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2010年12月31日 (金)

Big Surprise!


Friend --

The President is grateful for your support. Thanks for providing your
address so that he can send you a thank-you note.

It should be in your mailbox in four to six weeks.

Thanks again, for everything you do,


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20年くらい前、海外単身勤務に伴なう長期に渡る家族との別居(separation from family)が原因で25年間連れ添った妻と離婚するはめになりました。離婚直後、生活が乱れてしまい毎日のようにスナックやバーで夜遊びした結果すぐにお金がなくなり生活できなくなりました。これではいけないと気を取り直して生活態度を180度転換、もとの自分を取り戻すことができましたが、このお金のなくなった時期に提携銀行である東海銀行のローンカードと丸井のクレジットカードを利用しました。お金のありがたさを身をもって体験できた訳です。借金は200万円ほどでしたが1年間で全額返済できました。



それではここで、クレジットカードのショッピング枠現金化サイト「クローバー 」の紹介を致します。

クローバー の特徴

・カード現金化 ↓現金化とは?    


・即日振り込みが可能 (最短5分)











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Masaaki Tanabe's works eloquently re-create the lives of those lost to the bomb

The best book I have read this year is "Genbaku ga Keshita Hiroshima" (Hiroshima that was annihilated by the atomic bomb), published by Bungei Shunju. I was attracted by the title, which uses an old character for "Hiroshima" and invokes the life of this town, which once flourished at the mouth of rivers flowing into the Seto Inland Sea.

The author of the book, Masaaki Tanabe, 73, is a renowned filmmaker. He has re-created the town that was at ground zero in his films, using state-of-the-art technology. This year, he completed a documentary film that elaborately re-enacted the Nakajima district located in the heart of Hiroshima, which was the city's leading entertainment quarter and, reduced to ashes, now hosts the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Tanabe was born in what was then Sarugakucho, near where the Atomic Bomb Dome stands now. It was the end of 1937, when the Sino-Japanese War was turning into a quagmire. When Tanabe was a second-grade elementary school student, he lost his mother and brother to the atomic bomb, as well as his home, which was located at ground zero. When Tanabe returned home with his grandmother from an evacuation location in the countryside, he saw the aftermath of the bomb and was exposed to residual radiation. His father, who was a serviceman, became weak from radiation from the bomb and died on Aug. 15 in despair -- on the day Japan lost the war.

Tanabe worked his way through college to study filmmaking, and after graduation he started working for a newspaper company, where he was in charge of news films. He always stayed away from the A-bomb issues, even after he left the newspaper company and started working on his own.

However, an unexpected turning point came when he was 60. Some high school girls who seemed to be on a school trip to Hiroshima asked Tanabe to take their pictures in front of the A-bomb Dome.

While he looked through the finder of the camera -- and the high school girls gave peace signs and yelled cheerfully for the shot -- he noticed the site where the kitchen of his childhood home used to be, where his mother and brother supposedly died.

Those girls don't know what happened here, he thought, but he didn't blame them for that. The experience, however, led him to decide that he shouldn't run away from A-bomb issues any more. Re-creating what ground zero looked like before the bomb was his mission, he felt.

We have seen a number of films that portray the catastrophe that the A-bomb brought to the streets and people of Hiroshima. However, what are re-enacted in Tanabe's films are the ordinary lives of people in the town, filled with their various day-to-day emotions, as well the town's rhythm and atmosphere.

Tanabe visited people across the country that have affiliations with ground zero, traced their memories, and collected their photographs they had taken from before the atomic bombing. Many of the pictures are carried in the book, and they surely portray just the same innocent smiles as those of the high school girls who posed in front of the A-bomb Dome.

An interesting story that Tanabe gives is that a recreation of the town at ground zero made based on the recollections of former residents turned out to actually be twice as big as the real town, showing that human beings tend to remember the things they cherish as being larger and greater than they really were. Tanabe determined the actual width of each house's front based on the intervals between electricity poles taken in pictures from those days.

"I wanted to bring to film the lives of ordinary citizens up until just before the dropping of the atomic bomb," Tanabe writes in his book. I believe the description of the ordinary lives that were lost can tell the tale of terror of destruction and deprivation more eloquently than anything else.

This year saw a number of foreign dignitaries visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I hope the U.S. president will follow suit next year. When he visits Hiroshima, in addition to the casualty records, I also hope he will see what the old Hiroshima was like before its annihilation and compare it to the streets and people back in his home country. (By Kenji Tamaki, Expert Senior Writer)

(Mainichi Japan) December 30, 2010

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2010年12月30日 (木)

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(2011/01/01更新 by srachai)

FC2Blog Ranking



[ はじめに ]

[ 名前 ]
松井 清 (スラチャイ)

[ 略歴 ]
・99/10 タイ全土を旅行
・00/10 タイに移住
・03/07 カイちゃん誕生
・07/06 シーファーちゃん誕生

[ 座右の銘 ]
Slow and steady wins the race.

[ 学習の手引き ]
・Think in English.(英語で考える)

[ English Newspapers ]
Japan Times
Washington Post
Newyork Times
Bangkok Post
The Nations
Phuket Gazette

[ 英字新聞の英和対訳学習 ]

[ スラチャイ編集の辞書 ]

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cite from msn news,

2010.12.30 00:33




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小沢元代表:政倫審出席 離党圧力で方針転換

(Mainichi Japan) December 29, 2010
Under pressure to leave DPJ, Ozawa agrees to testify over scandal -- with conditions
小沢元代表:政倫審出席 離党圧力で方針転換

Ichiro Ozawa, former secretary-general and a political kingpin of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), has finally agreed to testify to a Diet ethics committee over a political funding scandal after mounting pressure to leave the party if he didn't, but he has shrewdly taken advantage of the situation to seek removal of a political opponent.
On Dec. 27, Prime Minister Naoto Kan made it clear that the DPJ would ask Ozawa to leave the party if he refused to appear before the ethics committee. Kan's statement forced Ozawa, who is facing indictment as early as the beginning of next year over the scandal, to move towards testifying.

However, Ozawa took the opportunity to make a counter-attack, demanding that Kan dismiss Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku as a precondition for Ozawa's appearing at the committee. Kan has been under pressure from opposition parties to sack Sengoku after the opposition-controlled House of Councillors adopted a censure motion against the chief cabinet secretary.

The move by Ozawa takes advantage of indications by the prime minister that he would reshuffle his Cabinet -- even though that reshuffling was intended to accompany the addition of the Sunrise Party to a DPJ-led coalition administration, a deal which fell through.

On the afternoon of Dec. 28, just before making the announcement that he would testify at the committee, Ozawa visited former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and stressed the need to sack Sengoku.
"For the Diet, the censure motion against Sengoku is the more serious problem, so the prime minister should respond properly to it," Ozawa was quoted as saying to Hatoyama, who agreed with him.

Ozawa and Hatoyama, both outside of the mainstream of the party, agreed that they will demand that the prime minister replace Sengoku with a pro-Ozawa legislator, saying it will be for the benefit of party unity.

Azuma Koshiishi, head of the DPJ's caucus in the House of Councillors and close ally of Ozawa, is in step with the two. "If the prime minister wants to restore public trust in his administration, he should reshuffle the Cabinet," he told reporters.


A point of contention is the timing of the testimony. Ozawa says he will only attend the ethics council if it is convened after the regular Diet session opens in January -- in other words, after Kan has made the decision of whether to sack Sengoku.

Kan, however, fearing that if he complied it would give the public the impression that he had bowed to pressure from Ozawa, strongly demanded on Dec. 28 that Ozawa attend the ethics council before the next Diet session convenes.

On the night of Dec. 28, pro-Ozawa legislators, including Koshiishi, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koji Matsui, and former DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Shinji Tarutoko met in Tokyo and were reportedly in agreement on using Ozawa's testimony to the ethics council as a bargaining chip to demand a reshuffling of the Cabinet. (By Takashi Sudo, Political News Department)

毎日新聞 2010年12月29日 9時17分

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2010年12月29日 (水)

ライフクリエート goo















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翻訳抜けの箇所を( )で示しておきます。

--The Asahi Shimbun Dec. 27
EDITORIAL: Search for war remains

The search for the remains of Japanese soldiers who died in the Pacific War is gaining momentum.

"We will check each and every grain of sand," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said after digging into the volcanic ash and soil of Iwo Jima, a fierce battleground between Japan and the United States.

The remains of 13,000 Japanese soldiers have yet to be found on this island, but the prime minister's special task force has located a group burial ground based on information from American documents. A full-fledged excavation project is to begin.

Kan stressed, "The country has a responsibility to bring the remains back home," and implied that he is eager to expand the search program to other battle zones.

About 2.4 million Japanese died in Okinawa and in foreign lands during the war. The 65th year after the war is drawing to a close, yet the remains of only 1.26 million have returned home.

Actually, there is no law that says "the country has a responsibility" to retrieve the remains. When the war ended, what is now the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare took over the unfinished administerial business of the Japanese military, and the ministry has conducted the search as part of an assistance program for families of the war dead.

For a while after the war, it was difficult to set foot on lands the Japanese military had once invaded. It was not until the late 1960s, after reparation payments to those governments had made progress, that official government teams could make repeated trips to those lands in search of the remains.

Former war comrades would serve as guides for the families of the fallen as they made their way into the jungles. The rescue of Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese soldier who had held out in Guam until 1972, gave the project momentum.

With Japan entering the Heisei Era starting in 1989, veterans and families have grown older. With fewer leads on possible locations of the remains, the project dwindled down.

Starting four years ago, parts of the recovery project were commissioned to private groups, but there have been rumors that some of the bones that an NPO had collected in the Philippines might include those of local people. Some have suggested perhaps it was time to draw the project to a close.

Kan had shown interest in this matter since his days in the opposition. We would like to believe that his involvement is not for the sake of his administration's popularity, but that he is truly committed to the recovery project in the numerous former battlegrounds.

If so, is it not time to consider moving beyond the usual framework of assisting the families and paying tribute to the deceased?

In the future, the recovery project should involve more young people, including student volunteers.
 (収集の正確さや効率を期すのは当然だ。) 今後の担い手は学生ボランティアなど、若い人にも広げるべきだろう。

Perhaps the recovery project can be continued as a process of contemplation and soul-searching; a process for us to think and question why people were mobilized by the state and had to die in such places, only to be left there. It can be turned into an opportunity for us to learn the horrors of war, to learn from the mistakes of the past, and discover means of reconciliation.

For example, of the 520,000 Japanese casualties of war in the Philippines, the remains of 370,000 have returned home. But when we search for the remains of Japanese soldiers, we must not forget that more than 1 million Philippine civilians were killed.

In China and North Korea, the search for remains, let alone their recovery, is still difficult. The remains include those of the soldiers who were originally from lands Japan colonized. Seoul is demanding Tokyo return the remains of those forcibly taken to Japan.

The bones are silent, but from the dark they continue to question how Japan dealt with the aftermath of war. The important thing is to constantly face up to the past.

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2010年12月28日 (火)





[ はじめに ]

[ 名前 ]
松井 清 (スラチャイ)

[ 略歴 ]
・99/10 タイ全土を旅行
・00/10 タイに移住
・03/07 カイちゃん誕生
・07/06 シーファーちゃん誕生

[ 座右の銘 ]
Slow and steady wins the race.

[ 学習の手引き ]
・Think in English.

[ English Newspapers ]
Japan Times
Washington Post
Newyork Times
Bangkok Post
The Nations
Phuket Gazette

[ 英字新聞の英和対訳学習 ]

[ スラチャイ編集の辞書 ]

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[ スラチャイ編集の辞書 ]


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[ はじめに ]

[ 名前 ]
松井 清 (スラチャイ)

[ 略歴 ]
・99/10 タイ全土を旅行
・00/10 タイに移住
・03/07 カイちゃん誕生
・07/06 シーファーちゃん誕生

[ 座右の銘 ]
Slow and steady wins the race.

[ 学習の手引き ]
・Think in English.

[ English Newspapers ]
Japan Times
Washington Post
Newyork Times
Bangkok Post
The Nations
Phuket Gazette

[ 英字新聞の英和対訳学習 ]

[ スラチャイ編集の辞書 ]

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東洋ギフト goo













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警察資料流出 対応の遅れが被害拡大招いた

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 28, 2010)
MPD's delayed response worsened info leak damage
警察資料流出 対応の遅れが被害拡大招いた(12月27日付・読売社説)

The Metropolitan Police Department eventually admitted last week that some of its internal documents on investigations into international terrorism were leaked onto the Internet--nearly two months after the leak was revealed.

In the meantime, the MPD failed to take necessary action, allowing the online spread of personal information such as names and addresses of informants to continue. A senior MPD officer apologized over the matter, saying, "It's extremely regrettable." But the MPD bears heavy responsibility for having worsened the leak damage.

Investigative authorities must take all possible measures to ensure the safety of those whose personal data were leaked as well as conduct thorough investigations to determine who leaked the information online in the first place.

The leaked data included information provided by foreign investigative organizations. The MPD had adamantly refused to admit the leaked information was part of its internal data because it feared it would lose confidence abroad if it referred to the attribution or genuineness of leaked data.

Because of this, the MPD could not even file a complaint when a book carrying the leaked data, including personal information, was published. Faced with mounting criticism over the department's stance of sticking to its position to save face as an organization, the MPD probably had no alternative but to admit the leak of its internal information and apologize.


No leniency for colleagues

Although pointing out the possibility that the leaked information includes some belonging to its Public Security Bureau, the MPD has avoided specifying which data came from the bureau. The MPD could have acknowledged this much immediately after the leak of the data came to light.

In any case, the bureau's sloppy administration of data was also revealed.

The leaked information is believed to have been compiled by the bureau's Third Foreign Affairs Division, which is in charge of investigations into international terrorism. Personal computers for common use by division personnel reportedly included some from which information can be taken easily with the use of a private-use external memory device.

The MPD has been questioning about 400 members, including some current and past members of the division. The investigation should be conducted strictly without leniency for colleagues.

The MPD has investigated the case on suspicion of obstructing police business through fraudulent means. But the allegation should be switched to a breach of confidentiality in violation of the Local Civil Service Law.


A way to regain confidence

The Public Security Bureau, in many cases, has narrowed down lists of suspects based on the information collected from informants. Therefore, the information thus gathered is highly confidential. Extreme care should be taken in its handling.

We live in an era in which international cyberterrorism is rampant. Without improvements to prevent leaks of investigative information, it would be difficult for the domestic investigative authorities to regain the confidence of their foreign counterparts.

In the process of promptly reexamining its information management system, the MPD must fully secure the confidentiality of electronic information as well as enhance its ability to investigate cybercrimes.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 27, 2010)
(2010年12月27日01時27分  読売新聞)

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2010年12月27日 (月)

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    インターコミュニケーションズ goo















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    --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 24
    EDITORIAL: New nuclear disarmament treaty

    A new nuclear disarmament treaty aimed at reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons has taken a major step toward validation. The U.S. Senate, which had been reluctant to pass and ratify it, finally approved it eight months after it was signed.

    With no prospects for the treaty to take effect, U.S. President Barack Obama's initiative for "a world without nuclear weapons" could have lost its footing. It is significant that the Senate approved it at the last moment and did not allow the initiative aimed at abolishing nuclear weapons to fall apart.

    The development should provide momentum for the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that President Obama mentioned in his April 2009 "Prague speech" and to strike a treaty on banning production of weapons-grade fissionable materials. Nuclear powers are also urged to step up their efforts for disarmament without delay.

    In particular, we wish to make a request on future nuclear disarmament.

    The United States and Russia are required to reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 or fewer within seven years from the time the treaty takes effect. But even this figure means the two countries would still possess enormous capability to destroy civilization.

    Instead of seven years, the countries should hasten negotiations for the treaty to cut the number of nuclear warheads to 1,000 or fewer. If possible, the next nuclear disarmament treaty should take effect before the next Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference slated for 2015.

    It is also important to sound out consultations with nuclear powers other than the United States and Russia.

    China has maintained the stance that the United States and Russia should take the lead in nuclear disarmament.

    However, if prospects for each of the two countries to possess 1,000 nuclear warheads or fewer become likely, even China would no longer be able to escape the disarmament administration. Rather, it should positively propose multilateral consultations.

    In particular, in Asia, the United States, China and related countries need to discuss how the regional arms control and security framework ought to be so as not to trigger an arms race in conventional forces.

    As a country that suffered atomic bombings, Japan has an important role to appeal to other countries and present a new initiative. We must also not forget that it would also benefit Japan's own security.

    For the new treaty to take effect, ratification by Russia is indispensable. Russia's nuclear missiles are rapidly aging. Without the treaty, the cost of renewing them will weigh heavily on the country. In that sense, the treaty is also reasonable for Russia and should be ratified as soon as possible.

    Former U.S. secretaries of state and defense of the former Republican administration have expressed their support for the new treaty one after another. Despite such circumstances, the approval had been put off because there is strong reluctance within the Republican Party to help Obama score a point.

    Unless Washington advances nuclear disarmament, its position to call for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons would weaken and directly affect the security of the United States and its allies.

    The Republican Party's stance of dragging nuclear disarmament due to its partisan interests makes light of the will of many countries that aim at "a world without nuclear weapons" under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. We strongly urge the Republican Party to reflect on its behavior.

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    2010年12月26日 (日)




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    使用方法 :

    (1) 下の老(ラオ)日辞書・日老(ラオ)辞書をクリックして、
    (2) Ctrl + F で検索ウィンドウを呼び出す
    (3) 検索するラオス語または日本語を入力する
    (4) 次を検索をクリックする



    ラオス語フォント saysettha_ot.ttf をダウンロードして c:\windows\fontのディレクトリーにコピーしてください。

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    来年度予算案 辻褄合わせはもう限界だ

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 26, 2010)
    Fiscal 2011 budget fails to address key issues
    来年度予算案 辻褄合わせはもう限界だ(12月25日付・読売社説)

    The Cabinet approved a record 92.41 trillion yen fiscal 2011 budget at its meeting on Friday.

    The Finance Ministry probably would like to engage in a bit of old-style wordplay to read the total figure as "kuni yoi," meaning "country in good condition," as the digit 9 can be read as "ku," 2 as "ni," 4 as "yo" and 1 as "i."

    However, if one looks at the severe reality of the budget, which depends on debt, such an optimistic assessment would be unwarranted.

    This is the second budget compilation since the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration was established last year. However, the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan does not have any effective measures to cope with the revenue shortfall. Instead, it only shows its determination to continue its unreasonable handout policies.

    In such a situation, it is impossible to escape from the nation's chronic state of deficits. Looking at this budget, this is certainly the last time the DPJ-led administration will be able to make ends meet by unreasonably using bonds to balance revenue and expenditures. Many citizens must feel anxious now.

    44 tril. yen govt bond issue set

    The outstanding feature of the fiscal 2001 budget is 28.7 trillion yen in social security-related costs, exceeding half of general expenditures. Debt-servicing costs came to 21.5 trillion yen.

    On the revenue side, tax income will be 40.9 trillion yen, up more than 3 trillion yen from the initial fiscal 2010 budget. It regained the 40-trillion yen mark for the first time in two years.

    However, nontax revenue comes to only 7.2 trillion yen, even if the so-called buried treasure of reserve funds in special accounts is frantically scooped up.

    As a result, the revenue shortfall is covered by issuance of government bonds worth a hefty 44.3 trillion yen, almost identical to the amount in the 2010 budget, which was the largest-ever issuance in an initial budget.

    It will be the second year in a row that government bond issuance exceeds tax revenue. For the latest budget, the government depends on bonds for 48 percent of its revenue. What on earth does the government think about this abnormal situation?

    "We met the target of capping bond issuance at [about] 44 trillion yen," Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda emphasized.

    Indeed, the target is stipulated in the fiscal management strategy the government compiled in June.

    However, it is utter nonsense to make the largest-ever issuance the upper limit. More reasonably, the government should aim at reducing the amount.

    The fiscal management strategy also aims at achieving a surplus in the primary balance in state and local finances by fiscal 2020.

    If this is the goal of fiscal rehabilitation, the fiscal 2011 budget should have been the first step toward that end, but the government stumbled at this initial step.

    Consumption tax issue evaded

    This was arguably the result of the Kan administration's procrastination in raising the consumption tax rate. In inaugurating his administration in June, Kan emphasized the need to raise the consumption tax rate. And in this summer's House of Councillors election, he even touched upon the possibility of raising the current rate of 5 percent to 10 percent.

    It was probably because he realized the need for fiscal rehabilitation as he attended international conferences as the finance minister and studied fiscal matters until immediately before assuming the prime minister's post. As the leader of the nation, his raising the issue of the need to increase the consumption tax is proper.

    However, he was criticized by opposition parties when he abruptly proposed a discussion of the consumption tax issue. Even within the DPJ, many opposed the move because it would put the party at a disadvantage in the election. Kan then cooled his rhetoric on the matter considerably. After the party's huge defeat in the upper house election, he rarely touched upon the issue. We quite regret his change of attitude.

    The factor that made the confusion in budget compilation complete was an obsession with the DPJ's manifesto for last year's House of Representatives election. A prime example of this is an increase in the amount of child-rearing allowances.

    Currently, a monthly payment of 13,000 yen per child is given to families with children. Because the DPJ manifesto stipulates 26,000 yen per child a month, the government will increase the monthly amount by 7,000 yen per child younger than 3 years old to bring the payments closer to the full amount. This will require about 210 billion yen in revenue in fiscal 2011.

    In addition, the administration included funding in the budget for policies related to its election pledges for such things as making expressways toll-free and income compensation for individual farmers. Such actions are unbelievable, considering the government's lack of revenue sources.

    The government has decided to increase taxes for high-income earners to mainly secure revenue for programs with increased budgets. This is a problem.

    High-income earners support the Japanese economy, and their consumer confidence is high. Targeting them may invite a drain of talented people to foreign countries, for instance, which would work against the aims of the government. The government should immediately withdraw the tax hike plan.

    When the government decides on recommendations for social security reforms, which were discussed concurrently with the budget compilation, it is highly likely to avoid any reform accompanied by an increased burden to taxpayers for such programs as health care for the aged and nursing care insurance.

    The DPJ backed away from drastic reform ahead of the nationwide local elections next spring to avoid inviting a fierce reaction from voters. This is a shameful action for a ruling party.

    Revise manifesto

    As the fiscal 2011 budget was approved by the Cabinet, long-term debts of the central and local governments are expected to reach 891 trillion yen at the end of of fiscal 2011, or 1.84 times the nation's gross domestic product. The figure is far worse than even that of Greece, which suffered fiscal collapse.

    To prevent the nation's finances from collapsing, sufficient tax revenues must be secured. It is clear that raising the consumption tax rate is the only measure. The consumption tax is also a dependable source of revenue for supporting social security programs.

    The DPJ said in its 2009 manifesto that a huge amount of money can be squeezed from state coffers simply by correcting wasteful uses of tax revenue. Now everybody knows that was unrealistic.

    Now, as we are at the end of the year, the Kan administration should decide to raise the consumption tax next year. It should also honestly admit its mistakes in its 2009 manifesto and drastically revise it.

    Unless it overcomes these two important problems, the nation will be put on the wrong course and could face fiscal collapse.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 25, 2010)
    (2010年12月25日01時32分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月25日 (土)







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    (Mainichi Japan) December 24, 2010
    China's boycott diplomacy ugly but effective

    Mainichi Shimbun staff writer Mayumi Otani, who covered the Nobel Prize award ceremony this year, angrily said, "The Chinese government's behavior was ugly." She refers to pressure China applied to its allies to boycott the ceremony because the Nobel Peace Prize would be awarded to Chinese anti-government activist Liu Xiaobo, and 17 countries refused to send representatives to the ceremony. (Mainichi Shimbun Dec. 20 morning edition -- from Norway)

    Like Otani, I remember most Japanese journalists and newspapers criticized China's action as arrogant with the only exception being Bangkok-based journalist Makoto Suzuki. (The Sankei Shimbun Dec. 15 morning edition) He analyzed China's boycott diplomacy from the viewpoint of Southeast Asia.

    Suzuki pointed out that of the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand was the only country that sent a representative to the award ceremony as far as he confirmed. However, a minister at the Thai Embassy attended it on behalf of the ambassador, who the embassy said was staying in his home country.

    The Indonesian ambassador was also absent from the ceremony for the same reason, while the Philippine ambassador also failed to be present because the ceremony did not fit his schedule. Even Vietnam, which is in dispute with China over sovereignty issues in the South China Sea, criticized presenting the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu on the grounds that the prize should not be used for political purposes. However, it is too naive to insist that Japan should join hands with ASEAN in an attempt to counter China.

    Regardless of whether its behavior was ugly, China did score diplomatic points through its boycott diplomacy. This is the reality of Asia.

    It raises the question why does China have such strong diplomatic power? This is apparently because the free trade agreement (FTA) between China and ASEAN came into effect on Jan. 1, 2010. China and ASEAN have been integrated into a single market and the amounts of goods and services traded in these areas sharply increased, improving the economic conditions of Southeast Asia.

    As their economic relations have become closer, China and ASEAN tend to avoid political conflicts. Philippine news organizations criticized the ambassador's absence from the ceremony, but politicians in ASEAN member countries share the view that they will gain nothing if they anger China.

    Shortly before the award ceremony, a high-ranking Philippine military officer visited China and held talks on the purchase of Chinese-made weapons. ASEAN member countries fear anti-government guerrillas within their respective territories more than the threat posed by China.

    The United States is now pressing forward with a plan to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in a bid to counter the China-ASEAN FTA. Washington is now trying to increase its presence in the Asian market, but struggling to make up for its late start.

    In the South China Sea where China is steadily increasing its military presence, the United States is soliciting ASEAN to build up a framework to counter the threat posed by China, but ASEAN is unlikely to comply. China's boycott diplomacy was certainly ugly. However, the brass-knuckles aggressiveness of its diplomacy should not be underestimated. (By Hidetoshi Kaneko, Expert Senior Writer)

    毎日新聞 2010年12月23日 東京朝刊

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    2010年12月24日 (金)




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    外交文書公開 隠し事はまだあった

    (Mainichi Japan) December 23, 2010
    More than meets the eye in declassified diplomatic documents
    社説:外交文書公開 隠し事はまだあった

    Declassified diplomatic documents covering Japan-U.S. negotiations on the 1972 reversion of Okinawa have raised suggestions that the ministry covered up details of its secret accords.

    An examination conducted by an experts' panel set up by the Foreign Ministry had clarified part of the Japan-U.S. secret agreement on the reversion of Okinawa to Japan's sovereignty. However, the declassified documents recently released by the Foreign Ministry shed light on larger part of the accord -- they were not covered by the panel's examination.

    In May, the Foreign Ministry put into effect regulations requiring declassification of virtually all of its official documents 30 years from the time they were compiled. This time, the third round of disclosure, 291 files, including 56 regarding Okinawa, were disclosed.

    Among the documents is one suggesting that the Japanese and U.S. governments plotted to ensure that a conservative candidate would win the first election of governor of the Ryukyu government under U.S. rule. Another shows Tokyo and Washington played a tug-of-war over the wording of an agreement to include the Senkaku Islands in the Okinawa islands to be returned to Japan's sovereignty.

    More surprisingly, a memorandum showing that three confidential telegrams were incinerated was found in a file of documents on the Japan-U.S. secret agreement. Under the secret agreement, Japan footed the 4 million dollars required to restore land vacated by U.S. military facilities in Okinawa to its original state, even though such costs should have been borne by the United States.

    Furthermore, an entry in the handwritten index of the file titled, "Document 1 -- the leak of confidential information on Okinawa reversion talks" has been crossed out and the text of the document is missing although its cover is still kept in the file. A new typed index of the file does not even list the document.

    The Foreign Ministry states that it does not know how the ministry managed documents 40 years ago, and the memorandum does not show what kind of telegrams were incinerated.

    If the telegrams were incinerated in order to destroy evidence of the secret pact, it would be an outrageous act that could betray the public's trust in the government. Questions also remain as to why the document showing that Japan footed the 4 million dollars was not found in the ministry's earlier investigation into the case.

    The declassified documents include one backing up another secret agreement under which Japan shouldered 65 million dollars to renovate and relocate U.S. military facilities in Okinawa -- in addition to the 320 million dollars stated in the official agreement on Okinawa's reversion. The document details a dialogue in which an official of the ministry's First North America Division and an official of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo discussed the issue.

    These findings obviously support assertions the experts' panel made in a report submitted to the ministry in March that negotiations on the expenses of the Okinawa reversion lack transparency.

    The ministry is set to disclose approximately 22,000 files of documents that are still being withheld even though more than 30 years have passed since they were compiled. It is hoped that the details of how Japan footed the expenses of the Okinawa reversion, which is shrouded in mystery, will be clarified in the process of disclosing these documents.

    Enthusiasm that the Foreign Ministry has recently shown about disclosing diplomatic documents should be appreciated to a certain extent, but the method of disclosure should be improved. Many members of the public have complained that declassified documents are accessible only at the ministry's Diplomatic Record Office in Tokyo, and that it takes a long time and costs too much money to make photocopies of documents. The ministry should take measures to improve the convenience of accessing such documents.

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    2010年12月23日 (木)


    Kobe Steel, iPhone bright spots for 'declining' Japan, but challenges lie ahead from China

    I'm a big fan of the TV Tokyo program "Sora kara Nihon o mitemiyo" (Let's take a look at Japan from the sky). The dialogue between Kumojii (Grandpa Cloud) and Kumomi, a "girl cloud," is entertaining, and it's refreshing to see various parts of the country from a vantage point not unlike that of a floating cloud.

    The program, moreover, is informative. The other day, viewers were given a glimpse of the steel manufacturer Kobe Steel, based in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, and told that if the company were to stop its operations, production of half the world's cars would come to a halt. I'd had no idea.

    Looking into the matter, I found that Kobe Steel has about a 50-percent share of the wire rods used to produce valve springs, which are installed at the top of car cylinders.

    The valves are subject to strenuous contraction and expansion, but their quality must remain unchanged even when a car clocks 100,000 kilometers. Kobe Steel's wire rods apparently fit the bill and therefore dominate the world market. I find this good news, especially nowadays, when Japan's economic decline has become widely accepted.

    Japan is a major exporter of finished products such as cars and LCD televisions, but with regards to world share, companies like Kobe Steel that produce materials and parts account for a larger share. While such companies are little known in Japan, they are the ones that are helping to maintain the country's economic edge.

    A Dec. 15 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, "Not Really 'Made in China,'" highlights the problem with distortions in trade statistics. The iPhone was developed by Apple Inc., an American company, but is assembled in China. Because of this, the phones are considered to be "imported" by the U.S. as products "made in China," adding $1.9 billion to the U.S. trade deficit with China. But does it make sense to credit the $1.9 billion to China alone?

    There are some very interesting figures with regards to iPhone sales. The phones are sold wholesale by China for $178.96 each, but since Chinese workers are only involved with assembling the phones, only 3.6 percent of that amount actually goes to China. The countries that provide the parts actually get a larger share of the wholesale cost. Japan receives 34 percent, while Germany gets 17 percent, South Korea 13 percent, and the U.S. 6 percent.

    What struck me was the figure, 34 percent. With Apple's iPod, most of the parts were made in Japan. Since I'd been told previously that Japan had no chance against South Korea and China when it came to the iPhone, I was relieved to hear that it still holds a 34-percent share.

    The WSJ article runs the risk of giving a false impression, however. No longer a mere "assembling factory," China is rapidly shifting towards becoming a Japanese-style supplier of materials and parts. Southeast Asian countries are in great fear of China's rise to economic hegemony, which they see as imminent. Japan must also acknowledge that maintaining its 34-percent share will not be easy. (By Michio Ushioda, Expert Senior Writer)

    (Mainichi Japan) December 22, 2010
    毎日新聞 2010年12月22日 東京朝刊

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    2010年12月22日 (水)

    Japanese rice and TPP

    --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 20
    EDITORIAL: Japanese rice and TPP

    Prime Minister Naoto Kan's decision to consider Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has provoked acrimony over whether to protect Japan's export industries or its agriculture.

    But this is not an either-or issue.

    The TPP is a multilateral pact to create a free trade zone by eliminating tariffs between the member countries. Nine countries, including the United States, are negotiating the agreement.

    Joining the TPP offers a great opportunity for Japan to catch up with some rival trade powers in the race to strike free trade agreements (FTAs).

    Japan should try to figure out a way to ensure the long-term viability of its agriculture without missing out on this opportunity.

    Agricultural reform is key

    When South Korea's free trade agreements with the United States and Europe come into force next year, Japanese export industries will find themselves at a serious disadvantage against their South Korean rivals.

    Japan's participation in the TPP pact would offset the negative effects. It would also help ease the pressure on Japanese companies to shift operations overseas.

    As a resource-poor country, Japan has no choice but to stake its survival on trade. But food security is also vital for safeguarding the well-being of the people. Japan cannot give up either trade or agriculture.

    The key to solving this knotty question is agricultural reform.

    The farm ministry and agricultural cooperatives argue that Japan's participation in the TPP would deliver a devastating blow by bringing down its crucial protective wall--high tariffs. But Japanese agriculture should try to secure its survival and improve its future prospects through reform.

    Since long before the TPP issue came to the fore, Japanese agriculture has been in urgent need of reform. The average age of farmers in Japan is 66, and there is a serious shortage of young people willing to pursue a career in agriculture. Japanese agriculture could collapse in 10 years or so.

    One of the main factors putting Japanese agriculture in its current miserable state is the so-called acreage reduction program, which has been the main pillar of Japan's agricultural policy. It is the government's program to maintain rice prices through production adjustments, and it involves reducing the amount of land devoted to rice cultivation in response to declining demand for rice.

    Seven trillion yen ($83.5 billion) of taxpayer money has been spent for the program in 40 years, but the average income of farmers has halved in the past two decades.

    Its greatest harm is that it has hampered the efforts of well-motivated full-time farmers to become financially independent through ingenuity and expansion of their operations.

    Food security under threat

    Under the program, annual production quotas are decided on the basis of actual rice sales in the previous year.

    The new program to prop up the income of farmers with direct cash payments, which was introduced this year by the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan as its key policy initiative, is making things worse.
    Under the program, the amounts of cash that farmers receive are based on their production quotas. This has prompted agricultural cooperatives across the nation to try to increase rice sales by cutting prices in efforts to secure larger output quotas, thereby accelerating the falls of rice prices.

    The situation is tougher for full-time farmers than for part-time farmers who get much of their income outside of farming.

    The income support program is hindering consolidation of farming land and promoting the division of land into smaller lots.

    Since the program covers all farmers selling rice, small farmers who were on the way out of the business are now rushing to terminate the lease of their farmland to others to receive cash from the government.

    This is making it even more difficult to promote cost reduction through expanding the scale of farming.

    Japan is struggling to curb rice production to prevent a glut. But the global outlook for the future of agriculture is quite different.

    The world population is projected to grow to 9.1 billion in 2050 from the current 6.9 billion. Steadily growing demand for grain is certain to remain on a sharp upward trajectory in the coming years.

    Fortunately, the kind of acute food shortage predicted by the British economist Thomas Malthus in his "An Essay on the Principle of Population" has not become reality, at least so far.

    That's because cultivated acreage has been increased steadily while technological innovations for fertilizers and other means have raised production per unit area.

    But what about the future? Even small changes in the supply-demand balance often cause sharp rises and falls in the grain markets. It is not rare either for food-exporting countries to cause international concerns about food supplies by trying to ensure sufficient supplies at home.

    Three years ago, India and China imposed restrictions on their grain exports. This past summer, Russia temporarily halted its wheat exports, creating a stir among importing countries.

    Many industrialized countries have been raising their grain production capacity in response to concerns about food shortages. That has been possible because of their export-promotion policies.

    Germany, for instance, has achieved complete self-sufficiency in wheat and dairy products and is exporting the surpluses.

    Japan has not taken that approach and has been cutting down its output. As a result, Japan's food self-sufficiency ratio has fallen to 40 percent from nearly 80 percent half a century ago.

    A breed-improvement project to increase rice production has long been a taboo at agricultural experimental stations across the nation. This is an agricultural policy that is bucking the global trend.

    End failed farm policy

    Japanese rice, known for its high quality, has the potential to find customers among the swelling ranks of rich Asian consumers.

    In a belated move, the farm ministry reached an agreement in early December with a Chinese state enterprise on Japanese rice exports to China. There is great hope for growth in Japanese rice exports to the fast-growing neighbor.

    It is hard to believe that scrapping the prohibitive 778-percent tariff imposed on rice imports to open the door to foreign rice would drive Japanese rice out of the market.

    The price differences between Japanese and foreign rice often cited by opponents of rice import liberalization have narrowed significantly. The price of rice produced in Japan is about 13,000 yen per 60 kilograms, while the price of rice imported from China, for instance, exceeds 10,000 yen, three times higher than it was 10 years ago.

    Some large-scale farmers are distancing themselves from the stance of agricultural cooperatives, which are dead set against opening the rice market to imports.

    A group of agricultural production corporations and large rice growers in Niigata Prefecture, a rice production center in Japan, has urged the government to swiftly make clear how Japan's participation in the TPP would change its agricultural policy over the long term.

    "Simply opposing the TPP doesn't help revive Japanese agriculture," says one representative of the group.

    The lack of a clear vision for the future of Japanese agriculture discourages young and highly motivated people from entering the business. The acreage reduction program, which runs counter to the efforts to brighten the future prospects of Japanese agriculture, should be abolished.

    The direct payment program should also be revised to focus on supporting well-motivated full-time farmers from paying cash to all farmers selling rice.

    Japan should outgrow the defeatist notion that agriculture is victimized by policy efforts to support export industries.

    If Japanese agriculture is reinvented to make its products competitive in the global market, there is nothing for Japanese farmers to fear about trade liberalization.

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    2010年12月21日 (火)



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    新防衛大綱 機動性ある自衛隊へ転換急げ


    New thinking welcome on defense strategies
    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 20, 2010)
    新防衛大綱 機動性ある自衛隊へ転換急げ(12月19日付・読売社説)

    The security environment around Japan is growing ominous. To secure peace and safety for the nation under such circumstances, it is necessary to eliminate the remnants of Cold War strategies and construct a more flexible and resilient defense system.

    The government has decided on new National Defense Program Guidelines, the first revisions in six years and the third overall since the guidelines were originally worked out in 1976.

    The new guidelines call for a paradigm shift from the 1976 emphasis on "fundamental defense" to the modern concept of "dynamic defense capability."

    The fundamental defense concept calls for possessing the minimum defense forces necessary for an independent country. The concept has been used as grounds for deploying the Self-Defense Forces evenly over the country, a strategic vestige of the Cold War period.

    The dynamic defense capability concept, on the other hand, emphasizes having the capabilities to respond to a variety of threats and contingencies.

    The diverse activities of today's SDF include dealing with missiles and new threats such as terrorism, and taking part in international peacekeeping operations.

    The days are gone when the SDF could remain a passive organization. Possessing up-to-date tanks, ships and planes alone is not sufficient for deterrent power to work.

    Deterrence can work only when the SDF is seen deploying its units to perform various duties. Adoption of such a dynamic defense capability as the concept of the new defense guidelines would be an appropriate policy switch in the dramatically changing security landscape we face today.

    China a 'major concern'

    The new guidelines refer to China's rapidly increasing defense spending, the stepped-up activities of its naval and air forces and the lack of transparency in its military buildup programs, which the guidelines mention as a "matter of concern for the region and the international community."

    China's military emergence is conspicuous. China's publicly announced plan to build aircraft carriers has changed the military balance in the East China Sea. It has been actively ramping up moves to expand its maritime interests, thereby intensifying friction with Southeast Asian nations.

    Under such circumstances, it is natural that the new guidelines include beefing up island defenses, such as in the Nansei Islands, which include Okinawa Prefecture and part of Kagoshima Prefecture. It is essential to go ahead with a plan to deploy Ground Self-Defense Force units on Yonagunijima, Japan's western most island.

    Referring to North Korea, the guidelines say that country remains "an urgent and serious destabilizing factor." Given that the reclusive communist state conducted two nuclear tests, test-fired ballistic missiles, torpedoed a South Korean warship and shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, it is indispensable for Japan to bolster military ties with the United States and South Korea.

    A new five-year midterm defense buildup program, which was approved by the Cabinet Friday together with the new guidelines, sets the defense budget ceiling for fiscal 2011-15 at about 23.49 trillion yen. In other words, the annual defense budget over the five years will be set at the same level as that of the current fiscal year. This is a significant step as it ends an eight-year period of consecutive annual declines in defense spending.

    For years, Japan has been alone in reducing its defense budget while its neighbors China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea, as well as the United States, have been increasing their military spending. This has been a serious problem.

    Policies imperfectly balanced

    The government must clearly distinguish areas to be enhanced from those to be trimmed if it is to develop a truly effective defense system on a limited budget.

    A focal issue in the guidelines was the fixed strength of GSDF personnel. The guidelines say the current 155,000 GSDF members should be reduced by 1,000. But this is hardly sufficient.

    If the balance of the SDF had been considered in a comprehensive manner, more GSDF personnel would have been cut in addition to the reduction in tanks and artillery that has been decided upon in the guidelines. At the same time, the fixed strength of personnel in the Air and Maritime Self-Defense Forces and the number of their vessels and aircraft should have been increased.

    With such measures, the new concept of dynamic defense capability in the guidelines would have been defined more clearly. We expect the government to address this in drafting budgets for fiscal 2011 and thereafter.

    Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government put off clearly calling for a review of the nation's three principles on arms exports in the guidelines because it has asked the Social Democratic Party, a former coalition partner, for cooperation in the Diet and thus has given consideration to the smaller party's policy of opposing any relaxation of the principles prohibiting arms deals with virtually any other countries. We think the government's decision was regrettable.

    Meanwhile, it is praiseworthy that the guidelines have left room for future review. The guidelines said that Japan should study measures to keep up with changes in a global environment where joint international development and production of military equipment has become routine among advanced countries. We hope such measures will be studied as soon as possible.

    The government should also actively proceed with a review, mentioned in the guidelines, of the five conditions placed on SDF participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

    The record of GSDF participation in such operations is still short. Tight limits imposed on weapons use, which have always been an impediment to dispatching GSDF troops abroad, should be relaxed immediately in accordance with international standards.

    Security council in sight?

    The guidelines also stipulate establishment of a new organization at the Prime Minister's Office to coordinate national security policies. Presumably, this would be like a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council. A past government led by the Liberal Democratic Party once also submitted bills concerned with establishing such an organization to the Diet.

    The organization would be essential for dealing with security issues without interruption and responding quickly to emergency situations. We hope the ruling and opposition parties will discuss a detailed proposal on it in a suprapartisan way to bring such a council into existence as quickly as possible.

    The government also should start formulating national security strategy since the guidelines put priority on improvement of defense capabilities.

    To secure peace and prosperity for Japan and the rest of the world, what specific goals should be presented and how should the nation's foreign, defense and domestic policies be pursued? The government must compile a comprehensive package of strategies and resolutely carry out each strategy.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 19, 2010)
    (2010年12月19日01時12分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月17日 (金)



    いわおさんの最新記事 「竹中平蔵・・・又やったのね!」 を呼んでから、いわおさんにメールしました。



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    --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 15
    EDITORIAL: Pension benefit cuts

    The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has decided to lower public pension benefit payments in the coming fiscal year, the first such cut in five years. As a measure in line with the rule of fair distribution among different generations, this move can be seen as inevitable.

    The decision to reduce payouts stems from the forecast that this year's commodity prices will dip below the standard previously set. The move thus reflects the current state of deflation to a certain degree. But even so, this measure will not produce a fair sharing of intergenerational burdens and benefits.

    Up to now, adjustments have been made in the interest of preventing the value of pension receipts from falling in comparison to prices and wages to the greatest degree possible. Yet in effect, measures aimed at protecting the rights of current recipients have effectively shunted the weight of the system onto the backs of future generations. This aspect of the policy measure begs closer scrutiny.

    Under the current system, reformed in 2004, a plan known as the "macroeconomic slide" was introduced to stabilize pension finances over the long term.

    The idea was to limit the rise in pension payments to senior citizens, even if the wages of the working generation and commodity prices increased. This was an attempt to curb the increase in premiums if only to a slight degree. In an aging society with a falling birthrate, failure to take such action will place an excessively heavy burden on the younger generation.

    Unfortunately, the impact of the global recession and other developments ensued, while prolonged deflation and price and wage slumps dragged on. As a result, the envisioned automatic adjustment mechanism has yet to kick in.

    Against this backdrop, there has been a relative rise in the pension level for seniors. According to 2004 estimates, the level of pension benefits as a ratio of take-home pay for the current working generation was expected to decline from 59 percent in 2004 to 57 percent in 2009. An examination of the statistics in 2009, however, shows a rise in that payout level to 62 percent.

    The primary reason for that gain is the failure to reflect past commodity price falls. The sole purpose of the determined benefit cuts, therefore, can be seen in the context of bringing the pension benefits closer to the level of what it should be.

    Any further delay in such adjustments will prompt a major slide in the next generation's pension benefits. To prevent that, substantial tax and premium hikes will be necessary.

    Considerations will naturally be necessary to prevent any sharp drops in payments to elderly people whose only real source of income is their pension. Then again, upsetting the balance with the working generation for that purpose would be a case of putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

    This is an issue impossible to sidestep when pondering integrated social security and tax reforms. Pensioners can also be expected to protest any cuts in their benefits.

    Yet we must also remember that the very foundation of a public pension system lies in mutual assistance between generations. We look forward to an approach conceived in the spirit of sharing the collective burden that will be acceptable to both senior citizens and the younger generation.

    In the political arena, there is a tendency to grow fainthearted about cutting benefits for senior citizens out of concerns about the impact at the polls. Acting with such timidity, however, will prevent leaders from ever living up to their responsibilities.

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    2010年12月16日 (木)

    個人課税強化 高所得層狙い撃ちは筋が違う


    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 16, 2010)
    Tax reforms shouldn't aim only at the wealthy
    個人課税強化 高所得層狙い撃ちは筋が違う(12月15日付・読売社説)

    The government's Tax Commission has adopted a set of proposals for reviewing income, inheritance and other individual taxes that will be incorporated into an outline of tax reform plans for fiscal 2011.

    The reforms would raise about 470 billion yen in revenue by reducing various tax deductions from personal income. We believe the deduction system--by which a certain amount is subtracted from each taxpayer's income to ease his or her tax burden--should be reconsidered, as the nation is in dire fiscal straits.

    It should be noted, however, that the proposed cuts in the tax deductions--a measure tantamount to increasing individual taxes--would target people in the higher income brackets nearly exclusively. This proposal can be regarded as an attempt to single out people who can pay higher taxes as the sole target of increased levies.
    Doing so is not only unfair to taxpayers. The measure is bound to cause serious adverse effects, such as a decline in the morale of working taxpayers and the vitality of the nation's economy.


    Lower deductions sought

    The proposed imposition of greater taxes on high-income earners would be made possible by, for example, setting an upper limit on deductions for wage income--a scheme by which a certain amount of the salary earned by a corporate employee is deducted from his or her paycheck as necessary expenses recognized by the tax authorities.

    The proposal would correct the current system, which increases the amount of deductions from individual corporate employees' salaries in proportion to their respective annual incomes. Instead, the plan would deduct the same amount from the salaries of anyone whose annual income exceeds 15 million yen.

    This would be accompanied by even greater cuts in the deductions given to high-income corporate executives.

    The proposed reforms would, as a rule, do away with deductions for people supporting dependent relatives aged 23 to 69 if their yearly income surpasses 6.89 million yen.

    Inheritance taxes also would be subject to the proposed changes. The reforms would introduce a 40 percent reduction in the basic deductions from inheritances, a move aimed at expanding the range of people subject to inheritance taxation.

    An official of the government's key tax panel has said all these proposals are intended to rectify income disparities among individuals by enhancing the power of the current tax system to encourage income redistribution. However, we believe the panel is confident that high-income earners would be less strongly opposed to heavier taxation than low- and middle-income taxpayers.


    Tax burden already high

    Admittedly, only 1 percent of salaried workers would shoulder a greater financial burden due to the proposed cuts in their employment income deductions under the reform plan. The proposed reform would affect only a modest 20 percent of taxpayers who are currently entitled to deductions for the support of adult dependents.

    However, the current tax burden imposed on high-income earners is hardly light. Take a family comprising a married couple with two children--if its annual income stands at 5 million yen, such a family pays 195,000 yen in income and resident taxes annually.
    This compares with 1.13 million yen in similar taxes to be paid by a household that earns 10 million yen annually. This means the latter family, which earns twice as much as the former, must shoulder a tax burden close to six times greater.

    The current system imposes income taxes on families whose annual income is 3.25 million yen or more--a level of taxation higher than those in the United States, Britain, Germany and other industrialized powers.

    Certainly, due consideration must be paid to low- and middle-income earners when it comes to tax reform. However, there is concern that tax reforms--if carried out in a manner that imposes greater burdens only on wealthy people--could produce negative effects.
    Talented large-income earners could eventually leave Japan to work in low-tax countries, for example, despite their important role in supporting the nation's economy.

    The panel's call for revisions to the deduction system can be regarded as an attempt to force high-income people to pick up the bill for massive government expenditures incurred through an increase in child-rearing allowances and other lavish handout policies and programs. The proposed measures will do little to fundamentally reform the tax system.

    The government should immediately do what is needed to implement thorough tax reform, including an increase in the consumption tax. Doing so is essential to ensuring fair tax burdens.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 15, 2010)
    (2010年12月15日01時21分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月15日 (水)


    On Dec 10, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi spoke with a group of high school students at Vashon Island High School in WA State via cell phone. The event, perhaps the first of its kind, was recorded in its entirety.

    Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest Nov 13, 2010 after more than 15 years of confinement. Now free, she continues her crusade for non-violent political change in Burma by reaching out to students in the United States.



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    社会保障改革 方向は与野党で一致している

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 15, 2010)
    Parties must cooperate on social security
    社会保障改革 方向は与野党で一致している(12月14日付・読売社説)

    The government and ruling parties have come up with a proposal to promote social security reforms. The basic principles in the proposal are based on the following two pillars:

    -- Setting up a permanent suprapartisan meeting to discuss the issue.

    -- Drafting concrete plans on social security reform and the taxes that will fund the reforms by the middle of next year.

    However, the Liberal Democratic Party and some other parties oppose the proposal, saying that the Democratic Party of Japan did not agree to take part in suprapartisan talks when it was in the opposition. Given the critical situation surrounding social security and fiscal conditions at present, policymakers must not use the issue to score political points.

    Lawmakers also must not be allowed to postpone the deadline on the plan. The DPJ must reflect on what it did as an opposition party while the LDP should sit down at the negotiating table without chafing at what happened in the past.

    Shared principles exist

    The basic principles are fleshed out in a report by a panel of experts set up by the government and the ruling parties. The report is titled "Social security visions for realizing a sense of security and vitality."

    The report called for principles such as building a social security system that seamlessly covers people of all ages and securing stable fiscal resources so as not to pile financial burdens on future generations. It also proposed using the consumption tax exclusively for social security purposes.

    The report's proposals significantly overlap those written in a different report by a panel of experts tasked with realizing a secure society under the LDP-led government of former Prime Minister Taro Aso. The older report even had a similar title: "Toward a Japan with a sense of security and vitality."

    This shows that the change of government has not altered the basic policies needed by society.

    The current government's report also calls for setting up a task force on social security comprising experts and lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties. The envisaged panel is quite similar to something the Aso administration proposed: the roundtable for realizing a secure society.

    These facts clearly show that the ruling and opposition parties have many things in common in their ideas and way of thinking when it comes to social security policies.
    The next step is to take action.

    Govt must move first

    As an initial step, the government and ruling parties must show how serious they are about realizing the basic principles of social security reform. They must present concrete proposals as soon as possible on key points, such as how much the consumption tax rate should be raised. If the government and ruling parties merely call on the opposition bloc to join suprapartisan talks, opposition parties will likely find it difficult to agree.

    The administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan is having difficulty in finding fiscal resources for each of the main social security fields, including medical care, nursing care, pensions and child care, in the budget compilation for fiscal 2011.

    The greatest cause of the problem is the DPJ's election manifesto, which included many pledges that have proven extremely difficult to realize. In addition, the DPJ has been putting off discussions on the consumption tax hike, just as the coalition government of the LDP and New Komeito did, and has failed to secure stable revenue sources to implement necessary policies.

    If the situation is allowed to stand as it is, Japan's social security system will surely continue to be mired in a stalemate.

    It is necessary for lawmakers to move beyond party affiliations in order to build a stable social security system.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 14, 2010)
    (2010年12月14日01時25分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月14日 (火)


    --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 11
    EDITORIAL: Nobel Peace Prize

    The ceremony in Oslo to award this year's Nobel Peace Prize was not attended by the winner. Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese writer and dissident who won the award, remains imprisoned in China. Even his wife, Liu Xia, could not attend the ceremony because she was under house arrest.

    No relative or representative was present to accept the award for the first time since 1935, when German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky won the prize. Nazi Germany blocked him and his supporters from attending.

    Liu co-authored "Charter 08," which called for an end to one-party rule by the Communist Party. As a result, he has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for the crime of "inciting subversion."

    Beijing continues to crack down on pro-democracy activists and human rights lawyers by house arrest or rigorous monitoring.

    The Chinese public is denied access to broadcasts and websites critical of the government, including those related to Liu.

    We urge the Chinese government to release all prisoners of conscience who are imprisoned only because of their thoughts and creeds. China should realize that muzzling the press undermines the nation's development in the long term.

    China has rebuked the Norwegian Nobel Committee and filed a protest against the Norwegian government, which hosts the committee. It has also unilaterally suspended bilateral trade talks with the country.

    Many countries invited to attend the ceremony were absent, apparently in support of China. The list of the absentees seems like a collection of nations with poor track records of freedom of speech, such as Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    It is regrettable that such Asian nations as Pakistan and Vietnam also did not attend the ceremony, expressing views that echoed Beijing's stance toward the issue.

    It is true that the selections of the Nobel Peace Prize winners have reflected the international situations at the times and have had political implications. There was heated debate on the appropriateness of awarding the prize to U.S. President Barack Obama last year.

    But one important role of the prize is to promote common international understanding of the significance of peace by provoking various debates.

    The list of the past winners include Nelson Mandela, who fought against apartheid in South Africa, and Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the civil right movement in the United States. As a leading power in the 21st century, China is expected to take part in this tradition with a positive attitude.

    Countries around the world should cherish the Nobel Peace Prize as a valuable legacy built by the international community over years, like the system of international human rights laws.

    The countries that attended the ceremony should also make efforts to promote it.

    President Obama, who has invited Chinese President Hu Jintao to the United States next year, should urge China to take steps toward improving its human rights record.

    Japan should also seek candid conversations with China over human rights issues at occasions like bilateral summits.

    Prime Minister Naoto Kan appears to be unwilling to touch on China's human rights problems for fear of straining relations, just as they were by the recent spat over the Senkaku Islands, and inviting unwanted effects on the Japanese economy.

    In an apparent bid to undercut the Nobel Peace Prize, China has hastily created its own competing peace prize dubbed the Confucius Peace Prize. In its diplomatic activities, we hope China will practice the teachings of Confucius about how respectable men of virtue should behave and act.

    If China does so, Japan and the United States would have to respond by trying to build relations with China like those among men of virtue.

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    2010年12月13日 (月)


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    WikiLeaks' information

    This is exactly the same as what I wanted to say.

    --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 9
    EDITORIAL: WikiLeaks' information

    WikiLeaks, a website dedicated to disclosing secret information about governments and corporations, has been releasing U.S. diplomatic cables.

    Meanwhile, Julian Assange, the founder and editor in chief of WikiLeaks, has been arrested by British police on suspicion of sex offenses in Sweden amid growing hostility from the governments of many countries.

    Whether his arrest is appropriate or not can only be determined by the results of the authorities' investigation.

    But the evaluation of WikiLeaks' disclosure activities should be separated from the charges against Assange and made from the viewpoint of whether the information it publishes ultimately serves the interests of citizens. In other words, is the information important for the public interest?

    In April this year, WikiLeaks received international attention by posting video footage of a 2007 incident in Iraq in which U.S. military helicopter crew mistakenly shot and killed civilians, including reporters for the Reuters news agency.

    The website then exposed other disturbing facts about the Iraq war, including that civilians account for 66,000 of the 109,000 casualties of the conflict.

    All these revelations have cast fresh light on the harrowing realities of the war the U.S. government has been concealing. As a member of the journalistic community, we applaud WikiLeaks for these achievements.

    The publication of a cache of a quarter million confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that started late last month has revealed views and concerns about the future of the Korean Peninsula secretly held by countries and exposed North Korea's exports of ballistic missiles.

    The Western newspapers and magazines that received in advance the diplomatic documents, including the Guardian of Britain and Le Monde of France, published reports on the material after independently assessing the content and credibility of the documents.

    It can be said that so far this cooperation between the online site and news media has struck readers as an effort to serve the public interest and played a positive role in disseminating information that helps serve democracy.

    There is no denying that the publication will make it harder for officials of many countries to carry out their missions and gather information in their traditional ways.

    There are also concerns that the disclosure of sensitive information not meant for publication could provoke strong reactions from the public of a nation, making it difficult for the country to take reasonable diplomatic actions.

    Making the important truths about international relations known to the public, however, is crucial for democracy, which means citizens determine the stance and course of their country.

    History is littered with examples of politically powerful people and institutions concealing inconvenient facts under the pretext of national interests. Just remember how hard the governments concerned tried to protect secrets about the Vietnam War and talks between Japan and the United States over the return of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty.

    On the other hand, it creates serious risks to publish on the Internet huge amounts of classified documents containing national secrets.

    Negotiations for the settlement of a conflict could collapse if the secret aims and thoughts of the countries involved are disclosed during the process. Information sources and cooperators may fall into danger.

    WikiLeaks has also published a list of facilities around the world regarded by the U.S. government as critically important for national security. But such information could be used by terrorists deciding what targets to attack.

    Material related to private-sector organizations and activities could violate the privacy of the people involved.

    When something illegal is going on in secret, there can be ways to expose it through a narrowly focused publication of related information to avoid collateral damage.

    Both the whistle-blowers and news media should always carefully guard against the danger that exposing secrets could deviate from the cause of information disclosure for the public interest.

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    2010年12月12日 (日)


    --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 10
    EDITORIAL: Failure of Akatsuki probe

    Venus, which is about the same size as Earth, is also called its twin. Repeatedly in the past, however, the planet named after the goddess of love and beauty had coldly rejected U.S. and Soviet space probes. This time, too, the goddess turned its back on a messenger from Japan.

    The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's space probe Akatsuki failed to enter an orbit around Venus.

    Akatsuki's mission was to seek the real face of Venus, which has turned into a blazing hell with the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide getting out of control.

    Earlier this year, after a journey of tribulations, the space probe Hayabusa returned to Earth with dust samples from the asteroid Itokawa. Akatsuki had also been launched amid big expectations.

    The result is really regrettable.

    Original plans called for the probe to reverse its engine thrust, brake suddenly and enter Venus' sphere of gravitation, but the reverse thrust stopped midway. According to researchers, the ceramic engine nozzle developed with domestic technology may have broken. But first, it is important to thoroughly look into the cause of the failure.

    Akatsuki passed by Venus and entered an orbit to travel around the sun in about six months. Six years from now, it will once again come close to Venus. When it does, JAXA plans to try to put it into orbit again. Depending on the condition of the engine and other equipment, chances of success may not be great, but we urge the agency to make every effort.

    The Mars probe Nozomi, which was launched in 1998, also could not be put into an orbit around the red planet because of trouble in the fuel system and other equipment. With Akatsuki's failure, Japan's planet probes have failed two straight times.

    The gravity of the Itokawa asteroid where Hayabusa landed is weak, and the probe was able to approach it repeatedly. However, engine maneuvering to enter the gravitational sphere of a large planet with great gravitational force like Venus cannot be repeated. It is difficult because it is a one-shot deal.

    The history of Japan's planetary probes is short. It can even be described as immature. It is important to thoroughly study and learn from the failure this time and put it to use for future projects.

    JAXA remade flight plans for Nozomi, which had little remaining fuel, to reach Mars four years later. The experience was useful in enabling Hayabusa to return to Earth three years behind schedule. This is a good precedent.

    It is important to take a long view to support challenges in space, a realm that remains largely unknown.

    The recent discovery of a bacterium in the United States that eats arsenic defied our common sense of biology. We don't know what kinds of living matter live where. Looking for the presence of life in space is a major purpose of planetary probes.

    But the undertaking is also very costly. Countries are launching space probes commensurate with their interests and technological capability. More researchers from around the world are taking part in joint projects. For example, as far as Venus is concerned, Japan and Europe are supposedly the leading players. Plans for Japan and Europe to cooperate and launch one space probe each to Mercury are also progressing.

    Also in order for Japan to live up to its international responsibility, it should clarify the problems to enhance trust and take off toward the next faraway journey into space.

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    2010年12月11日 (土)

    武器輸出3原則 将来に禍根残す緩和見送り

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 11, 2010)
    Foolish short-term view on arms exports
    武器輸出3原則 将来に禍根残す緩和見送り(12月10日付・読売社説)

    Has the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration already forgotten about the abysmal failure of its previous coalition government involving a political party that held a conflicting basic policy?

    The government has decided not to clearly stipulate the three principles on weapons exports--which effectively ban arms deals with other countries--will be eased in the new National Defense Program Guidelines it will approve next week. Prime Minister Naoto Kan made the decision in consideration of the opposition Social Democratic Party, which he had asked for cooperation in steering the Diet. The SDP opposes any relaxation of the three principles.

    The government had been leaning toward lifting the ban on weapons that would be exported for peace-building operations and to combat terrorism and piracy. It also planned to approve the joint development of weapons with Europe, South Korea and Australia as an extension of defense cooperation between Japan and the United States, and because appropriate export controls are firmly in place.


    Appropriate policy

    Such a policy shift would still fit nicely with the philosophy of "a pacifist nation." We think reviewing the weapons export ban policy is appropriate.

    The export of weapons for other nations' peace-building efforts and to combat terrorism and piracy could contribute to global peace and stability. In addition, joining development programs of cutting-edge jet fighters and other weapons will be indispensable for maintaining domestic defense technologies and this nation's production base.

    Cabinet ministers involved in defense matters and senior DPJ members were on the same page on this issue. However, the government got cold feet and made a political decision to put the handling of government affairs ahead of an important policy.

    The Kan administration decided that in addition to the support of coalition partner People's New Party, it needs the SDP's cooperation to help pass key bills into law in the divided Diet. Having both parties onside will make it possible for the DPJ to pass bills into law with a second vote at the House of Representatives by overriding any rejection by the House of Councillors because the three parties will hold at least two-thirds of the members present.

    However, cozying up the SDP could come back to haunt the Kan administration. The SDP's foreign and security policies bear little in common with those of the DPJ. This will certainly lead to serious problems in the future.

    The SDP left the coalition government in disgust at the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district of Nago in the same prefecture. The SDP's position remains unchanged.


    SDP vs Japan-U.S. alliance

    We wonder how Kan can strike a balance between working with the SDP and deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance with his visit to the United States next spring and a bilateral joint statement to be issued during his trip.

    SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima has gone so far as to say Japan will be a "merchant of death" if it softens the weapons exports principles. Her remark is nothing but an irrational, hot-button outburst.

    Japan's security situation has become increasingly severe. This nation must face up to reality of the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program and missiles, as well as that country's military provocations, including the recent shelling of a South Korean island, and China's military buildup and overbearing approach to securing marine resources and expanding its territory.

    With only a limited defense budget, Japan's security policy urgently needs to be revised and the Self-Defense Forces transformed into more effective units. Relaxing the weapons exports principles would be a major pillar of this overhaul.

    We think cooperative ties between the DPJ-led administration and the SDP are doomed to crumble before long.

    The government should take this into consideration. Even if the government shies away from clearly saying in the new defense guidelines that the three principles will be eased, it should at the very least mention problems inherent in the current principles and leave the door open to easing the ban in the future.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 10, 2010)
    (2010年12月10日01時45分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月10日 (金)

    国際学力調査 応用力を鍛えて向上めざせ

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 10, 2010)
    Kids' academic ability can be improved more
    国際学力調査 応用力を鍛えて向上めざせ(12月9日付・読売社説)

    The decline in Japanese children's academic ability has seemingly been stopped.

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday released the results of academic aptitude tests it conducted last year under the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

    The PISA tests have been conducted every three years since 2000, and the latest tests were given to 15-year-old students in 65 countries and regions who had finished their compulsory education. These tests assess how students apply their knowledge in real life.

    In the first PISA tests, Japanese students ranked top in mathematical literacy, second in science and eighth in reading.

    Since then, however, Japanese students had been slipping down the ladder. They ranked 15th in reading in the 2006 tests, a result that shocked Japanese educators.

    In the latest tests, Japanese students ranked eighth in reading, ninth in mathematics and fifth in science, showing improvement in every field.

    The improvement apparently stemmed from changes made to the so-called cram-free education policy of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, and schools' efforts to encourage students to read more. The education ministry must have breathed a sigh of relief at the latest findings.

    The next academic year will usher in the full implementation of new teaching guidelines that require more content to be taught in classrooms. We hope teachers will unswervingly try to improve students' academic ability even further.

    Don't celebrate yet

    However, the latest results also revealed some disturbing problems.

    More than 10 percent of Japanese students were among the lowest achievers in all three academic categories. Students in this group are considered likely to have difficulty living as members of society. These figures were strikingly high among the top 10 countries and regions.

    Are any students being left behind because they do not understand what is being taught? It is important that teachers give meticulous attention to these students to help them learn and overcome their difficulties.

    In exam questions that required written answers, many Japanese students simply left blank spaces.

    Schools and parents need to get creative in helping children learn to express themselves. Getting children into the habit of regularly reading books and newspapers and organizing their thoughts would be one way of doing this.

    Teaching methods need to be verified and improved to ensure children's academic ability improves. In this respect, the National Achievement Exams in which children are tested on their ability to apply their scholastic skills--just like the PISA tests--would be quite effective.

    To cut costs, the administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan only had students at schools chosen at random take these national tests from fiscal 2010. We think this policy should be dropped and the tests should be taken by all public schools, as they were in the past.

    Shanghai top of the class

    Asian countries and regions made eye-catching jumps in the rankings. Students from Shanghai, which participated in the tests for the first time as a region, topped all three fields.

    Although the figures of Shanghai students cannot be easily compared with those of their counterparts who participated as a country, their high scores stood out. Curriculums at Shanghai schools reportedly focus on helping students improve their ability to apply their knowledge and academic skills, and they are closely linked with university entrance exams there.

    Students from Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea also generally eclipsed Japanese students.

    Meanwhile, head offices of some Japanese companies have begun hiring excellent Asian students. This is an age in which young Japanese now find themselves competing with rivals from foreign countries to get a job.

    Students also need to polish their ability to express themselves and communicate with others. The government has a responsibility to ensure Japan's youth can acquire academic abilities that will not be put to shame by students in other countries.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 9, 2010)
    (2010年12月9日00時58分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月 9日 (木)



    cite from jiji-tsuushinsha,

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    cite from jiji-tsuushinsha,

    2010年12月8日 23時32分





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    日米韓外相会談 中国と連携し対北圧力強めよ

    Nations should present united front on N. Korea
    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 9, 2010)
    日米韓外相会談 中国と連携し対北圧力強めよ(12月8日付・読売社説)

    In dealing with North Korea, an important task for Japan, South Korea and the United States will be to cooperate with China and Russia in rebuilding a framework in which to bring both diplomatic and military pressure to bear on the reclusive state's regime.

    On Monday, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and South Korean Foreign and Trade Minister Kim Sung Hwan met in Washington to discuss the North Korean problem. Their joint statement, issued after their talks at the U.S. State Department, condemned North Korea for its recent artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, while also urging Pyongyang to take specific steps toward scrapping its nuclear weapons program.

    North Korea's artillery shelling, combined with its revelation of new uranium enrichment efforts, has heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Given this, the latest meeting of the three foreign ministers to reconfirm unity among their nations bears a great deal of significance.

    The three foreign ministers had good reason when they demanded that North Korea "take concrete steps to demonstrate a genuine commitment to...denuclearization" in exchange for resuming six-party talks over that country's nuclear program. China has called for convening a meeting of the chief negotiators from the six nations.


    An old Pyongyang ploy

    North Korea should not be allowed to enjoy impunity after its reckless military action, which even killed and injured South Korean civilians.

    It would be unwise to readily respond to an old ploy adopted by North Korea--that is, playing a carefully calibrated game of provocations, including nuclear and missile threats, to coax other nations into diplomatic negotiations and eventually gain a reward in return.

    Under the circumstances, it is North Korea--not the other participants in the six-party talks--that should make concessions to defuse a crisis of its own making, despite prospects that the parties will eventually return to the negotiating table at the talks in any case.

    China is the key to determining what will evolve from the status quo. Beijing must assume even greater responsibility to fulfill its role as the chair of the six-party negotiations.

    China's current priority is to ensure North Korea is not provoked, while also wielding a certain degree of clout on the cash-strapped nation through food and energy assistance. However, it will be indispensable for China to persuade North Korea that it must take "concrete steps" to overcome the current gridlock.

    The meeting of the three foreign ministers was preceded by a telephone conversation between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao. Obama reportedly urged the Chinese leader to send North Korea a clear message that acts of provocation will not be tolerated.

    Washington is believed to be working in a similar vein behind the scenes, telling Beijing that a planned visit to the United States by the Chinese president in January will not be fruitful unless progress is made in resolving the North Korean problem. It is important for Japan and South Korea to lend the United States a helping hand as it seeks to accomplish the goal.


    Military readiness a must

    No less essential is smooth cooperation among the three nations in dealing with military affairs. On Friday, the Self-Defense Forces commenced an eight-day joint exercise with the U.S. military in waters around this country. The South Korean military has dispatched observers to the Japan-U.S. joint drill, one of the largest of its kind.

    To prevent further acts of provocation by North Korea, it is essential that Japan, the United States and South Korea should build a greater deterrent to the unpredictable country, combined with efforts to ensure their joint actions fully serve their purposes.

    The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, has started a trip to Japan and South Korea.  マレン米統合参謀本部議長が日韓両国訪問を開始した。

    His visit to Tokyo and Seoul should be used as an initial step toward discussing what specific roles should be played by Japan, South Korea and the United States in coping with possible military contingencies on the peninsula, drawing up and improving a joint operational plan to be implemented in that event--a task that goes beyond joint military exercises.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 8, 2010)
    (2010年12月8日00時57分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月 8日 (水)




    cite from sankei news,

    失敗の金星探査機「あかつき」 6年後に再チャレンジ
    2010.12.8 12:38






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    内閣支持率25% 「有言不実行」へのいらだちだ

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 8, 2010)
    Kan must change tack to regain public support
    内閣支持率25% 「有言不実行」へのいらだちだ(12月7日付・読売社説)

    The public approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has sunk rapidly to alarming levels.

    The ebbing popular support apparently reflects the people's irritation over the Cabinet's failure to deal with domestic and diplomatic issues properly.

    According to the latest Yomiuri Shimbun opinion survey, the approval rating has declined to 25 percent. In other words, only one out of four people support the Cabinet. The disapproval rating, on the other hand, has shot up to 65 percent.

    The primary reason for nonsupport is "lack of leadership by the prime minister"--chosen by 36 percent of the respondents. The results raise a big question over whether the Cabinet will be able to deliver on its promise made six months ago at the time of its inauguration to become a "true-to-its-word cabinet."

    Public discontent over the government's economic policy is deep-seated.

    The Diet has passed the 4.8 trillion yen supplementary budget for the current fiscal year, which incorporates measures to deal with the strong yen and deflation. But a staggering 83 percent answered "no" in response to a question on whether the Cabinet "has dealt with the current economic situation appropriately."


    Lack of leadership

    Public dissatisfaction is not due to the sluggish economy alone. It reflects criticism of the government over its failure to come up with effective policies to tackle the dire fiscal condition and social security issues. Thus, the survey clearly showed the public wants the government to promptly carry out drastic measures on these issues.

    Opinion is divided within the ruling Democratic Party of Japan over whether the country should take part in the multilateral negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on free trade. But the survey showed a strong majority--60 percent--wanted the country to make a bid to join the TPP framework.

    If Kan succeeds in unifying intraparty opinion in favor of participation in TPP negotiations based on the public will as shown in the survey, he will be able to halt the skid of his Cabinet's support rate.

    His lack of leadership is viewed by the public as a reason that little progress has been made in addressing the political funding scandal involving former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa. An overwhelming 86 percent of the respondents answered that the Cabinet "fails to deal with the matter appropriately."

    An analysis of the results of surveys taken since the inception of the Cabinet in June shows that the approval rating moved upward when Kan took a clear stance to distance himself from Ozawa. Whether he can move ahead on the Ozawa issue could be the key to restoring the Cabinet's approval ratings.

    Asked whether the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture can move toward a solution under the Kan administration, a resounding 85 percent responded negatively. Kan and former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama bear heavy responsibility for having compounded the issue to the extent of the deadlock we face today.


    Wrong choice

    To help reconstruct diplomacy vis-a-vis China and Russia, it is urgent to bolster the Japan-U.S. alliance. Despite this, Kan is seeking the Social Democratic Party's cooperation in the Diet although the SDP opposes the Japan-U.S. agreement on Futenma relocation. It is really unreasonable for him to do so.

    Asked which party they would vote for in the proportional representation bloc if a House of Representatives election were held now, 26 percent picked the Liberal Democratic Party, surpassing the 22 percent who chose the DPJ.

    The two major parties last saw such a reversal in their relative popularity levels in a similar survey taken during the sunset days of the Hatoyama administration. The situation surrounding the Kan Cabinet has thus become similar to that of the previous administration.

    Kan will face tough challenges such as budget compilation for fiscal 2011 and tax reform. How can he deal with them? His leadership is being put to the test in this regard.

    Making steady efforts to resolve the issues one by one could be the only way to regain the people's confidence. Kan must recognize this anew in steering his administration.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 7, 2010)
    (2010年12月7日01時23分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月 7日 (火)

    電気自動車 技術革新促すエコカー競争

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 7, 2010)
    Innovation key to winning eco-car race
    電気自動車 技術革新促すエコカー競争(12月6日付・読売社説)

    Competition among makers of electric vehicles, which do not discharge carbon dioxide, is heating up.

    Many problems have to be overcome before these vehicles can become more popular, but the landscape of the automobile manufacturing industry will hinge on the outcome of the carmakers' battle for domination.

    Nissan Motor Co. recently announced it will start delivery of its Leaf five-seater electric vehicle in Japan and the United States this month. Sales in Europe are scheduled for early next year.

    Powered by lithium ion batteries, the Leaf can travel about 200 kilometers per charge. The zero-emission vehicle is priced at about 3.76 million yen, but buyers will pay less than 3 million yen once government subsidies are factored in.

    Toyota Motor Corp. got a jump on the market for energy-efficient eco-cars in 1997, when it began selling its Prius gas-electric hybrid vehicle. Honda Motor Co. soon followed suit, and these two auto giants now hold the lion's share of the hybrid car market.

    Latecomer Nissan hopes its Leaf will grab a slice of the eco-car market.

    Battle for supremacy

    Nissan is the second domestic carmaker to mass-produce electric vehicles, after Mitsubishi Motors Corp. started marketing its i-MiEV in summer last year.

    Venture businesses in the United States and China have been lining up to join the electric vehicle fray. General Motors Co., which has recovered from bankruptcy, plans to put its Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle on the market.

    The global auto industry has entered a period of major upheaval as early participants and latecomers scrap it out to become king of the car market.

    Toyota and Honda have decided to launch electric vehicles in 2012. A major German maker also is scheduled to join the electric car market, heralding a new era for the vehicles.

    Tighter domestic controls on exhaust gas emissions in U.S. and European markets have prompted many carmakers to accelerate development of electric vehicles--the poster boys for eco-friendly cars.

    But electric vehicles still face many potholes on the road to mainstream use. They cost considerably more than hybrids--many of which now cost less than 2 million yen--and can only travel relatively short distances per charge. Few charging facilities are available at present, a major inconvenience for users.

    Still room for improvement

    Making lithium ion batteries more waterproof should be among improvements made to ensure electric vehicles can run safely under severe weather conditions.

    Hybrid vehicles likely will stay front and center among eco-cars for the time being. It remains to be seen whether electric vehicles will eventually take over this role. Carmakers need to make technological innovations to improve electric vehicle performance.

    Furthermore, installing more charging facilities across the nation is an urgent task. Government assistance will be indispensable for this.

    Demand for electric vehicles will grow if they become more convenient to drive. This will make it possible for carmakers to cut electric vehicle prices, thereby giving momentum to their spread.

    The crux of the competition among electric vehicles actually boils down to lithium ion batteries. Panasonic Corp. and Sony Corp., which are competing with South Korean makers, face a crucial moment in this regard.

    We hope Japanese companies will flex their muscles and take the lead in this new market.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 6, 2010)
    (2010年12月6日01時08分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月 6日 (月)

    警察資料流出 経路解明と再発防止が急務だ


    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 6, 2010)
    MPD must admit leak, prevent recurrence
    警察資料流出 経路解明と再発防止が急務だ(12月5日付・読売社説)

    More than a month after documents related to international terrorism investigations were apparently leaked onto the Internet, the Metropolitan Police Department on Friday seized personal information and access information about subscribers of two Internet service providers.

    The MPD has not yet said the documents in question are real, but it has launched an official investigation on the suspicion that obstruction of its operations has occurred.
    The data leak, which took place immediately before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Yokohama, affected security arrangements for the summit and related conferences, as the MPD had to assign some personnel who would have worked on event security and other duties to instead conduct internal research into the leak.
    (警視庁はまだリークした情報が本物であるということを認めていない by srachai)
    (本来であればAPECの警備等に割り当てられる人員がこのリークを調査するために振り分けられた by srachai)

    Now, the MPD has probably judged its internal probe to have been too limited to find out who responsible for the leak.

    The launch of the "official investigation" seems a bit late, but the MPD has to learn the full story of the leak as soon as possible.

    Information still on Net

    The leaked data is spreading over the Internet even now. It has been reported that more than 10,000 people in more than 20 countries and territories all over the world have so far obtained it using file-sharing software.

    Great personal damage has been suffered by the people whose names and photos are displayed on the Internet with "target of investigation" or other labels attached.

    After the leak came to light, a book that included all the data in its original form was released by a Tokyo-based publisher. The Tokyo District Court issued two provisional injunctions to the publisher to stop the publication and sale of the book, based on demands from Muslim residents of Japan whose personal information was carried in it.

    The court's decisions were based on the judgment that the publication violates those people's privacy. Suspension of publication is approved only in exceptional cases since such an action may violate the freedom of expression guaranteed in the Constitution. We think the court made an appropriate decision because the damage should be kept from multiplying.

    However, we really do not understand why the MPD still does not admit that the data is a collection of internal police documents.

    International implications

    The leaked documents include information believed to have been given to the MPD by foreign investigative organizations. So the MPD seems to be worrying that Japan will lose the trust of the international community and be viewed as "a country that cannot preserve confidentiality" if the MPD admits that official documents got out.

    Probably for this reason, the MPD has not demanded that the administrators of Web sites carrying the leaked data delete the information. It kept silent even when it learned the book was going to be published and remained silent when it was actually published.

    However, the MPD should not be allowed to remain passively silent in the face of the ever-expanding damage from the leak.

    The MPD needs to immediately admit the leaked documents are genuine and apologize to people whose personal information was leaked. It is a matter of course that the MPD must secure the safety of its informants in investigations.

    Reportedly, the possibility remains that an MPD insider used his or her own external memory device to smuggle out investigation data from MPD computers. If this is what actually happened, the MPD's information management is too sloppy, and the organization must urgently correct the situation.

    The MPD must trace the route of the leak and devise measures to prevent similar incidents as soon as possible. Otherwise, the country cannot regain the international confidence it has lost.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 5, 2010)
    (2010年12月5日01時14分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月 5日 (日)


    Happy birthday Khun Mea. Many happy returns of the day.

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    a THai-Italianpartnership and China have both invested in our Economy!
    8:17 PM Dec 3rd via web

    a Thai developer has been given the okay to build the largest industrial area by far in Myanmar. LETS GO NEW BURMA
    8:24 PM Nov 29th via web

    cite from washington post,

    Washington's Burma policy isolates ... Washington

    By Stanley A. Weiss
    Friday, December 3, 2010

    The recent release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, after deeply flawed elections that allowed the military in Myanmar, also known as Burma, to tighten its half-century-long grip on the country, raises numerous political questions: What comes next for her? Will the ruling junta engage her newly reconstituted National Democracy Party? Will other political prisoners be freed?

    While political headlines are filled with uncertainty, recent business headlines are not. It was reported last month that Chinese companies had invested $10 billion in Myanmar's economy from January through May. A Thai-Italian partnership signed a $10 billion contract Nov. 2 to build a massive industrial zone on Myanmar's coast - a project that Myanmar's dictator, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, reportedly views as "an experiment in opening the largely state-controlled economy." More than 30 companies, from Russian to Indian to French, are engaged in oil and gas exploration across Myanmar.

    Yet while American companies' interest in doing business in Myanmar has increased, Reuters reported last month, Western sanctions continue to prevent American participation.

    Washington's claim on the moral high ground is admirable, if one sets aside the fact that the only people who continue to suffer from Western sanctions are the 50 million people of Myanmar. After nearly two decades of U.S.-led sanctions that have sought to isolate Myanmar's military rulers, it is increasingly clear that the only nation really isolated in Southeast Asia today is . . . America.

    By refusing to engage Myanmar because of its repressive practices, Washington has forced that country's leaders - who have no idea how to construct a modern economy - to emulate the nearest successful model: China. Than Shwe recently said as much, proclaiming his desire to "emulate China's remarkable . . . transformation into one of the most successful capitalist stories ever."

    A longtime American observer of Myanmar who was recently in Southeast Asia told me: "A senior official from one country said, 'Our people won't even buy your jeans anymore, such is the grass-roots backlash. By abandoning the people of Myanmar to China, you Americans have squandered moral stature as the world's savior.' "

    But that perception could still be changed, he added. "The real issue in Myanmar lies in the business sector. This is where Yankee ingenuity can lead by example."

    With the election over, America should do four things:

    First, recognize that further sanctions mean surrendering Myanmar to China. There is a good reason sanctions haven't worked: Too many others don't recognize them. The dissident news agency Mizzima reported in July that from 1988 to early 2009, Myanmar attracted foreign investment worth $15 billion. In 2011-12, according to the Irrawaddy news agency, the junta expects foreign investment to top $16 billion.

    For China, which recently approved $90 billion in soft import-export loans for the junta, Myanmar represents a wealth of natural resources as well as direct access to the Indian Ocean - which is why Beijing is building oil and gas pipelines from Kunming, in southwest China, to the port of Kyaukpyu in Myanmar. By 2012, they will carry 85 percent of China's imported energy.

    If the U.S. response to last month's elections is, as rumored, a ban on U.S. dollar transactions with Myanmar, "China would have a blank slate in Myanmar for years to come," says the longtime observer.

    Second, focus on capacity building. Myanmar's economy was neglected for decades. Efforts have been made recently to build up foreign reserves, improve dialogue with international financial institutions and issue bonds to finance the nation's 2009-10 budget deficit (a departure from its practice of printing money).

    Washington should work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to build capacity in Myanmar - starting with governance training for newly elected leaders and the revival of the financial sector. ASEAN has incentive to participate: Myanmar, a member, remains the biggest hurdle to a U.S.-ASEAN free-trade agreement and to ASEAN's goal of regional economic integration by 2015.

    Third, rebuild the agricultural sector. Seventy percent of Myanmar's people live in rural areas, and agriculture accounts for 40 to 50 percent of gross domestic product. Before World War II, Myanmar was the world's biggest exporter of rice. Misguided government policy has squandered that legacy. America should work with the U.N. Development Program and ASEAN to help build a bank-based rural credit system to bring Myanmar's rice economy into the 21st century.

    Fourth, link the West's economic sanctions to Myanmar's economic policies. Currently, Western sanctions will be lifted only if political benchmarks are met. Those carrots have proved ineffective. They might be productive, however, if linked to economic concerns such as respect for private property, the lifting of arbitrary restrictions on private business and the creation of a working credit system. Economic benchmarks led to political change in Korea, Indonesia and Singapore. For Western companies eager to enter new markets, it could be a huge opportunity.

    A century ago, Myanmar's economy was the region's crown jewel. Korea and even China considered it a role model. The recent election was deeply flawed, but it provided hope for a new beginning. It's time to end the U.S. isolation in Southeast Asia and engage Myanmar.

    The writer is founding chairman of Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington.

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    衆参「ねじれ」 機能不全見せつけた臨時国会

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 5, 2010)
    Diet session reveals Kan govt failures
    衆参「ねじれ」 機能不全見せつけた臨時国会(12月4日付・読売社説)

    The nearly-two-month extraordinary Diet session ended Friday.

    However, no deep deliberations on policy issues were held in the session. Instead, only the malfunctioning of Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government was exposed. Without rethinking its strategy completely, the Kan Cabinet will not be able to survive the ordinary Diet session to be convened early next year.

    The government was able to pass only about 30 percent of the bills it sponsored in the session. This demonstrates the Kan Cabinet's shortcomings in implementing policies.

    In the so-called divided Diet in which the opposition controls the House of Councillors, the government and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan initially looked for "a partial coalition" in which they hoped to cooperate with opposition parties depending on the policy and the bill.

    However, the Kan Cabinet's approval rate dropped substantially after it mishandled foreign affairs such as its responses to the collisions between a Chinese trawler and Japan Coast Guard patrol boats off the Senkaku Islands, and the nation's relations with Russia over the northern territories issue. It was natural that the Kan Cabinet was forsaken by New Komeito, whose cooperation it had asked for over the fiscal 2010 supplementary budget and other issues.

    Ozawa scandal lingers

    The politics-and-money scandal involving former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa is no closer to resolution, either. The bottom line is that the prime minister has never exercised his leadership over the issue. This has just reinforced the public impression that the DPJ is unable to clean its own house.

    Though he once declared he would support the party as a foot soldier, Ozawa kept refusing requests by DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada to attend the Deliberative Council on Political Ethics in the House of Representatives. Not only that, Ozawa is trying to pressure the DPJ leadership by showing off the solidarity of party members supporting him.

    The government's 2009 report on political funds revealed that Rikuzan-kai, Ozawa's political funds management organization, collected the largest amount of funds that year among political organizations. In addition, it is suspected that funds of the defunct Japan Renewal Party flowed into Rikuzan-kai, which allegedly used them to pay off a loan from Ozawa.

    We believe this only makes Ozawa's accountability even heavier.

    Ozawa is soon to face mandatory indictment based on the decision of a Tokyo inquest of prosecution committee. This will be a heavy drag for the DPJ as nationwide local government elections scheduled next spring approach.

    Impact of censure motions

    A new focus of attention is how much impact censure motions against Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, a linchpin of the Kan Cabinet, and Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Sumio Mabuchi will have on the political situation.

    The opposition Liberal Democratic Party will adopt a stern posture against the DPJ at the upcoming ordinary Diet session. For one thing, the main opposition party will not consider Sengoku and Mabuchi as cabinet members, said Ichiro Aisawa, the LDP's Diet affairs chief.

    The prime minister will sooner or later reach a deadlock in the Diet unless he hangs tight and works very hard to break the impasse.

    The Kan administration is facing a variety of policy issues such as a hike of the consumption tax rate, relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture and Japan's participation in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiatives.

    It must construct a new political framework to solve these problems by considering a bold partnership with an opposition party. To make this happen, the government and the DPJ need to quickly change policies based on election pledges the party had made for the 2009 House of Representatives election, which have already fallen by the wayside anyway.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 4, 2010)
    (2010年12月4日01時47分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月 4日 (土)

    COP16 京都議定書の単純延長は論外

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 4, 2010)
    Don't extend Kyoto pact just for the sake of it
    COP16 京都議定書の単純延長は論外(12月3日付・読売社説)

    To cut global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and establish a society not dependent on fossil fuels, the world needs new international rules on emission controls that are fair to industrially advanced and developing nations.

    The 16th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) is being held in Cancun, Mexico. The main item on the agenda is the establishment of new rules to replace the current Kyoto Protocol whose commitment period for achieving emission targets ends in 2012.

    The main problem boils down to whether participating nations can craft a fair, effective framework acceptable to an entanglement of interests.

    Discussions at the conference quickly ran into trouble. Developing countries are strongly resisting new rules that would require them to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, which they fear would slow their economic growth. They want the Kyoto Protocol extended to 2013 and beyond.

    Get U.S., China on board

    Under the Kyoto Protocol, only industrially advanced countries are required to cut greenhouse gas emissions. This is advantageous to developing countries. China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, is a developing country and therefore not obliged by the pact to cut its emissions.

    The United States, the second-biggest gas emitter, has not ratified the Kyoto pact. These two countries together spew out more than 40 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

    Greenhouse gas emissions by signatories with obligations under the pact, such as Japan and the European Union, produce only 27 percent of global emissions. This suggests the Kyoto framework is ineffective.

    We believe any framework that replaces the Kyoto Protocol must ensure that China and the United States also live up to their responsibility to cut their emissions. Merely extending the Kyoto Protocol would plainly run counter to this. Accordingly, it is quite reasonable for the Japanese government to have decided to oppose extension of the pact.

    25% goal not set in stone

    Worryingly, the EU has shown a willingness to extend the protocol. EU nations probably assume it would be advantageous for them to keep in place the EU emissions trading system that was introduced to help the region achieve reduction targets.

    Japanese delegates will undoubtedly face some tense negotiations at the conference.

    The previous administration under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama came out with a lofty target of cutting Japan's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from the 1990 level by 2020. The government attached several preconditions to this goal, including the establishment of a fair emissions reduction architecture that involves all major greenhouse gas emitters, and an agreement on ambitious targets.

    We think Japan should stick by these conditions. If the 25 percent reduction goal takes on a life of its own, this nation alone could end up being obliged to achieve a distinctly disadvantageous reduction target.

    Opposition to the 25 percent reduction is strong in Japan due to concerns that excessive emissions controls would hurt the economy. On this occasion, Japan should start reviewing this target and set a more realistic one.

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 3, 2010)
    (2010年12月3日01時25分  読売新聞)

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    2010年12月 3日 (金)



    --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 1
    EDITORIAL: Pension funding

    When there is no choice but to rely on debt to cover budgetary revenue shortfalls, the government must not hide this from the public. In the meantime, the government should make every effort to reduce its reliance on deficit-covering bonds.

    With the government now studying how best to allocate pension funds in the fiscal 2011 budget, we cannot stress the importance of total transparency enough.

    The government has known for years that supporting the nation's pension system would require more than one-third of basic pension funding to be borne by the state. When the pension system was reformed in 2004, it was written into law that the state's burden would be raised to 50 percent in fiscal 2009.

    A tax hike was necessary to secure the 2.5 trillion yen ($29.8 billion) in permanent revenues necessary to foot the bigger bill, but the government kept putting it off. As a result, the government is still unable to secure the necessary funding.

    In fiscal 2009 and 2010, the government made do by dipping into reserve funds in the fiscal investment and loan special account. For fiscal 2011, the government is considering appropriating 128 trillion yen from the pension special account reserve fund.

    This particular fund has been used in the past for fiscal juggling. While temporarily suspending the transfer of funds from the general account, the government spent an equivalent amount from the fund, reducing bond issues. Theoretically, the procedure was in keeping with fiscal discipline. However, in practice, this was no different from issuing deficit-covering bonds.

    The reserve fund in the pension special account exists for the purpose of covering future payouts. It may look as if there is ample money lying around, but that is not true.

    If the appropriation of funds is temporary, it will not directly lead to a pension cut or pension premium hike. But reviving what is dubbed "hidden borrowing" enables a casual appropriation of funds, which in turn will blur the true state of indebtedness.

    Issuing deficit-covering bonds is preferable to resorting to cheap tricks, as we will at least be able to see the size of the fiscal shortfall.

    In June, the Naoto Kan Cabinet itself approved a fiscal management strategy that cautioned strongly against any form of fiscal management "that relies on transfer of funds between accounts or shifting deficits around." Should the Kan administration break its own rule in this regard, it would further undermine its own credibility.

    On the other hand, should it decide to issue deficit-covering bonds to enable the government to bear its share of basic pension funds, it would be out of the question for borrowing to exceed the 44-trillion-yen limit which the administration has set for itself.

    We know it won't be easy, but the administration must make every effort to stay within that limit by cutting other expenses.

    By now, it should be crystal clear that a tax hike is the only option left for the government to secure the 2.5 trillion yen revenue it needs annually. Failing to act will only revive the same problem every year.

    Ever since the Upper House election loss, the prime minister and his Democratic Party of Japan have shelved the crucial task of overhauling the tax system and the key issue of a higher consumption tax rate. Unless Kan and his party change their attitude, there can be no real solution to the problem.

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    2010年12月 2日 (木)


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    --The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 30
    EDITORIAL: Korean Peninsula crisis

    Addressing the nation Monday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak denounced North Korea for responding to South Korea's offer of dialogue, collaboration and unstinting humanitarian assistance with a series of provocative acts, including nuclear development programs, the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan and the shelling of Daeyeonpyeongdo island.

    Lee's ire is fully understandable.

    Forty-six South Korean crew members died in the Cheonan incident, while the bombardment of the island killed four South Koreans, including two civilians, and reduced many homes to charred rubble.

    The most important thing now is to avert any further incident and ease tensions. Not only the two Koreas, but also all related nations must work hard to reach these goals.

    Beijing on Sunday proposed an emergency meeting of the heads of delegation to the six-party talks in early December.

    The six-party talks are designed for North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States to discuss North Korea's denuclearization and normalization of its ties with the United States and Japan.

    But the emergency meeting proposed by Beijing will not address the North Korean nuclear issue. The delegates will exchange views on "complex factors that have recently emerged with respect to Korean Peninsula affairs," according to Beijing.

    China has been under pressure from the international community to exert its influence on North Korea. As host of the six-party talks, China probably figured that proposing an emergency meeting should be seen as evidence of how seriously it is taking its responsibility, which in turn should keep North Korea reined in.

    We can well appreciate Beijing's attempt to seize any opportunity to bring the situation under control. However, we are skeptical of this hastily proposed meeting producing any tangible results.

    In fact, Seoul's response to the proposal was that now is not the time to talk about six-party talks. Washington, too, asserted that North Korea must first change its attitude.

    Tokyo's stance is the same--that Pyongyang must first acknowledge responsibility for its own actions, among other things.

    But Pyongyang blames Seoul's provocations for the shelling of the island. And the reclusive country recently revealed its uranium enrichment facility and announced the planned construction of a light water reactor, both spelling the advancement of its nuclear development program.
    In addition, there are moves that show Pyongyang could be gearing up for another nuclear test.

    Given the situation, the proposed six-party meeting is unlikely to achieve anything. But doing nothing will only prolong the tense standoff. Something needs to be done eventually to get to the bottom of the North Korean nuclear problem.

    Ultimately, the United States and China are the only countries that have the power to turn around the situation.  局面を転換させる大きな力を持っているのは、やはり米国と中国だ。

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday spoke on the phone with China's state councilor, Dai Bingguo, who oversees foreign policies. Dai reportedly told Clinton that China and the United States must actively play constructive roles in these crucial times.

    We fully agree. We hope Washington and Beijing will work together to pave the way for dialogue among related nations.

    Clinton intends to meet with her Japanese and South Korean counterparts. Beijing is expected to send a high-ranking official to Pyongyang.

    The groundwork can be laid for the next six-party talks only with the United States and China taking the lead in coordinating the member nations and persuading North Korea to come to the table. Japan should follow this strategy and contribute to detente on the Korean Peninsula.

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    2010年12月 1日 (水)

    農業開国 攻めの農政へ体質転換を急げ

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 1, 2010)
    Japan's farm sector must change itself
    農業開国 攻めの農政へ体質転換を急げ(11月30日付・読売社説)

    How should Japan's agricultural sector be resuscitated?

    Intensifying discussions over the nation's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement shed light on the need for the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan to drastically reform agricultural policies.

    Agricultural organizations and others are fanning a sense of crisis, insisting that TPP participation will cause the collapse of Japan's agricultural sector. However, before discussing the advisability of participating in the agreement, we all have to be aware that Japan's farming industry is clearly following a course of decline.

    The foundations of Japan's farming industry have become extremely vulnerable as a result of years of overly generous protection through various domestic and international measures, such as massive subsidies and high tariffs.

    It is time for the government to squarely face this reality and change the course of its policy so that the agricultural industry will be able to transform itself into one that is highly productive and internationally competitive. This will be a prerequisite for Japan to participate in the TPP agreement.

    The government held the first meeting of its headquarters on promoting the revitalization of the food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries Tuesday to start considering concrete measures to achieve the goal. The headquarters reportedly plans to draw up basic principles in June and an action plan in October next year, but we wonder whether this will be too late.


    Farm maladies can be cured

    The domestic farming industry is in a critical situation. Currently, the nation's gross agricultural production totals a little over 8 trillion yen, a decline of 30 percent from its peak. The workforce in the sector has halved in the past two decades, and its average age has climbed to 66. In addition, the acreage of untended farmland continues to increase.

    To break the grip of these trends, the government must firstly foster an environment in which motivated farmers will be able to exercise their business sense and promote profitable agriculture.

    Farmland could be consolidated to promote large-scale farming to reduce production costs. The bond between farmers and consumers could be strengthened through reform of the distribution system to enable farmers to more easily purchase equipment and supplies and expand their sales routes. Foreign markets could be targeted, taking advantage of the high quality of Japan's farm products. These are just a few ideas.

    There must be a variety of ways to give the farm sector vitality.

    The government's fiscal burdens will be the focus of attention in promoting such measures. A certain amount of government spending will be unavoidable, but it will be important to limit the spending to projects that will lead to structural reforms of the agricultural sector.

    Following the Uruguay Round agreement on agriculture in the 1990s, the government spent more than 6 trillion yen to help farmers deal with the effects of the accord.


    Spend money thoughtfully

    However, a large amount of the money ended up wastefully spent on useless projects, such as the construction of various facilities in farming villages and hot spring resorts. Even airports were built, along with expanding agricultural roads, as a way to promote the industry by transporting farm products by air. The spending could hardly be called effective.

    The government also needs to review the income compensation program for all rice farming households, a system launched this year. Sixty percent of farming households have side jobs that provide them with a stable income. Unless the government's assistance is focused on full-time farming households, which play a central role in the industry, it will not strengthen the agriculture sector's foundations.

    Every time the farming industry has emerged as an issue of contention, agricultural organizations and Diet members with vested interests in the industry, who have an eye on future elections, have perverted policies and hampered reforms.

    Policymakers must remember to keep the nation's interests at heart, as they should encourage growth in "fields of rice" rather than pander to farmers as a way to cultivate "fields of votes."

    (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 30, 2010)
    (2010年11月30日01時31分  読売新聞)

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