again.

The boy was found dead in an apartment in Saitama Prefecture three days later. The whole picture of this fatal case must be urgently unraveled, and measures to prevent the recurrence of such a terrible incident must be worked out.

Behind the spread of online babysitting service sites is the convenience of being able to secure babysitters at lower costs and more quickly than via babysitter-dispatch agencies. For economic reasons, many parents have no alternative but to ask for babysitters from online sites to take care of their children.

However, it has been pointed out that online babysitting sites are not completely trustworthy because they do not confirm the identities of the babysitters.

Fact-finding is more important than anything else. This was emphasized by Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura, who said, “We’d like to examine the circumstances to understand the nature of these services.”

Room for improvement

There is room for improvement not only in online babysitting sites, but also in the babysitting industry as a whole. No public qualification is required for babysitters and no registration is mandatory with administrative offices. In fact, administrative checks have failed to reach the actual babysitting work to which children’s lives are entrusted.

On the other hand, the way parents’ work has diversified, and the number of single-parent households has been increasing. The demand for babysitters who can provide service at night and on holidays has therefore been rising in recent years.

Ensuring the quality of babysitters is a big challenge.

The All Japan Childcare Services Association, comprising 100 member companies, has set its own qualification system for babysitters. More voluntary efforts are urged on the part of the babysitting industry as a whole.

Under a new system for supporting child-rearing that will begin in fiscal 2015, some babysitting businesses will be licensed by the governments of cities, towns and villages. Subsidies will be provided to babysitters if they receive designated seminar programs.

The subsidies thus granted will lessen the financial burden on those using babysitting services. This is expected to lead to eliminating dishonest operators who advertise their low-price services. The quality of babysitters must be enhanced as a whole by expanding such a support system.

Users are responsible for deciding which babysitters they will choose. In the aftermath of the fatal incident, the welfare ministry has presented a list of matters to be attended to when using babysitters. These include having an interview beforehand to confirm whether babysitters can be trusted. It is crucial to pay attention to such matters.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 21, 2014)
(2014年3月21日01時25分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 07:12| Comment(0) | 読売英字


竹富町の教科書 学校の違法状態は看過できぬ

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 17, 2014
Use of unauthorized textbook at schools in Taketomi should not be overlooked
竹富町の教科書 学校の違法状態は看過できぬ(3月17日付・読売社説)

It is extremely problematic that the law has been ignored for nearly two years at schools, and this situation must be corrected as soon as possible.

Education minister Hakubun Shimomura has finally issued the so-called demand for corrective action, urging the town board of education in Taketomi, Okinawa Prefecture, to stop using a textbook it has unilaterally adopted in defiance of rules regarding the selection of textbooks to be used in schools.

It was the first time that the demand based on the Local Government Law has been issued to a municipal government. The Taketomi Board of Education should not take it lightly.

In the summer of 2011, the Yaeyama district, including the city of Ishigaki and the towns of Taketomi and Yonaguni, selected a civics textbook published by Ikuhosha Publishing Inc. for use in middle schools. The problem started when the Taketomi Board of Education alone decided to adopt a textbook published by Tokyo Shoseki Co.

The law on supplying free textbooks at public primary and middle schools requires a wide-area educational district consisting of more than one municipality to adopt the same textbooks, on the grounds that it makes it easier for teachers to conduct joint studies on educational materials. The unilateral action by the Taketomi board constitutes a clear violation of the law.

Since April 2012, the Taketomi Board of Education has distributed to students copies of the Tokyo Shoseki textbook paid for by donations from town residents. The then administration of the Democratic Party of Japan showed a lenient attitude toward such textbook purchases. It is undeniable that the misstep by the DPJ administration has served to fuel disarray.

Prevent recurrence

Since a change of government in December 2012, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly urged the Taketomi board to adopt the Ikuhosha textbook in accordance with the law on the provision of free textbooks−which, we believe, is a matter of course for a nation under the rule of law. If the Taketomi board continues to defy correction demands, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry should consider filing a lawsuit to confirm the illegality of the board’s action.

The Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education’s responses to the problem cannot escape criticism.

Last October, Shimomura instructed the prefectural board to demand the Taketomi board rectify the situation. The prefectural board did not comply, saying the Taketomi action has not caused any major problems, among other reasons given.

To prevent a recurrence of such a development, the government has submitted a bill to revise the law on the provision of free textbooks to the current Diet session. The key point written in the bill would require any educational district comprising more than one municipality to establish a council to select textbooks at public primary and middle schools, and that educational boards adopt textbooks in accordance with the council’s decision.

It is significant to give more clarity to the procedure of adopting textbooks.

The revised bill also includes a stipulation that would require boards of education to make efforts to publicize reasons for adopting certain textbooks.

For example, a good amount of description given to territorial issues was one of the reasons that the Yaeyama district− located close to the Senkaku Islands−selected the Ikuhosha textbook. Heightened tension between Japan and China is the reason for its adoption.

It is of utmost importance for each board of education to win the acceptance of local residents and students’ parents or guardians by fully explaining the reasons for adopting certain textbooks.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 17, 2014)
(2014年3月17日01時59分 読売新聞)
posted by srachai at 08:43| Comment(80) | 読売英字