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2011年5月31日 (火)


(Mainichi Japan) May 30, 2011
Falling confidence in 'Japan brand' more than just a domestic problem

The nuclear power plant in Fukushima has completely tarnished the "Japan brand," which enjoyed a reputation around the world as being safe, clean, and high tech. All of that has been wiped away now by the black cloud of radioactive contamination.

Along with the "Japan brand," the popularity of Japanese food -- whose "health food" reputation had until recently attracted fans around the world -- has plummeted.

In an attempt to bring back customers, one overseas conveyor-belt sushi restaurant has gone as far as to post a sign saying that none of its ingredients are imported from Japan.

Efforts to help rebuild the reputation of Japanese food have begun, however, in Hong Kong, where there are an estimated 600 to 800 Japanese restaurants.

The ramen noodle industry there got the ball rolling with the campaign slogan: "Let's all eat ramen."
まずラーメン業界が口火を切り「万人 食 拉麺(ラーメン)」(みんなで食べよう、ラーメン)キャンペーンを始めた

While Japanese ramen is of Chinese origin, Chinese people consider it Japanese food.

Therefore, as Japan's reputation has plunged from the ongoing nuclear crisis, Hong Kong locals' appetite for ramen has waned, dealing a blow to the Hong Kong ramen industry.

Other Japanese restaurants and Japanese-style pubs have followed suit with "Love Japanese Food" campaigns of their own.
▲日本料理店や居酒屋などの業界も「愛 日本料理」運動で続いた。

Although most of the ingredients for Japanese food served in Hong Kong are imported from the Kyushu region, it's all the same Japan to local consumers, who do not differentiate between the southwestern island of Kyushu and the Tohoku region where the Fukushima plant is located.

To dispel concerns over the safety of Japanese food and to make its way back into consumers' good graces, the industry in Hong Kong has held sushi-tasting events and given discounts to diners.

In addition, local authorities are planning to implement a preferential financing system for small- and medium-sized businesses to support them.

Meanwhile, in Deauville, France, where the 50th anniversary ceremony of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the G8 Summit were being held, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan stated that Japan was aiming to draw lessons from the ongoing nuclear crisis and achieve "the highest standard of nuclear safety."

His declaration may be explicit, but unless he delivers results, the "Japan brand" will not be able to regain the trust it has lost -- which, as we have already seen, has repercussions beyond Japan's borders.

("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)
毎日新聞 2011年5月30日 0時02分

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2011年5月30日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:へこたれました /東京


(Mainichi Japan) May 29, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: What we can learn from the troubles of a famous novelist
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:へこたれました /東京

I recently read the news that a letter from famous novelist Ryunosuke Akutagawa to poet Kyukin Susukida was discovered.

According to the news, both men were employees of the Osaka Mainichi Newspapers at the time, with Susukida being managing editor of the cultural news department.

I was surprised. "Had Akutagawa been a newspaper reporter?" I wondered.
Apparently, however, Akutagawa didn't come into the office, working from home instead.

We might feel envious of Akutagawa, being able to work from home, but it seems Akutagawa himself was far from a happy man.

This can particularly be gathered from a postcard he sent from Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, where he was receiving medical treatment.

"I can't seem to recover from my nervous breakdown," he wrote. "My will is broken."

Akutagawa is said to have suffered from insomnia, strong anxiety and depression, and six years after sending the postcard, he took his own life at the age of 35.

It is clear that Akutagawa was gripped by one or more psychological disorders, although experts are divided on which ones.

There are also some who say Akutagawa's exposure to his dark side is what allowed him to write what he did.
Here, however, I would like to look at Akutagawa in a different way: even people of his stature have worries and expose their weaker selves to others.

Looking at a list of his accomplishments makes Akutagawa's life sound wonderful.

While a student at Tokyo University, he released the famous short story "Rashomon." He established himself as a famous writer while still young, married and was blessed with three boys.

He conducted observations overseas and became an instructor at Bunka Gakuin, a college in Tokyo.
The overall feeling is that he was advancing rapidly on the path to becoming a part of the literary elite.

And yet, even as he led this bright life, Akutagawa was constantly trapped by dark feelings.

Of course, he could not truly reveal those dark feelings to us, the general public.

However, looking at Akutagawa's life story, I believe we can carry some lessons away for ourselves: No matter how famous or successful a person is, they worry and suffer;

it is only natural that people sometimes feel down;

and it's not good to think too much about things.

Maybe we should try to just enjoy each day.

And, there is one more important thing:

when we have problems, we can do as Akutagawa did and show weakness to those around us.

Next time I feel down, I think I will copy Akutagawa and say, "My will is broken."

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2011年5月24日 地方版

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2011年5月29日 (日)



--The Asahi Shimbun, May 27
EDITORIAL: Use solar and wind power to achieve new energy target

Prime Minister Naoto Kan made public a new plan to drastically move up the target date to raise the ratio of natural energy to 20 percent of total electric power supply from 2030 to "the earliest possible time during the 2020s."

It is no doubt an ambitious target, but the government and the private sector must use their ingenuity to tackle it.

The accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant virtually made it impossible to build new nuclear power plants as planned.

To advance measures to fight global warming, we cannot go back to the use of coal and oil.

A dramatic increase in the use of natural energy is indispensable to secure needed energy.

Politicians, on their responsibility, may set a deliberately high goal.

Only then can the government employ all policy measures to promote technological innovation aggressively.

However, the ratio of natural energy, including large-scale hydroelectric power generation, currently makes up only slightly less than 10 percent.

The path to realize the 20 percent goal is difficult.

Analysts say natural energy, easily influenced by weather conditions, lacks stability. Unless costs are reduced, consumers would bear a heavier burden in the form of increased utility charges.

The prime minister also announced plans to install solar panels on the roofs of 10 million homes.

He clearly attaches importance to solar energy as the key of natural energy sources.

As if to respond to the government move, Softbank Corp. and local governments across the nation announced a project to install solar panels in fallow rice paddies and abandoned farmland.

The government must consider drastic deregulation and incentive measures to make the most of ingenious ideas developed by the private sector and local communities.

The reduction in solar energy costs can be realized not only through the efficiency of volume production but also by technological advancement.

Given the target date of slightly more than 10 years from now, achieving the goal with solar power alone seems difficult.

International trends show that the spread of wind power generation, which is less costly than solar power, is pronounced.

Some statistics show that the volume of wind power generation facilities is 4.5 times that of solar power.

Japan can focus more on wind power as an energy source that can be put to immediate use.

The Kan administration must quickly draw up a concrete plan on how to achieve its target by attaching importance on which area with what means.

Meanwhile, in his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the prime minister said he will continue to actively use nuclear power generation after ensuring its safety.

How does the shift to natural energy sources link with active use of nuclear power?

It is time to start full-fledged debate on what to do with nuclear power generation itself.

It might be too late if we wait for the results of investigations into the accident.

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2011年5月28日 (土)

love beat

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--The Asahi Shimbun, May 26, 2011
EDITORIAL: Neutral, powerful panels needed to investigate Fukushima accident

A prominent expert in the study of failures has been tapped to probe a colossal crisis management failure.

The government chose Yotaro Hatamura, a University of Tokyo professor emeritus of engineering, to head a committee that will soon be appointed to investigate into the disastrous accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The study of failures advocated by Hatamura is aimed at preventing major accidents by disclosing all the facts about small system failures, whatever they may be.

This time, Hatamura's mission is to inquire into a huge accident after the fact.

Still, scrutinizing the Fukushima disaster from Hatamura's viewpoint can contribute greatly to efforts to prevent similar crises at nuclear power plants around the world.

What is crucial for getting to the bottom of the accident is to make sure that all relevant facts are revealed.

The success of the investigation hinges on whether the people involved will tell the truth while offering information that could threaten their positions or interests.

The way the investigation panel works, as described by the government, raises concerns about this point.

There is no existent law that directly requires people involved to respond to the panel's requests for interviews or the submission of materials.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has said government employees who refuse to cooperate with the panel can be disciplined punishment under the law governing their profession. But that is not enough.

This issue is particularly important for the investigation because the panel will have to deal with the so-called "nuclear power village," a community of people with vested interests in promoting nuclear energy bound closely together by mutual dependence.

The President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, the investigation panel set up by U.S. President Jimmy Carter after the 1979 accident at the nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, tried to examine the disaster from a position independent of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

But the panel was apparently dependent on the country's nuclear power community for necessary data.

The Japan Transport Safety Board, which conducts investigations into airplane and train accidents, has strong investigative powers under the law enacted to establish the entity.

New legislation should be enacted to give sufficient power and independence to the panel tasked with inquiring into the devastating accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station.

The panel's members should include competent and influential people recruited from outside the nuclear power village.

It would be a good idea to seek opinions from overseas experts and get critics of nuclear power generation involved in the probe.

Such outsiders would help pressure people in the village to cooperate with the efforts to uncover the truth.

The separate committee in charge of examining the management and financial health of the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., should also be given strong powers.

This committee's mission is to ferret out waste in the utility's management as well as its disposable assets in order to secure as much money as possible for compensation for damages caused by the accident. The panel will face many big obstacles to accomplish its goals.

Companies have a general tendency to conceal or try to avoid revealing information unfavorable to them.

In addition, electric power companies farm out a wide range of tasks and operations to other firms.

To get the whole picture of an electric utility's operation, it is necessary to require its many layers of subcontractors to disclose relevant information.

The work to assess Tepco's ability to pay compensation requires a group of experienced lawyers and accountants skilled in negotiating with businesses.

The government is facing two important challenges concerning the Fukushima disaster: learning necessary lessons from what happened to prevent future nuclear disasters and ensuring swift and fair compensation for the damage caused by the accident.

The success of efforts to tackle these two challenges depends on whether a neutral and powerful panel will be created for each.

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2011年5月27日 (金)

東北の水産業 大胆な改革で沿岸漁業再生を


Rebuild Tohoku fisheries to be better than before
東北の水産業 大胆な改革で沿岸漁業再生を(5月26日付・読売社説)
The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 27, 2011)

Ports and facilities of Pacific Ocean fisheries in the Tohoku and Kanto regions were severely hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The industry should not simply be restored to its former state. Instead, people and organizations concerned should take the opportunity to incorporate drastic reforms in their rebuilding efforts, creating a revitalization model for the nation's fisheries industry as a whole, which is on the decline due to a graying workforce with a lack of successors.

In areas hit by huge tsunami, about 320 fishing ports and 20,000 fishing boats were destroyed or seriously damaged. Fish markets, processing facilities and other infrastructure have been almost completely lost in many places. The damage is estimated at about 900 billion yen.

Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture and Ofunato in Iwate Prefecture hosted bonito and tuna fishing boats from all over the country. Reopening of such core ports for offshore and deep-sea commercial fishing is an urgent necessity.

The central and local governments must cooperate closely to accelerate repair work on wharfs and removal of underwater rubble and debris.


Change in way of thinking

Reconstruction of coastal fishing is an important subject because many people work in this industry.

Coastal fishing includes oyster and scallop cultivation, as well as fixed-net fishing of mackerel and sardines, which are mostly small, family-run businesses.

These businesses were directly hit by the giant tsunami. The loss of boats, equipment and facilities has left many of them unable to operate, and many are even thinking of closing down for good.

If the coastal fishing industry is to recover, a new way of thinking is required.

To promote the entry of new individuals and companies into the coastal fishing industry, the current system that gives priority in operations to local fisheries cooperatives must be revised.

A "fishing industry reconstruction promotion special zone" initiative proposed by the Miyagi prefectural government at a meeting of the government's Reconstruction Design Council is an idea worth considering.

The Fishery Law and other relevant laws have to be revised, and special zones should be created in quake-hit areas. In the special zones, private companies that catch, process and sell fish and other marine products will be given easy access to fishing rights.

The system is designed to reconstruct coastal fisheries by introducing the vitality of those formerly outside the fishing industry and also aims to expand employment opportunities for young people.


Revise closed nature

Opposition has been voiced against the initiative in some local fisheries cooperatives. Fearing that their rights may be infringed upon, they argue that the good points of fishing villages as communities will be lost.

However, the closed nature of such communities must change. Otherwise, the decline of coastal fisheries cannot be stopped.

They should not adhere to their vested rights but must change their way of thinking to promote the fisheries businesses in their local communities.

We hope administrators in the central and local governments and fishermen thoroughly discuss the matter and seek the best solution with an eye toward the future.

What is urgently required now is the wisdom to protect Japan's fish-eating culture and give an impetus to the recovery of the fisheries industry.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 26, 2011)
(2011年5月26日01時22分  読売新聞)

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2011年5月26日 (木)



--The Asahi Shimbun, May 24
EDITORIAL: Independent panel needed to investigate Fukushima nuclear crisis

Few days pass without news that makes us wonder if the government is telling the truth about the disastrous nuclear accident triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

On May 23, the Lower House special committee on reconstruction from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami asked about the government's suspected involvement in the decision to temporarily suspend the injection of seawater into a crippled reactor the day after the accident broke out at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The government said it was a voluntary decision by the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). But the answers from government officials to the questions failed to dispel suspicions that the prime minister's office influenced the company's decision.

It is easy to imagine the utter confusion within the government and TEPCO at that time.

Efforts to uncover what actually happened should be made carefully.

That is all the more reason why it is essential to get an independent entity to look into the nuclear crisis in an inquiry clearly separated from policy debate on recovery and rebuilding in the devastated areas.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has pledged to set up a committee of experts for an investigation into the accident. He should announce the specifics of the envisioned fact-finding committee as soon as possible.

There are two important factors in appointing the committee.

One is to secure its independence and neutrality.

To be able to carry out careful examinations and fair assessments, the investigation panel should be clearly independent of the people and organizations involved in dealing with the accident, including TEPCO, Kan, the other Cabinet members concerned, the Nuclear Safety Commission and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

In selecting the committee members, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that the core members will not include anyone who is affiliated with the "nuclear power village," the close-knit community of politicians, industry executives, scientists and other people with vested interests in promoting nuclear energy.

To earn international confidence in the panel, it is also important to seek some forms of cooperation from relevant international organizations and foreign experts.

From the viewpoint of the principle of separation of powers, which requires the legislature to check the government, the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party's idea to set up an investigation committee within the Diet is worth serious consideration.

There is, however, concern that the panel could degenerate into an arena for partisan warfare under the divided Diet with the opposition in control of the Upper House.

Following the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, U.S. President Jimmy Carter created a special committee that included experts in areas other than nuclear energy and local community representatives.

As he recognized the importance of allowing outsiders to take part in the probe into the accident, Carter decided not to leave the task solely to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Japan should learn from his bold action.

Secondly, the panel should be given strong investigative powers to accomplish its mission, which should be clearly defined as preventing another nuclear disaster.

Depending on the results of the investigation, some of the people responsible for dealing with the crisis may have to be held strictly accountable.

What is more important than putting the blame on someone, however, is to learn valuable lessons from the Fukushima disaster that will help efforts to minimize the damage through the best possible responses should a similar situation arise somewhere in the world.

There are also tasks that need to be done before the start of the planned investigation committee.

All the necessary materials and records concerning the entire chain of events should be safely kept, while all key people involved should be interviewed for testimonies while their memories are still fresh.

As a country that has experienced one of the worst nuclear accidents in human history, Japan should make an exhaustive investigation into what happened and fully disclose the findings.

That's the only way for the nation to regain the trust of people both at home and abroad.

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娘へメール 1

おとうさん、夜なべをしてゲーム tales runner を復旧させましたが、
手紙を読んだカイちゃん、すぐにtales runnerで遊んでました。


คุณพ่อใช้เวลามากเพื่อให้ซ่อม tales runner^^
เล่นกับ tales runnerดีกว่านะครับ




おとうさんは tales runner の再インストールで夜なべをしました。
tales runnerのほうで遊んでください。





ใน blog ใช้ชื่อเล่นก็ได้


ใน facebook ต้องใช้ชื่อจริง


เฟิร์น เฟิร์น

สุพรรษา สอนสะอาด




เฟิร์น เฟิร์น (偽名)

สุพรรษา สอนสะอาด (本名)


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2011年5月25日 (水)

海水注入問題 原発に政局持ち込むな


(Mainichi Japan) May 24, 2011
LDP should not use nuclear crisis for political maneuvering
社説:海水注入問題 原発に政局持ち込むな

The stern manner in which the largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) criticized the government in a recent Diet session for its response to the meltdown at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant suggests that the party is using the crisis for its political maneuvering.
LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki brought up the issue during a House of Representatives special committee meeting on earthquake recovery held on May 23. He pointed out that the injection of seawater into the plant's crippled No. 1 reactor -- which started on the evening of March 12 in a desperate bid to cool down its core -- was suspended for 55 minutes.

The opposition leader then cited news reports that the injection was suspended at the instruction of Prime Minister Naoto Kan and worsened the situation.
Kan categorically denied the reports saying he never gave such an instruction because he had not received any report on the seawater injection in the first place. Tanigaki pointed out that his statements and other government officials' remarks on the matter were inconsistent and held the prime minister responsible for the confusion within his administration.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) began injecting seawater into the reactor at 7:04 p.m. on March 12 -- the day after the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami hit the power station, but suspended it 25 minutes later before resuming it at 8:20 p.m., TEPCO records clearly show. However, Kan, leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and Tanigaki failed to clarify through their debate why the seawater injection was suspended.

This is a good opportunity for the LDP to grill the prime minister over the government's poor response to the crisis in a bid to throw the administration into disarray. If the LDP were to prove the injection was suspended at the instruction of the prime minister, it could hold him responsible for both giving such an instruction and making a false statement on the matter. It is all the more a good opportunity because the government was already confused over the matter: It once announced that Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan (NSC) Chairman Haruki Madarame had warned of the possibility of the reactor having "recriticality" -- a recurrence of nuclear fission reactions -- if seawater were to be injected, but later corrected the announcement.

Still, the discussions between the leaders of the two major parties have raised two questions.

The first question is how far the 55-minute suspension of the seawater injection contributed to the worsening of the reactor's condition.

It is widely believed that most of the fuel in the No. 1 reactor had melted by the morning of March 12 -- long before the seawater injection began.


The other question is how far such a debate will adversely affect Japan's national interests. Discussions on the matter are feared to damage the international community's confidence in the announcement of the cause of the nuclear crisis and specific measures to bring the crippled plant under control, which Kan will make during the upcoming G8 summit.

Needless to say, it is of great importance to clarify the cause of the nuclear crisis that has worsened to the current state.

To that end, the government should set up an independent third-party fact-finding panel at an early date for the sake of not only Japan but also the world.

TEPCO officials should be asked to testify over why it suspended the injection of seawater into the plant's No. 1 reactor in a bid to confirm what actually was behind the decision.

It is inevitable for the LDP, as an opposition party, to employ a strategy of pointing out the government's poor handling of the nuclear crisis while looking for the right time to submit a no-confidence motion against the Kan Cabinet to the powerful House of Representatives.

Still, members of the LDP, which had been in government for nearly half a century and is now aspiring to take over the reins of government from the DPJ, would be better served to discuss how they would respond to the current nuclear crisis and what they would do if the party takes over the reins of government.

毎日新聞 2011年5月24日 2時31分

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2011年5月24日 (火)

西岡参院議長 首相「退陣勧告」の意味は重い





Nishioka's demand for Kan to quit has weighty meaning
西岡参院議長 首相「退陣勧告」の意味は重い(5月20日付・読売社説)
The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 21, 2011)

House of Councillors President Takeo Nishioka demanded the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Naoto Kan in an article he wrote for The Yomiuri Shimbun that was carried in its Thursday morning edition. He repeated this demand at a press conference later the same day.

Nishioka was furious over Kan's responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

Shrugging off this criticism, Kan said, "There is no reason at all for me to resign at this time."

However, Nishioka's pressure on Kan to step down has grave implications, as the upper house president has considerable authority over the fate of bills in the so-called divided Diet.
Nishioka became upper house president at the recommendation of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, although he left the party as is customary because he must remain neutral in his post.


'Not fulfilling duties'

The upper house president insisted Kan had not fulfilled his duties as prime minister since the massive earthquake occurred.

He said Kan's establishment of so many councils and headquarters had confused the chain of command, and he questioned the way information related to the nuclear crisis was disclosed, among other things.

Nishioka emphasized these points in calling on Kan to resign. "Before everything drops behind, I strongly repeat my demand that you step down from the prime minister's post as soon as possible," he said.

His views are reasonable and may be considered respresentative of the general public's.

Recent opinion polls carried out by major media organizations show the disapproval rate of the Kan Cabinet is almost twice the approval rate.

A majority of the people are dissatisfied with the prime minister's lack of leadership.

However, many people believe the prime minister should remain in power until a certain level of antidisaster measures have been established. They probably would not want domestic politics to become even more confused.

The Kan administration is trying to avoid extending the current ordinary Diet session by delaying submission of the second fiscal 2011 supplementary budget to August or later. This budget is designed to fund full-fledged restoration programs.

However, Kan's lackadaisical attitude to the current situation only invites criticism from the opposition parties that the prime minister is placing priority on the survival of his administration rather than antidisaster measures.


Submit 2nd extra budget

The government must submit the second supplementary budget to the Diet as soon as possible and take necessary legislative measures.

If the current administration does not function well in this respect, a new political arrangement is needed.

A number of people believe the DPJ and the Liberal Democratic Party should agree on key policy measures and form a grand coalition to proceed with restoration steps.

In a recent Yomiuri Shimbun poll, 56 percent of the respondents supported a grand coalition for that purpose.

A few ideas are emerging in both the DPJ and the Liberal Democratic Party about forming a grand coalition with Kan's resignation as a precondition.

Neither the ruling or opposition parties should allow the stagnant state of domestic politics to continue.

It is time for them to seriously discuss the establishment of a political system to prioritize antidisaster measures and carry them out swiftly and flexibly.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 20, 2011)
(2011年5月20日01時41分  読売新聞)

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2011年5月23日 (月)



--The Asahi Shimbun, May 21
EDITORIAL: Nishioka's call for Kan's resignation can only lead to political turmoil

Politicians should have the freedom to call for the resignation of a government official or a Diet member they disapprove of.

But that doesn't mean that the chief of one of the three branches of government should be allowed to urge the head of another branch to step down.

Such an action by a person in one of the highest offices in the nation is outrageous and outlandish.

Upper House President Takeo Nishioka sent a letter to Prime Minister Naoto Kan urging him to "resign immediately."

Nishioka also called for Kan's departure at a news conference and in an article he wrote for The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Nishioka, who was a member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan until he assumed his current post, cited Kan's inept responses to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear disaster triggered by the earthquake as the reason for his high-profile political attack against the embattled premier.

Nishioka went so far as to argue that if Kan refuses to step down, the opposition parties should submit a no-confidence motion against his Cabinet to the Lower House before this year's Group of Eight summit, slated to be held in France on May 26.

Public distrust of the Kan administration has been growing by the day due to its poor and delayed responses to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and its failure to disclose adequate information about the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

It is hardly surprising that criticism of Kan's leadership has also grown in the Diet.

However, for the representative of the legislature to argue for the resignation of the prime minister, who heads the administrative branch--without any decision by the legislature--is an ethical transgression that cannot be overlooked.

By convention, the Upper House president, like the Lower House speaker, leaves his or her political party in order to perform their duty with fairness and political neutrality.

Nishioka's remarks clearly exceed the boundaries of the role he is expected to perform.

In addition, Nishioka is the president of the Upper House.

In the designation of the prime minister, the Lower House's decision takes precedence over the Upper House's.
Only the Lower House has the power to pass a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet.

In other words, the Upper House is expected to act as the seat of common sense that distances itself from any power struggles.

By making a public call for the prime minister's resignation, Nishioka is making the house look like an arena of political conflict.

This is no time for discussing whether Kan should remain in office, in the first place.

When the nation is going through such a crisis, lawmakers obviously should join hands in tackling challenges instead of trying to undermine the efforts of their colleagues.

We are fed up with the nation's political situation where common sense doesn't prevail.

Quoting the phrase "Don't change horses in a midstream," Nishioka said Kan doesn't even have the determination to cross the rushing stream. He asserted that the risk of allowing the current situation to continue is bigger than the risk of changing horses.

The anti-Kan group within the DPJ is echoing Nishioka's criticism of the prime minister.

If the opposition parties submit a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet, the DPJ group led by former party chief Ichiro Ozawa and its political allies within the party may vote for the motion, ensuring its passage.

But there are wide differences over key policy issues between the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which is calling for the abolition of the new childcare allowance program the DPJ-led government has introduced, and the Ozawa group, which has vowed to keep the program alive.
There will be no prospect for a workable ruling coalition between the LDP and the Ozawa group if they join forces to force Kan to resign. There can only be deeper political confusion.

We have no choice now but to give spurs to our horses in order to cross the rushing stream in front of us.

Debate on whether Kan should leave office should wait until the crisis is over.

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2011年5月22日 (日)


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 20
EDITORIAL: Competition needed to stoke innovation, creativity

As expected, the Great East Japan Earthquake caused great damage to the nation's economy.

Gross domestic product for the January-March period showed an annualized drop of 3.7 percent in real terms.
GDP has contracted for two consecutive quarters since the October-December period, when the economy started to level off.

Before the March 11 disaster, the nation's economy was expected to go on an offensive in an increasingly multipolar global market following the recovery of the U.S. economy. But the earthquake took the wind out of Japan's sails.

The April-June quarter is also expected to undergo economic contraction, according to private-sector estimates.

While demand for reconstruction rose smoothly after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the situation this time differs mainly on two points.

One is the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

With the decline in electric power supply centering on the Tokyo metropolitan area covered by TEPCO, prolonged restrictions on economic activities are unavoidable.

Second, the supply chain, or a highly mutually dependent supply network of parts that developed in the assembly-oriented manufacturing industry, suffered serious damage.

For example, assembly plants of many automakers would stop if a semiconductor plant is unable to make microcontrollers for electronic controls.

The earthquake put before us a new question: What should be done for the Japanese economy to continue to provide top-level products and services to meet the needs and purchasing power of various markets around the world?

Japan must come up with highly advanced products that cannot be found anywhere else to overcome the yen's appreciation and continue exporting.

However, manufacturing centers of such products tend to be concentrated on one site when volume efficiency and other factors are taken into account.

Such risks were exposed by the severing of the supply chain by the earthquake.

There is also a possibility that international customers may re-examine their overdependence on Japanese parts and materials.

Manufacturers are urged to disperse production centers and take other measures to prevent customers from going elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the service industry is attracting attention as a growth strategy.

Still, there is a need to review Japan's real capabilities comprehensively when we think about the failure of two giant service companies--TEPCO's nuclear power plant accident and Mizuho Bank's system trouble--both triggered by the earthquake.

Large corporations protected by monopoly or oligopoly may be suffering from systemic fatigue more than we realize.

Such a situation may be standing in the way of innovation and nipping creative ideas in the bud.

If so, creating an environment to make companies stronger through competition becomes more important than ever.

Kaoru Yosano, minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, expressed confidence for the future, saying, "The resilience of the Japanese economy is sufficiently strong."

But instead of simply relying on natural resilience, we should sort out our strengths and weaknesses and cultivate the power to transform ourselves and open up the future with new ideas and ingenuity.

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2011年5月21日 (土)


(Mainichi Japan) May 20, 2011
Japan must look outward, not just inward, after quake

Since the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, diplomatic pressure on Japan has, on the whole, been easing.

Sympathy is one reason for this; another is that countries are looking to adopt a new approach and break the deadlock that their relations with Japan have reached.

The United States, Australia, France and other countries whose leaders rushed to Japan's side right after the earthquake, have been making new pledges to assist Japan.

France, for example, will help decontaminate water from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant from June.

An official from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented, "I never knew France had such know-how about nuclear power plants."

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's tour of disaster areas in Japan from May 21 is representative of the harmonious approach that these countries have been taking.

Immediately after the quake, China sent an international rescue team to Japan for the first time, and Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the Japanese Embassy in China and expressed his condolences to Japan.

The visit to the disaster areas is an extension of this goodwill.

Russia also dispatched a team of more that 160 rescuers to Japan after the quake.

Meanwhile, one major Russian newspaper made the rare step of carrying a column calling for the return of the four Russian-controlled islands known in Japan as the Northern Territories -- hinting at a slight change in public sentiment toward Japan.

A similar state of affairs was seen after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.
The earthquake hit at a time when Japan was becoming isolated from the international community, but after it struck, diplomatic pressure on Japan temporarily eased.

An official telegram sent by Paul Claudel, a famous writer who at the time served as French ambassador to Japan, pointed this out. (The telegram is listed in Claudel's book "Correspondance Diplomatique. Tokyo 1921-1927," whose Japanese translation is published by Soshisha Publishing Co.)
著名な作家で、当時、駐日大使だったフランスのポール・クローデルが、このことを本国に送った公電で指摘している(「孤独な帝国 日本の一九二〇年代」草思社)。

In 1921, Britain, which had decided to terminate the Anglo-Japanese alliance, planned to turn Singapore into a naval port to resist Japan's advances into Asia.

But after the quake, some analysts called for abandoning the plan.

In China, meanwhile, the anti-Japanese sentiment that had arisen in response to Japan's 21 Demands to China in 1915 diminished.

And the United States, which had been debating an immigration act that limited the number of Japanese in the country, was the first to come to Japan with major aid. Claudel noted that the U.S. performed charitable work while displaying virtue with unsurpassed magnificence.

The ambassador noted that sympathy from around the world and decreased diplomatic pressure helped to break down walls in the wary hearts of Japanese people. But he also stated that Japanese leaders were viewing the situation coldly, taking the opinion that friendship and national interests were different things.

As it turned out, Japan accelerated its advance into the Asian continent.

Now Japan's position and the international environment are different, but the country must be wary of the inward-looking sentiment that arises after an earthquake -- the kind of logic that says, "We can't think about the world when we're in such a terrible state," the fears of countries using the earthquake to employ "smiling diplomacy."

Of course, when it comes to sympathy and other countries' approach to Japan, national interests hold great importance, but the question is, can Japanese diplomacy skillfully utilize this opportunity?

(By Megumi Nishikawa, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年5月20日 東京朝刊

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2011年5月20日 (金)

自然エネルギー 電力改革の試金石だ


(Mainichi Japan) May 19, 2011
Gov't attempt to promote clean energy a test of electric power policy reform
社説:自然エネルギー 電力改革の試金石だ

The government's attempt to promote clean energy to replace nuclear power following the crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is widely viewed as a litmus test of electric power policy reform.
A massive tsunami generated by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and radiation leaks from the nuclear power plant that the disaster caused have drastically changed circumstances surrounding Japan's energy policy.

At a news conference on May 18, Prime Minister Naoto Kan for the first time mentioned his plan to fundamentally review the government's nuclear power policy and its basic energy plan.

There are various challenges for Japan's energy policy, ranging from the recycling of nuclear fuel by extracting plutonium from spent fuel, which requires final disposal of high-level nuclear waste, to the restructuring of the electric power industry including the separation of power companies into power generators and suppliers.  高レベル核廃棄物の最終処分を含む核燃料サイクルから、発電と送電の分離といった電力会社の経営形態に関する問題まで、エネルギーをめぐる課題は多岐にわたる。

Needless to say, no easy solution can be found to any of these issues.

However, Japan should make better use of natural energy sources -- such as solar, wind, biological and geothermal power generation in a bid to gradually decrease its reliance on nuclear power -- an idea that has won wide support from experts as well as members of the public.

Nuclear power stations are major sources of electric power, and questions remain as to whether clean energy sources can fully replace nuclear power.

Some experts have pointed out that there are limits to the use of natural energy sources in terms of both the amount and costs.

Moreover, there are other stumbling blocks to the use of these eco-friendly energy sources.

The frequency and voltage of electricity generated by solar cells and wind power generators are unstable.

It has been widely viewed as difficult to fully introduce these power sources in order to stably operate electric power grid networks.

However, the full introduction of these clean energy sources has been hampered by the fact that power grid networks have been separately operated by power suppliers.

It has been pointed out for many years that more solar and wind power could be utilized if power grid networks are operated in a more integrated manner beyond borders between power suppliers.

Electric power companies that have enjoyed regional monopolies have played an important role in stably supplying electric power.

However, the demand for electric power is not growing much now and is expected to peak in the near future.

Under the circumstances, electric power grid networks should be operated more flexibly, even though the quality of electric power, such as its frequency and voltage, should not be sacrificed.

Questions as to who should foot the increased costs of electric power generation have remained unanswered, which has also blocked the full introduction of clean energy sources.

Consumers need to shoulder a certain extra burden. However, the allocation of funds for electric power generation, which has been concentrated in nuclear power under the pretext of the need for research and development, should be rectified and directed more at efforts to increase natural energy sources.

The introduction of geothermal power generation has been hampered by restrictions on development in areas designated as national parks and fears that such power generation could adversely affect hot springs.

However, as a volcanic country, Japan should fully use geothermal power to generate electricity.

To that end, restrictions on development in national parks should be reviewed and the issue of compensation for any impact that geothermal power plans may have on hot springs should be addressed.

There are many other stumbling blocks to the full use of natural energy sources, and these problems also pose challenges to Japan's overall energy policy.

The government should promote the use of natural energy sources as the first step toward electric power policy reform.

毎日新聞 2011年5月19日 2時31分

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2011年5月19日 (木)

主婦年金問題 与野党協力して決着を急げ


The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 19, 2011)
Make efforts to untangle housewives' pensions
主婦年金問題 与野党協力して決着を急げ(5月18日付・読売社説)

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry's Social Security Council decided Tuesday on measures to deal with the inadvertent failure by full-time housewives to switch to the national pension program.

The government plans to include the measures in a bill to revise the National Pension Law and submit it to the current Diet session.

The ruling and opposition parties should work together to provide an early solution to the issue and prevent public distrust in the pension system from deepening.

Nonworking spouses of company employees and public servants are classified as Category III insured, and are not required to pay pension premiums.

They are automatically covered by payments made by all subscribers to welfare and mutual pension plans.

However, if a housewife's annual income is 1.3 million yen or more, or her husband becomes self-employed, the woman must join the national pension plan and pay premiums.

An eye-popping 420,000 housewives of working age have failed to switch to the national pension plan and have not paid premiums for an extensive period.


Lack of publicity

One factor behind this is the failure of the former Social Insurance Agency to publicize the need to switch to the national pension plan. As a result, there is a strong possibility these housewives will receive a pittance or nothing at all.

The agency considered the period in which no pension premiums were paid as covered by the Category III pension plan. About 53,000 elderly people received excessive pension payments as a result.

As a so-called relief measure for the 420,000 housewives, the welfare ministry in December decided the unpaid premium period should be covered by the Category III plan.

However, the measure came under a barrage of criticism because it was considered unfair for them to receive the same pension as those who had paid premiums after switching to the national pension plan. Naturally, the measure was withdrawn.

The ministry then came up with a new plan in which the periods the 420,000 housewives did not pay premiums would qualify for pensions, but payments would be reduced.

If the women wanted to receive full pensions, they would be permitted to pay premiums covering the previous 10 years retroactively.

Elderly pensioners who had been paid an amount exceeding what was due would be asked to return the difference paid over the previous five years.

However, those whose income was below a certain level would be exempted from this requirement.


Balance relief, fairness

We assume the ministry took extra care in working out these measures to ensure a balance between relief and fairness.

However, asking people to return a portion of their pensions seems rather harsh.

The ministry says it will exempt nearly 90 percent of elderly pension recipients affected from having to make reimbursements.

The ministry must give due consideration to the livelihood of senior citizens when it carries out the measures.

The welfare ministry plans to expedite a review of the current pension system as an integral part of social security and tax system reforms.

It should also study measures to improve the complex pension system for full-time housewives.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 18, 2011)
(2011年5月18日01時09分  読売新聞)

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2011年5月18日 (水)



--The Asahi Shimbun, May 15
EDITORIAL: Partisan bickering is wasting time in helping disaster victims

The Kan Cabinet submitted to the Diet the basic reconstruction bill that stipulates the guiding philosophy and the framework of undertaking the country's reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

It has been two months since the huge quake and tsunami. Compared with the response after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, the submission of the basic bill is one month late. As a result, the creation of a recovery framework will also lag. The political response is sluggish and frustrating.

The bill was delayed because although the government's basic bill seeks to create a reconstruction headquarters that includes all Cabinet members, Shizuka Kamei, chief of the People's New Party, had proposed a "reconstruction implementation headquarters" that includes cross-party heavyweights, and suggested the idea to opposition parties.

In the end, the opposition parties refused to come on board, so the government went back to the original plan to set up a recovery headquarters under the Cabinet.

Under Kamei's plan, decisions would have been made by party leaders for the Cabinet to follow. This would have obfuscated the responsibilities of the prime minister and the Cabinet ministers. It must be said that this was an unrealistic idea to begin with. Prime Minister Naoto Kan should not have listened to Kamei in the first place.

There was so much fuss because, despite experiencing the quake, the opposition and ruling parties cannot find it in themselves to cooperate fully. Both the opposition and the government are responsible for wasting precious time.

Deliberations on the bill must be the restart of the undertaking of Japan's recovery. Surely the parties do not reject the need for such a law or the need for an organization that oversees the reconstruction efforts.

The bill should be passed as soon as possible with all the parties adding the necessary revisions.

One of the points of contention was over the nature of the new organization. Would the headquarters be based on a kind of collegial system with Cabinet members? Or would it be a sort of reconstruction agency that stands on par with the other ministries and agencies?
Will the organization propose basic policies and coordinate among the various ministries? Or is it going to implement individual projects as well?

However, are these differences that serious?

People in Kasumigaseki, the Tokyo area where the main government offices are located, often say that attempts to create a trans-ministerial body to remove bureaucratic sectionalism only result in creating other bureaucratic factions within the new organization.

No matter what kind of structure you create, that in itself will not remove all the bureaucratic segmentation.

Surely, the key is whether each and every person involved in the reconstruction efforts can empathize with the victims and think, "This is no time to be thinking of ministerial turf and interests."

To be able to do that, it is vital for the government to have "sensibilities in tune with people in the disaster area."

The basic bill stipulates that there will be local headquarters under the central headquarters.

It will be necessary for the central government to drastically empower the local headquarters with the authority to make quick decisions after it collaborates with local governments.

The vice minister who will head the local headquarters, as well as parliamentary secretaries and other staff members, should not be rotated for some time and stay put in the affected areas.

A new special committee on recovery and nuclear power plant issues will be set up in the Lower House.

Here too, the committee members will be tested on whether they have "sensibilities in tune with people suffering in the disaster area."

It might be a good idea for the committee members to spend some time in the affected areas, and even hold committee meetings there.

Once they experience firsthand what the victims are really feeling and thinking, then surely there will be no time for any more partisan bickering.

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2011年5月17日 (火)

社説:視点・震災後 少数派にこそ耳傾けよ

(Mainichi Japan) May 16, 2011
Nuclear power plant disaster highlights importance of diverse safety measures
社説:視点・震災後 少数派にこそ耳傾けよ

After the crisis emerged at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, I heard experts lamenting that Japan had multiple safety measures in place but lacked an important factor: diversity.

Take, for example, the power generators at the plant. Altogether there were 13 diesel-powered generators designed to start up in the event of a power cut. Even if some failed, there would be spares.

But almost all of these generators were set up in the same way, below ground level, and when a giant tsunami struck the plant on March 11, 12 of them were rendered useless.

If the plant had adopted a diverse safety plan and placed some of the generators on higher ground, the situation may have been different.

Of course it may not have been the perfect solution, but it seems like the obvious thing to do.

Researchers have in the past warned of the possibility of multiple facilities being crippled by a single cause -- such dangers were pointed out in a lawsuit aiming to halt operations at the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant.

But why didn't officials count this as a real risk at Fukushima?

One possible underlying cause is that the group promoting nuclear power plants in Japan lacks diversity itself, and is exclusive.

In Japan, nuclear power plants have been promoted by a group comprising the government, electric power companies, manufacturers and universities.

It is a body propped up by the official stance that Japan's nuclear power plants will not succumb to a major disaster.

In the past, when the minority warned of the dangers, this body branded them "anti-nuclear" and dismissed their opinions as "extreme arguments."

But the safety of nuclear power plants is a scientific issue dealing with risks, not a matter of ideology.  原発の安全性はリスクを扱う科学の問題であり、イデオロギーの問題ではない。

Scientifically, "absolute safety" is not possible.

However, with the forming of groups of nuclear "proponents" and "opponents," the voices of those who do not belong to either side have faded, and scientific debate has been shelved.

One could argue that this is the reason rational safety measures have been ignored.

Japan needs to drastically review its nuclear power policies and incorporate diverse opinions when judging the level of danger of its nuclear power plants.

When doing so, it should review the Japanese-style decision-making process which tends to rule out minority opinions and is easily swayed by the mainstream.

When advisory panels are formed in the United States, the selection of members and methods of operation are said to be strictly regulated, and there seems to be a custom of including the views of minorities in reports.

In Britain, there is also a system under which the government creates policies then solicits the opinions of all the parties involved and carefully considers them before a final decision is made.

Japan needs to take such approaches into consideration and change its mechanism of securing safety and forming policy.

One approach would be to have decisions verified internationally.

To avoid another accident like the one at Fukushima, we must pay attention to the threat of a single factor causing multiple failures within an organization.

(By Yuri Aono, Editorial Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年5月16日 2時30分

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2011年5月16日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:違ってあたり前 /東京

(Mainichi Japan) May 15, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: It's natural to react differently to disaster
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:違ってあたり前 /東京

A growing number of patients have been coming to my consultation room after the Great East Japan Earthquake saying, "Family bonds are turning sour."

"Isn't it the other way around? Aren't family ties getting closer?" other people wonder. But that's not necessarily the case.
「逆じゃないの? 家族の絆が強まったのでは?」と思う人もいるはずだが、そうとは限らない。

Why? The biggest reason seems to be the way families are reacting differently to the earthquake and ensuing tsunami and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

One woman came up to me, saying, "I cannot tolerate my 'difference in the way of thinking' with my husband." ある女性は「夫との“温度差”に耐えられない」と言っていた。

She was deeply shocked by the disaster and considered sending relief supplies and monetary donations and going to disaster-hit areas to do volunteer work.

But her husband gave her a frosty look and said, "You will be of no use at all even if you go there. If you have such energy, why don't you brush up on your cooking skills?"

"It's natural that I feel I want to do something for devastated areas. I question my husband's humanity. I want to divorce him," she angrily said.

Of course, she felt hurt when her offer of goodwill was rebuked by her husband in such a rude manner. But I am not sure what her husband said reflects his real thoughts.

Her husband may also be in pain over the disaster and really feels miserable about his helplessness to do something about it, and that may be why he responded cynically to her remarks.

I counseled her, "Nobody can keep calm right now. Please don't try to judge his human qualities by his remarks."

Then there is another case where a woman, trying to lead "a business as usual life as much as possible," is fed up with her mother who is nervous about fears of radioactive materials, and a family feud ensues.

"The family relationship is getting strained. It's a victim of the nuclear accident," the woman said with a wry smile.

Most people are thinking, "We want to do something for the victims of the disaster." But at the same time, they also believe, "We have to protect ourselves first, too."

But it is up to each individual as to how they think and act.

Even family members behave differently.

Under these circumstances, a difference in individual sense of values comes to the fore, prompting some people to say they are disappointed or want a divorce. I think it's a little bit sad.

It is only natural that people are reacting differently to a disaster of this magnitude.

Everyone should think, "Hmmm, people are different." I don't want you to brand people around you with words like "my husband is a cold-hearted man," or "my mother is self-centered." Don't overly criticize them or try to correct their way of thinking.

There is no need to forcibly unify people's attitudes and the way of thinking of family members.

Disaster-induced divorces are not a laughing matter.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2011年5月10日 地方版

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2011年5月15日 (日)


アルミ箔[ホイル]  aluminum foil
金箔gold foil [leaf] (leafは普通 foilより薄い)
銀箔silver foil [leaf] (leafは普通 foilより薄い)
銅箔copper foil

(Mainichi Japan) May 14, 2011
Top-quality electrical power a source of Japan's problems and its international edge

In a previous article, I talked about foreign investors preying on Japanese materials and parts manufacturers comprising the strength of the Japanese economy. Here, I'd like to focus on just one of those being preyed upon, the Japanese copper foil manufacturing industry.

One should not be dismissive of mere thin copper sheets.

Ultra-thin copper foil is indispensible in producing cutting-edge electronic devices like smartphones, and Japan has 100 percent of the world's share.

The supply has diminished due to the damage caused by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, and as a result, smartphone factories around the world came to a halt.

From what I've heard, copper foil of the extreme thinness and consistent quality of that produced in Japan cannot be manufactured anywhere else in the world.

The reason is ironic: the production of high-quality copper foil requires high quality electricity, or in other words, an uninterrupted supply of electricity with consistent frequency and voltage.
As it turns out, Japan is the only country where such a supply is available.

This means that we could say, albeit with some exaggeration, that the production of top-quality copper foil is made possible by the troubled Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

According to the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) website, Japan experienced 16 minutes of power failures in the 2007 fiscal year, while the figure was 37 minutes in Germany, 57 minutes in France, and 162 minutes in California in 2006, 2004 and 2006, respectively.

Although New York only had 12 minutes of power outages in 2006, the numbers show that Japan overall does a good job of supplying power to consumers.

In the past, I've criticized the quality of Japanese electricity as being unnecessarily high, making power costs much higher in Japan than in other industrialized nations.

It turns out, though, that it is this very electricity that has given Japan a competitive edge in the international market -- probably not just in copper foil, either. This poses a conundrum, however.

As a result of the ongoing crisis at Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, TEPCO faces massive compensation claims, and there has even emerged the possibility that the company will declare bankruptcy to secure the funds to pay for damages.

Furthermore, a debate on the liberalization of the electric power market -- a vision once promoted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) that ended in failure, which would overturn the current system in which Japan's 10 electric power companies conduct both power generation and transmission -- has been reignited.

The power companies have heretofore argued that they are able to conduct operations responsibly and provide consumers with high-quality electricity with few supply interruptions precisely because they carry out both generation and distribution.

The problem here is the quality of electrical power.

I'd been under the impression that having power quality comparable to that of other industrialized nations would be sufficient. But I imagine the copper foil industry would have none of that.

It's not that I'm completely throwing my weight behind the copper-foil industry and calling for a stop to all debate on possible electricity-market liberalization, convinced of the need for Japan to have the world's highest-quality electricity. It appears, though, that what's behind Japan's status as the world's best copper-foil manufacturer is symbolic of the depth of the problem we currently have on our hands.

(By Michio Ushioda, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年5月11日 東京朝刊

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2011年5月14日 (土)


下記はカフェ友いわおさんの投稿 「給食に汚染疑いのある食材を!」 ですが、拡散希望ということなのでご協力させていただきます。(スラチャイ)


いわおさんのオリジナル投稿 「給食に汚染疑いのある食材を!」


給食に汚染疑いのある食材を! (2011 05/13 13:19)






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ラチャワディーリゾートホテルの無料wireless network connectionを使っています。

(Mainichi Japan) May 13, 2011
Are disasters in low-profile Japan a harbinger of modern civilization's darkness?

It was shortly after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 25 years ago that I arrived in France as the Mainichi's Paris correspondent.

Located downwind from the stricken Soviet nuclear power plant, Europe was enveloped in fear, and France was no exception.

News programs warned consumers to protect themselves from rain and avoid giving milk to young children.

While Europeans were terrified of radiation, they appeared largely uninterested in the accident itself.

This was probably due to the line of thinking that the accident was possible only in a "rigid, Communist regime" like the Soviet Union.

It was obvious to everyone that Soviet society and economy had stagnated, and the Chernobyl accident was seen -- to some extent -- as having its roots in Communism's shortcomings.

The nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, on the other hand, has had a much greater emotional impact on the rest of the world than Chernobyl did years ago. That the latest accident has taken place in Japan -- known around the world for the quality, safety and reliability of its facilities and products -- has made people elsewhere feel that such a disaster could happen right in their backyard.

By proving that nuclear disasters are a universal phenomenon, the Fukushima accident has given us a peek at the deep abyss that exists in modern civilization.

Another occasion in which Japan captured the attention of the world was the cult AUM Shinrikyo's 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system.

After the attacks, the world came to know that in prosperous, industrialized Japan, there were financially-comfortable and well-educated young men and women who devoted both mind and body to a single leader, developing sarin nerve gas and anthrax and faithfully obeying orders no matter how antisocial their actions.

U.S. authorities expressed a strong interest in the attacks at the time, even sending an anti-terrorism team to Japan to conduct their own investigation. The incident was a case of asymmetric conflict -- in which two parties whose resources and strengths differ significantly fight each other, in this case a state and a religious cult -- that predated the asymmetric war that followed the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.

Japan, unlike the U.S., is not at the forefront of modern civilization, nor does it, like France, pride itself on having a global mission.

But this low-profile country, albeit infrequently, experiences incidents and phenomena that seem to foreshadow the deep darkness of modern civilization.

Why is this the case? Is it that our blind devotion to efficiency has driven something essential to our lives to the sidelines?

Or is it because the quality, safety and reliability that we pride ourselves on exist merely on a superficial level?

Furthermore, the subway attacks and the ongoing crisis in Fukushima both took place soon after major earthquakes. (While the AUM Shinrikyo cult did not have a direct connection to the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, captured members have said that the cult tried to capitalize on the instability of Japanese society following the temblor.)

Since March 11, I can't help but keep asking myself, over and over again: "Why Japan?" 3・11以降、「なぜ日本が」という問いが私の中で続いている。

(By Megumi Nishikawa, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年5月13日 東京朝刊

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2011年5月13日 (金)


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 11
EDITORIAL: TEPCO compensation talks should include industry reforms

Debate within the government over measures to compensate for damage caused by the accident at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has entered the final phase. But we find the reported contents hard to understand in many ways.

At a time when the entire picture of damage remains unclear, the government is only focusing on how to adjust the interests of concerned parties such as whether to set a cap on the burden borne by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant.

While the government is demanding TEPCO implement strict restructuring measures, it appears the discussion is based on the major premise that it would continue to operate as a listed company.

We repeat that the most important thing the government must hasten to do in studying compensation measures is to ensure that payments are promptly and adequately made to sufferers, and power supply to areas covered by TEPCO is not disrupted.

The purpose is not to "protect" TEPCO. Compensation payments and and power supply can be realized even if the company cannot maintain its current form.

If the government clarifies its engagement "to require TEPCO to firmly make payments," there is much room to come up with ideas.

To begin with, the TEPCO problem is inseparable with Japan's electricity and energy policy. It should be debated within a much larger picture.

Is it right to sit back and do nothing to change the electric power industry, which has maintained strong ties with politics and the administration while being protected by regional monopolies?

Will Japan continue nuclear power generation in the future?

If so, should it leave individual power companies to continue to operate nuclear power plants as they have been doing up to now?

Or should they be separated?

Is it not possible to use funds invested in the nuclear fuel cycle project to reuse used nuclear fuel?

By sorting out these points and coming up with a direction, we should be able to determine TEPCO's ability to shoulder the burden in concrete terms.

How much can it afford to pay with proceeds from its business and sales of its assets?

A decision must be made based on concrete grounds.

In the process, naturally, the responsibility of shareholders will also be questioned.

Financial institutions will also be required to "shoulder a burden" in some form for their financial claims in general against TEPCO, excluding emergency loans after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Still, if payments cannot be met in the end, the public may be required to pick up the tab through an increase in electricity charges.

Also for that matter, a careful procedure is needed.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan gave a news conference May 10 to announce plans to put the government's basic energy policy back on the drawing board and emphasize the development of natural energy sources.

The way electric power supply is left to 10 companies should also be re-examined in the course of discussion.

Repeated attempts to reform the electric power supply system have failed.

The unprecedented crisis this time is a chance to implement drastic reforms.

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2011年5月12日 (木)


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 10
EDITORIAL: Tsunami not the only safety concern for Hamaoka plant

Chubu Electric Power Co. decided on May 9 to halt, for the time being, operations of all reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear power plant, which is located right above what seismologists say will be the focus of an expected Tokai earthquake.

The company made the decision in an emergency board meeting in response to Prime Minister Naoto Kan's unusual request for the action.

The March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake has triggered a disastrous accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., shattering the myth of the safety of nuclear power generation.

There is clearly a compelling case for shutting down the nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, which is considered the most dangerous in Japan, and taking fresh measures to bolster the safety of the plant.

One troubling element in the move is that the suspension of reactor operations requested by Kan is limited to the period until medium- to long-term safety measures, like the construction of levees, have been implemented at the plant.

This raises the question of whether the plant is strong enough to withstand the violent shaking of the ground caused by powerful seismic waves in the first place.

The medium- to long-term safety measures have been called for by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in light of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. They are aimed at enhancing defenses against massive tsunami and potential losses of power sources.

Besides building levees, Chubu Electric says that it will also install watertight doors, a backup reactor cooling system and additional power sources for emergencies.

But the blueprint doesn't contain measures for checking and enhancing the safety of the plant against quakes themselves.

The principal concern about the Hamaoka plant has been whether it can withstand the force of the expected Tokai earthquake, a mega-quake that occurs at the boundaries of tectonic plates.

In response to the concern, Chubu Electric announced in 2005 plans to strengthen the quake resistance of the plant. Other electric power companies have followed suit.

But NISA's assessment of the quake resistance of the Hamaoka plant based on the new quake safety standards adopted in 2006 is not yet over.

The assessment has been delayed by the safety implications of some recent seismic events, including the 2007 Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake, which shook the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture with a far stronger intensity than TEPCO had expected.

It is also necessary to glean lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Regarding the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, attention has been focused on the height of the tsunami that struck the facilities.

But it is possible that the piping of the reactors might have been seriously damaged by the intense shaking before the tsunami hit.

The March 11 earthquake was marked not just by its strong peak ground acceleration but also by the unusual length of the shaking.

What is crucial in taking safety precautions is not to focus too much on a single aspect.

The Fukushima No. 1 plant suffered unexpectedly serious damage from a tsunami, a factor that had not been given much attention in preparations for a natural disaster.

But it would be foolish to go to the opposite extreme and concentrate only on the danger of tsunami in taking precautionary measures to make the Hamaoka plant safer.

Let us not forget the destructive force of the shaking of a mammoth quake.

New important discoveries have been made almost annually about the mechanisms and risks of earthquakes that occur in areas surrounding the Japanese archipelago.

Such new knowledge should be used for the sake of making more informed decisions on whether to keep or stop operating specific reactors.

A greater dose of flexibility is needed for the government's nuclear power policy.

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2011年5月11日 (水)

ソニー情報流出 リスク管理を立て直せ


(Mainichi Japan) May 10, 2011
Sony's massive leak of personal info another blow to Japan
社説:ソニー情報流出 リスク管理を立て直せ

Personal information on a total of 100 million people has possibly been hacked and leaked from online game and other Internet services provided by the Sony Group worldwide, sparking fears that it could develop into the worst information leakage case ever.

Sony has been under fire for being slow to announce the incident. It is essential for the electronics and entertainment giant to clarify the whole picture of the damage as quickly as possible and gather itself together to follow up the case in order to recover consumers' confidence.

According to the revelation, personal information including the names, IDs and passwords of about 77 million people in some 60 countries -- mainly in North America -- was hacked and leaked from Sony's Internet services that provide game software for PlayStation 3 and other game consoles and distribute movies and music for TV viewers.

Furthermore, private information on some 24.6 million people may have also been illegally accessed through the website of Sony's U.S. subsidiary, which runs online game services. It is feared that information on a total of 12.3 million credit cards has also been leaked.

The game of cat and mouse played between hackers and Internet companies is not something new, and companies need to keep in mind that their security walls could be breached by hackers at anytime.

It is imperative for Internet companies, which amass a massive amount of personal data, to be prepared against hacking.

Sony, however, had not even encoded personal information sufficiently, and its information control system should be reviewed as swiftly as possible.

Sony's response to the information leakage crisis is also questionable.

It took the company a whole week to announce the leakage since illegal access was uncovered. The company needs to expend all possible means to ensure no secondary damage such as the abuse of leaked personal information takes place.

What's more, Sony reportedly declined to attend a hearing as requested by U.S. Congress on the grounds that the case is still under investigation.

It reminds us of the Toyota recall scandal last year, where Toyota Motor Corp. drew fire for its delayed report on glitches to U.S. authorities.

The incident also comes just as Japan's response to the quake- and tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is being scrutinized by the global community in an increasingly severe manner.

Sony is urged to deal with the information leaks in an appropriate manner so that the case would not further undermine confidence in Japan.

In the meantime, the latest case once again calls our attention to the inherent danger of the Internet.

Commercial use of the Internet has become a worldwide norm, to the point where it cannot be handled within the framework of the current Internet system.

For example, IP addresses -- allocated to each personal computer and mobile phone hooked up to the Internet -- are running out, making additional IP addresses unavailable.

Shifting Internet access into a next-generation framework is being considered.

It envisages a drastic increase in the number of IP addresses and dramatically enhanced security.

We need to step up our efforts to bring about the transfer as soon as possible, on top of security efforts by each company, in order to protect Internet users.

毎日新聞 2011年5月9日 2時31分

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2011年5月10日 (火)

旅の終りに (夜行列車でバンコクへ)














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Complaints over KFC's 'unfair practices'


Employees of the KFC fast-food restaurants filed a compliant with the Labour Relations Committee yesterday about alleged unfair employment practices and job termination, revealing that they were given instant noodles and leftovers to eat while the firm earned Bt6 billion a year.

Meanwhile, Yum Restaurants International (Thailand), which runs the KFC and Pizza Hut chain, issued a statement saying that senior executives had directly addressed the issue under the company's "pro-employee" agenda.

And, Milind Pant, managing director of the company, said yesterday in response to the complaint that it treated all the employees fairly, complying with Thai laws.

Former KFC employees Krit Suang-aranan, Siwaporn Somjit and Apantri Charoensak showed up at the committee's offices yesterday to complain that they were let go of unfairly because they had gathered 260 signatures to propose a 10-point demand including a salary rise, a bonus, additional benefits and one free meal a day. The three were accompanied by the vice president of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC), Chaiyasit Suksomboon.

The complainants, who previously supervised 33 KFC branches with 900 workers in Bangkok, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani, claimed that employees were given an unfair wage of merely Bt27 per hour or Bt5,200 a month.

However, Milind said the company had increased the wages for all part-time employees by 10 per cent since April 4 due to high inflation. So, a part-time employee who worked more than 20 days per month was paid Bt6,500 monthly. Earlier, it announced that it would give 10 per cent incentives to employees based on their store performance late last year.

"We insist that we pay them equal or more than other companies," he added.

For full-time employees, the company had announced it would give them a five per cent salary hike early this year and another four per cent salary hike in June, he said.

"These workers live on instant noodles and leftover fried chicken. Some finish work as late as 1am, and they are not even given any transport allowance," Siwaporn said, adding that this was despite the fact that the company earned between Bt5 billion and Bt6 billion a year.

She added that her group had been forced to resign for allegedly inciting the workers and the company had also posted negative comments about them on its website.

On the other hand, Apantri said the company's lawyers had spoken to them on May 3 and announced unofficially that the company would raise salaries by 4 per cent from June 4, as well as establish a social-security fund for workers from next January.

Chaiyasit, meanwhile, said the company was clearly treating employees unfairly and that the committee would discuss measures such as campaigning for a boycott of KFC food products. They will also file a complaint with the International Labour Organisation, the National Human Rights Commission, the prime minister as well as the Labour Court, he said.

Milind responded that his company had terminated those three former area managers because they violated its code of conduct. They had used the emails of the company to spread false information to other employees in lower positions, such as restaurant managers in a bid to get their support.

He said they claimed they were members of the company's welfare committee even though they were not, and that they persuaded others to support their actions. Being in higher positions and claiming they represented the welfare committee, other lower position employees trusted them.

"Each of the employees is valued. We care for everyone. I don't know who is misguiding them (the three terminated employees)," Milind said.

In a statement, Yum Thailand said that the company had a family of 10,000 workers in 325 restaurants in 72 provinces and that it valued a "pro-employee" environment where employees and the company had a direct relationship.

The statement said that Yum always sought feedback so it could improve its "pro-employee" policies and that it had recently enhanced both short- and long-term benefits for all full-time employees. It added that Yum was committed to complying with the law.

The statement said the management had received a request from some employees who constituted a very small part of the 10,000-strong family, and that senior management had met with the group personally as per the principles of the company's "pro-employee" agenda.

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(Mainichi Japan) May 9, 2011
Material, parts manufacturers join hands after disaster to stave off foreign competition

Many manufacturers of materials and parts, which are indispensable to produce sophisticated electronics products, sustained serious damage in the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami, causing assembly lines at factories not only in Japan but also all over the world to grind to a halt.

Many Japanese materials and parts suppliers have more than a 50 percent share of the global market and without their products, neither smartphones nor automobiles can be manufactured.

The Japanese manufacturing sector's advantage lies in the quality of its materials and the fact that they are parts manufacturers rather than makers of completed products.

In other words, they are treasures of the Japanese economy.

However, their foreign competitors have gone on the offensive as supply from Japanese firms stopped following the disaster.

The South Korean government has proposed that Japanese materials and parts manufacturers should shift part of their factories to the country to disperse their risks.

Some people have reportedly agreed to the idea while many others question the wisdom of complying with the proposal.

South Korea has some giant manufacturers of completed products, such as Samsung Electronics, but many of them rely heavily on Japan for materials and parts for their products, resulting in a huge trade deficit with Japan.

To help reduce the deficit, South Korea has worked out comprehensive measures to increase the competitiveness of its domestic materials and parts manufacturers. Specifically, it has worked out a plan for manufacturers of 10 types of vital materials it has selected to overtake their Japanese rivals by 2018.

So far, it does not appear that overseas companies have replaced Japanese companies as major suppliers of materials and parts, but no one can predict what will happen to Japanese companies' dominance if the suspension of their manufacturing and supply is prolonged.

Japanese firms have formed an alliance in a bid to prevent their key technologies from leaking out of the country amid such concerns.

Under the alliance, any company that cannot produce materials and parts or supply them to its contractors because it sustained massive damage from the quake and tsunami will provide top secret information on its technology to another firm and commissions the rival firm to produce the materials and parts concerned.  ユニークなのは、被災で顧客企業に納品できなくなった日本企業が別の日本企業に、製品のマル秘の製造情報を含め一時的に渡して委託生産してもらう。

However, once the contract expires, the rival company returns the technology and information to the contractor.

If a Japanese company made such a contract with an overseas firm, its technology would flow abroad and it would lose its customers to the overseas firm.

However, the alliance between Japanese firms is mediated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), so there is no fear that their technology will flow out to its rivals.

If any company breaks the rules, it would be expelled from the domestic industry.
Such an arrangement can be made only in Japan.

It would be too risky to leave the situation to the market in an emergency situation like the recent disaster.

The government should play a leading role in responding to the crisis, by taking bold policy measures to respond to the situation.

The measure to prevent materials and parts manufacturer' technology from flowing out of the country should be hailed as an excellent job by METI, which has recently developed a bad reputation.

The disaster has apparently not adversely affected Japanese materials and parts manufacturers' market share, but no optimism is permitted as it is expected to take several months before their disaster-hit factories are completely restored.

In particular, they should be wary of takeover bids by foreign investors.

Since the government pursues what it calls the "Heisei-era opening of Japan to foreign countries," it cannot ignore the market mechanism, but should distinguish between fair takeover bids and unfair takeover attempts.

(By Michio Ushioda, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年5月4日 東京朝刊

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2011年5月 9日 (月)















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(Mainichi Japan) May 8, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The importance of telling our citizens the truth
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:真実を伝える大切さ /東京

There's something that struck me during a television debate program I was recently on.

A researcher who had spent many years studying nuclear power said, "The fact is no one really knows what's going on inside the Fukushima nuclear reactors."

According to that researcher, it's possible that a great deal of the nuclear fuel in the reactors has already melted, which would mean the situation is even more serious than what the Tokyo Electric Power Co. has reported.

In response to that researcher's comments, a politician speaking for the government said, "I wish you wouldn't say things on television that could make people needlessly worried." Indeed, I think we should avoid doing things that make people watching television feel needlessly anxious or afraid.

However, was the worry the politician referred to really "needless"? Among our worries, are there not sometimes ones that we cannot avoid confronting, or that are even necessary to our lives?

In the medical world, for a long time the basic principle was to place priority on making the patient feel at ease, even if it required the occasional lie.

Even now, you can sometimes see scenes on television dramas where a doctor might lie to a patient with terminal cancer, telling them that their tumor is benign and they'll get better soon.

Softening the blow by bending the truth used to be thought of as kindness in the medical profession.

However, these days doctors hardly ever glaze over the truth.

It is standard practice to tell the patient the unvarnished truth as much as possible, including telling them the worst-case scenarios.

The line of thought in the medical world has become that even if the truth makes the patient uneasy or upset, if that truth is not faced head on, patient and doctor will not be able to proceed to the next step of treatment.

That line of thought seems to me to apply to the issues surrounding the earthquake and nuclear disaster as well.  震災や原発事故をめぐる問題も、基本的には同じなのではないだろうか。

Saying things like, "It's OK," or "Things will be under control soon," or "It won't be long before a recovery" may offer temporary consolation, but they do not ring true and will not truly make people feel at ease.

Instead, even if it makes people temporarily anxious, telling us honestly what is known and what is not, what can be done soon and what will take time, would, I think, better allow us to make our own decisions about how to act next.

Some politicians worry that telling people the complete truth will send them from uneasiness into panic, but people living in today's world are not so simple-minded.

When I tell people in my consultation room, "You have schizophrenia, and it will require long-term care," almost everyone is initially taken aback, but it's not long before they accept what they have been told and get ready to take their first steps to recovery in their own way.

A policy of concealing the truth to keep others from worrying is behind the times.

I believe that is true both for medicine and for politics.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2011年5月3日 地方版

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2011年5月 8日 (日)

浜岡停止要請 首相の決断を評価する


(Mainichi Japan) May 7, 2011
Right choice to close Hamaoka nuke plant, but other reactors also a concern
社説:浜岡停止要請 首相の決断を評価する

As the Fukushima nuclear crisis rages on, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has demanded that Chubu Electric Power Co. shut down all reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear plant, fearing the facility near an earthquake danger zone is another nuclear disaster waiting to happen.

The Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka Prefecture sits on the edge an area where experts expect the next great Tokai earthquake to have its epicenter sometime in the relatively near future -- a vital piece of seismological information unknown at the time the plant was built. If the builders had known, they would have avoided the area. We in the press have certainly pointed out the risks.

Are earthquakes and tsunami really so powerful? Are the effects of a nuclear disaster really so grave? The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 gave us a clear answer to these questions.

If by any chance another terrible accident strikes, just as the prime minister stated, the consequences for all of Japan would be grave indeed.

Since the March 11 disaster, Chubu Electric has set about a number of tsunami safety projects including the construction of breakwaters.

However, it is impossible to guarantee that a Tokai quake won't hit before these projects are finished.

Major temblors are also possible in broad expanses of the seas off the east coast of Japan.

As such, Kan's request that the Hamaoka reactors be shuttered before the mid- to long-term disaster safety projects have been completed is absolutely the correct decision, and we praise him for it.

Furthermore, Chubu Electric has no choice but to comply.

One point that needs to be mentioned, however, is that even if the reactors are shut down, guaranteeing the safety and security of the plant's nuclear fuel must be an ongoing enterprise. Looking at the Fukushima nuclear crisis, it becomes obvious that continued cooling of spent fuel rods is of utmost importance.


In his stated reasons for demanding the Hamaoka plant be shut, Kan cited the prediction by the government's Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion that there was an 87 percent chance of a magnitude 8 earthquake striking the Tokai region in the next 30 years.

On the other hand, the government body's predictions are not 100-percent guaranteed to come true. In fact, nothing like the magnitude 9 quake that hit northeast Japan in March was ever even considered by the headquarters.

No guarantee can be made to areas with low chances of a quake that no seismic disaster lays in their future.

In fact, the Great East Japan Earthquake may have stimulated seismic activity all over the country, in places both high and low risk.

With this in mind, we call on the government not to overlook Japan's other nuclear power plants.

We remain concerned that emergency response measures, to continuously keep nuclear fuel cool and reactors stable in the event of a disaster, are not sufficient.

Furthermore, with attention now so focused on tsunami safety projects, neglect of measures to deal with the vibrations from an earthquake cannot be allowed.

There are probably many people worried about what effect closing the Hamaoka plant will have on the country's power supply, and the government must prevent any confusion on this point.

毎日新聞 2011年5月7日 東京朝刊

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2011年5月 7日 (土)


(cite from Mainichi Shinbun)

(Mainichi Japan) May 6, 2011
Disastrous pattern of academic-gov't collusion must not be allowed to continue


I am struck with a sense of deja vu as the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant continues.

National policy founded on a thirst for economic growth that has put the interests of industry first, and actions taken by politicians who have only lent their ears to experts whose views support their goals, has caused much irreparable damage over the years.

If this destructive chain of action is not stopped, we are bound to face further tragedy.

A group of 16 pro-nuclear scientists led by a former president of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ) and former members of the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) of Japan held a press conference on April 1.

In it, they said that the amount of radioactive material stored in the reactors at the Fukushima plant far exceeds that which was stored at Chernobyl, and that even if we are to avoid immediate dangers, the Fukushima plant would require close monitoring for many years to come.

These remarks, which were coming not from anti-nuclear activists but from pro-nuclear experts, were evidence that nuclear energy proponents were finally acknowledging the seriousness of the current situation.


It was 14 years ago that Kobe University professor emeritus and seismologist Katsuhiko Ishibashi wrote a paper warning of the possibility of a nuclear accident, like the current one, triggered by a massive quake or tsunami.

In the May issue of the monthly magazine Sekai, Ishibashi mentions how NSC Chair Haruki Madarame and Toshisho Kosako -- a radiation expert and professor at the University of Tokyo who resigned from his post as a senior nuclear advisor to the government on April 30 over the government's handling of the crisis -- reacted to his paper at the time.

According to Ishibashi, Madarame disputed the various concerns that were raised, and characterized Ishibashi as a nuclear layperson, saying, "We've never heard of Ishibashi at the AESJ."

Kosako also lambasted Ishibashi's claims, saying, "There is absolutely no possibility of massive amounts of radiation being released... When publishing papers, it is common for academics to be cautious about covering subjects on which they lack expertise.

In his paper, Ishibashi makes unfounded statements about a topic outside his specialty."

There are countless examples of seals of approval given to scientists' views that support the implementation of government policy, while those challenging the government are dismissed and silenced.

Take the case of Minamata disease. In 1956, a research team at Kumamoto University determined that the disease afflicting local residents was caused by ingesting heavy metals that had accumulated in seafood from Minamata Bay.
Three years later, a research team at the then Ministry of Welfare compiled a report concluding that the disease was caused by eating seafood tainted with methylmercury.

The government, however, citing scientists who offered various theories on the cause of the disease, including spoiled fish, refused to acknowledge that environmental pollution was the culprit.

This allowed chemical company Chisso Corp.'s acetaldehyde factory to continue releasing toxic effluvia into local waters, while Minamata Bay area residents continued to eat poisoned fish, giving rise to an explosion of Minamata Disease patients.

In 1965, a similar factory operated by Showa Denko Corp. in Niigata Prefecture caused a "second Minamata Disease crisis."

The government officially admitted in September 1968 that the disease was caused by methylmercury, but by then factories similar to the ones in Kumamoto and Niigata were already obsolete and out of operation. In other words, Minamata disease was recognized as the cause of the tragedy only after industry no longer had any use for the factories emitting the toxins.

The time when asbestos contamination was making headlines all over the country fits the same pattern.
The Environment Ministry appointed an academic to chair an asbestos health hazard committee -- an academic found later to have served as an advisor to the Japan Asbestos Association for 13 years, during which time he'd questioned restrictions on asbestos use in a promotional video.
He subsequently stepped down from the committee post.

It was also not too far in the past that major public works projects such as the construction of a small dam at the mouth of the Nagara River and the Isahaya Bay reclamation project were promoted by the government citing backing of experts who claimed the environmental impacts of such projects would be "minimal," only to see major destruction being wreaked on the ecosystem.

The crisis we currently face with the Fukushima power plant is the direct result of the collusive relationship between industry, government and academia.


Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a science journalist and former nuclear engineer, points out in Sekai that based on data of the Fukushima plant's water levels and pressure, it is possible the No. 1 reactor lost its coolant due to quake damage to pipes in the pressure vessel.

Tanaka also speculates that the reason for the explosion at the No. 2 reactor after hydrogen accumulated near the pressure suppression pool at the bottom of the reactor building -- despite the gas being lighter than oxygen -- is that hydrogen leaked into the pool through pressure-suppression pipes, and was released through cracks in the pool caused by the quake, eventually reacting with surrounding oxygen.

In other words, Tanaka believes the nuclear reactor had suffered major damage even before the tsunami hit.

While nothing has been done to verify or dispel such possibilities, there already have been murmurs within the industrial community that Japanese nuclear power plants will be safe as long as anti-tsunami measures are implemented.

Are we going to maintain our dependence on nuclear energy?

Are we going to stop the nuclear reactors beginning with the riskiest ones, or get rid of them all at once?

It is time for every Japanese citizen to ask themselves these questions and take action.

By now, we know all too well how dangerous it is to leave these questions to government.

(By Kensei Fukuoka, Kyushu News Department)
毎日新聞 2011年5月3日 東京朝刊

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2011年5月 6日 (金)



(Mainichi Japan) May 5, 2011
Gov't intervention necessary if Hamaoka nuke plant can't make decision to shut down

"The Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant should be stopped," said a participant in a meeting on the state of the economy, where Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Cabinet members were among those present.

Banri Kaieda, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) that oversees the power industry, refrained from making a rebuttal.

Taken aback by the sudden introduction of the issue, others at the meeting maintained their silence.

While debate was avoided, the fact that a government official called for the shutdown of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant sent shockwaves through the various ministries and the power industry.

While it may appear as though the government is not considering the possibility of closing down any nuclear power plant besides the one in Fukushima, that is not the case.

Behind the scenes, there have been sporadic discussions along the following lines:

"The Hamaoka plant is dangerous."

"But there's no legal basis on which to differentiate the Hamaoka plant from the others and stop just that one while others keep running."

"Isn't it politicians' job to prevent foreseeable danger?"

"If we make any ill-planned moves, we'll provoke local governments, the call to stop the plant will extend to all nuclear power plants, and things will get out of control."

We've finally reached a tricky state of affairs where we may see the push to stop the Hamaoka plant spread throughout the administration -- or not.

So what exactly is the problem with the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant?

First, it is located in the Shizuoka Prefecture city of Omaezaki, right atop the predicted epicenter of a great Tokai earthquake that experts have been warning for years will strike.

According to Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist and professor emeritus at Kobe University, the surface of the fault where the quake is predicted to originate is located close to the surface of the ground, where the soil is soft, so if a major quake were to occur, severe ground upheaval cannot be avoided.

This makes the site of the Hamaoka plant an unusually bad one for a nuclear power station.

In 2008, the government's Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion predicted that there was an 87-percent chance that a magnitude-8 range Tokai earthquake will occur in the next 30 years, and stepped up anti-disaster measures particularly in the Tokai region.

And yet, the Hamaoka plant has continued to run and has even been expanded, coming out victorious in lawsuits that sought to stop its operation, with the judge accepting the argument that the plant is capable of withstanding a magnitude-8 temblor. What about a magnitude-9 quake, then, like the one that struck on March 11?

A former chief of the Science and Technology Agency's Atomic Energy Bureau is of the opinion that stopping the Hamaoka plant because of "potential risks" is a shortsighted response. He was quoted in the April 29 issue of the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper as saying that the external power source that controls operations at the Hamaoka plant is far more reliable than the system at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Meanwhile, one of two bureaucrats with technical expertise -- not in atomic energy -- interviewed last week criticized the economics-first, safety-second mentality of atomic energy bureaucrats in a surprisingly harsh tone:  筆者は先週、霞が関の技術系官僚2人(いずれも専門は原子力以外)に取材したが、うち1人は、こちらが驚くほど強い調子で原子力官僚の経済優先・安全軽視を批判した。

"All they talk about is the external power source. It's been 50 days since they said that things would improve at Fukushima, too, once external power was restored, but nothing has changed. They're only looking at the facility itself. They lack the imagination and the focus on safety crucial in considering the possibility of nature destroying their systems.

Both bureaucrats hold high positions, and while their lamentation of the current administration's lack of leadership was not at all shocking, the fact that both called for the Hamaoka plant to be stopped was surprising indeed.

In the past 50 years, five magnitude-9 quakes have rattled the Pacific Rim, of which three have taken place in the past seven years. People try to quell concerns over the Hamaoka plant by pointing out the 10-meter sand dunes on the coast nearby and referring to talk of constructing a new 12-meter breakwater. But the Fukushima plant was overcome by waves between 10 and 20 meters high.

It is under such a state of affairs that Chubu Electric Power Co., which runs the Hamaoka plant, announced that it wanted to resume operations of the No. 3 reactor at Hamaoka in July.

This is likely a desperate attempt to avoid a possible energy shortage in the summer, which could lead to chaos. 真夏の電力不足による混乱回避へ布石を打ったのだろうが、

Regardless, if private corporations can't look at the big picture, there is no choice but for the government to step in.

To prove the nation's commitment to safety and renew its politics, and to wipe away international distrust of Japanese technology, first of all the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant must be stopped.

(By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年5月2日 東京朝刊

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2011年5月 5日 (木)


(Mainichi Japan) May 4, 2011
Gov't, experts must release criteria for radiation safety around nuke plant

"Resigning was the worst choice, wasn't it?" says an e-mail I received from one of my colleagues late last week.

It referred to the resignation of University of Tokyo professor and radiation expert Toshiso Kosako as an adviser to the Cabinet Secretariat.

Kosako tearfully criticized the government for what he calls its "lax" response to the crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant when he announced his departure at a news conference.

My colleague fears that Kosako's abrupt and emotional announcement could fuel local residents' concern about radiation leaks from the crippled power station.

There are two kinds of health hazards that radioactive material can cause -- immediate tissue damage from high levels of radiation, and chromosomal damage that increases the risk of cancer in the future even if the amount of radioactive material is small.

Radiation in areas dozens of kilometers away from the plant is far below the level that could immediately damage tissues. Therefore, the government asserts that the radiation "will not pose an immediate threat to human health."

On the other hand, if people are exposed to even a small amount of radiation, experts say it will slightly increase the risk of cancer in the future.

Children in particular are vulnerable to radioactive substances.

This is what residents of Fukushima Prefecture are worried about.

However, if children living in Fukushima Prefecture suffer from cancer in the future, it will be impossible to prove a causal relationship between their exposure to radiation and the disease.

Even experts are divided over whether and how far the Chernobyl nuclear crisis will affect the health of nearby populations from a long-term perspective.

In short, health hazards that radiation can cause have not been clarified.

We need to consider how to deal with such a slight rise in health hazards caused by radiation, but there is too little information available to make that judgment.

Professor Kosako voiced objections to the government's repeated assertions that the situation is safe. However, his warning that the situation is dangerous without showing clear evidence also fuels the public's anxiety.

Both the government and experts like Kosako are required to show the public clear criteria for judging whether the situation is safe or dangerous.

It is Fukushima Prefecture residents, rather than Kosako, who really want to cry over the ongoing nuclear crisis. 本当に泣きたいのは、福島の人たちなのだ。

(By Etsuko Nagayama, Tokyo Science and Environment News Department)

毎日新聞 2011年5月4日 0時08分

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2011年5月 4日 (水)

ビンラーディン テロとの戦いは終わらない


The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 4, 2011)
After bin Laden's death, war on terrorism goes on
ビンラーディン テロとの戦いは終わらない(5月3日付・読売社説)

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who had been hunted as the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, was killed by U.S. forces Monday.

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington claimed the lives of about 3,000 people, including 24 Japanese. The United States determined the attacks to have been acts of Al-Qaida, an international terrorist group, and made all-out efforts to capture its leader bin Laden.

Bin Laden was long believed to be hiding out in an area along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. But his hideout unexpectedly turned out to be in the outskirts of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

The death of the mastermind was a major result of "the war on terrorism" led by the United States. U.S. President Barack Obama said, "Justice has been done."

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the successful U.S. action represented a "remarkable step forward in the antiterrorism campaign."


Retaliation feared

But it is too early to conclude that terrorism will end with the death of bin Laden. On the contrary, the possibility of terrorist attacks in retaliation against the slaying of bin Laden is feared to increase.

The international community--above all the United States--must take care not to relax its vigilance against terrorist threats. Naturally, Japan too must take measures such as bolstering security arrangements around Self-Defense Forces bases.

The slaying of bin Laden is the fruit of a nearly decadelong U.S. manhunt. It is little wonder that upon hearing Obama's announcement of the killing of bin Laden, crowds of jubilant citizens gathered outside the White House in celebration.

But as Obama himself stated, the war on terrorism will continue.

The terrorist group, which espouses bin Laden's belief that the killing of Americans is an obligation of Islamists, has expanded over a wide area extending from North Africa to Southeast Asia. Sympathizers have emerged even in the United States and European countries.

There is even a concern that the number of bin Laden's followers will increase as his death will be regarded as that of a martyr.


Deep anti-U.S. sentiment

In the Islamic world, there is deep-rooted antipathy against the United States, which went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq while trumpeting the slogan of "the war against terrorism." It would be unfortunate if the killing of bin Laden spurred further anti-U.S. sentiment.

In Afghanistan, the moves of the Taliban, an antigovernment Islamist militant group strongly influenced by bin Laden, are of serious concern.

Washington needs to responsibly bring stability to Afghanistan and Iraq. Doing so could enhance the credibility of the United States.

Pro-democracy movements have been growing in the Middle East and North Africa. Most autocratic leaders in these areas have supported U.S.-led terrorist cleanup operations.

The international community needs to see how the democratization movements and the slaying of bin Laden will affect the future of the war on terrorism.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 3, 2011)
(2011年5月3日01時23分  読売新聞)

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2011年5月 3日 (火)

ミャンマー 民政移管を民主化につなげよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 3, 2011)
New Myanmar govt must move toward democracy
ミャンマー 民政移管を民主化につなげよ(5月2日付・読売社説)

A new Myanmar government led by President Thein Sein was inaugurated early last month, ending 22 years of military rule.

The new president was elected through two months of parliamentary deliberations that followed national elections for both houses of the parliament in November. But the new administration is designed to give an outward show of "transfer to civilian rule" while leaving military rule in place.

Thein Sein served as prime minister of the military junta, and nearly 90 percent of the ministers in the new Cabinet were ministers or military leaders in the former administration.

A quarter of the 224 upper house seats and 440 lower house seats are set aside for military appointees. A constitutional revision is necessary to change this system, but revision requires approval by more than three-quarters of the parliamentary seats. This means the military in effect has veto power over the matter.

Than Shwe, supreme leader of the junta, has retired as commander-in-chief of the national armed forces but seems to receive a steady stream of internal military information. He probably intends to continue to exercise his influence over the military.


Ray of hope

Nevertheless, a faint ray of hope is in sight.

A quarter of members in both houses of the parliament belong to pro-democracy or ethnic minority parties. So, it may be said the foundation has been laid in the parliament to represent the voices of people who were ignored during the period of junta rule.

Popular pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was not allowed to run in the election but resumed her activities after being released from house arrest. If the new administration engages in dialogue with Suu Kyi, it will give rise to a move toward national reconciliation.

In his speech late last month, Thein Sein said his administration would promote national reconstruction by using Myanmar's natural resources to support the building of power stations and airports, but he made no reference whatsoever to reconciliation with opposition forces. This smacks of a betrayal of the promised transfer of power to civilian control.


ASEAN ambitions

The new government has put Myanmar forward as a candidate for the 2014 chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It is believed to be aiming at improving relations with neighboring countries by stressing its shift toward civilian government.

China and India are approaching Myanmar to obtain access to its rich natural gas supplies. China in particular has been actively conducting diplomacy with Myanmar as Jia Qinglin, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, visited the country in early April.

We urge the international community to take advantage of the inauguration of the new administration in Myanmar to encourage the nation's moves toward democracy.

The European Union has lifted travel restrictions and financial sanctions against members of Myanmar's Cabinet who are not deeply tied to the military. The EU seems to have judged that simply strengthening sanctions would not produce a favorable effect.

Japan has been continuing its policy of engagement limited to humanitarian aid and personnel exchange. It is now necessary for Tokyo to join hands with Southeast Asian nations in pushing Myanmar forward toward national reconciliation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 2, 2011)
(2011年5月2日01時14分  読売新聞)

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2011年5月 1日 (日)

英王子の結婚 愛される王室復活の一歩に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 1, 2011)
Britain's royal wedding could help revitalize monarchy
英王子の結婚 愛される王室復活の一歩に(4月30日付・読売社説)

The wedding ceremony of Britain's Prince William and Catherine Middleton, commonly known as Kate, was held in Westminster Abbey in London on Friday.

Prince William is the first son of the late Princess Diana, who in life captured the hearts of many people around the world, and Prince Charles. He is second in line to the throne after his father.

This is the first time in more than 350 years that a future king of England has married a so-called commoner. The royal nuptials were broadcast live around the world and watched by an estimated 2 billion people.

This shows public interest in the British royal family remains strong. The popularity of "The King's Speech," which won this year's Academy Award for Best Film, also helped shine a global spotlight on the royal wedding.

It appears, however, that Britons' feelings toward Friday's royal wedding are different from the sentiment that greeted the wedding of Prince William's parents 30 years ago.


Royals haunted by scandal

The wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana swept people in up a fairy tale world, and set off a royal frenzy.  チャールズ皇太子とダイアナ妃の挙式の際、人々は「おとぎ話」の世界に浸り、熱狂した。

In the 1990s, however, the couple separated and divorced, and Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997. These events brought to light a number of conflicts within the royal family that had been hidden from public view.

The image of the royal family as Britain's ideal family--a portrayal carefully nurtured since the Victorian era of the 19th century--fell apart.

During the 1990s, the divorces of Prince Charles' sister Princess Anne and brother Prince Andrew also created an uproar and provided plenty of fodder for the tabloids and other media.

The British royal family is no stranger to marital scandal, including that of King Henry VIII, who separated the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century.
With the British royal family often in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the 1990s, some influential newspapers went so far as to call for it to be abolished.

According to recent opinion surveys, however, three out of four Britons support the existing constitutional monarchy.

Prince Charles' conduct is sometimes said to have been a remote cause of events that ultimately led to Diana's death, but support for his taking the throne has increased to about half of the British populace.


Moves to revise succession

The recovery in support for the British royal family apparently reflects a strong attachment to a constant institution in life during an age of radical change.

The increase in Islamic immigrants and a new phase of stratification in British society also might have heightened people's desire to keep a symbol of integration in place.

Some members of the royal family have made efforts to get closer to the people.

Queen Elizabeth II herself now pays taxes, a gesture of cooperation with belt-tightening by the royal family.

The royal family also has been keen to portray itself as open to ordinary citizens.

The right to the British throne has long been passed on preferentially to male lineal descendants of the royal family. But in recent years, there has been increased discussion of changing royal succession laws to allow the first child of a reigning monarch to take the crown irrespective of gender.

Crown Prince Naruhito and Princess Masako canceled their scheduled attendance at the wedding ceremony in consideration of the hardships victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster are going through. Nevertheless, we hope the Imperial family will deepen its friendly ties with the British royal family.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 30, 2011)
(2011年4月30日01時11分  読売新聞)

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