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2009年11月30日 (月)

雇用不安 新成長戦略で働く場確保を

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The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 30, 2009)
New growth strategy needed to protect jobs
雇用不安 新成長戦略で働く場確保を(11月30日付・読売社説)

At the end of last year, a large number of manufacturers across the nation fired temporary workers even before their work contracts expired. To help those who lost jobs, a civic group set up a tent camp, called Toshikoshi Hakenmura (village for temporary workers to see out the old year), in Tokyo's Hibiya Park. A year later, the country's employment situation has grown even more serious.

How effective will the government's emergency employment measures be? The government must do all it can to alleviate the severe employment situation as the year-end approaches.


Situation in rural areas bleak

Kitakami, a city located in the southwest of Iwate Prefecture, has some of the leading industrial parks in the country. Blessed with vast plains and abundant water, the city capitalizes on its good location connected to an expressway.

With a large number of leading companies having set up plants there, the city until recently enjoyed a reputation as having successful industrial parks where a variety of industries are concentrated. Yet the tide of recession is sweeping toward the city.

At Iwate Toshiba Electronics Co., a Toshiba Corp. subsidiary located in an industrial park in the northern part of the city, a vast plot of land lies vacant next to the firm's semiconductor plant.

Toshiba announced in 2008 it would build a new plant in Kitakami to produce cutting-edge NAND flash memory products. But the firm decided early this year to postpone construction of the plant due to flagging sales of semiconductors and a serious downturn in business. The site for the planned flash memory plant will soon see its second winter.

Under the initial plan, the plant was scheduled to start operation in spring 2010 and employ about 1,000 new workers.

About three years ago, the ratio of job offers to job seekers in the city rose to about 1.9 thanks to companies that flooded to the city to open new plants. As a result, the city ran short of workers. But now, the job-offers-to-job-seekers ratio has nosedived to about 0.3. Kitakami Mayor Akira Ito awaits the day when Toshiba decides to start the construction.

The mayor has been visiting companies with branches in the city, asking them to hire even one more employee, in what he calls his "plus one" campaign.

This situation is not confined in Kitakami, but can be seen across the country. NEC Corp. has closed its liquid crystal panel plant in Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, while Honda Motor Co. postponed operation of its new plant in Yoriimachi, Saitama Prefecture.

Listed companies' midterm earnings reports for the period ending in September showed that their business performance is improving. But they are still cautious about making capital investments as they strive to cut costs to be globally competitive.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry announced Friday that the number of jobless people was 3.44 million in October, while the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.1 percent. The nation's job-offers-to-job-seekers ratio remains at a low level, at a seasonally adjusted 0.44.

Under its slogan of "From concrete to people," the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatomaya touts a policy shift that allocates taxpayers' money to programs related to people's lives, rather than to public works programs, as was seen in the past. This policy shift has slashed the number of public works projects, which local economies rely heavily on, dealing a heavy blow to the economies, which were already suffering from the ongoing wave of corporate restructuring.

The government, which compiled emergency employment measures in October, has begun studying additional employment measures for inclusion in the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2009.


Bolder steps needed

With the number of jobless rising, there are fears of downside risks for the economy, making it vitally important for the government to come up with new bold measures.

The pillar of the emergency employment measures is the provision of assistance to those who have lost their jobs and are in poverty and distress, and to new graduates, as well as the creation of jobs, mainly in such areas as nursing care, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, for about 100,000 people by the end of this fiscal year.

With the measures, the government aims to make the Hello Work job placement offices one-stop centers that, as well as helping unemployed people find jobs, can also help those who have become homeless as a result of losing their jobs find accommodation. But these measures are nothing new.

Meanwhile, to encourage firms to temporarily lay off rather than fire employees, the government will ease requirements for receiving a governmental subsidy to defray costs relating to layoffs.

Steps such as these would go some way to protecting jobs. But subsidies like the one for firms furloughing workers should be expanded, while the government should carefully design job-training programs.

The ratio of college students graduating next spring who have received unofficial job offers hovered at around just 60 percent as of October, leaving the job situation for job-hunting college students extremely tight. To avoid creating a generation of unemployed people, it is an urgent task to boost such assistance.

What is probably important in the mid- and long term is to expand job opportunities.

Although the government has set a target of creating 100,000 jobs, that figure is dwarfed by the number of jobless, which has ballooned to 3.44 million.

Expanding cooperation among the sectors of agriculture, commerce and industry will reinvigorate these primary industries and boost tourism, the government should mobilize all workable policy steps so as to create more jobs in rural areas.


Domestic industries at risk

Job-creation measures will also directly lead to measures to prevent the hollowing out of domestic industries.

Driven by fierce price-cutting competition for their products at home, more and more companies are shifting their production bases out of the country, further reducing the number of job opportunities. As a result, the Japanese economy is in danger of falling into a vicious cycle in which it becomes increasingly anemic.

For such reasons, the government needs to hammer out a new growth strategy that will revitalize domestic industries and regional economies.

The promotion of new industries that can capitalize on Japan's strong points, such as those in the area of environmental protection, will generate economic vitality and create jobs. The government needs to present a clear-cut vision to give domestic industries and regional economies hope for the future.

In this respect, the key will be to generate demand in other Asian countries for Japanese goods by reinforcing product-development and export strategies targeted at consumer markets in Asia.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 30, 2009)
(2009年11月30日01時11分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月29日 (日)

CO2削減 米中の目標公表で弾みつくか

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The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 29, 2009)
U.S., China could lead way to post-Kyoto deal
CO2削減 米中の目標公表で弾みつくか(11月29日付・読売社説)

The United States and China, the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gas, have recently announced their medium-term targets for CO2 emission reductions. We hope their commitments will add momentum to the drafting of a fair framework to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012.

The United States has set itself a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. The U.S. targets also include a 30 percent reduction by 2025, 42 percent by 2030 and 83 percent by 2050.

However, a 17 percent cut from 2005 levels actually represents a reduction of just a few percent from 1990 levels. This contrasts sharply with the target set by the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which aims to curb this nation's emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels.

The U.S. targets are very realistic, as restoring the economy is currently Washington's top priority.


China emissions could grow

Meanwhile, China, which has recently surpassed the United States to become the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, has announced it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2020.

The Chinese target of cutting emissions per unit of GDP is different from those adopted by Japan and the United States, which aim for reductions in total emissions volume. Under this approach, China would be allowed to emit more CO2 if its GDP grows.

China is apparently trying to trumpet to the world its contribution to tackling greenhouse gas reduction without damaging its economic growth. It also has stressed that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a "voluntary action based on our own national situation."

This indicates that Beijing is wary of entering into internationally binding deals on emissions reductions.


COP15 nations divided

The 15th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Climate Change Convention (COP15) will start in Copenhagen on Dec. 7. The U.S. and Chinese announcements of midterm targets is undoubtedly one step forward in the lead-up to COP15 discussions that will focus on a post-Kyoto Protocol international framework to be followed from 2013.

In reality, however, there is still a gulf of opinion between major industrialized countries and developing countries on how to tackle climate change. It already appears almost impossible for a post-Kyoto Protocol framework to be adopted in the Danish capital in December. The focus of attention has already shifted to whether the COP15 nations can reach a major political agreement that could lead to the adoption of a new protocol next year.

Moves by the United States and China hold the key to the success of the talks.

There is concern that some developing countries are leaning toward a possible extension of the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. The Kyoto Protocol lacks teeth as the United States has withdrawn from it and China, as a developing country, is not obliged to cut its emissions under the pact.

Hatoyama has made an international pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent without seeking the backing of the Japanese public. As a precondition for committing the nation to this target, however, he has stated that all major nations must sign on to a post-Kyoto Protocol framework.

Japan must steadfastly maintain this condition at the upcoming COP15 talks.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 29, 2009)
(2009年11月29日01時13分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月28日 (土)

事業仕分け 政治家が責任持って決定を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 28, 2009)
Budget decisions rest with lawmakers
事業仕分け 政治家が責任持って決定を(11月28日付・読売社説)

The Government Revitalization Unit on Friday ended its nine-day budget screening session to identify wasteful spending in fiscal 2010 budget requests for government-led projects.

The unit judged that many of the 449 projects it examined should be abolished or downsized. The task force also demanded that some funds already distributed to independent administrative organizations and public-interest corporations be returned to the national coffers.

The money to be returned and savings raked in from the abolished projects outlined in the initial budget requests will top 1.6 trillion yen.

Although this is still short of the government's target of 3 trillion yen, the savings could be used as a precious financial resource for next fiscal year's budget.

However, the first attempt to broadcast part of the government's budget drafting process live on the Internet created many problems.

Some members of the unit's screening teams, comprised of lawmakers and experts from the private sector, basked in the public exposure and often played to the gallery, snapping at officials from the government organizations to give them explanations on the projects. It was appalling behavior.

The criteria by which budget examiners were chosen from the private sector also remain unclear.


Changes needed

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said he plans to continue the budget screening in and after fiscal 2010. If so, we think it is necessary to revise the rules for running the session--such as by giving sufficient opportunities for budget briefers to answer questions and clarifying the standards by which budget examiners from the private sector are selected.

Many questions also have been raised about why some government projects were subject to the screening when it was obvious they could not be discussed properly in just one hour.

Projects that fell under this category included allocations for the so-called sympathy budget for U.S. military forces in Japan, the Foreign Ministry's support of international institutions and funding to promote science and technology.

These matters are all closely related to what the nation should be and its future. They cannot be solved so easily.


Science gets cold shoulder

Perhaps the biggest controversy during the screening was the panel's decision to effectively freeze the budget for a next-generation supercomputer project.

Nobel laureates and business leaders have poured scorn on this decision, saying that short-term cost-effectiveness was not the proper standard for evaluating science and technology projects. They also warned that Japan could eventually lose the global race to develop advanced technology.

We wholeheartedly agree with them. The unit might have lacked the strategic thinking needed to deduce what fields should be given priority in budget allocations from long-term and international points of view.

It was also regrettable that the unit decided to abolish a project to encourage children to read books.

Ill-advised judgments made by the panel this time around must be corrected in the future.

The decisions made during the budget screening session are not final. The government could treat them as a set of criteria for making decisions on the budget, but it should not be bound by them.

The responsibility for deciding how to treat the unit's judgments in the budget drafting process now rests in the hands of this nation's lawmakers.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 28, 2009)
(2009年11月28日01時49分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月27日 (金)

円急騰 ドル離れ進む世界の投資資金

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 27, 2009)
Yen's surge doesn't deserve appreciation
円急騰 ドル離れ進む世界の投資資金(11月27日付・読売社説)

The yen's value has surged as selling pressure on the U.S. dollar has accelerated on foreign exchange markets. This situation could deal a devastating blow to the tottering Japanese economy.

The yen jumped to a 14-year high in the 86 yen level against the dollar Thursday in Tokyo. The dollar seems to be declining across the board against the euro and currencies of newly emerging economies.

Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii indicated the government would intervene in the currency market if exchange rates "move abnormally." U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke also warned against sharp falls of the dollar when he stated recently that the Fed would monitor changes in the value of the greenback.

As dollar-selling pressure appears unlikely to ease anytime soon, the appreciation of the yen and depreciation of the dollar likely will continue for some time. Monetary authorities in Japan and the United States, and other countries for that matter, must work together to moderate excessive fluctuations in currency markets by exploring the possibility of market interventions.


U.S. economic woes

The biggest cause of the falling dollar is the expectation that the United States' ultralow interest rate policy will remain in place as the U.S. economy continues to sputter.

The U.S. unemployment rate has risen to 10 percent. Nascent indications are that this could be a jobless recovery. Some observers have even suggested that U.S. authorities are tacitly tolerating moderate falls in the dollar to stimulate the economy through growth in exports.

A more worrying problem is that the so-called dollar carry trade--investors selling dollars with relatively low interest rates and instead investing in higher-yielding currencies--has kicked into gear.

The yen carry trade was commonplace from about 2004 through 2007. This time around, the dollar is shaking up money markets around the world.

The price of gold has surged to a record high near 1,200 dollars an ounce in New York. This also is a sign that investors are discarding the greenback because gold is purchased as an alternative currency to the dollar. Crude oil and grain prices also have been creeping up as investment funds are diverted into these markets.


Exporters in peril

A sharp rise in the value of the yen and a plunge in the value of the dollar could spell disaster for the Japanese economy, which remains mired in deflation and has yet to get on the path to a full recovery.

Many exporting companies had assumed the yen would average about 90 yen per dollar throughout the second half of this fiscal year. If the yen continues to appreciate sharply against the dollar, these companies would take a battering. These exporters are a driving force of the nation's economy; any faltering by them could throttle the economy again.

Furthermore, the euro's surge could stall a full recovery of the European economy. Concern about economic bubbles is rising in newly emerging nations such as Brazil, which have been magnets for investment funds.

A fall in the dollar would throw the world economy into confusion. To ensure this does not come about, it is essential that the United States emerge from a jobless recovery and regain confidence in its currency. To this end, we consider it imperative that the United States implement effective measures to boost employment.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 27, 2009)
(2009年11月27日01時33分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月26日 (木)

日米密約調査 核抑止力の低下は避けよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 26, 2009)
Pact probe must not dilute U.S. N-deterrence

A full investigation into alleged secret pacts involving the entry into Japan of U.S. nuclear weapons--among other issues said to have been agreed between Tokyo and Washington--is essential to recover public trust in this nation's diplomacy.

However, the probe must not be allowed to weaken the effect of the U.S. forces' nuclear deterrence.

A panel of experts set up by the Foreign Ministry to investigate the alleged pacts will hold its first meeting Friday.

Based on the results of an in-house Foreign Ministry investigation, the panel members will interview retired ministry officials before submitting a report to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in January.

The panel will examine four alleged secret pacts, including one said to have been inked in 1960 when the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised. This agreement reportedly effectively allowed U.S. military ships and airplanes carrying nuclear arms to visit or pass through Japan without prior consultation between the two governments.

Disclosed U.S. diplomatic documents and the testimony of a former administrative vice-minister for foreign affairs have already undermined the credibility of the former government's official denial of the existence of the pacts. Furthermore, the ministry's latest probe unearthed a document supporting the pacts' existence.


Extenuating circumstances?

It is highly significant that Okada is launching his own inquiry after the Democratic Party of Japan wrested power from the Liberal Democratic Party and he was made foreign minister.

If the DPJ-led government was to officially admit the existence of the secret pacts based on the results of the inquiry, it would be the first step to dispelling the sense of mistrust felt by the public.

However, we can understand the circumstances under which the government at that time deemed it necessary to draw up a secret deal with the United States to secure the effectiveness of the U.S. "nuclear umbrella," while consideration likely was paid to the antipathy of Japanese people toward nuclear arms during the Cold War period.

We expect the panel members to take into account the historical background of the period and try to discern how such pacts might have been thrashed out.

Secrets are an inherent part of diplomatic negotiations. During such bargaining, there is much information that cannot immediately be disclosed in terms of maintaining relations of trust with a partner country and preventing harm to the people concerned. However, it is important to deepen discussions on the kind of circumstances in which it is appropriate to disclose such information after a certain period of time.

Hereafter, discussions must be held to review the three nonnuclear principles of not producing, not possessing and not allowing the entry of nuclear arms into this country.


Looking ahead

Japan's present security situation is becoming increasingly unstable in light of North Korea's declared possession of nuclear weapons, for example. This makes it necessary to maintain and even improve the U.S. forces' nuclear deterrence.

In 1991, the United States removed tactical nuclear weapons from its military ships and nuclear submarines. This made the entry of nuclear weapons into Japan unlikely, at least for a while. But in the medium-to-long term, there is no guarantee that a neighboring country will not threaten the security of this nation with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

A founding principle of national security is that a country must remain militarily flexible to deal with changing situations.

We believe it may be time for the government to seriously consider introducing "2-1/2 nonnuclear principles," which would still prohibit the deployment of nuclear arms on the ground but would allow ships and airplanes carrying nuclear weapons to visit Japan.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 26, 2009)
(2009年11月26日01時06分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月25日 (水)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 24(IHT/Asahi: November 25,2009)
EDITORIAL: Unnecessary land plan.

A land reclamation project in Okinawa Prefecture is highlighting afresh the old issue of public works projects that are kept alive when there is no longer a strong need for continuing them.

Last month, the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court ordered the suspension of public spending for a land development project to reclaim the Awase tidal mudflats in the city of Okinawa on the central-eastern part of the main Okinawa island.

But Okinawa Mayor Mitsuko Tomon intends to continue the landfill project by crafting a new plan for the use of the land by the end of the current fiscal year. The prefectural government supports the city's response to the ruling.

The Awase mudflats are among the largest coastal wetlands in Japan's southwestern islands and known as a habitat for more than 100 rare species.

The project would reclaim 187 hectares including the tidal flats to create an artificial island for the building of hotels and other resort facilities.

The reclamation work would be carried out by the central and prefectural governments at a cost of about 48.9 billion yen, and the beach development part of the project would require the prefectural and municipal governments to spend 30 billion yen. The plaintiffs sought a court injunction to stop the project, claiming it is damaging to the environment and questionable from an economic viewpoint.

The high court ruled that promoting the project while its economic benefits are unclear would be illegal. The ruling basically supported the decision by the Naha District Court in November last year.

While the district court ordered the suspension of all public spending for the project, the high court ruled that spending to cover research and personnel costs necessary for reviewing the plan and changing the license to reclaim land would be legal.

This judgment is behind Tomon's decision to redraw the development plan and not appeal the high court's ruling.

But does Tomon's refusal to withdraw from the project respect the spirit of the rulings, which both denied that the plan makes good economic sense?

Indeed, the high court decision has left open the possibility of continuing the project. But the court set a tough condition for doing so, saying the economic benefits of the new plan need to be confirmed through "a considerably robust assessment."

Such an assessment must be made before any decision to continue the project. A rigorous reassessment from scratch on the economic benefits of the project is also needed to determine if it is really necessary.

Land minister Seiji Maehara, who is in charge of Okinawa-related affairs, has called off this fiscal year's bidding for the project under the original plan and suspended the reclamation work. We hope he will take an equally uncompromising stance toward the new land use plan.

The law regulating such landfill works doesn't assume that a project can be aborted. This legal hole has been brought to the fore by the dispute over the Awase project.

The mammoth project to desalinate Shinjiko and Nakaumi--two brackish lakes with more salinity than fresh water but not as much as seawater straddling Shimane and Tottori prefectures--was frozen in 1988. But it took the government many years to scrap the project.

The law on which the desalination project was based contained no rules for putting a project on hold. A 2001 revision to the law finally established the formal procedure for scrapping projects.

There are also no legal procedures for aborting public works projects to build roads and dams.

Discontinuing public works projects usually requires settlements of the money provided by the central and prefectural governments as well as compensation for local communities affected.

Given the dire fiscal situation and dubious economic benefits of public works projects, the era of extravagant spending on public investments is undoubtedly over.

It is urgent to create rules for pulling the plug on public works projects.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 24(IHT/Asahi: November 25,2009)
EDITORIAL: Evolution headed where?.

Charles Darwin's seminal work "On the Origin of Species" revolutionized not only biology but also people's perception of the human race. It was first published on Nov. 24, 1859, exactly 150 years ago.

This year also marks the bicentennial of Darwin's birth. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, also shares the same birthday--Feb. 12, 1809. Like Darwin, Lincoln changed history. With a rash of publications and events to commemorate the anniversary of Darwin's landmark theory, it behooves us to think anew about the human species from an evolutionary aspect.

From the time Darwin conceived the notion of evolution during his voyage on the Beagle, it took him more than 20 years to mull over his ideas and finally put them down in book form. One of the reasons it took so long was that Darwin anticipated strong resistance from society, especially the church. In fact, it was not until 1996 that the late Pope John Paul II finally acknowledged the theory of evolution as "more than just a hypothesis."

All species evolve and branch out. The validity of Darwin's theory is also borne out by a finding that humans are close to chimpanzees. Their genetic differences amount to only 1.2 percent. Humans are not so special after all.

What Darwin called "dizzying diversity of life" is a product of evolution and cataclysmic changes in the Earth's environment. But with humans now ruining that diversity, it has become more important than ever to understand where humans belong in the evolutionary chain.

In the United States, many people still believe in creationism and vehemently object to the theory of evolution being taught in schools. We can only hope that the Obama administration's respect for science will steer the United States into a society that is more accepting of Darwinism.

Japan has contributed significantly to the advancement of the theory of evolution.

As a key mechanism of evolution, Darwin proposed that the process of natural selection produces mutations favorable to the survival and propagation of species.

In 1968, however, the Japanese biologist Motoo Kimura (1924-1994) introduced the theory of neutrality of molecular evolution. Kimura argued that about 80 percent of sudden changes in protein and other substances are neither beneficial nor harmful, and that whether the mutants survive is accidental.

Kimura's theory was met with considerable opposition at first, but has since come to be accepted as one of the two pillars to support Darwin's theory of evolution along with natural selection.

According to Mariko Hasegawa, a professor of anthropology at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, living creatures possess numerous mutant factors, some of which kick in when the environment has changed. For instance, there are Antarctic fish whose blood does not freeze. It appears that their mutant factor helped when they were migrating and found themselves in sub-zero waters.

Humans, on the other hand, have caused their environment to change considerably over the last 10,000 years. Today's children are growing up quite differently from their peers in the past. Of the five senses, only the visual sense is inundated with information. The other senses tend to remain less developed. How will humans change in the environment of their own making? The future of the human race is something to think about.

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(Mainichi Japan) November 24, 2009
Philippines declares emergency after 24 killed

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo placed two southern provinces under a state of emergency Tuesday, giving security forces free hands to pursue gunmen who killed at least 24 people in one of the country's worst election massacres.

The emergency measures, including checkpoints and random searches by authorities, will remain in place until the president is confident that law and order have been restored in the region, Arroyo spokesman Cerge Remonde said.

The attack Monday was on a convoy of vehicles filled with supporters of a gubernatorial candidate along with his relatives, including his wife, and several journalists. The candidate, Ismael Mangudadatu, who was not a part of the convoy, accused his powerful political rival of being behind the slayings.

The government stressed that it would go after the culprits, regardless of where the investigation leads.

"No one will be untouchable," Remonde told reporters, calling Monday's killings "unconscionable."

Officials were still trying to determine the exact number of people intercepted by about 100 gunmen and taken to a remote mountainous area, said Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

"We're hopeful that some people escaped, and we're hoping to find them alive," he said.

Police said the convoy of about 40 people was going to register Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan township, to run for provincial governor when they were stopped.

Soldiers and police later found 24 bodies, including those of Mangudadatu's wife, Genalyn, and his two sisters, sprawled on the ground or shot in their vehicles about five kilometers from where they were ambushed, police spokesman Leonardo Espina said.

Mangudadatu said Tuesday that four witnesses had told him the caravan was stopped by gunmen loyal to Andal Ampatuan Jr., a town mayor belonging to a powerful clan and his family's fierce political rival.

He refused to name the witnesses or offer other details.

"It was really planned because they had already dug a huge hole (for the bodies)," Mangudadatu said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said at least 10 local reporters were part of the convoy. Espina said they identified the remains of at least one journalist. Joy Sonza, head of a small private TV station, UNTV, said investigators told him they found the bodies of his correspondent and cameraman. A driver and an assistant cameraman were still missing, Sonza said.

If confirmed, it would be the "largest single massacre of journalists ever," according to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

The army and police were searching for as many as 16 other people who were missing, military spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said, adding that troops were looking for more bodies in areas that appeared to have been recently dug up.

A backhoe was apparently used to bury the bodies, said army commander Lt. Col. Rolando Nerona.

Puno vowed there would be no sacred cows in the investigation. "Within day or two, we should be starting to call people or making arests. We have some information already about specific names but we can't disclose them," he said.

National police chief Jesus Verzosa relieved Maguindanao's provincial police chief and three other officers of their duties and confined them to camp while being investigated. One of the police officers was reported to have been seen in the company of the gunmen and pro-government militiamen who stopped the convoy, police said.

The Ampatuans were unreachable for comment.

The region, among the nation's poorest and awash with weapons, has been intermittently ruled by the Ampatuan family since 2001. It is allied with Arroyo.

Arroyo's political adviser Gabriel Claudio said he was meeting with Zaldy Ampatuan, governor of the Automous Region in Muslim Mindanao, when the killings occurred Monday to try to mediate in the long-running rivalrly between the the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus.

"I really thought that at the time that the affinity, the relations between the two families, will be affirmed," he said.

He said the most important thing was to ensure there was no more violence.

"There has to be swift and decisive justice," Claudio said.

Philippine elections are particularly violent in the south because of the presence of armed groups, including Muslim rebels fighting for self-rule in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation, and political warlords who maintain private armies.

The last elections in 2007 were considered peaceful, even though about 130 people were killed.

The decades-long Muslim insurgency has killed about 120,000 people since the 1970s. But a presidential adviser, Jesus Dureza, said Monday's massacre was "unequaled in recent history."

Julkipli Wadi, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of the Philippines, said he doubted the national government's resolve in trimming the powers of political dynasties like the Ampatuans because they deliver votes during elections.

"Because of the absence of viable political institutions, powerful men are taking over," he said. "Big political forces and personalities in the national government are sustaining the warlords, especially during election time, because they rely on big families for their votes."

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エネルギー課税 暫定税率廃止分をどう補う

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 25, 2009)
エネルギー課税 暫定税率廃止分をどう補う(11月25日付・読売社説)
Energy tax needed to cover revenue shortfalls

Revision of the tax system for the next fiscal year is now focused on an environmental tax--an envisaged tax sought by the Environment Ministry to tackle global warming.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama plans to scrap provisional higher gasoline tax rates and other auto-related taxes in April, as stipulated in the Democratic Party of Japan's campaign manifesto. The measure stands to cost the central and local governments about 2.5 trillion yen in revenue.

To address this problem, it has been proposed that the government transform the current gasoline tax and the light oil delivery tax with provisionally higher tax rates into a new environmental tax, from which about 2 trillion yen of tax revenues could be generated.

Given the dire fiscal situation, we believe the government should withdraw the decision to abolish the provisional higher tax rates. But if the government does go along with the plan, it will need to take steps to make up for the expected revenue shortfalls, introducing some form of new tax on energy.

The new tax proposed by the Environment Ministry is designed to impose a small tax on a broad range of fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas. As for gasoline and light oil, the ministry plans to impose additional taxes on the stages of retail sale and shipment.

Apart from the tax rates, the envisaged tax has the same structure as that for the petroleum and coal tax, the gasoline tax and the light oil delivery tax.


Minimal end result

Once the provisional higher tax rates are abolished, gasoline prices will drop 25 yen per liter from the current price. But the Environment Ministry projects that the envisaged tax will raise the gasoline price by 20 yen per liter, with the end result of making the price of gasoline only 5 yen lower per liter than the current price.

With the exception of those in the United States, taxes in other major countries are markedly higher on gasoline compared with other fuels. In this regard, people may find it easy to accept the proposed plan.

However, the ministry's plan has its own problem--it sets tax rates for natural gas and coal at more than double the current rates.

Even accounting for lower gasoline prices, the average household is projected to shoulder about 1,100 yen more in energy costs each year.

The changes are expected to have an even greater impact on the steel and electric power industries. Given this, the government needs to be careful when it comes to imposing higher taxes on gas and coal.


Timing important

Some within the government are calling for a two-tier approach, initially abolishing the provisional higher tax rates in April and introducing a new energy tax about six months later.

This apparently is meant to begin with tax cuts times to suit the House of Councillors election scheduled for next summer. However, if the introduction of these measures is staggered, gasoline prices will significantly fluctuate each time.

In that case, confusion similar to that experienced in spring last year when the provisional higher tax rates were temporarily suspended will reemerge. We should avoid such a situation.

The Environment Ministry intends to have the revenues from the environmental tax allocated from the general fund mainly for environmental measures. The government will decide where specifically to spend expected tax revenues through discussion among government bodies.

We urge the government's Tax Commission to deepen discussions on what form the environmental tax system should take.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2009)
(2009年11月25日00時47分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月24日 (火)


(Mainichi Japan) November 24, 2009
Opinion split over giving permanent foreign residents local voting rights



In the House of Representatives election on Aug. 30 this year, a 21-year-old South Korean man in Japan born to a Japanese mother and South Korean father exercised his right to vote for the first time.

A revision to the Nationality Law in 1984 permitted children born from 1985 onwards to hold dual nationality up until the age of 22 if one of their parents was Japanese. Still, the existence of people such as the 21-year-old, who has both dual nationality and the right to vote, is not widely known in Japan.

Next year, the 21-year-old, who must choose between the two nationalities, plans to follow the path of his brother, who is two years his elder, and select Japanese citizenship.
(日本語翻訳なし スラチャイ)

"I didn't know my Korean name until my third year of elementary school, and I can't speak Korean even now. I was teased about my Korean name in the past, and I have lots of Korean friends living in Japan, but my awareness as a Korean is, frankly speaking, low," he says.

In the Lower House election, the 21-year-old voted for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which has pushed for local-election voting rights for long-term foreign residents. He attended several meetings with South Koreans in Japan, and though he was unsympathetic with their call to be given suffrage in exchange for their obligation to pay taxes, he voted for the DPJ as he wanted his friends to be given the right to vote.

"The opponents (of voting rights for foreigners) say that Koreans living in Japan will cast anti-Japanese votes, but I don't think so. If they are given voting rights, then voting from the perspective of being a South Korean in Japan will cease. They will vote while thinking about how they can improve their lives," the 21-year-old said.

There are about 910,000 foreigners in Japan who hold permanent residence, comprising some 420,000 special permanent residents from the former colonized Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, and 490,000 who have met special requirements such as residing in Japan for 10 years or more. It is estimated that there are 470,000 Koreans with permanent residence, more than half of the total.

A proposal made by the DPJ's federation of legislators in May last year suggested introducing voting rights only for residents from countries with which Japan has diplomatic relations, thereby excluding North Koreans. If the proposal materializes, then most of the foreign voters will be South Koreans, Chinese and Brazilians, who make up a large percentage of the foreign permanent residents in Japan.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa and other party officials have pushed to give permanent foreign residents local voting rights, from both a historical perspective and the perspective of "fraternal" politics that the DPJ has promoted. Ozawa has called for the early submission of a bill to change the law, but the government's priorities remain unclear. The move was incorporated in the party's list of policies and its election promises, but was left out of its election manifesto.

Tomomi Inada, a Liberal Democratic Party legislator who opposes giving foreign permanent residents voting rights, argues, "If local assembly members and heads supported by foreigners appear, then it will influence local Diet members. It will constrain Japan's national interests." This line of thinking is also deeply rooted in the DPJ.

Fears have been raised that if suffrage is granted in areas such as Osaka's Ikuno Ward, where foreigners account for 24 percent of the population, then it will lead to friction between supporters and opponents. This gives rise to the argument, "Japanese nationals should decide on the future of Japan -- permanent foreign residents can gain suffrage by obtaining Japanese citizenship."

At the same time, Katsuhiko Okazaki, a graduate professor at Aichi Gakuin University, who supports voting rights for foreign permanent residents, points out, "There are South Koreans living in Japan who obtain Japanese citizenship to get all the rights, but there is still resistance to losing their South Korean nationality. If dual citizenship were granted, the problem would be solved all at once."

Okazaki says that the principles of lineage and exclusivism are deeply rooted in Japan, but the fact that there are already cases of dual citizenship, as is the case with South Koreans in Japan who have voting rights, shows that the concept of what constitutes a national has diversified. He adds that there have been changes in the sense of belonging that is associated with nationality.

Next year marks 100 years since Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula. It is certain the issue of suffrage for foreigners will emerge as a major point of discussion.

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たった今 floor plan (平面図)が仕上がりました。
明日はsection (立面図)を4方向から描いて設計図は完成します。



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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 23(IHT/Asahi: November 24,2009)
EDITORIAL: Foreigners' suffrage.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa both support giving permanent foreign residents the right to vote in elections that choose local government chiefs and assembly members. The bill is due to be submitted to the ordinary Diet session next year.

Since 1998, the DPJ, New Komeito and other parties had submitted similar bills. However, due to deep-rooted opposition, Diet debate over this issue has made little progress. Meanwhile, local communities are becoming increasingly multicultural.

The Hatoyama government advocates the creation of a "society where multiple cultures coexist." Then surely it is time to move forward to realize such a society.

The number of non-Japanese with permanent residency in the nation has increased by 50 percent in the past decade to 910,000. Among them, 420,000 are ethnic Koreans with special permanent residence status due to their historical background.

The figure has increased because a growing number of foreigners have obtained ordinary permanent residence status. Many decided to live in Japan in and after the 1980s for such reasons as business and marriage. They are from various countries, including China, Brazil and the Philippines.

Those permanent residents have put down roots as good neighbors in their communities. It is appropriate that they should be given the right to participate in local elections and share the responsibility for improving their communities.

The nation needs human resources from abroad to maintain vitality in society. Granting the right to vote in local elections to permanent foreign residents will help to create an environment comfortable for foreigners to live in. It will also strengthen local autonomy in line with the trend for decentralization.

Some opponents insist that foreign residents should acquire Japanese nationality if they want to vote. But it is only natural for them to wish to maintain connections with their native countries while having affectionate ties with the communities they currently live in. The answer is not to exclude those people but to create a society that honors diverse lifestyles.

More than 200 local governments have come up with ordinances that enable foreign residents to vote in local referendums on issues like municipal mergers. In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not forbid new legislation to grant voting rights in local elections to non-Japanese residents with close interests in their communities.

More than 40 countries, such as European nations and South Korea, have given suffrage to foreign residents who meet certain requirements and conditions.

In recent years, opponents have increasingly expressed concerns that a large number of foreigners could use their voting rights for purposes that might put national security at risk.

We cannot accept such inflammatory arguments that seek to agitate, cause anxiety and stir up exclusive intolerance.

It is far more dangerous to isolate and exclude foreign residents as "those who might cause harm."

We should include them into the community to create a stable society.

The DPJ is considering a bill that would limit voting rights to people from countries that have diplomatic relations with Japan.

The ruling party is apparently trying to allay anti-North Korean sentiment by excluding ethnic Koreans registered under Joseon (old undivided Korea) nationality, instead of South Korea.

However, all people with Joseon nationality do not necessarily support North Korea.

We are now trying to create an inclusive system to allow foreign residents to participate as good neighbors in local communities.
Is it really appropriate to exclude a certain group of people based on different political concerns? Further debate is necessary.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 23(IHT/Asahi: November 24,2009)
EDITORIAL: Preserving rural areas.

The mountainous Irokawa district in Nachi-Katsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, is in the southeastern part of the Kii Peninsula. It is made up of nine secluded settlements that depend mainly on farming and forestry activities.

Nearly 40 percent of the 430 or so residents used to be city dwellers. Kazuo Hara, who heads a regional development committee comprising the heads of the settlements, moved from Hyogo Prefecture at age 26. That was 28 years ago.

In 2007, the committee started an education program to train young people outside Nachi-Katsuura to become farmers. Last year, the panel started compiling a written record on life in the region. The committee members are learning the ins and outs from local residents of farm work and how to create traditional food dishes. They are also collecting information about local events and customs over the years. The information is being compiled into a booklet.

Migration to Irokawa started more than three decades ago after the local community accepted five families that wanted to try their hands at organic farming. Initially, most of the new residents were would-be farmers sharing the same ideals.
Over time, however, different types, like retirees wanting to spend their twilight years in the country and families with young children, have moved to the Irokawa district. The influx of newcomers has helped preserve this area's traditional way of life. But the future of the community is under threat due to the rapid aging of society and the dwindling birthrates.

The average age of the original Irokawa residents is 69, and that of newcomers is 40. The settlements will eventually disappear unless young people plant roots there. A sense of crisis prompted Irokawa to try to attract more young people to the area.

"We need young people willing to live here as committed members of the community, instead of simple support from the outside," says Hara. He regards one program adopted by another town in the prefecture as ideal for luring young people. Koya, located at the northern tip of the Kii Peninsula, has introduced a program to hire outsiders to help promote regional development.

In May, the town government solicited applications for three positions, offering a monthly wage of 150,000 yen for 100 flexible working hours a month under a three-year contract. The town received 162 applications--many more than it expected.

Five new recruits in their 20s up to 40s have moved from Tokyo, Kagoshima and elsewhere to live in settlements in Koya. They are trying to find ways to tackle various challenges, for example, by creating a system to support old people and developing new local specialties.

The program is the brainchild of Kanji Takahashi, Koya's deputy mayor. "We hope they will find solutions to these challenges and continue living in the settlements after their three years are up," Takahashi says.

According to a survey by the central government, about 2,600 of the roughly 62,000 settlements in cities, towns and villages nationwide are in danger of disappearing.

On the other hand, there are many city dwellers who want to leave the hurlyburly of city life if they can. These are people who want to raise their children close to nature and seek a spiritually rich life--even at the expense of having less money to live on. Others simply want to spend their retirement years in a rural, laid-back environment.

Local communities and governments need to figure out how to attract such urbanites to their areas. Outsiders who are willing to support local development are more important for the survival of local communities than state subsidies. The wisdom and stimulus provided by outsiders can generate energy to move communities from within. Thus, outsiders could be entrusted with the role of planners for regional development.

Efforts similar to those described above are being made in many parts of the nation. The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which has pledged to promote decentralization, should pay more attention to these developments.

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News from Washington Post

Washington Post 社より今朝届いた速報



News Alert
01:56 PM EST Monday, November 23, 2009

S.C. governor faces 37 ethics charges he broke state laws

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has been under scrutiny since he vanished
for five days over the summer, reappearing to tearfully admit to an
extramarital affair with a woman he later called his "soul mate."

For more information, visit washingtonpost.com -


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国際機関援助 「倍加」を表明して削減とは

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 24, 2009)
Robbing Peter to pay Paul
国際機関援助 「倍加」を表明して削減とは(11月24日付・読売社説)

Though Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised the international community that Japan will boost its assistance to developing countries, the government has cut its support for international organizations that play key roles in aid projects. This is contradictory and unacceptable.

The amount of Japan's contributions to international organizations has been decreasing every year since the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi moved to reduce official development assistance as part of its structural reform program that recognized no "sacred cows." The contributions have fallen by more than 40 percent from the peak year of fiscal 2001.

Against this background, Hatoyama, in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September, vowed to double Japan's efforts to assist developing countries, in close cooperation with international organizations, raising expectations among those organizations for an increase in the amount of Japan's contributions to them.

But the actual amount of contributions, measured in terms of budget requests for fiscal 2010, already has fallen below that of fiscal 2009. In addition, some of the contributions have become a target of the budget scrutiny aimed at cutting wasteful spending in ministries' fiscal 2010 budget requests that is being conducted by the Government Revitalization Unit.


Groups play role Japan can't

International organizations targeted in the government's panel's budget screening include the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) and the U.N. Volunteers--hardworking organizations that dispatch staff to Afghanistan and other countries.

The government has pledged up to 5 billion dollars (about 450 billion yen) in aid to Afghanistan for nonmilitary purposes over a five-year period beginning this year. The aid is intended to provide vocational training for former Taliban soldiers and promote agricultural development and other worthy goals.

But it will not be easy for Japanese people to work in Afghanistan under the aid programs unless the security situation there improves. Japan's aid programs, therefore, will probably be carried out in the form of providing funds to the UNDP and other international organizations and having them dispatch their staff and volunteers to Afghanistan.

The government likely intends to secure a budget for funds to have international bodies carry out Japan's aid programs, separately from its contributions. Considering the current situation, in which Japan has no choice but to rely on international bodies to execute its aid programs, it does not make sense to slash contributions to international organizations, which are mainly used to defray their operating costs.


Nation's reputation at stake

Japan has seen its reputation as a major contributor to international organizations dwindle. Some observers have linked the reduction in the amount of Japan's contributions to the dearth of Japanese executive staff in international organizations and their absence on such organizations' boards.

The budgets for international organizations, meanwhile, have ballooned. It is important for this country, as a contributor, to urge the organizations to keep a ceiling on their swelling budgets. Japan also should increase its efforts to increase the number of Japanese staff in international bodies.

It goes without saying that Japan must pursue these two goals as well as contribute funds to international organizations. But we fear that cutting such contributions willy-nilly could lower Japan's profile in the international community.

We do not want to see a situation in which the government attaches so much importance to budget screening to cut wasteful spending that Japan's diplomacy ends up being harmed.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2009)
(2009年11月24日01時08分  読売新聞)The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 24, 2009)
Robbing Peter to pay Paul
国際機関援助 「倍加」を表明して削減とは(11月24日付・読売社説)

Though Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised the international community that Japan will boost its assistance to developing countries, the government has cut its support for international organizations that play key roles in aid projects. This is contradictory and unacceptable.

The amount of Japan's contributions to international organizations has been decreasing every year since the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi moved to reduce official development assistance as part of its structural reform program that recognized no "sacred cows." The contributions have fallen by more than 40 percent from the peak year of fiscal 2001.

Against this background, Hatoyama, in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September, vowed to double Japan's efforts to assist developing countries, in close cooperation with international organizations, raising expectations among those organizations for an increase in the amount of Japan's contributions to them.

But the actual amount of contributions, measured in terms of budget requests for fiscal 2010, already has fallen below that of fiscal 2009. In addition, some of the contributions have become a target of the budget scrutiny aimed at cutting wasteful spending in ministries' fiscal 2010 budget requests that is being conducted by the Government Revitalization Unit.


Groups play role Japan can't

International organizations targeted in the government's panel's budget screening include the U.N. Development Program, the U.N. Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) and the U.N. Volunteers--hardworking organizations that dispatch staff to Afghanistan and other countries.

The government has pledged up to 5 billion dollars (about 450 billion yen) in aid to Afghanistan for nonmilitary purposes over a five-year period beginning this year. The aid is intended to provide vocational training for former Taliban soldiers and promote agricultural development and other worthy goals.

But it will not be easy for Japanese people to work in Afghanistan under the aid programs unless the security situation there improves. Japan's aid programs, therefore, will probably be carried out in the form of providing funds to the UNDP and other international organizations and having them dispatch their staff and volunteers to Afghanistan.

The government likely intends to secure a budget for funds to have international bodies carry out Japan's aid programs, separately from its contributions. Considering the current situation, in which Japan has no choice but to rely on international bodies to execute its aid programs, it does not make sense to slash contributions to international organizations, which are mainly used to defray their operating costs.


Nation's reputation at stake

Japan has seen its reputation as a major contributor to international organizations dwindle. Some observers have linked the reduction in the amount of Japan's contributions to the dearth of Japanese executive staff in international organizations and their absence on such organizations' boards.

The budgets for international organizations, meanwhile, have ballooned. It is important for this country, as a contributor, to urge the organizations to keep a ceiling on their swelling budgets. Japan also should increase its efforts to increase the number of Japanese staff in international bodies.

It goes without saying that Japan must pursue these two goals as well as contribute funds to international organizations. But we fear that cutting such contributions willy-nilly could lower Japan's profile in the international community.

We do not want to see a situation in which the government attaches so much importance to budget screening to cut wasteful spending that Japan's diplomacy ends up being harmed.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2009)
(2009年11月24日01時08分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月23日 (月)

fc2 ブログランキング

fc2 ブログランキング参加中!
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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 21(IHT/Asahi: November 23,2009)
EDITORIAL: The return of deflation.

The government declared Friday that the Japanese economy has been caught by deflation again.

In assessing the current health of the nation's economy in its monthly economic report for November, the government said, "Judging from a comprehensive analysis of price trends, the economy is in a mild deflationary phase."

It was the first time in three years and five months that the government officially recognized a downward price trend as deflation.

Deflation means a continued general decline in prices in the face of depressed demand and oversupply. It puts enormous downward pressure on sales, production and consumer spending.

Japan became the first industrial country to fall into deflation in the postwar era as consumer prices fell for an extended period following the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s.

In March 2001, the government declared the economy to be in deflation and held onto that view until June 2006. Over a long period of time, falling prices were sapping the vigor of the economy.

As the economy regained strength, deflationary pressure eased. But the government avoided declaring an end to deflation, recognizing the possibility of the economy slipping back into a deflationary downturn.

The economic contraction precipitated by the global recession has forced the government to acknowledge that the deflationary trend is accelerating.

Consumer prices have fallen for seven months in a row. The domestic demand deflator, a measure of price levels excluding the cost of imports included in gross domestic product statistics, dropped in all of the first three quarters of the year.
The latest economic outlook by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Japan is in the grip of deflation and will remain so until 2011. All of this makes the government's decision to acknowledge deflation reasonable.

Some people, including those in the financial sector, say this acknowledgement will create the expectation among people that prices will be lower tomorrow. This, they warn, will encourage consumers to delay purchases, further depressing demand.

However, rather than worry about the negative effects of the declaration, we must recognize the reality of deflation--which could prolong the current economic downturn--and work out a remedy for the disease.

In a Friday news conference, Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who is also in charge of economic and fiscal policy, called on the Bank of Japan to take steps to slay deflation. But the government needs to work with the central bank to ensure every possible policy measure will be taken to arrest the economy's deflationary descent.

As it turned out, the most effective cure for the deflation triggered by the burst of financial market and real estate bubbles was expansion of exports driven by robust economic growth in the United States and China. Surging exports prompted companies to ramp up investment in plants and equipment and lifted corporate earnings.

The government should buckle down to develop and execute a growth strategy designed to stimulate investment and consumption in the private sector.
The strategy should focus on measures to bolster the welfare sector of the economy and create jobs in line with the pledge by the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to shift the policy priority from investment in roads and buildings to investment in human resources under the slogan of "From concrete to people."
Another important component should be a set of efforts to promote "green economy" as a means to stem global warming.

Last week, visiting OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said Japan needs to pursue economic growth by expanding the role of women in society and promoting development of new environmental technologies.

Japanese policymakers should respond positively to Gurria's ideas.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 21(IHT/Asahi: November 23,2009)
EDITORIAL: Agonizing over Futenma.

The Hatoyama administration is in agony over the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.

In the United States, the Obama administration contends the only realistic solution would be to move the base to Henoko in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, as agreed by the the Liberal Democratic Party-led government and the United States three years ago.

But many of the people in Okinawa are against creation of another lasting U.S. military facility in their prefecture, where 75 percent of all U.S. bases in Japan are located. The Okinawa people's hopes will be dashed if their plight does not change even after a change of government.

A way to resolve the dilemma involving two points must be found--the importance of the U.S. bases, which are the centerpiece of the Japan-U.S. security alliance, and the fact that throughout the postwar period, Okinawa has almost singlehandedly born the burden of the security arrangements.

That seems to be the public sentiment seen in a recent Asahi Shimbun poll that found a majority of the people polled support a review of the existing Japan-U.S. agreement. The matter, therefore, is all the more difficult.

It is commendable that in their meeting, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama was straightforward with U.S. President Barack Obama and told him how difficult the situation was, and attempted to seek a solution. A review of the existing agreement should begin immediately.

However, the basic trust underlying the alliance should not be sacrificed in the process because the Japan-U.S. alliance is the supporting pillar of Japan's security. In this regard, we cannot help but question the behavior of the prime minister and his Cabinet ministers over the past few weeks.

The two nations should seek to resolve the issue by the end of the year. As Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said, the Japanese government needs to decide whether or not to include the relocation costs in the next fiscal year's budget. The government must not act as if it were going to base its decision on the outcome of the Nago mayoral election due next January.

Yet, although the prime minister said in his meeting with Obama that he intends to resolve the problem "as soon as possible," the following day, he said he would not necessarily rush a decision within the year. Moreover, it became apparent that his intentions regarding the status of the minister-level working group for reviewing the current agreement were different from what Obama had in mind.

It is not just the United States that has been bewildered by the mixed message from the Japanese government. Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said he was considering a breakthrough plan based on the existing agreement, and yet Okada said he was looking for ways to merge the functions of Futenma with Okinawa's Kadena Air Base. In addition, the prime minister does not deny the possibility of moving Futenma air base outside of Okinawa, saying he himself intends to put together the final plan. There is no way the Okinawa people, together with the rest of the country, can fathom which way the government is looking.

The Japan-U.S. agreement is a multi-faceted package of interlinked changes that include reorganizing and streamlining the U.S. bases in Japan, transferring U.S. Marines from Japan to Guam, and the Japanese government paying much of the costs of that transfer.

What is important is for the prime minister to state clearly that he has no intention of changing this framework itself.

If, on top of that, he intends to look for a transfer location other than Henoko, then he must propose that clearly to the U.S. side.

Letting the working group discussions drag on without clarifying which general direction he would have the talks go is not only disingenuous toward the Untied States, but it will also raise false hopes among the Japanese public.

Hatoyama must recognize the power of his own message, and become a real force in resolving the issue.

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知りたい:ようこそ、豪華三つ星学食へ 受験生の呼び水効果に、外食産業生き残り策も

(Mainichi Japan) November 22, 2009
知りたい:ようこそ、豪華三つ星学食へ 受験生の呼び水効果に、外食産業生き残り策も
From sushi to French cuisine, college cafeterias go upscale as competition heats up

Amid the ever intensifying competition for survival, college cafeterias are undergoing major changes in an attempt to attract more students, with some offering a conveyor-belt fresh sushi bar or an open-air Italian restaurant.
 オープンカフェでイタリアン、職人が新鮮なネタを握る回転ずし--。大学の食堂、学食が様変わりしている。味もなかなかとか。おすすめは? 【岡礼子、根本太一】

There are some 1,300 seats available at the food-court style cafeteria at Toyo University's Hakusan campus in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward. Students can choose from a wide variety of options offered at six eateries.

"We have either fried chicken or rice omelet here almost every day," said a first-year student. Indian curry with freshly baked naan bread is also popular among students at the college.

The most recommended dish at the Nippon Institute of Technology in Saitama Prefecture is the "Minori Sushi" lunch. The combination of its toppings changes depending on the fresh fish available for each day. Other popular menu items include rice bowls topped with raw fish, available from between 500 and 650 yen.

The college's sushi bar manager Hisao Yoneyama, 50, was headhunted by an official when he was working as an apprentice chef at a nearby sushi restaurant, and opened his own shop on campus in 1992.

The University of Tokyo boasts a French restaurant that opened in 2004. The special of the day costs 800 yen, a price relatively high for college students, but "students visit the French restaurant when they want to spoil themselves with a special treat," according to a restaurant employee.

Gakushuin University reformed the interior of its cafeterias two year ago, while outsourcing the operation to Seven and i Food Systems Co. There is a piano placed in the cafeteria of the women's college, allowing students to hold lunchtime piano concerts.

Meanwhile, some universities are promoting unique initiatives focusing on the environmental and social issues at their cafeterias.

Aoyama Gakuin University has started its "Table for Two" campaign this year. If students order one of the specials of the week priced at 480 yen, 20 yen will be donated to help children in developing countries. The campaign came about after negotiations between students and the cafeteria operator.

"We've studied about the international contributions college students can make, so we have put that into practice," said a senior student.

College cafeterias used to be considered a place for poor students; however, this does not hold true for universities today. Instead, cafeterias are playing a role as a special feature to attract new students to the university.
"As the country's birth rate continues to decline, universities are required to attract the attention of prospective students. At the same time, the food-service sector is trying to survive the economic downturn by advancing into colleges," said a PR representative of a major preparatory school.

Waseda University's Gakushoku Kenkyukai is a college club that researches cafeteria menus from universities across the country. Club representative Junichi Nakamura, 21, said that: "School cafeterias serve as a basis for college life. Students can find their friends there, and exchange information."

Furthermore, students can stay at the cafeteria for as long as they want.

"As many of the customers at school cafeterias are faculty members and neighboring residents, colleges can also expect advertising spin-offs from quality cafeterias," Nakamura said.

Not only private schools and but also national universities that have transformed into independent administrative agencies hope to win students by adding value to their cafeterias.

毎日新聞 2009年11月6日 東京夕刊

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犯罪白書 窃盗と覚せい剤の再犯を断て

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 23, 2009)
Take steps to stop repeat of theft, drug crimes
犯罪白書 窃盗と覚せい剤の再犯を断て(11月23日付・読売社説)

Taking appropriate measures to prevent the repeat of thefts and stimulant-related crimes is an important task when it comes to building a society in which people can live with peace of mind.

This year's white paper on crime, which was released by the Justice Ministry recently, raises the theme of developing measures to prevent repeat offenses. The 2007 white paper also focused on repeat offenses, and since then the ratio of recidivists to the total number of perpetrators of crimes cleared by police or other investigative authorities has been increasing, hitting 42 percent last year.

Taking effective measures to thwart recidivism holds the key to maintaining the country's public safety.

The 2009 white paper on crime analyzed the current situation of theft and stimulant-related crimes, whose recidivism rates are particularly high. The analysis found that more than 70 percent of convicts serving prison terms for either of the crimes had previously been jailed for the same crime.

The recidivism rate for these crimes is extremely high, compared with other crimes, proving that once people committed theft or stimulant-related crimes, they tend to reoffend.


Ex-convicts need jobs

Shoplifting is the most common type of theft. "Lack of income to cover living expenses" was given as the top motive for committing this crime among both male and female offenders. The recidivism rate of perpetrators of theft who had a regular job, meanwhile, tended to be lower than that of part-time workers or unemployed people.

It is vital that the Justice Ministry and Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry cooperate and enhance support for people discharged from prison to help them find a job at Hello Work employment service offices and other places. Though the economic situation is severe, it is indispensable to encourage employers to hire such people.

The recidivism rate for stimulant-related crimes is also high among unemployed people. It should be noted, however, that the recidivism rate of those who are single and live alone is higher than that of those who are married and live with their family or other relatives even though they work full-time.

To prevent repeat stimulant-related offenses, it seems necessary for the people they live with to keep a watchful eye on them. The role of parole officers, who regularly examine urine samples taken from those living alone and check their living situation, is even more important.


Rehabilitation centers vital

The Justice Ministry is developing self-rehabilitation promotion centers that provide support for released prisoners, whose treatment is often difficult. But opposition from residents has held up plans to develop such centers.

In addition to correctional education at prisons, the government should establish a system that would offer educational programs at those centers to teach people who served time in prison for stimulant-related crimes how to stop using stimulant drugs and help them reintegrate into society.

As symbolized by arrests of TV celebrities, the widespread abuse of stimulant drugs is becoming a serious social problem. The Justice Ministry needs to appeal to the public the necessity of operating such centers and win their understanding.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 23, 2009)
(2009年11月23日01時05分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月22日 (日)




photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド

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Longman Contemporary English Dictionary (ロングマン現代英英辞典)


Oxford English Dictionary の大きな版ももちろん所有はしていましたが、敷居が高くて頭が痛くなるばかりでした。

Oxford English Dictionary for student (オックスフォード学生用辞典)



10年前に秋葉原のラオックスで購入した小学館の Bookshelf 2.0 です。



srachai from khonkaen, thailand

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Japan Times headline of the day

Extracted from Japan Times (和文はスラチャイ)

No quick Futenma decision: Hatoyama

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama says he is not ready to reach a conclusion by the end of the year on the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.

DPJ to admit existence of secret nuke pact

The Foreign Ministry decides to admit the existence of a secret Japan-U.S. pact under which Tokyo allows stopovers of U.S. military vessels or aircraft carrying nuclear weapons.

Early-bird Uniqlo sale celebrates founding

The Uniqlo chain holds an early-morning sale at about 400 stores to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of its operator, with more than 2,000 people lining up before dawn outside its flagship store in Tokyo's Ginza district.

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NTTコミュニケーションズの無線LANサービス「ホットスポット」のアフィリエイトプログラムです。外出先から、普段お使いの無線LAN機能内蔵のノートPC・iPhone / iPod touchなどの無線LAN搭載機器でブロードバンド・インターネットがご利用いただけます。海外ローミングも提供中です。




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記者の目:日米首脳会談 同盟深化の開始=須藤孝(政治部)

(Mainichi Japan) November 22, 2009
More equal relations with the U.S. also means heavier responsibility in Asia
記者の目:日米首脳会談 同盟深化の開始=須藤孝(政治部)

 ◇東アジアで責任を果たせ 対等な関係へ行動を

(この部分は英訳されていない no inglish translation for this part)

(この部分は英訳されていない no inglish translation for this part)

(この部分は英訳されていない no inglish translation for this part)

(この部分は英訳されていない no inglish translation for this part)

(Mainichi Japan) November 22, 2009
More equal relations with the U.S. also means heavier responsibility in Asia
記者の目:日米首脳会談 同盟深化の開始=須藤孝(政治部)

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama's foreign policy is centered on a multilateral approach, a precondition of which is that the countries in each region should expect to play their part.

The United States is essentially saying: "We respect you, so we would like you to take up some important tasks that will be in both our interests."

This is a cool and realistic foreign policy, indicating that despite the U.S.'s superpower status it is dealing with other countries on an equal footing.

In his Nov. 14 speech in Tokyo, Obama declared that "Our efforts in the Asia-Pacific will be rooted, in no small measure, through an enduring and revitalized alliance between the United States and Japan." But this was not just an affirmation of the bilateral relationship, but a call to Japan to take up greater responsibilities in the region.

Japan has lent support to U.S. initiatives, dispatching Self-Defense Forces units to aid reconstruction in Iraq, refuel Western warships in the Indian Ocean involved in the Afghan war, and help defend international shipping against Somali pirates. However, in Japan's own backyard of East Asia, has Tokyo played a proactive role beyond supporting U.S. bases in Japan?

The U.S. bases in Okinawa are essential parts of American strategy in the region, especially as North Korea continues its nuclear weapons development and China boosts its military strength. Thus, Japan must see the Futenma base relocation issue in the context of policy towards all of Asia, including China and North Korea. Realistic alternatives to the U.S. military presence in Okinawa are not just hard to imagine, but building a foreign policy around moving those bases out of the prefecture or out of Japan should be reconsidered.

On Oct. 14, Political News Department reporter Nakae Ueno argued in this column that Futenma was not just a foreign relations issue, but also a symbol of regime change, and called on the government to take the negotiations with the U.S. slowly and take the popular will of Okinawans into account. On Nov. 10, Naha Bureau reporter Teruhisa Mimori wrote that the will of the Okinawan people is plain to see, and called on the government to do its utmost to move Futenma out of the prefecture. I must respectfully disagree with my colleagues.

There is also a proposal to merge Futenma with Kadena Air Base. However, Kadena is the largest U.S. Air Force base in Asia, and is aimed squarely at countering Chinese air and naval power. If, as the Americans insist, merging Futenma with Kadena -- itself entwined with Japan's Asian policy and the security guarantee -- would reduce the air base's operational effectiveness, then the Japanese government would do best not to approve such a move.

As for getting out from under the American shadow and building an Asian policy of our own, if we judge that the U.S. guarantee of Japan's security is still necessary, that includes not turning the excessive cost of such ambitions back onto the United States. During the last election, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama called on Futenma to be moved out of Okinawa Prefecture. However, the base issue should not be distorted into a purely domestic issue. The prime minister must accept the criticism and recant his statements on Futenma.

Japan has a strong tendency to view the Japan-U.S. security guarantee as a purely bilateral issue, not as a guarantee actively aimed at securing all of East Asia. As a rule, the Japan-U.S. alliance has always come first, and as a result Japan is not truly viewed as a member of Asia.

The government has excluded the Self-Defense Forces from a special measures law to inspect North Korean ships. However, to prevent the diffusion of North Korean weapons of mass destruction, the government may yet be faced with having to deploy Japanese forces. Hanging over the government's hesitation to make practical use of the Self-Defense Forces is the sense that it is skirting around the issue of Japan's relationship with Asia. When at the APEC summit in Singapore, Hatoyama stated that "reconciliation in the real sense of the word is not necessarily believed to have been achieved in the region ... although more than 60 years have passed since Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to the people of Asian nations," he was also speaking to himself.

During his meeting with Obama, Hatoyama requested the president visit Hiroshima. However, standing in the way of such a visit is a historical view -- common not just in the United States but also in the countries of Asia -- of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima as a positive act that ended Japan's aggressive war. If Hatoyama wishes the pivotal alliance with the United States to evolve, then he must seek to have Asia accept Japan as one of its own. He must face Japan's historical issues head on, while acting as a responsible member of the region and earn Asia's trust. That is the first step in making Japan-U.S. relations truly equal. (By Takashi Sudo, Political News Department)

毎日新聞 2009年11月18日 東京朝刊

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スパコン凍結 科学技術立国の屋台骨が傾く

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 22, 2009)
Supercomputer vital to Japan's scientific future
スパコン凍結 科学技術立国の屋台骨が傾く(11月22日付・読売社説)

Is the new administration's stance on science and technology about to be called into question due to its budget measures?

In its review of ministerial budget requests for fiscal 2010, which is aimed at cutting wasteful spending, the Government Revitalization Unit has decided to "effectively freeze" a project by the Education, Science and Technology Ministry to develop a next-generation supercomputer.

The supercomputer would be used for science and technology research.

The world's leading supercomputers can make calculations one million times faster than a standard personal computer.

They have more than 1,000 central processing units--the brains of a computer--as well as other components that allow for higher computing speed.

Most supercomputers are huge and due to the heat they generate while making calculations need to be installed in a large, well air-conditioned room.

The machines are used for simulations in a wide variety of fields, including climate-change prediction, aircraft design and genetic research. They are indispensable to those who need to conduct tests in fields where practical experiments are nearly impossible to do and they cut the time it takes to carry out research, thereby keeping research costs down.

In light of these important roles, there is a fierce global competition to develop supercomputers and the Japanese project is going up against the world's best. Does the government intend to undermine advancement in key research areas?


U.S. leading the way

Currently, the United States is leading the race to develop supercomputers that are even better than the world's leading models, which have reached speeds of about 1 quadrillion calculations per second.

Japan's next-generation supercomputers aim at improving this calculation performance by the power of one. Such an improvement would see the period taken to develop an aircraft, in simple terms of calculation, lowered to a 10th of the time it currently takes. That would bring huge benefits.

However, it is not easy to improve performance by the power of one over what are already cutting-edge machines. To that end, it is necessary to develop improved circuitry, including better semiconductors, a basic part of every computer. The private sector cannot take on such a massive task alone.

The United States and other countries develop supercomputers with financial backing from their governments. Japan also included about 27 billion yen for this purpose in the fiscal 2010 budget requests.


Govt backing crucial

During scrutiny of the budget request relating to the supercomputer project, government panel members made comments such as, "Is it really necessary to aim for first place [in this field]?" or "It's better to purchase such equipment from abroad." But these observations of the current situation are both poorly expressed and inaccurate.

Unless Japan makes an effort to take the lead in supercomputer development, it will not rank with the superpowers in the field.

Japan ranked first in the world in terms of supercomputer calculation speed in 2002, but lost the top spot 2-1/2 years later. Today, it languishes in 31st place, behind even China and South Korea.

Buying a supercomputer from abroad can prove very difficult because nations closely guard the secrets behind their state-of-the-art technology. Japan would be reduced to purchasing only midranking supercomputers in terms of processing capacity.

If researchers cannot use cutting-edge supercomputers in Japan, it could lead to a brain drain of capable researchers. An overseas report has already appeared in which it was said that Japan's science and technology spheres would fall into decline if the supercomputer project was frozen.

Budget requests for other science and technology-related projects also were severely scrutinized. It is natural to want to cut wasteful spending in the budget requests, but we do not want to see a situation emerge in which Japan's science and technology lifeline also is cut.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 22, 2009)
(2009年11月22日00時10分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月21日 (土)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:逃走は「生きる実感」か /東京

(Mainichi Japan) November 21, 2009
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The mind of a fugitive
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:逃走は「生きる実感」か /東京

Tatsuya Ichihashi, who spent two years, seven months on the run from police after fleeing from his apartment where the body of Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker was found, reportedly showed no resistance when police apprehended him at a ferry terminal in Osaka this month.

Ichihashi was raised in a privileged family, and while he was unable to become a doctor like his parents, he continued to study at university. He failed to find a job right away, but he was said to be searching for his dream while receiving financial support. One could say he was a youth who symbolized an affluent society; he was far removed from the young victims of social disparity such as those who lose their jobs due to company layoffs of temp workers.

So how did Ichihashi end up living in hiding for such a long time without (as far as we know) receiving any assistance? Where did his obsession with escaping at all costs come from?

Of course we don't yet know all the details of the case, but Ichihashi was said to have told people at a construction company where he worked that he had shut himself off from society. Perhaps what he said was not altogether made up. It is possible that he had tried to enter the medical profession like his parents but failed to do so, and during his days as a student when he was asking, "What do I want to do? What do I want to become?" his mental state corresponded to withdrawal from society -- regardless of how much fun he looked like he was having.

Ironically, running away from police forced Ichihashi to think by himself and make his own decisions. In a sense, those days on the run when all responsibility fell on him possibly gave him a sense of being alive.

In my clinic, young people often arrive saying that they don't feel they are living of their own accord, even though they are in fortunate circumstances. They, too, choose the path that will please the adults around them for the time being, without really knowing what they want to do, and live each day without any challenges.

One young person told me, "I want to experience living of my own free will, not because somebody has asked me to do something." But it is difficult to seize that opportunity.

Saying this, however, there are young people who go on to live independently after taking part in volunteer or disaster relief activities. I have often seen people who have lived withdrawn from society for more than a decade change suddenly and become active in this way. All young people have underlying strengths.

Were there no other paths Ichihashi could choose to sense being alive? I recall the faces of the young people I met at my clinic who were withdrawn from society but later got back on their feet. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2009年11月17日 地方版

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 20(IHT/Asahi: November 21,2009)
EDITORIAL: Ruling bloc's power play

The scene that unfolded early Friday at the Diet was all too reminiscent of the era under Liberal Democratic Party rule.

The three-party ruling coalition led by the Democratic Party of Japan steamrolled a debt relief bill for small and midsized companies and housing loan borrowers through the Lower House. The bill encourages financial institutions to ease repayment terms for struggling customers.

Earlier, the ruling coalition, which also includes the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party, forced the bill through the Lower House Committee on Financial Affairs after only eight hours of deliberations over two days. Thus, the ruling camp threw away a good opportunity to debate the role of the nation's financial sector in the recession.

With the year-end surge in corporate demand for funds looming, the government and the ruling bloc apparently wanted to enact the bill as quickly as possible. But they deserve to be criticized for acting so hastily.

The ruling coalition explained that time was of the essence since other important bills need to be enacted before the current Diet session ends on Nov. 30. No doubt, the LDP and the other opposition parties tried to draw out the Diet deliberations. But that doesn't justify treating the process of Diet deliberations lightly.

The opposition bloc is toughening its stance. Does the DPJ intend to continue steamrolling bills through the Diet while the opposition parties boycott the sessions and votes?

Following the first genuine power transfer in postwar Japan, the nation's political system is undergoing a radical change, for example, by putting politicians in charge of policymaking instead of bureaucrats. This has raised expectations for a significant change in the way the Diet operates.

In fact, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's policy speech struck us as refreshing when he spoke about his political philosophy in his own words. Often during committee sessions, both opposition questioners and the prime minister and his Cabinet members engaged in lively debate without depending on memos prepared by bureaucrats.

Consequently, the forced passage of the bill seemed like a return to the old Diet, where center stage was often taken by partisan political dickering over the schedule, rather than the content of debate.

The move by the ruling camp put a damper on expectations for more vibrant and meaningful discussions at the Diet. As it is, plans for a one-on-one debate between the party leaders remain on hold.

Ichiro Ozawa, the DPJ's secretary-general, has been the main champion of Diet reform. He has called for a departure from such parliamentary traditions as getting bureaucrats to answer questions and wasting time on partisan negotiations on the schedule. That would allow politicians to engage in serious debate. The DPJ should try to figure out a new approach to managing Diet affairs in line with Ozawa's argument.

Among the bills waiting to be considered is one to freeze the planned sales of government-held shares in Japan Post Holdings Co. and its affiliates. The bill, which embodies the Hatoyama administration's pledge to review the process of postal privatization, demands especially exhaustive examination. The ruling coalition must not rush to enact the legislation by resorting to its majority in the chamber.

The government is opposed to an extension of the Diet session because it fears it would hamper work to draft the budget for next fiscal year in December. But it should consider a limited extension to ensure sufficient discussions are held on these important bills.

Some of the members of a group of opinion leaders have put together a set of proposals for Diet reform in response to Ozawa's request. They include making the Diet open throughout the year so lawmakers can consider bills without worrying about time limits.

Now, bipartisan debate should start on Diet reform toward the next year's regular session. The ruling camp's dependence on its majority to push through its political agenda is not in tune with the new era, as symbolized by the regime change.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 20(IHT/Asahi: November 21,2009)
EDITORIAL: Job market for students
As of early October, nearly 40 percent of university seniors seeking jobs after they graduate in March had no offers of employment, according to a government survey.

The percentage of those who secured job offers dropped nearly to the level of 2003, the peak of extreme job scarcity dubbed the "employment ice age."

Companies that have reduced the number of new hires have apparently become more selective amid the uncertain economic outlook. The situation is also serious for students who will graduate from high school.

From around 1995 to 2005, companies curbed their recruitment of new graduates as regular employees and replaced them with nonregular workers.

Young people who could not land permanent jobs on graduation had no choice but to continue to work as dispatch workers or so-called freeters without acquiring skills. Since their income is unstable, such workers are hesitant to get married or start a family. Seriously hit by the financial crisis that started last year, many people lost their jobs and homes at the same time.

How to support these young people of "the lost generation" has become a weighty social problem. To prevent a recurrence of the situation, the government should do whatever it can to support job-seeking students toward next spring.

The government's task force for emergency job measures has taken action for would-be graduates and is calling on business organizations to expand employment. However, companies are also crying for help, saying they already face difficulties maintaining current payrolls.

But there must be industries suffering from a labor shortage as well as medium-sized and small businesses that are eager to hire. Perhaps this is a chance for students to look at new areas of growth potential rather than seeking stable employment at major companies.

Hello Work public job placement offices, universities and other schools should tie up to find job offers in local communities and create more opportunities to bring employers and students together.

There is another problem that must be addressed on a long-term basis. It is the corporate practice of hiring new graduates en masse only once a year in spring. We wonder if the practice will remain effective.

This hiring practice only worked when the economy grew steadily and companies trained workers under the lifetime employment system. Now, each time the economy slumps, many regular workers lose their jobs, which increases instability in the labor market.

We are now in an age in which diversified talent is sought. However, under the current hiring practice, job-seeking students and prospective employers have only one opportunity to meet, upon the students' graduation.

Mid-career and year-round hiring should be expanded so that students who graduated earlier can repeatedly apply for regular positions. A system is also needed to help young unemployed people acquire skills and techniques so that they can continue to apply for jobs.

During economic downturns, the practice of hiring new graduates en masse causes a serious distortion in university education.

Companies are moving up the timing of recruitment to secure competent students. This has caused anxious students to scurry and attend job-briefing sessions and interviews, which eats away the time of students who should be devoted to learning.

If such activities undermine students' potential as competent workers, it would be tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.

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デフレ認定 日銀は政府と危機感の共有を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 21, 2009)
BOJ must get serious about deflation
デフレ認定 日銀は政府と危機感の共有を(11月21日付・読売社説)

The Japanese economy, as had been widely expected, is mired in deflation as prices continue to fall.

In a monthly economic report released Friday, the government acknowledged the economy is in a mild deflationary phase and warned that deflation could impede the nation's recovery.

In March 2001, the government for the first time in the postwar period acknowledged that the nation's economy was in deflation due to prolonged price drops. The government has not declared that the economy has overcome this deflation. Conversely, deflation has returned to haunt the economy before a full recovery could be confirmed.

The government and the Bank of Japan must closely cooperate and use all available policy tools to ensure a complete departure from deflation this time.

Falling prices are good news for consumers. But lower prices mean reduced profits for companies, which often results in job and salary cuts. If this situation generates drops in consumption and further price falls, the economy could tumble into a deflationary spiral.


Economic prospects gloomy

A lack of demand is the prime cause of deflation. Accordingly, bringing an end to deflation will require boosting demand. However, the future of the nation's economy is uncertain.

Gross domestic product has registered positive growth for the past two consecutive quarters thanks to the government's stimulus measures, such as the eco point purchase incentive program for energy-efficient home appliances and the subsidy scheme for eco-friendly vehicles.

But the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high and winter bonuses are set to be cut significantly. Prospects for the year-end shopping season are decidedly gloomy. The impact of the freeze on some public works projects under the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is yet another cause for concern. Compounding this grim situation, the appreciation of the yen pushes down prices of imported products.

The government intends to make measures related to employment, the environment and child care the centerpieces of a second supplementary budget for this fiscal year and the initial budget for next fiscal year.


Govt must watch its pennies

But the government is facing a severe fiscal situation. If a massive amount of government bonds were issued, interest rates might rise sharply. The government must avoid resorting to generous spending. Instead, it should make proper budget allocations that focus on projects that will likely generate an immediate expansion in demand.

Some government officials reportedly have floated the idea of introducing a housing version of the eco point scheme. We hope the government comes up with effective measures, without merely sticking to its policy pledges just for sake of doing so.

Compiling a mid- to long-term strategy to achieve private sector-driven growth without relying only on fiscal measures to stimulate demand remains an urgent task on the government's to-do list.

Meanwhile, we doubt if the Bank of Japan, which should play a central role in combating deflation, is taking the price falls as seriously as the government is.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Thursday said deflation in Japan would linger through 2011. The organization also called on the Bank of Japan to fight deflation with quantitative easing measures.

At a policy board meeting Friday, however, the central bank decided to keep the current key interest rate unchanged. Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa suggested additional measures, such as further quantitative easing, are not needed.

The central bank appears to lack the government's concern when it comes to deflation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 21, 2009)
(2009年11月21日01時28分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月20日 (金)

社説:犯罪白書 「規範意識」が低下した

(Mainichi Japan) November 19, 2009
社説:犯罪白書 「規範意識」が低下した

Crime report suggests people's law-abiding spirit has declined
A knifing rampage, in which a man rammed a truck into a crowded intersection in Tokyo's Akihabara district in June last year and then stabbed pedestrians, leaving seven people dead and 10 injured, is still fresh in people's memories.

The government's while (white?) paper on crime released recently, which details the trends of crimes in 2008, shows that there were 14 cases of random attacks, including the Akihabara incident. The figure is far above the three cases in 2004, six in 2005, four in 2006, and eight in 2007.

In a related development, the National Police Agency (NPA) has reported that the number of cases of robbery, business break-ins and bag-snatching has been growing since the beginning of this year. NPA officials believe that this trend is attributable partly to the economic downturn and the worsening of the employment situation following the collapse of U.S. financial giant Lehman Brothers in September last year.

When asked about the motives for his crime, the defendant in the Akihabara case remarked, "I was sick and tired of living." He had moved from area to area as a temporary worker. His remark illustrates the tough social situation of today, in which the economic downturn has triggered heinous crimes.

The arrest rate shown by the white paper has raised some concerns. During the post-war period of the Showa Era, the arrest rate, excluding that for traffic accidents, had stood above 50 percent. It had declined to 19.8 percent by 2001, but turned upward to reach 31.8 percent in 2007. However, it fell 0.2 of a point last year to 31.6 percent.

Tatsuya Ichihashi, who had been wanted by police in connection with the slaying of a British English teacher, was recently arrested after spending two years and seven months as a fugitive. Information provided by a cosmetic clinic that conducted plastic surgery on him led to his arrest. This has raised questions primarily about the police's investigation abilities, but also demonstrated that it is difficult for the police alone to raise the arrest rate and maintain law and order as crimes have diversified.

Police are required to rely on citizens to a certain extent in their efforts to maintain law and order and apprehend crime suspects.

In a speech at the Japan National Press Club on Nov. 6, NPA Commissioner General Takaharu Ando expressed concern that a decline in the public's law-abiding spirit and loosening social bonds has contributed to the increase in crimes. "It appears that Japanese people's high law-abiding spirit and social bonds such as those in schools and regional communities, which had supported the country's high standards of public order, are declining."
In his speech, the police chief lamented the decline in law-abiding spirit particularly among teenagers and their parents, citing examples he heard from officers across the country.

Many teenagers caught shoplifting say, "Others do the same thing. What's wrong?" Many of them are isolated in their families and at school and some of them do not even know the age and occupation of their parents or their own address.

Some parents of shoplifting minors complain to shops that reported the incidents to police saying, "It would have been all right if I had paid for it. Why did you alert the police?"

These examples show parents bear responsibility for the decline in law-abiding spirit among youths. This reminds us of the need for further education on crime-prevention.

Anybody who commits a crime is subject to punishment. Those who commit theft could face up to 10 years in prison. Moreover, questions remain as to how citizens can protect themselves from falling victim to crimes. Police are cooperating with some schools to provide crime-prevention education, but recent crime trends underline the need to step up efforts.

毎日新聞 2009年11月19日 東京朝刊

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 19(IHT/Asahi: November 20,2009)
EDITORIAL: Budget spending cuts.

Never before has the process of drafting a state budget come under such close scrutiny by so many people.

The Government Revitalization Unit, tasked with scouring the budget requests for savings, has finished the first half of its work. Its operations have been covered daily and extensively by the media, and a webcast of the team at work received an incredible 24,000 hits at its peak.

All this reflects growing interest among taxpayers over how their money is used by the government. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama must respect the results of the budget review process and do his utmost to eliminate unnecessary spending so that public money is efficiently used in compiling the budget for the next fiscal year. He should also make sure that spending on similar programs not subject to the current review is also cut.

The task force's work so far has made it clear that spending cuts alone will not be sufficient to finance all the programs the Democratic Party of Japan had pledged in its election manifesto.

In total, 46 programs have been identified that will be scrapped or dropped from the fiscal 2010 budget, representing a saving of about 150 billion yen. The first round of the review process resulted in putting aside about 1 trillion yen, including the 150 billion yen, by discovering surplus reserves that should be returned to state coffers and downsizing other projects.

The government aims to cut about 3 trillion yen from the budget requests, which exceeded 95 trillion yen. This target will be hard to achieve even if the task force identifies additional budget cuts during the second half of its work next week. In addition, the surplus reserves can be spent only once and cannot be counted on as a permanent revenue source.

The question facing the Hatoyama administration is which of its election promises should be carried out and to what extent during its first year in office. It must now make a crucial decision on policy priorities.

The budget-cutting team has been criticized for making hasty rough-and-ready decisions. Critics also said members of the Government Revitalization Unit were not fully briefed on details of how the programs and projects were supposed to work and that decisions on reductions and terminations were actually made before the team started its review.

The team decided to scrap a program intended to help young people having difficulty in adjusting to society, like those who hide away at home, and find jobs for them. But those who are working for the program are calling for its continuation. In the same vein, there are calls to maintain funding for projects that give children opportunities to read books and experience nature.

Indeed, education, welfare and science and technology are policy areas where government expenditures should not be evaluated simply on the basis of cost effectiveness.

The task force's proposals indicate that drastic measures, which could cause unwanted effects, are needed to uproot the vested interests accumulated during the long grip on power by the Liberal Democratic Party.

In assessing the programs, the team sought to ascertain whether they really required the involvement of the central government or could be entrusted to local governments or private-sector entities. The review is significant in that it involved a fundamental rethinking of how administrative services should be provided. If the review process determines that certain programs are necessary, the government should keep them alive by figuring out effective ways to finance them.

Hatoyama has suggested that the budget review is a one-off event. But given the fact that the projects examined by the team represent only 15 percent of the total, it is clear that the work should continue until all of them have been scrutinized.

Above all, such a budget review fully open to the public is certain to change the mind-set of bureaucrats in the Kasumigaseki district and strengthen the sense of participation in the policymaking process among taxpayers. We hope the government will continue this work in some form in future budget compilation work.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 19(IHT/Asahi: November 20,2009)
EDITORIAL: One-on-one Diet debate.

Since it took power in mid-September, the administration led by Yukio Hatoyama has been busy re-examining the policies implemented by the former coalition government before it starts work on compiling the fiscal 2010 budget.

The new government totally reviewed the supplementary budget put together by Taro Aso's team, called a halt to the construction of the Yanba Dam in Gunma Prefecture and instructed the Government Revitalization Unit to scrutinize projects included in budget requests for the next fiscal year. The government is also studying whether the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture can be relocated elsewhere. This amounts to a total re-examination of the plan previously agreed to by Tokyo and Washington.

Why is the administration drastically changing policies? How does it plan to realize them? Hatoyama has a duty to provide a satisfactory explanation.

How will Sadakazu Tanigaki, president of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, respond? How does he evaluate his party's past policies? What is the LDP's new course? Now, more than ever, voters are eager to hear a heated verbal battle between the two leaders.

However, it now appears doubtful that the two leaders will hold a one-on-one debate during the current Diet session. Initially, the ruling and opposition parties had aimed to do so on Wednesday, but on Nov. 13 the government and the Democratic Party of Japan squelched the idea.

The government says it put the damper on the idea because some members of the Cabinet would not be able to attend it due to official business. True, there is a general understanding between the ruling and opposition parties that requires the attendance of all Cabinet ministers at such a debate, but the explanation offered is a little hard to swallow.

Why must all Cabinet ministers be present when it is the party leaders who are going head to head? The government and the DPJ cannot avoid criticism that they used the agreement as an excuse to avoid the debate.

In principle, debates between the party leaders are held on a Wednesday. In that case, the next chance would be Nov. 25, but the DPJ-led government has not yet responded to the LDP's request to hold one on that day. Does the government seriously think there is no need to hold a debate before the Diet session winds up on Nov. 30?

Even if some Cabinet ministers are absent, it shouldn't pose a problem. Surely, the debate doesn't have to be held on a Wednesday, either. When it was in opposition, the DPJ persistently demanded that a one-on-one debate be held. But now that it is a ruling party, it has made an about-face.

We find the party's stance anything but convincing. We urge the government and the DPJ to arrange a one-on-one debate without delay.

The government wants to avoid extending the Diet session so it can concentrate on compiling the budget. It says there is no time for the debate since its priority is to pass various bills. But this explanation doesn't hold water, for the simple reason that such debates customarily last only 45 minutes.

Is it because Hatoyama doesn't want to face opposition questioning about his political donation scandal and discord within the government? The more he puts off the debate, the more he must be prepared to be exposed to such criticism.

In his policy speech, the prime minister called on fellow Diet members: "Let us exchange in hearty debate here at the Diet ...truly for the people to the utmost extent of our ability."

If the debate is not held during this Diet session, the next opportunity will only arise next year. The lackadaisical attitude shown by this administration is pathetic given that it achieved a historic regime change.

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srachai from khonkaen, thailand

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党首討論見送り 首相の決断で応じるべきだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 20, 2009)
Hatoyama should agree to debate with Tanigaki
党首討論見送り 首相の決断で応じるべきだ(11月20日付・読売社説)

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has long been insisting that a Diet session should be a stage for debates among lawmakers. However, the party has recently been contradicting its policy line by refusing to hold a debate between party leaders at the Diet.

The first debate between Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who also is president of the DPJ, and Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki was initially scheduled for Wednesday. But the DPJ had been reluctant to hold the question time since last week, and the debate was eventually called off.

The parties had agreed to hold a debate of party leaders every Wednesday. This means Nov. 25 would be the last opportunity for the leaders to cross verbal swords if the current Diet session is not extended.

The DPJ insists question time was not held because the party wanted to give priority to deliberations on outstanding bills.  民主党は、法案審議を優先するためとしている。

However, this excuse seems rather flimsy, considering a debate between party leaders would take only 45 minutes from 3 p.m. each Wednesday.

The DPJ could do several things to get question time up and running, such as setting aside time by taking a break from deliberations on the bills with the cooperation of the LDP--the party chomping at the bit to hold the debate.


Frail reasoning

Most baffling of all, if giving priority to Diet deliberations was the DPJ's real motive for dodging question time this week, holding the debate toward the end of the Diet session will only become more difficult. The prospect of the leaders facing off on Nov. 25 looks ever more unlikely. Is the Hatoyama administration going to postpone the first verbal joust between party leaders until next year's ordinary Diet session?

The agreement among the parties states that all cabinet ministers are supposed to sit with the prime minister during question time. The DPJ has since griped that having every minister available at debate time is very difficult. However, the LDP has said it does not mind if every minister is not present.

We think both reasons given by the DPJ for postponing question time lack conviction. This will only give more ammunition to critics in the LDP who suspect the DPJ refuses to hold the debate because it does not want Hatoyama's falsified political donations scandal to be pursued at the Diet.
Even if the party is averse to such criticism, the prime minister should agree to take part in the debate without ducking for cover.


Ozawa has role to play

We think DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, who is responsible for Diet affairs, should comply with the LDP demand to hold the debate. Ozawa, who is trying to submit a bill on Diet reforms to the current Diet session, himself said a Diet session should be an arena for debates among politicians.

By this logic, surely a debate among party leaders is the prime example of politicians locking horns.

A working group of the National Council for Building a New Japan (21st Century Rincho), a nongovernmental think tank, made a proposal to hold a debate between party leaders every week after Ozawa had sought its advice. This would not require any new legislation and could be realized immediately--if the DPJ decided to give it the green light.

It is also important to simplify the debate arrangements with some remedial measures, such as cutting the length of the debate and reviewing the agreement that requires every cabinet minister to attend.

Intensive, detailed discussions are needed on a raft of political issues, including financial sources for new policy measures such as child-rearing allowances, and the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, on which Hatoyama's remarks have often been inconsistent. We also want to hear exhaustive explanations on the falsified political donations directly from the mouth of the prime minister himself.

It is obvious the DPJ is obstructing these debates. The party should agree to hold question time on Nov. 25--unless it fancies being accused of trying to sweep its leader's donations scandal under the carpet or of reducing its Diet reform pledge to an empty slogan.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 20, 2009)
(2009年11月20日01時19分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月19日 (木)





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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 18(IHT/Asahi: November 19,2009)
EDITORIAL: Decentralization council.

The government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has decided to establish the Local Sovereignty Strategy Council. Hatoyama had promised full-fledged decentralization of administrative powers to local governments if his Democratic Party of Japan took control of the government. The new council will reportedly coordinate this push.

Hatoyama will chair the body, which will include the ministers of national policy, government revitalization, finance and internal affairs and communications, the chief Cabinet secretary, local government heads and private-sector experts. In all, about 12 members will map out pertinent policies and systems.

Under the coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, the government used proposals from experts in the Decentralization Reform Committee to render final decisions. Special interest politicians and bureaucrats regularly meddled in this process, causing most recommendations to be diluted or thrown out altogether.

This latest plan seeks to avoid such a fiasco. Politicians and experts will debate the issues and reach decisions together. The conventional advisory council approach to policymaking, with decisions reached through consultations, recommendations and selection, will be junked in favor of fast-track implementation via political decisions issued under the prime minister's hand.

This new departure is encouraging.


Yet, the approach so far has been painfully slow. This also holds true for the DPJ campaign promise to furnish an arena for discussions between outlying regions and the central government. The first such meeting was just recently convened, and the system has yet to be passed into law.

The all-important question is what decentralization measures will be adopted for the coming year. Unfortunately, very little has been forthcoming on that front.

It appears that the standards for establishing day-care centers, roads and other obligations that the central government has forced on the municipalities will be revised. But the policy now is to defer any immediate action on transferring authority and tax revenue sources and abolishing regional offices of the national government.

Lump-sum grants, another DPJ campaign pledge meant to pool subsidies for use by regions as seen fit, will not come onstream until the fiscal 2011 budget.

This sluggish pace threatens to deflate the high hopes of voters and local governments.

What will be implemented and by when? Will provisions be made for the needed revenue sources, transfer of authority and other key components? To dispel such doubts, a timetable and grand plan for reforming regional autonomy should be drafted immediately.

For example, Kazuhiro Haraguchi, the minister of internal affairs and communications, touts an increase in local government tax grants by more than 1 trillion yen. However, if regional tax revenues decline with the elimination of the provisional tax rates on gasoline and other items, what will be left in the coffers?

Under that scenario, would it even be feasible for the regions to take over authority, personnel from central government outposts and assume other duties? 

This blurry vision needs to be corrected at once.

The public is also anxious. Although the idea of decentralization has a nice ring to it, doubts remain about the ability to truly relegate such responsibilities to regional authorities. If local assemblies and others fail to speak out on how to best change the approach to autonomy, these worries will never be eased.

If the Local Sovereignty Strategy Council plans to devote more time to plotting an approach to this challenge, the Hatoyama administration needs to tender an in-depth blueprint toward that end. Lasting regional autonomy reform requires a structure empowering residents to fully savor the autonomy they wield over their own lives.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 18(IHT/Asahi: November 19,2009)
EDITORIAL: Obama's talks with Hu.

Visiting China for the first time, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday. The two leaders pledged cooperation not only on bilateral issues but also on a broad spectrum of global challenges ranging from the economy to security, nuclear problems and climate change.

Obama scheduled the longest chunk of his whirlwind Asia tour itinerary for his stay in China. In appreciation of this gesture, the entire Chinese leadership laid out the red carpet for him. This was symbolic of what has come to be called an era of the "G-2" partnership between the United States and China.

Obama and Hu have confirmed their shared understanding that their countries are now economically inseparable, and that global problems in this century cannot be resolved without their close collaboration.

On climate change, for instance, Obama referred to the United States and China as the world's largest consumers and producers of energy, and the two leaders agreed to aim for a comprehensive deal that would have "immediate operational effect" at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15) in Copenhagen next month.

As for Obama's call for a nuclear-free world, the two leaders promised to lead the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to a successful conclusion, and committed themselves to early ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

With the world still struggling to turn the corner on the global economic recession, Obama and Hu concurred that all forms of protectionism must be shunned. However, they apparently made little progress on pending bilateral trade disputes over tires and steel pipes.

At present, the United States and China are still at the stage of exploring where they can start collaborating.

While the two leaders agreed to bolster their cooperation on nuclear issues concerning North Korea and Iran, it appears that China had no specific proposals to offer. Obviously, China does not want to apply pressure on Iran because of its own energy needs.

From its inception, the Obama administration has been under criticism at home and abroad for only playing softball with Beijing on human rights and civil liberties issues with respect to ethnic Tibetans and Uighurs. Aware of the criticism, Obama mentioned the Tibetan problem during his joint news conference with Hu and urged him to reopen dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives. The remarks, however, were not included in the joint statement.

During the summit, Obama said the United States "welcomes China as a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations." In response, Hu said China welcomes the United States as an Asia-Pacific nation that strives for regional peace, security and prosperity. The leaders also reaffirmed the importance of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

But Washington's return to a policy of engagement with Asia, which Obama has been stressing during this tour, is obviously calculated to keep China's presence and influence in the region in check.

The deepening of U.S.-China cooperation is not a simple, one-dimensional process, and there is no need for Japan to feel left behind in this "G-2" era. And while the United States and China hold the key to resolving the North Korean nuclear problem, there are numerous economic and environmental challenges that the two giants cannot successfully address without Japan's involvement. In short, we have entered an era that requires multiple-layer sharing of responsibilities.

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官僚OB人事官 適材の起用なら問題はない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 19, 2009)
Hiring right bureaucrat for right job is no taboo
官僚OB人事官 適材の起用なら問題はない(11月19日付・読売社説)

If somebody is deemed the right person to serve in a certain government post, it is the responsibility of politicians, including the prime minister and Cabinet members, to appoint that person, regardless of whether he or she has served as a former bureaucrat or is from the private sector.
This principle needs to be established.

Both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors have approved the government's appointment of Takeshi Erikawa, a former administrative vice health, labor and welfare minister, as one of the commissioners of the National Personnel Authority, an appointment that requires Diet approval.

One of the three commissioner posts at the authority has successively been held by former bureaucrats. It makes sense to have a person like Erikawa as a commissioner to handle the personnel affairs of national public servants, given that former bureaucrats are familiar with public services operations.


Amakudari redefined

Referring to Erikawa's appointment, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said at the upper house Budget Committee: "We must carry out a reform of the civil servant system [that could be as drastic as] requiring discussions on whether the National Personnel Authority should continue to exist. A capable person should take up the post."

The government has effectively taken the stance that Erikawa's appointment does not constitute an instance of the so-called amakudari practice, in which retired bureaucrats take well-paid jobs at corporations in sectors they formerly oversaw. The government takes the view that appointing the right person for the right job, while considering such factors as the status of the post and the job's requirements--and as long as there is no mediation by government bodies in the appointment--does not constitute amakudari.

This could be interpreted to mean that appointments of former bureaucrats by politicians to posts the government considers important, such as to the personnel commissioner, do not constitute amakudari.

The appointment of Jiro Saito, former administrative vice finance minister, as president of Japan Post, also should be seen as an example of this stance.

It would be difficult to carry out appropriate personnel changes if, as a mere formality, former bureaucrats were automatically disqualified. We hope the government's personnel decisions are made based on the principle of choosing the right person for the right job.


Both parties risk dishonor

When the Democratic Party of Japan led the opposition, it repeatedly made a political issue of government appointments that required the approval of both chambers of the Diet.

Last year, the party opposed the government's appointment of Toshiro Muto, a former administrative vice finance minister, as president of the Bank of Japan. This shook the then administration of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in a divided Diet, in which the lower house was controlled by the Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition and the upper house by the DPJ-led opposition.

The DPJ's Takeo Nishioka, who serves as the chairman of the upper house Rules and Administration Committee, has recently said, "The political situation took precedence over simply judging whether Mr. Muto was good or bad [for the job]."
"I still think it was nonsense that Mr. Muto was rejected," he added.

These remarks are truly unwise.

However, the LDP's rejection of Erikawa's appointment also is dishonorable.

Regarding the LDP's opposition, party President Sadakazu Tanigaki said: "[The DPJ] made an about-face by changing the interpretation of amakudari soon after it took power and urging support for [Erikawa's appointment.] There's no ground [for us] to approve it."

This apparently shows LDP defiance in the face of the DPJ's shifted stance. But if the LDP brushed off an appropriate examination of whether the person in question was the right person for the job, it goes against the claims made by the party while it was in power. It also indicates that the party might, in the end, be merely acting out of revenge.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 19, 2009)
(2009年11月19日01時15分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月18日 (水)



Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009
Obama Talks Human Rights With Chinese President

President Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao he believes everyone has "certain fundamental rights" and insisted China needs to improve its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities.

They will keep talking.

Obama also didn't get very far in trying to convince his counterpart that China should let its yuan currency rise in value.

Hu didn't even mention the issue in their joint media appearance, choosing instead to make a thinly veiled reference to new U.S. tariffs on Chinese products.

The two leaders pledged to cooperate on climate change, and both emphasized it was important to reach a comprehensive global deal in Copenhagen next month.

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Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009
Obama Talks Human Rights With Chinese President

President Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao he believes everyone has "certain fundamental rights" and insisted China needs to improve its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities.

They will keep talking.

Obama also didn't get very far in trying to convince his counterpart that China should let its yuan currency rise in value.

Hu didn't even mention the issue in their joint media appearance, choosing instead to make a thinly veiled reference to new U.S. tariffs on Chinese products.

The two leaders pledged to cooperate on climate change, and both emphasized it was important to reach a comprehensive global deal in Copenhagen next month.

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Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009
Obama Talks Human Rights With Chinese President

President Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao he believes everyone has "certain fundamental rights" and insisted China needs to improve its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities.

They will keep talking.

Obama also didn't get very far in trying to convince his counterpart that China should let its yuan currency rise in value.

Hu didn't even mention the issue in their joint media appearance, choosing instead to make a thinly veiled reference to new U.S. tariffs on Chinese products.

The two leaders pledged to cooperate on climate change, and both emphasized it was important to reach a comprehensive global deal in Copenhagen next month.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 17(IHT/Asahi: November 18,2009)
EDITORIAL: GDP growth of 4.8 percent.

The domestic economy grew in the July-September quarter at a much faster rate than private-sector forecasts. On an annualized basis, real gross domestic product increased by 4.8 percent, posting growth for the second consecutive quarter.

But nominal GDP, an indicator which more accurately reflects people's sentiment about economic conditions, contracted by 0.3 percent. And the overall state of the economy is still far from what can be described as in the recovery phase.
Yet, more encouraging signs have emerged. One of them is that corporate investment in plant and equipment took an upturn in the quarter after a period of continued contraction. As a result, domestic demand contributed to economic growth. These were the first such signs of improvement in six quarters.

Private consumption has been stimulated by a series of government stimulus measures, such as the eco-point program to promote sales of energy-saving consumer electronic appliances. Exports to China and North America are also rebounding. In response to the improved conditions, automobile, electronic and other key industries have started investing in new environment-related equipment.

Coordinated economic policy efforts among major economies and Japan's own stimulus measures are finally beginning to goose demand in the private sector.

On the other hand, there are troubling signs of persistent deflationary pressure. A general decline in prices is threatening to throw the economy into a downward spiral. The deflationary trend is affecting employment and keeping the jobless rate at high levels. Winter bonuses are expected to be cut sharply, and the outlook for consumer spending offers no reason for optimism.

Once the government's stimulus measures have run their course, the economy could start shrinking again, falling into a second bottom. From this point of view, the government still has a role to play in stoking economic growth.

But the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which has pledged to place priority on protecting living standards, should not resort to the kind of giveaway and pork-barrel spending that so often characterized past policy efforts under the government led by the Liberal Democratic Party. In particular, the Hatoyama administration must avoid trying to keep demand going with haphazard public works spending.

The government needs to support job security and consumer spending by strengthening the social safety net while expanding private-sector demand, such as business investment, an area that is showing promising signs of recovery.

The government needs to focus on effective pump-priming measures to put the economy on a path of self-sustaining growth driven by the private sector.

From this vantage point, it is important for the Hatoyama administration to craft a second supplementary budget for the current fiscal year and the regular budget for fiscal 2010 as soon as possible to send out a clear message that it is trying to ensure sustained expansion of domestic demand.

Hatoyama has vowed to shift the focus of economic policy "from concrete to people." He should demonstrate his commitment to promoting the well-being of the people through the process of developing these spending plans.  鳩山由紀夫首相が「コンクリートから人へ」と目標を語ったように、ここでも「人間」重視の姿勢を生かしてほしい。

Specifically, he should announce policy incentives for private-sector investment in areas expected to create new growth industries, such as health-care services, welfare and the environment.

These areas also have a huge potential for creating new jobs. But few new businesses have emerged so far in these sectors.  これらの分野は、雇用の受け皿としても大きな可能性を秘めているが、なおビジネスが育っていない。

The government should take steps to awaken hopes among the people that fiscal and monetary policies and regulatory reform will lead to the creation of new jobs.

With the second extra budget, the government should turn its economic policy in that direction and accelerate it with the state budget for next fiscal year. That will be the most effective way to revitalize the economy.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 17(IHT/Asahi: November 18,2009)
EDITORIAL: China's auto industry.

From January through October, China's automobile output and sales both exceeded 10 million units. The figures could each top 13 million by the end of this year, which would make China the world's top vehicle maker as well as largest sales market for the first time. Currently, the United States leads the world in sales, and Japan in production.

New vehicle sales in China grew sixfold in the last decade. In sharp contrast, the U.S. market shrank rapidly after the global economic meltdown forced General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to file for bankruptcy. Japanese automakers, which had depended on the U.S. market for growth, also slumped.

China is expected to overtake Japan in terms of gross domestic product next year at the earliest--an achievement befitting a nation that is now seen as a new engine to drive global economic growth. But given the grave impact of a bloating Chinese auto market on energy resources and the environment, the situation signals the urgency of technological renovation to shift to non-gasoline cars.

China's Communist Party and government have actively promoted the auto industry for its huge potential to create jobs and push technological development in a broad range of sectors. Expressways built in China over the last decade are more than six times longer than the total in Japan.

When China's annual vehicle production reached the 10-million mark for the first time last month, the occasion was celebrated with a new model of the Jiefang (Liberation) truck rolling off the assembly line at state-owned China FAW Group Corp.

Passenger cars became the market mainstay a few years ago. Rising income levels in China have made them affordable to more citizens. With the emergence of domestic automakers, inexpensive passenger cars have become available. The government has been promoting sales with tax breaks and subsidies for buyers.

In 2008, China's per-capita GDP topped $3,000 (about 267,000 yen)--the watershed that turns a nation into a mass consumer society. Japan got there in the early 1970s.

With car ownership still less than 5 percent today, China is on the threshold of motorization.

According to International Monetary Fund projections, China will have roughly doubled its per-capita GDP by around 2015. New vehicle sales at that time are expected to increase to 15 million units, comparable with sales in the reviving U.S. market. The figure in China is estimated to reach about 20 million around 2020.

That's effectively double the scale of today's Chinese market. And if 20th-century-type gasoline cars are still the mainstay, the massive energy consumption and environmental destruction that will result are too horrendous to even consider.

Beijing is aware of the need to save energy and protect the environment if the nation's auto industry is to keep growing. The Chinese government has taken measures, including more stringent fuel-efficiency requirements, tax breaks for small cars and support for the development of electric vehicles and other green cars. It has also begun improving rail, subway and other mass public transport services. These efforts must be enhanced.

The Chinese auto market has become a battleground where Japanese, U.S., European, South Korean--and now Chinese--automakers are engaged in cutthroat competition.

To survive in this burgeoning market, we hope Japanese makers, which have been leading the world in gas-electric hybrid and other clean-car technologies, will remain leaders in the "green revolution" by using their technological expertise to offer affordable green cars and help the auto industry grow without sacrificing the environment.

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普天間作業部会 年内決着で対日不信を解け

Restore U.S trust by settling relocation issue
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 18, 2009)
普天間作業部会 年内決着で対日不信を解け(11月18日付・読売社説)

If Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama continues putting off a final decision on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, it will only amplify U.S. distrust of the Japanese leader, pushing the Japan-U.S. relationship to the brink of crisis. It is vital to resolve the issue by the end of this year.

The Japan-U.S. ministerial-level working group started discussing the relocation issue Tuesday. The two parties reaffirmed that they would expeditiously reach a conclusion, without specifying a time frame.

While the Japanese side indicated its intention to focus on reviewing the current plan, including the process of drawing it up, the United States reiterated its position that the current plan is the only feasible option.

The Hatoyama administration has spent a long time reviewing the relocation issue. Given this, is it truly necessary to start over again? As agreed upon in the recent Japan-U.S. summit talks in Tokyo, we believe the two countries should make expeditiously reaching a conclusion a top priority.

What cannot be overlooked is that Hatoyama continues making statements that can be interpreted as reversing the agreement. We find this highly regrettable.


Role of current plan questioned

The prime minister stressed that the current relocation plan is not a premise for discussions at the high-level working group. He even suggested that the discussions start from scratch, saying that there was absolutely no prerequisite. This logic is hard to understand.

U.S. President Barack Obama stressed in the summit talks that the working group should adhere to the basic agreement. In a joint press conference with the prime minister, the president also said that the working group would be focused on implementing the 2006 Japan.-U.S. accord to relocate the marine base from Ginowan to Nago, both in Okinawa Prefecture. The prime minister did not object to this statement.

It is no wonder that the president views the current relocation plan as the premise for the high-level working group. If a rift opens between the Japanese and U.S. leaders, it may seriously damage Japan's national interests.

Furthermore, if the negotiation starts from scratch, it would be like turning the clock to 1996, when Japan and the United States agreed on the return of the Futenma Air Station. In that case, the return of the airfield will highly likely be delayed by more than a decade and decisively damage the Japan-U.S. relationship.


Time of the essence

As for the timing of an expeditious conclusion, Hatoyama said that he might decide which direction to take in line with the outcome of the Nago mayoral election scheduled for January.

However, the prime minister said last month, "I didn't mean that [the decision would be made] after the mayoral race." As such, Hatoyama's remarks have been inconsistent.

In the first place, the prime minister, as the one who takes charge of national security, should avoid leaving such a key issue concerning the fundamentals of the Japan-U.S. alliance to the result of a mayoral election.

Some in Okinawa Prefecture are also critical of the prime minister's policymaking style, saying that it is "unreasonable" to put the responsibility for making a key diplomatic decision on local governments.

If the prime minister wishes to respect the feelings of people in Okinawa, he has to sincerely listen to these voices, too.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa called for settling the issue by the end of the year from the viewpoint of appropriating necessary funds in the fiscal 2010 budget. Their opinions are quite right, and the prime minister should respect the views of the relevant ministers.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 18, 2009)
(2009年11月18日01時02分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月17日 (火)

社説:2期連続の成長 安心と希望生む政策を

(Mainichi Japan) November 17, 2009
Gov't urged to implement economic policies to boost consumer confidence
社説:2期連続の成長 安心と希望生む政策を

Japan's real-term gross domestic product (GDP) in the July-September period grew at an annualized rate of 4.8 percent from the April-June period, according to preliminary figures released by the Cabinet Office. This represents positive growth for the second consecutive quarter.

The economic crisis triggered by the collapse of U.S. financial giant Lehman Brothers, which was called an economic crisis that "occurs only once every 100 years," appears to be nearing an end after an unexpectedly short period of time without dealing a fatal blow to Japan's economy. The government should be applauded for preventing the economy from freefalling by implementing various policy measures, including those worked out by the previous administration.

The growth rate in the July-September quarter was also higher than the average forecast made by economists of around 2.5 percent.

Among external demand, exports remain brisk. For domestic demand, consumer spending and corporate investment in plants and equipment turned out to be better than expected thanks to the government's eco-point system that encouraged consumers to buy environment-friendly cars and electric appliances.

However, the effects of economic stimulus measures started to decline. Share prices are not as bullish as their peak, while the unemployment rate remains high. Moreover, the average winter bonus to be paid by major companies to their employees is estimated to decline at a record high rate from the previous year. Everybody apparently has a sense of uncertainty about the economic outlook and is worried about their future livelihoods.

Economic growth will likely slow down in the foreseeable future and the quarterly economy period may post negative growth.

However, it is impossible to keep implementing new economic stimulus measures one after another from a short-term perspective.

In working out a second supplementary budget for fiscal 2009, the government is urged to invest precious taxpayers' money in employment security measures and those aimed at supporting people's livelihoods as well as other measures.
Households would benefit from such steps taken from a mid- and long-term perspective.

The public is trying to gauge how serious the new administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is about making good use of taxpayers' money for their livelihoods in working out the fiscal 2010 budget draft and redistributing people's wealth through tax system reform.

The compilation of the fiscal 2010 state budget draft, which will get under way toward the end of this year, and discussions on tax system reform for next fiscal year will also be vital.

The Japanese economy needs not only technological innovation and an increase in productivity but also hope and a sense of reassurance for the future of people's livelihoods. Such hope and a sense of reassurance would result in consumer spending, which would in turn reactivate the economy.

Stock traders who are reacting nervously to the fluctuation of share prices on a day-by-day basis are also paying close attention to the government's seriousness in implementing such policy measures.

Such efforts would be of great significance as economic stimulus measures if they gain confidence and sympathy from the public.

These measures could also be effective in preventing deflation, which is often caused by people worrying more.

In that sense, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima badly damaged the public's confidence by revealing the GDP growth rate in the July-September period before it was officially announced.

He said, "I didn't know when the embargo would be lifted." However, it is not just a simple mistake but raises questions about whether he is qualified to serve as an economic minister. He should deeply reflect on his actions, and the government as a whole should take the issue seriously.

毎日新聞 2009年11月17日 2時31分

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 16(IHT/Asahi: November 17,2009)
EDITORIAL: Protecting rice farmers.

The farm ministry has started preparing for the introduction of a new income support program for farmers--one of the key platforms of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan in the Aug. 30 Lower House election. But the plan crafted by the ministry has serious drawbacks that could hamper, rather than help, the revitalization of the nation's flagging agricultural sector.

The biggest problem is that the program would preserve the long-standing policy of reducing the amount of land devoted to rice cultivation, which has been a major cause of decline of Japanese agriculture.

In addition, the program as envisioned by the ministry would hinder the consolidation of farmland. That is because most rice farmers would be eligible for the income support.

The ministry has requested around 560 billion yen as an outlay for fiscal 2010 to finance the program. This costly plan should not be allowed to end up degenerating into a giveaway to farmers at a time when the government is reviewing hundreds of programs and projects for major spending cuts.

The acreage-reduction program is, in effect, a production cartel based on cooperation between the government and rice growers. It is designed to adjust rice production to actual demand. Its aim is to prop up the finances of farming families by preventing rice prices from falling even when demand is sagging.

Some 7 trillion yen of taxpayer money has been poured into this program, which has been in place for four decades. As a result, Japanese consumers have been forced to buy rice at much higher prices and shoulder a heavy financial burden to support the program.

The prohibitive 778-percent tariff that Japan imposes on rice imports to keep cheaper rice from washing into the domestic market is also having a harmful effect. This measure to protect domestic rice farmers from international competition has been impeding Japan's farm negotiations under the World Trade Organization and its talks for free trade agreements with its key trading partners.

Despite the huge price paid for it, the acreage-reduction policy has undermined the vigor and the vitality of Japanese agriculture.

It has served as a powerful disincentive for production increases, thereby worsening problems that have long bedeviled the sector, such as the dwindling number of people willing to succeed the family farm and the increase in the number of plots of unused farmland.

The proposed income support program would provide subsidies to farmers when the sales prices of their crops fall below estimated production costs. Similar programs of direct cash payments to farmers have helped bolster farm production in Europe and the United States.

If it is designed and implemented properly, the program could radically alter the nation's unhealthy rice policy and help revive agriculture. But if the income support program is introduced while the acreage reduction policy is maintained, as planned by the farm ministry, it would provide no incentive for rice growers to increase output.

The ministry plans to make some 1.8 million rice growers eligible for the program, which would represent almost all farmers selling rice. This could discourage farmers who are cultivating rice only as a side business from parting with their farmland, thereby stalling the slow-moving trend toward concentration of farmland in the hands of full-time farmers.

The ministry should limit the scope of income subsidies to the less than 1 million families that are earning the main part of their income from farming.

The government should lay out a new vision for rice farming based on a liberalization policy. Under such a vision, production and imports of rice would be liberalized, but an income support program would mitigate the damage suffered by full-time rice farmers from expected drops in rice prices due to liberalization.

It could pave the way for future exports of high-quality rice from Japan. The proposed income support program represents a major pillar of reform that radically changes the government's agriculture policy.

The government appears to be trying to push through the reform in an unreasonably short period. It should hammer out a better, more carefully designed plan than the current rough-and-ready one.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 16(IHT/Asahi: November 17,2009)
EDITORIAL: Japan's role in APEC.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Singapore has closed. During the forum, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama gave a policy speech on how Japan intends to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in Asia through open regional cooperation based on the spirit of yuai (fraternity), while maintaining a foothold in the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The previous day, U.S. President Barack Obama made a groundbreaking speech in Tokyo, saying, "As an Asia-Pacific nation, the United States expects to be involved in the discussions that shape the future of this region" and participate fully in matters relating to Asia.

It has been more than a year since the world plunged into economic turmoil. China and Southeast Asia have played a significant role in not only propping up the global economy, but also being the tractive force for future growth. That role is growing bigger every day.

China's increasing political influence and military prowess are also bringing about drastic changes to the power structure of this region.

The two leaders' speeches were also declarations of how the two countries intend to address Asia as it undergoes a huge transformation. The fact that Japan's prime minister welcomed U.S. intentions to increase its involvement in Asia will serve as the basis of future cooperation between the two countries.

APEC was created exactly 20 years ago. Members' efforts at promoting free trade and investment within the region have helped to push up exports and economic growth at rates higher than any other region in the world.

The active pursuit of economic growth and trade within the Pacific Rim region has played a large role in the growth of China and Southeast Asia.

APEC leaders jointly agreed to: continue economic stimulus measures until there is a full recovery; work on diminishing disparities within the region; and create a new strategy for even further growth and development.

The APEC leaders made these commitments toward the summit next year in Yokohama.

As next year's host country, Japan bears a heavy responsibility. The historic Bogor Declaration of 1994 put forth the goal of "achieving free and open trade and investment by 2010" among developed countries. Japan must build on this goal and lead the way toward the creation of a new strategy for the 21st century.

One huge difficulty in this task is that the United States is keen on creating an APEC free trade zone, but Southeast Asian countries are wary of free-trade negotiations led by Washington. Japan is also cautious about opening up trade in the agriculture-forestries sector.

This is not just about the economy. How should we deal with the growing influence of China? Regional political and military stability are crucial for economic growth in Asia, but such a situation would depend heavily on diplomatic initiatives on multiple levels, between the United States and China, between China and Japan, as well as multilateral frameworks.

Next year's Yokohama summit will present another opportunity for Obama to visit Japan. It will also provide a chance for the president to join events marking the half-century anniversary of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Ahead of these opportunities next year, the two countries will start discussions on how to "deepen" the alliance to respond to changes in Asia and the new global agenda.

We should swiftly reach a breakthrough in the issue over relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture so that dialogue between the countries can be fruitful and meaningful.

Corps 発音注意 コァーと発音する、コープスと発音しないように!

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column extracted from kyodo news,

日経平均 9,791.18 ドル
NY ダウ 10,406.96 円
1米ドル 89.29 円

2009年11月17日 08時08分

NY株、年初来高値を更新 1万400ドル台回復

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鳩山経済政策 マニフェスト不況を起こすな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2009)
Don't let manifesto vows trigger economic slump
鳩山経済政策 マニフェスト不況を起こすな(11月17日付・読売社説)

If the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan sticks doggedly to fulfilling the pledges it made ahead of the latest House of Representatives election, and these efforts force the economy into a slowdown, the government will have put the cart before the horse.

The nation's economy has just recorded positive growth, but in our opinion this is a result of economic measures taken by the previous administration and the recovery of external demand, and the economy has been only temporarily boosted. The deflationary trend, in which falling prices cause economic stagnation, has become serious.

Nevertheless, the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has frozen projects worth about 3 trillion yen in the supplementary budget for fiscal 2009 and also plans to cut in the fiscal 2010 budget public works and other projects that could be expected to have an immediate effect as economic stimulus measures.


Scrap nonurgent policies

The government's approach is aimed at securing financial resources for eye-catching policies in the DPJ's manifesto for the general election, but we fear the government's stance could accelerate the cooling down of regional economies.

To avoid a manifesto-induced economic downturn, the government needs to change the principle governing its policy choices from keeping the promises it made in its manifesto to coming up with measures to improve the economy. This entails a drastic review of its stated policies.

The biggest problem is that the Hatoyama Cabinet is going ahead with the dole-out policies pledged in its manifesto without having formulated a growth strategy to realize a full-scale recovery of the nation's economy.

A huge drop in tax revenue is unavoidable due to the rapid worsening of the economy that began last year. We urge the government to make the tough policy decisions necessary to bring the economy back on a recovery track, by using its limited financial resources effectively, and at the same time prevent the nation's finances from further worsening.

However, in ministries' budget requests for fiscal 2010, the government included key policies pledged in the DPJ manifesto and left their budgets almost untouched.

These marquee policies include 2.3 trillion yen for a child-rearing allowance, 600 billion yen for making expressways toll-free and 500 billion yen for making public high school education free. If the 2.5 trillion yen revenue shortfall that will result from the scrapping of the provisionally higher gasoline tax rate is added to these figures, it is clear that a huge amount of financial resources--about 7 trillion yen--will be needed to implement the pillars of the DPJ's manifesto.

If the government insists on implementing these policies, it will be impossible for it to keep a ceiling on the fiscal 2010 budget. Hatoyama has said he will try not to issue more than 44 trillion yen worth of government bonds next fiscal year, but it seems that his administration will be unable to avoid issuing a huge amount of government bonds.

When a nation's finances are in dire straits, the prices of government bonds tumble and long-term interest rates jump, which has a negative influence to the economy and aggravates the financial situation because of the increase in the cost of debt servicing. To avoid such a situation, the government should drop nonessential election pledges.

We hope the government and the Bank of Japan will take concerted actions, such as an effort by the central bank to increase its purchases of government bonds and hold down interest rates.

Of course, to restore market trust in the nation's finances, it is indispensable for the government to show its determination to pursue fiscal reconstruction, such as by raising the consumption tax after the economy recovers to secure a stable financial resource.


Growth could easily stall

The political task to which the government must give top priority is realizing a full-scale economic recovery.

The Cabinet Office announced Monday that the nation's gross domestic product for the July-September quarter rose 1.2 percent from the previous quarter, marking an expansion for two straight quarters. Consumer spending and exports grew, while capital investment finally turned upward.

Though the economic downturn appears to have come to a halt, it may be too early to judge that the recent growth will be self-sustaining, and that the economy is on a full-fledged expansion track.

First of all, the economic recovery is mainly a result of the government's economic stimulus package and lacks a broad base. In the area of consumer spending, sales of vehicles and flat-screen TVs have certainly been brisk, thanks to government subsidies for eco-friendly cars and the so-called eco-point system designed to boost the purchase of electrical appliances. But sales of other products are slumping.

Winter bonuses are certain to be significantly reduced, and there are fears that deteriorating employment conditions may once again hit consumption.

The latest GDP figure, which shows significant economic growth, may not appear quite right to many people. GDP measured in nominal terms, which more accurately reflects household and corporate sentiment, is experiencing negative growth due to declining consumer prices. Deflation is chilling household and corporate sentiment. Not a few observers believe, therefore, that the nation's economic growth will slow down in the first half of next year and will probably show negative growth under certain circumstances.


Economy must come first

Under these conditions, what bothers us is the fact that public works projects, which have supported an economy that has been deteriorating since last year, declined in the July-September quarter from the previous quarter for the first time in five quarters.

According to the Cabinet Office's October "economy watchers survey," which polls those working in industries that are highly sensitive to economic conditions, respondents in construction-related businesses in rural areas said the number of public works projects had dwindled significantly.

Under the principle of spending more taxpayers' money on projects closely related to people's lives, rather than on building concrete structures, touted in the DPJ's election slogan of "From concrete to people," the Hatoyama administration is slashing public works projects and shifting its political focus to the direct provision of public funds to the people in the field of welfare, among others.

It is certainly necessary for the government to review the practice of building unnecessary public facilities and relying on public works projects to prop up regional economies. But if the government fails to pay consideration to regional economies hard hit by the recession, they may be dealt a fatal blow.

Given the current serious employment situation, some argued that the child benefits likely will be saved rather than spent if it is distributed across the board, with no relation to household income. If the program is funded by cutting other programs' budgets, the political effects will cancel each other out.

Rather than spending more than 2 trillion yen on the child allowance program, extending the government subsidy program for eco-friendly cars and others, which had a measurable effect in the GDP statistics, might be able to more effectively stimulate consumption using less budget funds. The government must not waste a large amount of budget on projects that have limited economic effects.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 17, 2009)
(2009年11月17日01時21分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月16日 (月)

Hatoyama outlines East Asia bloc

column extracted from the Japan Times








Monday, Nov. 16, 2009

Hatoyama outlines East Asia bloc

Borrowing from 'yu-ai,' key concepts include regional prosperity, environmental cooperation

SINGAPORE (Kyodo) Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Sunday highlighted four key areas of cooperation in his concept for an East Asian community ? regional prosperity, the environment, protecting human life and maritime safety.

Hatoyama indicated the U.S. is a potential member of his envisaged regional grouping, saying in a speech in Singapore, "The presence of the United States has been playing and will continue to play an important role in ensuring the peace and prosperity of Asia, including Japan."

Hatoyama said Japan will speed up negotiations for economic partnership agreements with South Korea, India and Australia, and study the possibilities of talks with other countries as a means to pursuing prosperity in the region.

Hatoyama proposed expanding maritime cooperation in Southeast Asia, such as antipiracy operations in the Strait of Malacca, to other regions as part of efforts to build a "sea of 'yu-ai' (fraternity)," noting that "most regional commerce depends on sea routes."

"The concept behind my initiative for an East Asian community stems from the philosophy of yu-ai," he said. "Within yu-ai, people respect the freedom and human dignity of others just as they respect their own freedom and human dignity. In other words, yu-ai means not only the independence of people but also their coexistence.

"I set this goal because reconciliation in the real sense of the word is not necessarily believed to have been achieved in the region," said Hatoyama, whose two-month-old government attaches great importance to Asian diplomacy.

"This is the current situation, although more than 60 years have passed since Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly on the people of Asian nations."

Hatoyama expressed hope that developing countries will take advantage of advanced energy-saving technologies, water purification techniques and other environment-focused technologies owned by Japanese companies as they aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while pursuing sustainable growth to achieve a "green Asia."

He stressed that countries need to ensure the success of the key U.N. climate change meeting next month in Copenhagen, where the world will try to strike a deal on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Hatoyama said Japan will make a "proactive contribution" to encourage governments and other institutions to register their human and material assets for disaster relief, which would allow the region to conduct more prompt and effective rescue and relief activities in response to disasters.

Along with the four areas, Hatoyama cited nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation, urban issues, social security and cultural exchange as potential fields of regional cooperation.

"There may also be an opportunity for us to discuss possible political cooperation in the future," he said.

"It may be possible that countries with the will and the capabilities to cooperate in a particular field may choose to participate in projects initially, and as their efforts bear fruit, other countries could join later."

While welcoming Washington's commitment to Asia as stated in President Barack Obama's speech in Tokyo on Saturday, Hatoyama carefully avoided speaking about Washington becoming a member of his envisaged East Asian community.

As a framework of future regional cooperation, China envisions a grouping of 13 countries ? Japan, China and South Korea plus the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Japan envisages a wider grouping including Australia, India, New Zealand and possibly the United States.

No to two-isle plan
SINGAPORE (Kyodo) Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday that he will not accept the idea of settling the sovereignty dispute over four Russian-controlled islands off Hokkaido by setting for the return of the two smaller islands.

"The (Japanese) public and us (the government) cannot understand (the idea of) returning two islands. I would like you to show a nonstereotypical approach that goes beyond such an idea," Hatoyama quoted him self as saying at the meeting the Russian president in Singapore.

Medvedev told Hatoyama that Russia truly hopes to advance negotiations on the territorial row while Hatoyama is in office, a Japanese delegation source said.

Hatoyama quoted Medvedev as telling him that Moscow wants to seek a "pragmatic" solution to the dispute without employing an approach based on the thinking of the Cold War era.

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extracted from Mainichi Daily News


(Mainichi Japan) November 16, 2009
Sign of the Times: Transparency needed to help identify flaws in a system

While the case barely received any media coverage in Japan, in September, a certain serial murderer made headlines all over Britain. Surprisingly, the murders took place over five years ago and the murderer has already been arrested. So why all the media attention now?

As it turns out, the perpetrator was mentally ill and the crimes took place because of a series of flaws in the system that treated him.

Peter Bryan, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for three murders and suffers from schizophrenia, was sent to Rampton Secure Hospital after he beat a 20-year-old shop assistant to death with a hammer in 1993. He was discharged in 2001 and moved into a hostel to receive community care. In 2002, however, he assaulted a 17-year-old girl and was once again hospitalized, but in an open ward.

The second murder took place in February 2004. Bryan escaped from his hospital room, killed a 45-year-old acquaintance, chopped his body into pieces, and ate parts of the man's flesh. The case involving "madness" and "cannibalism" sent shockwaves through British society.

Bryan committed his third murder after he was arrested and sent to Broadmoor Hospital, a high-security psychiatric institution, by strangling a 59-year-old fellow inpatient.

Britain requires an independent inquiry under the guidance of the Department of Health when a mentally ill patient receiving treatment commits a crime. On Sept. 3 this year, the National Health Service (NHS) disclosed the results of two investigations that were conducted regarding Bryan's case.

The report states that the series of events were not attributed to errors made by specific individuals, but that they were due to systemic failures.

When Bryan was discharged from the first psychiatric hospital to community care, he only received six months of rehabilitation training, even though the standard program takes two years. In addition, the staff in charge of community care was inexperienced, and was quick to decrease Bryan's medication dosage.

A more experienced expert may have been able to identify the danger Bryan posed at the point at which he assaulted the teenage girl. If Bryan had at least been placed in a high-security institution instead of an open ward, the second murder could have been prevented.

There have been charges of sloppy management against Broadmoor over the murder that took place there. Bryan was not adequately examined upon hospitalization, and when the attack took place in the dining hall there were no staff members present. From the report, it's clear that the system was inexcusably flawed.

But the most important lesson we can take away from this is that the NHS conducted an exhaustive five-year investigation to clarify where the responsibility for the case lies, and made the results available to the public. Upon a quick look through the report, I found that not only did the investigative panel conduct a meticulous inquiry, it also offered 50 detailed recommendations to the respective responsible parties.

British psychiatric care is not, of course, picture-perfect. It suffers from a constant shortage of psychiatrists and high-security hospitals are overflowing with patients who have recovered but cannot be discharged. Furthermore, prisons are filled with mentally ill individuals who are not given treatment.

Even if a system's flaws cannot be corrected right away, however, certain things can still be done. That is, the flaws of a system can be identified, specific ways for improvement laid out, and the information then made public and recorded. In order to bring transparency to a system, efforts to increase visibility and document information are essential.

As non-fiction writer Kunio Yanagida pointed out in his writings about airplane accidents, investigations into crimes and accidents in Japan still tend to focus on finger-pointing. Moreover, information about incidents that involve the mentally ill are generally concealed, citing reasons of privacy. What fills in this dearth of public information are tabloid magazines and tell-all books.

However, systemic accidents -- of which airplane accidents are a typical example -- are a result of a chain of multiple causes. In order to prevent such incidents from taking place, a thorough investigation of systemic glitches -- not the assignment of blame -- is what matters. In that sense, there is much to be learned from the NHS report as a model of systemic inquiry in the mental health field.

Although the crime rate for mentally ill individuals is far lower than that for those who are not mentally ill, the perception that such people are "dangerous" still runs rampant. As it is, there exists the prejudice that crimes committed by the mentally ill are distinct in some way, and hiding information only serves to enhance this view. Information must be made public in order for us to regain tolerance.

The American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz once said, "The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." I'd like to believe that we, as people who are unforgiving but forgetful, need one more effort, if we want to be wise. (By Tamaki Saito, psychiatrist)

(Mainichi Japan) November 16, 2009





















毎日新聞 2009年10月11日 東京朝刊

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私の使っている zmico (seamico) はトップ10の下の方にランクされています。



Tactical Brief:

We continue to maintain our view that as long as the following support levels continue to hold, our target of 780 is maintained:  1020 for the S&P500, 2024 for the NASDAQ, and 9430 for the Dow Jones.  However, if they are broken, then further correction of the SET Index down to the 600 level becomes an increasingly likely possibility.

The release to watch for this week is US Retail Sales.  We believe consumers in the US will continue to be the weakest link in the economy.  And until they recover, the rest of the world will also continue to stall. Last week US consumer credit for the month of September was reported and fell by -$14.8 billion. That marked the eighth consecutive month that consumers pulled back. American consumers continue to believe they are too highly leveraged and are working to pay down debt. Banks are still tightening lending available to consumers and are even pulling existing credit lines from established customers.  Consumer debt as a percent of income is lower than just a few months ago but still way above normal. It peaked at around 136% of income and is now closer to 125%. Things will return to normal only when this figure is able to revert back to the long term average of around 93%.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 14(IHT/Asahi: November 16,2009)
EDITORIAL: Wasteful spending.

A staggering 236.4 billion yen of taxpayer money was spent in wasteful and otherwise questionable ways in fiscal 2008, according to the Board of Audit's recently released report on its investigation into the government's expenditures.
The amount, a record for inappropriate government spending, is larger than the 220 billion yen target for reducing the annual natural increase in social security spending set by the previous Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito coalition government.

This figure only represents the tip of the iceberg of what the watchdog could uncover with its limited-scope investigation. The complete picture would likely be far more disturbing.

One dubious practice known as azuke (depositing) involves keeping budget surpluses at contractors by cooking up fictitious orders. The investigation by the board found that this gimmick was used widely by ministries, agencies, local governments and government-affiliated bodies.
The board also uncovered caches of maizokin (buried money), or the part of funds for effectively finished projects that has been left unspent but has been stashed away without being returned to state coffers.

As usual, the audit found many cases in which private contracts were awarded without competitive bidding to businesses offering cushy jobs to retiring bureaucrats. Such deals typically cost taxpayers a lot more than contracts given through bidding.

Taxpayers should be angry about such outrageous wastes of their money at a time when state finances are in a crisis and people are suffering from a harsh recession.

Eliminating waste and inefficiency in government spending is the most important policy promise made by the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. In line with this pledge, the Government Revitalization Unit, tasked with ferreting out unnecessary and wasteful expenditures, is reviewing hundreds of programs.

Many of the programs identified by the task force as problematic, such as the GX rocket development project, were also criticized by the Board of Audit for inefficiency.

The two systems for scrutiny of government spending should be regarded as essential and mutually reinforcing weapons for eradicating wasteful outlays.

The findings from the board's investigation can be used by the government's team for more effective evaluation of expenditures by government organizations.

However, it is necessary to enhance the board's functions, powers and resources drastically.

Of the inappropriate accounting practices that have been pointed out to date, 481 cases involving 13.1 billion yen remained uncorrected, according to the report.

The government should empower the board to order measures to fix the problems in such cases while establishing punishment for inappropriate accounting practices by government branches and affiliated entities.

To deter wrongdoing involving entire organizations, the government should consider creating a leniency program that grants whistle-blowers exemption from or reduction in punishment.

The board's 1,300-strong workforce should be expanded. One way to accomplish this is to hire more outside experts such as lawyers, prosecutors and certified public accountants who have experience tackling misuse of public funds.

The Board of Audit, established according to the Constitution, is a politically neutral institution independent of the Cabinet.

Neutrality is the most important factor for the effectiveness of the board's operations.

But officials of the board continue to retire into plum jobs at government-affiliated organizations subject to audits by the watchdog. This amakudari practice should stop.

Before the August Lower House election, both the ruling and opposition parties at that time submitted bills to the Upper House to beef up the board. But these bills have all since been scrapped.

We hope the government and the Diet will start afresh working on legislation to strengthen this vital organization.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 14(IHT/Asahi: November 16,2009)
EDITORIAL: Hatoyama, Obama meet.

Two months after their initial meeting in New York, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama held their first substantive meeting on Friday.

The two leaders both achieved change of government by gaining wide public support, and the two are also facing a harsh gap between campaign promises and reality.

Obama is in the midst of trying to convince Congress to back health-care reform. The situation in Afghanistan, which he called the main battleground in the war on terror, has deteriorated and now is turning into a quagmire.

Hatoyama is in the midst of rearranging the national budget to focus more on "people, not concrete." He also finds himself in a difficult position over his campaign promise to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture to a location outside the prefecture, or outside the country.

For the two leaders, the latest meeting was something they could not allow to fail. That is why they pointed to their agreement on a wide range of issues as evidence of success, but put off a resolution of the Futenma issue.

However, that hardly undermines the significance of their meeting.

The Japan-U.S. alliance has "deepened" as the two nations strengthened their cooperation in numerous areas.

For the Hatoyama administration led by his Democratic Party of Japan, the meeting was meaningful because Hatoyama and Obama confirmed two crucial points:
・The fundamentals of Japan's security and foreign policy are based on the alliance with the United States;
・The two countries will continue to be trustworthy alliance partners in dealing with matters of global importance.

In a region witnessing the rise of China's economic and military power, it will benefit both Japan and the United States to cooperate and strengthen their bilateral ties. This cooperation is essential in order to maintain stability and prosperity in the region. No doubt, the two leaders share this common understanding as the foundation of their discussion for a stronger alliance.

China itself hopes for stability in the region. We hope that Obama, when he visits China this month, will speak of a broad regional framework--how the United States, anchored by its good relations with Japan, intends to collaborate with China.

In Friday's talks, Hatoyama and Obama agreed to work together on issues like global warming and realizing a "world without nuclear weapons."

These are also the issues that Hatoyama pushed during his campaign for the Aug. 30 Lower House election.

We understand that the relationship between Japan and the United States, which has previously been focused on security and economic matters, is now entering a new phase. The Japanese voting public will no doubt welcome this. We hope this becomes the starting point of a new kind of alliance in the 21st century.

An alliance must be a relationship backed and trusted by the people of both countries.

In this sense, it is meaningful that a minister-level working group has been set up to review the existing agreement on the relocation of Air Station Futenma.

This will allow Japan to discuss the issue with the United States backed by the public mandate given to the Hatoyama administration. The focus of the committee's discussions will be the issue of whether or not there is no other relocation option other than Henoko, as was agreed to three years ago.

Hatoyama directly explained to Obama the difficulties of the Futenma issue. At the same time, he also expressed his intentions to resolve the situation as soon as possible. We hope the prime minister keeps his word while tackling the problem, with the understanding that this is something that strikes at the core of the alliance.

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coffee break

ギター曲はスラチャイの編曲です。 1番のフォーレのロマンスはピアノ曲ですが、フォーレが若干18才で作曲した名曲です。 ↓ http://www.geocities.jp/srachai2000/coffee.htm  

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APEC 危機後の成長戦略をどう描く

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 16, 2009)
APEC growth strategy needed in postcrisis era
APEC 危機後の成長戦略をどう描く(11月16日付・読売社説)

Leaders of Pacific Rim economies have hammered out a vision for strengthening their unity to realize sustainable growth in the region in the post-financial crisis era.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum ended its two-day summit meeting in Singapore on Sunday. The leaders of its members--21 countries and regions, including Japan, China and the United States--adopted a joint declaration and a joint statement concerning the regional economic growth.

The most significant point of the latest summit meeting was that the joint declaration stipulates that the APEC leaders will draw up a comprehensive long-term economic growth strategy next year, when Japan chairs APEC meetings. The declaration also stressed that the leaders will maintain economic stimulus policies until a durable economic recovery has clearly taken hold.

APEC is a gigantic economic bloc that accounts for half of global gross domestic product. Led by APEC as the center of growth, the global financial crisis has finally got out of the worst.


Asia overreliant on U.S.

However, prospects for a full-fledged economic recovery remain uncertain. The Asia-Pacific economies, therefore, expressed their resolve to strengthen cooperation and serve as an engine to drive the global economy after overcoming the crisis.

The joint statement on a "new growth paradigm" envisages future growth that is compatible with global climate change efforts, and balanced growth.

Asian countries allowed the financial crisis to worsen by remaining heavily dependent on exports to the United States, a country that consumes more than it needs. Also, economic disparities have widened in the region. All these lessons are behind the adoption of the joint statement.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama emphasized his proposal of making global-warming countermeasures part of the the region's growth strategy. At the summit meeting, the leaders also agreed on the importance of seeking a political agreement on a post-Kyoto Protocol framework to tackle global warming.

What kind of new growth strategy will APEC, which includes the United States and China--the largest carbon dioxide emitters--as its members, come up with? The leadership of Japan, the next APEC chair, will be severely tested on this point.


Free trade area envisaged

The joint declaration also rejects protectionism and stipulates that APEC leaders will continue to explore ways to build a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific that covers APEC.

The declaration marks a step forward for APEC, apparently reflecting the stance of U.S. President Barack Obama of putting importance on Asia.

In the Asia-Pacific region, various ideas for economic cooperation, including Hatoyama's pet concept of an East Asian community, exist. The most important thing is to promote open regional cooperation that includes the United States. A road map is needed for the realization of the large free trade zone concept.

The trade and investment liberalization that APEC agreed upon must be steadily implemented to this end. Concrete progress should be made by the end of 2010, a year targeted by APEC's more developed members to achieve the liberalization.

In addition, it is also important that APEC play a leading role in settling the stalled Doha Round of free trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization by the end of next year.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 16, 2009)
(2009年11月16日00時57分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月15日 (日)

coffee break




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coffee break

  Coffee Break (midi file no.1 to no.13)
  I will present my favorite midi music to those who might be tired in editing postings.
  I play classical guitar and the attached midi music are for classical guitar except romance by Faure.
  Thank you.
  (1) Romance by G.Faure (France)
  (2) Yesterday by the Beatles (England)
  (3) Killing me softly with his song by words:norman gimbel music:charles fox (U.S.A. ?)
  (4) Un Sueno En La Floresta by Agustin Pio Barrios Mangore  (1885-1944)(Paraguay?)
  (5) Angostura-Vals Venezolano(Venezuelan Walts) by Antonio Lauro  (1917-1986)(Venezuela)
  (6) Pavane-Capricho, Op.12 (Guitar arr. by Tarrega) by ALBENIZ, Isaac (1860-1909) (Spain)
  (7) Sor-study no.19 (selected by Andress Segovia) op.29-no.13  by Fernando Sor (1778-1839)(Spain)
  (8) Pavane for a Dead Princess by Joseph Maurice Ravel  (1875-1937)(France)
  (9) Dedicatoria by Enrique Granados  (1867-1916) (Spain)
  (10) Prelude No 5 - A419/5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos  (1887-1959) (Brazil)
  (11) Js Bach-suite for unaccompanied cello no.6 in D, bwv 1012 by Johan Sevastian Bach  (1685-1750) (Germany)
  (12) Pastral by Joaquin Rodrigo  (Joaquin Rodrigo)  (1901-1999)(Spain)
  (13) Prelude no.1 by Manuel Maria Ponce  (1882-1948)(Mexico)


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Japan central to Asia plans, Obama says

column extracted from Japan Times




Sunday, Nov. 15, 2009

Japan central to Asia plans, Obama says
U.S. also hopes to strengthen China relations

Staff writer

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed Saturday in Tokyo his firm intention to build strong ties with Asia while stressing that the alliance with Japan lies at the center of his policy for the region.

But Obama also made it clear he will focus on strengthening ties with China ? a bilateral relationship that is often a source of concern in Japan ? and encouraged Beijing to play a greater role in the international community.

On the last day of his two-day stay in Tokyo, Obama for the first time gave a comprehensive overview of his Asia policy at Suntory Hall in Minato Ward.

Aiming to dispel recent concerns over the Japan-U.S. military alliance, Obama reiterated how much Washington values the bilateral relationship, stressing it is the foundation of "security and prosperity" for the two nations.

"Since taking office, I have worked to renew American leadership and pursue a new era of engagement with the world based on mutual interests and mutual respect," Obama said.

"And our efforts in the Asia-Pacific will be rooted, in no small measure, through an enduring and revitalized alliance between the United States and Japan."

The mood at the Suntory Hall was welcoming, and Obama drew laughter from the audience as he recalled visiting Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, as a young boy and being more interested in "maccha" ice cream than in seeing the great Amida Buddha.

Obama, who was born in Hawaii and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, stressed the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the U.S.

"Asia and the United States are not separated by this great ocean ? we are bound by it," Obama said.

Obama said all nations, including Iran and North Korea, should fulfill their responsibilities in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.

He urged the North to return to the six-party talks and called on Pyongyang to disclose details of the Japanese abductees.

"Working in tandem with our partners, supported by direct diplomacy, the United States is prepared to offer North Korea a different future," Obama said.

Pointing out China's rapidly developing economy, Obama said other countries should not view its expansion with fear.

"The United States does not seek to contain China, nor does a deeper relationship with China mean a weakening of our bilateral alliances" with other countries, Obama said.

"On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations."

But at the same time, he strongly expressed his intention to take a critical stance on human rights issues in China.

The U.S. and China "will not agree on every issue, and the United States will never waver in speaking up for the fundamental values that we hold dear ? and that includes respect for the religion and cultures of all people ? because support for human rights and human dignity is ingrained in America," Obama said. "But we can move these discussions forward in a spirit of partnership rather than rancor."

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香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「理想の自分」こだわらず /東京

(Mainichi Japan) November 15, 2009
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「理想の自分」こだわらず /東京
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The danger of a virtual self

There's been a case in the news lately of a woman possibly defrauding men while hinting she would marry them, with the victims dying under mysterious circumstances.
A weekly magazine recently carried blog entries and submissions to online recipe sites said to be written by the same woman. Reading these texts, I was surprised at the consistency of the worldview and self-image they revealed.

Describing herself as an "elegant, wealthy woman who loves her dog and her family, and cooks using high-grade, seasonal ingredients," she described a life of eating lunch in top class restaurants, getting her hair done at famous salons, and ordering cooking ingredients from well-known shops, complete with photographs.

Now, as it appears that behind all this pleasantness this woman was committing fraud, everything she wrote becomes suspicious. If, however, one read these things without knowing of her possible criminal activity, one might think, "Wow, there really are some elegant and pure-hearted ladies out there." That's how thoroughly her diary entries and recipes paint the picture of a woman given naturally to a wealthy lifestyle.

It seems to me likely that this picture she created online is the person she truly thought herself to be.

She cooked, took trips and studied in seminars for the sole purpose of writing these experiences on the Web site. However, when one thinks of where the money for all this came from ...

If only she had been the type to include her dreams and aspirations in her entries. If she had only wrote, "I went to a three-star restaurant today," there would have been no need for any money.

Perhaps she had established a rule for herself, that she must record the restaurants and so on she had been to in her diary. Perhaps she couldn't stand posting daydreams online.

At the moment, blogging is very widespread, and bloggers use a little technical expertise to increase their page views. If, however, you write as the person you wished you were, then at some point you may have to become that person in order to protect the image you've created.

Real people's lives and lifestyles are not nearly so consistent. Kind people have cruel sides, and refined people can be concealing vulgarity.

Of course, I'm not saying that blogs are the cause of her alleged crimes. But she may serve as one example of how fussing too much over an ideal version of ourselves and our lives can take us in unexpected directions.

If you are a compulsive blogger, then I think taking a break and occasional changes in content and tone are just about right. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2009年11月10日 地方版

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 13(IHT/Asahi: November 14,2009)
EDITORIAL: Hisaya Morishige dies.

Hisaya Morishige, an actor who was capable of playing a great variety of roles, died Tuesday.

At times, he was known to have his audience in stitches with his light and comical acting. At other times, he depicted the joys and sorrows of ordinary people full of tender human feelings.

Morishige could play the part of a dignified politician just as well as that of a lazy husband dependent on his wife. He was also a good talker and skillful writer.

With his magnanimity and profundity as an actor, Morishige continued to reflect postwar Japanese society.

After dropping out of Waseda University, Morishige joined the Toho theatrical company and was called up for military service in 1938. Because of an ear disease, he was soon discharged. He went to Manchuria in northeastern China the following year as an announcer of Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK).

He was there when Japan lost the war.

After the war, he returned to acting and attracted public attention as a talented comedian on a radio show.

Morishige made his name on the silver screen with "Santo Juyaku" (Third-class executive) released in 1952. In it, he played a happy-go-lucky section chief who helps an employee who became president after his predecessor stepped down to take responsibility for supporting the war effort.

Later, Morishige starred in the "Shacho" (company president) series that continued until the early 1970s. Comically depicting company workers, the shows fueled the golden age of Japanese cinema.

Since the mid-1960s, Morishige had appeared on many television home dramas, playing the parts of a grandfather or a father who was the mainstay of the family.

In the 1973 film "Kokotsu no Hito" (A person in a state of ecstasy), Morishige gave a realistic performance of an old man suffering from dementia. It was decades before society started to seriously address the problem of nursing care.

Morishige portrayed cheerful and energetic company workers during a period of high economic growth, fathers when society sought new images of the family, and then showed the reality of an aging society.

He was active in radio, movies and television, each of which was the most influential medium at the time.

As a stage actor, Morishige was probably best known for his performance in the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," giving 900 performances from 1967. His portrayal of a Jewish father in czarist Russia struck a chord with Japanese audiences.
In 1982, the musical successfully completed a long run for six months, which was unusual at that time. Morishige was also one of the actors who built the foundation of the musical boom today.

In 1991, Morishige became the first actor of modern theater to be awarded the Order of Culture. Unlike such established traditional art forms as Kabuki and Noh, modern drama is a form of entertainment for ordinary contemporary people.
Morishige positioned modern drama as an authoritative form of performing art.

When he received the order, he said, "The doors to the 21st century have opened," underscoring his self-pride and deep emotion.

Morishige's starting point was based on his harsh wartime experience of returning to Japan from Manchuria. He later repeatedly spoke and wrote about how he lived with a fear of death.

In his autobiography, he wrote that he built his own grave using the money he received for his first starring role in a film, which was released in 1950.

"I picked up the second half of my life and I wanted to at least properly prepare my resting place," he wrote.

It has nearly been 60 years since then. The curtain has finally dropped on Morishige's "illustrious and leisurely" life that he envisioned. He was 96. What a spectacular life.

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 13(IHT/Asahi: November 14,2009)
EDITORIAL: New aid to Afghanistan.

In a new assistance package for Afghanistan, the government has pledged up to $5 billion (about 450 billion yen) over five years for a range of civilian aid programs, such as job training for former Taliban fighters and enhancing the capabilities of the police force.

The security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating steadily. The United States is considering sending additional troops. Improving the situation with military power alone would seem like a tall order. That explains growing expectations by the United States and European nations for civilian aid from Japan to help rebuild the war-torn nation.

Because of the war raging in Afghanistan, Japan is unable to commit substantial human resources for aid activities. The government's decision to provide financial support for civilian assistance is eminently reasonable.

The former coalition government led by the Liberal Democratic Party dispatched Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to the Indian Ocean to refuel the ships of allied forces targeting terrorists in Afghanistan. The new administration led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama plans to discontinue the mission in January. Given the fact that demand for refueling has been falling, there is a strong case for the decision, which is in line with an election promise made by Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan.

But some people say the decision amounts to "checkbook diplomacy." Critics contend that the refueling mission was intended to help international efforts in thwarting terrorists and that Japan's assistance was valued by the United States. They argue that Japan cannot make a meaningful contribution to such efforts only by providing money while bringing its troops home.

The criticism may be a reflection of sensitivities that were aroused when Japan was roundly criticized for offering only financial assistance--albeit a large amount--when the Persian Gulf War flared 18 years ago.

But the criticism is off the mark. Japan should consider and decide on its own what it can and should do to help restore stability in Afghanistan, instead of acting in response to pressures from other countries. With Japan's military role in Afghanistan restricted by its pacifist Constitution, the best it can do is to provide as much civilian assistance as possible.

Japan can be proud of its past achievements concerning civilian aid to Afghanistan. Long before the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, Japan was providing technical support to ensure cities had stable supplies of drinking water and helping rice farming activities. The lessons learned from those experiences are being put to effective use for projects now being pushed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and others.

Japan's long-term commitment to helping efforts to rebuild Afghanistan will contribute to eliminating the root causes of terrorism. Civilian aid from Japan will also give indirect support to military efforts by the United States and other countries deploying troops to the landlocked country. That was why the White House press secretary immediately issued a statement welcoming Tokyo's promise of fresh aid to Afghanistan.

But the amount--$5 billion--does not represent specific spending plans. Apparently, the government hastily decided on the figure to placate President Barack Obama ahead of his visit to Japan over its decision to terminate the refueling mission.

To ensure that Japan's financial aid will not be consumed by rampant corruption in the government in Kabul headed by President Hamid Karzai, Tokyo needs to develop careful aid plans and closely monitor how the funds are spent.

The government should provide taxpayers with a convincing explanation about the importance of this costly aid package. It should also take effective steps to make Japan's contribution to Afghanistan's reconstruction known widely in the international community.

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オバマ演説 アジア戦略の要は日米同盟だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 15, 2009)
Japan-U.S. alliance key to Asian peace, prosperity
オバマ演説 アジア戦略の要は日米同盟だ(11月15日付・読売社説)

U.S. President Barack Obama stressed in a speech he delivered in Tokyo, the first leg of his Asian tour, on Saturday that the United States places great importance on Asia and will actively engage in addressing issues across the region.

Obama stated that the Asia-Pacific region is a "vitally important part of the world" and that the United States is committed to the region's future.

The words were an indication of Obama's eagerness to secure stability and prosperity in Asia under U.S. initiatives.

Recovery from the global recession hinges very much on the economies of Asia, the largest region in the world recording significant growth. Economic trends in the region, which purchases about 25 percent of the United States' merchandise exports, have a decisive impact on the U.S. economy and employment.

At the same time, the United States currently is facing many challenges it cannot overcome without cooperation with Asian nations, including North Korea's nuclear development, the ever-deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, energy security and global warming countermeasures.


Hatoyama must improve ties

In Saturday's speech, Obama clarified his position on the Japan-U.S. alliance, saying it is the foundation for strengthening U.S. engagement with the whole of Asia.

Obama and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama agreed during their summit talks Friday to deepen and develop the Japan-U.S. alliance. Hatoyama must, however, exercise leadership to improve this key relationship, which appears to be somewhat strained.

The United States is watching its influence in Asia ebb away as an emergent China increases its influence in the region. Obama's speech apparently came about as a result of his concern regarding this situation.

On U.S. relations with China, Obama said in the speech, "Cultivating spheres of cooperation--not competing spheres of influence--will lead to progress in the Asia-Pacific." And he added, "The United States does not seek to contain China."

Obama also said Washington will work to further deepen its strategic and economic dialogues with Beijing as well as to improve communication between their militaries.


Greater U.S. role in Asia?

A key focus of attention is on what measures Obama will come up with to strengthen the U.S. relationship with China during meetings with Chinese leaders in Beijing this week.

In Asia, there have been various initiatives put forward that seek to strengthen cooperation among the region's nations, such as Hatoyama's proposal for the creation of an East Asia community, and China's call for an East Asia free trade area.

In his speech, Obama referred to the United States more formally engaging with the East Asia Summit, in what was apparently a strategic move aimed at seeing the United States participate in the forum.

As for North Korea, the largest destabilizing factor in the East Asian region, Obama sought a return by Pyongyang to the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the nation and to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. He also said the United States is committed to firmly maintaining sanctions on North Korea until it meets its international obligations.

As for the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean agents, Obama said that "full normalization with its neighbors can only come if Japanese families receive a full accounting of those who have been abducted."

With a U.S.-North Korea dialogue looming, this is a powerful message that makes it clear Tokyo and Washington stand as one on this issue. Japan and the United States need to achieve results together through an unshakable Japan-U.S. alliance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 15, 2009)
(2009年11月15日00時22分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月14日 (土)




srachai from khonkaen, thailand

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Obama, Hatoyama prioritize alliance

extracted from Japan Times


Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009

Obama, Hatoyama prioritize alliance
Cooperation on nuke arms, emissions; no Futenma deal

Staff writer

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama vowed Friday to bolster the bilateral alliance and cooperate on pressing global issues, including climate change and nuclear disarmament.

The two also touched on the sensitive relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa. The issue has cast a shadow on bilateral relations. They said it was their common goal to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Earlier this week, the two governments decided to form a ministerial-level working group to find a way to resolve the issue, just in time to avoid direct conflict at the summit.

The working group "will focus on the implementation of the agreement that our two governments reached with respect to the restructuring of the U.S. forces in Okinawa, and we hope to complete this work expeditiously," Obama said during a joint news conference. "Our goal remains the same ? and that is to provide for the defense of Japan with minimal intrusion on the lives of the people who share the space."

But the contentious relocation of the Futenma base continues to loom over the Hatoyama administration.

In 2006, the then Liberal Democratic Party-led government signed a bilateral agreement with the U.S. to move the Futenma base's flight operations in Ginowan to U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab in Nago on the northern part of Okinawa Island by 2014.

But Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan, which came to power in August amid a strong wave of anti-LDP sentiment, has promised to consider moving the base outside the prefecture or even outside Japan.

Obama arrived at Tokyo's Haneda airport aboard Air Force One earlier in the day on his first official trip to Japan. He will depart Saturday for Singapore to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit.

"I began my trip here in Tokyo because the alliance between the United States and Japan is a foundation for security and prosperity not just for our two countries but for the Asia-Pacific region," Obama said.

With the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. security treaty coming up next year, the two leaders promised to strengthen the bilateral ties to aim for a "world without nuclear weapons."

"I told Obama that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the foundation of everything in regards to Japan's diplomacy," Hatoyama said. "But the times and the situation of the world have changed and I suggested to further advance and develop the alliance, to create a constructive and future-oriented new Japan-U.S. alliance."

During the evening talks at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, Hatoyama and Obama issued a joint statement, pledging the two governments to work closely toward nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize last month for his vision of a nuclear-free world.

The statement declared that North Korea and Iran should "uphold and adhere to their respective international obligations." Pointing out Pyongyang's recent missile launches and nuclear test, the joint statement stressed, "North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons remains a major threat to peace and stability in Northeast Asia and the entire international community."

Japan and the U.S. also urged North Korea "to return immediately to the six-party (Pyongyang denuclearization) talks without precondition."

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日米漂流:オバマ大統領来日を前に/下 温室ガス数値目標

(Mainichi Japan) November 13, 2009
Japan, U.S. grow apart over efforts to tackle global warming
日米漂流:オバマ大統領来日を前に/下 温室ガス数値目標

 ◇「25%減」表明に冷淡 関心は新興国の動向
A representative of the Japanese government urged that the base year for setting targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions not be limited to 1990 during a U.N. special working group meeting in Barcelona on Nov. 6.

The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama earlier announced that Japan will seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The base year for both targets is 1990.
The United States, which demands that the base year should be set at 2005, expressed support for Japan's demand that the base year should not be limited to 1990.

Washington's demand was incorporated in proposals for the draft of green house gas reduction targets -- which parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change are aiming to agree on at an upcoming ministerial conference on climate change in Copenhagen next month.

The United States would be required to reduce its emissions less if the base year is set at any year after 1990, because its emissions have been growing since that year.

An official of a nongovernmental organization on environmental protection expressed disappointment at the move. "Once again, Japan follows the United States."

Japan set a target of reducing per-capita greenhouse gas emissions to 3 tons annually following the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

Tokyo then notified the United States of its numerical target.
The previous administration of Prime Minister Taro Aso announced in June this year that it would aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent from 2005 levels. It followed the United States in setting the base year at 2005.

However, the Hatoyama administration's announcement that Japan will seek to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels has demonstrated a major change in Japan-U.S. relations in the field of global warming countermeasures.

The move was appreciated by the United Nations and European countries while Washington remained silent about Japan's declaration.

When asked about Japan's target during a special working group meeting in Bangkok in late September, U.S. chief negotiator Jonathan Pershing coolly replied that he had not yet analyzed the target.

Even though Japanese representatives made remarks in favor of Washington at the Barcelona meeting, U.S. negotiators did not appreciate the Hatoyama initiative, which includes measures to extend assistance to developing countries to help them reduce greenhouse gases.

"The United States had viewed Japan as an ally. However, after listening to Prime Minister Hatoyama's speech, U.S. officials thought Japan is distancing itself from Washington," said a high-ranking official of the Foreign Ministry.

In a meeting on greenhouse gases on Nov. 4, members of the U.S. House of Representatives diplomatic panel focused on a response to emerging countries such as China and India.

U.S. climate change special envoy Todd Stern warned that the United States would lose out to competition from emerging countries such as China and India in developing alternative energy sources, pointing to the possibility that technological innovation would occur in these countries.

Yutaka Miki, chief researcher for a strategy on combating global warming at the Japan Research Institute, pointed out that the U.S. government pays more attention to China than Japan over global warming countermeasures.
"The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to ensure an anti-global warming bill passes into law. It is paying attention to Chinese industry, a potential rival of its domestic market," he said.

Tokyo is attempting to take the initiative in combating global warming by setting such an ambitious target and getting major producers of greenhouse gases, such as the United States and China, involved in the process. However, Washington does not appear to be paying attention to Japan as the two countries grow apart.

"The actions of China, which Congress is paying attention to, is the most important point for President Obama. At the Japan-U.S. summit, the two leaders will likely agree to cooperate in the field of energy and in efforts to form a consensus in the COP15, but the content of the agreement will not be substantive," a diplomatic source lamented.

Even though bilateral relations have been strained over U.S. bases in Japan and other sticky issues, it should be easy for the two countries to cooperate on environmental issues such as global warming countermeasures.

However, Japan and the United States do not appear to be working closely in leading the deadlocked multilateral negotiations on climate change. (By Junko Adachi and Ai Oba, Environment and Science News Department. This is the last part of a five-part series on the Japan-U.S. alliance)

毎日新聞 2009年11月12日 東京朝刊

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 12(IHT/Asahi: November 13,2009)
EDITORIAL: Hatoyama-Obama talks.

A year ago, Barack Obama, who will visit Japan on Friday, won the U.S. presidential election with his slogan of "change." Since he took office in January, Obama has come up with a number of innovative domestic and foreign policies.


International society is watching with interest how Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who also took the reins of government this year, will open new horizons in Japan-U.S. relations together with President Obama.

Both administrations plan to promote multilateral cooperative diplomacy while attaching importance to such global issues as climate change and nuclear disarmament.

We urge both leaders to confirm a solid alliance and draw a vision that is considerably different from the one embraced by the administrations of George W. Bush and the Liberal Democratic Party.

However, the proposed relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, has become a sticking point in the alliance. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates pressed the Japanese government to relocate the facility to Henoko in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, as agreed upon three years ago.
But both Japan and the United States do not plan to make the Futenma issue a major item on the agenda at their summit.  だが、その同盟ののど元に太いとげがささっている。米海兵隊の普天間飛行場の移設問題だ。ゲーツ国防長官は、大統領来日までに3年前の合意通り名護市辺野古への移設を受け入れるよう迫ったが、日米とも今回の首脳会談では主要な議題にしない方針だ。

Instead, they decided to seek an early settlement in a ministerial working group. We also think it would be unwise to complicate the summit with this problem.

Yet, the situation is becoming increasingly serious. While the Okinawa governor and Nago mayor are ready to accept the relocation to Henoko, the change of government gave new hope to Okinawa citizens and Nago residents who want Futenma's functions to be transferred outside the prefecture. They are also growing impatient with Hatoyama, who has still not made a decision.

Meanwhile, the dangerous situation of Futenma must be eliminated immediately. If no decision is made concerning the issue, one piece in the reorganization of U.S. forces, all plans to alleviate Okinawa's burden of hosting U.S. military bases, such as the return of Futenma and the relocation of Marines to Guam, would stall.

Hatoyama should frankly explain the difficulty and complexity of the problem when he meets Obama. Instead of avoiding the issue, the leaders should seriously exchange views because the issue affects the very foundation of the alliance.

Whatever decision Hatoyama makes, considerable political energy is needed to change the actual situation. Both leaders need to show a strong political will to settle the problem as soon as possible.

In an interview with Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK), Obama said it was "perfectly appropriate" for the Hatoyama administration to review the Futenma relocation plan. But he also expressed hope that Tokyo will ultimately follow through on the agreement.

Policies may change when a new administration takes over, leading to friction with allies. The maintenance of the Japan-U.S. alliance in an age of government change is now being tested.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Work to redefine the Japan-U.S. alliance in the 21st century and the division of roles started when governments changed hands in both countries. We hope the summit will befit this important occasion.

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日米首脳会談 同盟深化へ「普天間」の決着急げ

英字新聞紙上でさいきんwhatever it (verb)の構文をよくみかけるが文法的に理解できない。
whatever which/that (verb)
whatever (verb)

We urge Hatoyama to give serious consideration once again to the significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and do whatever it takes to solve the Futenma relocation problem.

We urge Hatoyama to give serious consideration once again to the significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and do whatever which (that) takes to solve the Futenma relocation problem.

We urge Hatoyama to give serious consideration once again to the significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and do whatever  takes to solve the Futenma relocation problem.

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 14, 2009)
Settle Futenma issue to deepen alliance
日米首脳会談 同盟深化へ「普天間」の決着急げ(11月14日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and visiting U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday agreed to begin talks to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance in a multilayered way next year, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

This agreement to deepen the alliance means Tokyo and Washington cannot continue to shy away from discussing the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture. The government should not simply allow this issue to fester, but decide to implement the current plan and settle the issue by the end of this year.

The bilateral treaty is based on an interdependent relationship in which Japan allows U.S. forces to be stationed here in return for a commitment to defend this country.

Japan was a member of the Western bloc during the period of confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. After the Cold War, Japan sought to contribute to peace in Asia and the rest of the world through the Japan-U.S. alliance. Japan's economic growth during this period depended largely on Japan-U.S. cooperation in a wide variety of fields, again based on the alliance.

Reinforcement of the Japan-U.S. alliance will serve Japan's national interests in the future--just as it has in the past.


Agreements reached

Hatoyama and Obama also announced written agreements on measures to tackle global warming--which included efforts by both countries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050--and on working with each other to realize "a world without nuclear weapons."

Global issues such as the environment and nuclear nonproliferation are the policy areas on which Tokyo and Washington are working most closely at present.
We hope their close ties in these fields can produce concrete results.

The agreements at the latest Japan-U.S. summit meeting should not end up as mere diplomatic lip service. Further efforts will be needed to continue cooperation between Japan and the United States in a wide variety of fields.

How should Japan and the United States cooperate and act to maintain global stability and prosperity? Both countries will need to exchange ideas thoughtfully and deepen their strategic discussions.

Obama is expected to visit Japan again next autumn to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit meeting scheduled to be held in Yokohama. This will be a golden opportunity to compile the results of the strategic talks into a new joint document that will succeed the 1996 joint declaration on security.

The two sides staged amicable summit talks in Tokyo on Friday, with both agreeing that Obama's visit to Japan could not be allowed to be viewed as a failure.

However, it is undeniable that Japan-U.S. relations have been strained in recent times. Hatoyama's inability to quickly settle the Futenma base relocation issue has been the biggest destablilizing factor on bilateral ties.


Group must achieve results

The two governments have agreed to set up a ministerial-level working group to intensively discuss this issue. But the working group should not be used as an excuse to keep kicking this can down the road.

In their talks, the two leaders agreed to reach an early conclusion at the working group. "I understand it will become more difficult to resolve the issue the longer we wait," Hatoyama told Obama during their talks.
We hope the working group, which will start discussions next week, will reach an early conclusion as the two leaders agreed.

Many observers believe that if the issue remains unsettled by the end of the year, the current plan to relocate the Futenma airfield to Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, will effectively be deadlocked.

If the cost of the relocation is not earmarked in the fiscal 2010 budget to be compiled at the year-end, momentum to realize the plan will be lost in both Japan and the United States.

This will also raise the prospects that the U.S. Congress will slash the budget for relocating 8,000 U.S. marines stationed in Okinawa Prefecture to Guam.

An increasing number of people in Okinawa Prefecture are calling for Futenma Air Station to be moved outside the prefecture. This change in local sentiment has been aroused by Hatoyama's unwillingness to rule out such an option, saying it is necessary to respect the "consensus of the people in the prefecture." However, Hatoyama has not presented any concrete proposal to resolve this issue.

A Nago mayoral election is scheduled for January. If the incumbent mayor, who supports the present relocation plan, loses in the election, it could derail the Futenma relocation project.

It is essential to prevent the result of one mayoral election from having serious ramifications on the security of the entire nation.

Hatoyama must respect the agreement with Obama and urgently make a decision on this issue--a task he should complete as the head of the government.


National security at stake

The original purpose of realigning U.S. forces stationed in Japan was to maintain the U.S. deterrent while, at the same time, lessening the burden shouldered by municipalities and residents hosting U.S. bases. We think the Hatoyama government should go back to the drawing board and rectify its policies that give excessive consideration to reducing the burdens on local communities.

Japan currently faces the most serious security situation in recent years: North Korea is relentlessly pursuing nuclear and missile development programs, China is rapidly building up its military and threats from international terrorists are becoming ever greater.
The presence of U.S. forces in Japan has served as a powerful deterrent against all manner of contingencies. It is important to face up to this reality.

The United States provides Japan with intelligence when North Korea is preparing to launch ballistic missiles or when it detects suspicious troop movements on the Korean Peninsula, for example. This information is not provided just because of the joint security treaty.

Japan and the United States have forged a relationship of trust through ceaseless efforts over many years, such as bilateral defense cooperation and expanded international peacekeeping activities by the Self-Defense Forces.

We urge Hatoyama to give serious consideration once again to the significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and do whatever it takes to solve the Futenma relocation problem.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 14, 2009)
(2009年11月14日01時11分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月13日 (金)


extracted from Japan Times






Emperor marks 20th year of reign

Celebrates anniversary with renewed call for global peace, plea not to forget wartime sacrifices

Staff writer

Emperor Akihito on Thursday voiced his deep anticipation for global peace, saying new generations must not forget the sacrifices made during the war.

News photo
Aglow: Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko wave lanterns before a crowd at an event at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Thursday to mark the 20th anniversary of the Emperor's enthronement. KYODO PHOTO

"Sixty-four years have passed since the war ended, and three out of every four Japanese now were born after the war," the Emperor said at a ceremony in Tokyo to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his coronation.

"It must not be forgotten that today's Japan is built on huge sacrifices, and it is important for this country's future to pass that on to those born after the war," he said.

Reflecting during the government-sponsored ceremony on the last two decades, the Emperor expressed condolences for those who have suffered in natural disasters, including the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. He chose the collapse of the Soviet Union as the most memorable incident that took place overseas, saying he felt it would lead to the formation of "a more transparent world."

"But the world after that did not become peaceful as the people had waited for in hope," he said. "It is important for all nations to cooperate and continue working together, so that people can mutually enjoy peace and prosperity."

The Emperor formally ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on Nov. 12, 1990, after his father, Emperor Hirohito (known posthumously as Emperor Showa), died on Jan. 7, 1989. Thursday's commemorative event took place at the National Theater of Japan in Chiyoda Ward and saw top government officials express their best wishes for the Emperor and Empress Michiko.

"I sincerely express my congratulations as the representative of the Japanese public," Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in his address.

Hatoyama touched on the Emperor's visit to quake-struck Niigata in 2004, saying the Imperial Couple for the past two decades have walked hand-in-hand with the public. The prime minister also said he was deeply moved by the Emperor's 2005 visit to war memorials in Saipan and his prayers for victims of war.

"We renewed our pledge again for peace" after the historic visit, Hatoyama said.

Thursday's ceremony was attended by more than 600 lawmakers, as well as Supreme Court justices and former prime ministers.

Ricardo Paredes, El Salvador's ambassador to Japan, gave a congratulatory speech as dean of the diplomatic corps.

"Your majesty in the 20 years as Emperor has guided and inspired the Japanese nation through several major events that have impacted the global order of things," Paredes said. "The entire world admires the contributions of your majesty."

No succession talk
Kyodo News

The government is not currently studying if the Imperial House Law, which only allows male heirs to succeed to the Chrysanthemum Throne, should be revised, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said Thursday.

"We are not currently discussing the issue," he told reporters, declining to say if an amendment was needed.

The Imperial family currently has 23 members, but only seven princes are in line to the throne, of whom Prince Hisahito, 3, is the Emperor's only grandson. Prince Hisahito is third in line after Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino, the Emperor's sons.

In November 2005, a government panel on the Imperial succession submitted a report that proposed allowing females and their descendants to ascend to the throne by revising the current law enacted in 1947. An amended law would allow Princess Aiko, 7, the daughter of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, to become the first female monarch since the 18th century

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 11(IHT/Asahi: November 12,2009)
EDITORIAL: Budget project review.

In moving to draw up the draft budget for next fiscal year, the Government Revitalization Unit starts work to categorize and review selected public projects.

Can this panel succeed in identifying wasteful budget expenditures and engineer the transition "from concrete to people" envisioned by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama? The outcome on this front will directly influence public opinion of the new administration.

Diet members from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, local government officials, economists and other private-sector experts are serving as the reviewers. They will hold discussions with bureaucrats in charge of each program to scrutinize the necessity of individual projects.

The goal is to slash 3 trillion yen from the record 95-trillion-yen budgetary requests from ministries and agencies for fiscal 2010. Under the review gun are 447 projects, or about 15 percent of all government endeavors. The panel's judgments will also be applied to other similar projects not on the review list.

Some projects are prone to be summarily dismissed as wasteful. However, each is characterized by its own reasons and objectives that benefit certain parties.

Projects will be assessed from the following points of view: Do the effects warrant the outlays? Is there any overlap with other projects within the bureaucratic sectionalism? Are the projects really necessary amid the current fiscal pinch? Should the programs be consigned to local governments or the private sector?
In pursuing this end, the panel members must have the insight not to swallow every explanation given by the bureaucrats.

Assigned this formidable task are seven DPJ Diet legislators headed by Yukio Edano, former chairman of the DPJ's now-disbanded Policy Research Committee, along with 56 private-sector experts and others.

These members must mobilize their specialized knowledge in respective fields while simultaneously determining if the projects are credible from the perspective of ordinary people.

Questions on the necessity of a project will also prompt reviews of the political systems used to determine the specific programs and the organizations that perform the work. Rather than merely cutting expenditures to meet the numerical target, the government should hold debate that leads to meaningful administrative reform.

The Finance Ministry, which had single-handedly scrutinized the budget requests, provided full cooperation in selecting the projects for reviewing. In the review phase as well, budget bureau officials will attend and express their views. All this work will go for naught, however, if the process becomes a front for Finance Ministry-driven budget cuts. To prevent this, independent initiatives of the reviewers are of the utmost importance.

Whether the results of the reviews are directly reflected in the draft budget rests on the final judgment of the Government Revitalization Unit, chaired by Hatoyama.

In examining the allocation of tax revenues to local governments, the government share of compulsory education expenses, host-nation support for U.S. military forces in Japan and other issues, attention will focus on the judgments delivered by the Hatoyama Cabinet as a whole.

Of special note is the decision to allow full public disclosure of the review process. While there are naturally limits on the number of observers at the actual meeting venues, the proceedings are being carried on the Internet. This makes it possible to monitor the process from anywhere with Web access.

Studies are also reportedly under way to devise ways to field opinions from the general public.

This means that live images of the hallowed budget-making process will be open to the people. As taxpayers, this is a golden opportunity to take a hard look at just how the money we pay is divvied up for use, and conduct our own reviews of the origins of democracy.

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英国人女性殺害 容疑者を追い詰めた民間情報

Tips from citizens closed net on Ichihashi
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 13, 2009)
英国人女性殺害 容疑者を追い詰めた民間情報(11月13日付・読売社説)

Tatsuya Ichihashi, the man wanted on suspicion of abandoning the body of a British woman in Chiba Prefecture in 2007, has finally been arrested.

The Chiba prefectural police intend to question Ichihashi on suspicion that he also murdered English-language teacher Lindsay Hawker. The police must leave no stone unturned as they obtain a detailed account of Ichihashi's life as a fugitive on the run for about two years and seven months.

Hawker's body was found on the balcony of Ichihashi's apartment in Ichikawa. Ichihashi fled the scene just before police officers, who were at his apartment to question him, found her body.

We wonder if the police investigation was conducted properly. Hard questions need to be asked about why it took so long until the suspect was finally brought into custody. This will include examining whether the initial investigations were appropriate, among other matters.

The incident took place in Chiba Prefecture. After making his escape, Ichihashi reportedly moved around cities including Fukuoka, Osaka and Nagoya. This suggests police forces across the nation must work more closely together on serious cases.


Surgeons not free from blame

Ichihashi altered his appearance by undergoing several plastic surgeries. Police only became aware of this after they were tipped off by a cosmetic surgery clinic in Nagoya that had performed rhinoplasty on him late last month. We applaud the clinic for coming forward.

Ichihashi used an alias when he registered for the nose job. When he visited the clinic, his face reportedly showed traces of having undergone a number of plastic surgeries. Ichihashi's appearance was said to be already significantly different from that in a picture released by police when they put him on the wanted list.

Tidbits of information began trickling in from the public after the police released a photo of Ichihashi taken at the clinic. Details emerged from staff at a construction company at which Ichihashi worked as a live-in employee. The police finally swooped on Ichihashi after a tip from a ferry company employee.

Many people must be wondering when and where Ichihashi had the operations that transformed his facial features. If any plastic surgeon was aware that he or she put the wanted man under the knife, it would without a shadow of doubt be an obstruction of a criminal investigation. Such an act could be considered harboring or enabling the escape of a perpetrator in violation of the Penal Code.

About 1,400 suspects are on the police wanted list. Police and medical institutions should take measures to prevent these suspects from undergoing plastic surgery in an attempt to continue evading the long arm of the law.


Rewards can play useful role

The National Police Agency offered a reward in Ichihashi's case. The agency is considering paying a reward to the person or people who provided key information that led to Ichihashi's arrest. Any such payments would be the first since the bounty system was introduced in April 2007.

It is a given that the investigative abilities of police should be in the forefront of crime investigations. But the cooperation of the public is an essential tool when seeking the arrest of a suspect, regardless of whether a reward is on offer.

Female university students in Chiba and Shimane prefectures recently have been brutally slain. Strings of suspicious deaths have been uncovered in the Tokyo metropolitan area and in Tottori Prefecture.

Police must constantly think about how and when leads they have gleaned in their investigations should be made public so they can unearth more information from citizens that leads to the resolution of criminal cases.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 13, 2009)
(2009年11月13日00時55分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月12日 (木)

社説:即位20年 「象徴天皇」へ実践重ね

(Mainichi Japan) November 12, 2009
Emperor opened new era for Imperial Family as symbol of state
社説:即位20年 「象徴天皇」へ実践重ね

A ceremony was held Thursday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the enthronement of Emperor Akihito. We would like to express our congratulations to His Majesty.

Over the past 20 years, the Emperor has pursued how he should function as the symbol of the state and for the unity of the people as defined by the post-war Constitution. He has also blown fresh air into the Imperial Family and appears to have established his own style as symbol of state.

Emperor Akihito is the first Emperor to accede to the Imperial Throne under the current Constitution. On the occasion of his enthronement, the Emperor declared that he will "uphold the Constitution of Japan with the people and fulfill my duties in accordance with it (the Constitution)."

The interpretation of "an Emperor as the symbol of the state and for the unity of the people" had not been established by the time he acceded to the throne.

His father, Emperor Showa, assumed the throne when an Emperor was defined by the Meiji Constitution as the ruler of the country, and became the symbol of Japan after the current Constitution was enacted after World War II.

Even though the Imperial Household Agency attempted to make the Imperial Family open to the public, the people had an image that Emperor Showa was a sovereign lord. In that sense, Emperor Akihito has been in a position to open a new era for the Imperial Family.

At a news conference prior to a ceremony Thursday to celebrate the 20th anniversary, Emperor Akihito cited the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as the most impressive event he has seen since he assumed the throne. His enthronement coincided with the beginning of turbulent changes going on in the world.

The Emperor has been active in a wide diversity of fields. As a symbolic Emperor who is supposed to pray for peace and the happiness of the people, Emperor Akihito has visited sites of battles during World War II to console the souls of the war dead. Since he acceded to the throne, the Emperor has visited more than 30 countries to promote international friendship. He is also enthusiastic about supporting disabled people as is shown by his efforts to promote sports events for the disabled.

His actions have been occasionally inconsistent with the Imperial Family's custom and ideas. For example, when he visited shelters for disaster victims and nursing care homes, the Emperor and the Empress often sat on the floor, took victims' hands and talked with them. Such actions by the Imperial Couple initially surprised people around him.

Before delivering speeches at national athletic meets and tree-planting ceremonies, the Emperor reportedly sat up late at night frequently to review and brush up the manuscripts.

Over the past 20 years, there have been numerous global challenges caused by the end of the Cold War, the advent of the information-oriented era, ethnic and religious conflicts, terrorism, environmental destruction and famine. A sense of political and economic uncertainty is prevailing in Japan as a result of the aging of the population, the declining birthrate, the recession and high unemployment rates.

When asked about his views on these challenges at the recent news conference, he answered, "I'm rather concerned that past history may be gradually forgotten."

"The 60-plus years of the Showa Era taught us many lessons. I believe it is essential for us to learn from the historical facts and prepare ourselves for the future," he continued.

His efforts to keep in mind painful lessons learned from the past and fully utilize the lessons reflect His Majesty's distinctive attitude.

There are many challenges in the Imperial Family, such as how to ensure a stable Imperial succession system in the future. There may be calls for a review of the role that the Imperial Family should play. It is important for the people to consider and discuss how the Imperial Family should function.

毎日新聞 2009年11月12日 東京朝刊

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 11(IHT/Asahi: November 12,2009)
EDITORIAL: East Asian community.

Judging by recent developments in arenas for international diplomacy, the idea of setting up an East Asian community is picking up speed.

Last month, the 4th East Asia Summit in Thailand agreed on the need to continue intergovernmental efforts to advance regional economic cooperation that would eventually take the form of an East Asian community, a concept championed by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

But specifics of the community Hatoyama has in mind are still vague. Given the differences between China and South Korea and those of other Southeast Asian nations in terms of population size, economic power, political systems and other factors, it verges on wishful thinking to believe this region can be integrated along the lines of the European Union with its common currency and shared political system.

One realistic step toward creating an East Asian community may be to start with transforming the region into a "common market"--essentially a free trade zone resulting from expanded economic cooperation.

The thinking here is that a smooth flow of people, goods and money will promote regional economic growth. But that is easier said than done.

China is a highly competitive exporting nation. South Korea does not want its trade deficit with Japan to grow. Japan wants to keep farm produce imports at bay. Each country has its own reason for hesitating to sign a free trade agreement.

The Hatoyama administration's first challenge is to try to change this situation. China, India and the region's other emerging powers are on their way to achieving greater prosperity. Asia will develop into the world's growth center.

Japan, which is on the decline on account of its shrinking and rapidly graying population, must latch on to the region's potential for growth and each nation's domestic demand in order to secure its own future growth.

Specifically, Japan could try to promote a track record of cooperation that might help encourage other nations to go for a free trade agreement. Such cooperation projects could include the construction of transportation routes vertically across Asia, the establishment of common customs clearance rules and food safety standards, and cooperation on environmental issues--in short, projects that will mutually benefit everyone involved.

It will be a long time before an East Asian community is realized as nations in the region have widely divergent ideas about it.

China envisions a 13-nation entity made up of itself, Japan and South Korea plus the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Japan is proposing a 16-nation framework that includes India, Australia and New Zealand. China and Japan are still nowhere near seeing eye to eye on this matter.

Whether to include the United States is another source of conflict. Washington has voiced its displeasure at the prospect of an East Asian community that excludes the United States. And there is disarray within the Hatoyama administration, too. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said, "(The proposed community) is not designed to include the United States." But Hatoyama has made comments to the effect of asking the United States to get involved.

Trying to reach a hasty conclusion on the composition of the community will only complicate matters. It would be counterproductive. Japan, which is politically and economically tight with the United States, should concentrate on striving for a free trade agreement with the United States and another with Asian nations at the same time.

We need to thoroughly mull over the community concept while working toward the creation of an East Asian and pan-Pacific common market.

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日米漂流:オバマ大統領来日を前に/中 無視できぬ中国の存在

(Mainichi Japan) November 11, 2009
Japan, U.S. can no longer ignore the presence of China
日米漂流:オバマ大統領来日を前に/中 無視できぬ中国の存在

 ◇水面下で進んだG4 「鳩山論文」で亀裂、懸念
The plan to form a Group of Four (G4) between Japan, the United States, Europe and China has demonstrated that Beijing's growing presence and influence can no longer be ignored.
A European news organization's report that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner would propose the formation of the G4 created a stir in the Group of Seven (G7) meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors held in Istanbul on Oct. 3.

Prior to the G7 meeting, the U.S. government had proposed behind the scenes that Japan, the United States, Europe and China should form the G4. The proposal was retracted in response to stiff opposition from European countries that feared the formation of the G4 would lead to a decline in their influence.
The confusion over the G4 plan has reminded global players of China's rising influence in the world.

At the same time, the surfacing of the issue has reinforced to Japan, which has previously taken advantage of its close relations with the United States to represent Asia in G7 meetings, that it will soon lose such a privilege.

It appears that the G4 plan abruptly came about, but it had been carefully prepared in advance. In early 2005, Japan, the United States and China began unofficial talks on currency policy, say international financial sources.

Their talks prior to the G7 meeting in that year led to the appreciation of the yuan in July 2005, according to a high-ranking official of the Japanese government.

They secretly began a G3 movement because they needed to clarify how Japan and China, which have huge amounts of U.S. government bonds, should support the dollar-led currency system.

"The U.S. economy couldn't survive unless Japan and China help make up for the huge U.S. budget deficit," says an official of a major U.S. brokerage.

Confidence in the U.S. economy and the dollar has sharply declined amid the global economic crisis triggered by the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, resulting in major changes in global economic relations.

China is enjoying high economic growth while Japan, the United States and Europe have fallen into negative growth.

In 2008, China surpassed Japan in terms of the amount of U.S. government bonds they possess, and China's gross domestic product is forecast to exceed that of Japan possibly this year. China's presence and influence is undeniable.

However, there are many problems in China, such as its closed market and differences between its political system and those of Western countries. Therefore, Japan is indispensable for the United States as well as for the G4 to restrain China, says a top official of an international organization.

Amid such a situation, an article -- which Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Yukio Hatoyama contributed to the online edition of The New York Times in late August before he took over the reins of government -- came as a shock to U.S. government officials. In his article, Hatoyama criticized market fundamentalism in the United States.

In response, the Wall Street Journal said there is no hope that Japan would achieve economic recovery if the DPJ takes over the reins of government, pointing out that Hatoyama did not sufficiently understand entrepreneurship.

Japan-U.S relations have been further strained since Hatoyama took office in mid-September over diplomatic and security issues, including the relocation of U.S. Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.
Under the circumstances, U.S. officials have warned that the current disputes should not worsen bilateral economic ties.

The Obama administration consequently hastily dispatched Geithner to Japan one week before Obama is scheduled to visit Tokyo. "The move was aimed at maintaining normal economic relations with Japan by dispatching the pro-Japan secretary," a Japan-U.S. diplomatic source said.

In the upcoming summit with Obama, Hatoyama is expected to not only confirm that the two countries should strengthen their bilateral alliance but also consider how Japan can serve as a go-between between the United States and China. (By Nozomu Saito, Economic News Department, and Nobuhiro Saito, Washington Bureau)

(This is the fourth part of a five-part series on the Japan-U.S. alliance)

毎日新聞 2009年11月11日 東京朝刊

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column from The Wall Street Journal

Obama Considers New Afghan Option

When President Obama meets with his national security team today to discuss options for Afghanistan in advance of his Asia tour, a new "hybrid" option will be considered along with those that had already been proposed by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. This new hybrid option is "now drawing the most attention at the Pentagon," according to the Wall Street Journal, and would deploy 30,000 to 35,000 new troops, including as many as 10,000 military trainers. Regardless of which option the president chooses, they would all be "phased approaches," meaning that new forces would reach Afghanistan in waves rather than all at once. The New York Times doesn't mention the hybrid plan but does report that Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all seem to be supporting a proposal to send about 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Obama, however, reportedly remains unconvinced.


Trend Match

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天皇在位20年 敬愛される皇室像が定着した

20 peaceful years with the Emperor
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 12, 2009)
天皇在位20年 敬愛される皇室像が定着した(11月12日付・読売社説)

The government will hold a ceremony to mark the 20th year of the enthronement of the Emperor at the National Theater of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday.

The Emperor assumed the throne on Jan. 7, 1989. However, since the enthronement ceremony was held as a national event on Nov. 12 the following year, the ceremony marking his 20th year on the throne is held on that date.

On the occasions of the 10th and 15th years of his enthronement, the Emperor said that in comparison with the 10th and 15th years marking his father Emperor Showa's enthronement, he was happy to see the Heisei years pass peacefully in spite of some difficulties and problems.

The global recession is affecting the lives of the Japanese people. We currently face many difficult issues. But, compared with the first 20 years of the Showa era, many people would agree with the sentiments of the Emperor that the Heisei years so far have passed "peacefully."


Serving the people

The Emperor ascended to the throne as the symbol of the state and the unity of the people under the current Constitution.

The Emperor has often said he thinks the best way to meet the expectations of the public is to serve the state and the people by bearing in mind the constitutional provision that the emperor is the symbol of the state.

The Emperor and the Empress have strived to share the feelings of the people. It is in the last 20 years that the image of the Imperial family as being approachable and respectable has prevailed among the public.

The Emperor is very busy every day with a variety of official duties.

He has many occasions to visit local areas to attend National Athletic Meets, tree-planting ceremonies and the other events. The Emperor has visited and talked to people at welfare facilities around the country. He also has ventured to areas hit by natural disasters and has encouraged disaster victims. The Emperor also has traveled to other countries to promote international friendship.

The Emperor also has many occasions to meet recipients of decorations and distinguished guests from abroad, and also has to perform Imperial rituals inherited from the emperors before him.

Though the Emperor wholeheartedly believes that such official duties and Imperial rituals are very important, he will turn 76 next month and is not free of health concerns.


Agreeable duties

At the beginning of this year, the Imperial Household Agency revealed measures to alleviate the burdens of the Emperor's official duties. We hope the agency will continue to take sufficient care with the Emperor's schedule so that not only he but also the Empress can stay in good health.

Since Prince Hisahito was born to Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko in 2006, discussions on Imperial succession have settled down. The new government under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has not referred to the issue.

Last month, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada urged the Imperial Household Agency to arrange for the Emperor to deliver his own words to some degree at the opening ceremonies of the Diet. But Okada came under criticism from both ruling and opposition party members who said it was inappropriate to make political comments on what the Emperor says.

We think that such criticism is reasonable, as it is based on a point of view that Okada's remark might lead to the political exploitation of the Imperial family. We expect politicians, particularly Cabinet ministers, to be very careful in making remarks regarding the Imperial family.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 12, 2009)
(2009年11月12日05時06分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月11日 (水)

アフガン支援策 「小切手外交」に戻るのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 11, 2009)
Is govt returning to 'checkbook diplomacy'?
アフガン支援策 「小切手外交」に戻るのか(11月11日付・読売社説)

The administration led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has drawn up measures to help reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

The administration has decided to extend civilian assistance worth 5 billion dollars (about 450 billion yen) over five years for such measures as job training for former Taliban militants and the provision of funds to pay the salaries of Afghan police officers. Calculated in terms of the aid provided per fiscal year, this sum represents about four times the average aid provided up until now.

However, the government stopped short of including the sending of Self-Defense Forces personnel in its measures.
The government is also planning to suspend the SDF's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in January, when the law authorizing the mission expires.


No body bags please

Without SDF participation in antiterrorism activities related to Afghanistan, the government will inevitably face criticism that the country has once again resorted to the so-called checkbook diplomacy approach, in which it provides economic aid and investment but no security personnel.

Hatoyama is expected to explain the details of the aid program to U.S. President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit Japan later this week. The huge scale of the aid package is sure to win a certain level of recognition from the United States and European countries.

The 5 billion dollars assistance will be extended to the war-torn country in the form of grant aid or through international organizations. The public will want the government to give a satisfactorily detailed explanation of how the funds will be spent. It also will be important for the government to implement the aid package while verifying its effectiveness.

The government insists the international community should provide measures to back the people of Afghanistan's own efforts to bring stability to daily life in their nation.

To this end, the government plans to limit its personnel assistance to activities related directly to public welfare. It is also considering expanding the Japan International Cooperation Agency's agricultural training program in the country. Given the existing security situation in Afghanistan, however, it will be difficult to dramatically increase the number of JICA personnel dispatched to the nation.

As long as Afghanistan's military and police forces fail to operate with sufficient effectiveness, the International Security Assistance Force, which comprises 42 countries, including the United States and European nations, remains at the forefront of efforts to maintain security in the country.

When the U.N. Security Council decided last month to extend ISAF activities in Afghanistan, Japan, a UNSC nonpermanent member, supported the decision.

In drawing up the assistance measures for Afghanistan, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa sought the possibility of dispatching SDF personnel to the ISAF headquarters and providing airlift assistance by the Air Self-Defense Force.

Ichiro Ozawa, secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, has in the past indicated a willingness to send SDF officers to the ISAF.


Insufficient debate

However, the idea of using the SDF has already been shelved by the government without sufficient debate. Apparently, the DPJ has instead placed priority on maintaining its governing coalition with the Social Democratic Party, which is against any SDF dispatch overseas.

At the time of the Gulf War, the administration of then Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu decided not to send SDF officers to the region and instead provided only economic aid, drawing international criticism for Japan's checkbook diplomacy. The government should recall this bitter memory.

As the MSDF's refueling activity in the Indian Ocean has been highly evaluated by the international community, Japan will lose a lot of goodwill by ending the mission. What Hatoyama should do is to seek ways of continuing the mission.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 11, 2009)
(2009年11月11日01時10分  読売新聞)

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js bach の リュート組曲はそれは美しくて私はすっかり感動してしまった。
当時田村ギター工房には スペインのホセ ラミレス や


js bach の 無伴奏チェロ組曲6番(for classical guitar)

kiyoshi matsui from Khonkaen, Thailand



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2009年11月10日 (火)

トヨタF1撤退 エコが促した苦渋の決断

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 10, 2009)
Thinking green, Toyota quits F1
トヨタF1撤退 エコが促した苦渋の決断(11月10日付・読売社説)

An era in which speed has been the key yardstick of automobile performance seems to have reached a crossroad.

Toyota Motor Corp. has announced that it is pulling out of Formula One racing at the end of the 2009 season due to its deteriorating business performance.

The world's No. 1 automaker, which made its debut in motor sport's top class in 2002, has participated in 140 championships over the past eight years, but has never won a grand prix. It must have been a tough decision for Toyota to walk away from F1 without producing any results.

Toyota said it would channel the money and human resources it has devoted to F1 toward the development of eco-friendly cars. We hope the company will use technologies it gained from its participation in F1 to make production cars with superior performance.


Sport hardly eco-friendly

F1 teams need to have many racing cars, which cost as much as 2 billion yen each. They have to spend tens of billions of yen every season to take aim at the center of the podium.

For Toyota, the main purpose of continuing to participate in this costly motor sport was to enhance its brand name. The automaker needed to showcase its technological prowess to gain an edge on General Motors Co., which had been the world's largest automaker in terms of sales volume.

F1, a popular motor sport held in circuits around the world, was the best stage for this endeavor. It also was a testing ground to analyze cars' basic performance factors, such as acceleration, braking and turning, as well as to improve Toyota's technological expertise.

But gas-guzzling F1 grew incompatible with Toyota's need to promote its technological strengths in response to consumers' growing environmental awareness. There was little advantage in Toyota participating in F1 even before its massive losses forced it to withdraw from the sport.


Car industry needs new draw

Other automakers are in the same situation. Honda Motor Co. pulled out of F1 in early 2009, and Bridgestone Corp. will stop supplying tires for F1 cars from 2011. Toyota's pullout means there will be no Japanese manufacturer in F1.

BMW AG of Germany announced in July that it would quit F1 at the end of 2009 season, and French automaker Renault SA reportedly is considering withdrawal. It is even possible that no mass-production automaker will be on the F1 grid next year.

The automobile industry must respond to a revolutionary change in which electricity is superseding gasoline as the source of power for its products.

The key to dealing with this drastic change is eco-friendly cars, which are at the opposite end of the spectrum from F1, and low-priced cars targeting emerging countries. Toyota's withdrawal from F1 may be a move that symbolizes a strategic shift in the automobile industry.

Many companies have pulled out of other motor sports. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has withdrawn from the Dakar Rally, while Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru cars, has stopped participating in the World Rally Championship.

Motor sports are bound to decline if this situation continues. The automobile industry must ponder what it can do to promote the joys of driving.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 10, 2009)
(2009年11月10日01時17分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月 9日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:心休め、秋の夜長楽しく /東京

(Mainichi Japan) November 8, 2009
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The fickleness of Seasonal Affective Disorder
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:心休め、秋の夜長楽しく /東京

It's already November. I love the relative peace in this month before the manic bustle of December, but it was different when I was in my 20s.

Having graduated from medical college in Tokyo and started work at a hospital in my hometown in Hokkaido, for me November was the month the weather changed.

In both Tokyo and Hokkaido, the summers are hot and the winters cold. When I start thinking, "Oh, I don't wanna go out," it doesn't really matter where I am. And since autumn and spring are so pleasant, the weather in the two places are pretty much the same.

Except November.

In Hokkaido the temperature plummets and the first snows start to fall. Some years, there are days I wonder if I'm in a full-blown snowstorm.

But on those days, when I see scenes of Tokyo on the TV it's the very picture of fall.

"As people stroll among the autumn foliage of Gaien's ginkgo trees..." goes the morning news as I pull on my boots and brave the snow whirling outside, leaving me feeling miserable. Maybe it's a mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

During my mid-30s, I started working at a hospital in Kanto, and I fell in love again with Tokyo Novembers. Even with a brisk wind in the air, as I pull on a light jacket and go outside I think, "This is nothing compared to Hokkaido."

It was these kinds of days when I had a fellow Hokkaidan visit my clinic. The patient suffered from depression every November, after moving to Tokyo from Sapporo a few years ago.

"Even in Tokyo it gets cold around this time of year, right? So I look up at the sky to see if it's going to snow. But it never does. After a few times, it really starts to get me down ...
 「東京でもこの時期、ぐっと気温が下がるでしょう? 習慣で、そろそろ雪かなと空を見上げるわけですよ。でも、いっこうに雪は落ちてこない。そんなことを繰り返すうちに、なんだか気持ちが憂うつになってきちゃって……」

"I guess snow falling is part of winter after all," the patient says, and I feel embarrassed at my shallowness for not loving my hometown more.

With less and less daylight during this season, it's easy to come down with SAD.

There are people like me who start to feel down when it snows, and those who get blue when it doesn't, and we should take more time out to relax during the long autumn evenings.

By the way, I've completely turned around and joined the "I miss the snow" school of thought.

Humans can be fickle creatures, I realize, as I start looking forward to returning home. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2009年11月3日 地方版

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メコン地域 米中と連携して開発支援を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 8, 2009)
Japan, China, U.S. can play joint role in Mekong
メコン地域 米中と連携して開発支援を(11月8日付・読売社説)

A neighbor to the countries that hug the Mekong River in Indochina, China has long had an interest in the region, but the United States has recently developed a growing interest in the nations as well.

Japan should take this opportunity, therefore, to back development of the region in close cooperation with both China and the United States.

The leaders of Japan and Southeast Asia's five Mekong River nations--Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam--met in Tokyo for their first-ever Japan-Mekong summit meeting on Friday and Saturday.

The Tokyo Declaration adopted at the summit incorporates Japan's support measures, including the development of a distribution network linking production sites and industrial centers that are scattered across the region, as well as the expansion of assistance in the field of environmental protection.

Japan and China have found themselves competing for influence when it comes to development of the Mekong area, implementing their own plans regarding the building of transport corridors via the construction of roads, bridges and tunnels.

China has provided assistance for the North-South Economic Corridor program, which covers an area stretching from China's Yunnan Province in the north to Thailand and Vietnam in the south.

Japan, on the other hand, has provided official development assistance for the construction of both the East-West Economic Corridor program, which covers the Indochina area, and the Southern Economic Corridor program, which connects Bangkok with Ho Chi Minh City.


Common rules needed

The use of land routes, such as the East-West Economic Corridor, could greatly reduce the time taken to transport goods compared with sending them by sea via the Malacca Straits.

However, there are hurdles to be overcome to realize a smoothly functioning transport corridor, most notably that customs and quarantine procedures at borders will need to be unified and streamlined.

Therefore, the joint statement reached at the summit notes the importance of improving the basic infrastructure of the Mekong states, not only in terms of hardware such as roads, but software such as border controls.

Japan should emphasize its support for the reshaping of such institutions and the training of customs and quarantine personnel.


Dialogue with China, U.S. key

Japan and China have provided development assistance to Mekong nations within their own frameworks. But to ensure goods can be transported and people can travel without problems along the three key corridors, it is necessary to establish common rules covering their use.

To that end, it is important that the Japan-China Mekong policy dialogue forum, set up by Tokyo and Beijing in 2008, be used to enable the exchange of opinions on future policies for the Mekong region to safeguard the region's development and stability.

Also of importance is cooperation with the United States. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has placed importance on strengthening its ties with Asian nations.
In July, the United States held its first-ever ministerial meeting with four Mekong nations in Thailand--Myanmar being the only nation excluded from the forum.

To address the situation in Myanmar, the Obama administration has revised the previous administration's economic sanctions-only policy and told the Myanmar junta it is ready to improve relations with the country.

China has been increasing its influence over Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, using economic aid as a strategic tool.

Washington's apprehension over Beijing's moves is thought to be a key reason the United States has adopted a policy of engagement with Myanmar.

As Japan builds a cooperative relationship with China, it must also work with the United States in a way that promotes a favorable outcome for all parties.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 8, 2009)
(2009年11月8日01時04分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月 8日 (日)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 6(IHT/Asahi: November 7,2009)
EDITORIAL: Financial policies.

In a deflationary spiral, prices of goods and services go into a tailspin, trimming sales revenues, lowering production and shrinking payrolls at companies. In times like that, the economy as a whole continues to shrink, pushing down prices further. In light of the state of the domestic economy, it will have to keep walking, at least for the time being, on the brink of falling into a dreadful downward spiral.

The Bank of Japan, in its latest report titled "Outlook for Economic Activity and Prices," said prices will keep falling through fiscal 2011. It said the economy will likely start growing again in fiscal 2010 on the back of increased exports to emerging economies, gradually decreasing the margin of decline in prices.
But it is by no means certain that this rather rosy scenario will come to pass. There is no room for optimism at the moment.

After the collapse of the asset-inflated economy in the early 1990s, Japan became the first industrial nation since the end of World War II to experience deflation. Now, the threat of full-blown deflation is growing again in the aftermath of the global economic crisis. Japan has yet to emerge fully from the situation where falling prices of a broad range of goods and services are putting a strain on its economy.

Policymakers need to take utmost care to prevent the economy from tumbling into a deflationary spiral.

Deflation is caused by a shortage of overall demand. The only effective remedy for deflation is a mix of fiscal and monetary expansion to stimulate the economy. It is, however, important to combine such economic stimulus measures with steps to nurture new industries and create jobs based on a strategy for medium- and long-term economic growth. Simply trying to relieve a demand shortage won't be enough.

Meanwhile, the central bank has announced that it will phase out part of the measures to support corporate financing it introduced following the failure of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in September last year. The BOJ will terminate its program to purchase commercial paper, a short-term unsecured promissory note, and corporate bonds at the end of this year.

As applications for the program have fallen sharply in recent months, the central bank has decided the program is no longer necessary.

The BOJ has also decided to close at the end of March a special lending program to provide financial institutions with unlimited funds for corporate lending. Under this program, the BOJ extends loans to banks at an annual interest rate of 0.1 percent, securing corporate bonds submitted to the central bank and other debt securities as collateral.

These decisions reflect receding concerns about the serious credit contraction that temporarily made it hard even for large companies to raise funds. If, however, the economy falls into a second bottom, the central bank should not hesitate to revive these measures. Flexible responses to changing economic conditions are vital.

Market players should not regard these moves as the beginning of a so-called exit strategy, which means ending the extremely easy monetary policy that is now in place.

As the improved earnings results for the first half of the current fiscal year have indicated, large companies are beginning to recover. With industrial production still at a low level, however, small and midsize companies remain stuck in dire straits. A significant increase in bankruptcies among them could prolong this deflation and recession.

Concerns about the crisis among small and midsize firms have prompted the government to submit a bill to the extraordinary Diet session to help ease their financing difficulties. The BOJ has also pledged to maintain easy credit conditions tenaciously, suggesting it intends to ensure that funds will be flowing from financial institutions into small and midsize businesses.

To prevent the economy from slipping into a double-dip recession, policymakers should make every effort to support the financing of smaller businesses while enhancing measures to create jobs.

We hope the government and the BOJ will work together to take effective policy measures to save the economy.

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2009年11月 7日 (土)

オバマ来日 政府は日米同盟再構築に動け

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 7, 2009)
Govt must do more for U.S. security alliance
オバマ来日 政府は日米同盟再構築に動け(11月7日付・読売社説)

The government has yet to agree to a plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture. This plan is backed by the U.S. government and the Okinawa prefectural government. However, the central government is sticking to an alternative idea that is opposed by both. It is hard to understand the government's dithering on this matter.

It appears almost certain that this issue will not be settled before U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Japan on Thursday. This likely will strain the Japan-U.S. relationship. We think this is deplorable.

The blame lies basically with the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. The government has been putting off a decision on whether to accept the plan to relocate the air station from the city of Ginowan to the eastern coastal area of the city of Nago, saying it is still examining how the plan was drawn up.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada is pursuing a plan to integrate Futenma Air Station with the U.S. Air Force's Kadena Air Base, which also is in Okinawa Prefecture. But persuading the United States and local governments to drop their opposition to this proposal will be anything but easy.

Most disturbing of all is that the government remains quite unaware of the negative repercussions that could be caused by delaying a resolution of the issue.


Grumbling growing

Since the government called for relocating the Futenma base outside Okinawa Prefecture or even outside the nation--despite such plans being almost completely unfeasible--calls to support the idea have been growing among people in the prefecture. This has vexed the Okinawa prefectural government and the Nago city government, which threw their support behind the current plan not because it was the best one but because it was better than other options.

Members of the U.S. Congress have begun to express their reluctance to allocate funds for transferring 8,000 U.S. marines currently stationed in Okinawa Prefecture to Guam.

To reduce the burden on communities that host U.S. bases in Okinawa Prefecture, we think the government should settle the issue by the end of this year at the latest by accepting the current plan.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean has become another headache for the government. The MSDF's mission is set to be discontinued when a special law authorizing it expires in January, yet the government has not presented any alternative measure.

Hatoyama has insisted he will not agree to a simple extension of the mission. But he also seems unwilling to consider a "not simple" extension of the mission through a revision of the law that requires the prior approval of the Diet, for example.

The government intends to drastically increase its financial aid for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. But mere financial assistance pales as an alternative to sending personnel and providing actual physical support. Working hard on tough jobs with allies and sharing certain risks are essential for establishing international relationships of trust.


Remarks sowing confusion

Hatoyama said he would deepen the multilayered Japan-U.S. alliance as next year marks the 50th anniversary of the revision of the bilateral security treaty.

But his remarks on delaying resolution of the Futenma issue, ending the refueling mission and reducing the so-called sympathy budget allocations for U.S. forces stationed in Japan have all served to erode the alliance.

The bilateral alliance cannot be deepened unless Self-Defense Forces personnel are actively engaged in international peace and cooperation activities and Tokyo and Washington strengthen their defense cooperation.

One reason behind this disconcerting disarray is the Social Democratic Party--a coalition partner of the Democratic Party of Japan. The SDP has squawked at attempts by the Hatoyama administration to shift policy course on those issues.

Easy compromises are not an option on foreign policy and security issues that affect the very foundation of the nation. Hatoyama must reestablish and strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance relationship--even if he has to twist some arms in the SDP.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 7, 2009)
(2009年11月7日01時43分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月 6日 (金)



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国会改革 脱・法制局長官答弁を支持する

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 6, 2009)
Legislation bureau chief should take backseat
国会改革 脱・法制局長官答弁を支持する(11月6日付・読売社説)

Discussions on Diet reform are moving into high gear. The person with his hands firmly on the wheel of this reform is Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa.

"Breaking the domination of the bureaucracy must start at the Diet," Ozawa said. "I also want to revise the Diet Law to make parliament a place where lawmakers discuss policies among one another."

We hope members of both ruling and opposition parties will discuss this issue in detail.

One pillar of Ozawa's Diet reform plan is to remove bureaucrats from debates in the Diet. Ozawa insists that the director general of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau should be no exception to this ejection.

According to the Diet Law, some bureaucrats--including the director general of the bureau and the president of the National Personnel Authority--are allowed to attend Diet deliberations as special assistants to the government.

The bureau is dubbed "a guardian of the law" because it presents the government view on interpretations of the Constitution and examines bills in light of existing laws.


Controversial interpretations

The bureau presented the controversial constitutional interpretation that Japan has the right to collective self-defense, but cannot exercise this right. This and some other interpretations put forward by the bureau have undeniably distorted constitutional debates in the past and imposed undue restrictions on Japan's international cooperation and peacekeeping activities.

During the Persian Gulf crisis in 1990, Ozawa, who was secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party at that time, claimed the participation of the Self-Defense Forces in the U.N. force was constitutionally possible even if it involved exercising the use of force. However, his assertion was given short shrift by the director general of the bureau at that time.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said it is strange that the director general's opinion is treated as the be-all and end-all on matters of law. However, Hatoyama does not plan to deviate from the bureau's constitutional interpretation on the right to collective self-defense.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano also said lawmakers under the Hatoyama Cabinet would make constitutional judgments without being swayed by remarks made by directors general of the bureau in the past. This seems only natural. We strongly support the opinions of the prime minister and the chief cabinet secretary.


Lawmakers also to blame

The bureau has so far been treated as if it is authorized to determine government interpretations on the Constitution. This must be corrected. Doing so will require imposing restrictions on remarks by the bureau director general.

However, it is wrong to lay the responsibility for all past Diet discussions on the Constitution with the bureau.

Past administrations ultimately are responsible for that because they punted constitutional interpretations to the bureau, which is just one small section of the Cabinet, and avoided making political judgments to change them.

From now on, lawmakers will be required to make remarks in the Diet based on their own perceptiveness and responsibility--including on changes to constitutional interpretations.

On that premise, it will not be necessary to keep all bureaucrats completely out of Diet deliberations. Bureaucrats should be asked to attend the Diet when details of administrative measures are being discussed and administrative responsibilities are pursued.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 6, 2009)
(2009年11月6日01時15分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月 5日 (木)

教員の質向上策 研修効果を検証し改善進めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Nov. 5, 2009)
Ensuring good teachers requires good checkups
教員の質向上策 研修効果を検証し改善進めよ(11月5日付・読売社説)

To raise the quality of education, it is essential to improve the abilities of teachers. Measures such as a teaching improvement program that started

last academic year should be reviewed in order to strengthen their effectiveness.

According to the Education, Science and Technology Ministry, 306 teachers at public primary, middle and high schools were recognized as lacking

adequate teaching ability by education boards of each prefecture and major cities last academic year. It was the fourth consecutive year that the

number of underperforming teachers has gone down.


These teachers comprise only a tiny fraction of the about 900,000 public school teachers in the nation. But coupled with the existence of teachers

who have been punished for misconduct, the issue of a lack of ability in teachers has been one of the reasons for a growing distrust of teachers

among the public.


Revising criteria

Local education boards had been entrusted with judging under their own standards the competence of their teachers, and were responsible for

providing training for improvement.

However, starting last academic year, boards of education are now required by law to provide improvement training for teachers deemed insufficient

in teaching skills. The education ministry also has listed examples of teaching practices that are regarded as lacking.

Teachers considered ill-qualified are those who are unable to make appropriate curriculum instructions, give appropriate guidance and counseling for

students and manage classroom operations. Improvement training programs include mock lessons. If these teachers fail to show any improvement

after undergoing as much as two years of training, education boards can take such measures as transferring or dismissing them.


This system was introduced because it was decided that the license renewal system for teachers, which began this academic year, would focus on

encouraging teachers to obtain up-to-date knowledge and skills rather than removing ill-qualified teachers. These new goals dictate a strict

evaluation of a teacher's ability.


Only about 40 percent of boards of education provide training programs for teachers who have problem areas among their otherwise adequate

abilities. Boards of education that have yet to offer such training programs should be proactive and introduce such schemes.


Educating the educators

Of the about 24,000 new teachers who started working last academic year, those not officially hired after a one-year probation period was a record

high 315, nearly three times the figure five years ago. Almost 30 percent of these teachers quit voluntarily, citing mental illness such as depression.


Some education boards have taken such measures as setting up forums for information exchange among principals of schools that have taken on first

-time teachers and the incorporation of mental health issues in training programs for new teachers. These efforts need to be made more widely



The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama intends to extend the duration of teacher-training courses from the current four years to six

years, aiming to improve teacher quality. The plan is intended to extend the amount of classroom training for would-be teachers.

But how many universities could offer such a six-year course and the full-time staff to run it? It would also mean increased tuition burdens on

students. The envisaged system could backfire, resulting in a drop in the number of applications to become teachers, lower competition ratios in

teacher employment examinations and a reluctance among motivated and skilled people to choose a career in teaching.


It is necessary to carefully examine the merits and demerits of such extended courses, and decide whether they would actually help enhance

teachers' quality.

Next spring, first-time teachers will complete their studies at graduate schools for education that opened from last academic year. The end of the

two-year maximum period for improvement programs also is approaching. We hope the effectiveness of courses and training programs will be closely

checked and that the results of the review process will be used to improve the teacher training courses and teacher employment examinations.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 5, 2009)
(2009年11月5日01時30分  読売新聞)

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2009年11月 4日 (水)


ご挨拶 (11月4日)


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Nov. 4, 2009)
Toll-free roads may hurt local transportation
高速道路無料化 地方の足が奪われかねない(11月4日付・読売社説)

Railroad, shipping and bus companies are opposing the decision by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to in principle end expressway tolls, saying that the move will deprive them of their customers.

They insist that even the discount on expressway tolls, a measure launched under the previous government of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, has had a significant impact on their business. They argue that they would lose more customers in the event expressways are made toll-free and that they would become unable to maintain their regional transportation networks.

If regional public transportation wanes, "those who are disadvantaged in terms of transportation," or those who cannot afford to own or drive cars, will lose their means of transportation in their daily lives. Though the government said it would pay full attention to the plan's impact on other means of transportation, it has yet to present concrete measures.

In the first place, toll-free expressways involve certain problems. It will become necessary to inject taxpayers' money to repay a massive amount of debts owed by the former Japan Highway Public Corporation and other entities concerned. In addition, the policy, which will certainly increase overall automobile use, runs counter to measures to tackle global warming.


Costly plan

In the face of such criticism, Hatoyama said he would phase in implementation of the toll-free expressway plan. But such an approach does not change the fact that the government will have to spend 1.3 trillion yen annually in the end.

The government should first consider what form its comprehensive transportation policy will take before ending expressway tolls. Its principles on road improvement and maintenance and the toll system need to be reviewed as part of that process.

To deal with the criticism that expressway tolls are too high, the government could improve the discount system and change toll standards for individual regions. It is important for the government to flexibly deal with the issue, rather than sticking to the principle of toll-free expressways.

Six Japan Railways Group passenger rail companies project that their combined annual revenues would decline 75 billion yen once the government has eliminated expressway tolls. The plan is expected to adversely affect Hokkaido Railway Co. and Shikoku Railway Co. in particular, as they operate many lines running parallel to expressways. The JR firms are afraid they will be forced to close such lines.


Spreading effect

Expressway toll discounts, which started this spring, already have had a significant impact on the ferry industry, with some firms having collapsed and others forced to cut their workforce.

The profitability of express bus services has deteriorated because customers have chosen to drive their own cars due to lower expressway tolls. As a result, they now find it inevitable to reduce or even end services on regular routes, which have been maintained with profits from their express bus services.

As for the economic revitalization program stressed by the Democratic Party of Japan, many observers point out that it would accelerate the so-called straw effect, or a movement of economic activity from economically weak to economically strong areas with shoppers in regional areas heading into urban areas and regional economies further deteriorating.

European countries and the United States are set to adopt policies of reducing the use of cars by charging expressway tolls and upgrading high-speed railway services, for the purpose of cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

In Germany, the government began collecting tolls from some large vehicles on the autobahn, which was previously free for all vehicles. The United States has a plan to build a high-speed railroad modeled after Japan's Shinkansen.

The government should be aware that the toll-free expressway plan runs counter to such global trends.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 4, 2009)
(2009年11月4日00時53分  読売新聞)

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