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2008年5月16日 (金)



EDITORIAL: Chemical weapons


The Imperial Japanese Army brought a myriad of chemical weapons into China during World War II and abandoned them there as the conflict drew to a close. These poison gas weapons were buried underground or dumped in rivers.

After the war, abandoned shells and bombs caused a number of accidents, killing and injuring many Chinese citizens. The Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1997, requiring Japan to retrieve and dispose of the ordnance.


myriad=無数の)(ordnance=兵器)(The Chemical Weapons Convention=化学兵器禁止条約)

The consulting company Pacific Consultants International (PCI) and its group companies won the exclusive contract from the government to retrieve the weapons. But the group apparently resorted to fraudulent means to milk the contract.

The former PCI president and four others were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of fraud. They allegedly swindled some 140 million yen from the government by padding project-related bills.


pad=水増しする)(apparently resorted to fraudulent means=詐欺の手口を用いたようだ)(milk=~を食い物にする)

If the allegations are true, it means they sponged off a national project to fix a problem that had been left over from Japan's wartime past.

The allegations concerning PCI must be investigated thoroughly. What is hard to fathom is why the Cabinet Office awarded such an important project to the company, without open bidding. The project had the potential to affect Japan's diplomatic relations with China if anything went wrong.


 PCIの犯罪が追及されるのは当然だが、理解できないのは、内閣府がなぜ、こんな企業に日中両国の関係にもかかわる大事な事業を随意契約で丸投げしたのかということだ。(何か問題が起きれば中国との間の国際問題にも発展しかねないような大事なプロジェクトであるのに by Srachai)


PCI's past record is far from reassuring. The company was once accused of falsifying receipts to misuse public funds for a development aid project awarded by the government. This scandal led the Japan International Cooperation Agency to suspend the firm from participating in bidding for its aid projects.

 PCIはこれまでにも、政府の途上国援助を請け負った際、領収書を偽造して事業費を流用したことがあった。国際協力機構(国際協力事業団 by Srachai)から指名停止処分を受けている。

reassuring=安心させる、信頼できる)(falsifying=偽の、偽造の)(lead led led = 導く)

The Cabinet Office claims it had no other choice but to rely on PCI because only a few Japanese companies are able to provide construction consulting services for overseas work. But the explanation is by no means convincing.

Disposing of chemical weapons is certainly an unusual task. But the Cabinet Office obviously had other options. Its own employees could have tackled the task with the help of experts, for instance. Or it could have invited foreign companies around the world to take part in bidding for the contract.



There are clearly good reasons to believe that the Cabinet Office ignored PCI's blemished reputation and left the project entirely to the company because that was the easiest option.

The question now is how the government should proceed with the task of removing the chemical weapons in China. The project is already behind schedule. This scandal should not cause any further delay.




The fraud allegations prompted PCI to pull out of the project. The Cabinet Office opened the project to bidding to select a new contractor, but no company responded to the call.

The Cabinet Office now plans to take over from the scandal-tainted consultancy such tasks as disposal planning, equipment procurement and subcontracting. The government should bolster the manpower and resources of the sections in charge of the project to pick up the slack.



open the project to bidding=プロジェクトの施工を入札で募る)(scandal-tainted=悪評の、スキャンダラスな、スキャンダルを含んだ)


Japanese troops dumped an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 poison gas weapons in China at the end of the war. Under the original plan, all the poisonous shells and canisters were supposed to have been recovered and disposed of by last spring.




The government spent nearly 50 billion yen on this operation by the end of fiscal 2006, but only 40,000 shells had been retrieved. As a result, the deadline for completion of the work has been extended to 2012.


A further extension of the deadline would be a heavy blow to Japan's international credibility. If for nothing else, the project must be put back on track immediately to eliminate the risk of serious hazards to Chinese lives as quickly as possible.



(If for nothing else=?なによりも?ほかの何もなければ?難しい表現ですね by Srachai)

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 15(IHT/Asahi: May 16,2008)

朝日新聞 5月15日号 (英語版 2008年5月16日発行)


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