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2011年8月31日 (水)

野田民主新代表 世代交代で再生への歯車回せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 31, 2011)
DPJ must revive itself through generation change
野田民主新代表 世代交代で再生への歯車回せ(8月30日付・読売社説)


The Democratic Party of Japan-led administration has for the first time a leader with a steadfast political style and well-grounded policies.

In the DPJ's presidential election Monday, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda defeated Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda in a runoff.

It was a dramatic come-from-behind victory for Noda, who picked up the support of groups whose candidates finished second or lower in the first round of voting.

Noda will be named head of the nation's 95th cabinet Tuesday.

After serving as a member of the Chiba Prefectural Assembly, Noda was elected to the House of Representatives. He has since been elected to the lower house four more times.
Noda, 54, will be the first prime minister who graduated from the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management.


The DPJ-led administration has been blighted by a string of administrative failures and unproductive infighting that has disappointed the public.
Many people have lost confidence in the party.

The new administration must break free from the "troika" era led by former party leader Ichiro Ozawa, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Prime Minister Naoto Kan.


Interparty cooperation crucial

In a speech before the runoff vote, Noda expressed support for an accord among the DPJ and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito on certain key policy issues. "Will the Diet be able to go forward if we ignore the three-party agreement?" he said. "Won't a new administration grind to a standstill [if we ignore it]?"

This was a swipe at Kaieda, who had earlier hinted at rescinding the deal, which was made on the assumption that the DPJ manifesto for the 2009 general election will be drastically reviewed.

To realize important policies in the divided Diet--in which the House of Councillors is controlled by the opposition camp--the DPJ needs to cooperate with opposition parties.

It is quite reasonable that Noda emphasized the need to stick to the three-party accord during debates held ahead of the presidential election.

Noda advocated that present generations should share the cost of providing revenue sources to fund post-disaster reconstruction efforts, rather than passing this burden to future generations.

By saying so, he clearly called for an ad-hoc tax increase, which other candidates were unwilling to do.

We think this also is a realistic position.

To secure enough revenue through tax increases, consideration should be given to not only hikes in income and corporate tax, but also in the consumption tax rate.

Noda's ability will be tested over how to overcome strong opposition to tax increases within his party, and to raise taxes through talks between the ruling and opposition parties.


Black eye for Ozawa, Hatoyama

Noda also said integrated reform of the social security and tax systems, which has a gradual increase in the consumption tax rate as its central pillar, should not be put off any further.

The bottom line is that Noda's arguments won greater support within the party than the line of adhering to the manifesto advocated by Ozawa and Hatoyama, who both supported Kaieda.

Points of contention that were supposed to be resolved during previous DPJ presidential elections later flared up and triggered internal feuds.

Lawmakers who voted for Kaieda this time must respect the maintenance of the three-party accord and reexamination of the party manifesto--the assertions made by Noda.

Noda called for party unity by emphasizing the crisis the DPJ faces for survival, using such phrases as "last chance" and "having our backs to the wall."

Reflecting on past failures, Noda must be firmly resolved to rejuvenate the party.

Every candidate in the DPJ election acknowledged there are problems with the party's process of making policy decisions.

This reflects the chaos outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan caused with his haphazard policies.

Noda must show regard for the policy decision-making process.


Use bureaucrats wisely

As Noda himself has pointed out, politician-led politics means lawmakers are responsible for making important policy decisions while entrusting what can be done by bureaucrats to them.

He is expected to reexamine governance methods so he can make the most of the massive bureaucracy.

Noda repeatedly stressed the need to conduct "politics that transcends grudges."

However, this should not mean ending Ozawa's party membership suspension.

The first touchstone for this will be who Noda selects for the party leadership lineup and his cabinet.

The incoming administration will have to answer the question of how it will win cooperation from the opposition parties.

Asked after the presidential election about the possibility of forging a grand coalition with the LDP and Komeito, Noda told reporters he would "seek tenaciously to keep company with them and look at such a possibility."

This suggests he is considering a grand coalition by building trust with the two main opposition parties.

It is essential that consultative talks with the opposition parties are not rushed.


LDP, Komeito have role to play

The LDP and Komeito remain negative toward a grand coalition, denouncing it as "an exception of exceptions."

But the ruling and opposition parties must cooperate in compiling the fiscal 2011 third supplementary budget that will be necessary to promote intensive disaster reconstruction projects.

Japan faces a host of challenges, including possible participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade framework, reform of the social security and electoral systems, energy policy and the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.

Whichever party holds power will not be able to sidestep these issues.

The crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has yet to be brought under control, and the economic environment remains severe as the yen hovers at record-high levels.

The nation's growth strategy that centered on exports of such infrastructure as Shinkansen high-speed railway systems and nuclear power plants has come to a standstill.

We think the LDP and Komeito should put priority on reviving the national economy rather than harrying Noda into dissolving the lower house for a snap election.

The two parties must bear responsibility for having held the reins of government for so long.

Noda's election as DPJ president and inauguration of a new administration is a golden opportunity to break away from "politics that gets nothing done." It must be used wisely.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 30, 2011)
(2011年8月30日02時04分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月30日 (火)



それは、Infinity Space Inc,  (インフィニティー スペース インク)。



レバレッジを効かせてハイリスク、ハイリターンが海外FX投資の魅力ですが、通常FX投資会社のレバレッジは400です。Infinity Space Incではレバレッジ500(最高)を達成しているようです。


Infinity Space Inc, では、高速Androidにも対応しているので、秒単位を争う取引には威力を発揮します。


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--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 28
EDITORIAL: Japan needs to quickly compile road map for decontamination.

The Japanese government has finally decided on a basic framework on how to proceed with the decontamination process of radioactive materials spewed from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The government's plan, explained to local governments on Aug. 27, is to halve the residents' exposure within two years, and in the case of children, to reduce it by 60 percent by conducting thorough decontamination procedures in schools and school routes.

The center of the plan is to "reduce, step-by-step and rapidly" the number of areas that will measure 20 millisieverts and higher annually.

However, such a target will not put the residents' minds at ease.

The government estimates that even without actively doing anything, the amount of radiation exposure will decrease about 40 percent in two years due to rain and wind.

It is too unambitious for the government to say it will achieve only an additional 10-20 percent reduction on its own.

Moreover, the latest framework plan does not tell us, even broadly, when the evacuees can return to their normal lives.

The important thing is to have a comprehensive strategy.

To that end, it is essential to closely ascertain the exact situation of the contamination.

We need to measure it in detail, covering sections whose sides are 100 to 500 meters long.

People evacuated from their homes are also hoping to learn the radiation levels around their houses.

On Aug. 27, Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologized to the Fukushima prefectural governor of the possibility that residents of some areas close to the Fukushima nuclear plant will be unable to return to their houses for a long time.

Of course, it may be possible that in areas with the worst levels of contamination, residents may be forced to give up ever returning to their homes.

However, the residents can hardly accept that without sufficient data and some kind of yardstick.

Along with figuring out the actual state of the contamination, the government needs to calculate the cost of the decontamination process and the available level of manpower.

Based on those assessments, the government must hurry to put together a road map that indicates the grand design, and spell out where the process will begin, how it will be conducted and how much time it will take.

Besides, the decontamination work itself must not be haphazard.

In addition to households, public institutions like schools, roads, as well as farms and nearby forests must also be watched. Otherwise, there is no way residents can return to their normal lives.

One major obstacle to the decontamination process is where to store the contaminated topsoil once it is removed.

According to the framework plan, each local government is to set up a temporary storage place, and the central government will be responsible for securing a disposal site.

However, Prime Minister Kan told the Fukushima governor that the central government has no choice but to create the "intermediate storage facility" within Fukushima Prefecture.

Suddenly talking about a new storage facility at this point will only create confusion.

Decontamination is not an easy matter, including securing the disposal site.

The plan must be scrupulous, while also being meticulous about procedure.

And the process must be done swiftly.

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2011年8月29日 (月)



私は、結婚式で一番大切なもは、しめくくりの結婚写真 の作成だと思います。


撮影衣裳総数700着以上をほこる、結婚写真 東京 で評判の写真スタジオのスタジオシモムラをお勧めいたします。


東京だけではなくて、結婚写真 横浜も評判なので是非チェックしてみてください。

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The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 27
EDITORIAL: DPJ needs to reinvent its political future.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan officially announced his resignation on Aug. 26, saying, "I've done what I've had to do."

During the two years since the historic regime change, two prime ministers quickly got bogged down in a political quagmire and stepped down.

This is undeniably a disastrous failure of politics under the rule of the Democratic Party of Japan.

What are the root causes of the dreadful political situation?

It is not that Kan pushed policy in the wrong direction.

Kan deserves credit for responding to the Fukushima nuclear disaster by trying to lead the nation toward a future less dependent on atomic energy.

We also applaud him for tackling the tough political challenge of developing plans for the unpopular but important proposal of integrated tax and social security reform involving a consumption tax hike.

But executing a policy requires building consensus.

Kan was unskilled at consensus building, and he sometimes didn't even make efforts to win support for his proposals from his Cabinet members.

As he simply proposed policies without laying the necessary political groundwork, he was inevitably criticized for practicing off-the-cuff politics.

But let us hazard a question.

Would the Kan administration have lasted much longer if he had been a leader with a broader perspective and a greater ability to build consensus?

The DPJ is in such disarray that it is hard to answer the question in the affirmative.


Kan was constantly hobbled not merely by the opposition control of the Upper House but equally by perennial political wrangling within the ruling party.

Kan's efforts to push through such key policy initiatives as a consumption tax hike and a review of the party's election manifesto were met with opposition from party members, especially a group of lawmakers led by former DPJ chief Ichiro Ozawa.

With the party unable to reach agreement on these and other key policy issues, the Kan administration lost political momentum.

The confrontation within the party came to a head in June, when the Ozawa group threatened to support an opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Cabinet.

As he avoided a final Diet floor showdown with his opponents within the party, Kan set the stage for his departure.

As the top item in the memorandum he exchanged with his predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, during their talks for avoid passage of the no-confidence motion against him, Kan promised not to "destroy the DPJ."

This fact symbolized the grim reality and limitations of the party.

The DPJ was formed as a rugged collection of politicians pursuing sharply different political agendas and approaches.

It was a political alliance among a wide range of lawmakers who didn't belong to the Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled the nation for decades.

Its principal mission was to secure electoral victories in single-seat constituencies of the Lower House.

In a nutshell, the DPJ was a mutual electoral support group born out of the single-seat election system.
When it was in the opposition, the party managed to put up a united front under the banner of regime change.

As soon as it achieved this political goal, however, the party found itself without a shared vision and plunged into an endless cycle of infighting.

The DPJ's track record since it came to power suggests that the group is too politically immature to be called a political party.

If the party remains as it is, the next administration is sure to repeat the same failure.

The challenge facing the DPJ is whether it can outgrow its old self as an electoral mutual support group and morph into a full-fledged political party.

The party leadership election officially announced on Aug. 27 is of critical importance for the political viability of the DPJ.

During the prelude to the election, many prospective candidates talked about unity and reconciliation among party members.

Such talk may find a certain resonance among party members who are eager to see an end to the intraparty struggle that continued even after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March.

If, however, "party unity" here means turning a blind eye to differences over policies among members, such slogans only represent an extremely irresponsible answer to the party's problems.

If the candidates try to win the leadership race by offering the powerful Ozawa group key posts that control the party's election funds and the right to nominate official party candidates for national elections, the party will inevitably lose the support of even more voters.


It is clear what the party should do in the leadership race.

It should redefine its political position.


First, all the candidates should make clear their stances toward the party's manifesto for the Lower House election that led to its ascent to power.

Would they revise or stick to the platform?

Candidates who vow to adhere to the manifesto should say how they would raise the money needed to deliver on the election promises.

The DPJ's plan to raise funds through spending cuts has become synonymous with wishful thinking in the past two years.

Secondly, after the leadership election, all party members should come together to support the policies proposed by the winner and contribute to the new leader's efforts to push through his proposals.

The quality of the manifesto should be improved in line with the new policy agenda.

DPJ lawmakers who cannot agree to the new chief's policy agenda should leave the party.

Like the DPJ, the LDP also comprises politicians with widely different political stripes.

There is enough room for political realignment around key policy issues.

Such a development would give voters a fresh opportunity to choose a new government on the basis of policies instead of a simple choice between the LDP and the DPJ.


The worst thing that could happen to the party is a leadership contest without serious policy debate in which the candidates only propose vague policies in order to win as many votes as possible.
Even if the party can choose its new leader without meaningful debate, such a race would plant seeds of future confrontation that hamper progress in politics.
Political styles and ways to run the government should also be among major topics for the party leadership election.

We believe that politics of partisan confrontation driven by the power of numbers should come to an end.

When it was led by Ozawa, the DPJ exploited its power as the largest voting bloc in the Upper House to keep making things tough for the government of the LDP-New Komeito coalition.

The DPJ used its political muscle effectively to drive the LDP-led government into a corner through such maneuvers as rejecting the government's nominees for the new Bank of Japan governor and thereby keeping the post of the central bank chief vacant for a while.

The DPJ's strategy worked well to pressure the government into an early dissolution of the Lower House for an election to choose the government.

The DPJ came to power as a result, but the party has been suffering from political reprisals by the LDP.

During this period, Ozawa boasted that he would be able to raise any amount of money to finance the party's policy proposals and had the party increase the monthly child-care allowance it promised to 26,000 yen per child.

At the heart of such an approach to politics is a single-minded pursuit of power.

Japan should outgrow such old-fashioned politics and move toward a new era of politics in which the ruling and opposition parties try to find common ground through serious and constructive policy debate.

The principal lesson to be gleaned from the bitter experiences in the past two years is that this is the only way to break the political stalemate in this age of a divided Diet.

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2011年8月28日 (日)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:自己臭恐怖症 /東京

(Mainichi Japan) August 28, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: In defense of (a little bit of) body odor
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:自己臭恐怖症 /東京

A TV program I happened to see the other day featured clothing with odor-eliminating effects that have been a hit among consumers recently.

Sales of odor-eating underwear, socks and other clothing -- effective against everything from sweat and tobacco smells to the body odor of older men -- have been rising, according to the program.

Sure, there are unpleasant odors, but do people really want to make everywhere odorless so much?

If you get too nervous about eliminating odor, that could stress you out in itself.

In my consultation room, I sometimes see patients who suffer from a unique condition called "olfactory reference syndrome."

These patients wrongly assume that their body odor is offensive to people around them.

They spray air freshener on themselves again and again before they go out, or even refrain from going out at all. 消臭スプレーを何度も振りかけたり外出を控えたりする人もいる。

They usually show up at dermatologists or other doctors first and are then referred to psychiatric clinics.

Even if others tell them that they don't smell at all, these patients believe that they are "smelly and disturbing everyone." Many of these cases are difficult to treat.

Olfactory reference syndrome often plagues young people, whose futures remain undefined and who are still overly sensitive about what others think of them.

Such a trivial thing as a friend turning his or her eyes away from them makes them think they are smelly and making others uncomfortable.
「人からどう見られてるのかな?」と過敏になりがちな年ごろでは、たとえば友だちがたまたま自分から目をそらしただけで「どうして? そうか、私のにおいが苦痛なんだ」と結びつけてしまうのだ。

In contrast, these symptoms tend to disappear naturally when the patients get jobs and gain a certain degree of self-confidence.
"I may have been wrong to worry too much about odor," one such patient said.

The current "odorless" boom, therefore, could be said to show that today even fully-fledged adult members of society lack confidence in themselves, and are always conscious about how others think of them.

Let's say a person became completely odor-free. Would he or she be liked by everybody? Probably not.

Ridding odor is minimal etiquette, but it is nonsense to try to eliminate all your odor.

It is better to try and become someone who, even if smelling a bit sweaty, will be liked by everyone because of a cheerful smile and an even manner.
That's far better for each of us and for society as well.

Whenever I see a person who fills up his or her room with deodorizers to remove any trace of bodily scent, I'm tempted to utter an old saying, "Too much of a good thing."

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2011年8月23日 地方版

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2011年8月27日 (土)

社説:民主党代表選 どうする外交 瀬戸際の自覚が乏しい

(Mainichi Japan) August 26, 2011
DPJ leadership hopefuls must tackle foreign diplomacy, long-neglected after disasters
社説:民主党代表選 どうする外交 瀬戸際の自覚が乏しい

Since the triple disasters of March 11, Japan has paid little attention to foreign diplomacy.

As the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan struggled to begin rebuilding the devastated Tohoku region, a political battle was waged by ruling and opposition blocs over whether or not Kan should resign.

Bringing an end to the stagnation that such political warfare has created and normalizing the course of Japan's foreign policy is one of the most important challenges that awaits the next prime minister.

In spite of this, however, little has been said about diplomacy and security by politicians expressing an interest in running for the head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) -- and hence, the next prime minister.

We must not allow the upcoming election to become an inward-looking election, one solely concerned with political maneuvering for the right number of votes and the nature of the candidates' ties to former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa.

Meanwhile, other countries are making active and astute steps in their diplomatic affairs.

Take, for example, the United States and China. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recently visited both China and Japan, staying six days in China -- during which he poured his energies into establishing strong relations with Xi Jinping, said to be China's next president.

This was in stark contrast to Biden's visit to Japan, which lasted just two days and included a meeting with outgoing Prime Minister Kan as a mere formality.

In addition, China appears to be testing the DPJ's stance toward China, as demonstrated in two Chinese patrol boats' entry into Japanese waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands.

Furthermore, there have been rising tensions between China and Russia, both battling for political and economic influence in the Far East region.

The year 2012 will be a turning point not only in China, where the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party will change hands, but also in Russia, the U.S., and South Korea, where presidential elections are set to take place.

While others have been formulating diplomatic strategies with next year in mind, Japan, due to its internal political skirmishes, has trailed behind both in influencing the establishment of a new regional order and its pursuit of national interests.

As such, the diplomatic challenges that the next prime minister must deal with are all urgent.

There is the breakdown in talks over the Japan-U.S. joint declaration on bilateral security that needs to be addressed, and a much-needed breakthrough in the issue of relocating U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.

There's also a visit to China by Japan's new prime minister, and a visit to Japan by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which must take place before the end of the year.

Whoever takes the helm of government will be scrutinized for his ability -- or lack thereof -- to command a presence before other leaders at the East Asia Summit and APEC Summit, both set to take place this fall.

Have the DPJ leadership election candidates-to-be taken these responsibilities into consideration?

They are obligated to show how prepared they are for such duties.

In the two years since the DPJ government came to power, it has downplayed the importance of continuity and botched diplomatic dealings by putting precarious ideals ahead of everything else.

The administration's strategy-building capabilities failed to improve, and diplomats' information and networks were not put to effective use.

Japanese foreign policy has veered far off course because the DPJ put a lid on intra-party conflict in order to take over government, and failed to reach a consensus on basic policies such as the Japan-U.S. alliance and a vision for an East Asian community, the "third opening" of Japan, and its stance toward China.

We hope that those running in the DPJ presidential race will take the mistakes that have been made to heart, realize the crossroads at which Japan is now standing, and carry out a heated debate on diplomatic policy.

毎日新聞 2011年8月26日 2時31分

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2011年8月26日 (金)

日本国債格下げ 財政悪化と政策停滞の警鐘だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 26, 2011)
Moody's downgrade a warning over fiscal, political ills
日本国債格下げ 財政悪化と政策停滞の警鐘だ(8月25日付・読売社説)

The major U.S. ratings agency Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday downgraded Japanese government bonds from Aa2, the third-highest rating, to Aa3, the fourth-highest.

The move should be taken as a warning regarding the deterioration of Japan's fiscal situation and the paralysis in its political sphere.

Now the level of Japanese government bonds is lower than those of Italy and Spain, where concern over government finances has been soaring, and the same as those of China and Chile.

In January, another U.S. rating firm downgraded Japanese bonds to the same level.

These are only independent evaluations by private firms, but they serve as guidelines for the creditworthiness of government bonds in the market.

If investors sell off Japanese bonds and force the interest rate to rise because of the downgrade, the government's costs for interest payments will rise, which would aggravate the fiscal situation.

Speculative moves have to be closely watched.


Fiscal rehabilitation in doubt

As reasons for the downgrade, Moody's named Japan's huge fiscal deficit and its doubts whether the country can become fiscally healthy.

The ratings agency said, "Over the past five years, frequent changes in administrations have prevented the government from implementing long-term economic and fiscal strategies into effective and durable policies." It is natural for Japan to receive such a severe evaluation.

Because of the divided Diet, confrontations between ruling and opposition parties have intensified, blocking progress on various policies.

The most pressing issue of all--restoration of fiscal health--has been put off, causing the situation to worsen.

The outstanding long-term debts of the central and local governments combined are expected to be about 900 trillion yen at the end of the current fiscal year, or 1.8 times the gross domestic product.

The country's debt-to-GDP ratio is worse than that of Greece, which is in a profound fiscal crisis.

According to the government's estimate, outstanding debts will balloon to nearly 1,200 trillion yen at the end of fiscal 2020.

The fiscal crises in the West have seriously affected global financial markets, but this situation is not what Japanese would call "a fire on the other side of the river."

Swift reforms in both revenue and spending must be enforced before it is too late.


Political will lacking

However, the politicians of this country have little sense of crisis about the status quo and lack firm determination to move forward with fiscal rehabilitation.

The key issues in the Democratic Party of Japan's presidential election, in which candidates are competing to replace Prime Minister Naoto Kan, will include tax hikes to secure revenue to rebuild from the Great East Japan Earthquake and a review of the dole-out policies in its manifesto for the 2009 House of Representative election.

However, many would-be candidates in the DPJ presidential election are cautious about the early introduction of tax hikes for reconstruction purposes.

Likewise, no one has spoken in-depth about the government policy for integrated reform of the social security and tax systems, which stipulates the consumption tax rate will be raised in stages to 10 percent in the mid-2010s.

The post-Kan administration should make progress in reconstructing from the great earthquake and restoring fiscal health.

The government has to make the economy steadily recover to realize an early exit from deflation. This is indispensable for recovering confidence in Japanese government bonds.

In the coming DPJ election we hope the candidates will discuss policies that prioritize economic growth, such as stabilizing the electricity supply and measures to combat the yen's appreciation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 25, 2011)
(2011年8月25日01時09分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月25日 (木)

金総書記訪露 対「北」協力は核放棄が前提だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 25, 2011)
N. Korea must give up nukes to get economic benefits
金総書記訪露 対「北」協力は核放棄が前提だ(8月24日付・読売社説)

On his first visit to Russia in nine years, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il traveled about 5,000 kilometers by train to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in eastern Siberia on Wednesday.

Kim's visit to Russia follows his trip to China in May. This burst of summit diplomacy with Chinese and Russian leaders is probably a calculated attempt by Kim to strengthen ties with two major powers that share borders with his country to help guarantee his regime's survival.

Russia has been particularly positive toward Pyongyang.

Ahead of Kim's visit, Moscow decided to offer 50,000 tons of food aid to North Korea, which has been plagued with food shortages.

Russia will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vladivostok in autumn next year.

This will be a crucial opportunity for Russia to accelerate resource development in Siberia and its entry into the Asian market.

From this strategic viewpoint also, Russia is keen to stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula.


Tripartite cooperation plan

In a congratulatory message he sent to Kim on Aug. 15, the 66th anniversary of the end of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, Medvedev proposed that Russia, North Korea and South Korea cooperate in energy development and railway construction.

This clearly indicates Moscow's intention to strengthen its presence in Asia.

In concrete terms, the plan calls for building a natural gas pipeline vertically down the Korean Peninsula and opening a North-South railway that would link with the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Based on an agreement reached during summit talks, Russia and South Korea have held consultative meetings to discuss the supply of Russian natural gas, and transport routes via the Trans-Siberian Railway to the European market.

If realized, this ambitious project would ease tensions on the peninsula and stabilize the situation in Northeast Asia.

The project also would greatly benefit North Korea, which could earn rent for land used for the pipeline and receive electricity.


Preconditions for help

However, we think this economic cooperation should go ahead only if two conditions are met.

First, North Korea must not launch any military provocations against South Korea.

Confidence-building between the two countries is essential.

Second, Pyongyang must make good on the promise it made in the joint statement issued after six-nation negotiations in September 2005 to abandon its nuclear development program.

North Korea should also discontinue its uranium enrichment, which some observers fear could lead to a new nuclear weapons development program.

If Russia wants to push economic cooperation, it should use it as leverage to coax North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

It is important that Medvedev has an opportunity to convey these concerns to Kim.

At the very least, Moscow should continue to call on Pyongyang to allow inspections of its uranium enrichment facilities and put on hold nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 24, 2011)
(2011年8月24日01時39分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月24日 (水)

社説:放射能汚染対策 説明尽くし国の責任で

(Mainichi Japan) August 23, 2011
Gov't should take responsibility for decontaminating soil tainted with radiation
社説:放射能汚染対策 説明尽くし国の責任で

The Japanese government appears prepared to go ahead with the decontamination of soil tainted with radioactive substances leaking from the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant after the ruling and opposition parties agreed to enact legislation to make up for a legal flaw.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and two key opposition parties -- the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito -- have agreed on the details of a special measures bill on land decontamination and disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances.

The bill likely will be submitted to the Diet as a lawmaker-initiated bill and become law during the ongoing session.

The Waste Disposal and Public Cleaning Law does not cover the disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances.

If enacted, the new law would be the first to cover how to deal with radiation contamination outside the premises of nuclear power plants.

Under the bill, the environment minister would designate areas with high levels of radiation as "special areas."  放射性物質を除去し、放射線量を下げる除染は、必要な場所について環境相が「特別地域」に指定。

The national government would decontaminate the designated areas based on a plan it would work out after listening to the opinions of the local governments concerned.

The minister would also designate areas where radioactive rubble must be disposed of, and the national government would collect such waste, and transport, store and dispose it at its own responsibility.

The bill would require Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima power plant, to bear the costs of decontamination and disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances as part of its compensation for the nuclear accident.

Even though the bill would clarify the central government's responsibility for radiation contamination countermeasures, many hurdles must be cleared before such measures are implemented.

In particular, it is difficult to predict when the environment of the areas where residents have been evacuated can be improved to a level where they can come back and live safely because such a large-scale decontamination operation is unprecedented anywhere in the world.

Therefore, the national government is required to fully release information on how far it intends to reduce radiation levels in affected areas based on its monitoring and provide a thorough explanation.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has for the first time released its estimation of annual cumulative radiation levels at 50 locations in no-entry areas within 20 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

At 35 of the locations, the amount surpassed 20 millisieverts -- a level that requires residents to evacuate -- suggesting that extensive decontamination operations will be needed over a long period.

The government should also fully release information suggesting that evacuated residents cannot easily return home.

Moreover, depending on radiation levels, it might not be realistic for residents to come home soon even if their neighborhoods were decontaminated in accordance with the bill.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to travel to Fukushima Prefecture later this week to explain to the local governments concerned as well as residents that even if decontaminated, some areas will likely remain unfit for living for many years.

If so, the prime minister must show concrete data and explain how long evacuated residents must wait until they are allowed to return home in order to win their understanding.

Furthermore, Kan should also explain specific measures to extend assistance to residents of such areas, including where they will live for the time being.

Difficult challenges to removing rubble will likely emerge in the future, such as how to secure a site for the disposal of ash generated after rubble contaminated with radioactive substances is incinerated.

Questions also remain as to whether the final disposal site should be created in Fukushima Prefecture or other areas.

The national government must take all possible measures to ensure safety in disposing of contaminated rubble and gain the understanding of local residents.

毎日新聞 2011年8月23日 東京朝刊

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2011年8月23日 (火)









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リニア新幹線 最先端技術を国益に生かせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 23, 2011)
Maglev train project must serve national interests
リニア新幹線 最先端技術を国益に生かせ(8月22日付・読売社説)

Central Japan Railway Co.'s ongoing project to build a maglev train system linking Tokyo and Osaka is finally in full swing.

Early this month, JR Tokai released a list of probable locations for intermediate stations in four prefectures--Aichi excluded--through which its envisaged magnetically levitated train would run on the Tokyo-Nagoya section of its route.
The proposed sites include one on the border between Takamorimachi and Iida in Nagano Prefecture.

Aiming to begin construction of its Chuo Shinkansen system in fiscal 2014, the railway firm is set to start an environmental impact study covering areas along the planned route as early as the end of this year.

JR Tokai plans to start service along a portion of the envisaged route in 2027, extending its maglev train services to Osaka in 2045. The megaproject, which would link Tokyo and Osaka through a 67-minute ride, would cost a staggering 9 trillion yen.

The safety of buildings and facilities is under increasing public scrutiny due to the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear crisis.

Therefore, JR Tokai's first priority should be to ensure the new train system will operate safely.

The ultrahigh-speed train line would also serve as a bypass for the current Tokaido Shinkansen line.

Given this, thorough safety measures must be taken so the new system will be able to serve as Japan's main transportation artery if a major natural disaster strikes.


Hitting the brakes at 500 kph

The new Shinkansen--in which magnetic force is used to levitate a train about 10 centimeters above the ground--runs at 500 kph.

A focus of particular attention is how the system would respond to such emergencies as a powerful earthquake and power outage.

According to JR Tokai, the system would apply multiple types of brakes if it detected seismic waves, thus safely halting trains at a deceleration speed double that of the current Shinkansen system.

This is also true with a safety mechanism that would be triggered in the event of an electric power failure. The new bullet train would maintain levitation on the strength of magnetic force, supported by side walls along a railway track to prevent a derailment.

After studying the earthquake resistance of the maglev train, an advisory body to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has confirmed that the system's safeguards will serve their intended purposes.

However, a major disaster could hit facilities to an extent beyond the expectations of the operators, as illustrated by the series of accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

With this in mind, we hope JR Tokai will continue to make technological improvements in the safety of the new Shinkansen system.

The proposed route runs through the Southern Japanese Alps. About 70 percent of the line would be in underground tunnels.

This makes it necessary to implement measures aimed at guiding passengers to safety in the event that the maglev train comes to a sudden stop.


Stations will be expensive

Another task for JR Tokai is to achieve a consensus with local governments affected by the project over the construction costs for the intermediate stations.

JR Tokai plans to pay for the construction of three key facilities: one terminal in Tokyo, another in Osaka and another major station in Nagoya. However, the railway firm has asked the four prefectural governments--each of which would host one intermediate station along the route--to pay the full cost of constructing those stations.

It would cost an estimated 35 billion yen to build an aboveground intermediate station.
The bill for the construction of an underground station would amount to a hefty 220 billion yen.

The local governments have demanded a reduction in their financial burdens, citing their own fiscal straits.

The maglev Shinkansen system is expected to provide a great economic boon, contributing to the economic and other development of areas along its route.

It is important for JR Tokai and the local governments to fully discuss every aspect the project and build cooperative relations.

It is also necessary to pay full consideration to the environmental impact of the project.

Areas along the proposed route are dotted with rich natural surroundings.

We hope every effort will be made to minimize the impact of construction work on the ecosystem, water sources and all other environmental assets.

The maglev train system is a remarkable feature of Japan's state-of-the-art technology.
The system's technological excellence is bound to boost the nation's infrastructure export drive.

It is essential to obtain support and trust from the public for the Chuo Shinkansen project if the maglev train--which many regard as "a superexpress of the 21st century"--is to benefit the whole nation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 22, 2011)
(2011年8月22日01時03分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月22日 (月)


(Mainichi Japan) August 22, 2011
Race to replace Kan as prime minister an opportunity to display national will, vision

Denuclearization," or the idea of reducing and eliminating Japan's dependence on nuclear energy, is becoming increasingly hazy.

As the countdown for Prime Minister Naoto Kan's resignation begins, many potential candidates for the next president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) -- and hence the next prime minister -- are expressing their willingness to either maintain the current nuclear policy or to further promote nuclear power.

What I believe matters in the next DPJ presidential election is not so much whether Kan's successor is or is not a charismatic leader, but what his or her views are on the nuclear issue.

In an essay titled "Gimon darake no Kan oroshi" (Calls for Kan to step down that leave a trail of doubts) that well-respected literary critic Norihiro Kato contributed to the Mainichi in the Aug. 11 Tokyo evening edition, Kato slams the lacking rhetoric of those who criticize the now anti-nuclear Kan.

According to Kato, the most important political challenge we now face is the issue of nuclear power.

Kan has explicitly put forth the new goal of denuclearization, but his detractors have not contributed any clear proposals short of maintaining the status quo, i.e. the promotion of nuclear power.

How to deal with a lack of electricity is a problem of economics.

Kan's critics have dodged the real work of much-needed political debate, working merely to undermine Kan's political efforts, Kato writes.

Indeed, successor candidates have shown acceptance toward the preservation of nuclear power plants.  実際、後継候補たちは原発の維持に理解を示している。

Frontrunners in the race for DPJ presidency including Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, former Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Sumio Mabuchi and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda have respectively said: "It is realistic to amass nuclear power technology," "We will adopt the world's most stringent safety standards," and "It is dangerous to allow a simplistic notion of denuclearization to take a life of its own."

Some DPJ presidential hopefuls are in fact for denuclearization. But there's a sense that they're not as invested in it as Kan is.

"Corruptio" (corruption), a novel written by Jin Mayama and published in July, is set in the not-so-distant future in which a political realignment takes place in a post-quake Japan, resulting in a pro-nuclear coalition government.

Under current circumstances, such a plot is not entirely unthinkable.

Kan doesn't seem to think that will happen, however. "I think we've come to a point of no return," he told an acquaintance. "But (denuclearization) is a major policy that affects the entire social structure. So in that sense, there's still a long ways to go."

Asked whether he had any lingering regret about leaving his post, Kan responded, "If I waited until I had no more regrets, I'd have to continue (to be prime minister) for another 10 years.

" Kan is said to have read through Kato's essay, and said, "Somewhere out there, there are those who understand."

It is not that post-Kan candidates are outright against denuclearization.

It's that their campaign strategies involve refraining from making any concrete pro- or anti-nuclear power statements.

Only with votes can they win the post of DPJ chief and prime minister.

One can imagine how one of these candidates-turned-prime minister will fare when he or she comes head-to-head with the pro-nuclear government-industrial complex.

Pro-nuclear advocates argue that the promotion of nuclear energy is a major trend around the world, with an unsophisticated Japan the only one left wavering.

However, domestic distrust toward nuclear power has been smoldering respectively in the U.S., Russia, Britain and France.

After all, one of the world's largest nuclear power plants -- with three times the output of Chernobyl -- in the world's third largest economic superpower had collapsed.

The world has watched as some 100,000 people have fled their homes because of government-sanctioned or voluntary evacuations.

There's no reason for Japan to speak about its future in hushed tones out of regard for those who are a part of some "major trend around the world."

I also have a problem with the know-it-alls who remark the decision for denuclearization has already been made, and that all that remains is "just" a schedule for its implementation.

Sure, but who's actually going to do the scheduling?

Setting a deadline for five years from now or 50 years from now is as different as denuclearization and the promotion of nuclear power.

It is worrisome that we do not know where Ichiro Ozawa, who leads the biggest faction within the DPJ and has the power to make or break the election for party president, stands on nuclear energy policy.

Let us hope that he comes clean with his views.

The DPJ presidential race is not an election in which to select a leader "with common sense" to counteract Kan, who has been characterized as lacking in that area.

Nor is the election one in which to select a puppet leader that can be manipulated by a former DPJ head.

Rather, the election is a chance to choose a leader who will challenge the pro-nuclear government-industrial complex, possessing both the will and ability to implement reforms.

The election must be seen and used as an opportunity to display Japan's national resolve to the world.

(By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年8月22日 東京朝刊

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2011年8月21日 (日)


(Mainichi Japan) August 20, 2011
Saga over using firewood from tsunami-hit area in Kyoto bonfire shows cultural gap

When I was living in Kyoto as a student decades ago, I often climbed Mount Daimonji, one of the sites for Gozan no Okuribi, a traditional bonfire festival in this ancient capital.

It is hard labor, but a significant event to bring a large quantity of firewood up to the mountain and set it alight in the shape of the kanji character, "dai" ("big").

When I heard that firewood from a pine tree from the tsunami-hit city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture would be used for the bonfire I was impressed as it is a good ceremony to express condolences to disaster victims. 今年は岩手県陸前高田市の松を燃やすと聞いた時は、鎮魂の儀式としていい考えだと感心した。

Gozan no Okuribi is a ceremony to send off the spirits of the dead, who Buddhists believe come home to stay with their relatives during the Obon holiday period in mid-August before returning to heaven.
(祇園の送り火はお盆に天国より戻った祖先たちの魂をなぐさめるための儀式なのだ。 ・・・スラチャイ訳)

However, the plan was cancelled after the organizer of the event as well as the local government wavered over whether to go ahead with it due to radiation concerns.

In the end, small amounts of radioactive cesium were detected in the surface of the firewood, and the organizer and the local government had no choice but to bow to some local residents' arguments that burning Rikuzentakata firewood could spread radiation in the city and that it could taint water in Lake Biwa, which is used for drinking.

It is highly questionable whether such criticism has any scientific basis, but Gozan no Okuribi is a religious festival.

Scraping the surface of the firewood to remove cesium would never convince local residents who long for "pure" fire.

It is difficult to coordinate views between the festival organizer and worried local residents.

Takeo Kuwahara, a French literature expert who lived in Kyoto for many years, wrote in his book, "Gakumon no Sekai" ("The World of Academics") that Kyoto residents are often described as "wicked," "individualistic," "cold" and "calm," just like the French.

But let's put aside comparisons between Kyoto residents and French people now.

Some people have criticized the Kyoto Municipal Government and the organizer as being "narrow minded" over the latest case, while others have appreciated their decision as "calm judgment not being overwhelmed by emotion."

Others may call the decision a typical response by Kyoto.

Personally, I think the decision is regrettable because I wonder whether they should have been so afraid of such small levels of radiation.

At the same time, however, I have no intention of making light of the ancient capital's sensitiveness and culture.

As a former resident, I have the impression that Kyoto, which is situated in a basin, forms a unique space both topographically and culturally, and that various things -- both tangible and intangible and good and evil -- gather and accumulate there, just like a satellite dish facing the sky.

Therefore, careful behind-the-scenes efforts to persuade relevant parties to accept the burning of Rikuzentakata firewood in the festival should have been made in advance.

But rather than blame the relevant parties, I would like to think the latest case has called into question how the entire nation should wisely handle radiation.

I prayed to the Kyoto bonfire on Aug. 16 that firewood from quake- and tsunami-hit areas can be burned in the Gozan no Okuribi festival next year and that the ongoing nuclear crisis, which continues to release radiation into the air, will be settled at an early date.

(By Hiroshi Fuse, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年8月18日 東京朝刊

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遺族年金受給手順.txt 平成23年7月27日(水)

How to get the survivor’s pension for my loving wife.

Read carefully the following items and understand them all.

วิธีทำทีจะต้องทำหลังจากผมตายแล้ว (คำพูลสอนสะอาดต้องตามคำที่จะกล่าวต่อไปนี้)
Things to do after my death are the followings.
(My wife, Khumpoon Sonsaard shall follow the following instruction.)

คุณต้องได้รับใบรับรองแพทย์ตายที่โรงพยาบาล แล้วก็จะไปที่ว่าการอำเภอเพื่อได้รับมรณะบัตร
ในมรณะบัตรต้องเขียนเบอร์พาสปอร์ของผม (คุณพ่อสุรชัย kiyoshi matsui) ด้วย
As soon as after my death, you have to get a death certificate from the doctor.
Then you have to go to the county office to obtain the death registration certificate.
Passport number of myself must be written on the same document.

ไปสถานทูตญี่ปุ่นกับซองจดหมาย (a) และซองจดหมาย (b) ให้เจ้าหน้าที่สถานทูตญี่ปุ่น
ซองจดหมาย (a) คือใบแจ้งตาย (ประมาณ1เดือนครึ่ง จะผ่าน แล้วก็ คุณจะสามารถได้รับเอกสารทะเบียนบ้าน จากญี่ปุ่น)
ซองจดหมาย (b) คือเอกสารเพื่อได้บำนาญครอบครัวของผู้ตาย
封筒 (a) 、封筒 (b)を持って、バンコクの日本大使館に出かけ、二つの封筒を大使館の職員に渡してください。
封筒 (a) は死亡届です。(日本の戸籍に死亡の事実が記載されるまで一ヵ月半かかります)
封筒 (b) は遺族年金を受け取るための書類です。
You shall visit the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok, with envelope (a) and envelope (b) respectively to hand them to the personnel in charge with the Embassy.
Envelope (a) encloses the notification of my death to the city in Japan. (It’ll take about one and half month for the documentation process.)
Envelope (b) encloses the application form for survivors’ pension.

ไปที่ว่าการอำเภอเอาแบบฟอร์ม ท.ร.14/1เขียนให้แล้วก็ได้รับเอกสารดังนี้ (เอกสารทะเบียนประชา)
You shall visit the county office to get T.R.14/1 certificate. ( the certificate for residence)

ไปธนาคารกสิกรไทยสาขาย่อยบิ๊กซีขอนแก่น ได้รับเอกสารบัญชีของคุณแม่ เพื่อได้รับบำนาญครอบครัวของผู้ตายจากญี่ปุ่น
ธนาคาร bank: ธนาคารกสิกรไทยสาขาย่อยบิ๊กซีขอนแก่น kasikornbank big-c branch office
ชื่อ name: นางคำพูล สองสะาด khumpoon sonsaard
แลกที่บัญชี:A/C No. ●●●-●-●●●●●-●
タイ農民銀行コンケンビクシー支店にでかけ、貴女の普通預金(Saving Account)口座の証明を取得してください。
You shall visit Kasikorn Bank, Khonkaen big-c branch office to get the bank deposit certificate from the same bank.
(English certificate is better, if possible.)
Name of Bank:
Name of the account:
Number of the account:

ส่งซองจดหมาย (b)โดยอีเอ็มเอส
ก่อนส้นซองจดหมาย (b) ทำให้เจ้าหน้าที่สถานทูตญี่ปุ่นตรวจเอกสารดังนี้ 
封筒 (b)をEMS郵便にて日本に郵送してください。
封筒 (b)を日本に送る前に書類のチェックを受けてください。
Envelope (b) shall be sent to Japan by EMS.
Before sending it to Japan, you'd better ask the personnel in charge with the Japanese Embassy chek the document.

บำนาญครอบครัวของผู้ตาย จ่ายให้เริ่มแล้ว ก็จะ ได้รับเอกสารที่จะถามคุณเกี่ยวกับเหตุการขณะนี้
เอกสารดังนี้จะมาจากญี่ปุ่นทุกปี ครั้งหนึ่ง ปลายเดือนพฤศจิกายนนะครับ
คุณต้องเซ็นชื่อเอกสาร แล้วก็จะ ส่งให้ญี่ปุ่นทางไปรษณีย์โดยแอร์เมล์
เอกสารดังนี้ต้องถึงญี่ปุ่น เร็วกว่าปลายเดือนธันวาคม 
เอกสารดังนี้ต้องส่งทางไปรษณีย์ กับ ท.ร. 14/1 (เอกสารไทยเกี่ยวกับทะเบียนประชาชน) ด้วยนะครับ
Just after commencement of payment for survivors’ pension, you will get the certificate for present status of the survivors.
This certificate form will be sent to you once a year, presumably the end of November.
After signing on the certificate, you shall send it to Japan as soon as possible by airmail.
This certificate must arrive in Japan by the end of December.
This certificate must be sent to Japan with T.R.14/1. (certificate for residence)

เขียนโดยคุณพ่อ จากสวรรค์ 
Made by papa from the heaven.
To my loving mama.

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コメ放射能検査 二段構えで日本の主食を守れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 20, 2011)
2-step test to protect Japan's staple food
コメ放射能検査 二段構えで日本の主食を守れ(8月19日付・読売社説)

The green ears of rice glitter in rays of summer sunlight in paddies around the country.

However, this year's harvest season is likely to be a worrying time for rice farmers as well as consumers.

Under the government's instructions, Tokyo and 16 prefectures, including Fukushima and Miyagi, are to examine whether rice harvested in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant contains radioactive substances.

Chiba Prefecture, which harvests rice ahead of the other 16 areas, has already begun inspections.

Anxieties about food safety spread among consumers after beef contaminated with radioactive cesium was marketed.

The central government and concerned local governments must conduct thorough inspections so consumers can eat rice without fear.
If contaminated rice is discovered, the governments must make every possible effort to prevent it from being marketed.

Rice inspections comprise two steps.

First, preharvest rice is sampled and tested in villages, towns and cities where high levels of radioactive cesium are reported in the soil and air.

Second, in municipalities where high levels of radioactive cesium are detected in rice, much more stringent inspections are carried out on harvested rice sampled in more locations.


Careful inspections essential

If radioactive cesium exceeding the government-set safety limit is found, the rice is banned from shipping and disposed of.
Compensation for this rice will be claimed from Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled nuclear power plant.

The total production of rice in Tokyo and the 16 prefectures is 4.6 million tons, half of the national production.

If the safety of Japan's staple food is threatened, the effect will be immeasurable.

In the beef case, authorities were slow in taking countermeasures.
The beef was found to be contaminated only after the meat had already been shipped.

Unlike cattle, rice does not have individual identification numbers.
If it is marketed, there is no way to trace contaminated rice.

This means that rice must be inspected much more carefully.

However, prefectural inspection institutes already have enough on their hands, as they have to deal with contaminated beef and rice straw.

If inspections take time, a significant delay in rice shipments could result.

Regardless, priority must be placed on safety.


Easy explanations needed

The rice distribution system in Japan is very complicated, and due consideration should be paid to the management system if contaminated rice is found.

Three years ago there was a case in which imported rice containing the residue of an agricultural chemical exceeding the safety limit and toxic mold was sold illegally to third parties as edible rice.

Authorities must never make such a mistake again.

Some consumers voiced concern that they would not feel safe even if the rice contains radioactive substances below the government-set limit.

Due to these fears, consumers want to purchase rice harvested last year, before the nuclear accident.

In a report by an international organization on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in the former Soviet Union in 1986, radioactive cesium was detected in the soil, but this did not cause any health problems.

The government must explain to consumers in layman's terms the safety of rice based on scientific grounds to prevent them from overreacting to radioactive contamination.

We expect consumers also to respond calmly to the situation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 19, 2011)
(2011年8月19日01時14分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月20日 (土)

コメ放射能検査 二段構えで日本の主食を守れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 20, 2011)
2-step test to protect Japan's staple food
コメ放射能検査 二段構えで日本の主食を守れ(8月19日付・読売社説)

The green ears of rice glitter in rays of summer sunlight in paddies around the country.

However, this year's harvest season is likely to be a worrying time for rice farmers as well as consumers.

Under the government's instructions, Tokyo and 16 prefectures, including Fukushima and Miyagi, are to examine whether rice harvested in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant contains radioactive substances.

Chiba Prefecture, which harvests rice ahead of the other 16 areas, has already begun inspections.

Anxieties about food safety spread among consumers after beef contaminated with radioactive cesium was marketed.

The central government and concerned local governments must conduct thorough inspections so consumers can eat rice without fear.
If contaminated rice is discovered, the governments must make every possible effort to prevent it from being marketed.

Rice inspections comprise two steps.

First, preharvest rice is sampled and tested in villages, towns and cities where high levels of radioactive cesium are reported in the soil and air.

Second, in municipalities where high levels of radioactive cesium are detected in rice, much more stringent inspections are carried out on harvested rice sampled in more locations.


Careful inspections essential

If radioactive cesium exceeding the government-set safety limit is found, the rice is banned from shipping and disposed of.
Compensation for this rice will be claimed from Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled nuclear power plant.

The total production of rice in Tokyo and the 16 prefectures is 4.6 million tons, half of the national production.

If the safety of Japan's staple food is threatened, the effect will be immeasurable.

In the beef case, authorities were slow in taking countermeasures.
The beef was found to be contaminated only after the meat had already been shipped.

Unlike cattle, rice does not have individual identification numbers.
If it is marketed, there is no way to trace contaminated rice.

This means that rice must be inspected much more carefully.

However, prefectural inspection institutes already have enough on their hands, as they have to deal with contaminated beef and rice straw.

If inspections take time, a significant delay in rice shipments could result.

Regardless, priority must be placed on safety.


Easy explanations needed

The rice distribution system in Japan is very complicated, and due consideration should be paid to the management system if contaminated rice is found.

Three years ago there was a case in which imported rice containing the residue of an agricultural chemical exceeding the safety limit and toxic mold was sold illegally to third parties as edible rice.

Authorities must never make such a mistake again.

Some consumers voiced concern that they would not feel safe even if the rice contains radioactive substances below the government-set limit.

Due to these fears, consumers want to purchase rice harvested last year, before the nuclear accident.

In a report by an international organization on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in the former Soviet Union in 1986, radioactive cesium was detected in the soil, but this did not cause any health problems.

The government must explain to consumers in layman's terms the safety of rice based on scientific grounds to prevent them from overreacting to radioactive contamination.

We expect consumers also to respond calmly to the situation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 19, 2011)
(2011年8月19日01時14分  読売新聞)

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天国より届いた手紙 (家族を本当に愛するならば)

改訂版01 平成23年7月27日(水)
天国より届いた手紙 (家族を本当に愛するならば)









●日本語オリジナル、Japanese original draft, ภาษาญี่ปุ่น

●英語翻訳: English translation ภาษาไทย
Letter from the Heaven
To whom it may concern:
It is nice to see you again.
This letter is a kind of letter from the heaven, because I’ve already passed away.
Myself have created this letter when I’m still alive.
I’ve requested my wife, Khumpoon Sonsaard to send this letter to you immediately after my death.
I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to you and your kind assistance when I’m alive.
Thank you very much indeed.
Here enclosed is an attachment of this letter for your further assistance to the bereaved.
I’ve made every effort in creating this document but if there may be any mistake, please send it back to my wife, Khumpoon Sonsaard for necessary correction.
Then, my wife will visit the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok for appropriate advice and assistance.
I’ve already made for an arrangement in this regard with the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok.
It’s almost impossible for my wife to understand Japanese words, so staff of the Japanese Embassy is a must to carry out the deal, as they can contact my wife with Thai language.
I hope my family is able to spend a happy life, even after my death.
I never forget your thoughtful mind and kindness given to my family and myself.
Thank you so much.
Kiyoshi Matsui, from the Heaven.

●タイ語翻訳: Thai translation ภาษาไทย
ผมเขียนแล้วจดหมายนี้เมื่อผมยังไม่ตาย แล้วก็ ผมทำให้ภรรยาผม (คำพูล สอนสะอาด) ส่งจดหมายนี้ให้คุณโดยไปรษณีย์ นะครับ 
ผมขอร้องขอบคุณมากมายให้แก่พวกคุณทุกคน เพราะพวกคุณช่วยครอบครัวผมเลยนะครับ ขอบคุณมากนะครับ
ผมทำเอกสารนี้เขียนให้คุณกับระมัดระวัง แต่ว่าถ้ามีเขียนผิด คุณต้องส่งให้ภรรยาผม (คำพูล สอนสะอาด) ครับมาเอกสารนะครับ
ภรรยาผมไม่เข้าใจภาษาญี่ปุ่นเลย ดังนั้นทำเองไม่ได้ เอาช่วยมาจากสถานทูตญี่ปุ่นนะครับ
เจ้าหน้าที่สถานทูตญี่ปุ่นสามารถช่วยภรรยาผมก็ได้ เพราะพวกเขาพูดภาษาไทยก็ได้นะครับ
ผมมีความปรารถนา คือ ครอบครัวผมมีความสุขนานเลยนะครับ
ผมไม่ลืมความใจดีคุณ หลังจากผมไปถึงสวรรค์ก็เหมือนกันนะครับ
ขอบคุณ มาก ๆ
kiyoshi matsui (สุรชัย)จากสวรรค์





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--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 18
EDITORIAL: Noda should watch his mouth

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda should think more carefully about the implications of his words when talking about sensitive topics if he wants to become prime minister.

Noda recently said the Class-A war criminals interred at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo--wartime leaders of Japan who were convicted by the postwar Tokyo tribunal--are no longer war criminals.

During the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Noda rebutted Koizumi's argument that they were war criminals. In an Aug. 15 news conference, Noda said his position on the issue had basically not changed since that time.

Noda put his view on the issue in a written question to the Koizumi Cabinet.

The war criminals were pardoned, released or executed under agreements between the countries running the postwar judicial process, he argued.
A basic tenet of modern law is that a person's criminal guilt disappears when the sentence has been carried out.

In short, Noda believes the war criminals are no longer criminals because they paid their debt to society.

He went on to ask what was wrong with the prime minister's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine if the people enshrined there were not criminals.

The question here is not whether the sentences given to the wartime leaders were carried out. It is a historical issue about whether their acts were in fact war crimes.

Noda is off the mark.

What he says does nothing but unnecessarily hurt the feelings of many people, both Japanese and foreign, whose relatives were killed in the war.

Noda is a member of the Cabinet and intends to run in the Democratic Party of Japan's upcoming election to choose its president.

If he becomes prime minister, he will have to speak about Japan's past as the representative of our nation.

He needs to exercise discretion in both action and words.

Noda did not visit the Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the anniversary of the end of the war.

When he ran for the party leadership race in 2002, he said he would not make an official visit to the shrine on the anniversary if he became prime minister, saying such an act would cause a diplomatic row.

But, if he puts importance on Japan's diplomacy, Noda should explain his views about this and other war-related issues.

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has criticized Noda's remarks as an attempt to deny the facts about Japan's invasions of its neighbors.

Noda's stance on the war criminal issue would have unwanted effects on Japan's relations with China and South Korea but also the United States, which led the Tokyo tribunal.

Noda will face questions about this issue during the party leadership contest.

He needs to offer convincing and responsible answers to these questions and talk about his ideas about the war if he wants to be recognized as someone qualified to head the party and become Japan's prime minister.

In an article on the agenda he would pursue as the nation's leader, published in the September issue of the Bungei Shunju monthly magazine, Noda expressed his determination to tackle three crises: the decline of domestic industry, energy shortages and Japan's fiscal ills.

These certainly should be the top policy priorities at the moment and Noda should try to create a political environment that will allow for effective efforts to grapple with these formidable challenges.

Japan has been making serious, long-term efforts to come to terms with war-related issues.

Japan's leader should not do or say anything that could undermine the progress that has been made or create a situation that makes it difficult for the nation to tackle the real problems it faces today.

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社説:避難者への支援 「復興の前提」再確認を

(Mainichi Japan) August 19, 2011
Gov't efforts must help achieve goal of Tohoku region's full-fledged revival
社説:避難者への支援 「復興の前提」再確認を

Nearly 9,000 people who lost their homes in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami are still living in evacuation centers.

Prime Ministers Naoto Kan's earlier promise that construction of temporary housing facilities would be completed by the mid-August Obon period has been pushed back to September.

To ensure that people living in shelters for prolonged periods are not forced to endure the cold in shelters once again, central and local governments must work to relieve the housing situation before the fall.

In addition, measures must be taken to reduce the red tape that could become a potential obstacle to providing those who have moved into temporary housing facilities and private rental homes with the support they need.

Some 43,000 people from disaster-stricken areas are still staying at hotels, relatives' homes and other types of lodging.

About 8,600 of these people are still in evacuation shelters set up in community centers and other facilities, primarily in Ishinomaki, Kesennuma, and other cities on the Miyagi Prefecture coast.

Residents and authorities are busy dealing with the summer heat, but temperatures will dip drastically at night in the disaster-stricken Tohoku region come autumn.

Local governments must make all possible efforts toward improving residents' living conditions, while taking steps so that shelters can be shut down unless there are extenuating circumstances.

As of Aug. 11, approximately 47,000 emergency temporary housing units had been completed, with the construction of 5,000 units still behind schedule.

Meanwhile, as a result of the government's decision to recognize privately owned rental homes as temporary housing facilities and provide subsidies to refugees who decide to move into them, the total demand for public emergency housing has turned out to be far lower than was initially predicted.

Around 50,000 homes have been granted "temporary housing status" thus far. This allowance was not made by the central government until late April, and the government must acknowledge and reflect upon its delay in taking a flexible approach to the needs of disaster victims.

The focus of assistance for victims of the March disaster is shifting toward supporting those who have moved from evacuation shelters to public temporary housing facilities and privately owned homes.

In the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that hit Kobe and its surroundings in January 1995, the solitary deaths of people living alone in temporary housing became a significant problem.

For victims of the most recent disaster the central government has established a support team spanning various government ministries, but what people need is a single contact that provides comprehensive medical, educational and nursing care support transcending the jurisdictions of government ministries and agencies.

When providing support, authorities should avoid rigid rules, including those on the relocation of residents in temporary housing.

For people who have moved into privately owned rentals, an approach separate from that taken for residents of public temporary housing must be established to prevent solitary deaths.

Efforts must be made for disaster victims who have been dispersed to locations outside their local municipalities or to other prefectures to maintain their ties with their municipalities of origin.

The central government has taken legislative steps ensuring that those who have been forced to flee due to the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant will receive government services in the municipalities to which they have evacuated.

Providing such evacuees with detailed information from their hometown governments will surely contribute to the preservation of community ties.

Deliberation on such topics as the government's third supplementary budget and possible tax hikes tend to attract much of the public's attention with regard to the Tohoku region's reconstruction.

However, we must remind ourselves that it is only by dealing step by step with what lies before us now -- including the provision of aid to evacuees and the painstaking removal of the rubble that has been left behind -- that we will find the path to true reconstruction.

毎日新聞 2011年8月19日 2時32分

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2011年8月19日 (金)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 17
EDITORIAL: China's new flattop is a 'paper tiger'

China's first aircraft carrier departed from the country's northeastern port of Dalian for sea trials on Aug. 10. The launch was cheered not only at the dockside but around China.

The Chinese have not forgotten invasions of their country in the 19th and 20th centuries by the great powers and appear to see this aircraft carrier as a symbol of their national strength.

However, the new vessel is an unsettling development for China's neighbors.

Some countries, including Vietnam, which have territorial disputes with China over islands in the South China Sea, are understandably alarmed.

In fact, the ship in question is an old tub that had its keel laid in the 1980s in the Soviet Union. It was dumped after the Soviet system collapsed.

The Chinese have reportedly refitted it completely, but it has no aircraft on board yet.

The purpose of the sea trial is just to check the vessel's engine and radar performance and other functions.

Mao Tse-tung once described the U.S. nuclear bomb as a "paper tiger."

As things stand now, we can probably borrow the former Chinese leader's words with reference to the Chinese aircraft carrier.

It doesn't even have a name yet.

The real question is how China intends to develop its naval capability in the future.

China, buoyed by its rapid economic rise, has begun to assert its national interests around the globe and has already done a phenomenal job of beefing up its navy to secure sea lanes and resources.

Although no official announcement has been made, China is understood to be building its first completely domestically produced aircraft carrier in Shanghai.

The project will rely on data from the Soviet-built flattop's sea trial.

The country is also in the process of developing anti-ship ballistic missiles that could target U.S. aircraft carriers.

Southeast Asian nations that are concerned about China's new assertiveness are stepping up their joint military exercises with the United States and increasing defense spending.

They are hurrying to acquire submarines and battleships offering more advanced capabilities.

India, which already has aircraft carriers, is now building a new flattop and is in the process of upgrading its submarine fleet.

In the meantime, the economic ties between these nations and China are growing stronger.

Asian economies including China's are developing rapidly, but income gaps are widening.

We find it unfortunate that these countries are pouring their financial resources into military expansion when that money should be spent on social security and infrastructure development.

We believe each country should focus on fostering mutual trust through patient diplomacy.

We would like to re-emphasize the gravity of China's responsibilities as a major power.

That said, Japan is at odds with China in the East China Sea.

The situation in the South China Sea is not something we can dismiss as none of our business.

Japan's defense policy is based on its alliance with the United States, and, in the context of that alliance, it is collaborating with other Asian countries to deal with China.

While maintaining this basic stance, Japan also needs to make a greater effort than ever to improve direct relations with China.

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2011年8月18日 (木)

GDPマイナス 安定成長への道のりは険しい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 18, 2011)
Bumpy road ahead to stable economic growth
GDPマイナス 安定成長への道のりは険しい(8月17日付・読売社説)

Business has certainly been picking up after losing steam in the wake of the March 11 disaster. But adverse elements such as a strengthening yen and electricity shortages are still looming large.

The government and the Bank of Japan must stay on their toes when it comes to economic and financial management.

Japan's real-term gross domestic product declined at an annual rate of 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter, recording negative growth for the third straight quarter--a sign widely believed to signal an economic slowdown.

But many economists dismiss such pessimism, saying the temporary drop in production caused by the disaster was a major reason for the decline in GDP. They expect positive growth in the July-September period.

By using every means at their disposal, private businesses have been rapidly restoring parts supply networks disrupted by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Japan's fundamental manufacturing strength should be able to stem a further decline of the economy.

But ensuring sustainable economic growth will be easier said than done.

The yen has surged to the 76 yen level against the U.S. dollar. Economies of the United States and European countries, which are major importers of Japanese goods, have slowed due to fiscal crises.

Japan's exports, which have been recovering, will lose momentum if the economy is battered by a double whammy of the high yen and overseas business deterioration. This would be a punishing blow to many companies.


Address exchange rate

First and foremost, it is urgent to rectify the yen's exchange rate, which has appreciated further than the real strength of the Japanese economy warrants.

The government and the central bank must closely watch trends in foreign exchange markets and seek coordinated intervention by Japan, the United States and Europe.

Despite the plight of the private sector, the government has been slow in implementing necessary assistance.

No restart is in sight for nuclear power plants that have undergone regular inspections because the government has not formulated a firm energy policy.

Many companies are hesitant to invest in plants and equipment while the power supply remains uncertain.

Disaster reconstruction projects, which can be expected to boost domestic demand, have not progressed as hoped due to delays in recovery efforts, including debris disposal.

The government must have a greater sense of urgency and promote policies that give priority to pump-priming measures.


Deflation a headache

The government is also dawdling when it comes to tackling medium- and long-term challenges, including lowering the corporate tax rate and joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade framework.

The government must resolve these pending issues steadily so the hollowing-out of domestic industries will not lead to an ebbing of the national economy.

Prices also are causing some concern.

The GDP deflator, which indicates overall price trends, dropped more than 2 percent in the April-June quarter compared with a year before.

The consumer price index--which turned positive in April when calculated by the old method--has shown negative growth for 28 consecutive months after the data were calculated again by new standards, reconfirming the seriousness of the deflation gripping the economy.

Expanding demand at home and abroad and maintaining an easy credit policy will be essential for beating deflation.

The government and the central bank must put on their thinking caps and come up with measures to combat deflation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 17, 2011)
(2011年8月17日01時25分  読売新聞)

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--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 17
EDITORIAL: China's new flattop is a 'paper tiger'

China's first aircraft carrier departed from the country's northeastern port of Dalian for sea trials on Aug. 10. The launch was cheered not only at the dockside but around China.

The Chinese have not forgotten invasions of their country in the 19th and 20th centuries by the great powers and appear to see this aircraft carrier as a symbol of their national strength.

However, the new vessel is an unsettling development for China's neighbors.

Some countries, including Vietnam, which have territorial disputes with China over islands in the South China Sea, are understandably alarmed.

In fact, the ship in question is an old tub that had its keel laid in the 1980s in the Soviet Union. It was dumped after the Soviet system collapsed.

The Chinese have reportedly refitted it completely, but it has no aircraft on board yet.

The purpose of the sea trial is just to check the vessel's engine and radar performance and other functions.

Mao Tse-tung once described the U.S. nuclear bomb as a "paper tiger."

As things stand now, we can probably borrow the former Chinese leader's words with reference to the Chinese aircraft carrier.

It doesn't even have a name yet.

The real question is how China intends to develop its naval capability in the future.

China, buoyed by its rapid economic rise, has begun to assert its national interests around the globe and has already done a phenomenal job of beefing up its navy to secure sea lanes and resources.

Although no official announcement has been made, China is understood to be building its first completely domestically produced aircraft carrier in Shanghai.

The project will rely on data from the Soviet-built flattop's sea trial.

The country is also in the process of developing anti-ship ballistic missiles that could target U.S. aircraft carriers.

Southeast Asian nations that are concerned about China's new assertiveness are stepping up their joint military exercises with the United States and increasing defense spending.

They are hurrying to acquire submarines and battleships offering more advanced capabilities.

India, which already has aircraft carriers, is now building a new flattop and is in the process of upgrading its submarine fleet.

In the meantime, the economic ties between these nations and China are growing stronger.

Asian economies including China's are developing rapidly, but income gaps are widening.

We find it unfortunate that these countries are pouring their financial resources into military expansion when that money should be spent on social security and infrastructure development.

We believe each country should focus on fostering mutual trust through patient diplomacy.

We would like to re-emphasize the gravity of China's responsibilities as a major power.

That said, Japan is at odds with China in the East China Sea.

The situation in the South China Sea is not something we can dismiss as none of our business.

Japan's defense policy is based on its alliance with the United States, and, in the context of that alliance, it is collaborating with other Asian countries to deal with China.

While maintaining this basic stance, Japan also needs to make a greater effort than ever to improve direct relations with China.

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私が日本年金機構 業務渉外部 渉外グループに出した手紙、


to: 日本年金機構業務渉外部 渉外グループ
attn: 現況届担当者殿
address: 〒168-8505東京都杉並区高井戸西3丁目5番24号

cc to:日本年金機構中央年金事務所
attn: お客様相談室 ----様
address: 〒104-8175東京都中央区銀座7-13-8 第2丸高ビル 1f・2f





Kiyoshi Matsui (松井清)
99/16 Moo.13, T. Silaa, A. Muang, Khonkaen 40000, Thailand
Tel: 043-331-160

日本年金機構 業務渉外部渉外グループ外国給付担当よりの手紙












日本年金機構 業務渉外部








 現況届に「配偶者 無」表示がある事象は、印刷出力システムの原因によるものですのでご了承いただきますようお願いいたします。





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2011年8月17日 (水)

社説:再生エネ法 着実に取り組む体制を

(Mainichi Japan) August 17, 2011
Renewable energy expansion proposed in bill an unavoidable step for Japan
社説:再生エネ法 着実に取り組む体制を

A bill requiring utilities to purchase renewable energy at fixed prices is now expected to pass in the Diet.

While many challenges still lie ahead, the establishment of a sustainable energy system is something that Japan cannot avoid, and we throw our support behind the development.

According to the proposed bill, utilities will buy electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal power, the cost of which utilities can then add to consumers' electricity bills.

Utilities heretofore have bought only surplus energy from home solar systems, but passage of the bill will require utilities to purchase electricity generated by outside providers solely for sales purposes as well.

The original goal of the bill was to curb the emission of greenhouse gases.

However, after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, the bill took on a whole new meaning.

As circumstances today differ drastically from when the bill was first drawn up, it's only natural that the bill has been revised.

The prices at which utilities will purchase electricity will be based on deliberations conducted by a third-party commission, whose members must be endorsed by the Diet.

A new proviso has also been added to the bill ensuring the implementation of measures to aid industries that consume large quantities of electricity.

Both maintaining transparency in the process by which electricity prices are set and offering special considerations for industries that will be greatly affected by the developments are crucial.

Prices must be set high enough to provide an incentive for private corporations and other parties to break into the business of energy generation.

If set too high, however, the new electricity surcharges could pose too much of a burden on large-scale energy consumers, which may then result in the hollowing out of industry and increased unemployment.

As such, prices must strike the right balance.

The unstable supply and the varied voltages and frequencies of solar- and wind-based energy are an additional concern.

Furthermore, as the power distribution networks currently used by individual utilities will not be sufficient to accommodate the new energy system, arrangements such as the widespread use of various power distribution networks must be made.

The strategy of initially storing generated electricity in batteries set up by households and businesses before stabilizing the energy is another way to expand the use of renewable energy.

Although one of the original motivations behind the increased use of renewable energy sources had been the reduction of greenhouse gases, in light of the nuclear disaster and the nuclear power plants that are currently not in operation as a result, we have no choice but to increase our use of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal for the time being.

This means we have a huge task ahead of us: reducing our dependence on nuclear power while also aiming to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Realizing the widespread use of electricity generated from renewable sources is something we cannot postpone.  ただ、持続可能なエネルギー供給の実現は不可避の課題だ。

And we must not forget that adopting the new energy system will promote the growth of new business opportunities, including the creation of a smart grid -- the digitization of electrical grids through collaboration with the communications industry.

We hope to continue promoting the expansion of renewable energy, along with energy conservation and related policies.

毎日新聞 2011年8月17日 東京朝刊

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2011年8月16日 (火)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 14
EDITORIAL: Thinking about the end of the war; for a better democracy.

A young officer murmurs: "There is never any victory for those who do not progress. The best thing that could happen to us is to be defeated now and thus wake up. When will we be saved if we don't wake up now?"

In the spring of 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato received orders to embark on a suicide mission.

The young officer's words were written down by a shipmate, Mitsuru Yoshida, in his "Senkan Yamato no Saigo" (Requiem for Battleship Yamato).

His country had effectively forced him to meaningless end, but it seems the young officer still clung to hope.

Yet, did we really achieve progress? Did we wake up? Have we really been saved? Aug. 15 marks the 66th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.

--When will we wake up, if not now?--

In August, shortly before Japan's defeat, a young trainee officer who was drafted as a student found himself on the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture.

He was in command of troops preparing for a final showdown with U.S. forces.

They were defending an area they called "Ichikoro Jinchi" (easily defeated trench).

They had four cannons and only 72 rounds.

In a shooting match, their ammunition would not last even a few minutes.

When he asked his superior officer, "How are we going to fight with this?", the major replied on the spur of the moment, "When it comes to the push, there will be loads and loads of shells."

After the war, the young trainee officer joined the Ministry of Finance and became a so-called elite bureaucrat.  若者は戦後、旧大蔵省に入りエリートと呼ばれる身となる。

Ritsuo Isobe, now 89, once headed the National Tax Agency.

His view of the wartime elite, mainly professional soldiers, is that "they were interested in nothing but their own promotion, and spared no thought about how they should conduct themselves for the sake of their country and the people."

In those days, the country sought additional enemies despite already being caught up in the quagmire of the Sino-Japanese war.

As the United States was Japan's supplier of oil and other resources, it was unthinkable that Japan would dive headlong into the Pacific War against that country.

Yet, it was the military professionals who twisted the narrative, self-servingly calling it a war of survival and a matter of self-defense.

They rallied the country around those slogans. The citizens, whipped up into a frenzy by the early victories, answered the call and rallied around the military men.

Why did they choose the path of self-destruction?

In December, the movie "Isoroku Yamamoto" will be released.

The actor playing the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet is Koji Yakusho.

When we asked him his views after having played Yamamoto, Yakusho answered, "This country has a history of the elite running things as they see fit, and thinking that's all right. The same thing is happening now.

And on the other hand, the public is always serious about making money, but tends to forget things that are important."

--A negative structure repeated--

The same pattern was repeated after the war.

In the case of the bubble economy, the responsibility lay with the bureaucrats who left the excessive money supply as it was, and also with the public.
That is because they capitalized on the booming assets by snatching up real estate and stocks, thereby inflating their prices far beyond their actual worth.

As a result, the prices of these assets went into a nosedive, creating a huge amount of bad loans. But the bureaucrats procrastinated about releasing information, which in turn delayed the solution.

"The country was defeated, but there are roads."

Spending on public works projects spun out of control.

Wasteful investments were made one after another, turning farm roads into airstrips, erecting opulent public buildings, and so on.

After the spending spree, we were left with an enormous fiscal deficit.

And now the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Was that not a story caused by overconfidence in the "nuclear village" comprising electric power companies, pro-nuclear bureaucrats and scholars?

Despite being one of the most quake-prone countries on Earth, Japan built 54 nuclear reactors, apparently ignoring the fact that massive tsunami are known to strike.

There were even plans to build at least 14 additional reactors by 2030, and raise our reliance on nuclear energy for electricity generation to 50 percent or higher.

Our excessive reliance on nuclear power was left unchecked and tolerated.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, along with the power companies, closed their eyes to the realities of this quake-prone country.

They released convenient and palatable information, but they hid inconvenient data.

They also staged fake Q&A sessions to manipulate public opinion.

This is just as bad as the wartime "daihonei happyo," or the military wartime propaganda that issued lie after lie about the war situation.

But is this just the nuclear village's fault?

Tatsuhiro Kamisato, a project associate professor at the University of Tokyo, is a member of the Nippon Mae e Iinkai (Japan forward committee) set up by The Asahi Shimbun. He says the true cause of the nuclear crisis lies in the fact that "we failed to carry out a full-fledged democratic debate about nuclear energy," and that both "the closed system of experts" and "the lack of interest among most of the public" were complicit in allowing the accident to happen.

National defense and securing stable energy supplies are vital functions of government.

But the public went so far as to entrust their lives and properties to the bureaucrats and experts, sometimes standing by and just watching, while at other times making frantic efforts to obtain profits.

Perhaps this national habit of dependency and irresponsibility lies at the root of the repetitive failures that our country has experienced.

-- Our intent to protect --

Each and every individual citizen should have the intent to protect their life and property; it is then that citizens can choose the people who will take those intentions and turn them into reality, make them our politicians and have them work for us.

We have no choice but to create a system whereby the public and politicians can check the value and risks of a given issue.

This essentially amounts to reconstructing a better, more decent democracy. We have no other choice.

Information is desperately important.

Alex Kerr, a scholar on East Asian culture, says that bureaucrats and a handful of experts have dominated information, and it was up to them to make the decisions.

By rights, that should be the politicians' and citizens' job, but they have been neglected, he says.

As early as 2002, Kerr already wrote in his book, "Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Modern Japan," how Japan's pork-barrel, bureaucrat-led politics and information manipulation by the nuclear village constituted the dark side of Japan.

He says that this structure has not changed since the war, all the way down to Fukushima. In order to change this, there is no other way but to tear down their monopoly of information, he says.

Healthy, independent journalism bears a heavy responsibility and has a major role to play.

Our role is to prevent the bureaucrats from monopolizing or manipulating information, and make sure that everyone whose lives and assets might be at risk get to share that information.

We seek to fulfill our role without forgetting the history of failures.

Only after having done so can we finally reply to the young officer on the Yamato. "Finally, we will take one step forward so that we can wake up and be saved."

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戦後66年 政治の「脱貧困」をめざせ

History shows danger of politics left adrift
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 16, 2011)
戦後66年 政治の「脱貧困」をめざせ(8月14日付・読売社説)

How strongly do you feel Japan's peace and affluence have been achieved at the expense of the many lives lost in the series of wars this nation fought during the Showa era?

This question was asked in an opinion survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun by mail in January and February.

An overwhelming 84 percent of those polled said they felt so "very much" or "to a certain extent."

The figure can be perceived as an indication that many Japanese still feel grateful to their forebears.

Monday marks the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Our nation's postwar peace and affluence have been profoundly shaken since the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

However, we believe this national crisis is exactly the time to learn many lessons from the history of the tumultuous Showa era (1926-1989).

"Fukko" (recovery)--a word spoken in relation to the ongoing post-disaster reconstruction efforts--clearly brings to mind our country's success in accomplishing what can be described as a miraculous postwar recovery.

The sentiment held by the Japanese now is in stark contrast to the sense of relief and release that prevailed immediately after the war.

Five months have already passed since the March calamity, but only slow progress has been made in post-disaster recovery efforts.

The task of overcoming the ongoing crisis for the nation requires strong leadership from politicians.

However, we are now witnessing serious deterioration in political leadership--or what can be termed "political poverty."

Common ground can be found in many respects between the current pitiful state of affairs and the political landscape in prewar times.

The early days of Showa, or the late 1920s, was marked by bitter strife between two major political parties--the Constitutional Party of Political Friends (Seiyu-kai) and the Constitutional Democratic Party (Minseito).

This resulted in a loss of public trust in government, dealing a fatal blow to the nation's party politics.

The premiership changed hands among 10 political figures during the 1930s.

The political parties in that time lost ground to the military and were unable to prevent the country from drifting toward war.


An immature ruling party

Two years ago, the people gave the Democratic Party of Japan a mandate to run the country.
The shift in power came at a time when the Liberal Democratic Party had reached the end of the line after long years in power during the postwar period.

However, the DPJ's rise to power was followed by the collapse of many policies formed by the party just to play to the gallery.
This is symbolized by the failure of the child-rearing allowance program and other dole-out policies contrived without securing financial resources for them.

The DPJ's immaturity at the nation's helm has disappointed the public, further contributing to a mistrust of government.

Particularly disturbing about the DPJ-led administration is its conspicuous lack of consistency in fundamental policies that shape the foundation of the country.

For instance, Prime Minister Naoto Kan created confusion in many quarters when he abruptly called for an end to the nation's reliance on nuclear power as a major source of energy.

It should not be forgotten that our country's prosperity and adversity have been greatly affected by the kinds of strategies it has adopted for securing resources and energy sources, both before and after the war.


In July 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army advanced into the southern part of French Indochina with an eye to obtaining oil and other resources in the Dutch East Indies (currently Indonesia).

The United States angrily reacted to this action by imposing a punitive oil embargo against Japan.

In those times, Japan relied on the United States for about 90 percent of its oil imports.

The embargo was a great surprise to our country, foreshadowing the outbreak of war between the two nations.

Postwar investment was concentrated on the coal industry to secure a domestic energy source, which laid the foundation for reconstruction.

Due to a shift thereafter to oil and the introduction of nuclear power generation as energy sources, the national economy developed by leaps and bounds.


Politics lack direction

In September 2009, then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama pledged to the international community that "Japan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from the 1990 level by the end of 2020."

That he made the international promise without much prior discussion on the matter was problematic in itself, but if greenhouse gas emissions were to be decreased drastically it should have been premised on reducing thermal power generation and increasing reliance on nuclear power generation.

But it seems that the issue of greenhouse gas emissions has faded into oblivion.

This important energy issue should not be affected by the trends of time.


The cool and composed reaction shown by residents of the areas that bore the brunt of the the March 11 earthquake and tsunami was commended globally.

Foreign countries sent rescue and medical teams to the damaged areas to extend warm assistance.

The Japanese government's response to and its clumsy public disclosure of the nuclear crisis at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, on the other hand, spawned mistrust and drew fire from the international community.

The world was left with an impression of Japan politically adrift.

The Kan administration has established a welter of task forces and teams, including Cabinet members, to work out assistance measures for disaster victims and measures to deal with the nuclear crisis.

However, the responsibility and authority of each task force and team were not clearly defined, and instruction and information were not provided in an integrated manner within the government, thereby throwing government offices into confusion.

Kan's lack of leadership, as well as his opportunistic and awkward political methods, hampered opposition parties' cooperative momentum.

The ruling and opposition parties failed to cooperate, and the political wrangling that followed hindered efforts to establish a political framework for promoting reconstruction.


Paradise of irresponsibility

In The Yomiuri Shimbun's weekly "Showa Era" series, Prof. Masayuki Yamauchi of the University of Tokyo points out: "Military men were in a paradise of very vague responsibility, in which they could evade responsibility."

For instance, in the Battle of Midway in June 1942, which marked a turning point in the Pacific War, Japan suffered a crushing defeat as the Imperial Japanese Navy lost four aircraft carriers due to the failure of its commander-in-chief and chief of staff to have a long-term perspective.

But the cause of defeat was not analyzed and the responsibility of the commander-in-chief was not questioned.

The folly of "falling into a paradise for evading responsibility" should not be repeated.

It is urgent to eliminate "political poverty" now, at a time when politicians' responsibility has been called into serious question.

After Kan steps down, the ruling and opposition parties must first and foremost join hands to establish a strong framework for promoting reconstruction from the disaster.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 14, 2011)
(2011年8月14日01時21分  読売新聞)

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(Mainichi Japan) August 16, 2011
Yoko Ono's transparent maze reflects on life's obstacles

Mazes appear to have attracted people since ancient times.

Henry II, king of England in the 12th century, is said to have harbored his lover in a gigantic maze.

A novel featuring the poisoning death of the king's lover has recently drawn attention in Japan.

A maze set up at the site of Yokohama Triennale 2011, an international exhibition of modern art under way in Yokohama, is popular with visitors.

The maze, produced by Yoko Ono, is unique in that it is made of transparent walls.

At the center of the maze is a telephone, which occasionally rings.
If a visitor lifts the receiver, they can hear Yoko Ono speak.

The transparent maze is a metaphor for real society.

Where people should go is visible in the eyes of everybody, but nobody can go ahead because they are blocked by transparent walls.

In other words, nobody knows how to reach their destination.

A world without nuclear weapons has been earnestly sought, but why can't it be realized?

Many political forces largely share the goals of restoring quake- and tsunami-hit areas and the livelihoods of disaster victims and reforming social security systems, but progress in efforts to achieve these goals cannot be easily made.

Since ancient times, mathematicians have tried to develop a method of figuring out mazes, but it is not easy to find the shortest way to go through a maze.

However, if one marks off the way they passed and avoids repeating the same mistake, they can reach their goal after walking for a distance less than twice the total extension of the maze.

The key is not to repeat a mistake.

The theme of Yokohama Triennale 2011 is "How Much of the World Can We Know?"

In other words, it aims to focus on matters that cannot be clarified with science or reason, and thereby rediscover values we've almost forgotten and reconsider relations between people and nature.

It goes without saying that the organizer of the event takes into account what the world is like following the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

The extremely hot summer continues.

Isn't it interesting to think about implications by Yoko Ono in the transparent maze?

("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)
毎日新聞 2011年8月16日 0時03分

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2011年8月14日 (日)

東北高速無料化 「ただ乗り」許せば意味がない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 14, 2011)
Free riders make mockery of toll-free Tohoku expressways
東北高速無料化 「ただ乗り」許せば意味がない(8月13日付・読売社説)

One of the most glaring deficiencies of the populist policies espoused by Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the Democratic Party of Japan has been exposed.

Many drivers have been taking advantage of the exemption on expressway tolls for trucks in the disaster-struck Tohoku region to travel without paying.

Hundreds of long-distance truck drivers bound for Tokyo and its vicinity from western Japan have exploited loopholes in this system by taking a longer route to get on or off at a toll-free section and avoid paying.

The system was intended to smooth the flow of goods to disaster areas by lowering transportation costs.  トラックを対象とした無料化は本来、輸送コストを引き下げて被災地向けの物流を円滑にすることが目的だった。

However, a large number of truckers that have nothing to do with recovery work have abused the system by repeatedly traveling long distances on expressways for free.

This has resulted in traffic often backing up from toll gates as far as driving lanes, and frustrated ordinary drivers.

On the other side of the coin, trucking companies and related businesses in disaster-hit areas have welcomed the toll-free system.


Flawed from the beginning

We think the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry should survey residents in affected areas and conduct fact-finding investigations regarding the toll-free system.
If the ministry concludes the system is doing more harm than good, it should be dumped.

We believe there might have been problems with making Tohoku expressways toll-free from the very beginning.

Since June 20, vehicles driven by March 11 disaster victims, people who evacuated from around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and midsize or larger trucks have had their tolls waived.

These vehicles are exempt from paying when starting from or arriving at toll gates on 20 sections of expressways in Tohoku and parts of Ibaraki and Niigata prefectures.

To use the system, drivers need certificates issued by municipal governments that prove they are disaster victims. However, trucks do not need these certificates and are not even asked about the purpose of their travel.  被災者は自治体の被災証明が必要だが、トラックは不要で、走行目的もチェックされない。

Consequently, trucks can travel without paying on expressway sections that have no tollgates.

Here's one case that highlights the system's flaws.

A truck drives from the Kansai region via the Meishin, Chuo, Keno or Kita-Kanto expressways and passes a tollbooth at the Mito Interchange of the Joban Expressway, which is in a toll-free section.

The truck then makes a U-turn and drives back through the same tollgate--again without having to pay.
This would enable the truck to reach its actual destination in Tokyo or neighboring areas without paying a single yen.


System must be reviewed

A transport ministry survey conducted in late July found about 800 of 6,000 trucks that went through tollgates of the Mito Interchange from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. returned to those gates--but in the opposite direction--within one hour.

This meant one or two of every 10 trucks were suspected of unfairly using the toll-free system, according to the ministry.

It is also problematic that narrow streets used by children going to school and residential roads near interchanges have become clogged with heavy trucks.
Many locals have complained about the trucks making dangerous U-turns and the noise they generate.

Although making a U-turn around interchanges on national highways is illegal, some truck drivers have turned around at parking lots of commercial establishments and other places. The result is that the situation remains uncorrected.

The DPJ's campaign pledge to make all expressways toll-free is foolish because even people who do not use expressways will be forced to bear financial burdens related to them.

The confusion sparked by the toll-free Tohoku expressways should be an opportunity to put the DPJ's toll abolition plan under the microscope.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 13, 2011)
(2011年8月13日01時27分  読売新聞)

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社説:新米調査と取引 もう失敗は許されない

(Mainichi Japan) August 13, 2011
Gov't urged to take appropriate measures to ensure safety of rice
社説:新米調査と取引 もう失敗は許されない

The government has come under mounting pressure to ensure food safety as consumers' confidence in what they eat has declined considerably due to the ongoing crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
The government needs to take prompt action as rice is currently being harvested in Chiba Prefecture and other areas where rice is grown earlier than other districts.

Consumer concerns about food safety have grown after the national and local governments failed to prevent beef contaminated with radioactive cesium from the crippled nuclear plant from hitting the market.

As it reflects on the problem, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister has decided to conduct a two-phase survey on rice harvested this year in 17 prefectures -- mainly in the Tohoku and Kanto regions -- to see if rice is contaminated with radioactive cesium.

The ministry will ban the marketing of rice from regions where radioactive cesium that exceeds the upper limit set by the government is detected in the second phase of the survey and will order that all rice in such regions be discarded.

The ministry's decision to conduct double-checks to prevent the marketing of tainted rice should be appreciated.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry says that cesium in excess of the upper limit will not likely be detected in newly harvested rice as it has banned farmers in some areas in Fukushima Prefecture -- where high levels of radioactive cesium were detected in soil -- from growing rice and vegetables.

However, if rice, Japan's staple food, is found contaminated with cesium, it will have a serious impact on people's lives.
Therefore, the government must not repeat the same mistake that allowed cesium-contaminated beef cows to be shipped.

A growing number of local bodies that are not subject to national government rice inspections -- such as the Kyoto and Hyogo prefectural governments -- have begun to voluntarily check rice newly harvested in their areas for radioactive substances.

In order to ensure food safety and security for consumers, the government should extend necessary assistance for such voluntary efforts being made by local governments.

Amid growing concerns about the safety of newly harvested rice, futures transactions in rice were resumed at the Tokyo Grain Exchange (TGE) and the Kansai Commodities Exchange in Osaka on Aug. 8 -- for the first time in 72 years.

Rice prices are supposed to be determined through negotiations between producers and distributors. In fact, however, agricultural cooperatives that account for roughly 60 percent of rice being marketed across the country take the initiative in determining rice prices. Rice prices also fluctuate largely depending on harvest conditions.

Futures transactions are aimed at increasing transparency in determining prices and minimizing producers and distributors' losses by openly fixing prices in the market in advance.

However, transactions fell through in Tokyo on the first day because the TGE was flooded with high-priced orders for rice and rice prices rose far above the standard price it set.

Behind the move appears to be investors' anxiety that the amount of newly harvested rice to be marketed will decrease because of radiation concerns.

The market has gradually calmed down, but futures prices of rice remain at high levels.

If this trend is reflected in the spot prices of rice, it could deal a serious blow to consumers.

It is hoped that the rice futures transactions market will develop into one that will stabilize farmers' incomes without being swayed by short-term speculative moves and form prices that can reassure consumers.

毎日新聞 2011年8月13日 2時31分(最終更新 8月13日 21時38分)

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2011年8月13日 (土)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 12
EDITORIAL: Accelerate rebuilding in Fukushima by lifting designation

At one time, Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, had become isolated because the distribution of goods was halted due to radiation fears from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

But now, a large supermarket and restaurants are operating in the Haramachi-ku area, where the municipal office is located. A library is also open.

Compared with before, the city is much livelier and has recovered its calm.

But everyday living remains under strict constraints.

Residents in the area are required to always be ready to stay indoors or evacuate to other locations in an emergency.

Children, pregnant women, people who need nursing care and hospitalized patients are asked not to enter the area.

Day-care centers, kindergartens and schools are not allowed to open.

Temporary housing units for disaster survivors cannot be built in the area, either.

This is because the city is within a radius of 20-30 kilometers from the nuclear plant and is designated as an "emergency evacuation readiness zone" by the nuclear disaster special measures law.

The zone comprises five municipalities, including Minami-Soma. Of the nearly 60,000 people who live there, some 25,000 are taking shelter elsewhere.

The nuclear disaster countermeasures headquarters of the Naoto Kan administration indicated a policy to lift the designation, possibly in early September.

First, the five municipalities will draft plans to restore living environments, and once the plans are all drawn up, the designation will be lifted.

The setting of the zone was based on distance from the nuclear plant. It was initially feared that if a nuclear reactor exploded, radioactive substances would have reached this area.

As long as the government concluded that such danger has considerably lessened, the lifting of the designation is reasonable.

The concentric, regulatory zone of 20 to 30 km from the plant and levels of radioactivity do not necessarily correspond.

It is a matter of course that the need for evacuation and decontamination should be based on levels of radioactivity, not distance from the plant.

In areas where radiation levels are low, people are starting to rebuild their lives.

There is no longer reason to restrict such activities.

On the other hand, many residents are anxious that when the designation is lifted, compensation and aid might be cut off prematurely.

As things stand, there is a big difference in compensation, depending on whether one lives within a 30-km radius or not.

The government is urged to clarify that compensation and aid will continue despite the distance so that residents can recover their everyday lives.

If residents become divided over financial compensation, it would fetter reconstruction.

Residents are the leading players of reconstruction.

Their attachment to their hometowns should be put to good use.

Such ideas as hiring residents as temporary workers to cover the shortage of local government employees should also be incorporated in rebuilding plans.

In some municipalities, most of the residents have left.

Other municipal governments suffered serious damage to infrastructure, such as water supply and sewage systems.

The central and prefectural governments must support those municipalities to help them rebuild.

As for decontamination, the government should take charge.

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社説:原発事故の賠償 救済の体制作りが必要

(Mainichi Japan) August 12, 2011
Legally supported compensation setup needed to provide relief for nuke crisis victims
社説:原発事故の賠償 救済の体制作りが必要

Aug. 11 marked the five-month anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, but the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has yet to be brought under control.

With a nuclear compensation panel within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) establishing its midterm guidelines, however, an overall picture of the scope of compensation for damages caused by the crisis have finally begun to emerge.

The panel had heretofore expressed its intent to include costs incurred by residents forced to evacuate under government instruction, emotional pain caused by these evacuations, as well as damages and radioactive contamination fears caused by shipping bans imposed on agricultural and fisheries products as eligible for compensation.

In its midterm guidelines, the panel expanded the scope of compensation eligibility to include the manufacturing and service industries.

The tourism industries in Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Gunma prefectures are now eligible, in addition to Fukushima Prefecture's.

Furthermore, the panel approved the coverage of costs incurred across the nation from cancellations made by foreign tourists through the month of May.

The 17 prefectures where radiation-tainted rice straw was distributed -- leading to radiation-tainted beef -- will also be eligible for compensation.

Private companies that sustained direct damage and other parties that were indirectly affected, such as the clients of farmers, fishermen and forestry operators, have also been included for compensation coverage.

Based on the serious effects of the crisis, the effort made to expand the scope of compensation if a causal relationship exists, should be recognized.

The panel also indicated that evacuations by residents living outside the government-mandated evacuation zones could be eligible for compensation if the evacuations are deemed appropriate under current social norms.

While in-depth deliberation of the latter has been deferred, the inclusion of such non-government-mandated evacuations under the scope of compensation payments would be a reasonable measure, considering the scale of radioactive contamination.

A claim for damages based on the midterm guidelines will be submitted in September to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the stricken nuclear power plant.

While some 400,000 to 500,000 individuals and companies were initially expected to be eligible for damages, the number is now predicted to be far higher, which increases the likelihood of negotiations that are both protracted and continuous.

First and foremost, TEPCO, which will expand the number of its staff dedicated to compensation issues to several thousand, should carefully listen to the voices of the crisis' victims.

As was noted in the midterm guidelines, it is important that TEPCO maintain enough flexibility to compensate parties on a case-by-case basis if cause and effect is shown to exist, even if such parties are not specified in the guidelines as being eligible for compensation.

Direct negotiations are ideal in promptly providing reparations to the victims.

Still, the panel's midterm guidelines come with more than a few abstract stipulations and standards that could result in multiple interpretations.

For this reason, committees will be set up under the panel's umbrella to mediate in case direct negotiations between involved parties break down.

Members of this committee will largely be comprised of lawyers based in Tokyo and Fukushima; bar associations have experience in alternative dispute resolution (ADR), aimed at resolving civil disputes without litigation.

If disputes remain unresolved, parties will ultimately go to court, but this will take time and money.

There are high hopes for a setup in which all parties reach a satisfactory settlement with both speed and fairness, and we hope that the legal community provides all the support it can provide.

毎日新聞 2011年8月12日 2時31分

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世界市場混乱 日米欧は危機の収束を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 13, 2011)
Japan, U.S., Europe must hasten to end fiscal crisis
世界市場混乱 日米欧は危機の収束を急げ(8月12日付・読売社説)

Unrest in global financial markets is continuing, as there is no end in sight to fiscal crises in the United States and some European countries, with credit uncertainty spreading.

International coordination must be enhanced to stabilize the markets, while Japan, the United States, European countries and emerging economies must also deal appropriately with their respective problems.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven leading economies announced Monday they would jointly take every possible step to stabilize the markets.

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board pledged in a statement issued Tuesday to keep interest rates near zero until mid-2013.

A barrage of countermeasures temporarily stopped a chain-reaction global decline in stock values, but stock markets in the United States and European countries crashed again on Wednesday.

The stock average also fell below 9,000 again on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Thursday.

However, it is not easy to deal with the latest market unrest because it has been caused by a complex web of factors.


U.S., Europe blamed for unrest

Since the U.S. government failed to take drastic countermeasures against its fiscal deterioration, U.S. Treasury bonds were downgraded by Standard & Poor's.

Under the circumstances, increased public spending to boost the economy can hardly be expected.

In Europe, fiscal crises in Greece and other countries have spread to Italy and Spain, and credit uncertainty has even spilled over to France, which is one of the countries helping them.

Financial institutions around the world possess a huge number of government bonds issued by the United States and European countries.

If the value of those bonds plummets, financial instability will grow.

The United States and European countries must proceed steadily with fiscal reconstruction and try to resolve the turmoil as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, economic overheating and inflation are concerns in emerging economies.

According to some observers, surplus funds put out by developed countries' monetary easing measures have flowed into emerging economies to inflate economic bubbles.

Countries around the world must work together and steer their respective economic policies cautiously to prevent bubbles in emerging economies from collapsing and to make soft landings possible.


Economic stimulus needed

Although the Japanese government and the Bank of Japan conducted an independent yen-selling intervention, the yen's value still remains high and is likely at any time to again reach a postwar record value above the 76 yen-to-the-dollar level.

The government and the central bank must conduct a concerted intervention with the United States and European countries to demonstrate their determination not to allow the yen's further appreciation.

The government has upgraded the nation's economic outlook to "picking up" because it considers the economic downturn caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami to be almost over.

It also assumes a scenario in which Japan's economic growth will shift into high gear with overseas demand as a driving force, but we think this prospect is too rosy because the future of economies abroad does not allow much room for optimism.

The government must prioritize economic stimulus measures in its policy management.

Projects to restore damage caused by the disaster will lead to expansion of domestic demand.

It should daringly proceed with such projects after securing stable financial resources.

Confusion over the nation's energy policy under Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration, especially on such issues as denuclearization, has raised the specter of severe electricity shortages and caused public concern over the future of the nation's economic growth.

The nation's growth strategy and energy policy must be put back into shape as Kan's Cabinet finally is coming to its end.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 12, 2011)
(2011年8月12日01時08分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月12日 (金)

読売緊急提言 新首相の下で復興体制確立を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 12, 2011)
Next administration must show clear path to reconstruction
読売緊急提言 新首相の下で復興体制確立を(8月11日付・読売社説)


As of Thursday, it has been five months since the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, but reconstruction of disaster-hit areas has been greatly delayed from the government's initial schedule.

Disposal of the massive amount of debris in the areas has not progressed smoothly, while many disaster survivors are still forced to live in evacuation centers.

There is also political turmoil as a result of Prime Minister Naoto Kan's irresponsible extemporaneous remarks and ad hoc responses to various issues.

There are even fears the Japanese economy will lose momentum due to upsets in financial markets, such as the hyper-appreciation of the yen and global plunges in stock prices.

At this juncture, we have no time to lose in drastically changing the current political framework.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has compiled a set of emergency proposals concerning reconstruction from the great earthquake.

The central and local governments should unite to accelerate efforts to reconstruct the quake- and tsunami-hit areas and rebuild the lives of people in those areas as early as possible.

It is also an urgent task to decontaminate areas tainted by radiation around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Japan must overcome the great earthquake and the nuclear crisis and realize a strong economic recovery.

What is really necessary is to restore political leadership in the nation.


Chose new DPJ head quickly

The prime minister, who announced his intention to resign in early June, still clings to the post, inviting serious paralysis in domestic and foreign policy. He must resign immediately.

We would like the Democratic Party of Japan to swiftly elect Kan's successor as party president.

The new DPJ president should not endlessly adhere to the party's unpopular election manifesto, which has already proved unworkable.

The new DPJ head should be strongly determined to bid farewell to the failed attempt to implement "government led by politicians" and able to effectively handle and make good use of bureaucrats and their expertise.

It is also indispensable for the new DPJ leader to put a premium on consultations between the ruling and opposition parties.

Under the currently divided Diet, in which the ruling parties hold a majority in the House of Representatives and opposition parties have a majority in the House of Councillors, it is important for both blocs to cooperate in deliberating on and enacting bills.

The new administration will have several options to swiftly carry out effective policy measures, including a grand coalition and cooperation from parties not represented in the cabinet.

The ruling and opposition parties need to put aside their political tug-of-war for about one year to seriously face the current national crisis.

According to the government's basic reconstruction policy, the first five years will be a period of intense reconstruction that will require revenues of at least 19 trillion yen.

Of this amount, 13 trillion yen--not including money necessary for the first and second supplementary budgets for the current fiscal year--should be financed through means including the issuance of reconstruction bonds, spending cuts and non-tax revenue, the policy says.


Discuss tax increase

Considering the nation's severe fiscal circumstances, the issuance of reconstruction bonds is unavoidable.

The problem is how to secure revenues to redeem the government bonds.

The government seems to be thinking about raising such key taxes as income, corporate and consumption taxes.  政府は、所得税、法人税、消費税の「基幹税」の増税を考えているようだ。

It must not leave debts to future generations, but should finance the redemption of the reconstruction bonds through stable revenue sources.

In this regard, we think it is most appropriate to make an increase in the consumption tax rate a major pillar of the tax hikes, because a wide variety of consumers can share the burden.

The plan for integrated reform of the tax and social security systems--which the government and ruling parties adopted in June--proposed that consumption tax revenue be used exclusively for social security purposes and the tax rate be raised to 10 percent by the middle of the 2010s.

It is reasonable to use the consumption tax revenue for social security purposes, in response to a graying society with a chronically low birthrate.


Raise consumption tax to 8%

Now that the nation is in a state of emergency, it may be advisable for the consumption tax rate to be raised by about 3 percentage points, starting in fiscal 2013, and for a considerable part of the increased revenue to be used for the redemption of the post-disaster reconstruction bonds.

A one percentage point hike in the consumption tax would be expected to increase tax revenue by 2.5 trillion yen.

The ruling and opposition parties should begin talks soon on the process of raising the tax rate and on the use of the increased revenue.

In connection with the issuance of post-disaster reconstruction bonds, the utilization of "buried treasure," idle funds held by individual households, is also promising.

It may be advisable for the government to draw out this sleeping private capital by issuing a no-interest, nontaxable government bond that is exempt from inheritance tax, and utilize it for reconstruction efforts.

Although the Japanese economy is picking up, there are worrisome factors, namely insufficient electricity and the rapid appreciation of the yen.


Prevent power crisis from expanding

In the aftermath of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, operations cannot be resumed at nuclear power plants that have completed regular inspections.

Operations at other nuclear power plants also are to be suspended for their regular inspections by next spring.

A devastating power shortage is becoming more of a real possibility.

Many companies are shifting their production bases abroad to avoid the risks stemming from the power shortage and the rapid rise of the yen.
If this trend accelerates, the nation's industries will be hollowed out.

This could undermine the foundation of the national economy.

To prevent such economic decay, the government should first ensure the safety of nuclear power plants and have operations resume at verified plants one by one, with the central government taking responsibility.

It is right for the government to pursue as an ultimate goal the promotion of such natural energies as solar, wind and geothermal power.
But we cannot count on their becoming major power sources anytime soon.

The government should pursue the best and most realistic energy policy, while utilizing nuclear power.

The realization of full-fledged economic expansion will boost post-disaster reconstruction and expand support to disaster-stricken areas.

The government and the Bank of Japan must do their utmost to prevent the too-rapid appreciation of the yen, which would have an adverse impact on the economy.

It is also desirable to reinforce the growth strategy of drawing on the vitality of foreign economies, through cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Japan must also quickly rebuild its export system, including such social infrastructure as the high-speed Shinkansen railway system and nuclear power plants for emerging economies, and participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 11, 2011)
(2011年8月11日03時04分  読売新聞)

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社説:首相退陣を明言 代表選の始動を急げ

(Mainichi Japan) August 11, 2011
DPJ should launch leadership race to replace Kan's successor
社説:首相退陣を明言 代表選の始動を急げ

A breakthrough was achieved in the political deadlock on Aug. 10 when Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared in the Diet that he will step down after the Diet passes into law two key bills -- one on the issuance of special government bonds to cover disaster-recovery measures and the other on a renewable energy tariff system.

Kan had pledged to step down on condition that the two bills become law. The focus of attention has shifted to formation of a new administration.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and two key opposition parties -- the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito -- have agreed to help the bills clear the Diet.
The compromise the three parties struck in a bid to avert political chaos should be welcome.

The transfer of power to a new administration should be achieved within this month to avoid adversely affecting the government's efforts to restore quake- and tsunami-hit areas and Japan's diplomatic schedule.

The DPJ is urged to fix the schedule for the party presidential election to pick Kan's successor so that DPJ legislators and other members can evaluate the Kan administration's achievements and problems and hold thorough policy debates.

Numerous members of the public apparently feel that the government barely averted falling apart amid the deadlocked political situation.

In return for passage of the bill on the issuance of special government bonds to finance work to restore disaster-hit areas, the DPJ decided to abolish child care allowances provided to households with children and review its key campaign pledges, including measures to make expressways toll free.
The LDP and New Komeito accepted the offer.

Some hardliners within the LDP had insisted that it should not compromise with the governing party and hang tough in demanding that Kan dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap general election.
However, if the passage of the bills had been delayed, it could have set back the disbursement of funds to cover disaster recovery measures from the state budget.

The ruling and opposition camps are likely to compromise on revisions to the bill on the renewable energy tariff system shortly. When the Diet passes the two bills into law in late August, it will lay the groundwork for Kan to step down.

Questions remain as to whether Kan, who opposition parties said had attempted to cling to power despite his promise to step down, had desired such a development.
However, he must keep his pledge to step down when the conditions are met.

He has lost his leadership power and the government is in confusion.

The time is ripe for him to resign.

Kan should make sure that he will smoothly hand over power to the next prime minister during the current Diet session that ends on Aug. 31.

Depending on the schedule of the Diet and the DPJ leadership race, the election of the next prime minister could be delayed to the next extraordinary Diet session.

However, a framework for cooperation between ruling and opposition parties should be established under the new prime minister as soon as possible to compile a third supplementary budget to finance fully-fledged measures to restore disaster-hit areas and victims' livelihoods and secure sufficient financial resources for such efforts.

The government is also under pressure to put Japan's diplomacy back on track as Japan's prime minister is expected to visit the United States soon.

During the DPJ leadership race, party members must clarify problems involving the Kan Cabinet and the administration of his predecessor Yukio Hatoyama that have proven to lack the capacity to govern.
Moreover, the DPJ is required to specifically review its campaign pledge and work out measures to reform the tax system and social security programs and a basic plan to secure financial resources for disaster recovery efforts.  日程上の制約があるとはいえ、「ポスト菅」を決める代表選もおざなりに終わらせていいはずがない。

Whether the next administration should take over Kan's pledge to review Japan's policy of promoting nuclear power generation will also be an important point of contention during the leadership race.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and former Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Sumio Mabuchi are expected to run for president of the DPJ. Unless the DPJ picks a new leader after thorough discussions based on its reflection on the Hatoyama and Kan cabinet's misrule, it cannot restore the public's confidence in it.

Prime Minister Kan should allow the party to fix the schedule for the leadership election even before the House of Councillors passes the two key bills into law.

毎日新聞 2011年8月11日 2時31分

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2011年8月10日 (水)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 9
EDITORIAL: Countries need to work together to avert another global financial crisis

Standard & Poor's, the credit rating agency, has stripped the U.S. government debt of its top-notch rating for the first time in history.

Europe's sovereign debt crisis is showing no signs of waning.

And the yen is trading at historically high levels against the greenback.

Concerns about government debt in the industrialized world are threatening to create a full-blown financial crisis that will deliver a massive blow to the global economy.

The urgency of the situation prodded the Group of Seven leading economies into action.

At an emergency conference Aug.7, their finance ministers and central bankers issued a joint statement pledging to work in tandem to regain fiscal health and restore stability in foreign exchange markets.

We welcome their quick response to the situation.

For many years, U.S. government bonds have been regarded as the safest financial assets in the world.

But Standard & Poor's, one of the three major credit-rating agencies, has--for the first time ever--lowered its rating of long-term federal debt one notch from the top grade of AAA.

The investment services company said the downgrade was based mainly on a bleaker outlook for the U.S. public finances in the wake of political confusion in the Congress over the issue of increasing the government's borrowing limit.

As former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker once said, the key question concerning the problem of government debt is not whether the country can pay back its debt but whether it has the will to do so.

The recent partisan squabbling over the debt ceiling issue has called into question Washington's will to tackle its fiscal woes.

The U.S. government and Congress should work together to come up with stronger, more convincing measures to reduce the federal debt.

The two other major rating agencies, Moody's Investor Service and Fitch Ratings, have decided to maintain their top credit ratings for the U.S. government.

There are clearly no other financial assets that are as safe, liquid and actively traded as U.S. government bonds.

Analysts say the downgrade is unlikely to prompt investors to dump Treasuries.

But even the indirect effects of the downgrade are serious enough to warrant much attention.

As the risk of investing in Treasuries has increased, investors are likely to try to reduce their exposure to riskier investments, with serious consequences for stocks and bonds with lower ratings.

The immediate worry is that the rolling sovereign debt crisis in Europe may become even worse.

The G-7 joint statement called on the member states of the European Union to swiftly ratify and implement their recent agreements on measures to enhance the European Financial Stability Facility, a bailout fund to rescue debt-ridden European countries.

Europe needs to act with haste to expand the fund so as to ease concerns about Italy's debt crisis.

The joint G-7 statement also suggested that the world's richest countries are ready to make concerted intervention in currency markets to stop the dollar from weakening further and to curb wild fluctuations in exchange rates.

Japan wants to prevent the yen, which is already close to the all-time high against the dollar, from rising further. 日本は戦後最高値に迫る円高の進行を押しとどめたい。

But the dollar's weakness is not a problem for Japan alone.

A repeat of the devaluation race that occurred last autumn must be avoided.

The current crisis resulted from a confluence of deep-rooted problems.

Countries need to take steps to fix their public finances while preventing their economies from sinking into recession in the face of relentless pressure from markets.

The question is whether the major industrial nations will be able to commit themselves firmly to cooperation for achieving these goals.

Also important is expanding this international cooperation to include key emerging countries like China.

Another big challenge facing rich countries is how to deal with the consequences of the trend toward a multipolar currency system, which will be accelerated by the downgrade of U.S. government bonds.

The multitude of challenges facing the world economy demands strenuous and coordinated international efforts based on a broad perspective.

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G7緊急声明 問われる具体的な協調行動

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 10, 2011)
Coordinated action on financial markets crucial
G7緊急声明 問われる具体的な協調行動(8月9日付・読売社説)

Japan, the United States and European countries have made clear their determination to cooperate to avert turmoil in the financial markets resulting from the recent downgrading of the U.S. credit rating.

Yet the effect has so far been limited and has failed to eliminate unease in the markets. The question now is what concrete policy coordination is needed.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of Seven leading economies held an emergency telephone conference Monday morning (Japan time) and adopted a joint statement.

They held the conference right before the opening of Asian financial markets, indicating their sense of crisis and intention to forestall unrest in the markets.

It also said, "We are committed to taking coordinated action where needed," making clear their stance of supporting the markets by supplying ample funds.

The statement said, "We are committed to taking necessary measures to support financial stability and economic growth."

Late last week, Standard & Poor's cut the U.S. credit rating for the first time, as the credit ratings agency made a grim assessment of the outlook of U.S. fiscal reconstruction.


Market confidence shaken

The statement did not refer directly to this issue. But the markets' confidence in the U.S. currency has been shaken further, and the financial markets face a crucial juncture. Stock prices may fall worldwide, and the dollar-selling trend may accelerate.

The statement praised the "decisive actions" of the United States and European countries in trying to reduce their fiscal deficits.

The G-7 ministers urged the United States and European countries to steadily take actions to put their fiscal houses in order--actions that the markets would rate highly. The ministers may have been attempting to restore order to the markets.

On Monday, the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average plunged 202.32 points from Friday's close on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. And on other Asian markets, stock prices declined.

On the currency market, the U.S. dollar was traded at around 78 yen.

A free fall in stock prices and a surge in the yen's value have been averted, at least for now, but prospects remain murky.

The G-7 nations should consider that the markets are calling for additional concerted actions.


Focus on Italy, Spain

In Europe, the yields on government bonds of such deficit-ridden countries as Greece have been rising across the board.

In particular, Italian and Spanish government bonds, whose creditworthiness is a source of spreading uncertainty, are coming under increasing scrutiny.

In tandem with the issuance of the G-7 statement, the European Central Bank promptly decided to buy Italian and Spanish government bonds. We think this is proper.

We hope the ECB will work more closely with France and Germany and they all will do their utmost to contain the crisis.

Japan, for its part, needs to make efforts to prevent the yen from soaring again to the level of 76 yen to the dollar.  日本としては、円相場が再び、1ドル=76円台に急騰する事態を防がねばならない。

The effect of the yen-selling market intervention, which Japan implemented unilaterally on Thursday, has already weakened.

It is significant that the G-7 statement said, "We will consult closely in regard to actions in exchange markets and will cooperate as appropriate," in an effort to hold in check excess volatility in exchange rates.

Japan should demonstrate its resolve to prevent the dollar from plunging and the yen from rising too sharply, by taking such actions as concerted market intervention with the United States and European countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 9, 2011)
(2011年8月9日01時14分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月 8日 (月)

米国債格下げ 市場の動揺防ぐ財政再建策を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 8, 2011)
U.S. must rebuild finances to stem global market unrest
米国債格下げ 市場の動揺防ぐ財政再建策を(8月7日付・読売社説)

The credit rating of U.S. government bonds, once among the world's highest, has been downgraded for the first time in history.

In the aftermath of the downgrade, stock prices may plunge around the world from Monday, and the depreciation of the dollar could accelerate.

To stem the unrest in global financial markets, it is imperative for the United States to chart out a package of measures to steadily rebuild government finances.

U.S. credit rating agency Standard & Poor's on Friday lowered the long-term U.S. credit rating by one level from the top-tier AAA rating to AA-plus.

As a reason for the downgrade, S&P said the accord reached between Congress and the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama "falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government's medium-term debt dynamics."

Obama and the Democratic and Republican parties recently agreed on an increase in the government's statutory borrowing limit and a set of fiscal consolidation measures.
In the wake of that agreement, the Budget Control Act of 2011 was enacted Tuesday, centering on a goal of reducing the federal deficit by 2.4 trillion dollars over 10 years.


Deficit cut not sufficient

However, there is still a gulf in views about specific steps to reduce government debt, and the deficit cut agreed upon on Tuesday is substantially smaller than Obama's initial plan to reduce government debt by 3 trillion dollars to 4 trillion dollars.

S&P is believed to have decided on the downgrade in light of these circumstances.

The U.S. government has criticized S&P's reduction in the credit rating, but what is seriously being questioned now is the effectiveness of the Budget Control Act.

The president and the political parties should accelerate their discussions on a range of issues, including spending cuts and tax increases, to hammer out reliable measures that will gain markets' confidence.

Meanwhile, we cannot help but feel anxious over the adverse impact the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating could have on the world's financial markets.

Reflecting the slowdown in the U.S. and European economies, the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 500 points Thursday, and the index fluctuated erratically the following day.
Stock prices declined across the board in European, Japanese and other Asian markets.

On the foreign exchange front, the hyper-appreciation of the yen slowed somewhat because of the yen-selling intervention by the government and the Bank of Japan. However, pressure has resurged to weaken the dollar against the Japanese currency.

If the trustworthiness of the dollar erodes further following the cut in the U.S. credit rating, the credit markets of the world would unavoidably be thrown into confusion.


Fed moves crucial

Japan is the world's second-largest holder, next to China, of U.S. government bonds.

Due attention should be paid to what repercussions there would be from declines in U.S. government bond prices.

Attention is being focused at present on whether the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, will opt for additional quantitative monetary easing to stimulate the economy.

Given that the U.S. government, shackled by huge fiscal deficits, has found it hard to adopt any measures to stimulate business activity, expectations have been rising for the Fed to adopt fresh monetary easing.

Additional monetary easing by the U.S. central bank could lead to further acceleration of the yen's appreciation and the dollar's depreciation, something very damaging to this country.

The world economy has been expanding since the global financial crisis was brought to an end thanks to unity among major economies.

A new round of coordinated efforts among major economies is needed to prevent another financial crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 7, 2011)
(2011年8月7日01時17分  読売新聞)

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原爆忌の菅首相 「脱原発」にふさわしい場か

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 8, 2011)
Kan used ceremony in Hiroshima for own ends
原爆忌の菅首相 「脱原発」にふさわしい場か(8月7日付・読売社説)

@In his speech at the memorial ceremony to mark the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at the Peace Memorial Park in the city Saturday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan mentioned the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The prime minister said the situation surrounding the nuclear power plant is steadily being stabilized thanks to assistance provided by Hiroshima University and other parties concerned, including those who are measuring radiation levels and dispatching medical teams to treat people exposed to radiation.

The experiences and achievements accumulated in the field of medical care for A-bomb victims certainly have proved useful in addressing various problems in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident.

Following the reference to the accident, the prime minister reiterated his intention to pursue a society not dependent on nuclear power.

However, our understanding was that the denuclearization policy the prime minister had announced was only his personal opinion.

He apparently brought up the issue at the memorial ceremony--an event that draws global attention--to promote his idea more effectively by connecting the atomic bombing and the nuclear accident.


Kan position not govt position

We wonder if he was exploiting the event intended for the repose of A-bomb victims' souls for his own political advantage.

At a press conference after the ceremony, the prime minister also indicated his statement was consistent with the government's nuclear power policy, referring to the interim draft policy guideline compiled by a government panel on energy and the environment at the end of last month.
The interim guideline, agreed upon by Cabinet members on the panel, called for reducing the nation's dependence on nuclear power as its core principle.

However, the interim guideline was meant to modify Kan's denuclearization policy.

Koichiro Gemba, state minister for national policy, who compiled the interim guideline as panel chair, said the government aims to decrease the use of nuclear power while utilizing it in the interim.
Gemba also indicated the government will decide on the eventual role of nuclear power following a national debate.

So it cannot be said that the panel's decision conforms to the prime minister's intentions.

We find it extremely irresponsible for the prime minister, who has expressed his intention to step down, to try to pave the way toward changing the nation's energy policy, a fundamental state policy, without any justification.


N-power remains essential

Now that the world economy is on the cusp of recession, the peaceful use of nuclear energy is still essential for Japan's survival in the world.

What Japan must do is steadily bring the nuclear crisis to an end and enhance the safety of its nuclear power plants to restore its international credibility.

In contrast to Kan, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui introduced the experiences of two A-bomb survivors in his Peace Declaration at the memorial ceremony, adding that he would like to convey A-bomb survivors' wishes for peace to everyone in the world.

The mayor also urged all nuclear-armed countries to strongly pursue the dismantlement of nuclear weapons.

Two years ago, U.S. President Barack Obama called for a world without nuclear weapons.
But the international community has made no progress toward that goal.

Indeed, it even remains unable to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

Japan should play a major role in the world in such fields as nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful use of nuclear power.

It is an urgent task for the government to prepare for a post-Kan era, to restore the country's stalled diplomacy and strongly promote it.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 7, 2011)
(2011年8月7日01時17分  読売新聞)

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香山リカのココロの万華鏡:産業保健の講座受講 /東京

(Mainichi Japan) August 7, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: A lesson in occupational health
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:産業保健の講座受講 /東京

There is a field of medicine called occupational health, which involves protecting the health of people working in companies and organizations.

Recently I made up my mind to take part in a one-week intensive summer course at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health.

The program included statistics, ergonomics and training involving electrocardiograms and other issues that I'm not too good with, so I felt relieved when the topic of mental health came up.

Saying I'm relieved with talk about depression may sound strange, but being a psychiatrist, I guess that's where I fit in.

In a lecture by Jun Nakamura of the university's Department of Psychiatry, one particular phrase that struck me was: "Psychiatric health in modern Japan is an economic issue."

In other words, the "emotional problems" that are in the spotlight in present-day Japan are intertwined with economic issues and changes in social structure at some point along the line.

It's true that there is a lot of stress in companies today, with harsh personnel evaluations, a doctrine of competitiveness, and corporate restructuring that could happen any moment.

At the same time, job hunting is also becoming tougher for students and some have no option but to become part-time job hoppers or NEETs -- those not in education, employment or training.

Others go from one temp job to another and end up losing both their work and their families.

But since other people are busy looking out for number one, no one lends a helping hand.

In other words, people in society today can't feel at ease whether they are in an organization or not.

Stress levels rise in an atmosphere of uneasiness and tension, and there is no doubt people who suffer from depression and other conditions as a result.

However, no matter how much psychiatrists call for revision of the nation's economic structure, society will never change overnight.

Accordingly, there is no option but to handle the situation with preventive measures within the community and companies, and with treatment in consultation rooms.

Professor Nakamura says that when someone in an organization takes leave due to depression or some other reason, he wants the person and those around that person to find significance in the event upon their return to work.

In one cited example, when a worker succumbed to depression, the person's department looked back on its approach to work, and decreased overtime and provided more opportunities for communication.

The person who had fallen ill also made an effort to increase family time.

If such an approach can be adopted, then it should be possible for the person to say, "It was good that I had depression."

I had secretly thought that if occupational health was really interesting, then I might change jobs, but what I learned from taking part in the course was that it was good I became a psychiatrist.

I will now aim to become a doctor whose patients can think, "I got ill but there were some good things about that."

毎日新聞 2011年8月2日 地方版

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2011年8月 7日 (日)

原発賠償指針 被害救済を着実に前進させよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 7, 2011)
Govt must ensure progress on N-disaster compensation
原発賠償指針 被害救済を着実に前進させよ(8月6日付・読売社説)

The government has worked out a set of interim guidelines stipulating the range of compensation for damage caused by Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

This is a step toward full-fledged compensation for the nuclear crisis.

The nuclear accident has caused thousands of people to evacuate or close their businesses, so the economic cost of the disaster will be colossal.

The government and TEPCO must steadily implement the relief measures called for by the guidelines.

The government's Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation compiled a second set of guidelines in late May.

These guidelines suggested requiring TEPCO to pay compensation for, among other things, evacuation costs, the mental trauma suffered by affected people and damage to farmers caused by radiation scares.
The latest interim guidelines have expanded the scope of compensation to include damage caused to tourism companies by cancellations by foreign travelers, and losses resulting from foreign countries' restrictions on Japanese imports. (この部分の英訳、日本語と細かな部分で異なる)


New guidelines reasonable

The interim guidelines call for compensation payments to cattle farmers in 17 prefectures for financial losses caused by halted beef shipments and consumer fears that were stirred up when beef from cattle fed rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium was shipped.

We think providing compensation for a broad range of nuclear crisis-linked damage is fair.

The range of people entitled to receive compensation has been substantially expanded compared with provisional payments made so far.

The compensation costs will skyrocket, and getting the cash into people's pockets will require more manpower.

In addition, the guidelines could be reviewed at some point and the range of redress coverage expanded again.

TEPCO estimates compensation claims, including those in connection with nuclear scares, will number 400,000 to 500,000.

The utility's department in charge of compensation payments will be increased to more than 5,000 personnel from 1,000 now, and will start handling claims in September.

TEPCO will determine payout amounts by examining whether individual claims meet criteria spelled out in the guidelines.

There likely will be times when the utility has to make tough decisions about whether some people are eligible to receive compensation, and how much they should get.


Establish support body quickly

Many people are hoping to receive financial relief as quickly as possible.

Negotiations between TEPCO and disaster victims could become very emotional.

Above all else, the compensation procedure must proceed without a hitch.

For this purpose, the compensation system should be strengthened as the need arises.

Disaster sufferers dissatisfied with TEPCO-proposed payments can seek arbitration through the dispute reconciliation committee.

Indications are that many of these cases may not reach an agreeable solution, so they will end up in the courts.

We hope the courts and other parties in the judiciary will prepare to quickly and efficiently settle compensation-related disputes.

TEPCO is short of cash as the costs of stabilizing the crippled reactors and buying fuel for thermal power generation rise.

It is imperative that the government financially supports TEPCO to keep the compensation process on track.

A law creating a new government-backed organization tasked with securing funds to help TEPCO pay compensation has recently been enacted.

The government must quickly craft a compensation payment support framework by setting up the envisioned organization and securing the money needed to keep it functioning.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 6, 2011)
(2011年8月6日01時16分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月 6日 (土)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 5
EDITORIAL: Coordinated intervention needed to prop up dollar.

The government and the Bank of Japan made a coordinated effort to check the appreciation of the yen, which was about to mark a postwar high against the dollar.

On Aug. 4, they conducted yen-selling intervention and decided to take additional steps to ease the supply of money.

The government is relying on exports to lift the economy and hasten rebuilding from the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

But the strong yen stands in the way.

It is significant that the authorities sent a strong message to firmly control excessive moves by the market.

However, there is a limit to what Japan can do on its own.

We urge the government to work closely with the United States and major European economies.

The government also needs to implement comprehensive measures to lift the economy, such as strengthening its growth strategy.

The recent trend of a stronger yen is not a result of investors putting faith in the growth of the Japanese economy.

Rather, it resulted from a loss of confidence in U.S. national bonds and the dollar as the U.S. government faced difficulties in raising its debt ceiling.

Furthermore, the annualized economic growth rate in real terms in the April-June quarter was low, at 1.3 percent, and a sense of uncertainty for the future of the U.S. economy is spreading.

In response, stock prices in major markets across the world, including New York, are declining and the dollar selling spree is spreading.

Now the money is buying the yen because the financial situation in Japan is relatively stable among industrialized countries and the market for fund management is large.

The euro, which could have been bought instead of the yen, is potentially vulnerable.

Italy's fiscal problems are raising new concerns about prospects for the euro zone.

German government bonds, which are the only ones attracting investors, alone cannot absorb a large amount of funds flowing in the global market because the size of its issuance is limited.

Investors are turning to the yen by elimination, so to speak.

The situation is similar to last summer's strong yen.

Since foreign exchange intervention alone is not enough, the Bank of Japan cut short its monetary policy meeting slated for two days starting Aug. 4 to one and proposed additional monetary easing measures.

It plans to increase funds to buy assets from 40 trillion yen ($500 billion) to 50 trillion yen.

Japan's market intervention was carried out for the first time since March 18, a week after the earthquake.

Back then, speculators who expected Japanese companies to sell the dollar and buy the yen to sell their foreign assets and cover damage from the disaster, rushed in to make a head start.

The Group of Seven major economies turned to coordinated intervention and acted as one to bring the confused market under control.

From Japan's viewpoint, the trend appears to be a surging yen.

But from a global viewpoint, it is the weakening of the dollar.

Swiss authorities also decided to lower interest rates and are preparing to intervene.

We urge Washington to firmly recognize that this historically unusual situation, of a possible U.S. debt default and lowering of credit ratings caused by domestic political confusion, allowed the currency situation to get out of order.

In addition, Washington should clarify its stance to protect the value of the dollar as a key currency and bring market speculation under control.

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子ども手当廃止 与野党協調への足掛かりだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 6, 2011)
Changing allowance system a step toward cooperation
子ども手当廃止 与野党協調への足掛かりだ(8月5日付・読売社説)

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has finally decided to withdraw a major component of its campaign pledges for the 2009 general election, through which the DPJ came into power.

Secretaries general and policy chiefs of the DPJ, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito agreed Thursday to essentially scrap the current child-rearing allowance system.

It may be too late, but the de facto abolition of the child-rearing allowance system has overcome one of the hurdles to enacting a bill that will allow the government to issue deficit-covering bonds.

The DPJ leadership should closely unite party members and make a greater effort to get the bill through the Diet as soon as possible.

The original DPJ plan for the child-rearing allowance system was to pay households with children of middle school age or younger 26,000 yen per child per month.

If this plan had been fully implemented, it would have cost the government 5.5 trillion yen per year.

The current system provides only half the original figure, but the government has difficulty continuing even that.  現在は半額の支給にとどまっているが、それを続けることさえ困難だった。

From the beginning, the child-rearing allowance system has been an impossible policy that lacked financial resources.

In addition, the government now needs a huge amount of funds to repair the damage caused by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

We think it is a matter of course to scrap it.


Introduction of income cap

The current child-rearing allowance system is based on a stopgap law to extend the child-rearing allowance law enacted in fiscal 2010 for six months.
Since this stopgap law expires in September, a new special measures bill will be enacted during the current Diet session to alter the present child-rearing allowance system, according to the three-party agreement.

From October through March, the modified system under the special measures law will provide 15,000 yen per child younger than 3 years old and the same amount for third and subsequent children from 3 to 12 years old.

Households will receive 10,000 yen per month for first and second children aged from 3 to 12 and those in middle school, according to the agreement.

In fiscal 2012, the child benefit law will be revised and an income cap introduced.

This means there will no longer be a uniform provision of benefits, a major principle of the current child-rearing allowance system; it will also expand the previous child benefit system from the time of the LDP-Komeito coalition government.

It will be effective not only in countering the falling birthrate but also as an economic measure to provide needier households with more benefits by considering specific financial situations and the number of children in such families.

If the child-rearing allowance system is modified based on the three-party agreement, 500 billion yen will be saved to spend on repairing damage caused by the March 11 disaster.

We think this is a realistic policy change.


Dole-out policy to be reviewed

Although details of the income cap have been left for future discussions, it is still significant that the both ruling and opposition parties were able to reach an agreement on a major facet of the nation's social security system.

DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada claimed that the ideals of his party's child-rearing allowance system were maintained in the agreement.

Okada appears to have said this because he expected opposition from diehard members of the DPJ who stubbornly try to keep every element of the party's manifesto intact.

However, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Okada have already admitted the failure of the DPJ manifesto and apologized to the public.

If Okada readily caters to the opinions of the fundamentalists, it will cause serious problems in the future.

The DPJ also should drastically review its other dole-out policy measures besides the child-rearing allowance.  民主党は、子ども手当以外のばらまき政策も、抜本的に見直すべきだ。

This will promote constructive cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties.

This pragmatic policy line must be taken up by the administration that succeeds Kan's government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 5, 2011)
(2011年8月5日01時10分  読売新聞)

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社説:原爆の日 経験を原発にも生かせ

(Mainichi Japan) August 6, 2011
Lessons learned from A-bombing should be applied to welfare of Fukushima residents
社説:原爆の日 経験を原発にも生かせ

Aug. 6 marks the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.

We commemorate the anniversary under different circumstances than usual this summer -- amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant crippled by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Scenes of many areas in the Tohoku region devastated by the triple disaster have reminded many hibakusha, or survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, of their own cities when they were reduced to ashes by the blasts and intense heat.

On top of this, we are now facing the hazards involved in the use of nuclear energy, and the peace declarations that Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui read during the Aug. 6 anniversary ceremony and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue will read on Aug. 9 mention the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The Hiroshima Municipal Government is urging the national government to review its overall energy policy at an early date.

In his peace declaration Matsui quoted the late Ichiro Moritaki, former chairman of the Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs stated, who said, "Nuclear energy and humankind cannot coexist."

The Nagasaki Municipal Government will not mention "elimination of nuclear power plants" but clearly call for a decrease in Japan's reliance on nuclear power stations in the future.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis has also had some influence on the policies of hibakusha organizations and anti-nuclear groups.

The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations has decided to incorporate calls for the gradual shutdown and dismantling of nuclear reactors in its platform -- a first in its 55-year history.

With A-bombing survivors' suffering from the after-effects of radiation exposure fully in mind, the confederation has also submitted a petition to the central government urging that residents of areas near the Fukushima nuclear plant as well as workers undergo regular health checks.

The Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs recently held an international convention in Fukushima for the first time and appealed for the elimination of nuclear power stations.

However, there are differences between hibakusha and anti-nuclear organizations over the pros and cons of calling for the elimination of nuclear power plants.

There are some organizations and activists who argue that the peace movement and nuclear power plants are separate issues.

True, there are big differences between destructive atomic bombs, which release huge amounts of radiation in a moment, and nuclear plant accidents, in which radioactive substances that emit low levels of radiation spread and affect extensive areas.

Still, they are the same in that people are worried about radiation exposure over the long term.

The lack of knowledge about the effects of being exposed to low doses of radiation has caused widespread fears among residents around the Fukushima plant.

While keeping in mind the differences between atomic bombing and nuclear plant accidents, specialized knowledge collected by Radiation Effects Research Foundation -- which has conducted research on the effects of radiation on hibakusha -- as well as lessons learned from the Chernobyl nuclear crisis should be fully utilized for the health management of residents near the Fukushima plant.

For many years, nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants have been regarded as completely separate matters.  核兵器と原発はこれまで切り離して考えられてきた。

Furthermore, the safety myth of atomic energy had taken root in society in recent years.

However, the Fukushima nuclear crisis has reminded the public of the risks involved with nuclear power stations. しかし、福島の事故は原発の危険性に改めて目を向けさせた。

It is our mission to step up efforts to dispatch messages to the world calling for nuclear disarmament while fully utilizing our experiences as the only atomic-bombed country to ensure the safety of nuclear power stations.

毎日新聞 2011年8月6日 2時32分

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2011年8月 5日 (金)

社説:電力体制改革 送電網開放で分散型へ

(Mainichi Japan) August 4, 2011
Japan should free up electricity distribution network in reforms to power system
社説:電力体制改革 送電網開放で分散型へ

In Japan there were hardly any power cuts.

The power voltage and frequency was stable, and people could use as much electricity as they wanted.

Then the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear crisis hit the nation.

In the wake of the disaster, nuclear power plants were brought to a stop one after another, and despite the full mobilization of thermal power stations, requests to conserve power arose not only in eastern Japan, which suffered the brunt of the disaster, but also in western Japan.

To flexibly respond to this situation, and to reduce dependence on nuclear power plants and boost the supply of renewable energy such as solar and wind power, revision of Japan's power system is now needed.


In the wake of the disaster, it has been suggested that the tasks of generating and distributing power in Japan -- now handled entirely by the nation's power companies -- should be split up.

The crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has exposed various problems faced by the power companies, which hold monopolies over various regions.

The argument that drastic reform can only come about by splitting up power generation and distribution is understandable.

However, implementation of such changes is no easy task.

It will not do any good to strap the nation to a lofty goal only to run aground.

A realistic approach is needed.

The reason the current power system has been maintained is that liberalization of the power market that began in the 1990s has not taken full force.

It is a different story with liberalization of the communications market, where new entries have progressed a great deal while NTT remains united under a holding company.

Surely a sensible idea would be to examine why liberalization of the power market has not progressed in the same way as liberalization in the communications market, and revise Japan's power system.

Of course, before any such reform takes place, the issue of ownership and operation of nuclear power plants must be settled.

Clearly a power company cannot handle the risks of a nuclear accident by itself.

It has been suggested that power plants be made separate and the government take control of them in the form of a public corporation, for example.

This issue must quickly be resolved.

Liberalization of the power market has led to the formation of a power producer and supplier system under which newly generated power -- such as the surplus from home solar systems -- can be sold through a power company's distribution network. (この部分英訳抜け多し^^)

But due to various limitations, the share held by power providers under this system remains low.

Furthermore, power companies have been reluctant to introduce solar and wind power generation on the grounds that it is costly to produce and could result in a lower quality of electricity.

The way power is used depends on the economic entity involved, be it a household or a company.

Entities that generate their own power can sell power they do not use.

If it became easy to find users who would purchase this power, then it would be possible to limit the number of power facilities in society as a whole.

It was hoped that liberalization of the power market would greatly facilitate this, but that hasn't been the case.

Investment in power generation facilities could be further curbed by switching consumption to off-peak periods to level out demand.

Overcoming the frequency barrier that exists between power companies in eastern and western Japan could also boost electricity exchanges between the companies that produce it.

If it became possible to find suppliers and users who can meet each other's needs over a wider area and more newcomers entered the market, then we could expect lower electricity prices through competition.


If the introduction of a fixed-price purchasing system for electric power generated with renewable energy -- which has not been viewed as unstable and difficult to introduce on a large scale -- could be viewed as one wheel of a vehicle, then greater electricity exchanges between power companies is another.

It is important that both wheels be set in motion.

Japan should proceed with revisions to its power system while considering a model of local production for local consumption.

It cannot be denied that the separation of the generation and delivery of power is an important point of discussion.

But it would mean that power suppliers, which are private companies, be asked to donate their assets, creating the problem of how to compensate the power companies.

Furthermore, it is possible that responsibility now imposed on power companies to supply power, which has contributed to securing a stable source, could become vague if the generation and distribution of power were separated.

In handling revisions to the power system, a useful reference can be found in NTT's opening of its phone network.  電力体制の見直しにあたって参考となるのが、NTTの電話網の開放だろう。

Other phone carriers can use NTT's network under the same conditions as NTT, and when they do, strict rules are laid out.

Checks are performed to see whether these rules are being kept, and there is an arbitration system to solve problems.

While there was no splitting up of phone networks in the liberalization of the phone market, the opening of the NTT's network enabled users to freely choose which carrier they used.

Perhaps such a model could be taken into account when opening up Japan's electricity distribution network.

To boost market functionality that connects providers and buyers, diversification of services provided by the Japan Electric Power Exchange is needed.

But rather than implementing such measures, if these measures encourage new power businesses to enter the market, then it should become possible to secure a diverse supply of electricity, including renewable energy, and enhance the efficiency of power generation facilities.

We call for the points of discussion that formerly emerged in the liberalization of the power market to be revisited in light of the nuclear crisis to bring about revisions to Japan's power system.

毎日新聞 2011年8月4日 東京朝刊

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2011年8月 4日 (木)

社説:再生可能エネルギー 原発代替は十分可能だ

(Mainichi Japan) August 3, 2011
Nuclear energy can be replaced with renewable energy
社説:再生可能エネルギー 原発代替は十分可能だ

The elimination of nuclear power plants cannot be achieved over a short period of time.

Therefore, we basically support the government's intention to consider the matter from short-, medium- and long-term perspectives.

It is necessary to set a clear timeline if the government is to draw a realistic roadmap toward the goal.

In the short run, there is no choice but to switch to thermal power generation using natural gas.

The government should promptly initiate its work to do so because it normally takes about a decade to complete a thermal power station, considering the time required to select and procure a site for the facility.

Circumstances surrounding natural gas have drastically changed.

The amount of natural gas produced has sharply increased since the technology of extracting gas from shale was established in the United States.

Shale gas fields are being developed in China and many other countries in the world.

The International Energy Agency estimates that the amount of gas consumed on a global scale will increase by 50 percent by 2030.

The natural gas age has arrived.


Germany, which has decided to pursue a society without nuclear power, intends to make up for a shortage of electric power with that generated by thermal power stations.

However, the price of natural gas will certainly rise because its demand is expected to sharply expand.

Measures should be taken on a global scale to not only guarantee contracts to purchase gas but also to expand interest in gas field exploitation.

Of thermal power plants using fossil fuels, those powered by coal emit the largest amount of carbon dioxide, a type of greenhouse gas.

However, coal can be stably procured from all over the world, and its price is relatively low.

Electric power generated by such plants accounts for approximately 25 percent of electricity consumed in Japan.

To ensure a stable supply of electricity, Japan will need to maintain its coal-powered thermal electric power plants.

Germany relies on coal-powered electric power plants for 41 percent of electricity consumed domestically, far above the ratio in Japan.

In short, there is no choice but to make up for a shortage of electric power as a result of decreasing nuclear power plants with power generated by thermal power stations until the ratio of power generated by renewable energy sources rises significantly.

However, there are problems involving such efforts including a rise in the costs of generating electric power and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

According to an estimate made by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, if all domestic nuclear power plants are shut down, the cost of Japan's imports of fuel will increase by 3.473 trillion yen next fiscal year, increasing the monthly average electricity charge by 1,049 yen per household and by 36 percent for businesses.

Business leaders have expressed grave concern that if a shortage of electric power becomes chronic and electric power rate rises as a result, it will force businesses to shift their factories abroad, speeding up the hollowing out of Japan's industry.

Some view the shortage of electric power as a unique opportunity to transform Japan's economy, which consumes a massive amount of electric power, into one that relies less on energy.

However, adverse changes in the economy, such as a sharp rise in the unemployment rate, must be avoided by all means.

The hollowing out of domestic industry is very complex and it cannot be attributed solely to a rise in energy expenses.

Behind the problem are also various factors such as the sharp appreciation of the yen, inadequate infrastructure for manufacturing, a shortage of human resources that have received advanced education, high corporate tax rates and a lack of leadership ability on the part of the government, which cannot decide whether Japan should participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

The government needs to clarify its stance toward supporting businesses and implement specific measures to that end.

If Japan's reliance on nuclear power plants declines, it will be difficult for the government to achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990s levels.

Therefore, it should review its goal.

After the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission expires, a new system should be created under which Japan's exports of devices that help reduce greenhouse emissions to developing countries can be recognized as reductions in Japan's greenhouse gas emissions.

It should not use taxpayers' money to buy surplus emission credits from other countries in a desperate bid to achieve its numerical target.

In the medium- and long term, Japan should develop and use more renewable energy.

Germany's policy of seeking to eliminate nuclear power stations is coupled with its strategy of seeking to be a leader in the field of renewable energy.

The level of Japan's environmental protection technology is equal to that of Germany's.

Japan has the potential to become a leader in an environment-friendly energy revolution.

The Environment Ministry estimates by 2030, approximately 330 billion kilowatts per hour can be generated in Japan solely with renewable energy if its land is fully utilized.

The figure is about 30 percent of electric power currently generated throughout Japan and equal to the amount of power currently generated by all nuclear power plants across the country.

Theoretically, all atomic energy used for power generation in Japan can be changed to renewable energy.

It is not easy to achieve this but the government should try by setting this as a target.

Among various electric power generation methods using renewable energy sources, Japan has placed priority on solar power generation.

At one point, Japan was the No. 1 country in the world in terms of the amount of power generated by solar panels.

Various experiments are being conducted, such as storing electric power generated by solar panels in batteries for electric vehicles.

The problem involving solar power generation is its high costs.

However, as the method becomes widespread, the costs will certainly decrease.


Wind power generation is the most widespread in the world because its costs are relatively low.

Japan is ranked only 12th in the world in the volume of power generated by wind power generators.

There are various challenges that must be overcome, such as their noise.

However, there are many such generators in the Tohoku and other regions, and their potential is particularly high.

Floating wind power generators are fitted for Japan, which is surrounded by little sea with shoals.

Moreover, the government should promote the introduction of geothermal power generation, which could be stable sources of electric power, and small- and medium-scale hydraulic power generation for local consumption.

One of the disadvantages of natural energy sources is that their ability to generate electric power depends on the amount of sunshine and wind and is therefore unstable.

This is the main reason why electric power companies have been reluctant to connect such power generators to their power grids.

To overcome this problem, power suppliers should expand their power interchange capacity between themselves and install special batteries to stabilize electric power in their respective grids.

In the long run, power suppliers' regional monopoly needs to be reviewed.

Above all, reductions in energy consumption are most important.

The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan estimates that by replacing all incandescent bulbs in Japan with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, electric power equal to that generated by four nuclear reactors can be saved.

This is why it is said that "saving energy is creating energy."

Future generations will feel the limited nature of energy more than us.

Japan must reform itself into a country that can efficiently function with smaller amounts of energy.

The system to supply energy needs to be restructured into one based on local production for local consumption.

Renewable energy is most suitable for such an energy-supply system.

Prompt action is called for to ensure energy safety and security for future generations.

毎日新聞 2011年8月3日 2時30分(最終更新 8月3日 9時27分)

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2011年8月 3日 (水)

profile in english

kaichan plays violine

■recent conditions

I've got stroke in last September, having slight difficulty to use my right hand. As I was luckey to recieve quick treatment including MRA scan, I manadged to escape the worst scenario in my life. Rehabilitation efforts are on the way.

※revised on 2010/09/08 (yyyy/mm/dd)


[ name ]
kiyoshi matsui (srachai)

[ career ]
・born in Fukuoka, Japan
・graduated from Kochi Univercity
・working with mid-sized general contractor
・ritired at 50 years old
・99/10 travelling entire Thailand 
・00/10 migrated to Thailand 
・03/07 kai-chan born 
・07/06 seefaa-chan born 
・present address in Khonkaen, Thiland 

[ favorite words ]
Slow and steady wins the race.

[ how to study ]
・speak aloud in Japanese
・think in Japanese.
・use dictionary with pronounciation

[ English Newspapers ]
yomiuri (editorial)
mainichi (editorial)
asahi (editorial)
Japan Times
Washington Post
Newyork Times
Bangkok Post
The Nations
Phuket Gazette

[ for your referance ]

[ dictionary edited by srachai ]
Thai-Japanese dictionary (revised)
Japanese-thai dictionary (revised)
Lao-Japanese dictionary
Japanese-Lao dictionary

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米債務上限 薄氷の妥協でデフォルト回避

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 3, 2011)
U.S. default avoided, but dangers persist
米債務上限 薄氷の妥協でデフォルト回避(8月2日付・読売社説)

U.S. President Barack Obama reached an agreement with U.S. Republican and Democratic leaders to raise the debt ceiling of the U.S. government.

The U.S. federal debt was projected to reach its current statutory limit of 14.3 trillion dollars (about 1.1 yen quadrillion), with the deadline coming on Tuesday.

We welcome the news that the U.S. government managed to avoid the worst-case scenario of default on payments to investors in Treasury bonds.

Should the U.S. government fall into default, the markets' faith in the dollar--the world's key currency--would plummet.

The prices of the U.S. Treasury bonds held by other major countries and financial institutions around the world would also plummet, throwing the financial markets into major turmoil.

On the foreign currency markets, dollar-selling pressure has eased, apparently out of a sense of relief, putting a temporary brake on the sharp appreciation of the yen and the fall of the dollar.

Stock prices on the Japanese and other Asian markets turned upward across the board.

Further stability in the financial markets is desirable.


Budget-cutting to begin

According to Obama, the agreement would have the federal government cut its fiscal deficit by 2.4 trillion dollars over 10 years, while allowing the administration to raise the debt ceiling on a similar scale in two stages.

Initially, a spending cut of 900 billion dollars would be made, while the debt ceiling would be raised by the same amount immediately.

Then, a suprapartisan committee to be set up within Congress will work out a plan to cut the fiscal deficit by another 1.5 trillion dollars within the year, while again raising the debt limit by a matching amount.

Both houses of Congress should quickly pass the bill, worked out on the basis of the accord, and Obama should sign it into law.

The focal point from now on will be a deficit-cutting plan to be discussed by the new congressional committee.

The tea party wing of the Republican Party, which made a rapid advance in last year's midterm elections, opposes a tax increase.

The tea party movement remains far apart from the Democrats and Obama, who wants to realize fiscal reconstruction through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes.

We wonder whether the two sides will be able to agree on any effective deficit-cutting plan, with the political maneuvering over the presidential election for next autumn already a factor.

The pros and cons of tax increases will probably become a major point of contention.


Risks remain real

If the negotiations face rough going, with Republicans and Democrats locked in a tug-of-war over the plan, and if the deficit-cutting measure ends up being insufficient, credit-rating agencies may still downgrade Treasury bonds, raising fears of adverse effects on the world's markets.

The president must exercise leadership in getting the U.S. fiscal house in order.

Both houses of Congress also have grave responsibility.

Meanwhile, the yen's appreciation continues, with the currency in record strong territory of 76 yen to the dollar, causing hardships in the Japanese economy.

The yen's rise puts pressure on the earnings of export-oriented firms, thus hindering Japan's economic recovery.  円高は輸出企業の収益を圧迫し、景気回復の足を引っ張る。

Should Japanese firms accelerate their moves to shift production abroad to cope with the yen's rise, it would bring about a hollowing-out of the nation's industries.

We hope Japanese companies will work out better strategies to deal with the excessive rise of the yen.

The government should also expand its support to them.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 2, 2011)
(2011年8月2日01時39分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月 2日 (火)

駐留軍撤退開始 厳しいアフガン自立への道

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 2, 2011)
Thorny road ahead for Afghan self-determination
駐留軍撤退開始 厳しいアフガン自立への道(8月1日付・読売社説)

Nation-building efforts in Afghanistan face a major turning point.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has started withdrawing troops stationed in Afghanistan.  オバマ米政権は予定通り、アフガン駐留米軍の撤収を開始した。

European and other countries helping to maintain security in Afghanistan will follow suit in reducing their military presence.

The transfer of security duties to Afghan forces is under way, with completion targeted for the end of 2014.

For countries that deployed troops in Afghanistan, the start of troop withdrawals will help them reduce their burdens.

But whether these troops can be pulled out smoothly hinges on the self-sustainability of the Afghan government.


Karzai government still fragile

The Afghan administration of President Hamid Karzai, which was established with the backing of the international community, is still vulnerable.

Improvised explosive devices and gunfire killed 1,462 civilians in the first half of this year, the worst six-month toll on record.

Most of the fatalities were laid at the door of the Taliban, who formerly ruled most of the country, and other antigovernment elements.

Karzai's brother, a leading power broker in the country's south where the Taliban forces have strong roots, is among those who have been killed.
Other victims include a close Karzai's aide and an influential mayor.

Before anything else, it is important to bolster public safety capabilities.

A mere 800 U.S. troops were pulled out in July, but 33,000 troops or one-third of the total U.S. forces stationed in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by September next year.

The United States should intensify its training and education efforts to bolster the capabilities of Afghan security forces.

The U.S. and Afghan administrations have launched reconciliation talks with the Taliban in the belief it will be difficult to completely control the Taliban.


Pakistan's cooperation vital

Cooperation from Pakistan, which can exert influence over the Taliban, is indispensable to promote these negotiations.

But U.S.-Pakistan relations, which recently became strained must be improved first.

China and India are expanding their engagement with Afghanistan in the pursuit of mineral resources, while Iran is trying to increase its political influence over the country.

The interests of these regional powers threaten to destabilize the fragile country further.

Japan, for its part, has cooperated in the reconstruction of Afghanistan by promoting disarmament and hosting an international conference on assistance to the country.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling operations in the Indian Ocean were discontinued by the Democratic Party of Japan-led government following its inauguration in September 2009.

Instead, the government pledged to provide a staggering 5 billion dollars in civilian assistance over five years.

About 1.7 billion dollars has been extended, with Japan covering the salaries for about 130,000 Afghan police officers.

However, corruption still pervades the Karzai administration.

For instance, 20 percent of police officers are said to exist only on paper.

The Japanese government must ensure that its aid to Afghanistan is being used effectively to rebuild the country.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 1, 2011)
(2011年8月1日01時31分  読売新聞)

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2011年8月 1日 (月)

中国事故対応 隠蔽体質と人命軽視は重症だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 1, 2011)
Chinese government must stop cover-ups, trivializing life
中国事故対応 隠蔽体質と人命軽視は重症だ(7月31日付・読売社説)

Top Chinese government leaders obviously felt that if they let the problem slide any more, they would bear the brunt of public outrage, rather than the Railways Ministry.

In the wake of the deadly rear-end collision of high-speed trains in Wenzhou in China's Zhejiang Province, Premier Wen Jiabao visited the site of the disaster, inquiring after the victims and expressing sympathy with bereaved family members.

Apparently the Chinese government has switched policies by having Wen come to the fore in dealing with the accident in an effort to draw a curtain over the tragedy.

At a press conference at the scene of the accident, Wen said, "If we fail to think about safety, we will lose [public] trust [in high-speed railways]...Faster does not necessarily mean better."

"We must maintain safety as a priority," he added, before saying the government would publicly disclose its entire investigation into the accident.


Complete overhaul needed

China's high-speed railway network is an arterial means of transportation used not only by Chinese but also foreigners.

It is essential for Beijing to determine the cause of the collision, make public the results of its investigation and work out measures to prevent a recurrence of such an accident.

The Chinese government's investigative team says lightning struck the railway's signaling system, causing a red light to turn green.

The railway authorities should completely overhaul the signaling and automatic control systems of the railway to ensure safety.

Public outrage was intense over what was perceived as the Chinese government's propensity to cover up information and trivialize the lives of people.

When the railway authorities decided to bury a train car immediately after the accident, the public saw this as an attempt to destroy evidence.

The authorities then hurriedly dug the car up, while resuming train operations just 1-1/2 days after the accident.

After search-and-rescue operations ended, a 2-year-old girl was found in a wrecked car.

It is natural that this touched off a deluge of criticism for exemplifying a blatant disregard for human life.

The Railways Ministry initially proposed 500,000 yuan (about 6 million yen) in compensation for the bereaved families of each fatal victim, but later raised this to 915,000 yuan (about 11 million yen), about the same level as compensation for victims of aircraft accidents.

It seems the Chinese government is trying to settle the compensation issue as quickly as possible to silence the bereaved families.


Media criticism

A key factor behind the outburst of criticism against the government was a Chinese version of Twitter called weibo (microblog) that is reportedly used by 170 million people, as well as various video-sharing sites.

This means a large volume of information about the railway disaster was disseminated despite censorship by the authorities.

As a result, the Chinese government issued instructions to domestic media, prohibiting reproduction of weibo messages or covering the story on their own.

Media were ordered only to use articles released by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Some media did not comply with these instructions.

This phenomenon has never been seen before.

We should pay particular attention to what responses the Communist Party's Central Publicity Department, Beijing's censorship organ, will take toward Chinese media that have criticized the government, a practice long considered taboo.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 31, 2011)
(2011年7月31日01時23分  読売新聞)

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