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2010年6月30日 (水)

The "Third Depression" Has Already Begun

Krugman: The "Third Depression" Has Already Begun

Thanks to misguided austerity measures, we're already in the early stages of a "third depression," the Princeton economist argues in his New York Times column.

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China Defends Neutral Stance on Korean Dispute Over Sunken Warship

China Defends Neutral Stance on Korean Dispute Over Sunken Warship

Responding to President Obama's suggestion that China was "hiding from the risks posed by North Korea," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Beijing refuses to "play favorites."

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Texas Man Killed Infant Daughter For Crying During World Cup Match

Texas Man Killed Infant Daughter For Crying During World Cup Match

When his 2-year-old stepdaughter wouldn't stop crying during the U.S.-Ghana match, Hector Castro beat her until she died and then stuffed a screw down her throat in an attempt to make it look like an accident.

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srachai from khonkaen, thailand

Google Ends Automatic Rerouting in China

In an attempt to win over Chinese officials and have their internet provider license renewed at the end of this month, Google has stopped sending Chinese traffic directly to its (uncensored) Hong Kong-based site.

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名古屋場所開催 勧告踏まえて抜本的改革を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 30, 2010)
Take tough steps to restore sumo's honor
名古屋場所開催 勧告踏まえて抜本的改革を(6月29日付・読売社説)

The Japan Sumo Association has decided to open the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on July 11 as scheduled, despite an abnormal situation in which it will suspend many wrestlers, including seven in the top makuuchi division, from the tournament and put the JSA chairman on probation over the ongoing gambling scandal.

The JSA has forfeited the public's trust through the scandal over illegal betting on professional baseball games, and there are many who question its decision to hold the Nagoya tournament. Since it is going ahead with the tournament under such adverse circumstances, the JSA must quickly present cleanup measures rigorous enough to satisfy fans of the national sport.


Panel urged harsh penalties

The association's board of directors decided to accept recommendations made by a special investigation panel comprising 10 outside experts regarding conditions for holding the Nagoya tournament.

The panel recommended the JSA should dismiss or mete out heavier penalties against stablemaster Otake (former sekiwake Takatoriki), who is alleged to have habitually bet huge amounts of money, and ozeki Kotomitsuki, who was blackmailed by a former wrestler over his gambling.

In addition, the panel urged the JSA to put the other wrestlers involved in the illegal gambling and their stablemasters on probation. In line with the recommendations, the association decided to suspend a total of 14 wrestlers, including Kotomitsuki, from the Nagoya tournament. The stablemasters to be put on probation include JSA Chairman Musashigawa.

Otake and Kotomitsuki's punishment will be officially decided at the association board meeting scheduled for Sunday, but they are likely to receive tough penalties as recommended by the panel. Many sumo fans must feel sorry to see the misconduct of Kotomitsuki, the highest-ranked Japanese wrestler, and Otake, who took over the stable established by legendary yokozuna Taiho.


Lax management must end

The association initially intended to just give warnings to those who voluntarily confessed their involvement in illegal gambling. However, the general public would certainly regard such a penalty as too mild. The panel's recommendations apparently are a red card against the JSA's lenient attitude.

Whenever scandals occurred in the past, the JSA was often criticized for its lax crisis management. The closed-off nature of the association, which is run totally by former wrestlers, is likely responsible for its inability to cleanse itself.

The latest gambling scandal, which involves even stablemasters, makes it clear that the discipline of the professional sumo society cannot be maintained if this continues.

Two of JSA's 12 current directors now come from outside sumo, a change that stemmed from the deadly assault that occurred in the Tokitsukaze stable. The association's leadership has to be reformed through such drastic measures as further increasing the number of board directors from outside the sumo world.

While Musashigawa is on probation, Hiroyoshi Murayama, a former head of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office who was invited to be a JSA board director, will likely be appointed acting chairman.

Even if the Nagoya tournament is held as scheduled, some sumo fans may complain that they do not want to cheer for the wrestlers in the ring. Certain sponsors have decided not to provide prize money for the tournament.

Concrete measures to reform the association and reeducate wrestlers must be devised urgently to make the Nagoya tournament a chance to restore the honor of professional sumo.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 29, 2010)
(2010年6月29日01時40分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月29日 (火)

子ども手当 半額支給維持も容易ではない

discern ディサーム(発音注意) 感覚や理性で理解する

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 29, 2010)
No cash to spare for child allowances
子ども手当 半額支給維持も容易ではない(6月28日付・読売社説)

Child-rearing support measures require a balanced policy perspective and--more than anything else--fiscal resources to implement them.

The Democratic Party of Japan has dropped its ballyhooed policy of paying in full a 26,000 yen monthly child allowance starting in fiscal 2011 from its campaign platform for the forthcoming House of Councillors election.

The DPJ started the allowance system by paying 13,000 yen a month, half the originally set figure. Now the party claims it will "provide an additional allowance while securing fiscal resources." The additional allowance, however, will "take the form of building more nurseries and providing free school lunches to replace cash handouts."

The DPJ will no longer pay the additional child allowance unless fiscal resources can be secured, and it will reexamine the priority it placed on cash handouts.


DPJ right to change tack

This country is in dire fiscal straits, as exemplified by the issuance of government bonds worth more than tax revenue. Under these conditions, the provision of the 26,000 yen child allowance, which would require 5.4 trillion yen a year, is out of the question. The DPJ was right to change tack.

Social security budgets will increase by 1 trillion yen a year as our society ages. From next fiscal year, 2.5 trillion yen will be needed to pay for the portion of basic pension payments to be covered by the state. Given the serious fiscal conditions, it will not be easy to fund additional child allowances nor to maintain the current provision of half the promised amount.

In its vision on children and child-rearing, the government set a goal of increasing the capacity of nurseries by 50,000 children a year over five years.

It will cost 1.6 trillion yen to achieve this goal. Such an amount cannot be scrounged together simply by recasting the budget and cutting wasteful spending.


Tax hike unavoidable

Unless the consumption tax rate is raised, it will be difficult to boost measures to help parents raise their children. The DPJ needs to recognize this fact. Then the party should redesign its child-rearing policy comprehensively by studying what level of child allowance would be appropriate, and how it could be provided. This should be done in tandem with discussions on the advisability of raising the consumption tax.

Opposition parties also need to take such an approach. In its campaign platform for the July 11 election, the Liberal Democratic Party says it will "abolish nursery and kindergarten tuition fees." However, this would require at least 800 billion yen.

The LDP campaign pledges include "increasing the consumption tax rate to 10 percent," and details how necessary fiscal resources could be found. But the LDP should unequivocally tell voters that a hike in the consumption tax is the main premise for implementing measures that will greatly improve the social security system.

The British administration of Prime Minister David Cameron has put forth a policy of raising the value-added tax rate to 20 percent and freezing child-allowance payments for three years as it seeks to put Britain's fiscal house back in order.

Japan's fiscal conditions are tighter than Britain's. It is impossible to maintain the social security system without asking the public to shoulder an additional burden.

Voters need to discern which party will discuss and tackle this matter squarely and seriously in the upper house election.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2010)
(2010年6月28日01時56分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月28日 (月)

G8サミット 日本の存在感低下に歯止めを

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 28, 2010)
Japan must halt decline of diplomatic clout
G8サミット 日本の存在感低下に歯止めを(6月27日付・読売社説)

The summit meetings of the Group of Eight major powers and the Group of 20 major industrialized and emerging countries are taking place in Canada.

While it is noted that Japan's clout in the international community has been on the decline for several years, Prime Minister Naoto Kan's diplomatic competence is already being put to the test in his first trip abroad as prime minister.

Addressing the global economy, which is being rocked by Greece's debt crisis, leaders of the G-8 major powers affirmed during their meeting the importance of tackling fiscal reconstruction while securing growth.

Kan explained and sought understanding for Japan's policy of increasing expenditures in the nursing and medical fields while pursuing economic growth and fiscal soundness.

After returning to Japan, Kan certainly will be pressed to give concrete form to measures, including the consumption tax rate hike, to reconstruct the country's economy and state finances.

The G-8 leaders also agreed Friday to pledge 5 billion dollars over the next five years to aid maternal and child health care in developing countries. Kan announced Japan would offer 500 million dollars in this sector.

Japan possesses various types of know-how in providing medical assistance. The government should conduct finely tuned strategic aid diplomacy.


Stability vital to natl interests

In the political arena, the March sinking of a South Korean naval patrol ship was another focus of attention at the G-8.

Maintaining peace and stability in areas surrounding Japan is directly linked to its national interests. To secure its say at the G-8 summit meetings and shepherd its assertions to reality, it is indispensable that Japan fulfill its role as a major power in the political and economic arenas.

However, Japan's position in G-8 diplomacy has been extremely tenuous in recent years. Different prime ministers attended past G-8 summit meetings, with Shinzo Abe participating in 2007, Yasuo Fukuda in 2008 and Taro Aso last year.

Every time the prime minister changes, the new premier has to rebuild relationships from scratch with his counterparts from each country. While summit diplomacy is becoming increasingly important, there is no way we can expect, under such circumstances, the prime minister to exercise leadership in diplomatic negotiations, such as with Russia over the northern territories dispute.


Kan must avoid Hatoyama rut

Kan's diplomatic competence is unknown, although as finance minister, he attended the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven major industrialized nations in February.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama drove Japan-U.S. relations astray with his go-it-alone judgment and immature approach.

Kan said he would try to promote diplomacy based on pragmatism, but he needs to humbly give ear to the advice of his specialists to avoid following the same rut as his predecessor.

A problem besetting Japan's diplomacy is its declining budget for official development assistance, which has been an important card for years.

The ODA this fiscal year dropped to nearly half the level of its peak in fiscal 1997. From its position at the top of world rankings for total assistance in 2000, Japan has remained in fifth place since 2007. Japan must stop its position from declining by boosting the assistance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2010)
(2010年6月27日01時24分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月27日 (日)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:自分を認め受け入れて /東京

(Mainichi Japan) June 27, 2010
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Learning to accept yourself
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:自分を認め受け入れて /東京

More people than I can count visit my office saying the same thing: "I don't have self-confidence."

While I listen to what their lives are like now, or how they were leading up to now, I have always said basically the same thing, "Hmm, I think you have every right to have quite a lot of self-confidence."

Recently, however, a patient who visited asked me something. "Do we have to have self-confidence? Is it impossible to just get by as we are?"
 「やっぱり自信を持たなきゃ、ダメなんですか? 自信がないまま、なんとかうまく生きていくことはできないですか?」

Those words gave me a start. It was actually just as that patient said. I had always wanted to say to my patients, "You are fine as you are," but instead, I would always end up saying, "All right, let's have more self-confidence" and put an unreasonable demands on them.

Thinking about it, these patients being "fine as they are" would naturally mean "fine without self-confidence." There, in front of the patient who made me realize this, I spoke quietly to myself.

"That's right, we're fine without self-confidence."
Still, without confidence, getting by everyday is not easy. We feel inferior to others and become depressed from the smallest criticism. Some people even end up feeling they're worthless, practically losing their will to live.

That doesn't mean however, that anything will change from chanting, "Have confidence, have confidence!" and trying to drum up courage. When we get depressed, we can recognize that, and accept that it's a part of us, while remembering that in time we will return to our normal, happier selves. If we don't begin by accepting ourselves this way, it may be that change will never come.

Looking at Japan, it is full of people and companies looking to politicians to bring them back their lost self-confidence. It would be nice if society did indeed improve and lead to everyone's recovery. If we fall, however, under the illusion that politicians promising everything will make us better, as if through magic, we will only be disappointed.
 世の中を見わたせば、自信のない人や会社がいっぱいで、みんなが政治に「また自信が持てる私に戻してほしい」と願っている。社会が本当によい方向に変わって自信が回復するならよいけれど、「日本は大丈夫! 私にすべてまかせてください!」と魔法にかけられ、自信が持てたような錯覚に陥ったところで、実は何も変わらない。

Though we may lack confidence, first we should focus on clearing the challenges in front of us, one by one. We shouldn't pressure ourselves into feeling we need to be more confident. It is this way of living that I believe is needed now, both by individuals and our society. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2010年6月22日 地方版

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W杯ベスト16 組織力生かしさらに上位を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 27, 2010)
Teamwork is Japan's World Cup weapon
W杯ベスト16 組織力生かしさらに上位を(6月26日付・読売社説)

Japan's national soccer team has qualified for the knockout phase of the greatest international event in its sport. We applaud the excellent performance of the team.

Defeating Denmark 3-1 in the first round of the soccer World Cup finals in South Africa, Japan has advanced to the top 16. This is our country's second time to qualify for the second round, following the 2002 World Cup finals jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea.

In the first half of the game with Denmark, Keisuke Honda and Yasuhito Endo each scored with superb free kicks. Shinji Okazaki also netted a decisive goal in the second half.


Players made us proud

Seeing the Japanese players throw everything into defending against the Danes' fierce attacks, we were impressed with the national team's display of never-say-die spirit. As coach Takeshi Okada said, "I'm proud of these wonderful players."

The Danes' imposing physical stature and abilities seemed to put the Japanese at a disadvantage, but each player on the team fulfilled his particular role. Japan's victorious accession to the top 16 therefore should be attributed to its teamwork.

Japan's next game is with Paraguay on Tuesday. It surely will be a tough match, but we hope the team will exert all its strength to achieve a place in the top eight for the first time in history.

Expectations for the Japan team were not so high before the current World Cup finals kicked off, but after it beat Cameroon in its first game, public interest suddenly soared.

The average rating for the live broadcast of the Denmark game from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday was 30.5 percent of households with televisions in the Kanto region, with the highest rating reaching 41.3 percent. These are surprising figures given the early-morning time slot.

The second round is a knockout phase--losing just one game will eliminate a team. The voltage of excitement among fans is therefore certain to be crackling at an even higher level.


Asian teams ascendant

South Korea also has qualified to play in the top-16 second round. Unless teams from Asia perform well, the number of spots for the region may be reduced in the next World Cup finals. In this sense, too, it is good news that both Japan and South Korea have advanced to the second round.

Two unexpected developments were the exits of Italy and France, the champion and the runner-up, respectively, in the previous World Cup finals in 2006. Other leading European teams also have had tough games.

Many players on South American, African and Asian teams have played in the European leagues. These players improved their skills in Europe and now are threatening European teams in the World Cup.

South American teams, such as Brazil and Argentina, have so far performed well. Having seen the excellent individual skills of players on these teams, which the Japan players lack, we are impressed with the differences in playing styles.

With half of the 32 original teams eliminated, the best part of the World Cup finals now begins. We are even more excited to watch the fierce battles that will be fought to reach the world's top place.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 26, 2010)
(2010年6月26日01時08分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月26日 (土)



アウンサンスーチー女史を支援するtwitterサイト Plaid_…でしっかりつながっていました。

srachai from khonkaen, thailand

○ Canada
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
President of the G8 for 2010

○ France
President Nicolas Sarkozy

○ Germany
Chancellor Angela Merkel

○ Italy
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

× Japan
Prime Minister Naoto Kan

○ Russia
President Dmitry Medvedev

× United Kingdom
Prime Minister David Cameron

○ United States
President Barack Obama

Also represented
× European Union
President Jose Manuel Barroso



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参院選公示 政治と経済立て直しの契機に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 26, 2010)
Election chance to put politics, economy in order
参院選公示 政治と経済立て直しの契機に(6月25日付・読売社説)

Many people must feel that this country's backbone is in danger of splintering.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government, which replaced the coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito last autumn, has brought major confusion to the political arena, rather than ushering in a new era of politics.

The economy has been mired in deflation; glimmers of hope are few and far between.

Official campaigning for the House of Councillors election kicked off after it was officially announced Thursday.  24日、参院選が公示された。

We hope each political party will present practical "prescriptions" that can cure the ills afflicting this nation, including policies that can get the economy back on its feet and diplomatic and security policies for restructuring the Japan-U.S. alliance.


Weighing pledges

Nine political parties have selected candidates in the election. The July 11 poll has become a real scramble for votes. Voters should carefully examine each party's campaign pledges to determine whether they are realistic, and its candidates to see if they are trustworthy.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama lost the confidence of the public after being tarred by a money and politics scandal. He also severely strained this country's relations with the United States over the relocation of the U.S. military's Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture. As a result, he was forced to step down just over eight months after he assumed the premiership. He was replaced by Naoto Kan.

The candidates should first discuss what the two DPJ-led cabinets achieved and how they handled the responsibility of being in government.

The DPJ has been forced to revise the child-allowance program that headlined its manifesto for last year's House of Representatives election. Payments only started this month, but the lack of a revenue source has made the allowance untenable. Despite this, the DPJ has made no attempt to review and reflect on this and its other dole-out measures.


What's the difference?

The money scandals that tainted Hatoyama and former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa remain far from resolved.

We wonder how--and whether--the Kan administration differs from the previous administration.

The Hatoyama administration was characterized by populist policies, such as an array of dole-out measures and the manner in which budget screening was conducted; bureaucrat-bashing under the name of giving politicians a greater role in running the government; money-oriented politics fueled by huge sums of cash; undemocratic tactics to ensure there was no vocal objections to Ozawa's dictatorship in the party; pro-China leanings and keeping the United States at arm's length; and strong-arm Diet management by using the party's sheer weight of numbers.

Kan was deputy prime minister and finance minister in the Hatoyama Cabinet. Can he truly break free from the nature of the former administration?

The DPJ should have sought a mandate from the people by dissolving the lower house for a general election. But because the DPJ avoided this option, it needs to fully explain these issues, otherwise voters will not be armed with enough facts to make an informed judgment on election day.

The issue of raising the consumption tax rate will be a crucial test of the Kan administration's ability to deliver.

Kan called for creation of a suprapartisan panel to discuss drastic tax reform--including the consumption tax--and hinted at raising the tax rate to 10 percent.


Debate sales tax

Raising the consumption tax rate is an obvious step if one considers the nation's critical fiscal situation and ever-expanding social security costs. The LDP made the first move on raising the tax rate to 10 percent, the DPJ has followed. We applaud both parties for being responsible enough and having the stomach to squarely face this issue.

Yet, the DPJ's policy flip-flop has been derided by some as an attempt to deflect attention from the previous administration's shortcomings.

Kan should carefully explain the reasons why raising the consumption tax rate is necessary and how the revenue will be used. He also should unveil a detailed plan for reforming the entire tax system.

Political parties that have come out against raising the consumption tax rate need to show realistic alternatives for the sake of deepening tax system debate.

The framework of the DPJ-People's New Party coalition government may need to be redesigned depending on how the parties fare in the election. This could be a golden chance for political realignment.

A handful of new parties that proclaim themselves to be a "third force" behind the DPJ and LDP have fielded many candidates. Their campaigns could affect the election success of the two major parties.

The question on many observers' lips is whether the DPJ can snatch a majority in the upper house, which, when combined with its absolute majority in the lower house, would bring about a single party government.

If the DPJ falls short of this goal, the next focus will be on whether it can secure a majority in a coalition with the PNP. If the two parties lack the seats for a majority, the DPJ might have to hop into bed with some of the "third force" parties.

The LDP has made no secret of its target of preventing the ruling parties from gaining a majority in the upper house. It apparently intends to put a brake on DPJ-led politics by bringing about a "divided Diet" in which both chambers are controlled by different political forces.

What kind of administration does this nation need? Each voter should cast their ballot with this question firmly in mind.


Ideal upper house functions

The upper house, once dubbed the "chamber of wisdom," has long been ridiculed as the "chamber of political maneuvers."

The DPJ wanted to go into the election while the Kan Cabinet rides high in public support polls and closed the Diet session without extending it. An upper house plenary session to vote on an opposition-sponsored motion to censure the prime minister was not held. Such actions besmirch the upper chamber's once lofty image of being a home to "wisdom."

The DPJ, which became the largest party in the upper chamber following the previous upper house election, shot down bills and personnel assignment plans submitted by the then LDP-New Komeito coalition government to rattle the administration and threw the political situation into chaos.

Some observers believe the authority of the House of Councillors, which has become too powerful, should be reined in. We urge each party to debate how an ideal upper house should function.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 25, 2010)
(2010年6月25日01時22分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月25日 (金)

Record Number of Children Dying in Hot, Unattended Cars


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

Record Number of Children Dying in Hot, Unattended Cars

Eight kids in the past twelve days have died in the United States after getting trapped or left in unattended vehicles on hot summer days.

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所得税論議 最高税率引き上げは問題多い


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 25, 2010)
Don't be hasty to raise top income tax rate
所得税論議 最高税率引き上げは問題多い(6月24日付・読売社説)

An expert panel of the government's Tax Commission has drawn up a list of points of contention on tax system reform in an interim report it submitted to the commission.

With the nation's perilous fiscal situation in mind, the panel spelled out the importance of harnessing consumption tax as a stable revenue source to cover rising social security costs.

We think this is a reasonable suggestion.

However, we take issue with the panel's emphasis on reinforcing the progressive structure as part of this country's income tax system reform. Under the structure, an increase in individuals' income will catapult them into higher tax brackets.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has spoken publicly about the need to hike the consumption tax rate in the future. Kan seems to be trying to convince the public of the worthiness of taxing high-income earners more since a consumption tax hike would increase the financial burden shouldered by Joe Blow.


Missing the point

Indeed, some observers have pointed out that the consumption tax is regressive, which means the burden is relatively higher for low-income earners.

But that does not mean progressive tax rates for income tax should be raised. The panel is completely missing the point.

Consumption tax should be made less regressive by, for instance, reducing the tax rate on daily necessities.

Income tax revenue for fiscal 2009 is expected to dip below 13 trillion yen for the first time in 27 years, about half of the peak figure.

Currently, the burden rate of income taxation for individuals in Japan against national income is about 7 percent. The rate is 10 percent or higher in the United States and major European countries. It is a fact that income tax's role as the nation's core taxation has been eroded.

However, even if the progressive tax structure is fortified, the number of high-income earners who will pay the higher tax rates will not change. Therefore, any increase in income tax revenue growth will be marginal as a proportion of the nation's entire tax revenue.

The maximum tax rate imposed on individual income--through a combination of income tax and resident tax--was 88 percent in the 1980s.

Many people complained they lost their motivation to work because of this high rate. In response, the government cut the maximum rate to keep pace with tax system reform implemented in the United States and Britain.

The highest tax rate for income tax, with national and regional taxes combined, is now 50 percent. However, it still tops the 47.6 percent for New York City and 48 percent in France.


Lower taxable income level

We think the government should instead be cutting the lowest taxable income threshold for individuals.

Japan's lowest taxable annual income is about 3.25 million yen for a standard household consisting of a married couple with two children. This is quite high by international standards. Many people end up not having to pay tax.

If tax deductions are cut back, the lowest taxable income can also be reduced. Consequently, more income earners will be asked to pay more tax. This is inevitable if we consider a basic tenet of taxation--a wide proportion of the nation's people should bear the burden thinly.

The expert panel said fortifying the progressive structure of income taxation was important because the tax system's income redistribution function has been crippled, generating widening disparities among the people.

However, going too far in progressive taxation would be nothing but a prime example of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government's populist agenda. Before thinking about income redistribution, improving social security measures such as pension, medical care and nursing care programs should come first.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2010)
(2010年6月24日01時07分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月24日 (木)


(Mainichi Japan) June 23, 2010
Taking a deeper look at Kan's realism

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's naming of his new Cabinet as the "Kihei-tai Cabinet" (Irregular Militia Cabinet) still doesn't sit right.

The Kiheitai was a militia formed in the Choshu domain (present day Yamaguchi Prefecture) toward the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, standing in opposition to the shogunate.

Many people have probably never heard of this militia, and the meaning of "Kihei-tai" in reference to Kan's Cabinet doesn't come across clearly -- to the man on the street, its significance is lost.

The adoption of such an odd name is a reflection of the prime minister's lack of preparation and direction. By referring to his Cabinet as a "Kihei-tai," does Kan plan to keep up with the idea of destroying the system?

In a question directed at Kan on June 15, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker Yoshimasa Hayashi, who is from Yamaguchi Prefecture, asked, "Are you a destroyer or a creator?" to which Kan replied, "Both."

During the question session, Hayashi made reference to the historical work "Yoshida Shoin," by the great pre-war journalist Soho Tokutomi, explaining, "For a revolution, three types of people are needed: thinkers, destroyers and creators."

Looking at Soho's original work, we see that the "creator" is a "constructive revolutionary." In giving an example, the journalist listed Cromwell, Napoleon, and Toshimichi Okubo, and noted that the reason they were successful in the final phase of their revolutions was that they were people who looked beyond ideals to the actual situation.

Looking beyond ideals to the actual situation probably means being a realist with a well-balanced feel for the situation.

Kan is a realist, which both the prime minister himself and others acknowledge. Amid the upheaval brought about by political realignment, he has chosen, as a party leader, to place priority on survival. His dry yet flexible approach that is not necessarily bound by ideals, duty or obligations comprises the basis of others' assessments of Kan's character.

This approach is evident in his relationship with labor unions. Kan comes from a background of citizen campaigning, and during his time in the Socialist Democratic Federation and New Party Sakigake, he was consistently critical of politics that relied on labor unions. However, that changed when he formed the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and teamed up with lawmakers from the former Social Democratic Party and Democratic Socialist Party. He placed priority on solidifying his base of support and started making an effort to cooperate with labor unions.

Kan's approach when it comes to former DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa is even drier. The two didn't get on well to begin with, and Kan didn't hesitate to criticize Ozawa. But in the autumn of 2003, as leader of the DPJ, Kan decided to merge his party with the Liberal Party led by Ozawa. After that, he was cautious not to quickly join in criticism of Ozawa that was smoldering within the DPJ, and solidified his chances of succeeding former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Kan's realism has also been displayed in his policies. In the book "90 Nendai no Shogen/Kan Naoto" (Testimonies of the 1990s -- Naoto Kan), published by Asahi Shimbun Publications in 2008, reference is made to Seiji Maehara, a particularly hawkish figure in the field of diplomacy within the DPJ. Kan is asked, "You're not as much of a realist as Maehara in diplomacy are you?" to which he responds, "Well actually, from my point of view, Maehara is more fundamentalist than pragmatic. I'm much more of a realist."

In his policy speech at the Diet and during a party leaders' question session, Kan stressed that he would deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance, and the policy of an "equal Japan-U.S. alliance" promoted by Hatoyama's administration vanished.

Kan also suggested raising the consumption tax to 10 percent, "using an LDP proposal as a reference" -- in other words a policy no different from that of the LDP.

I would like to laud this as the behavior of a realist, but when we've come this far the question arises: What exactly is realism?

The "Kojien" dictionary's definition of "realism" (genjitsu-shugi) translates as follows: "the attitude of handling affairs based on reality without adhering to a doctrine or ideals. There are times when the attitude of yielding to an established fact before one's eyes or opportunism has the same meaning."

So what is Kan's realism? Is it realism on the same scale as that used during the early years of the Meiji Period by Toshimichi Okubo, who observed the U.S. and Europe and decided to focus on internal affairs? Or is it the realism of the art of survival by the Kihei-tai of Japan's political center of Nagatacho -- suppressing Ozawa's group within the party for the time being and beating the LDP? That's the issue at stake. (By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2010年6月21日 東京朝刊

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2010年6月23日 (水)



srachai from khonkaen, thailand

ミャンマー:スーチーさん65歳の誕生日 またも拘束下で





毎日新聞 2010年6月19日 20時35分(最終更新 6月19日 21時47分)

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イルカ漁映画 問題あっても妨害は許されぬ

Freedom of speech and expression are the foundation of a democratic society. The obstruction of  BBS postings by an administrator, through deleting some postings cannot be allowed.
Whatever the content of the postings, the free expression that is a BBS should be respected as much as possible, as long as a postings are not offensive to public order and morality.



The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 23, 2010)
Don't block a movie for being problematic
イルカ漁映画 問題あっても妨害は許されぬ(6月22日付・読売社説)

Freedom of speech and expression are the foundation of a democratic society. The obstruction of the screening of a movie, through intimidating protests or other means, cannot be allowed.

Some showings in this country of "The Cove," a critical portrayal of the dolphin fishing of Taijicho, Wakayama Prefecture, have been canceled. Three theaters in Tokyo and Osaka that had been scheduled to show the film announced in early June they would not.

They did so because an organization that believes the movie is anti-Japan warned the theaters it would take such actions as holding street protests using loudspeakers.

The organization did make repeated protests in front of the home of the president of the movie's domestic distributor, and in front of the distributor's office, provoking turmoil.

The operators of the theaters apparently feared that showing the film would cause trouble for audiences and people living nearby.


Don't give in to intimidation

In contrast, 22 other movie theaters throughout the country have decided to show "The Cove," some starting July 3. The distributor and these movie theaters have demonstrated their resolve not to yield to foul intimidation.

The people of this nation can help protect the right to free and varied speech by supporting this brave action. We hope the police will do everything they can to ensure security, to prevent any trouble caused by efforts at obstruction.

Made by members of a radical U.S. environmental protection group that visited Taijicho, "The Cove" won best documentary feature at this year's Academy Awards.
However, the filmmakers shot some footage by trespassing into an off-limits area without the permission of the town's fisheries organization.

The movie includes a scene in which dolphins driven by fishermen into the town's cove are killed, and the sea becomes red with the dolphins' blood. At another point, fishermen and the movie's crew argue about the filming.

The town's government and fisheries organization asked the distributor to cancel the movie's release because it may infringe on the image rights of the fishermen filmed. They also say it presents incorrect information regarding the concentration of mercury reportedly found in dolphin meat.


Freedom of expression key

In response, the Japanese distributor agreed to make some modifications, such as obscuring the faces of people in the dolphin fishing industry. However, there is no way to conceal the surreptitious filming. It may be true that some of the filmmakers' methods were problematic.

But whatever the content of the documentary, the free expression that is a movie should be respected as much as possible, as long as a film is not offensive to public order and morality.

If the content of the movie is problematic, people should first see it at a theater and then criticize it.

Two years ago, the domestic release of a Japanese-Chinese documentary made by a Chinese director about Yasukuni Shrine was canceled due to various problems, including street loudspeaker campaigns conducted by rightest organizations.

It is quite regrettable that similar incidents are happening again.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 22, 2010)
(2010年6月22日01時23分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月22日 (火)

成長戦略決定 「絵空事」に終わらせるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 22, 2010)
Growth strategy needs more substance
成長戦略決定 「絵空事」に終わらせるな(6月21日付・読売社説)

The government has drawn up its new growth strategy. However, uncertainties remain over whether this strategy can achieve the anticipated economic growth by effectively tapping the vigor of private businesses.

The strategy is aimed at galvanizing seven fields, such as environment/energy and health, while accelerating moves to help the economy break free from deflation. It contains 21 measures for promoting what have been touted as national strategy projects to establish a strong economy.

Implementing these measures, the government calculates, will create more than 120 trillion yen in new demand and about 5 million jobs. This would generate average yearly economic growth of more than 2 percent in real terms and more than 3 percent in nominal terms in the decade to come.

The strategy contains some measures likely to be effective. But there is a question over whether it can bring about the sort of drastic impact the government is banking on. The government should prioritize the measures and enhance their efficacy.

Many of the measures are intended to back up corporate activity and boost the vigor of the private sector.


Boost corporate activity

One pillar of the strategy is to lower the effective corporate tax rate gradually from the current 40 percent or so to 30 percent or about 25 percent--the same level as in many other industrialized nations. This will reinforce the international competitiveness of Japanese firms.

The strategy calls for establishing a special committee representing both the private and public sectors to promote sales of social infrastructure projects in Asia, such as the construction of nuclear power plants and Shinkansen bullet train networks. If successful, the plan will bring in orders for huge infrastructure projects in the region.

However, the strategy is not without shortcomings. The practicality of some measures is debatable, such as the project to build an environmentally friendly futuristic city. Since the strategy is making plans for 10 years from now, it contains many rough and vague plans. These plans must be fleshed out in the years to come.

There are concerns about whether measures to revive forests and forestry will include simple handouts. We want the government to reexamine whether these measures are suitable for inclusion in its growth strategy.


Devil's in the (lack of) details

An overall problem is that the strategy lacked precise figures for the fiscal spending and costs that will be needed to carry out the measures, although it projected concrete figures--such as the demand that will be created--for the fruit of the measures.

Unless details are spelled out about how to fund these projects at a time when the state finances are in dire straits, none of the plans will get off the ground. A close eye will need to be kept on whether each measure has an effect commensurate with its cost.

Another matter of concern is the lack of clarity on how the measures will be carried out. Previous strategies were beset by failures due to conflicts of authority between government ministries involved in the projects. It is necessary to speed up efforts to establish a system that can promote several measures comprehensively and simultaneously.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government calls for banning in principle the dispatch of temporary workers to the manufacturing industry and reducing greenhouse gases by 25 percent--measures that could adversely affect corporate activity. These steps do not wash with its new growth strategy designed to help businesses.

The government should drop its adherence to its campaign pledges for last year's general election and instead devote itself to reviving the economy before all else.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2010)
(2010年6月21日01時41分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月21日 (月)

消費税公約 引き上げを国民に堂々訴えよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 21, 2010)
Parties must stress need for consumption tax hike
消費税公約 引き上げを国民に堂々訴えよ(6月20日付・読売社説)

Ahead of the official announcement of the House of Councillors election on Thursday, the Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party recently hammered out drastic tax reform proposals, including raising the consumption tax rate.

It is the wish of many people to rehabilitate this country's state finances, the worst among leading industrialized nations, and make the social security system sustainable. To this end, a consumption tax hike is obviously unavoidable.

It is the responsibility of politicians to try to convince the public of the need for a tax increase, even if it is painful. We hope to see the matter actively debated during the upcoming upper house election campaign.

At a press conference during which Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the DPJ's campaign pledges, he referred to the consumption tax and said he would try to come up with an appropriate tax rate and tax reform proposals within the current fiscal year.

As for the consumption tax rate, Kan also said that he would use as reference the main opposition LDP's proposal of raising it to 10 percent from the current 5 percent. Kan's comment is a significant change from former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's policy of making the issue of a consumption tax hike a no-go area.

The consumption tax rate, which was introduced in 1989 at 3 percent, was raised to 5 percent in 1997. Since then, past administrations have not squarely addressed the consumption tax issue. Kan should be praised for announcing a policy of raising the consumption tax rate this time.

At the press conference, Kan also expressed his intention to seek the people's mandate on the issue in the House of Representatives election before implementing a tax increase. However, an ideal opportunity could be lost if Kan takes things slowly.


DPJ talk political posturing

Some DPJ members have said that if the DPJ proposes raising the consumption tax rate to 10 percent as the LDP has done, the issue would not be a point of contention in the upper house election. This is, however, nothing but conventional election posturing.

Kan's policy was met by a backlash within the DPJ. He should speed up intraparty discussions and establish his party's basic policy on the issue.

The nation's debt-laden finances are in a critical situation due to the Hatoyama administration's dole-out policies that stuck to the DPJ's manifesto for the lower house election last summer, in addition to lavish economic stimulus measures after the bursting of the economic bubble.

It is estimated that cumulative long-term debts at the central and local governments will rise to 860 trillion yen as of the end of the current fiscal year--1.8 times the country's gross domestic product.

The fiscal 2010 budget is abnormal, with tax revenues falling to about 37 trillion yen, lower than the new government bond issuance, which has swollen to 44 trillion yen.

Due to the country's graying population, social security costs, which currently total more than 20 trillion yen a year, will increase by 1 trillion yen every year.

In fiscal 2009, the government's share of contributions to the basic pension payments was raised to 50 percent from one-third. However, increased contributions are provisionally funded by surplus funds in special accounts, dubbed "buried treasure," and a permanent revenue source of 2.5 trillion yen will be necessary in fiscal 2011 and thereafter.

"Integrated economic, fiscal and social security reforms," as touted by the Kan Cabinet, can only be achieved with stable revenue sources.

However, the income and corporate taxes that have been an important source of government revenues have substantially decreased due to the prolonged recession and a series of tax breaks. Therefore, the last resort is raising the consumption tax, a revenue source that does not fluctuate significantly due to changes in economic conditions and that spreads the burden widely among the public.

The country's 5 percent consumption tax is exceptionally low compared with 25 percent in Nordic countries, 16 percent to 20 percent in Spain, Britain and Italy, and 10 percent in South Korea.

Sixty-six percent of the respondents to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted earlier this month said it is necessary to raise the consumption tax rate, greatly surpassing the 29 percent who said it is unnecessary. Many people lean toward the opinion that a consumption tax hike is unavoidable.


Where to spend revenue

Bones of contention regarding the consumption tax are not confined to such issues as the rate and timing of its introduction. Therefore, wide-ranging discussions will be needed.

The first point is where to spend the increased revenues from the tax hike. A 1 percentage point hike in the consumption tax rate would translate into a tax revenue increase of 2.4 trillion yen. If the tax rate is raised to 10 percent, tax revenues will increase by about 12 trillion yen.

Currently, revenues from the consumption tax are distributed among three fields: the basic pension program, health care for the elderly and nursing care. But Kan has expressed his intention to aggressively invest increased revenues in growth fields such as medical care and nursing industries in order to increase employment.

Using the increased tax revenues to expand government spending without careful consideration may simply repeat earlier mistakes. We believe the consumption tax will have to be spent exclusively for social security services.

Under the current system, 1 percentage point worth of revenue from the 5 percent consumption tax is allocated to local governments. In addition, a certain portion of the revenue is also provided to local governments as local tax grants. Consequently, the central government can spend only about 7 trillion yen out of the total consumption tax revenues.

Even if the consumption tax rate is raised to 10 percent, therefore, the central government is unlikely to have enough revenue from this source. The government may have to consider setting the rate at 15 percent or higher in the future, just as European countries do.


Help low-income earners

Another issue will be how to reduce the financial burden on low-income earners.

Because the consumption tax is imposed equally on everyone, those in low-income brackets tend to feel more of a burden than high-income earners.

To alleviate this problem, some countries have introduced a system under which consumption tax rates are set lower for food and other daily necessities. Such a system is worth considering in this country as well.

Another option may be to pay tax refunds to low-income earners to cover the cost of the consumption tax they pay for daily necessities. Before implementing such a system, however, it will be an urgent task for the government to consider introducing an identification number system for tax and social security in order to know which households will be eligible for the system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,June 20, 2010)
(2010年6月20日01時19分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月20日 (日)

<ダライ・ラマ14世>「英語学び貢献を」 若者自殺に懸念


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

cite from mainichi jp

<ダライ・ラマ14世>「英語学び貢献を」 若者自殺に懸念





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海外向けのNHK Worldでは大相撲はおろかオリンピックも観戦できません。
key hole tv でしのいでいますが画像がコマ抜けしておりスポーツなど速い動きには対応できません。

srachai from khonkaen, thailand

cite from livedoor news

 北朝鮮がW杯の試合映像を無断で放送している問題が、ややこしい展開になってきた。朝鮮半島全体での中継権を126億円で獲得した韓国SBSテレビは「勝手に使うな」と激怒しているが、FIFAが「合法」と言い出したというのだ。 韓国の聯合ニュースがFIFAに問い合わせたところ、北朝鮮とアジア太平洋放送連合(ABU)が、W杯直前に映像提供で合意したという。ABUとは、アジア地域の55カ国が加盟する国際的な団体で、貧困国に向けた措置らしい。

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安保改定50年 日米同盟深化へ戦略対話を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 20, 2010)
Talks needed to boost Japan-U.S. alliance
安保改定50年 日米同盟深化へ戦略対話を(6月19日付・読売社説)

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the automatic ratification of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty--without the approval of the House of Councillors--amid demonstrators surrounding the Diet building.

There is no question that the Japan-U.S. alliance has played an important role in ensuring peace, stability and economic prosperity in Japan and the rest of Asia during the past half century.

Setting aside the way the revised treaty was approved by the Diet, the political decision of the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi to revise the treaty and maintain the bilateral alliance was correct.

The conflicts surrounding the 1960 security treaty mirrored the Cold War between the East and West abroad and a showdown between conservatives and reformists at home. At that time, this country was completing its postwar reconstruction and entering a period of high economic growth. Public opinion was split over the revised security treaty, with memories of tragic war experiences still fresh in many people's minds.


Govt appeals to public

The government and the Liberal Democratic Party, which were promoting revision of the security treaty, appealed to the public by promising to correct inequalities of the original security treaty signed in 1951 and clarify the U.S. obligation to defend Japan. A group opposing revision, including the Japan Socialist Party, insisted the pact be abolished, saying it would make it easier for Japan to become embroiled in a war.

Lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties, as well as the general public, spent a huge amount of political energy on the issue. After the LDP steamrolled a bill to ratify the revised security treaty through the House of Representatives on May 19-20, 1960, large-scale demonstrations against the security treaty took place.

In mid-June of the year, Michiko Kanba, a 22-year-old University of Tokyo student, was crushed to death during a clash between demonstrators and riot police, and a planned visit to Japan by then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was canceled. The Yomiuri Shimbun and six other Tokyo-based newspaper companies issued a joint appeal to the demonstrators that said, "Abandon violence and protect parliamentarism."

Kishi announced his resignation right after the security treaty went into effect on June 23, 1960.

The Japan-U.S. alliance, which was born after many difficulties were overcome, effectively staved off the military threat posed by the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.

In the post-Cold War period, the bilateral alliance functioned as a deterrent to new threats from regional conflicts, including that on the Korean Peninsula, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. By redefining the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, Japan and the United States came to regard their alliance as a kind of public asset to bolster the stability of Asia-Pacific region.

The Japanese and U.S. governments later reviewed the Guideline for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, increasing the effectiveness of the bilateral alliance.


Reconsidering relationship

South Korea and Southeast Asian nations were now seriously concerned about the deterioration in the Japan-U.S. relationship caused by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's poor diplomacy--evidence that other Asian nations also perceive the Japan-U.S. alliance as a public asset.

Ironically, Hatoyama's words and deeds, which could have been interpreted as distancing Japan from the United States gave many people a good opportunity to reconsider the Japan-U.S. relationship. It is vital for us to think about how to deepen and develop the Japan-U.S. alliance based on history and past developments in the relationship between the two countries.


The issue of relocating functions of the U.S. Marine Corp's Futenma Air Station is the first thing that needs to be worked on.

In doing so, the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan needs to realize not only that the relocation plan returned to the original plan--building alternative facilities near the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture--but also that the situation has become much worse, as many Okinawans have turned against the plan.

First of all, the government should properly implement the Japan-U.S. agreement reached late last month, which says the location of the alternative facilities and the method for building runways will be decided by the end of August. It also is important to patch up strained relationships with Okinawa Prefecture and the Nago city government, and make tenacious efforts to seek acceptance of the plan.

In November 2003, when he was president of the Democratic Party of Japan, Kan said it was possible to maintain the security of the Far East without U.S. Marine Corps bases and troops being stationed in Okinawa Prefecture.

Kan has clarified he will adhere to the Japan-U.S. agreement on the base relocation plan, but this should not be just ad hoc realism. To build a relationship of mutual trust with the United States, it is necessary for him to break away from his past position on the issue.


Making ties even stronger

Japan and the United States should continually hold strategic dialogues.

How can the two nations realize stability on the Korean Peninsula and persuade China to act responsibly as a major power politically and economically? How should Japan and the United States cooperate with each other and other nations to tackle such issues as global warming, the war on terrorism and disarmament?

By deepening discussions on such issues and by Japan playing more active roles in the international community, the nation could build an even stronger alliance with the United States.

Security is the core of the bilateral alliance. North Korea has been developing nuclear missiles and sank a South Korean patrol vessel in March. China has rapidly been building up and modernizing its military. The Chinese Navy is expanding its operations to wider areas, causing friction with neighboring nations. Japan cannot be so optimistic about its security environment.


Fully preparing for emergencies through close cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces in peacetime will ultimately serve as a deterrence against such emergencies.

The alliance sometimes is compared to riding a bicycle: The inertia of a bicycle will carry it forward, but unless we pedal, the bike will eventually slow down and fall.

To maintain the alliance, it is vital for the two nations to set common goals and work hard together to achieve them. It is also indispensable to make ceaseless efforts to settle pending issues one by one.

It is not enough to merely chant, "The Japan-U.S. alliance is the foundation of Japan's diplomacy."

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2010)
(2010年6月19日01時33分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月19日 (土)

参院選公約 民主党の現実路線は本物か

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 19, 2010)
Has DPJ really taken realistic turn?
参院選公約 民主党の現実路線は本物か(6月18日付・読売社説)

The Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and other political parties have announced their campaign pledges for the House of Councillors election scheduled for July 11.

A number of issues require deep discussion before the election--not least whether the consumption tax rate should be raised. We hope every party will discuss their policies with gusto.

The DPJ manifesto for the upper house poll has a healthier dose of realism than the pledges it made for last year's House of Representatives election.

However, doubts linger over whether the new DPJ manifesto is merely a political gesture intended to draw votes, or if it is a genuine change of direction based firmly on realistic calculations.

On restoring fiscal health, the DPJ has a goal of achieving a primary balance surplus in the budget 10 years from now. To achieve this objective, the manifesto stipulates the party will start a suprapartisan debate on drastic tax reform--including consumption tax.


Clarify tax reform picture

The LDP manifesto says the consumption tax rate should be raised to 10 percent for the time being. The main opposition party came up with this figure based on the costs needed to finance social security.

At a press conference Thursday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, "We'll use the 10 percent proposal contained in the LDP pledges as one reference." As long as the DPJ is calling for suprapartisan debate on tax reform, the party should clarify the whole picture of this reform and what this would entail.

In its latest manifesto, the DPJ erased the "monthly amount of 26 yen,000" for the child allowance it pledged in last year's manifesto. Instead, the 2010 manifesto says the party will provide "something additional" to the 13,000 yen currently handed out each month. The DPJ has given up trying to provide the promised amount because there is not enough money to fund it--although last year the party insisted the cash would be found.

However, the party has retained dole-out measures such as income support for farming households and a plan to abolish expressway tolls. We think the DPJ should review these measures, too.

In diplomatic and security fields, the party dropped the expression "move in the direction of reexamining" the role of U.S. military bases in Japan. On the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, the party vows to "do its utmost to lessen Okinawa Prefecture's burden based on the Japan-U.S. agreement."

Last year, the DPJ did not mention China's steady military expansion. This time, however, the manifesto calls for China to be more transparent in its national defense policy.


Omitting inconveniences

It is only natural that the ruling party has shifted its stance after taking into consideration the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and Japan's security environment.

Notable in the latest DPJ manifesto is the omission of a time schedule for each policy measure in each fiscal year. Last year's manifesto included such information. Similarly, the party did not provide a booklet of policy details; until last year, the party printed such a booklet to go with its pledges for each national election.

We assume the DPJ left these items out because it does not want voters to later go back and check which policies the party abandoned or revised.

In its "Index 2009," the policy booklet for last year's election, the DPJ included controversial issues including its plan to swiftly introduce local suffrage to permanent foreign residents. The booklet's absence will leave voters unsure if the DPJ still considers these issues as planks of its agenda.

The DPJ should immediately explain where it stands on these matters.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,June 18, 2010)
(2010年6月18日01時05分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月18日 (金)




photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド


Rayong Beach Condotel at Mae Ram Phun Beach, Rayong
tel: 04-6559126, 05-1353316




平声 (flat) k 普通に平らかに
低声 (low) k、 低い声で
下降声 (falling) k> 高い声から普通の高さまで落とす
高声 (high) k’ 高い声から更にちょっとだけ高く
上昇声 (rising) k< 低い声から普通の高さまで上げる

k は任意のタイ子音字を示します。


基礎タイ語-01 あいさつ
基礎タイ語-02 別れのあいさつ
基礎タイ語-03 声をかけるとき
基礎タイ語-04 感謝の言葉と答え方
基礎タイ語-05 謝罪の言葉と答え方
基礎タイ語-06 聞き直すとき
基礎タイ語-07 相手の言うことがわからないとき
基礎タイ語-08 うまく言えないとき
基礎タイ語-09 一般的なあいづち
基礎タイ語-10 よくわからないときの返事
基礎タイ語-11 強めのあいづち
基礎タイ語-12 自分について述べるとき
基礎タイ語-13 相手のことを尋ねるとき
基礎タイ語-14 頼みごとをするとき
基礎タイ語-15 申し出・依頼を断るとき
基礎タイ語-16 許可を求めるとき
基礎タイ語-18 確認を求めるとき
基礎タイ語-19 状況を知りたいとき
基礎タイ語-20 値段の尋ね方と断り方
基礎タイ語-21 急いでもらいたいとき
基礎タイ語-22 待ってもらいたいとき
基礎タイ語-23 日時・場所・天候を尋ねるとき
基礎タイ語-24 その他

srachai from khonkaen, thailand

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通常国会閉幕 「逃げ」に終始した菅民主党

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 18, 2010)
DPJ must stop 'cop-out tactics'
通常国会閉幕 「逃げ」に終始した菅民主党(6月17日付・読売社説)

Public expectations that the latest Diet session would usher in an era of "new politics" following last year's change of government have faded. Instead, the session showed all too clearly the deteriorating state of politics in this country.

The ordinary Diet session ended Wednesday. Political parties have now started preparing for the House of Councillors election scheduled for July 11.

The Democratic Party of Japan recently withdrew a proposal to hold a budget committee meeting and decided against extending the Diet session. These actions can only be criticized as "cop-outs" and neglecting the party's duty.

The two-day session of interpellations by party representatives regarding new Prime Minister Naoto Kan's policy speech was too short. More intensive discussions should have been made at the budget committees of both Diet chambers.

It also remains unclear how the Kan administration differs from the previous one of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which ended up disappointing many people.

Although Kan made no secret of the fact that his selection of cabinet ministers and top DPJ leaders were intended to rid the party of the influence of former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, the shape and direction of his policies--a key point for the new administration--remain opaque.

How will the new administration put the fiscal house in order and reform the tax system? How will it soothe strained bilateral ties with the United States?


Don't put party 1st

In an ideal political world, the administration would face the upper house election only after clarifying--through Diet deliberations--the course for policies the Kan administration hopes to accomplish.

The DPJ avoided budget committee deliberations apparently because it felt the party would have the upper hand in the upcoming election while public approval ratings for the DPJ-led administration, which rose with the new cabinet, remain high.

These are tactics that put party interests before all else. Giving the ultimate priority to winning the election speaks volumes of the party's complete disregard for Diet affairs.

The DPJ-led coalition government did not hold a meeting of the Deliberative Council on Political Ethics, which Ozawa had indicated he would attend to clarify his involvement in a political funds scandal. The government's decision has prevented it from fulfilling its accountability.

When a scandal over questionable office expenses made by a political organization of Satoshi Arai, state minister in charge of national policy and consumer affairs, surfaced, the DPJ-led administration tried to sweep the issue under the carpet.

The DPJ must realize that its attempts to conceal swirling suspicions only amplify public distrust of politics.

Several bills the government and ruling coalition had considered important did not get passed into law during the Diet session. These bills included one on postal service reforms, measures to combat global warming and one that would establish a decision-making system at the initiative of politicians.


LDP has lost its bite

The DPJ-led administration used its superior weight of numbers to manage Diet affairs even more high-handedly than Liberal Democratic Party-led administrations did. However, it appears disarray within the government and the ruling coalition parties over key policies and the simultaneous resignations of Hatoyama and Ozawa affected the fate of these bills.

Just 54.7 percent of government-proposed bills passed the Diet during the session--a postwar low. We do not think the DPJ has fulfilled its responsibility as the party in power.

On the other hand, the LDP failed to make its presence felt as the largest opposition party. The LDP failed to put the government on the defensive and present better counterproposals. LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki's kid-glove questions during Diet debates between the prime minister and opposition party leaders, and the party's tired old tactics of boycotting the Diet session also triggered grumbling within party ranks.

A string of new parties have appeared on the scene, such as the Sunrise Party of Japan, New Renaissance Party and the Spirit of Japan Party. Their emergence reflects discontent at the fecklessness of the two major parties--the DPJ and the LDP.

The election is just around the corner. Political parties must try to restore people's trust in politics by discussing responsible and basic policies, rather than competing with one another with claptrap election pledges.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 17, 2010)
(2010年6月17日01時43分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月17日 (木)


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Srachai's homepage

You are welcome.

Prolog2 | Mandarin |Home(contents) | Prolog1 | My family | 14 precepts | Culture Thai | New!!

My loveing wife and Kaichan, my adorable daughter (at Samet Island).

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Trips by train and bicycle open up new travel horizons

While for many of us taking a trip means setting the car navigation system and hitting the expressway, for some outdoors types, it's a chance to hit the rails to distant destinations they can explore on two wheels rather than four. I had always wanted to try this train and bicycle vacation combination, and when I asked "cycle life navigator" Kinuyo how to plan one, she was not only happy to suggest a trip down to the medieval shogunal capital of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, but even offered to be my guide.




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野球賭博汚染 暴力団排除が角界再生の道だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 17, 2010)
Sumo world must sever mobster ties
野球賭博汚染 暴力団排除が角界再生の道だ(6月16日付・読売社説)

Illegal gambling is rampant among sumo wrestlers. Popular sumo wrestler ozeki Kotomitsuki has admitted to the Japan Sumo Association that he gambled on professional baseball games--a criminal act. Following his admission, he will sit out the upcoming Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament.

Sumo recently has been rocked by a string of scandals. Yokozuna Asashoryu was forced to retire earlier this year following allegations he assaulted a man outside a Tokyo club after a drinking session. The gambling blight even managed to taint an ozeki, sumo's second-highest rank. These extraordinary developments will shake the foundation of the association.

The JSA recently asked sumo wrestlers, stablemasters and other association members to voluntarily report whether they had been involved in gambling activities. Kotomitsuki and 28 others admitted they had gambled on professional baseball games. Thirty-six others confessed to betting on golf, hanafuda playing cards and mah-jongg.

The association said it would report its findings to the Metropolitan Police Department and decide what further action to take after the police have completed their investigation.


JSA let guard down

Association officials initially planned to put the scandal to bed after reprimanding those who voluntarily reported their wrongdoing. However, the association was forced to reverse the policy after the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, which oversees the association, stepped in. The ministry warned the association it would be premature to extenuate the misconduct before making a report to the police.

As such, the latest developments have exposed the association's lax way of dealing with serious matters.

Organized crime syndicates are often behind gambling on professional baseball. Money wagered by sumo wrestlers must not be allowed to end up as funds for gang activities. We think the wrestlers involved should be severely punished.

The latest scandal came to light in a report by a weekly magazine that Kotomitsuki had gambled on professional baseball and that gangsters had intimidated him into paying hush money.

Although Kotomitsuki initially denied any involvement in gambling, he finally seemed to run out of excuses because other sumo wrestlers came forward to admit their misconduct to the sumo association. Regrettably, Kotomitsuki completely lacked the good sense expected of an ozeki, a rank expected to portray sumo values.


Money talks

Wealthy sumo supporters called tanimachi traditionally have provided financial assistance to wrestlers and stablemasters. Wrestlers and association members are said to sometimes come in contact with gangsters as they socialize with their tanimachi.

There have been reports that criminal organizations have been involved in sumo events, such as tournaments held in local regions.

It recently came to light that a number of gangsters had watched sumo from special ringside seats essentially set aside for the sumo association's financial supporters. A stablemaster who arranged seats for the mobsters has since had his stable disbanded by the association. The stablemaster eventually admitted he had socialized with gangsters.

This series of unseemly incidents suggest there are deep-rooted links between sumo and organized crime.

The JSA is a public-interest corporation, which receives preferential tax treatment, meaning sumo wrestlers and stablemasters belong to an organization supposed to contribute to society. In this respect, it is only natural that they immediately sever all ties with "antisocial forces."

Freeing itself from unbecoming traditions is the only way the association will be able to survive.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 16, 2010)
(2010年6月16日02時00分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月16日 (水)



srachai from khonkaen

cite from the Washington Post

Report: Human Trafficking "Serious" Problem in United States
レポート: 米国の人身売買、深刻な影を落とす

There are more than 12 million victims of human trafficking all around the world, a new State Department report says, and despite compliance with anti-trafficking laws, some of them are in the United States.

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はやぶさ帰還 歴史的快挙を次に生かそう

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 16, 2010)
Hayabusa's achievements should be built on
はやぶさ帰還 歴史的快挙を次に生かそう(6月15日付・読売社説)

Hayabusa, a space probe of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, has finally returned to Earth. This is a great accomplishment in the history of space exploration.

Hayabusa, which means peregrine falcon, left Earth in May 2003. It landed on Itokawa, an asteroid 300 million kilometers from Earth, in November 2005 and attempted to take samples of sand and other surface materials there. The probe's entire space voyage lasted seven years, ending with its homecoming on Sunday.

Hayabusa is the first space probe to return to Earth after landing on a celestial body other than the moon.

The probe's main body burned up upon entering Earth's atmosphere, but before that it released a capsule, which landed safely in the desert in Australia, that may contain samples from Itokawa. JAXA will bring the capsule back to this country and confirm whether it contains sand or other materials from the asteroid.

Unlike sand and stones on Earth, which have become oxidized and changed over many years, geologic material on asteroids is believed to have remained as it was in the early stages of the solar system. Such material would give important clues to understanding the history of the solar system.

Unfortunately, however, it is not certain whether the probe actually was able to take samples of surface material, since Hayabusa's gathering device did not work as expected. But JAXA said that sand stirred up when the probe landed on the asteroid may have entered the capsule.


Miraculous engines

Needless to say, the return of Hayabusa itself is a miracle. The probe experienced technical and mechanical malfunctions throughout its systems as it traveled a total distance of 6 billion kilometers, 40 times the distance between the sun and Earth.

First, fuel leaked from one of Hayabusa's chemical engines after it left the asteroid to return home, which caused JAXA to lose control and later communications. Although the agency fortunately was able to restore communications and put Hayabusa back on its homeward journey in 2006, JAXA had to constantly walk a tightrope for the remainder of the probe's long space flight.

Almost all the probe's devices malfunctioned, but a new type of engine manufactured by a Japanese company did outstanding work.

Called ion engines, these new thrusters have much weaker propulsion than chemical engines, which expel jets of high-pressure gas. The power of an ion engine's thrust could only keep a 1 yen coin aloft on Earth, but it can work for long hours on far less fuel than a chemical engine needs. The ion engines were used for a total of 40,000 hours to control the probe's attitude.

This, along with the automatic control technology that made it possible for the probe to land on the asteroid, demonstrates to the world how advanced Japan's technology in space exploration is. We can expect Japanese-made ion engines to be sold to other countries for use in their space probes and satellites.


Don't block progress

However, we are concerned with the next project. Development is currently stalled on Hayabusa 2, which is intended to conduct higher-level exploration of another asteroid. Learning from the lessons of Hayabusa's development, which cost 13 billion yen, the new project's budget is set at almost the same amount.

Nonetheless, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry's budget for space exploration was cut drastically, a victim of the Democratic Party of Japan-led government's plan to make high school education free, which costs nearly 400 billion yen.

Funding this fiscal year for Hayabusa 2 was cut to just 30 million yen, compared with the 1.7 billion yen made in its budgetary request before the DPJ took office from the Liberal Democratic Party.

The government should spend money on a meaningful project, rather than on handout measures.

There could be a blank period of more than 10 years until the next space probe project, given the positional relationship between Earth and asteroids. Memories of the successful space mission could fade during this downtime.

There must be no retreat in efforts to pass important technology in space exploration to the next generation of scientists and engineers, so they can improve it further.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 15, 2010)
(2010年6月15日02時04分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月15日 (火)

web browser ブラウザー

マイクロソフト社のinternet explorer 8が世界一だと思っていました。
internet explorer 8 は多国言語を扱う方には向いています。
進化をかさねるinternet explorer 8ですが弱点発見。
エクセルで作った写真アルバムをウェブファイルで保存すると写真データは別のファイルに格納されます。最新のinternet explorer 8はこの別ファイルへのアクセスを許しません。それで写真画像を表すことができないのです。

リストの下から二段目のThe World Browserは使いやすいです。


internet web browser (9種、無料)

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srachai from khonken, thailand

The U.S. stocks advanced as investors looked past a surprise drop in U.S. retail sales to focus on upbeat consumer sentiment.

Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly dropped in May for the first time in eight months.

Confidence among U.S. consumers rose in June to the highest level in more than two years.

The U.S. dollar rose against most major currencies on Friday.

Treasury prices gained on a surprising drop in U.S. retail sales.

Gold rose modestly as lower prices spurred some investors to buy the metal.

Crude-oil futures fell more than 2% as a weaker-than-expected read on U.S. retail sales.

The U.K. manufacturing unexpectedly weakened in April for the first time in three months.

China’s inflation accelerated in May to the quickest pace in 19 months.

Taiwan has had its long-term sovereign credit rating outlook revised to stable from negative by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

India’s factory output in April rose 17.6% from a year ago.

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日本振興銀捜索 偽りだった「中小企業の味方」

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 15, 2010)
Small firms' 'protector' betrayed expectations
日本振興銀捜索 偽りだった「中小企業の味方」(6月14日付・読売社説)

A bank trumpeted as a "protector" of small and midsize companies when it was established in 2004 has been smeared by allegations of criminal irregularities.

The Financial Services Agency recently filed a criminal complaint against Incubator Bank of Japan, which specializes in providing loans to small and midsize firms. This prompted the Metropolitan Police Department to search the bank's head office and other locations last week on suspicion the bank had sabotaged an audit by the FSA, a violation of the Banking Law.

The FSA was quite right to file a complaint. We hope the police will thoroughly investigate the alleged wrongdoing and uncover the whole truth.

Last month, the FSA ordered the bank to suspend part of its business for about four months after alleging its operations gravely violated the law. The agency followed this up with its criminal complaint last week.

The financial watchdog's additional action suggests it believes the bank's operations were so malicious that an administrative punishment alone would not suffice.

Former Bank of Japan official Takeshi Kimura and members of the Tokyo Junior Chamber International established the bank in 2004.

By setting its interest rates higher than those offered by major commercial banks and providing loans without secured collateral, the bank touted itself as a financial institution catering to startup businesses with high growth potential.


Off to a bad start

However, the bank quickly ran into trouble. A string of executives resigned one after another due to differences over management policy.

Kimura became president in 2005 and started overseeing the bank's management by himself. The bank ran a profit for three consecutive business terms starting with the year to March 2007, but fell into the red in the term ended March 2010 with a loss of more than 5 billion yen. Kimura resigned in May to take responsibility for the bank's deteriorating performance.

Question marks hung over the feasibility of the bank's business model of concentrating on loans to small and midsize firms. On top of that, the FSA investigation has revealed the bank's operations actually differed considerably from the management principles it had put forward.

For example, the bank allegedly purchased loan claims from financially strapped moneylenders while collecting commissions from them, and then asked these moneylenders to buy the loans back about a month later.


On a par with loan sharks

On the surface, this appears to be a simple transaction of loan claims. But the commission--which for all intents and purposes was interest--translated into an annual rate of 46 percent, far above the legally allowable ceiling. This would not be out of place in a loan-shark operation.

Moreover, the bank allegedly tried to dominate management of its clients by pressing them to have a majority of seats on their board of directors occupied by people the bank recommended. If the clients refused, the bank allegedly demanded increased collateral.

The bank also is suspected to have covered up other irregularities, including the deletion of e-mails detailing its business transactions from the bank's server.

Kimura was an adviser to the FSA from October 2002 to August 2003 under Heizo Takenaka during the administration of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He was deeply involved in the nation's financial administration.

Kimura has resigned from the bank's management lineup. But he bears heavy responsibility for the alleged misconduct because he was closely involved in the bank's management for years as president and chairman.

Kimura must cooperate fully with the police in their investigation. We also urge him to come clean in public by holding a press conference or using other avenues to speak about the bank scandals.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 14, 2010)
(2010年6月14日01時45分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月14日 (月)

口蹄疫拡大 迅速で着実な防疫策がカギだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 14, 2010)
Swift, steady action key to halt foot-and-mouth
口蹄疫拡大 迅速で着実な防疫策がカギだ(6月13日付・読売社説)

The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Miyazaki Prefecture has spread further from its origin and could expand to the entire prefecture.

New infections have been confirmed in cities including Miyakonojo, which is located about 50 kilometers from the epidemic's locus in the eastern part of the prefecture.

The epidemic now has reached a crucial juncture--whether the disease will spread outside the prefecture. Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited the prefecture Saturday and pledged the government would take all possible steps to support affected livestock farmers. The central and prefectural governments must strengthen epidemic prevention measures and do all they can to contain the disease.

The central and prefectural governments have been trying to prevent further infection by slaughtering and burying cows and pigs on disease-affected livestock farms, as well as by restricting movement and transfer of the livestock in the vicinity.

At farms within a 10-kilometer radius of major outbreak locations, livestock that have not been infected with the disease are being vaccinated to prevent the virus from spreading and then culled.

However, infections have been confirmed on farms far from the locations of the disease's initial outbreak about 50 days ago. It must be asked whether there has been any lapse in preventative measures against the disease's spread since then.


Minimize infections' impact

What is now necessary is to minimize damage to areas where new infections have been detected.

The city of Ebino in the prefecture successfully contained the disease by slaughtering livestock immediately after infections were confirmed. Learning from its example, the Miyakonojo city government began culling livestock after informing the central government of certain animals' symptoms through photos, without waiting for results of genetic tests conducted by the central government. Such swift responses are necessary to deal with the disease from now on.

One of the reasons for the spread of infections seems to be the fact that the cull of cows and pigs has not been conducted smoothly because it is difficult to find people to slaughter the livestock and places to bury the animals. It is possible the virus might have spread from these livestock. Slaughter of the remaining 30,000 cows must be sped up.

A special law on foot-and-mouth disease that took effect June 4 allows the central government to slaughter healthy livestock without farmers' consent if necessary. The legislation aims to prevent new infections by creating a livestock-free "blank area" where animals are culled.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry does not plan to apply this law in areas where new infections have been confirmed. However, if infections do expand, it is inevitable that this measure would be taken.


Find out how disease spread

Also, it is an urgent task to find out why foot-and-mouth disease has spread. One theory holds that people and vehicles that visit livestock farms have slipped through designated sterilization points. Others noted the possibility soil with the virus was carried by the wind. The government should strengthen field studies by epidemic prevention experts.

Miyakonojo produces some of the best livestock in the country. Neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture is well known for its Berkshire pigs and black cattle. The spread of the disease to Kagoshima Prefecture would immensely impact the country's livestock industry as well as adversely affect people's diets.

We hope the Kan Cabinet will place top priority on tackling foot-and-mouth disease.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,June 13, 2010)
(2010年6月13日01時14分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月13日 (日)



How do you clean up an oil spill? Different methods are used to clean up oil spills, depending on the type of oil spilled, the nature of the shoreline and the temperature of the water. In the case of the BP Oil Spill (also called the Deepwater Horizon or Gulf of Mexico oil spill), a containment cap fitted over the top of the broken wellhead sucks hundreds of thousands of gallons (about 10,000 barrels) of oil to a surface ship every day. A floating blockade has been laid to contain the oil and absorb some of it. At the same time, skimmer boats sweep the water and beach cleanup teams collect tar balls. On this date in 1994, a jury in Anchorage, Alaska, blamed carelessness by Exxon Corporation and Captain Joseph Hazelwood for the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, previously considered the nation's worst oil. The judgment allowed victims to seek $15 billion in damages.

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Bangkok Post(英字)
The Nation(英字)
Business Day(英字)
Pattaya Mail(英字)
Phuket Gazette(英字)

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所信表明演説 超党派で財政再建に取り組め

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 13, 2010)
Interparty efforts needed for fiscal reconstruction
所信表明演説 超党派で財政再建に取り組め(6月12日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Naoto Kan can be praised for displaying a realistic, down-to-earth approach in his first policy speech to the Diet--unlike his predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, whose words were filled with philosophical ideas that ended up going nowhere.

However, Kan's address was short on concrete policy measures, and we have to say it was not enough.

In Friday's speech, Kan said his most important duty was to overcome the setbacks Hatoyama suffered and regain the public's trust.

He listed three key items for the new Cabinet's policy agenda: "an exhaustive cleanup of the postwar government," "reviving the economy, rebuilding public finances and turning the social security system around in an integrated manner," and "a foreign and security policy grounded in a sense of responsibility."

"An exhaustive cleanup"--referring to the administrative style of the postwar era--is a slogan initially coined by Hatoyama and used by Kan to express his intention to continue with such ongoing efforts as budget screening, elimination of wasteful spending and decentralization of power to local governments.
It is not clear, however, exactly what the new administration will do to tackle these issues, or how it will do it.


Seeking a 'third way'

Kan has spoken many times recently of reconstructing the economy, public finances and social security system in an integrated manner. It hardly needs to be said that it is vital to put this nation's economy on a stable recovery track and set a course for fiscal reconstruction.

Kan said he would pursue a "third way" to do so, rather than the "first way" in which the government pours funds into public works projects or the "second way" represented by the drive for structural reforms under former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
The so-called third way aims to create new demand and employment by channeling government funds raised through tax increases to social security and other areas, thereby achieving growth.

It will never be easy, however, to realize a strong economy--one that registers nominal annual growth of more than 3 percent--just through such an approach.

Kan's policy address apparently was drawn up hastily. Nevertheless, a speech that does not establish measures to be given priority in different growth areas and map out how to reflect those measures in budgeting and policy implementation cannot be convincing.


Parties should join panel

Kan's proposal to create a suprapartisan panel to discuss how to restore the nation's fiscal health, with an eye to carrying out drastic reform of the tax system, was appropriate.

Raising the consumption tax rate is essential for this country to escape from its chronic budget deficits and secure revenue sources for social security. To tackle such important policy issues, the ruling and opposition parties should have a common understanding and build consensus. The Liberal Democratic Party and other opposition parties should not hesitate to join such an initiative.

In the foreign and security policy arena, Kan called for "pragmatism" and said the Japan-U.S. alliance was the cornerstone of this country's diplomacy. He said he plans to visit Okinawa Prefecture on June 23 and is resolved to make progress on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in the prefecture.

Kan apparently learned from his predecessor's negative example, as Hatoyama sought to put Japan-U.S. relations on "an equal footing" and triggered unnecessary friction and confusion.

But Kan failed to give details about what he would do to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance and improve relations with China and South Korea.

A summit meeting of Group of Eight major nations is scheduled to be held later this month in Canada. The prime minister must quickly flesh out the specifics of his policy outlines.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 12, 2010)
(2010年6月12日01時04分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月12日 (土)

日産:EV「リーフ」試作車公開 接近知らせる装置も搭載

(Mainichi Japan) June 12, 2010
Nissan unveils prototype of 'Leaf' electric vehicle
日産:EV「リーフ」試作車公開 接近知らせる装置も搭載

Nissan Motor Co. has unveiled to the press a prototype of its "Leaf" electric vehicle, which will be released in December in Japan, the United States and Europe.

The five-seater electric car can travel 160 kilometers on a single charge (the recharge time is eight hours with a 200-volt power source). With significant engine noise reduction being typical of electric vehicles, compared to gasoline cars, the Leaf has been fitted with a pseudo car running sound-emitting system to alert pedestrians to its presence.

The computerized sound system produces a motor-like sound through loudspeakers in response to the speed of the car -- a speed of up to 30 kilometers per hour when accelerating and 25 kilometers or less per hour during deceleration. The sound is barely heard inside the car, maintaining comfort for the driver and passengers.

With government subsidies for the purchase of electric cars, a Leaf can be bought at 2.99 million yen. There have already been 6,000 orders received in Japan, the same number as Nissan's Leaf sales goal for fiscal 2010.

In January, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism formulated guidelines on equipping vehicles with electric sound-emitting systems. Following the guidelines, Nissan plans to install a sound-emitting system in its luxury hybrid vehicle "Fuga," which will be put on the market this autumn. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has also announced it will mount such a system in its "i-Miev" electric vehicle as standard equipment.





毎日新聞 2010年6月11日 19時19分(最終更新 6月11日 19時27分)

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(Mainichi Japan) June 12, 2010
'Irritable Kan' lets rip at reporters

Prime Minister Naoto Kan -- nicknamed "Ira Kan" (Irritable Kan) for his hot temper -- expressed his frustration at reporters during a press interview at the Prime Minister's Office on June 11.
"What are they criticizing?" Kan asked back in an offended tone when reporters mentioned the opposition parties' criticism that his government had decided not to extend the current Diet session in order to "have an advantage in the upcoming (House of Councillors) election."

He countered reporters with a barrage of questions, asking "So, what criticism are you referring to?" "What do you think?" and "Why are they criticizing that?"

Furthermore, when Kan was asked why he did not include a specific target for new government bond issues and a consumption tax hike during his inaugural policy speech on June 11, he did not hide his irritation and said, "Were you listening to all my speech? I believe I touched on the more important issues."
 さらに、11日の所信表明演説に国債発行額や消費税に関して具体的な数値をあげなかった理由を問われると、「全部聞いていました? もっと大変なことを申し上げたつもりなんですけどね」と不快感をあらわにした。【倉田陶子】

毎日新聞 2010年6月11日 21時37分

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役員報酬 大衆迎合的な個別開示の強行

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 12, 2010)
役員報酬 大衆迎合的な個別開示の強行(6月11日付・読売社説)
Pay disclosure law goes too far

The rule imposed by the Financial Services Agency on corporations to reveal the salaries paid to their executives must be regarded as excessive.

In February, the FSA announced the rule requiring listed companies to disclose the names of senior officials whose annual salaries exceed 100 million yen, as well as how much they were actually paid. This rule took effect in late March.

Under the FSA rule, listed corporations must release, by the end of the month, financial statement reports that include these details, if their accounts were closed in March.

Admittedly, it is important to encourage corporations to disclose meaningful information as thoroughly as possible. However, great care must be taken to protect the confidentiality of corporate executives' private information. In fact, business circles, including the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), have strongly objected to the new rule.

It is difficult to say that the pros and cons of the rule were fully discussed before it went into effect. We believe the FSA should reconsider the propriety of obliging corporations to disclose their executives' salaries.


Following the crowd

Before the rule came into force, companies were only required to reveal the total amounts of salaries paid to board members. The FSA has said its decision to oblige corporations to disclose each board member's salary reflects the fact that global financial crises triggered in recent years by turmoil in the United States and some European nations raised questions about the appropriateness of hefty paychecks pocketed by corporate executives in these countries. In defending the disclosure rule, the FSA said the United States and many European nations have introduced similar regulations.

The global financial crises were the end result of ill-advised decisions by executives at some U.S. and European financial institutions to carry out high-return, high-risk investment schemes, hoping to pick up large paychecks. These institutions were too extreme in paying their board members salaries in proportion to their performance. This is not the case with the large majority of Japanese corporations.

There is a marked difference in the pay levels of Japanese, U.S. and European companies. Chief executive officers at listed corporations in the United States earn an average of 3.9 million dollars annually (about 350 million yen). There are 300 U.S. companies whose CEOs are paid an average of 10 million dollars annually (900 million yen). This is in stark contrast to the state of affairs in this country. Board members of listed corporations here are paid, on average, a modest 25 million yen annually.

Shiseido Co. has voluntarily revealed the salaries paid to three board members. The major cosmetics manufacturer's president and another executive receive more than 100 million yen in annual salaries. Shiseido has reason to pay annual salaries on this scale, given its status as a large corporation.


Privacy concerns

A key sticking point in corporate disclosure is whether company shareholders have suffered losses through disproportionately high salaries paid to the firm's executives, compared with the company's size and business performance. This objective could be achieved under the old rule that only required disclosure of the total sum of salaries paid to board members.

There are concerns that including personal information, such as individual corporate officials' salaries, in financial statement reports could open the door to wrongdoing. These reports can be easily seen by anyone using the Internet. Access to this information online could encourage crimes targeting these officials.

Several years ago, the government decided not to disclose a list of the nation's highest taxpayers. This was because a stream of top taxpayers had been singled out as targets of telephone fraud and harassment. We fear the FSA's disclosure rule could spark similar abuses.

When the FSA proposed the new rule in February, it sought opinions from the public about it. As it turned out, the financial watchdog body received many objections to the rule. However, financial services minister Shizuka Kamei enforced the rule without setting a grace period. "If [a company] doesn't want its [board members'] hefty paychecks made known to the public, they could be reduced," Kamei said.

The rule has been implemented too forcibly and hastily. The disclosure requirement--apparently intended to play to the gallery by taking a swipe at large corporations--is little more than a form of populism.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 11, 2010)
(2010年6月11日02時07分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月11日 (金)

Construction company plans to build floating eco-friendly city in equatorial waters


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

(Mainichi Japan) June 11, 2010
Construction company plans to build floating eco-friendly city in equatorial waters

Japanese construction giant Shimizu Corp. plans to build a gigantic residential tower that will float in waters near the equator in an attempt to open the door to new environmental solutions.

The construction firm aims to build a futuristic floating residential quarter in the ocean near the equator within the next 15 years, in association with leading brokerage Nomura Securities Co. and the Super Collaborative Graduate School association -- a joint academic project of 14 Japanese universities.

The tower -- which will be around 1,000 meters in height and 2,000 to 3,000 meters in diameter -- is designed to be a complete self-sufficient community that can accommodate some 30,000 to 50,000 residents.

The residential space will be located in the upper 300 meters of the structure, where on the equator, there are no strong winds, nor is there a need for air-conditioning, with average temperatures hovering around 26 and 28 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Every facility on the floating island will be accessible on foot. Shimizu proudly describes it as the "ultimate compact city."

The bowl-shaped top of the tower is for collecting and storing rainwater, and household waste from residents will be recycled and used at a plant factory located on the building's mid-level floors and on a marine farm to be constructed along the coastline.

According to Shimizu, temperature differences between upper and lower levels of the building creates natural air circulation, and the tower can generate electricity without producing carbon dioxide by using solar power and ocean thermal energy conversion technologies.

"We would like to make it a utopia that belongs to no particular state," says Makoto Kajitani, director of the Super Collaborative Graduate School project director and president of the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo.

Shimizu Corp. President Yoichi Miyamoto stresses that the initiative is aimed at breaking through the feeling plaguing young Japanese that the world cannot change. According to Osaka University President Kiyokazu Washida, today's young people" have never experienced having a better tomorrow in their life." Shimizu said he launched a project team mainly consisting of young employees and made them draw up the innovative concept from scratch.

The Japanese government has also announced that it will promote innovations in environmental technologies as a main pillar of the country's growth strategy. As seen in the example of the U.S. Apollo mission, technological breakthroughs can only be achieved by setting out ambitious and specific goals.

Japan's new Prime Minister Naoto Kan, known for being one of the rare ministers who graduated from an engineering institute, also expressed his concerns over the sense of stagnation that exists among the public during his inaugural press conference on Tuesday. His leadership ability will be tested in the coming days as his government hopes to stimulate economic growth through technological evolution.






毎日新聞 2010年6月11日 東京朝刊

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American Teen Sailor Found Alive and Well


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

American Teen Sailor Found Alive and Well

Abby Sunderland, 16, was completing a solo trip around the world when rough seas in the Indian Ocean ripped the mast from her ship and forced her to activate a distress signal.

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火災:4歳→10歳、兄弟が命のリレー 燃える車内から1歳三女を救出--山口・周南


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

(Mainichi Japan) June 11, 2010
Young brothers cooperate to save baby sister from burning car
火災:4歳→10歳、兄弟が命のリレー 燃える車内から1歳三女を救出--山口・周南

SHUNAN, Yamaguchi -- When a parked car with a 1-year-old baby girl inside caught fire, the quick thinking and courage of her 4- and 10-year-old brothers prevented a tragedy here on Thursday, June 10.

According to the father and owner of the car, Kenji Muramoto, 10-year-old Kazuki put 4-year-old Nozomi and 1-year-old Megumi into the backseat of the car at around 6:35 a.m. in preparation for going to daycare. A few minutes later smoke filled the car, and Nozomi left his seat and ran into the house.

His parents were not nearby, so he told Kazuki what had happened. Kazuki, who says his body "moved by itself," burst out of the house, flung open the hot car door, and carried the wailing Megumi back to the house as fast as he could. Said Kazuki, "The car burned up, but we're all alive."

According to police, at the time of the fire the car's doors and windows were all shut, and the engine was off. No lighter or other obvious source of flame was found in the car, and police are continuing to investigate the cause.

毎日新聞 2010年6月11日 東京朝刊

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Taliban Executes 7-Year-Old "Spy"


(cite from CNN)

Taliban Executes 7-Year-Old "Spy"

According to officials in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Taliban militants executed a young boy because they believed was spying for the government.

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国会延長問題 予算委での政策論争が必要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 11, 2010)
Hold policy debates at budget committees
国会延長問題 予算委での政策論争が必要だ(6月10日付・読売社説)

With less than a week to go before the end of the ordinary Diet session, the question on many people's lips is: Will it be extended?

The People's New Party, a junior member of the ruling coalition, is pressing the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration to extend the session so the bill on the postal services reform can be passed into law.

The opposition parties also want the government to extend the session, but for a different reason. They want the Diet budget committees to discuss such issues as political funds scandals, including one involving former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, and the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.

However, appeals for an extension of the Diet session are falling on deaf ears as far as the DPJ is concerned. The prevailing view in the party is that Prime Minister Naoto Kan should deliver his policy speech followed by interpellations on that speech by representatives of political parties, and the session should then be closed on June 16 as scheduled.

This view is based on the belief that it would be advantageous for the party to hold the House of Councillors election on July 11, by closing the Diet on schedule, while the public approval rating of the newly inaugurated Kan Cabinet remains high.


Q&A sessions needed

It is true the Diet session is nearing its end, but the nation's politics is in an abysmal state with the recent change in prime ministers.

Kan should first present the policy targets his Cabinet wants to aim for and explain what concrete actions are needed to implement them.

Also, to clarify points of contention in the upper house election, the ruling and opposition parties should debate their policies.

Interpellations on Kan's policy speech, which would be basically in the form of a "one-way" question-and-answer session, are hardly sufficient in providing a thorough understanding of the prime minister's political stance or diplomatic issues in general.

It would be much better to hold budget committee sessions so the views of both sides could be exchanged in a question-and-answer format.

A party that only considers its relative advantages in an election deprives its rivals of an opportunity to present their viewpoints.

This reminds us of political developments in the Taisho (1912-1926) and early Showa (1926-1989) eras, when major parties, including Rikken Seiyukai (the Friends of Constitutional Government Party) and Rikken Minseito (the Constitutional Democratic Party), alternately held the reins of government and dissolved the House of Representatives rather than answer questions posed by their rivals. This led the people to lose trust in party politics.


Diet debates will help voters

Like the latest development, prime ministers changed during the ordinary Diet session in 2000 with Yoshiro Mori assuming the top post. At that time, however, his policy speech and interpellations were followed by question-and-answer sessions at the budget committees of both houses of the Diet before the lower house was dissolved for a general election.

With a change in prime ministers, it is only reasonable for an administration to offer voters more information to decide, through Diet debates, how to cast their ballots. The DPJ should support the call for budget committee sessions.

The issue concerning the political funds scandals remains unanswered.

The Deliberative Council on Political Ethics at the Diet, which Ozawa had earlier showed his intention of attending to clarify the extent of the political funds scandal he is involved in, has yet to be held.

If the Diet closes without the council meeting, the Kan administration will be criticized for keeping everything in the dark.

When the DPJ was in the opposition camp, Kan tenaciously questioned the government during budget committee sessions. Kan is an experienced debater and will disgrace himself if he becomes defensive now that he is prime minister.

We hope the prime minister will go on the offensive and exchange verbal blows with representatives from the opposition parties.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 10, 2010)
(2010年6月10日01時23分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月10日 (木)

菅内閣:発足 民主、ラストチャンス=政治部長・小菅洋人

(Mainichi Japan) June 9, 2010
Public gives DPJ one last chance to run the country properly
菅内閣:発足 民主、ラストチャンス=政治部長・小菅洋人

Prime Minister Naoto Kan stuck to his conviction on how he will run the government when he appointed members of his new Cabinet and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) executive office.

As was shown by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who stayed in power for 5 1/2 years, the public sympathizes with not only the policies of an administration but also its leader's conviction.

In that sense, Kan's personnel changes aimed at reducing DPJ heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa's influence on the government, are expected to facilitate his implementation of policy measures.

This past week saw a drama of political change -- in which Kan's predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, brought down Ozawa, both of who were instrumental in achieving the historic transfer of power last year. Hatoyama did this right in front of DPJ legislators. After making up his mind to step down himself, he also demanded Ozawa resign.

However, one cannot help but wonder how far Ozawa, who has declared that he would lead the party's campaign for the upcoming House of Councillors election, will retain his influence.

The tug-of-war between Kan and Ozawa will certainly cast a shadow over the government.

However, a power struggle is permitted only if it is the means to lay the groundwork for implementing policy measures that the leader firmly believes in.

Today, Japan has no leeway to get excited over a struggle between factions within the governing party.

Kan has declared that he will create a strong economy, strong finances and strong social security as a package. Specifically, he is aiming to unify his economic growth strategy and measures to balance the debt-ridden budget and improve the pension, health care and nursing care programs to create a society in which taxpayers can feel secure.

To achieve the goal, discussion on a hike in the 5 percent consumption tax is unavoidable. His determination to clearly show a roadmap toward a consumption tax hike will be tested during the election campaign.

His efforts to eliminate Ozawa's influence means he must get away from the DPJ's election-first policy, in which the party pledged to implement various policy measures in a bid to win elections at the expense of consistencies such as how to secure financial resources.

Kan has learned from the failure of his predecessor, a lesson that the public views as evidence that people could no longer trust Hatoyama's words.

If the prime minister says, "We'll at least seek to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma out of Okinawa Prefecture," the public trusts his words, even if this goal was extremely difficult to achieve.

A prime minister is not an almighty god, and cannot achieve his policy goals unless he teams up with the chief Cabinet secretary, other Cabinet ministers and the secretaries general of the ruling coalition parties as well as bureaucrats. Even though the DPJ has called for the transformation of bureaucrat-dominated government into one led by politicians, the prime minister should not exclude bureaucrats, who are a group of professionals, from policy-making processes for no reason.

The previous administration had no enthusiasm about dealing with bills and implementing policies through close cooperation between the Cabinet and ruling coalition partners due to a lack of policy discussions among policymakers among coalition partners.

Kan is now endeavoring to rectify this problem by reviving the DPJ Policy Research Committee and through his appointments of Cabinet members and top party officers.

At the same time, however, it is inappropriate that the new administration -- which places top priority on policy issues rather than elections -- is discussing the pros and cons of extending the current Diet session from the sole viewpoint of whether it will help the DPJ win the Upper House race.

Confusion within the administration of former Prime Minister Hatoyama is still fresh in our memory, and Kan's ability still remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the approval ratings for the DPJ have sharply risen again since Kan was elected prime minister, obviously because the public once again places great hope for a transfer of power. In other words, the DPJ has been given one last chance to run the government. (By Hiroto Kosuge, Political News Editor)

毎日新聞 2010年6月9日 東京朝刊

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菅内閣発足 国家戦略を明確に示す時だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 10, 2010)
Kan must present clear national strategy
菅内閣発足 国家戦略を明確に示す時だ(6月9日付・読売社説)

Japan's new administration must not repeat the mistakes of the previous cabinet, which betrayed people's expectations as it lost its way and stumbled from blunder to blunder. The new government must drastically change the policies and policy methods adopted by its predecessor.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's Cabinet was inaugurated Tuesday. At a press conference the same day, Kan stressed the importance of economic management. "We'll build a strong economy, strong government finances and strong social security programs at the same time," he said. Kan also said that on the diplomatic front, his administration would uphold the principle that the Japan-U.S. alliance forms the foundation of Japan's foreign policy.

However, these explanations still leave unclear what form Kan wants the country to take and what specific measures he plans to implement. As an initial step, he should present a comprehensive national strategy.


Boost Prime Minister's Office

The new prime minister has made no secret of his intention to rid the government of the influence of Ichiro Ozawa, the former Democratic Party of Japan secretary general, through his choices of Cabinet members and key party posts. This has buoyed the party's public support rate and raised expectations the nation could be about to enter a period of "new politics."

When Kan was a member of the opposition bloc, he earned a reputation as a skilled polemicist feared by government officials. However, after the DPJ came to power last year, Kan failed to make any substantial achievements as a member of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Cabinet, where he served as state minister in charge of national policy and then as finance minister. As prime minister, Kan will have to steadily produce tangible results. Failure to do so will see public support quickly slip away.

Since 2007, this country has seen prime ministers come and go each year. Such instability makes it impossible to reform key areas, such as fiscal reconstruction, the social security system and decentralization. Japan has been unable to craft relations of trust with leaders of other countries, which could erode this nation's status in the international community.

Yoshito Sengoku, state minister in charge of national policy in the Hatoyama Cabinet, has been appointed chief cabinet secretary, a pivotal Cabinet post.

Though the previous Cabinet called for politicians to lead the government, the Prime Minister's Office, which was supposed to spearhead this effort, did not function properly. Hatoyama did not exert leadership, and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano was unable to play his role as a coordinator in the government.

Consequently, many bureaucrats have become very self-protective--they do not act until they receive instructions from politicians.

Kan and Sengoku must reflect on this point and enable politicians to make good use of the bureaucratic structure while ensuring the Prime Minister's Office still makes decisions on key issues.

Cooperation between the government and ruling parties also will be important. In the previous government, Ozawa often overturned cabinet decisions. In effect, the principle that the Cabinet would uniformly make policy decisions turned out to exist in name only.

To rectify this situation, Kan and Sengoku will need to keep in close contact with DPJ Secretary General Yukio Edano and Policy Research Committee Chairman Koichiro Gemba, who also serves as state minister in charge of civil service reform.

The new government's most pressing task is to review the pledges the DPJ made for last year's House of Representatives election. The pledges included a lineup of handout policies, such as child-rearing allowances, and abolition of expressway tolls.


Time to discuss tax reform

The opposition Liberal Democratic Party intends to include a plan to raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent in its manifesto for the upcoming House of Councillors election. However, the DPJ decided not to raise the consumption tax rate until the next lower house election. We think this is an irresponsible stance for a party in power.

Kan touched on fiscal reconstruction at his press conference. "It'll be necessary to hold discussions among all parties and groups," he said. If Kan means what he says, he should encourage full-fledged negotiations with the LDP on tax reform--including a consumption tax increase.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa have retained their posts. Japan-U.S. relations were bruised by Hatoyama's immature handling of diplomatic affairs. To repair this crucial bilateral relationship, there must be progress in resolving the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.

The new Cabinet should spare no effort in reaching out to local governments and residents in Okinawa Prefecture that will be affected by the base relocation, and convince them that the quickest way to ease their burden of hosting U.S. military facilities would be to accept the Japan-U.S. agreement to build replacement facilities in the Henoko area in Nago.

In the previous administration, the Social Democratic Party was one of the DPJ's junior coalition partners. However, the SDP was an albatross around the government's neck when it came to diplomatic and security policies. Now that the SDP has left the coalition, the new Cabinet should deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance and expand the Self-Defense Forces' overseas activities. There is scope for the government to cooperate with the LDP on these issues.

Yoshihiko Noda was promoted to finance minister from senior vice finance minister, and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Masayuki Naoshima remained in his post. Markets around the world are becoming increasingly critical of Japan's fiscal condition, and ominous signs are emerging that the country's international competitiveness might be slipping. Noda and Naoshima will need to draw up clear blueprints for overcoming the crisis.

Many eyebrows have been raised over Satoshi Arai's diverse portfolio--he has been appointed state minister in charge of national policy, economic and fiscal policy, consumer affairs and food safety. We wonder if the Kan Cabinet is making light of the task of drawing up national policies, which is supposedly an issue on which the DPJ placed great importance.

Lawmaker Renho, who caught the public's eye as she dressed down bureaucrats during budget screening designed to weed out wasteful government spending, was named state minister in charge of government revitalization. Her appointment smacks of a ploy to pull in votes in the upper house election. But Renho will be unable to promote reform of independent administrative institutions and public-interest corporations if she handles the problem with the same political theatrics she displayed in the budget screening.


Don't let Ozawa off hook

People's New Party leader Shizuka Kamei kept his post as state minister in charge of financial services and postal reform.

The coalition parties hold a narrow majority in the upper house. Given this, Kan will be unable to ignore the opinions of the PNP on the postal reform bill currently under Diet deliberations.

Nevertheless, the Cabinet should avoid a repeat of a situation in which a small party holds disproportionate sway over the government and the DPJ--as the SDP did previously.

Many observers are closely watching how the new administration will clean up the issue of politics and money that tainted the previous government. Kan and Edano said Ozawa's resignation as party secretary general has fixed this problem to some degree. However, the public does not share this opinion.

At the very least, Ozawa should come forward and speak at the lower house's Deliberative Council on Political Ethics to fulfill his responsibility of explaining the suspicions swirling around him.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 9, 2010)
(2010年6月9日01時30分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月 9日 (水)

Daily Haiku Selection (今日の英字俳句)

June 9, 2010

trail of my words


on her face


Amin Pedziwiater (Rzeszow, Poland)

(Mainichi Japan) June 9, 2010


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民主党新執行部 「小沢支配」脱し開かれた党に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 9, 2010)
DPJ must eliminate Ozawa's influence
民主党新執行部 「小沢支配」脱し開かれた党に(6月8日付・読売社説)

The Democratic Party of Japan must completely change its culture, which has allegedly been controlled by former Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, to regain the public confidence lost under the regime of Ozawa and former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

New DPJ President and Prime Minister Naoto Kan has chosen his party's new leadership, appointing Yukio Edano, former state minister in charge of government revitalization, to the powerful post of secretary general. Edano has worked with Kan since the days when they both belonged to the now-defunct New Party Sakigake.

Kan also appointed Jun Azumi, chairman of the House of Representatives Security Committee, as head of the party's Election Campaign Committee. Like Edano, Azumi has been critical of Ozawa.


Return power to the govt

These appointments seem to indicate that Kan is trying to personally direct election campaign measures and Diet affairs through Edano and Azumi, areas that were controlled by Ozawa.

Many DPJ members have kept silent about the money-and-politics scandal involving the former secretary general because Ozawa had too much authority in selecting the party's official candidates and distributing election campaign funds.

"I'll drastically increase the transparency of party management," Edano said after being named DPJ secretary general. He will be expected to eliminate Ozawa's influence and get the party back into shape for the House of Councillors election to be held this summer.

Kan resurrected the party's Policy Research Committee, which had been disbanded at Ozawa's initiative, and appointed Koichiro Gemba, chairman of the lower house Financial Affairs Committee, as its chairman. Gemba also has kept his distance from Ozawa.

Gemba also was named state minister in charge of civil service reform. This unconventional appointment aims at making Gemba a bridge between the Cabinet and the DPJ and at mending relations between them, which apparently became strained during the Hatoyama administration.

Ozawa dissolved the party's Policy Research Committee and made the secretary general's office the sole window for policy petitions from regions and industries.

Ozawa's voice of authority made the government withdraw its plans to abolish provisionally higher gasoline and other tax rates during the compilation of this fiscal year's budget. The DPJ also reversed the policy decided on by the government concerning revision of expressway toll discounts.

This abnormal situation where the DPJ has more power than the government must be corrected.


Stop high-handed approach

Shinji Tarutoko, chairman of the lower house Environment Committee and Kan's sole challenger in Friday's DPJ presidential election, was tapped to be chief of the party's Diet Affairs Committee.

On the surface, this appointment may look like a gesture of respect to Tarutoko, who won a certain amount of votes in the presidential election. Its real aim, however, is said to be removing Kenji Yamaoka, who is directly connected to Ozawa, from the post of Diet affairs chief.

Ozawa's high-handed approach to Diet affairs management was also criticized strongly.

The DPJ has been neglecting repeated demands by opposition parties to summon Ozawa and others embroiled in the money-and-politics scandal to testify before the Diet. It also refused to hold intensive Diet deliberations on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, although the opposition parties requested them.

The DPJ must revise its way of managing Diet affairs, which currently relies on the force of numbers and slights deliberations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 8, 2010)
(2010年6月8日01時18分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月 8日 (火)

菅・新首相 景気と財政再建の両立を図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 8, 2010)
Fiscal fix must be part of business recovery
菅・新首相 景気と財政再建の両立を図れ(6月6日付・読売社説)

Putting the economy on a stable course and rehabilitating the state finances--Prime Minister-elect Naoto Kan will have his work cut out as he tries to steer the national economy.

Kan must make growth compatible with fiscal reconstruction by adopting a flexible approach and breaking free from the Hatoyama administration's obsession with giving top priority to delivering on campaign pledges.

At the news conference last week where Kan announced his candidacy for the presidency of the Democratic Party of Japan, he spoke of his intention to improve the nation's fiscal health. "We'll seek to stop state debt from continuing to increase indefinitely," he said. Kan needs to translate this idea into concrete shape--starting with the fiscal 2011 budget.

Kan, as deputy prime minister and finance minister in the Hatoyama Cabinet, has already made moves to fix the huge fiscal deficit. He has spoken, for example, of capping the new issuance of government bonds in the fiscal 2011 budget at less than the 44 trillion yen issued in fiscal 2010.

Unless the government puts the brakes on government bond issuance, long-term debts held by central and local governments--which are predicted to reach a staggering 862 trillion yen as of the end of fiscal 2010--are expected to further swell, thereby eroding confidence in government bonds.

Having attended several international conferences as finance minister, Kan might have recognized anew the serious fiscal conditions gripping Japan. At any rate, we welcome his statement in favor of "holding down government bond issues to below 44 trillion yen."


Cut spending first

The bond issuance worth about 44 trillion yen for the current fiscal year is the largest ever projected in an initial budget. The most pressing task for the government will be to reduce its bond issuance.

First and foremost, spending should be reined in as much as possible. The fiscal 2010 budget became bloated due to hand-out policies pledged in the DPJ's manifesto for last year's general election. Among them are child-rearing allowances, income compensation for individual farmers and making public high school tuition free.

Such pork-barrel measures cannot be allowed to continue. Kan must trim waste and not blindly adhere to policies promised in the party's manifesto.

Raising the consumption tax rate will be a surefire source of revenue. The consumption tax will be indispensable for helping to meet social security costs that have been soaring by nearly 1 trillion yen annually.


Make tax hike a poll issue

Some people suggest such a tax increase could adversely affect the economy. Kan, however, has brushed off such concerns, saying the economy will improve if additional revenue accruing from a tax increase is used to improve medical and nursing care treatment, which will create new jobs in these fields.

If Kan genuinely believes this, we suggest he seek the people's mandate on the advisability of raising the consumption tax in this summer's House of Councillors election. If voters give their consent to this policy in the election, Kan must start working out concrete measures to implement the tax increase while paying close attention to business trends and conditions.

Equally important will be compilation of guidelines on a "medium-term fiscal framework" and a "fiscal management strategy." The former will set a three-year blueprint for budgets starting with fiscal 2011, while the latter will spell out a longer-term fiscal management strategy. Both are being put together in tandem with compilation of the DPJ's campaign pledges for the forthcoming election.

The content of the two guidelines will give us a clear idea of the incoming prime minister's resolve on fiscal reconstruction.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 6, 2010)
(2010年6月6日01時43分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月 7日 (月)


(Mainichi Japan) June 7, 2010
Cooking school relaxes rigid tea ceremony rules to welcome disabled


 ◇正座不要、着物にも工夫 土間に畳張りの箱置いて、体験生かし考案--東京・世田谷の茶懐石料理教室「一宮庵」

I had a wonderful time, enjoying tea while wearing a kimono for the first time in a while," said Atsuko Ikegami, 36. "I hope this gets me back into practicing the tea ceremony again."

In mid-May, Ikegami participated in a tea ceremony at Ikkuan, a cooking school specializing in cha-kaiseki -- simple meals that are served at tea ceremonies. For Ikegami, who has been wearing prosthetics after losing both her legs in a traffic accident when she was 22 years old, it had been 16 years since she last took part in a tea ceremony. This time, she brought along her friend, Shiho Sato, also 36, who is paralyzed on the right side of her body due to illness.


The two women were taken inside the tearoom in their wheelchairs. A box about 40 to 50 centimeters tall with a tatami mat surface sits beside them. Because the tea is served on this tatami surface, the two visitors can reach and enjoy their tea without any problems.

I'd thought that I'd never be able to wear a kimono or enjoy a tea ceremony after I became confined to a wheelchair, so it's like a dream to be here," said Ikegami. Sato, who had never taken part in a tea ceremony before said she felt out of place at first, but eventually felt calmed by the austerity of the ceremony. "I'd like to come again if I have the chance," she said.

Soko Saito (whose real name is Noriko Saito), 68, who presides over Ikkuan, held the tea ceremony with her daughter-in-law, Fumie 49. The idea of enjoying tea ceremonies in chairs or wheelchairs -- without having to sit on the floor -- occurred to Soko about 30 years ago. "I wanted to create a style that would allow me to continue the tea ceremony even if my body were to give out," she said.

Since then, Soko has been holding tea parties for the elderly and others who cannot sit with their legs tucked underneath them, as well as young people who are unaccustomed to sitting on the floor. Soko's mother, who passed away 17 years ago, was unable to sit on her knees later in life due to osteoporosis, and enjoyed tea ceremonies from chairs. Since April this year, Soko has opened the doors of her school to those with handicaps.

Soko has made adjustments to clothing, also, to make tea ceremonies go more smoothly. She has reworked the standard kimono, a must-wear in tea ceremonies, to fit those who might have trouble wearing them by separating each long kimono robe into two parts. The result is a kimono top and a skirt that are fastened together with an obi belt. They can be worn over T-shirts and jeans, and are available for rental.

"Even if wearing kimono and sitting with legs tucked underneath becomes problematic, anyone can participate in the tea ceremony this way," Soko said. "My hope is to contribute to making people's lives rich and enjoyable for a long time."


毎日新聞 2010年6月5日 東京朝刊

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毎日世論調査:菅首相に期待63% 小沢氏辞任評価81%

(Mainichi Japan) June 7, 2010
63 percent hold high expectations for Kan as PM: Mainichi poll
毎日世論調査:菅首相に期待63% 小沢氏辞任評価81%

Sixty-three percent of respondents to a Mainichi survey conducted after Naoto Kan was named the next prime minister of Japan said they hold high hopes for the new leader, overshadowing the 37 percent who said they expected nothing significant to come from him.

Prior to the resignation of outgoing Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, the approval rating of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) had lingered at around 17 percent. In the latest survey, however, support rose to 28 percent.

A total of 81 percent of respondents gave a positive evaluation of the resignation of former DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa, who stepped down together with Hatoyama. It is believed that Kan's approach of weakening Ozawa's power within the DPJ has helped boost expectations for the party.

In a separate survey conducted in September last year immediately after Hatoyama's Cabinet was formed, 68 percent of respondents said they had high hopes for that Cabinet's performance. As Kan is yet to finalize his new Cabinet, it is difficult to make a straight comparison, but the poll result showing 63 percent hold high expectations for the leader indicates that he has nearly the same level of support.

When Hatoyama's Cabinet was formed, it received an approval rating of 77 percent -- the second-highest figure to date. Eight months later, however, that figure plummeted to 20 percent.


In the previous poll conducted by the Mainichi, support for the DPJ hovered at 17 percent, the same level as that earned by the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). This time, however, the LDP's approval rating dropped to 14 percent -- half the level of support that the DPJ received.

A total of 34 percent of respondents said they would vote for the DPJ in the proportional representation vote in the upcoming House of Councillors election, up from 22 percent in the previous survey. Seventeen percent said they would vote for the LDP -- down 4 percentage points from the previous survey. The LDP had demanded Hatoyama's resignation, but the latest poll results indicate that the change of prime ministers has ended up dealing a blow to the opposition party.

Altogether, 82 percent of respondents said that Ozawa's resignation came too late. On the other hand, just 7 percent answered that there had been no need for him to resign -- results highlighting the criticism he faced. A total of 58 percent said they appreciated Hatoyama's resignation, while 40 percent didn't rate it as a good move. Forty-nine percent said Hatoyama's resignation came too late and 23 percent said there had been no need for him to resign.


The poll shows that many people favored the demise of the system in which Ozawa wielded strong influence in the party and government administration.

Following Hatoyama's resignation, opposition parties have demanded that the House of Representatives be dissolved and a general election held, but in the poll 52 percent of respondents said that the Lower House should not be dissolved -- more than the 45 percent who answered that it should be dissolved.

It remains to be seen whether the strong showing of hope for Kan's performance will convert into support for his Cabinet that will be formed on Tuesday. Such support will depend on how far Kan will be able to go in selecting Cabinet members and operating the party in a way that eliminates Ozawa's influence.

In the survey, 60 percent of respondents gave a positive evaluation of the Social Democratic Party's departure from the ruling coalition over the controversial relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, while 37 percent didn't rate the move positively.

Support for the Social Democratic Party stood at 2 percent while just 3 percent of respondents said they would support the party in a proportional representation vote, indicating that its departure from the coalition had not boosted its support.

The Mainichi poll was conducted on June 4 and 5. A total of 981 people from 1,594 households responded -- a response rate of 62 percent.

毎日新聞 2010年6月5日 22時17分(最終更新 6月5日 23時33分)

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News Navigator: Why are corporate executives' remunerations disclosed?

(Mainichi Japan) June 4, 2010
News Navigator: Why are corporate executives' remunerations disclosed?

The Mainichi answers common questions that readers may have about why corporate executives who receive high-level remunerations are identified and their amounts disclosed.

 ◇不適切な経営判断けん制 基準は米国参考「年1億円以上」

Question: Major cosmetics company Shiseido Co. has recently announced the amount of its president's remuneration. Is it a rare move?
 なるほドリ 大手化粧品メーカーの資生堂が、社長の報酬額を発表したけど、珍しいの?

Answer: Japanese listed companies are supposed to disclose their business performance and financial situation in their annual financial reports. Even though all listed firms are legally required to announce the total amount of their board members' remunerations, they were not mandated at all to specify the amounts of individual board members' remunerations until recently. Therefore, most of the companies have withheld such information even though some companies, including semiconductor supplier Tokyo Electron Ltd., have voluntarily disclosed their chief executive officers' remuneration in their financial statements.
 記者 日本の上場企業は毎年、金融商品取引法に基づき、事業状況や財務内容などを有価証券報告書で公表します。報告書には役員報酬の総額を記載しなくてはなりませんが、それぞれがいくらもらったかの「個別開示」は義務付けられていませんでした。東京エレクトロンなど、報告書で自主的に代表取締役の報酬を明らかにしている企業もありますが、ほとんどの日本企業は個別開示していないのです。

Q: How about listed companies in the United States?
 Q 米国の上場企業は個別開示しているの?

A: They publicize remunerations for their top five board members, who have earned the largest amounts of pay over the previous three years. In Britain, listed firms announce all individual board members' remunerations. Most major industrialized democracies including Canada, Germany, France and Italy have their own regulations on the announcement of individual corporate executives' remunerations. The move is aimed at discouraging companies from paying excessive amounts of compensation to executives when their business performance is slumping.
 A 報酬額トップ5人の過去3年間分を開示しています。英国では役員全員の個別報酬を公表しています。そのほか、カナダ、ドイツ、フランス、イタリアなど主要先進国の多くが個別開示のルールを定めています。「業績不振にもかかわらず、トップに巨額報酬を支払ってしまう」などの不適切な経営判断をけん制するのが狙いです。

Q: In Western countries, the transparency of board members' remunerations has been encouraged, hasn't it?
 Q 欧米各国では、役員報酬の透明化が進んでいるんだね。

A: In Japan, too, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) revised regulations on the standards for information to be disclosed in companies' financial statements to obligate firms to identify their board members and auditors who earn at least 100 million yen a year and specify their exact amounts.
 A 日本でも金融庁が3月、報告書の公表基準を定める内閣府令を改正し、年間1億円以上の報酬を受けた取締役や監査役の名前と金額の公表を義務付けました。

The new rules apply to corporate financial statements for fiscal 2009 that must be submitted to authorities by the end of June, or later. Some business leaders voiced opposition to the move due to privacy concerns, but the FSA justified it on the grounds that listed companies, for which numerous shareholders invest their funds, have a public mission and should publicize their specific information on relations between their business performances and remunerations for their executives.

Behind the move is the fact that State Minister for Financial Services Shizuka Kamei expressed displeasure at the fact that Shinsei Bank that ran deeply in the red last fiscal year pays huge amounts of compensation to board members who are from a foreign company that holds a stake in the bank. "Its president gets a mere 9 million yen, but each board member from a foreign stakeholder earn a ridiculously high remuneration of 150 million yen," Kamei complained.

Q: Why are only those who earn over 100 million yen subject to the rules?
 Q なぜ、1億円以上なの?

A: The agency made the decision considering that the figure is the average amount of remunerations paid to chief executives officers of listed companies in the United States. However, the levels of remunerations for Japanese listed companies are lower than those in the United States and Europe. Fulltime board members of Japanese listed firms receive approximately 25 million yen on average. Therefore, most of Japanese listed companies will unlikely be required to disclose their individual board members' remunerations.
 A 米国の上場企業の最高経営責任者(CEO)がもらっている報酬水準を参考にしたそうです。でも、日本の上場企業の役員報酬は欧米企業に比べて低く、常勤の取締役で平均2500万円程度。日本の場合、ほとんどの企業が「開示対象なし」となる見通しです。

It is also notable that the new rules obligate listed companies to disclose their standards for calculating their executives' remunerations and how to determine the amounts. In other words, listed companies are required to fulfill their accountability for how they decide on compensation for their executives. (Answers by Masahiro Nakai, Economic News Department)

毎日新聞 2010年6月4日 東京朝刊

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2010年6月 6日 (日)

E-book experience unfulfilling

(Mainichi Japan) June 6, 2010
E-book experience unfulfilling

Hiroyuki Itsuki's novel "Shinran" can be read on the Internet until June 11. It's not a bad experience, actually. The font is nice, and the reader can choose what size they read it in. Turning the pages with a mouse goes very smoothly. And yet ... there's something about it that leaves me feeling dissatisfied after about 30 minutes absorbed in the world of the novel. It's the sense that the book ultimately "escapes" from me.

The year 2010 is apparently the dawn of the e-book era. It's a claim that's been made of years past, but this time it's supposed to be the real thing, as we've seen significant developments in the terminals used for e-reading. The new portable terminal iPad has created quite a buzz in Japan, with long lines of buyers queuing in front of Apple stores in Tokyo on the day of its release on May 28. And while I do not subscribe to the view, for the past few weeks, there have been featured pieces in magazines and on television suggesting that print books will disappear.

For over 25 years, I've been scribbling down the date and time I finish reading a book on the colophon page at the end of each book. Along with it, I jot down short notes about the goings-on in my life and my thoughts about the book. It's an odd habit, but recently, I've come to recognize it as a demonstration of "possession."

I went to four bookstores before I was able to purchase the first installment of Haruki Murakami's novel "1Q84." But I don't think of the time it took to look through the first three stores was a waste, for I was able to unexpectedly stumble upon another book I wanted, and was reunited with books I'd read in my youth.

One is able to experience chance encounters with print books. They also teach us the value of the time that we frantically squeezed out from our busy lives to read. And by leaving my notes at the end, each book becomes an invaluable asset.

Meanwhile, Internet reading requires little effort; a few clicks, and the text is in front of you. Consequently, I can only think of the books I read on electronic terminals as "information" gathered for another task.

On the last page of the Internet edition of "Shinran" are the words: "Available in bookstores now!" As it turns out, the publisher wants us to buy the print version, too. I'm somewhat relieved. (By Takahiro Takino, City News Department)

毎日新聞 2010年6月2日 0時01分

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菅首相:誕生 「脱小沢」本物か=専門編集委員・山田孝男

(Mainichi Japan) June 5, 2010
Will Ozawa maintain influence on DPJ under new order?
菅首相:誕生 「脱小沢」本物か=専門編集委員・山田孝男

The focal point of the latest political change is whether ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa will maintain his influence on the party after resigning as secretary-general.
The administration of newly elected Prime Minister Naoto Kan will be formed early next week, at the same time as the DPJ's power structure has become unstable and a new balance of power is being formed. It remains to be seen whether Kan can bolster his power base or Ozawa will go on the offensive in an attempt to oust Kan, as the former secretary-general leads a major intraparty group comprised of about 150 legislators.

Remarks Kan made at a news conference to announce his candidacy in the DPJ presidential election drew particular attention from the public. "He (Ozawa) invited some kind of distrust from the public. So he should keep quiet for the time being."

Needless to say, Kan warned Ozawa -- who has been tainted by a political funding scandal involving his political fund management organization -- not to wield his influence on the administration.
However, Kan, a self-acknowledged realist, did not warn Ozawa out of idealism.

Reflecting on his struggle to manage the political party he led in the 1990s, when political realignment was under way in Japan, Kan has tried to learn a lot from Ozawa's power politics.

Therefore, one cannot help but wonder why Kan, who also badly needed support from the whole DPJ, dared to criticize Ozawa. This is obviously because Kan believes the Ozawa scandal has not only damaged the party's image but also begun to shake the party's backbone.

Ozawa's refusal to provide an explanation of the scandal has stirred severe criticism from the public. Ozawa, who has received massive amounts of political funds from general contractors, would never answer questions as to why he received so much money and how he spent it. He only stresses his receipt of the funds is legal and that it is wrong to ask further questions about the matter.

Ozawa has used his influence to leak internal government information on public works projects to regional communities and openly carry out influence-peddling politics, implying that regions that vote DPJ will see major infrastructure projects come their way.

Ozawa's massive political fund-raising drive and election campaign based on pork-barrel politics -- in which he mobilizes a large number of his aides to ensure that a large number of his followers win elections -- are both wheels of a cart called "the Ozawa system."

The Ozawa system is not a tonic that provides energy to the DPJ but a poison that spread a new type of insider politics in which all decisions depend on Ozawa's intentions. Public distrust of such politics has given rise to the Kan administration.

The newly elected prime minister is known as one of the most powerful debaters in the Diet. In particular, Kan is a staunch critic of bureaucratic corruption and overstepping of their authority. He has criticized bureaucrats for dominating information necessary to work out policies, aiming to ignore the will of the Diet as much as possible and thereby hollowing out the sovereignty of the people.

Will Kan be able to transform his sharp criticism of bureaucrats into skillful control over them? Can he control his administration without depending on Ozawa's influence? Whether he can eliminate Ozawa's influence on the government is being tested. (By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2010年6月5日 東京朝刊

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<鳩山前首相>東工大で講演 「切れすぎる方が総理になる」


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

cite from mainichi jp

<鳩山前首相>東工大で講演 「切れすぎる方が総理になる」




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菅・新首相選出 日米同盟と経済を立て直せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 6, 2010)
Kan must revive economy, restore alliance with U.S.
菅・新首相選出 日米同盟と経済を立て直せ(6月5日付・読売社説)

It was a very hasty selection of the national leader. Naoto Kan, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, was elected prime minister Friday afternoon, only two days after outgoing Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced his resignation.

People may worry about a leader who is elected in such a way. To dispel these concerns, Prime Minister-elect Kan must put all his effort into patching up the strained Japan-U.S. alliance, which is the linchpin of this country's foreign policy and security, as well as turning around the Japanese economy.


Strategic view important

Kan, who entered politics after he was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1980 on the ticket of the now-defunct United Social Democratic Party, has been called a "politician of the people." It is true that the common sense of ordinary people is important.

However, we hope Kan, as national leader, will strive to manage politics from a broad and strategic standpoint that protects people's safety and security and attaches great importance to national interests.

Prior to the prime ministerial votes Friday, Kan beat Shinji Tarutoko, chairman of the lower house Environment Committee, by a wide margin in the DPJ presidential election.

Kan's turn has finally come round, as Hatoyama and DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, with whom Kan formed a troika, have both resigned.

Kan drew public attention when he dealt with the issue of HIV-tainted blood products as health minister in the 1990s. He founded the original DPJ with Hatoyama in 1996 and realized its 2003 merger with the Liberal Party, which was led by Ozawa.

Kan garnered broad support from the DPJ in its recent election, probably because of his varied political career and his high name recognition.

But the DPJ presidential election lacked policy debates between the two contenders. Does the DPJ really think it will be able to make a fresh start without examining the mistakes made by the Hatoyama administration?

Kan has started working on appointments to the cabinet and to party executive positions. It is important for Kan to eliminate the dual power structure under which someone can pull strings from behind the scenes to control the prime minister, as Ozawa did.


End dual power structure

Yoshito Sengoku, state minister in charge of national policy, likely will be named chief cabinet secretary, the cabinet's pivotal post, while it is widely expected that Yukio Edano, state minister in charge of government revitalization, will replace Ozawa as the DPJ's secretary general.

When he stood for the DPJ's presidential election, Kan said, "I think [Ozawa] should stay quiet for the time being, and that would be good for himself, the DPJ and Japanese politics." Giving important positions to Sengoku and Edano--both "non-Ozawa" group members--indicates that Kan is distancing himself from Ozawa.

Kan also has announced that he will resurrect the DPJ's Policy Research Committee, which was abolished at Ozawa's behest.

Reviving the council should enliven policy debates within the party, which stagnated due to the centralization of decision-making on policy matters in the Cabinet.

The appointments of cabinet members were delayed until Tuesday, but many important political issues will not wait.

Many people have said they do not know much about Kan's basic ideas on national management or his stance toward amending the Constitution. We hope he will clarify his opinions on these points in the Diet as early as possible.

Kan also said he thinks "it is an overriding principle that the Japan-U.S. relationship is the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy." However, the Japan-U.S. alliance has been seriously damaged due to the Hatoyama administration's bungled handling of the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station.

Not only must the new government abide by the recent Japan-U.S. joint statement concerning the Futenma issue, but it is also essential to assuage U.S. distrust toward Japan on the matter by deciding on the location of alternative facilities and a construction method for envisioned runways by the end of August.

With regard to economic policy, Kan stressed that he "will achieve a strong economy, strong fiscal structure and strong social security in an integrated fashion."

As the finance minister in the Hatoyama Cabinet, Kan has spoken of the need to restore fiscal discipline, including capping the issuance of government bonds in fiscal 2011 at below the fiscal 2010 level.

To this end, he should review lavish handout policies, including the provision of child-rearing allowances, as quickly as possible.

And how about removing the "seal" under which Hatoyama promised not to raise the consumption tax rate during the current tenure of lower house members, at this juncture?


Utilize bureaucrats well

To steadily carry out policies, bureaucrat-bashing in the name of political leadership must cease.

Bureaucratic organizations are of service to the formulation of policies in special fields and in crisis management. Politicians must have the capability and caliber to have a good command of bureaucrats.

Kan met People's New Party leader Shizuka Kamei and agreed to maintain the current two-party coalition. Depending on the results of the House of Councillors election in summer, a coalition government under a new framework may emerge.

A political situation in which a small party uses its deciding vote to push around a major party, which is in too much of a hurry to juggle the number of Diet seats its coalition controls, would seriously distort politics.

The DPJ must realize through its own experience of its recently ended coalition with the Social Democratic Party that a marriage of convenience between parties with conflicts over basic policies concerning diplomacy and national security cannot go well. It should not consider renewing a relationship with the SDP as a coalition partner.

The money-and-politics issues that forced the Hatoyama administration into collapse have not been solved at all, even after the resignations of Hatoyama and Ozawa. If the DPJ is to seek clean politics, it should ask the two to fulfill their responsibility to explain about money scandals in the Diet.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 5, 2010)
(2010年6月5日01時49分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月 5日 (土)

What Happens to Thailand's Sex Tourism During the Riots?


What Happens to Thailand's Sex Tourism During the Riots?
It takes a lot of violence to drive the sexpats away
By Jessica Olien

BANGKOK: -- Downtown Bangkok has finally stopped smoldering, but a curfew is still in effect after anti-government protesters looted and burned downtown for over two months. The shaky calm has both Thai officials and millions of men all over the world asking: Is it safe enough for sex tourism yet?

Thailand's sex trade, which pumps millions of dollars into the Thai economy, has taken a big hit since the protests began this spring. Thailand was once paradise for these men?among them fetishists and pedophiles?but the spell has since been broken. No one really wants their exotic intercourse interrupted by machine-gun fire or beer runs inconvenienced by police checkpoints, although some are, of course, willing to live with it if that's what it takes. Frustrated sex tourists are now being forced to cancel their vacations or wait it out in their cheap rented rooms until the party starts up again.

I came to Bangkok in early May to cover the red-shirt protests and ran into many sex tourists not quite ready to throw in the towel. Most of the men I met in the city's sex districts back then, before the violence began in earnest in the city center, brushed off the conflict completely. They were sure it wouldn't get bad?this is mellow, eager-to-please Thailand, after all?and continued on their merry boozing and screwing ways. Patpong, Thailand's most famous sex district, had been closed by demonstrations, but there were always other places to go to.

The mood turned somber after what happened around Nana Plaza. A popular, multistoried complex of go-go bars featuring women wearing numbers pinned to crotchless bikini bottoms who stare vacantly and listlessly sway against metal poles, the place was suddenly surrounded with razor-wire and signs designating the area a "live-fire zone." Now it was harder to keep up the fantasy, and Thailand's problems were suddenly the problem of every sex tourist from Japan to Germany. The curfew, which went into effect last week, also shut down Pattaya, a town a few hours southeast of Bangkok, where it seems the entire local economy revolves around the sex trade and which is known for tolerating prostitution by underage boys and girls.

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野口さん帰還 フロンティア開拓に生かそう

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 5, 2010)
Continue exploring the frontier of space
野口さん帰還 フロンティア開拓に生かそう(6月4日付・読売社説)

Astronaut Soichi Noguchi has returned to Earth after an extended stay on the International Space Station. He was in orbit for 163 days, the longest mission ever by a Japanese astronaut.

"The Earth air is refreshing," Noguchi said immediately after his return. He also spoke about Earth's gravity, saying he felt like "something's wrong with my neck."

The ISS is the front line of humankind's advancement into space, a harsh frontier. We appreciate Noguchi's continued efforts to send footage to the Earth with a smile during his stay in space.

Noguchi carried out numerous experiments that could only be done in space. He cultivated muscle fibers in a weightless environment, for example, to further the study of muscular diseases. He also worked to grow enzyme crystals to help develop new materials. All this produced valuable data.

Noguchi's tests also included taking medicine himself.

Japanese astronauts are scheduled to stay on the ISS for extended periods next year and the year after that. Will it be possible to conduct advanced tests that would require more time but could produce results that could be used more effectively?

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is involved in the U.S-led ISS project, and should make the best use of Noguchi's experiences to ensure that astronauts staying on the ISS can produce even more fruitful results.


Project's value questioned

In recent years, objections have been raised about the ISS project, the operational costs of which include an annual Japanese contribution of 40 billion yen. This is because only a few of the experimental achievements made on the ISS have been used for industrial purposes.

Making matters worse, U.S. President Barack Obama said early this year--to the confusion of many--that instead of keeping the station in place until the end of 2015, as initially planned, the ISS operation would likely be extended for at least five years after that.

Even by simple arithmetic, this would require Japan to increase its contribution by more than 200 billion yen. With this in mind, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has started considering whether to continue our nation's involvement in the ISS project when its operations are extended.

Skeptics also note that the aging U.S. space shuttle fleet will be decommissioned by the end of the year, requiring astronauts to rely on Russia for transportation to and from the ISS.


Russia raising prices

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft was used to transport Noguchi to the ISS from Earth and carry him back. It is distinct from U.S. space shuttles in that an astronaut plunges through the atmosphere in a Soyuz capsule, while shuttles sail through the air like winged planes.

Russia has proposed an increase in the cost of transport via the Soyuz, a spaceship that has been used since the initial stage of space development and gained international recognition for its safety--as if to take advantage of other ISS participants' weakness in this area. A rise in transport expenditures could increase the costs of the whole ISS project.

In response, the government has devised a plan to shore up this country's research and development regarding space exploration, with a view to building its own manned spacecraft. The government has said such a project will require an estimated 90 billion yen.

Building a manned spaceship of Japan's own is an ambitious enterprise. But the question is how to finance such a costly undertaking. We hope the government will step up efforts to consider ways and means of further exploring the frontier of the universe.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun,June 4, 2010)
(2010年6月4日01時25分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月 4日 (金)

Experienced Kan's long road to the top

(Mainichi Japan) June 4, 2010
Experienced Kan's long road to the top
◇菅直人(かんなおと)氏(63) 市民運動から出発、党創業者の一人

One of the co-founders of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Prime Minister-elect Naoto Kan started out as a civil activist after graduating from the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
During his early days, he exerted great efforts in bringing about the victory of Fusae Ichikawa, renowned leader of the women's suffrage movement in Japan, in the 1974 House of Councillors election.

Kan was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1980 and is now serving his 10th term. After acting as the policy chief of the now-defunct New Party Sakigake, he assumed the post of health minister under the administration of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, gaining national popularity as he tracked the government's failure to prevent the spread of HIV infections among hemophiliacs and other patients through unheated blood products.

In 1996, Kan established the former DPJ along with outgoing Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and assumed the party leadership two years later, at the outset of the present-day DPJ.
He was subsequently replaced by Hatoyama as party leader, but regained the post in 2002. The following year, Kan managed to merge the DPJ with the Liberal Party after reaching an agreement with then Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa.

However, Kan was forced to resign as DPJ leader in 2004 after it emerged that he had failed to pay pension premiums. When the DPJ was led by Ozawa, Kan served as acting party president and was part of the party's so-called "troika" regime along with Ozawa and Hatoyama.

Under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's administration, Kan assumed the posts of state minister for national policy and finance minister while serving as deputy prime minister. After Ozawa's political funding scandal emerged, Kan withheld from explicit criticism of Ozawa, apparently in consideration for his own possible assumption to prime minister.

Kan leaves his activities in the Tokyo No. 18 constituency to his wife, Nobuko. An avid player of the board game of go, Kan concedes that he is no match at the game for Ozawa.

毎日新聞 2010年6月4日 東京朝刊

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首相指名選挙:参院も菅氏指名 第94代首相誕生

(Mainichi Japan) June 4, 2010
Kan elected prime minister to replace Hatoyama
首相指名選挙:参院も菅氏指名 第94代首相誕生

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Naoto Kan was elected prime minister at both houses of the Diet on Friday to replace outgoing Yukio Hatoyama.

Kan, 63, is expected to begin to form a Cabinet and officially launch his administration after an Imperial attestation ceremony possibly on Tuesday. Kan is considering appointing State Minister for National Policy Yoshito Sengoku as chief Cabinet secretary, the key Cabinet post, while mulling over naming State Minister for Government Revitalization Yukio Edano as DPJ secretary-general.

The House of Representatives voted to elect Kan prime minister at a plenary session Friday afternoon. He was officially named as prime minister after the House of Councillors voted to elect him as head of the government at a plenary session later in the day.

Earlier in the day, Kan was elected president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). At a general meeting of DPJ legislators, 291 of the party's 423 legislators -- 307 Lower House members and 116 Upper House members -- voted for Kan while his rival candidate Shinji Tarutoko garnered 129 votes.




毎日新聞 2010年6月4日 14時57分(最終更新 6月4日 15時59分)

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We’re building a new and stronger foundation for economic growth and prosperity.

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鳩山・小沢退陣 脱「二重権力」で政策転換図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 4, 2010)
DPJ must shed 'dual power' structure
鳩山・小沢退陣 脱「二重権力」で政策転換図れ(6月3日付・読売社説)

In the end, he probably concluded he had no other option. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama announced Wednesday he will step down.

When the Hatoyama Cabinet was inaugurated in September, nobody could have predicted the ruling coalition government under Hatoyama--comprised of his Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and People's New Party--would turn out to be so short-lived.

Yet in just 8-1/2 months, Hatoyama bruised the Japan-U.S. alliance--the cornerstone of this nation's foreign and national security policies--over the issue of relocating functions of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, and left the nation's politics in disarray.

Hatoyama also could not shake off several scandals, including one in which his mother had given him a sizable amount of money in political funds.


Top 2 had to go

Together with Hatoyama, DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa will resign. Their resignations are reasonable; both must take "collective responsibility" for allowing the wheels to come off management of the administration.

Hatoyama and the party leadership will resign en masse. The DPJ is due to choose a new leader to succeed Hatoyama at a general meeting of its lawmakers from both Diet chambers Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who also serves as finance minister, has emerged as one of the possible successors to Hatoyama.

The new administration will need to commit itself to reconstructing the Japan-U.S. alliance and rejuvenating the economy by overhauling economic policy.

"The public gradually stopped listening [to me]," Hatoyama gave as one reason for stepping down at the general meeting of DPJ lawmakers. Hatoyama has himself to blame, as his own words and deeds were what turned the public off.

On the Futenma issue, Hatoyama said he would transfer the base's functions "at least" outside Okinawa Prefecture, and he repeatedly said he would settle the issue by the end of May with a plan that would satisfy the United States, the ruling coalition parties and the people of Okinawa. However, he readily broke these promises.

Hatoyama's words and deeds were riddled with inconsistencies. It is only natural the public lost faith in him.

Meanwhile, Ozawa has made no explanation whatsoever before the Diet regarding a money scandal that embroiled his political funds management organization, including a dubious land purchase in Tokyo.

Ozawa's actions have clearly generated distrust of politics and impeded the Hatoyama administration.

In a recent Yomiuri Shimbun opinion survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents thought Ozawa should resign. If Ozawa had not taken responsibility and fallen on his sword, criticism of him would have only grown louder.

Ozawa's resignation apparently reflected these circumstances. Yet if the party truly intends to create a "clean DPJ," as Hatoyama claimed during the general meeting Wednesday, Ozawa should explain in detail his involvement--if any--in a spate of alleged funds scandals that have tarnished his political funds management body.


Dissolve lower house

Any administration that has not been given a mandate by the people--a mantle only provided by a House of Representatives election--lacks legitimacy. The DPJ asserted this when it was an opposition party, and criticized recent Liberal Democratic Party-led administrations for changing prime ministers almost every year.

Ideally, the new prime minister would be chosen after a dissolution of the lower house. Yet the approaching House of Councillors election is not the only pressing issue at the moment. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are rising, and the Japanese economy stands at a crossroads.

The DPJ has no choice but to start forming a new administration to fill the political vacuum as quickly as possible.

The new DPJ-led administration should not repeat the same mistakes made by the Ozawa-Hatoyama regime. Their "dual power" structure--whereby Ozawa controlled the prime minister from behind the scenes--must be wiped out.

The incoming administration must avoid the folly of souring relations between the cabinet and ruling coalition parties for the sake of making policy decisions at the initiative of politicians and the Prime Minister's Office, and keeping discussions within the DPJ under lock and key.


Review party manifesto

The DPJ is kidding itself if it believes simply changing its leader will regain voter support.

The collapse of the Hatoyama administration stemmed not only from problems of political ethics and blunders in foreign and national security policies.

The DPJ's obsession with implementing its manifesto from last summer's lower house election and policy-making made by politicians to the exclusion of bureaucracy have generated negative repercussions.

The DPJ should end its intolerable populist political style that is solely intended to win elections.

The party should review as soon as possible such pork-barrel policies as the child-rearing allowance, income compensation for farmers to cover any gaps between production costs and produce prices, and the gradual elimination of expressway tolls.

The consumption tax rate will inevitably need to be raised to secure revenue to put the fiscal house in order and stably manage the social security system. An increasing number of people have realized the necessity of this tax increase.

The new DPJ leader must have the mettle to change party policies, such as a drastic reform of the tax system. Compiling a growth strategy that will spell out a solid future vision of the economy also will be an urgent task.

At the same time, the Japan-U.S. alliance must be allowed to function properly.

While the United States was becoming more distrustful of Japan, a South Korean patrol vessel was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. The Chinese Navy, meanwhile, is trying to make training exercises conducted by its fleet in open waters a normal state of affairs.

The deterioration in Japan-U.S. relations also is causing concern among other countries in Asia and the Pacific. The incoming administration must adhere to the 2006 Japan-U.S. accord on the Futenma base relocation and ensure bilateral ties are on a solid footing.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 3, 2010)
(2010年6月3日01時05分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月 3日 (木)



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ココロの万華鏡:総理の精神分析依頼 /東京

psychiatrist 精神科医 (発音注意→シカイアトリストと発音する、answer.com英語辞書で発音が確認できます。無料)

(Mainichi Japan) June 3, 2010
Kaleidoscope of the heart: Being asked to analyze the prime minister
ココロの万華鏡:総理の精神分析依頼 /東京

As a psychiatrist, I have a certain amount of pride in my job. There are, however, times when I feel like calling it quits.

One of those times was just recently, as I received requests from magazines and newspapers to "analyze Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama."

The duty of a psychiatrist is to provide treatment to people suffering from illness or disorder. Is it not unethical to arrogantly declare, "This person has such-and-such a problem," even though the person himself does not want any diagnosis? On the other hand, with many people feeling doubt about the prime minister over his handling of the Futenma base issue, if psychiatric knowledge can help shed light on his actions, perhaps it is indeed necessary ... The prime minister is said to waver in his remarks, and I waver, too, in my feelings on analyzing him.

Requests to look at the prime minister from a "psychiatric standpoint" are nothing new. Since around the time of the wildly popular Koizumi administration, and the Abe administration which faced its end with the then prime minister's suddenly deteriorating health, its become a given that there will be phone calls asking, "If you were to diagnose the prime minister with something, what would it be?"

Of course, anyone and everyone has mental and emotional problems. There is no one with a "perfect" mental and emotional state. The famous Freud wrote that everyone is some extent "psychotic," and I agree with that.

That being said, for the mass media to always focus on this negative side of human nature and ask, "What's the illness this time?" with every new prime minister, it seems an odd thing to me.

When asked to provide an analysis of Prime Minister Hatoyama by the media, I replied, even while knowing that what I was saying was rude to the prime minister, that, "He seems kind and sincere, but as a result is unable to make difficult decisions or say 'no' when he doesn't have some kind of strong backing. I think he may have a tendency towards a dependency on others." His personality type can excel within boundaries set by others, but when told to go by its own feelings and decide freely, it does poorly. What the prime minister probably needed was solid support from his aides and council from advisors, but for whatever reason, the prime minister chose to go at things alone.

Actually, rather than helping to alleviate the doubts of the public, I think this kind of analysis might only cause people to further lose trust in the government.


(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist. This column was written at the end of May before Hatoyama announced his resignation as prime minister.)
毎日新聞 2010年6月1日 地方版

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srachai from khonkaen, thailand

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BarackObama    The time has come for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future, and I will work with anyone from either party to get this done.

BarackObama    The other party has staked their claim on repealing health reform instead of making it work. They want to go back-I say we move forward.

BarackObama    America does not stand still. We move forward. That is why as we emerge from this recession, we cannot return to the pre-crisis status quo.

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GM破綻1年 国有化から脱する道は遠い

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 3, 2010)
GM facing long road back to independence
GM破綻1年 国有化から脱する道は遠い(6月2日付・読売社説)

One year has passed since U.S. auto giant General Motors Co. went belly-up.

The automaker is still on the bumpy road to full reconstruction. It likely will be some time yet until GM can break free from state ownership and regain its independence.

Since GM's collapse on June 1 last year, the U.S. and Canadian governments have injected a massive amount of public funds into the automaker. The two governments hold a 70 percent stake in GM while it undergoes reconstruction.

The first glimmer of recovery since GM's failure appeared in its recently announced settlement of accounts for the January-March quarter. Sales increased 40 percent from a year ago to about 31.5 billion dollars (2.9 trillion yen) and net profits jumped to about 900 million dollars, climbing into the black for the first time in three years.

Efforts to streamline the automaker and brisk sales at home and abroad likely contributed to the improved corporate performance. GM's first-quarter new car sales in North America rose 12 percent from the previous year, while sales in Asia and other emerging economies surged 45 percent.


Dose of realism needed

GM has put a brake on its runaway deficits and collected a profit--the first favorable news the company has heard after years of grim results.

Thanks to this pickup, GM paid back some of the money it borrowed from the U.S. and Canadian governments ahead of schedule and decided to resume a huge investment project. GM management seems convinced the firm's reconstruction is progressing smoothly.

However, there is good reason not to get carried away just yet. GM still has to repay 52 billion dollars (about 4.7 trillion yen) to the U.S. and Canadian governments, including the money extended in the form of equity.

GM plans to list its stock again at the end of this year or next year, and to use the profits from this to repay the money it owes the governments. But this is still some distance down the road.

GM's sales in North America were brisk mainly because Toyota Motor Corp.'s sales plunged in the wake of its massive recalls. GM plans to roll out the Chevrolet Volt, a new eco-friendly car, this year, but opinions are split over whether the firm will be able to retain its momentum.


1 is the loneliest number

Competition will further intensify in fast-growing emerging markets, a key battlefield for automakers around the world.

For GM to successfully list its shares again, it must secure stable profits by releasing promising models one after another. This is easier said than done.

Major players in the auto industry are scrambling to form tie-ups for the development of electric cars and other next-generation vehicles. This could pose quite a threat to GM's prospects.

Following the tie-up of Volkswagen AG of Germany and Suzuki Motor Corp., the alliance of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA of France announced a strategic partnership with German automaker Daimler AG. Toyota also formed a tie-up with a U.S. electric car venture.

GM has been left isolated by these partnerships and realignments. It may struggle to make up for its delay in developing eco cars while its reconstruction continues.

When will the U.S. giant get back on the track to full recovery? GM looks to be in for a rough ride for some time yet.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 2, 2010)
(2010年6月2日01時16分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月 2日 (水)

鳩山首相:両院議員総会で退陣表明 小沢幹事長も辞任


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

(Mainichi Japan) June 2, 2010
Hatoyama to resign over Futenma fiasco
鳩山首相:両院議員総会で退陣表明 小沢幹事長も辞任

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama expressed Wednesday his intention to resign following the government's confusion over the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

During a Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) general assembly that started at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Hatoyama announced his intention to resign to take responsibility for the political fiasco over the Futenma issue.

Hatoyama also revealed that he has requested DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa to also step down, and Ozawa accepted his request.

Hatoyama failed to keep his promise to at least move Futenma "outside the prefecture (of Okinawa)," and decided to relocate the base to the Henoko area in the Okinawa Prefecture city of Nago -- the same site proposed by the former Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-led government.

Hatoyama dismissed Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Mizuho Fukushima from her position as state minister for consumer affairs after she refused to sign a Cabinet resolution on the relocation issue, causing the SDP to leave the ruling coalition.

After Hatoyama came under pressure from his fellow party members who are concerned about the House of Councillors election this summer, he apparently decided that it is difficult to maintain the present administration

The DPJ is planning to select its next leader from experienced candidates, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Naoto Kan.

毎日新聞 2010年6月2日 9時46分(最終更新 6月2日 12時13分)

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日中首脳会談 戦略的互恵を実のあるものに


srachai from khonkaen, thailand

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 2, 2010)
Build mutually beneficial relations with China
日中首脳会談 戦略的互恵を実のあるものに(6月1日付・読売社説)

Tension is running high on the Korean Peninsula and a few incidents have recently occurred between Japan and China in the East China Sea and waters off Japan. It is at times like this when Tokyo and Beijing must strive to resolve issues in line with the "Mutually Beneficial Relationship Based on Common Strategic Interests" statement they agreed upon in 2008.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Monday agreed with visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to start talks as soon as possible on a bilateral pact over exploration of disputed gas fields in the East China Sea.

Although the two countries agreed to jointly explore the gas resources in June 2008, China was unwilling to start talks on a formal pact to substantiate the agreement because it said conditions were not yet ready.

During that period, however, China attempted to resume unilateral development of a gas field known as Shirakaba in Japan and Chunxiao in China, prompting Tokyo to express concern.

Joint exploration of the gas fields is an ideal project to show tangible progress in the mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries. Tokyo and Beijing should draw up a draft treaty they can agree upon as soon as possible.


Unsettled demarcation

In April, Chinese Navy helicopters twice flew very close to Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers in the East China Sea and waters off Japan while MSDF ships were monitoring activities of the Chinese fleet there.

In early May, a Chinese ship disturbed research activities by a Japan Coast Guard survey ship in the East China Sea. The Japanese government quite rightly protested to China for its infringement on Japanese interests, but Beijing claimed the Chinese ship acted properly and legitimately.

Observers have said such troubles stem from the unsettled demarcation of the East China Sea, China's eagerness to secure marine resources and the increased blue-water activities of the Chinese Navy.

With such incidents in mind, Hatoyama expressed his concerns to Wen and asked the Chinese side to exercise self-restraint and prevent recurrences.

The two leaders also agreed to establish a crisis management system to avoid contingencies at sea and to establish a hotline between them. At least for a while, it is essential to take measures to prevent similar incidents.


Urge China to punish DPRK

Referring to the March sinking of a South Korean warship by a North Korean torpedo, Hatoyama said North Korea should be condemned under international law and asked for Beijing's cooperation on the issue.

However, Wen only said China would like to communicate closely with Japan on the issue. In upcoming weeks, attention will be on diplomatic debates at the U.N. Security Council concerning the fatal sinking of the Cheonan corvette.

Hatoyama has expressed his full support for Seoul's response to the incident at his recent summit meeting with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak and at other opportunities.

Japan, currently a nonpermanent member of the Security Council, should, together with the United States and South Korea, more strongly urge China to join them in concerted efforts toward the adoption of a resolution against North Korea at the Security Council.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 1, 2010)
(2010年6月1日02時08分  読売新聞)

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2010年6月 1日 (火)



Record-Breaking Indian Heat Wave Kills Hundreds
Temperatures continue to climb in northern India, where this summer is already the hottest since records began in the late 1800s.

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srachai from khonkaen, thailand

(Mainichi Japan) June 1, 2010
Canine kerfuffle hits Air Force One just before Hatoyama-Obama conference call

There was some serious trouble on Air Force One on Friday just before a call between Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama, and that trouble had a name: Bo.

According to e-mails from a member of the White House press corps riding with Obama at the time, the presidential family's Portuguese water dog Bo burst suddenly into the reporters' cabin just after take-off from Andrews Air Force Base, causing a major ruckus as he followed Obama through the plane.

Questions have surfaced about why Obama -- at the center of a bruising 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week power struggle that is the U.S. capital -- would ferry the family dog around with him, with the president quipping that he doesn't have any other best friend in Washington D.C.

Obama spoke to Hatoyama regarding the resolution of the Futenma relocation issue just after the dog's intrusion. Hatoyama could surely have shared pet stories with the president as well, as Hatoyama also had canine company throughout his political trials and tribulations. Sadly, Hatoyama's dog passed away on the same September day last year he became prime minister. It remains to be seen if he will be able to find another "best friend" among his two-legged associates.

毎日新聞 2010年6月1日 東京朝刊

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厚労省調査:「女は家庭」派の妻増加 20代中心に変化

(Mainichi Japan) June 1, 2010
More Japanese women think wives should stay at home to focus on housework, childcare
厚労省調査:「女は家庭」派の妻増加 20代中心に変化

More young married Japanese women believe that wives should focus on domestic affairs and child rearing while husbands should earn a living, a national survey has revealed.

The survey -- which is carried out every five years by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry's National Institute of Population and Social Security Research -- was the fourth of its kind and was conducted on some 13,000 households nationwide in July 2008, with about 6,870 married women under 70 years old responding.

The results indicated that about 45 percent of respondents believe that "husbands should work outside and wives stay home and focus on housework and childcare."
It is the first time in the past 15 years that the number of married females who support the nation's traditional values of wives' roles in marriage has increased. About 53.6 percent of the respondents supported the idea in the first survey conducted in 1993, but the figure continued to decline, down to 41.1 percent in the previous survey in 2003.

By age, 47.9 percent of those aged under 30 years old said they believe women should stay home as full-time moms, a substantial increase of 12.2 points from the previous survey, and 41.7 percent of those in their 30s and 39.8 percent of those in their 40s offered the same view, up 7.6 points and 6.6 points, respectively.

Meanwhile, the figure continued to decline among older generations, with 42.3 percent of married women in their 50s and 57.2 percent of those in their 60s answering that they are in favor of the idea of wives staying home to raise children, down 2.5 points and 4 points from the previous survey, respectively.

By occupation, the number of married women who believe wives should stay home was the highest among full-time housewives, at 55.3 percent.

毎日新聞 2010年5月31日 18時16分(最終更新 5月31日 18時31分)

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社民党離脱 連立崩壊を招いた首相不決断


The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 1, 2010)
Hatoyama's dithering caused coalition crack
社民党離脱 連立崩壊を招いた首相不決断(5月31日付・読売社説)

The Social Democratic Party's split from the coalition government led by the Democratic Party of Japan arose from the fact that their diplomatic and security policies were as irreconcilable as oil and water.

The SDP's departure came after Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama dismissed SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima as state minister in charge of consumer affairs, after she refused to sign a document approving the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture. Despite this breakup, the SDP has not ruled out cooperating with the DPJ in this summer's House of Councillors election.

Hatoyama's sacking of Fukushima is understandable in light of her defiance over the Futenma policy--an issue that directly affects national security. The SDP decision to walk out of the tripartite coalition also was a natural reaction.

Hatoyama largely has himself to blame for the messy split: He repeatedly made concessions on Futenma and other issues as he gave priority to maintaining the coalition with the SDP to ensure smooth Diet management and electoral cooperation.


History could repeat

The Hatoyama administration could repeat its mistake if it concedes to the SDP on policy matters simply to obtain its cooperation in the forthcoming election. The administration should be focusing more on the political realignment looming after the upper house election, as well as forming a "partial coalition" in which ruling and opposition parties cooperate when they agree on specific policies.

In its policy platform declared in 2006, the SDP said it wants to "scale down the Self-Defense Forces that have existed in violation of the Constitution" and "transform the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty into a pact of peace and goodwill." On the Futenma issue, the party insisted on relocating the base overseas--a plan the United States was never likely to accept--and delaying a final decision on the matter while making no effort to find a realistic solution.

Hatoyama buckled late last year when the SDP threatened to bolt from the coalition over the Futenma relocation. The prime minister put off settling the issue in line with the 2006 agreement between Tokyo and Washington. This further complicated an already delicate problem.

Had Hatoyama defused the Futenma issue at that time and bitten the bullet by allowing the SDP to break away from the coalition, he would not have ended up straining relations with Washington, as well as with local Okinawa governments and residents, to the detriment of the national interest.

Making the tough decision then would have spared the prime minister from devoting so much political energy to the Futenma issue. Instead, he could have turned his attention to other diplomatic and domestic issues, such as deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance.


A heavy price to pay

A coalition government by its very nature requires all its participants to make concessions. But Hatoyama's unwillingness to openly discuss differences in important policy matters with his coalition partners has blown up in his face with the SDP's breakaway.

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun opinion survey taken over the weekend, the Hatoyama Cabinet's approval rating has dropped to 19 percent, and nearly 60 percent of respondents think Hatoyama should resign as prime minister. The percentage of respondents who plan to vote for the DPJ in the proportional representation segment of the upper house election dipped below that of the Liberal Democratic Party for the first time since the DPJ came to power in September.

Public discontent with Hatoyama has been growing over his refusal to take responsibility for his inability to resolve the Futenma issue in line with what he promised the people.

Criticism of Hatoyama is finally emerging even within the DPJ. The party should be aware that people are casting a cold eye over the party because of its inability to reform itself from the inside.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 31, 2010)
(2010年5月31日01時42分  読売新聞)

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