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2015年9月30日 (水)

五輪追加種目 「東京」を盛り上げる決定打に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Make additional sports events winning hits to enliven Tokyo Games
五輪追加種目 「東京」を盛り上げる決定打に

It is hoped that the new initiative in which host cities pick out additional sports to be held during their Olympic Games will help enliven the Games.

The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games on Monday decided on the additional events to be proposed to the International Olympic Committee. The formal decision on the additional events will be made at a general meeting of the IOC next summer.

Proposed were five sports with 18 medal events: baseball/softball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing. For those athletes in the proposed sports, the increased likelihood that they will be able to participate in the Tokyo Games will certainly be great encouragement.

The implementation of the additional events and new competitions is one of the main features of the Olympic reforms, which the IOC has been promoting since late last year.

These are aimed at enhancing public interest in the Games by adding sports that are popular in the host country and sports in which athletes of the host country are likely to win medals.

Underlying the new initiative is a sense of crisis within the IOC. Due to such factors as local citizens’ opposition to massive financial burdens that are borne by host cities, a number of cities have recently given up bidding to host the Games in turn.

The Tokyo Games will serve as a test of whether the additional events can bring out new potential in the Olympics.

In Japan, baseball is a national sport. As there are many well-equipped stadiums, the overall construction cost of the Games would be reduced. The Tokyo organizing committee must cooperate with pro and amateur baseball circles to promote to the IOC the attractiveness of the sport that has taken hold in Japan.

Cooperation vital

Baseball was dropped as an Olympic event after the 2008 Beijing Games. Its failed candidacy since that time has been due chiefly to such negative factors as top players of the U.S. major leagues not participating in the Games, as the events were to be held mid-season for them.

It is essential for the Tokyo organizing committee to seek the cooperation of the major leagues as much as possible.

The beaming smiles of members of the Japanese national women’s softball team, who won gold at the Beijing Games, have made a great impression. The return of women’s softball to the Games is also a long-held wish in the world of softball.

This time, the strategy of newly establishing the World Baseball Softball Confederation and petitioning, jointly with men’s baseball circles, to the IOC for the return of women’s softball as a Games event is about to bear fruit.

Karate, which originated in Japan, has the advantage of being a sport with a large population of players the world over. For the competitions, existing facilities such as the Nippon Budokan can be used as venues. Such matters as making its rules known more widely will be a task for the future.

The selections of skateboard, sports climbing and surfing were made in line with the IOC’s desire to add sports that are popular among young people.

In connection with the Tokyo Games, the organizing committee has suffered major setbacks over the construction plan for the new National Stadium and the cancellation of the official emblem for the Games.

In order not to disappoint public expectations any more, the organizing committee must thoroughly prepare for negotiations with the IOC as it moves toward a final decision.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 29, 2015)

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2015年9月29日 (火)

難民大量流入 欧州の支援策は奏功するのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Will refugee assistance measures by EU countries prove effective?
難民大量流入 欧州の支援策は奏功するのか

The true value of European Union cooperation will be put to the test through EU efforts to slow down the influx of refugees and illegal migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere and build a system to assist them in an orderly manner.

The EU recently held a summit of its leaders and pledged at least an additional €1 billion (about ¥130 billion) to international organizations, including the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This is to support refugees in countries neighboring Syria.

More than 4 million people have fled Syria, a country where a civil war continues, to such countries as Turkey and Jordan.

To reduce the number of refugees heading for Europe, it is vital to help stabilize the lives of people living as refugees in Syria’s neighbors. The EU’s assistance can be considered a desperate measure to tackle the refugee crisis, as a path to ending the civil war is not in sight.

The leaders of EU member countries have also agreed on establishing facilities for registering refugees and taking fingerprints in Greece and Italy, European gateways for refugees, by the end of November. It is to differentiate legitimate refugees from illegal migrants. The EU and its member countries will also cooperate in tightening border security.

A thorny problem for the EU is how to fairly share among member countries refugees who have entered Europe.

During a justice and interior ministers’ meeting, held prior to the summit talks, the ministers decided that the member countries would jointly take in 120,000 refugees, now hosted by Greece and Italy, over the next two years.

As Hungary, Slovakia and two other East European countries opposed the refugee sharing plan, the ministerial meeting had no other choice but to reach its conclusion through an unusual majority vote.

Sustainable system needed

The number of those refugees applying for European asylum is forecast to top 1 million this year. The latest decision on sharing refugees will be like a drop in a bucket, we think. Building a sustainable system to accept refugees is urgently needed.

The EU has hammered out the latest measures, including one to contain the influx of refugees, as its member countries are alarmed that the large numbers of refugees and migrants crossing their borders will threaten the social stability of their countries.

In Greece, a country burdened with fiscal woes, a far-right anti-immigrant party placed third in the general elections held on Sept. 20.

Germany, an economic powerhouse which has been generous in taking in refugees, began, in the middle of this month, limiting the influx of refugees with border checks. The measures are linked largely to protests by local authorities, whose capacity to accommodate refugees has surpassed their limits due to the upsurge in the influx. Also evident are the activities of ultra-right groups opposed to accepting the refugees.

The influx of refugees into Europe has now become an issue that the international community as a whole must tackle. The United States and Australia have pledged to accept more Syrian refugees.

Japan, for its part, has focused on extending such assistance as the provision of food to refugees in Syria’s neighbors and the improvement of water supply systems in these countries, contributing more than $1.1 billion (about ¥130 billion).

It is time for this country to rack its brains on how it can contribute further, in response to the worsening humanitarian crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2015)

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2015年9月28日 (月)



電力自由化 がもたらす無限の可能性に挑戦するのです。





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米中首脳会談 「独善」で大国関係は築けない

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China’s self-justified stance won’t help build major-power relations
米中首脳会談 「独善」で大国関係は築けない

It will be impossible for China to build what it calls a “new type of great power relations” with the United States as long as it continues to challenge international order through self-justified conduct.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is making an official visit to the United States and held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

Obama expressed “very serious concerns” about Chinese cyber-attacks on U.S. corporations and citizens, and demanded Xi ensure a halt to such activities.

With a presidential election scheduled for next year, U.S. public opinion is increasingly harsh on China. It seems that Obama had to adopt an even more critical stance on China.

The two leaders agreed that their countries would not conduct or support cyberattacks to steal trade secrets and other confidential information. They also agreed to initiate a ministerial-level dialogue.

The question is whether this agreement will be followed by action. The international community must pay close attention to whether the mutual agreement will be truly honored by China, which has denied involvement in cyber-attacks.

The two leaders’ talks led to no agreement on the issue regarding China’s reef reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

At a joint press conference following the talks, Obama warned the Chinese leader on the issue. “The United States will continue to sail, fly and operate anywhere that international law allows,” he said. Xi, however, stood his ground firmly, insisting, “We have the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests.”

Arbitrary policy management

It has recently been found that China is building 3,000-meter runways on three of the reclaimed islands. If these facilities are completed, a vast expanse of waters in the South China Sea could, in effect, come under Chinese control, according to some experts.

China’s bid to change the status quo by force cannot be overlooked. The United States needs to join hands with Japan and other pertinent countries in urging China to exercise self-restraint in this respect. If China wants an equal relationship with the United States and a position as a major power in the international community, it should fulfill its share of responsibility for securing regional stability.

In making an official visit to the United States, Xi signed a contract for a huge purchase of 300 passenger airplanes with Boeing Co. It was evident that he tried to use the deal as leverage for wooing and winning over the U.S. business community.

However, the United States has a deepening distrust of China’s arbitrary policy management, which can be illustrated by its market intervention aimed at maintaining stock prices and the devaluation of the yuan.

At the press conference, Xi emphasized that China would attach importance to market principles. “There is no basis for the renminbi to be devalued for a long period,” he said. We hope the Chinese president will be as good as his word to carry out highly transparent reforms in accordance with international rules.

The two leaders reconfirmed their nations would increase cooperation in addressing climate change-related problems. Climate change may be one of the few areas in which the two countries can facilitate a cooperative relationship. China and the United States — the world’s largest and second-largest greenhouse gas emitters — should make steady progress in reducing their emissions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 27, 2015)

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全体の7割以上が「宝くじで高額当選しても、仕事は辞めない」と回答~[宝くじに関するアンケート] 株式会社チェンジフィールド

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2015年9月27日 (日)

VW排ガス不正 顧客を欺く大規模な規制逃れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Consumers betrayed by VW’s scheme to evade controls on vehicle emissions
VW排ガス不正 顧客を欺く大規模な規制逃れ

Despite being touted as “clean diesel” cars, Volkswagen vehicles were found to have discharged emissions that far exceeded the required environmental standards.

This act betrayed consumers who are strongly concerned about environmental conservation and was extremely pernicious.

It was recently revealed that the German carmaker had taken illegal measures to ensure its vehicles passed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emission control tests.

The scheme involved software installed in diesel engines that was designed to make vehicles’ emission levels meet the standard required by the U.S. authorities — but only at the time of the emissions test.

When the vehicles were driven on the road, the engines were reportedly found to discharge nitrogen oxide at levels up to 40 times the standard.

Eleven million Volkswagen vehicles around the world have been affected by the test-rigging scandal. This includes a number of popular models, including the Golf.

In announcing his resignation to take responsibility for the scandal, Volkswagen Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said, “I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen group.” We have to say that Volkswagen lacks corporate governance despite its status as a world-leading carmaker.

Were company executives involved in the irregularities? We want the factors behind the misconduct to be thoroughly revealed by investigations by the EPA and others.

VW has Audi, Porsche and other carmakers under its wing. With fuel-efficient diesel vehicles as its mainstay product, VW doubled its global car sales to 10 million in the decade from 2004, thereby bringing it into competition with Toyota Motor Corp. for the No. 1 position in the world.

Heavy price to pay

However, the German maker has been forced to fight an uphill battle in the U.S. market, where strict emission controls are in place and there is strong competition from hybrid vehicles manufactured by Toyota and other carmakers. VW’s irritation over this, it could be said, led to the wrongdoing.

VW may be fined up to $18 billion (about ¥2 trillion), which would top its annual profits. The price for its misconduct is very heavy.

VW’s diesel vehicles are not officially sold in Japan, although they were scheduled to enter the market next year. The company will inevitably have to reexamine its sales strategy.

The European Commission, which is the executive body of the European Union, called for its member nations to conduct a fact-finding survey based on suspicions that carmakers other than VW have also engaged in misconduct. The automobile industry, which holds a key position in each country in which it conducts business, is being tested on its ability to cleanse itself of wrongdoing.

Fierce competition for fuel efficiency among car manufacturers could be behind the VW scandal. Consumers have a strong tendency to choose vehicles that perform even just a little better than others in terms of fuel efficiency. Moreover, many people have pointed out that even in Japan, there is a huge difference between the fuel efficiency figures in product catalogs and what is actually seen in normal use, which causes confusion.

A sincere attitude is needed on the part of carmakers to provide consumers with accurate information.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 26, 2015)

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2015年9月26日 (土)

安倍総裁続投 「経済最優先」に軸足を戻せ



The Yomiuri Shimbun
Abe administration must focus on 'economy-first' policy priorities
安倍総裁続投 「経済最優先」に軸足を戻せ

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s basic stance of shifting the focus of his policy platform from the nation’s security to the economy revitalization is reasonable.

After being formally reelected as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the prime minister on Thursday held a news conference. He declared, “The nation is close to coming out of deflation,” emphasizing his intention to place maximum priority on economic policies.

He also indicated to increase the nation’s annual nominal gross national product to ¥600 trillion, compared to ¥490 trillion in fiscal 2014.

Fulfilling his ¥600 trillion target will most likely be difficult to achieve. As seen by the GDP’s negative growth rate in real terms for the April-June period compared to the previous quarter, the recovery pace has made little headway. Although the major companies have posted favorable business results, the performances of small and midsize businesses and the degree of vitalization of regional economies have shown limited progress.

Of the “three arrows” of the Abenomics economic policy package, bold monetary relaxation and ramping up fiscal measures have produced such positive results as rectifying the yen’s excessively high appreciation and helping boost stock prices. However, the other arrow — growth strategy — has yet to produce any tangible outcome.

Since the spring of last year, the Abe administration has placed particular emphasis on getting legislation passed to secure the country’s peace and security. The enactment of the security legislation can be said to have provided Abe’s new term with a good opportunity to return to the starting line at the time of the inauguration of the Second Abe Cabinet, which pledged to put economy at the top of its list of priorities.

In the second phase of Abenomics, the government must buckle down primarily to the tasks of strengthening up the growth strategy, such as by reforming tough regulations in the fields of medical services, agriculture and labor, as well as expanding infrastructure exports.

Hike wages, cut workload

At the news conference, Abe announced new “three arrows” to steer the administration’s economic policy: a combination of creating an “economy robust enough to nurture hopes of the public,” “dream-inspiring support for child-rearing” and “reassuring improvement of social security services.”

The newly defined tasks are quite different qualitatively from the initial three arrows, but the concentration on social security is understandable.

Regarding social security policy, the prime minister has hammered out a new goal of “reducing to zero the number of people who quit their jobs to provide nursing care.” Through such steps as increasing special nursing homes, the Abe administration will reduce the number of people waiting to enter such nursing facilities, who are required care at level 3 or higher on a scale of 5 nursing care requirements — which currently stands at about 150,000 — to zero by 2020.

The number of people, most of whom are in their 40s and 50s, who quit their jobs to provide nursing care has reportedly reached about 100,000 per year. Ensuring people in their most productive years remain among the working population must be helpful for the growth strategy.

The task of building special nursing homes will require a huge amount of financial resources. The task should be undertaken in a coordinated manner with the expansion of nursing care at homes which social security expenditures will reduce. To secure personnel necessary for proper nursing care services, measures must be taken to rectify low wages and the heavy workloads.

It is also important to make it easier for workers to obtain temporary absence from work and temporary paid leave for nursing care purposes. The percentage of those obtaining temporary absence for nursing care is currently no more than 3.2 percent. The statutory rule that allows those who need a temporary leave to utilize the system only once, in principle, per person in need for nursing care constitutes a major obstacle in this respect.

The government is now considering a revision to a law to allow people to take temporary leave more than once. While securing understanding and cooperation from companies, reform efforts should be made to turn the current system into one that is easier to use.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 25, 2015)Speech

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2015年9月25日 (金)

子宮頸がん ワクチンの副作用対策を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Quick action needed in dealing with side effects of cervical cancer vaccine
子宮頸がん ワクチンの副作用対策を急げ

The most important task is to clarify any cause and effect relationship between the vaccinations and the side effects.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry recently delivered to an expert panel the results of a follow-up survey on patients who experienced negative side effects from a cervical cancer vaccine.

The ministry’s report confirmed 186 people had not returned to full health and were still suffering from serious side effects. In response to this finding, the panel decided to put off resuming recommending that people receive the vaccination. This recommendation has been suspended since June 2013.

The panel had no option on this matter, given that the cause of the side effects has yet to be pinpointed.

About 3.38 million women received the vaccination from December 2009, when the vaccine went on the market, to November 2014. The survey covered 2,584 of these women who reported suffering some sort of symptoms. The survey was able to confirm developments in the cases of 1,739 women.

The proportion of people who reported side effects is not remarkably high compared with rates in other nations, where such vaccinations are being increasingly widely done.

However, a significant number of specialists have said that Japan is conspicuous for patients suffering from comparatively severe symptoms. The various ongoing symptoms include headaches, fatigue, aching joints and a decline in cognitive function. These are serious health issues.

There were limits to how much data could be gleaned from this survey, which was based mostly on information these patients reported to doctors who treated them. There needs to be a detailed examination of the diagnoses and treatments given to these patients, as well as a comparative review of the health conditions of women in the same age brackets who did not receive the vaccinations, and other factors.

Reducing distrust vital

The health ministry will establish consultation counters in every prefecture and strengthen support provided to the victims, including treatment. It also has kicked into gear a stalled review of relief provided to people who suffered health problems.

It is impossible to reduce the risk accompanying a vaccination to zero. Advanced nations such as the United States and those in Europe have set up systems to quickly pay compensation when there are suspicions a vaccination has caused negative side effects. If the government takes a long time to provide relief, distrust would grow among patients and hamper steps to prevent infectious diseases from spreading.

We think such relief measures should be swiftly put in place in Japan, too.

The number of women in Japan with cervical cancer is increasing, with about 10,000 developing the disease each year. About 3,000 die from it annually.

The cervical cancer vaccine is said to prevent the virus that causes the cancer from being transmitted from men to women through sexual relations. In Australia, such a vaccine is administered to both males and females during routine immunizations.

Although the vaccine is currently not promoted in Japan, the system in place includes it among routine vaccinations for women. People wishing to receive the vaccine can have it subsidized by the government, but clearly the current situation does not enable them to take the vaccine with peace of mind.

Having regular checkups is important for detecting cervical cancer at an early stage. However, this does not contribute to preventing the disease, so the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology and other bodies have stressed the significance of the inoculations.

Reducing distrust in the vaccine will be a major prerequisite for achieving this. The health ministry must move fast on this issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 24, 2015)

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2015年9月24日 (木)



OFF Line社、次世代SNS「AirTalk」バージョン0.9.7 (iOS版)をリリースインターネットを使用しないBLE / WiFi 回線のみのP2Pチャットメニュー公開 OFF Line株式会社

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日露外相会談 領土対立打開へ対話を重ねよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tenacious talks with Russia key to ending impasse in territorial dispute
日露外相会談 領土対立打開へ対話を重ねよ

Russia’s hard-line stance toward the northern territories has become more conspicuous. Nevertheless, the only way to improve Japan-Russia relations is for politicians of the two countries to hold talks tenaciously and repeatedly.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on Monday in Moscow and protested a recent series of visits by the Russian prime minister and cabinet ministers to the northern territories, saying, “Their visits are extremely regrettable and not acceptable.” Lavrov reportedly refuted this by saying, “Russia has its own standpoint.”

On the other hand, Kishida and Lavrov agreed “to explore ways to a solution acceptable to both sides.” They also agreed to resume vice-ministerial-level talks early next month — for the first time in one year and nine months — regarding the conclusion of a peace treaty. The two countries will reportedly seek to hold talks between their top leaders and foreign ministers on the sidelines of international conferences.

Negotiations on the peace treaty have been suspended following sanctions imposed by Japan on Russia in connection with the Ukrainian situation and Russia’s retaliatory steps. We cannot expect immediate results, but we appreciate the fact that the two countries agreed to resume talks.

Kishida, who had postponed his visit to Russia, told Lavrov during the meeting, “Because there are issues pending between us, it’s all the more important to hold talks repeatedly.” His assertion is understandable.

However, the two countries stand far apart in their positions on the territorial dispute.

During a joint news conference after the meeting, Lavrov said: “We didn’t discuss the northern territories. The agenda of the talks was the conclusion of a peace treaty.”

Illogical argument

It cannot be overlooked, however, that Lavrov tried to justify the illegal occupation of the northern territories for 70 years and make it a fait accompli by saying “the reality of postwar history should be recognized.”

A joint statement issued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2013 called for holding negotiations on a peace treaty based on all accords adopted by the two countries, including the Irkutsk Statement that specified efforts toward a solution to the sovereignty issue over the four islands off Hokkaido. In this sense, Lavrov’s argument is illogical.

It seems that Russia wants to draw concessions from Japan, such as the lifting of sanctions and economic cooperation, by swaying Japan through hard-line and moderate approaches.

Russia’s economy has been deteriorating due to economic sanctions imposed by the United States and European countries and the decline in crude oil prices. Russian expectations on Japan, it may be said, are reflected by the fact that Igor Shuvalov, first vice premier in charge of economic affairs, conferred with Kishida.

A focal point for the time being is whether Putin’s visit to Japan can be realized before the end of this year.

Japan is forward-looking in regard to Putin’s visit. But even if it is realized, it will come to nothing if meaningful talks are not held. It may end up merely disrupting the unity of the Group of Seven industrialized countries on anti-Russia sanctions.

Does Putin have the resolve and ability to earnestly tackle the tasks of repairing relations with Japan and proceeding with a solution to the territorial issue? The Japanese government must deal with the matter carefully after seeing Russian responses. Strategic negotiating capabilities are called for in this regard.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 23, 2015)

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2015年9月23日 (水)

飲酒喫煙の年齢 18歳解禁は理解を得られない

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Drinking, smoking ban should stay when age of majority is lowered to 18
飲酒喫煙の年齢 18歳解禁は理解を得られない

Reducing the age of majority would affect various fields. It is essential to look into the advisability of meticulously revising relevant laws one by one.

The Liberal Democratic Party has put together recommendations to lower the age of majority set at 20 under the Civil Code to 18. The ruling party will report the recommendations to the government by the end of this month.

The move is in response to the enactment of the revised Public Offices Election Law under which the voting age has been lowered to 18. The age for exercising the right to vote should correspond to the age of eligibility for other rights and the obligation to take responsibility under the Civil Code.

If the age of majority is lowered to 18, it will become possible to take out loans and enter other commercial contracts without parental approval. Efforts must be made to promote consumer education at school and with other programs to prevent young people from falling victim to illegal business practices.

The LDP has postponed a decision on whether to lower the legal age for drinking and smoking.

Initially, the party tried to come up with a proposal to permit drinking and smoking from the age of 18 but kicked the plan down the road in the face of opposition from within the party and the medical world. The postponement is quite natural.

If smoking starts early in adolescence, it increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The Japan Medical Association warns that habitual smoking by those aged less than 20 adversely affects brain growth and leads to early onset of dementia and other diseases.

Adverse health impacts

Furthermore, the younger one starts drinking, the higher the risk of suffering from alcoholism, according to experts.

Considering the possible adverse health effects, lowering the age for permitting smoking and drinking will never obtain social understanding.

How to rein in social welfare spending amid dire fiscal straits is a huge challenge. From this point of view, too, no policy change that would entail an increase in medical spending should be made.

Drinking and smoking can also lead to juvenile delinquency. Moreover, student guidance at high school would become confused if students aged 18, who are allowed to drink and smoke, and those aged 17 attended the same school. Lowering the legal age for drinking and smoking would also make it more difficult for schools to give guidance to students under school rules that ban such behavior.

Concerning the minimum age for application of the Juvenile Law, the LDP has proposed lowering it from “less than 20” to “less than 18.”

To encourage rehabilitation for those aged 18 and 19 who will be excluded from the application of the Juvenile Law if the age of application is lowered, the party has called for implementing such probational measures as provided for by the Juvenile Law by prioritizing correctional education over punishment. This recommendation is reasonable.

Sending teenage violators to reformatories where correctional education is provided or placing them on probation to give them chances for rehabilitation in society is greatly helpful in preventing juvenile recidivism. If the age for application of the Juvenile Law is lowered to “less than 18,” it will be necessary to deepen discussions about when to apply probational measures to those aged 18 and 19.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 22, 2015)

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2015年9月22日 (火)

生涯現役社会 高齢者の活躍の場を増やそう

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Increase opportunities for elderly to remain active in aging society
生涯現役社会 高齢者の活躍の場を増やそう

The average Japanese life expectancy stands at 80.5 years for men and 86.83 years for women. Both are projected to rise even more in the future. This will herald the era of 90-year life spans.

On Monday, Respect for the Aged Day, we should rejoice in the fact that Japan has become one of the world’s leading nations in terms of longevity.

Those aged 65 and over account for more than 25 percent of the overall population, and this figure is expected to reach 40 percent in 2060.

With Japan’s society aging faster, such serious problems as a shrinkage in the workforce and swelling expenses for social security programs have arisen.

It is important to increase opportunities in which the elderly who want to work can exhibit their ability so they can actively help support society. The creation of such a “society in which people actively contribute through their whole lives” will hold the key for Japan to overcome the ultra-aging of its society.

Fifty percent of those in the 35-64 age group want to continue working after 65. Aiming for the creation of a society in which people can actively contribute their whole lives will help enrich the lives of the elderly and financially stabilize their daily lives.

With the enforcement of the revised Law for the Stabilization of Employment of Elderly People in April 2013, all employees are allowed to stay on the payroll until they turn 65 if they want to. Yet the present reality is that work opportunities for those aged 65 and over are limited.

A report compiled in June by a study panel of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry proposed measures to promote the continued employment of those aged 65 and older and to boost support for skills development and the reemployment of middle-aged and older people, with an eye to the realization of a society in which people can actively contribute their whole lives.

More company opportunities

More businesses are keeping people on after they reach 65 by having them use their knowledge and experience to serve as advisers for young workers and allowing the elderly to work flexible hours to suit their lifestyle. We hope businesses will promote such measures in conformity with their needs.

Changes in the consciousness of workers are also important. To remain active in their later years, workers must make clear plans while still young and continually work to enhance their skills.

It is also important to create labor markets in which middle-aged and older people can change jobs more easily.

The elderly differ greatly from person to person in terms of health and economic status. To meet their diverse needs, it is essential for local governments, in cooperation with such entities as local economic organizations and nonprofit organizations, to build a system that can cultivate jobs for the elderly.

It will also become a challenge for society to reinforce the functions of human resources centers that offer light work and other suitable jobs to elderly people.

The government of Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, has created job opportunities for elderly people in the farming and welfare sectors, under the concept of “offering jobs to help elderly people make their lives worth living.”

The prefectural government of Fukuoka has established a center to help elderly people find jobs or take part in volunteer activities until they reach the age of 70, or even older in some cases.

These efforts should help solve local problems, by, for instance, making up for labor shortages in nursing care and child care.

Expanding opportunities for elderly people to take an active role in society will also prevent them from becoming isolated in society and declining to the point that they need nursing care.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 21, 2015)

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2015年9月21日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「人間の底力」 /東京

September 20, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The potential of humans
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「人間の底力」 /東京

Torrential rain and flood damage recently struck the northern Kanto and Tohoku regions. I happened to be visiting the Tohoku region for work over the weekend, and even looking out from the window of the bullet train, I saw countless rice paddies and fields that had been flooded by water overflowing from streams and irrigation channels. If we were to include everything that wasn't reported, I wonder just how much damage there was.

On television I saw a reporter pointing a microphone at a person who had barely escaped with their life after their home had been flooded. This is a common sight during disasters, but reporters aren't as pushy as they used to be. Now more start off saying something like, "I'm sorry to be asking you at a time like this, but ..."

The people who respond all say things like, "It's the first time this has happened. I was shocked." And many of them make such comments as, "I'm just happy to be safe," or, "I'm thankful to have been rescued."

On TV and on the Internet, one hardly ever encounters people in such disasters getting angry and saying things like, "Why did this have to happen to me?"

Some people give accounts like, "Neighbors have evacuated together and are helping each other," or, "I spent the night in an isolated apartment, but residents brought food and shared it."

Meanwhile, rescuers and supporters -- from the Self-Defense Forces to firefighters and members of local bodies -- have gone beyond all expectations in their efforts to help.

In my consultation rooms, I hear so many tragic stories. "I was abused by my parents," one person says. "I was betrayed by a friend," says another. It leaves me tending to think, "Humans are bad by nature." I get the impression that humans are always cheating someone, always trying to get a good deal for just themselves.

But in the latest disaster, looking at the people who have cooperated with those around them in an attempt to overcome their difficulties, at those who have remembered to thank others amid such trying circumstances, and at those putting a full effort into saving and supporting victims, I'm compelled to amend my line of thinking.

Deep down, surely, people have compassion and kindness, thinking, "I want to help someone," or "I want to tell them, 'Thank you.'" But I guess that as they are forced into tough situations, those feelings are gradually pushed back, and people resort to attacking others or conning them to survive.

I convey my sympathy to those affected by the latest disaster. And in my words here, I leave my thoughts on the potential of humans that I have felt through the disaster.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2015年09月15日 地方版

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2015年9月20日 (日)

社説:安保転換を問う 安全保障法成立

September 19, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Diet distorts Constitution by passing security bills into law
社説:安保転換を問う 安全保障法成立


The Diet's enactment of the security-related legislation, opening the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, has raised serious questions about the fate of Japan's democratic politics. Numerous members of the public, including those who staged demonstrations against the legislation in front of the Diet building and elsewhere, undoubtedly have questions over the legislation, feel angry and are worried about the laws.

The House of Councillors passed the bills, which will drastically change Japan's basic national policy that the country has nurtured since the end of World War II, into law at a plenary session without addressing numerous questions and inconsistencies.

With the enactment of the legislation, Japan can exercise the right to collective self-defense, and the overseas activities of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will be drastically expanded.

Ruling coalition legislators, who belong to the legislative branch of the government, would not listen to the opinions of constitutional scholars and other experts who raised suspicions that the legislation violates the Constitution, which is the country's supreme law.


Yoshitada Konoike, chairman of the upper house special committee on the legislation, was quoted as saying that "I thought that there were so many flawed answers" that officials of the executive branch gave to questions during deliberations on the bills. Konoike made the remark after the panel railroaded the bills on Sept. 17 amid confusion. The minute of the session only states, "Impossible to hear" what the chairman and other members said during voting because of the confusion.

One cannot help but wonder how many ruling coalition legislators can proudly say the Diet had thorough debate on the bills.

The governing bloc not only unilaterally terminated deliberations at the committee but also submitted and passed a motion calling for limiting the time for debate on censure motions and other resolutions that opposition parties submitted in a bid to block the passage of the bills at a plenary session.

In other words, the citadel of discourse suppressed debate. The ruling coalition acted as if to say opposition parties should stop useless resistance because ruling coalition legislators far outnumber those from opposition parties.

Opposition parties attempted to block the move to pass the bills into law by also submitting a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the House of Representatives. However, legislators from the ruling bloc obviously felt they were simply waiting as time passed.

Throughout Diet deliberations, the Abe government maintained its self-righteous attitude with which it dismissed any opposition and opinions calling for prudence in enacting the legislation.

Numerous members of the general public are dissatisfied with and worried about the Abe administration's high-handed manner in which it dealt with the bills and the Diet that failed to stop the government's move as well as the contents of the laws.

It was one of Prime Minister Abe's long-cherished goals to open the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. The move leading up to the enactment of the security legislation began in summer 2014 when the Abe Cabinet reversed the government's longstanding interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution as banning Japan from exercising this right.

However, constitutional scholars and other experts pointed out one after another that the security bills are unconstitutional and public opposition to the bills intensified. However, the prime minister and other top government officials responded by only citing the 1959 Supreme Court ruling on the so-called Sunagawa Incident, in which the top court said Japan inherently has the right to self-defense, and other views, but failed to provide any convincing counter-argument to critics.

Article 98 of the Constitution stipulates that the Constitution is "the supreme law of the nation," and that no law contrary to the Constitution "shall have legal force or validity." The prime minister and other top government officials should know this. However, Yosuke Isozaki, an adviser to the prime minister who played a leading role in developing the legislation, stated that "legal stability is irrelevant."

This remark by Isozaki apparently reflects the true intentions of the Abe government. It is no exaggeration to say the administration went beyond the bounds of its authority as the executive branch and distorted the Constitution. Ruling coalition legislators went along with the move without raising questions. Komeito, the LDP's junior ruling coalition partner, also bears serious responsibility as it helped quickly enact the legislation while being aware that some of the party's supporters were opposing the bills.


Article 99 of the Constitution states that the Emperor or the Regent as well as Cabinet ministers, Diet members, judges and all other public servants "have the obligation to respect and uphold the Constitution." It is the basic principle of constitutionalism that the Constitution is not something that binds members of the public but something that restrains those in power and prevents them from abusing their power.

However, a draft of a new Constitution that the LDP worked out in 2012 states that the people should be aware that their freedom and rights are accompanied by duties and responsibilities and must not run counter to public good and public order.

The LDP's tendency to place priority on the state over individuals' rights has been growing since Prime Minister Abe returned to power in late 2012. The enactment of the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets in 2013 and the security legislation is part of this tendency.

Diet deliberations on the security bills failed to clarify the criteria for cases in which Japan can deploy Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops overseas under the legislation.

In other words, such decisions are left largely to the discretion of the executive branch of the government.

Needless to say, the procedure for gaining approval of overseas deployment of SDF personnel from the Diet is of great importance.

However, serious questions remain as to whether the legislative branch can check whether dispatching SDF personnel overseas is appropriate in each mission, considering the way legislators deliberated the bills.

In 1960, the Diet ratified revisions to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty while fierce demonstrations against the move were staged outside the Diet building, just like the latest enactment of the security legislation. After then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, Abe's grandfather, stepped down, his successor Hayato Ikeda pledged to double the people's income, shifting the government's emphasis from security to economic growth.

Prime Minister Abe is expected to emphasize that his government will again attach importance to economic policies.

The prime minister and the ruling coalition made haste to enact the security legislation for fear that if deliberations on the bills continued until shortly before the summer 2016 upper house election, it would adversely affect the governing bloc's chance of winning the race.

The coalition apparently wants members of the public to forget the security legislation as soon as possible.

All the more because of this, members of the public must not forget legislators who helped the government recklessly move to enact the legislation by force of numbers.

毎日新聞 2015年09月19日 02時30分

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2015年9月19日 (土)

社説:安保転換を問う 参院委採決強行 民意に背を向けた政権

September 18, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Abe gov't turns its back on public opinion
社説:安保転換を問う 参院委採決強行 民意に背を向けた政権

Controversial legislation opening the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense was rammed through a House of Councillors special committee on security policy on Sept. 17. It was an abnormal way of approving the bills, as it cannot be confirmed whether the panel actually put the bills to a vote amid loud protests from opposition party lawmakers.

The executive branch of the government failed to convince the public that the bills are either constitutional or necessary, even after over 200 hours of deliberations in both houses of the Diet. Nevertheless, the ruling coalition went ahead with the vote while being aware that it had failed to narrow a perception gap with the public over the issue. Therefore, the vote cannot be considered a conclusion arrived at through the democratic process, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has emphasized.


The bills were put to a vote while committee Chairman Yoshitada Konoike could not even be seen behind the pushing, shoving jumble of lawmakers scrumming around his desk in the committee room. As soon as a no-confidence motion against Konoike was voted down and he took a seat, ruling and opposition party legislators rushed to the chairman's seat and surrounded him. What Konoike said when he put the bills to a vote could not be heard. One cannot help but wonder what such a violent vote looked like in the eyes of the public.

The situation in the upper house shifted drastically after a local hearing on the bills was held in Yokohama on Sept. 16. The ruling coalition attempted to conclude a question-and-answer session in the special committee on the bills and put the proposed legislations to a vote, while opposition parties tried to block the move.

Protesters staged demonstrations against the bills in many areas, including in front of the Diet building, on a daily basis, and opinion polls conducted by various media outlets show a large majority opposing passage of the legislation during the current Diet session. As the ongoing Diet session ends on Sept. 27, the ruling coalition is rushing to enact the legislation apparently for fear that demonstrations and other forms of protests against the bills could grow during the five-day holiday period beginning on Sept. 19. If the governing coalition feared public sentiment against the bills, it should have abandoned enacting the bills during the current session.

The Abe Cabinet's biggest mistake in drawing up the security bills, and thereby open by any and all means at the administration's disposal the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, was its failure to hold calm and measured debate on the realities of Japan's changing security environment, including China's rise.

Under parliamentary democracy, legislative processes are left to the discretion of members of the Diet, who are representatives of the public. However, legislators must hold thorough debate on policy issues and try all possible roads to consensus.

Moreover, the security bills affect the basis of the Constitution, which stipulates that Japan must be a peaceful country. The Abe Cabinet twisted the government's 1972 official view that Japan could not exercise the right to collective self-defense to make it possible. Such being the case, many constitutional scholars have concluded that the bills are unconstitutional.

The executive branch also failed to provide a clear explanation of why the development of security legislation is necessary. The government had initially placed special emphasis on minesweeping in the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East as an example of operations that Japan can conduct by exercising the right to collective self-defense, but later stated that it does not specifically assume such a mission will take place. The government's explanation became increasingly unclear as deliberations on the bills progressed.

The governing coalition could have pursued common ground with key opposition parties over the bills through negotiations on modification of the bills. The executive branch submitted 11 security-related bills in a package to the Diet. However, some bills, including one on Japan's participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations, should have been separated from the package.

Prime Minister Abe appears to have lacked any willingness to face the public and try to win their understanding.

When he dissolved the House of Representatives late last year for a snap general election, Prime Minister Abe called it the "Abenomics dissolution," and declared that he would ask voters if he should go ahead with the Abenomics economic policy mix. However, security legislation was characterized as just one of numerous election pledges. Neither did the prime minister place emphasis on the bills during his policy speech at the outset of the current Diet session.


The government had failed to provide a sufficient explanation even before the bills were submitted to the legislative branch, or to show its eagerness to deepen public understanding of the proposed legislation through Diet deliberations.

In 2013, the Abe Cabinet also forcibly enacted the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, which the ruling Liberal Democratic Party had not even listed in its election pledges. If the administration had decided that the security measures needed by Japan exceeded the limitations set by the Constitution, the government should have sought constitutional amendments through a national referendum, should have asked the sovereign citizens of this country for their backing.

Scholars, legal experts, local assemblies and people across the generations have launched campaigns against the security legislation. If the government attempts to change basic national policy without making the issue a point of contention during an election campaign, peaceful demonstrations are one of voters' limited means of protest. Aki Okuda, a member of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s (SEALDs) organization, told a national hearing at the upper house special panel, "It's you members of the ruling bloc that created the current situation." He was right on-point.

Most of the opposition parties are strongly opposed to the bills. It is true that opposition parties played a certain role in grilling the government over the contents of the bills and the administration's attitude toward the issue through Diet debate.

However, opposition parties' failure to block the ruling coalition from putting the bills to a vote is not attributable solely to a lack of numbers in the Diet. The DPJ failed to produce any counter-proposal to the government-sponsored legislation. Despite its criticism of the bills, the DPJ has failed to gain support from voters. It is also true that the government thought that railroading the bills would not deal a fatal blow to the administration, as the opposition parties lack strong public backing.

For Prime Minister Abe, ramming the bills through the upper house panel may recall his grandfather Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi's administration's railroading of a resolution to ratify an amended Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

However, politics that makes light of consensus would split the public. Any political method that places priority on the administration's goals at the cost of public understanding would fundamentally damage the public's trust in politics.

Serious questions remain as to whether laws deeply relevant to basic national policy should be created through such reckless procedures. We once again express stiff opposition to enacting the security legislation.

毎日新聞 2015年09月18日 東京朝刊

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2015年9月18日 (金)



それは「HD革命/WinProtector Ver.5」 です。
「HD革命/WinProtector Ver.5」 をつかえば、もう管理者はいりません。


パソコンを再起動と同時に利用前の環境に復元 大規模ネットワークにも対応、端末管理機能を大幅にパワーアップした「HD革命/WinProtector Ver.5」9月下旬より販売開始


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社説:安保転換を問う 参院委採決へ 国民の納得には程遠い

September 17, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Public understanding of security bills far from sufficient
社説:安保転換を問う 参院委採決へ 国民の納得には程遠い

Deliberations in the House of Councillors over a set of government backed security-related bills remain tense. The ruling coalition parties are prepared to complete a questioning session in the Special Committee on Legislation for the Peace and Security of Japan and the International Community, where the bills are being discussed, and put the bills to a vote.

Ahead of a planned vote, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito reached an agreement with three opposition parties -- the Assembly to Energize Japan, the Party for Future Generations and the New Renaissance Party -- on the details of a supplementary resolution. A meeting of leaders of the five parties was also held with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in attendance.

The ruling parties are saying that the environment for voting on the legislation has been prepared. But the nature of the bills remains unchanged, and we are far from able to say that the public is convinced.

After the special committee held a regional public hearing in Yokohama on Sept. 16, ruling and opposition parties wrangled into the night over whether a final questioning session would be held. If the ruling coalition forces a vote on the legislation, the opposition parties are prepared to resist with countermeasures, including submitting a no-confidence resolution against the Abe Cabinet.

Under the agreement reached between the five political parties, when the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are dispatched overseas, a supplementary resolution and Cabinet decision would be incorporated to bolster Diet involvement in the process.

When dispatching SDF members to the Persian Gulf, for example, and exercising the right to collective self-defense in situations not linked directly to an armed attack on Japan, advance approval would be sought from the Diet without exception, and the activities of dispatched SDF members would be reported to the Diet every 180 days.

The three opposition parties that reached the agreement with the ruling coalition are small parties with just 14 upper house seats. But the fact that they informally decided to support the security bills under this agreement, means the ruling parties can avoid passing the bills by their own weight alone -- a welcome development for the coalition.

The question over how the Diet can control the SDF is an important point of discussion. But supplementary resolutions, with no written amendments to the law, are not binding. And the "appropriate response" forming the backdrop to Cabinet decisions is vague. In cases not involving a direct armed attack on Japan, it is only natural for the Diet to give advance approval. It is difficult to say that checks will be thoroughly implemented through the agreement between the ruling coalition and three opposition parties.

Furthermore, the agreement does nothing to fundamentally amend the legislation, which has been criticized by many constitutional scholars as being unconstitutional. Surely what's really happening is that the ruling coalition is putting up a camouflage to avoid being criticized for voting on the bills on its own steam. The stance of the three opposition parties in settling on a loose agreement is questionable.

Aside from the agreement between the five parties, discussions between the ruling coalition and the Japan Innovation Party on amending the legislation fell apart. Just like with deliberations in the House of Representatives, which ended unsatisfactorily, we cannot conclude that the ruling parties are showing any great desire to search seriously for common ground. The ruling parties should really have seriously considered such options as leaving out the questionable parts of the bills.

Day after day, people opposed to the security bills have staged rallies around the National Diet Building, and protests have spread across Japan.

The reason that the ruling parties are fixated upon passing the legislation into law on Sept. 18 is surely because they are worried about protests expanding over the weekend or during the subsequent "Silver Week" national holidays. If they really fear public opinion then forcing a vote on the bills is something they should avoid.

毎日新聞 2015年09月17日 東京朝刊

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あのコヴィアから、360度のパノラマ動画が撮影可能なWi-Fi型ネットワークカメラ FLEAZCAM360 が新発売されました。





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2015年9月17日 (木)


フレッシュネスバーガー はジューシーで美味しいのですが、それには秘密があります。
チョップド ビーフカツ バーガー が新発売ですが、これは従来のハンバーガーのように挽き肉はつかいません。
チョップド ビーフ(牛肉の細切れ)がつかわれるので、肉のジューシーさと濃厚さがちがうのです。

フレッシュネスは、国産生野菜 !  例えば、ポテトは北海道の契約農場で作られた北海コガネがつかわれています。

チョップド ビーフカツ バーガーと同時新発売されるのは、クレソン&アボカドサラダ、アボカドコロッケの二種類です。

ブログで口コミプロモーションならレビューブログ  株式会社フレッシュネスからの情報です

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秋の夜長に小学館のコミックアプリ「マンガワン」!150万ダウンロード突破を記念し「烈火の炎」を全巻公開! 株式会社小学館

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社説:安保関連法案 成立に強く反対する

September 16, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: We strongly oppose passage of government-backed security bills
社説:安保関連法案 成立に強く反対する

Does Prime Minister Shinzo Abe think he's a prophet?

"The public's understanding and support toward the security bills will undoubtedly spread after the bills are enacted and time passes," he told the House of Councillors special committee on special legislation on Sept. 14.

Saying that "people will understand in time" while having provided no convincing counterarguments to the many objections that have been voiced against the bills demonstrates the great extent to which Abe, full of conceit, belittles the public.

The objections toward the bills are not temporary, nor are they purely emotional. They are based on the real fear of the possibility that common sense will be distorted and Japan's accomplishments over the years as a peaceful nation will be sabotaged.

Japan's national security policy is the result of a delicate balancing act between war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution and the Japan-U.S. security treaty. It has comprised the solid backbone of post-World War II Japan, born from a coexistence of deep remorse for a reckless war and the realistic need to protect the country.

However, the security bills now before the Diet, if passed, would greatly reduce the binding force of Article 9, allowing the center of gravity of Japan's security policy to shift dramatically to the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

Seventy years have passed since the end of World War II. There would be room for debate if this significant change in policy were being taken through the appropriate legal channels. But that has not been the case.

In the nearly four months that these bills have been under deliberation in the Diet, close Abe aide Yosuke Isozaki's comment that legal stability is irrelevant has left the strongest impression. Those words, uttered by the Abe government's core national security strategist, have made the philosophy behind the bills' design glaringly obvious.

The administration is placing utmost priority on military demands based on Cold War-era thinking. In one swift move, it made a complete about-face on an interpretation of the Constitution that had been maintained for over 40 years, citing "changes in the environment." And when a former Supreme Court chief justice pointed out the many holes in the bills' logic, the prime minister brushed the criticism aside, saying the former justice was now merely "a private citizen."

Abe has called on China to observe the rule of law in light of its growing naval presence, but has shown blatant disregard for legal order in his own country. He has exceeded the authority given to him.

The security bills are flawed not only in their quality, but also in their volume. Under the banner of guaranteeing "seamless" responses to security situations, the bills aim to maximize the range of activities the Japan Self-Defense Forces are permitted to carry out.

Among the activities that the bills would allow the SDF to conduct are logistics support on a global scale, the provision of ammunition to foreign militaries, and the protection of the U.S. military's weapons without prior approval by the Diet. Any one of these stipulations would be a significant deviation from current policy, but they were submitted to the Diet lumped together as two bills. Because of this, some aspects of the bills have barely been addressed by the Diet.

Since risk management is one of the core responsibilities of the state, it must prepare for possible dangers. However, the process of deciding how to protect the country must meet certain standards in a range of areas, including legal stability, national strength and the public's understanding and support.

The security bills backed by the Abe Cabinet meet none of these criteria. And yet, the ruling coalition is trying to rush these half-baked bills to a vote.

Politics is the process of selecting the course a country takes. Political leaders are simultaneously responsible for undertaking that process and for bringing the public together. We cannot abide the prime minister's pipe dream that time will solve everything, when he has not demonstrated any prospects for repairing the deep rifts that run through Japanese society.

Japan is at a crossroads, perhaps its biggest since the end of World War II. We face a watershed moment as significant as or more significant than the 1954 establishment of the Self-Defense Forces or the 1960 revision of the Japan-U.S. security treaty. We are greatly alarmed that taking the wrong fork in the road will inflict great injury on our country.

毎日新聞 2015年09月16日 02時30分

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2015年9月16日 (水)

社説:安保転換を問う 週内採決方針 議会政治壊すつもりか

September 15, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Ruling coalition wrong to put security bills to quick vote
社説:安保転換を問う 週内採決方針 議会政治壊すつもりか

"We shouldn't resort to the force of numbers to suppress opposition. We should humbly reflect on what we do, and work hard to persuade opponents to accept our proposals in an effort to form a consensus."

This is what the late former Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira, who was a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), once said.

Ohira, who called for "politics of consensus" and "politics conducted in unison with the public," also said, "Those who do not support us (the LDP) are also members of the public."

This is what political leaders should respect in all eras, and is the basic principle of parliamentary democracy.


As 60 days have passed since the security-related bills were referred to the House of Councillors following their passage through the House of Representatives, the lower chamber can now pass the bills into law in a second vote by a two-thirds majority.

Under Article 59 of the Constitution, "failure by the House of Councillors to take final action within 60 days after receipt of a bill passed by the House of Representatives, with time in recess excepted, may be determined to constitute a rejection of the bill" by the upper chamber. The same clause stipulates that a bill voted down by the upper chamber can be passed into law by the lower house in a second vote by two-thirds of members present.

One cannot help but wonder how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is desperate to ensure that the bills will be passed into law during the current Diet session, takes Ohira's words. It's like Abe is thinking, it would be unavoidable to enact the legislation even if it cannot win public understanding.

As the prime minister says, in the end, any decision is made by a majority vote in parliamentary politics. However, deliberations have clarified that the security-related bills in question should not become law. First of all, the executive branch of the government failed to provide a convincing explanation to the public in response to experts' arguments that the bills would constitute a violation of the war-renouncing Constitution. Nor did the government clearly explain why Japan needs to exercise the right to collective self-defense, which means coming to the aid of allies under armed attack even if Japan itself is not attacked. The purpose of the bills has become increasingly unclear as deliberations progressed.

There are flaws in the methods of deliberating the bills as well.

In late May, shortly before the lower chamber launched deliberations on the security bills, the Mainichi Shimbun in an editorial commented that the prime minister should change his attitude in refusing to listen to opposition and calls for prudence in enacting security legislation.

However, it is regrettable that the prime minister only held black-or-white, friend-or-foe sorts of discussions during Diet deliberations on the bills.

Moreover, Prime Minister Abe showed his arrogance by saying things like, "Ask your questions quickly" and "Never mind such a thing," to interrupt questions by opposition legislators.

Yosuke Isozaki, an adviser to the prime minister, also stated during a meeting in his home constituency, "Legal stability is irrelevant," suggesting that consistency between the security bills and the war-renouncing Constitution is unimportant. Numerous members of the general public interpreted his remark as revealing the government's true intentions.

In a study session organized by junior LDP legislators, one member remarked that advertising revenue should be cut off to media outlets that are opposed to the bills. There is a growing tendency to suppress opposing opinions.

The bills were drafted based on the Abe Cabinet's decision in July 2014 to reverse the government's longstanding interpretation of the Constitution in a limited way to open the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. However, Prime Minister Abe declared during the campaign for the December 2014 lower house race that his decision to postpone the planned consumption tax hike was the key point of contention. With regard to the security bills, the LDP only stated in the last half of its some 300 campaign pledge topics that security legislation would be swiftly developed to ensure seamless responses to contingencies.

In his policy speech at the outset of the current Diet session in February this year, the prime minister only briefly said the government would aim to be able to ensure a seamless response to any situation. On the other hand, Abe pledged in his speech before U.S. Congress in late April that Japan would enact security legislation by summer. At the time, the government had not even submitted the bills to the Diet.

What Abe has done shows that he makes light of the Diet, elections and the general public. He would be extremely self-righteous if he were to believe that the public has given him carte blanche by giving the LDP a majority in the lower chamber.


Prime Minister Abe cited the amendment made to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in 1960 when his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was prime minister to justify the security legislation. "At the time, the revisions were criticized as Japan could be dragged into war, but history has proved that the amendment wasn't wrong," Abe said. He has repeated similar remarks.

LDP Vice President Masahiko Komura said, "Japan couldn't have set up the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), revised the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty or enacted the Act on Cooperation with United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Other Operations if Japan had relied on public opinion of the moment."

Demonstrations protesting against the bills, mainly those around the Diet building, have been expanding regardless of participants' affiliation with political parties and other organizations. Many participants are apparently wary of not only the contents of the bills but also the Abe government's high-handed political method, and are dissatisfied with the Diet's failure to stop the prime minister's reckless move. Opinion polls conducted by various news organizations show that a majority of members of the general public are opposed to the bills. Komura's remark suggesting that he regards such public opinion as momentary apparently demonstrates that the LDP has lost its humility.

The security policy as well as the social security policy is something that should not drastically change whenever the government changes. Therefore, it is necessary to form a broad consensus on these policies.

The government submitted the first bill aimed at deploying SDF personnel overseas to the Diet in 1990, but the LDP decided to scrap it after officials failed to explain how it could conform with the Constitution. At the same time, the LDP agreed with its now ruling coalition partner Komeito and the now defunct Democratic Socialist Party to consider opening the way for Japan to dispatch SDF troops exclusively for the purpose of participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations. The move paved the way for the enactment of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations law.

There are some points in the security bills over which the ruling coalition could have compromised with the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties, except for clauses on the right to collective self-defense. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Abe only urged opposition parties to choose between voting for and against all the bills, and failed to try to form a broad consensus.

If the current situation is to continue, it would shake the foundations of Japan's parliamentary politics. The government should abandon passing the bills into law during the ongoing session and start over from scratch.

毎日新聞 2015年09月15日 東京朝刊

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2015年9月15日 (火)




競走馬の育成ができる高校 に進学するのも一つの道ではないでしょうか。


<平成27年4月生 体験入学・学校見学開催日>
・10月11日(日) ・11月01日(日)
・11月15日(日) ・12月06日(日)

不登校や高校進学で悩む生徒や保護者も参加歓迎!少人数制で馬と学べる通信制高校サポート校 東関東馬事高等学院の体験入学、学校見学会が10月より本格開始。バジガクの冠名で多数の競走馬の育成授業もスタート。


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社説:安保転換を問う 集団的自衛権

September 14, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Numerous holes in gov't explanation of right to collective self-defense
社説:安保転換を問う 集団的自衛権


The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is aiming to make sure that security-related bills which would open the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense become law by the end of this week.

Many experts have pointed out that the bills constitute a violation of the war-renouncing Constitution, while the majority of the public is opposed to enacting them. One cannot help but wonder why the government is making haste to enact the proposed legislation.

Prime Minister Abe has emphasized that the legislation is necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people. However, no government officials have provided any explanation during some 200 hours of Diet deliberations that have convinced the public of why Japan cannot defend itself unless the country exercises the right to collective self-defense.

Since the House of Councillors began deliberations on the bills following their passage through the House of Representatives, the government has emphasized its concerns about China's military buildup in addition to the threat posed by North Korea. The government apparently aims to gain public understanding of the need for the security legislation by appealing to the public, which harbors a vague anxiety about the security environment surrounding Japan.


It is true that China and North Korea's recent moves are worrisome. As such, it is only natural that some people sympathize with the government's questions as to whether it is all right for Japan to sit by and do nothing.

However, both legislators, government officials and the public should calmly consider what Japan can do and cannot do to respond to the security situation and what kind of legislation should be developed to make up for shortcomings.

Let's consider how to defend Okinawa Prefecture's Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by China and Taiwan. The Senkakus are part of Japan's territory. Therefore, Japan would exercise the right to individual self-defense to defend the islands in case of an armed attack. The United States would supposedly defend the islands jointly with Japan under Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Therefore, Japan would respond to contingencies on the islands with its own right to individual self-defense and under the Japan-U.S. security arrangement. Such being the case, Japan would not exercise the right to collective self-defense to respond to such contingencies. A country is supposed to exercise the right to collective self-defense to use force to defend another country that has come under armed attack.

The government has cited minesweeping in the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East and guarding U.S. military vessels transporting Japanese nationals as specific examples of operations that Japan would conduct by exercising the right to collective self-defense.

Government officials have less actively mentioned minesweeping in the Strait of Hormuz recently in the face of growing criticism over Japan's exercise of the right to collective self-defense for economic reasons.

The government assumes that Japan would defend U.S. military ships carrying Japanese evacuees mainly in case of an armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula although no geographic restrictions are placed on such operations. Prime Minister Abe places particular importance to such missions as examples of cases in which Japan needs to exercise the right to collective self-defense, which he explained by showing charts and illustrations.

However, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani has stated that whether Japanese nationals are aboard U.S. vessels is not an absolute condition for Japan exercising the right to collective self-defense.

In regard to guarding U.S. military vessels in case of an armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, discussions were also held on defending U.S. Aegis-equipped vessels engaging in missile defense activities. However, it is unrealistic to assume cases where the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) would need to guard U.S. vessels because such vessels seldom operate individually without forming a fleet with other ships in case of emergency. Government officials' statement wavered over this point.

Serious questions remain as to whether the government needs to open the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense by arbitrarily changing the interpretation of the war-renouncing Constitution -- the interpretation that the government had upheld for more than four decades. The government failed to show clear examples of missions that Japan can conduct by only exercising this right in a manner that can convince the public. Therefore, the government's explanation of the matter has collapsed.

The government's primary purpose of enacting security legislation is to enable the SDF to support U.S. combat operations on a global scale and make the bilateral alliance more reciprocal by allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. By doing so, Japan is trying to encourage the United States to side with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and use the reinforced Japan-U.S. alliance to counter China's military buildup.

From the beginning, the government placed priority on opening the way for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense rather than repeating discussions on bills necessary to respond to changes in the security environment surrounding Japan.


Therefore, the contents of the bills do not necessarily match specific changes in the actual security environment, making it appear that government officials' explanations have changed frequently.

It is necessary to review Japan's legislation regarding security to respond to changes in the security environment. For example, it would be a good idea for the ruling and opposition parties to discuss expanding logistical support that the SDF can extend to U.S. forces in case of an armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula under the "emergency-at-periphery" law, while retaining geographical restrictions on such activities and a ban on the provision of ammunition to U.S. forces.

However, specific operations that the government claims that the SDF cannot conduct unless the country exercises the right to collective self-defense apparently can be performed by using the right to individual self-defense in principle.

The three new conditions for using force by exercising the right to collective self-defense, such as a threat to Japan's survival, provided for by the proposed security legislation, are ambiguous, and the executive branch of the government would be allowed to judge whether contingencies meet these conditions in a comprehensive manner.

Specific standards for going ahead with the use of force are the most important matter in SDF operations. Under the bills, however, the executive branch could stretch the interpretation of the standards at its own discretion, and there are fears that Japan's use of force overseas could expand without limits.

If the government-sponsored bills are to be enforced, it could rather cause security risks, and eventually lead to political risks.

The Cabinet's decision in July 2014 to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense is inconsistent with the government's past interpretation of the Constitution as banning Japan from exercising the right to collective self-defense even though the country is granted this right under international law. Although experts have pointed out that the bills are unconstitutional, the government has been unable to provide any convincing explanation of the bills' constitutionality.

If the bills are to be passed into law, the stability of the country's legal system, which is headed by the Constitution, would be destroyed. Enactment of the bills would raise concerns that both the government and the Constitution would lose public trust. It could even destabilize Japan's politics.

The government claims that the enactment of the proposed security legislation would strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance and increase deterrence provided by the alliance. The bills may have such advantages, but there are more risks involving the legislation. Such bills should not be enacted.

毎日新聞 2015年09月13日 02時30分

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2015年9月14日 (月)

尖閣国有化3年 領土守り抜く体制を構築せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Warning and surveillance system must be firmly secured to protect territory
尖閣国有化3年 領土守り抜く体制を構築せよ

China’s infringements of Japanese sovereignty have been continuing. The government must build a thorough warning and surveillance system, taking into consideration that it will be a long-term struggle.

Friday marked the third anniversary of the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture.

China, which claims sovereignty over the Senkakus, has six to nine of its government vessels intrude into Japanese territorial waters around the islands every month. The number of intruding ships has declined, but their intrusions have become routine. China, building a 10,000-ton-class large patrol boat, clearly intends to continue its saber-rattling activities.

Japan Coast Guard boats have been conducting patrols around the Senkakus and ordering Chinese vessels to exit from Japanese waters whenever they intrude.

It is also necessary to keep an eye on the moves of the Chinese military. China declared in November 2013 the establishment of an air defense identification zone in airspace including that over the Senkakus. Chinese air and maritime forces have bolstered and modernized their military equipment and aim to establish naval and air supremacy in the East and South China seas.

It is right for Ishigaki Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama to say, “Realistic threats have been mounting.”

The central government and local governments concerned need to share a sense of urgency and work together strategically toward securing territorial integrity.

The JCG has so far managed to deal with Chinese government vessels by mobilizing patrol boats from around the country, but within the current fiscal year it will also establish a system under which it will be able to operate 12 large patrol boats on a full-time basis. It is necessary to establish as soon as possible a constant aerial monitoring system with the use of three jet planes.

It is essential for the JCG and the Self-Defense Forces to cooperate closely in preparing a system capable of ensuring defense seamlessly in anticipation of various scenarios.

Japan-U.S. alliance vital

U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed in spring last year that the Senkakus fall within the scope of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. A firm Japan-U.S. alliance can serve as the greatest deterrence against China.

If security-related bills pass through the Diet, it would expand greatly the cooperation of the SDF and the U.S. military. They must augment joint drills and surveillance activity.

The maritime liaison mechanism must be put into operation as early as possible to prevent accidental clashes between the SDF and Chinese forces.

It is important for the fact that the Senkakus are inherent territories of Japan historically and by international law to be made more widely known and understood overseas.

China conducted an anti-Japan propaganda campaign on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II this year by linking the event to issues of historical perception. Such moves have caused a drop in Japanese firms’ investment in China and the number of Japanese tourists visiting the country.

Japan and China have become increasingly interdependent in economic terms. Even if there are conflicts on territorial claims and over issues of historical perception, we want the two countries to encourage practical cooperation and personnel exchange.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is exploring the possibility of holding talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping by taking advantage of such occasions as when he attends a U.N. General Assembly later this month and a Japan-China-South Korea summit likely to be scheduled for late October.

Abe and Xi must exchange opinions candidly from a comprehensive viewpoint of a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 12, 2015)

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2015年9月13日 (日)

改正派遣法成立 雇用安定の実効性は高まるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Will revised worker dispatch law lead to stable employment, better jobs?
改正派遣法成立 雇用安定の実効性は高まるか

The revised worker dispatch law, one of the main issues at the current Diet session, was enacted Friday by a majority vote supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its junior coalition partner Komeito and others. The revised law comes into force on Sept. 30.

It is important to use the amendment to steadily achieve stable employment and better working conditions for dispatched workers.

A main feature of the revised law is the removal of the effective time limit on companies’ use of temporary labor.

The existing law limits the use of dispatched workers to a maximum of three years, to protect regular employees’ jobs. It excludes 26 job categories, including secretaries, from this rule, but the revised law abolishes these exceptions and allows companies to extend the use of temporary workers in all categories following talks with labor unions and other parties.

However, the revised law also sets a three-year limit on individual dispatched employees working in the same post, in principle, from the viewpoint of having them experience various jobs and improve their skills.

The revised law further obliges temporary staffing companies to help temporary workers improve their careers through such measures as training programs, and work to stabilize their employment through such steps as asking companies to hire them directly.

We think the content of the revised law is appropriate, as it aims to enhance the so-far insufficient protection of dispatched workers, based on the reality that people today work in a variety of ways. It will also make it easier for companies to use dispatched workers.

However, people doing specialist jobs, who can work longer under the existing law, will have to change their posts every three years under the revised one. Many are afraid that their contracts will be terminated. The government should monitor the activities of companies using dispatched workers and temporary staff agencies, and urge them to try to stabilize employment of temporary workers.

Protection for temp workers

During Diet deliberations, the ruling coalition parties claimed that the amendment would open a way for temporary workers to become regular employees and better their working conditions, but the opposition strongly protested that it would increase the number of people who permanently remain dispatched workers.

The House of Councillors passed 39 supplementary resolutions regarding the revised law, reflecting the demands of the opposition parties. This convinced the opposition parties to stop their battle — they had resorted to force, preventing the chair of the Health, Labor and Welfare Committee from entering the conference hall before voting at the House of Representatives.

The additional resolutions urge the government to restrict the amount temporary staffing companies earn for acting as an intermediary, and give instructions to companies that are unwilling to directly hire dispatched workers. These issues should be studied.

The revised law requires every temporary staffing company to obtain government authorization. Some companies are currently allowed to operate just by registering with authorities concerned.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will deal strictly with temporary staffing companies that fail to provide their workers with occupational and other training, including rescinding their authorization. Whether the ministry is capable of doing that is key to the viability of the revised law.

If the authorization system functions effectively, temporary staffing companies that only offer low costs will be eliminated. We hope the fostering of quality temporary staffing companies will cause dispatched work to become established in our society as an opportunity to improve people’s careers.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 12, 2015)

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2015年9月12日 (土)

消費税10%対策 国民への配慮を欠く財務省案

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shun benefit payment that slights the public / LDP, Komeito should aim for lower tax rate
消費税10%対策 国民への配慮を欠く財務省案


On top of having little effect to alleviate the public’s sense of pain in paying taxes after an increase in the consumption tax rate, the current proposal would most likely force people to bear needless burdens. A system replete with flaws should never be adopted.

The Finance Ministry has presented to the ruling coalition parties’ tax system reform consultative council a draft the ministry touts as a plan aimed at easing the public’s burdens when the consumption tax rate is raised to 10 percent. The scheme is designed to impose a 10 percent tax on all purchases by consumers and pay back benefits to them at a later date an amount worth 2 percentage points of the tax payments levied on food and beverage items, except alcoholic beverages.

Under this plan, there could be no lowering of payments at the time of purchases, meaning it would play no role in preventing spending on consumption from falling. The ruling parties should turn down the ministry’s draft, and introduce instead a reduced tax rate system in the true sense of the term to ensure tax rates on daily necessities such as food are kept down.

Shabby dole-out policy

The Finance Ministry describes its tax burden alleviation measures as a “Japanese version of a reduced tax rate system.”

Skeptical views were voiced one after another at the coalition parties’ consultative panel meeting on Thursday, such as that the idea put forth by the ministry should be deemed at best a “pseudo-reduced rate method.” This is because applying the same tax rate on all goods and paying cash later to the public is nothing but a government benefit measure.

Bunmei Ibuki, who is a former finance minister and an authority on taxation affairs, at a meeting the same day of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Nikai faction — led by party General Council Chairman Toshihiro Nikai — harshly criticized the ministry’s plan, saying it is “an idea disgraceful for the Finance Ministry, as it could amount to a dole-out measure like a welfare benefit.”

In their common electoral pledge for the House of Representatives election in December 2014, the LDP and its ruling coalition partner Komeito did commit to introducing a reduced tax rate system at the time of the consumption tax being hiked to 10 percent. Should the ruling parties adopt the ministry’s draft and insist obstinately that it should be considered a form of reduced tax rate formula, that would be tantamount to duping the public.

The ministry’s draft calls for setting no limits on incomes for eligibility for receiving the benefits, with a view to having the benefits paid to people in all income brackets, including high-income persons. At the same time, the ministry is poised to set a cap on the benefits at around ¥5,000 a year per person.

When the government raised the consumption tax rate to 8 percent in April 2014, it used what the government referred to as a “plain benefit measure” of lump-sum payouts ranging from ¥10,000 to ¥15,000 per person among low-income people, but that measure failed to produce any tangible effect in shoring up the economy. The ministry-proposed benefit measure would have an even lesser impact.

Likewise, little effect could be hoped for from the ministry-envisaged plan in mitigating the sense of burden on low-income earners.

No help for less well-off

Many members of the ruling parties’ tax system panel also expressed skepticism about whether it was realistic to use My Number ID cards to calculate the amount of consumption tax on purchases of food and beverages.

When making a purchase at a shop, a consumer will hold their card up to an ID card-reading terminal unit. This purchase information will then be collected at a newly established “center for accumulating data on reimbursement.” The consumer will then either go down to the tax office or elsewhere or apply online for the benefit payment.

The consumption tax rate is scheduled to be increased to 10 percent in April 2017. Will it be possible to ensure terminal units are installed at every single one of the estimated 800,000 retailers and food outlets across Japan by then? Even the distribution of My Number cards might not be completed at that stage.

Each terminal is expected to cost tens of thousands of yen to purchase and install. Making sure that the payment system stretches across the entire nation also will entail other costs. Maintaining and managing the new data center, bank transfer fees to be paid when remitting benefit payment, and the labor costs of employees in charge of this work are just some of the factors that will create a new financial burden.

At the panel meeting, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party who had misgivings about the benefit payment system likened it to the building method that caused the construction costs of the New National Stadium to balloon. “We must not allow this to become a second case of ‘keel arches,’” the member said, referring to the gigantic arches envisaged to support a retractable roof at the stadium.

Another panel member pointed to the complications involved in getting consumers to use the system, and wondered whether it is realistic to expect every resident to carry their My Number card every time they go shopping.

Many people are also concerned that their personal information could be leaked or unlawfully used if the cards are lost or stolen.

At a press conference, Finance Minister Taro Aso said: “If people don’t want to carry their cards, they don’t have to carry them. They will just miss out on the reduced tax by that much.” It appears Aso does not understand at all the true sentiment of people who are having a tough time managing the household budget.

Some elderly people and others who would want to get the benefit payment have not mastered the use of personal computers and smartphones. We think a reduced consumption tax rate that does not impose any unnecessary trouble on people would be a fairer, simpler system for everybody.

Learn from Europe

The Finance Ministry’s reasoning for avoiding the introduction of a lower tax rate on some items is that it would be difficult to draw a line between items subject to the lower rate and those that are not, and that having several rates would generate a heavy administrative burden when compiling invoices where tax amounts are entered for every transaction.

Selecting items to be subject to a lower tax rate would indeed require considerable time and effort. But adjusting the advantages and disadvantages of the tax system and making it realistic is precisely the primary duty of politics.

Major countries in Europe have implemented lower tax rates on some items for more than half a century.

These lower rates are imposed on food and also newspapers and books, which are essential for preserving the culture of the printed word. Concerns over invoices have not hindered commercial transactions in any way in these nations.

There is no reason why today’s Japan could not implement such a system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 11, 2015)Speech

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2015年9月11日 (金)



競走馬を育成できる高校 東関東馬事高等学院です。

千葉県八街市にある馬の高校 東関東馬事高等学院の卒業生「木之前 葵騎手(名古屋競馬場)」が、後輩の生徒たちが育成・調教した競走馬「バジガクパルフェ号」の初勝利を飾る。


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(社説)参院審議、大詰めへ 「違憲」法案に反対する

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 10
EDITORIAL: 'Unconstitutional' security legislation must be killed
(社説)参院審議、大詰めへ 「違憲」法案に反対する

Upper House deliberations on contentious government-drafted national security legislation are entering the final stage.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was re-elected Sept. 8 as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, intends to seek a vote on the package of bills for passage next week.

But public opinion remains highly critical of the legislation that would drastically change the overseas role of the Self-Defense Forces.

In an Asahi Shimbun poll in late August, 30 percent of the respondents expressed support for the legislation and 51 percent were opposed. Asked whether they thought the legislation needed to be enacted during the current Diet session, only 20 percent of those polled said yes, while 65 percent answered no.

Many experts assert the legislation is unconstitutional. People across Japan have joined demonstrations to protest the bills. It is hard to claim a national consensus has been formed on the need for the legislation.

If the LDP-led ruling coalition rams the bills through the Upper House by using its majority in the chamber, the schism between the people and politics will only deepen.


We again urge the Abe administration to stop forging ahead with this initiative.

Forcing “unconstitutional” legislation through the Diet is unacceptable. The bills should be quashed, and the government should start from scratch.

Given China’s rise as a major and assertive military power and other factors, the Abe administration argues that it is necessary to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense in limited situations because the security environment surrounding the nation has changed. Many Japanese agree with this view.

What is impressive about public opinion with regard to the legislation, on the other hand, is the wide spectrum of arguments against it. Opposition to the legislation has been voiced by people of all ideological stripes, including both those who are for and against constitutional amendments.

Some people have said Japan must not abandon the pacifist credo which it adopted after serious soul-searching about its actions during World War II and has been maintaining throughout the postwar period.

Members of nongovernment organizations have warned that expanding the scope of SDF activities in regions like the Middle East could stir up antagonism against Japan.

There are others who think the Constitution should be amended and criticize the way the government has made it possible for Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense simply through a change in the traditional interpretation of the Constitution. This approach, they say, runs against the principle of constitutionalism, which in essence means that the government’s power is defined and limited by the Constitution.

The administration has turned a deaf ear to all these dissenting voices.

When former Supreme Court Chief Justice Shigeru Yamaguchi said that the legislation is unconstitutional, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani downplayed the importance of Yamaguchi’s opinion by stating the remarks were uttered by “one private individual who has retired from office.” Nakatani’s comment symbolized the administration’s complete lack of respect for expert opinion.


The Abe administration contends there is a policy imperative to make it possible for Japan to use the right to collective self-defense. If so, the logical step the administration should follow is to make its case for this policy change to the public and seek support for the necessary amendment to the Constitution.

In fact, for a while Abe called for a revision of Article 96 of the Constitution to lower the bar for constitutional amendments, pledging to “get the Constitution back into the hands of the people.” His true aim in making that move was apparently an amendment to the war-renouncing Article 9.

After his bid to revise Article 96 was criticized as a violation of the principle of constitutionalism, Abe switched to achieving his security policy goal through a change in the government’s interpretation of the Constitution.

The radical reinterpretation of the Constitution was formalized with a Cabinet decision involving only a small number of ministers. The administration is now trying to ram the legislation based on that policy shift through the Diet by taking advantage of the overwhelming parliamentary majority commanded by the ruling alliance for an effective amendment to the Constitution.

The administration has omitted the process of building consensus among the public and made do with an agreement reached within the government and the ruling camp without participation by the public.

Now, the Constitution is being taken away from the hands of the people.

As a result, legal stability is being undermined in more ways than one.

No matter what answers the government gives to related questions at the Diet, many Japanese cannot help but suspect that the government could change its position in the future. That’s why people are finding it hard not to be concerned that conscription may someday be adopted, no matter how strongly Abe rules out the possibility.

After the package of security bills is passed into law, there will likely be a wave of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the legislation.

It is also possible that the government’s interpretation of the Constitution may be altered again after a regime change.

The Abe administration is poised to push the legislation through the Diet without even clarifying the vague concept of “the crisis of the nation’s survival,” which it says would justify Japan engaging in collective self-defense.

The lack of an effective system to prevent arbitrary enforcement of the law inevitably gives the government even greater discretion in making security policy decisions.

The SDF must not be deployed to dangerous overseas operations under such unstable circumstances.


Another thing the security legislation is threatening to undermine is the importance of Article 9.

The Abe administration appears to be trying to expand the scope of the tasks and areas for the SDF's overseas operations, enhance the SDF’s cooperation with the forces of the United States and other countries and thereby enhance deterrence against China. It also seems to regard Article 9 as an impediment to Japan’s national security and want to reduce its implications for security policy so that Japan can play a greater military role in the international community.

If the “proactive pacifism” the administration has been advocating means pushing the nation in this direction, it marks a radical departure from the postwar pacifism that has enabled Japan to maintain a distance from direct involvement in overseas conflicts, even if the two may look similar.

Let us think afresh about the meaning of Article 9, which states the Japanese people “forever renounce war.”

It has helped Japan to maintain a distance from U.S. military actions, which on occasion are staged for a wrong war. It has also helped Japan to build relationships based on mutual trust with its neighbors, including China and South Korea, and avoid the folly of participating in a futile arms race. Japan, as a pacifist nation underpinned by Article 9, can play a useful role as mediator in the Middle East.

Article 9 has played no small part in Japan’s pacifist diplomacy in the postwar period, although it has also created challenges under the harsh reality facing the world.

To be sure, a certain degree of deterrence provided by the U.S. forces and the SDF is necessary for Japan’s security. It is vital to make efforts to bolster the reliability of deterrence.

That, however, doesn’t mean that enacting the “unconstitutional” security legislation in such a rash manner is the only way to accomplish that.

As for expanding Japan’s international contributions, widening the scope of overseas SDF deployments is not the only option.

There are a plethora of international challenges Japan should tackle, such as aid to refugees, efforts to deal with infectious diseases and mediation to solve conflicts. There must be ways for Japan to expand and upgrade its diplomatic activities by combining efforts to tackle these challenges in line with its commitment to Article 9.

Using the power of numbers to turn the colorful landscape of Japanese people’s views and opinions into a monochrome picture would stifle people’s efforts to envision the future of the nation.

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2015年9月10日 (木)

(社説)安倍総裁再選 民意とのねじれを正せ

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 9
EDITORIAL: Re-elected Abe must move closer to the will of the people
(社説)安倍総裁再選 民意とのねじれを正せ

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party on Sept. 8 without ballot. Seiko Noda, the only LDP legislator who sought to challenge Abe, failed to secure the recommendations from 20 Diet members required to run.

Noda was chairwoman of the LDP’s General Council in spring 2014, when she voiced “skepticism” about the procedures Abe chose to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense. Before the Cabinet convened to endorse Abe's intent to change the government’s traditional interpretation of the Constitution, Noda organized an intraparty debate on this matter.

At a Sept. 8 news conference where she announced her decision not to run, Noda said, “I wanted to create a situation where people would say there are diverse opinions within the LDP.”

There are 400-plus LDP legislators, but not even 20 came forward in support of Noda’s wish to create such a situation. This is pathetic.

Her attempt to secure recommendations from 20 lawmakers was hindered by certain party factions and individuals close to the prime minister who did not want her bid for the presidency to negatively affect the progress of Diet deliberations on the controversial national security bills.

The LDP is losing its traditional flexibility and readiness to accommodate the diverse wishes of the public from the entire political spectrum and reflect them in intraparty discussions. We are not saying we miss the old days of outright factional politics. But we are deeply apprehensive of the current LDP administration that obviously believes in rejecting any controversy to get things done smoothly.

In successfully blocking Noda’s candidacy, the bedrock of the Abe administration appears as solid as it could get. But that is not necessarily the case.

From the time Abe returned to power in December 2012, his administration owed its stability and popularity to the economic upturn that raised his Cabinet’s approval ratings. But when the global economy began to falter, so did its popularity, with non-approval ratings exceeding approval ratings.

Most importantly, the Abe administration has failed to win the support of the public on crucial policies.

In an Asahi Shimbun opinion poll conducted in late August, Abe’s statement for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II was approved by 40 percent of respondents, as opposed to 31 percent who did not approve. But in the same survey, 65 percent saw “no need” to legislate the national security bills during the current Diet session, and 49 percent considered the restart of the Sendai nuclear reactor a “bad decision.”

With the national security legislation in particular, public opposition has grown in leaps and bounds as Diet deliberations continue. If Abe resorts to strength in numbers to steamroll the bills through the Diet, the gap between the administration’s intent and what the public wants will only widen further.

Abe pledged on Sept. 8 to continue to focus on economic growth. That in itself is fine, but he ought to understand that his modus operandi of relying on the robust economy to force divisive policies on the nation is nearing the end of its effectiveness.

Having secured another term as party president unchallenged, Abe is poised to get the national security legislation passed by the Diet as early as next week.

But before anything, he must do everything he can to bridge the divide between his stance and the will of the people. No matter how successful he may be in solidifying his intra-party base, ignoring the will of the people has its limits in politics.

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2015年9月 9日 (水)





あらゆるショッピングモール内の集客はスマヒ で決まりです。


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難民大量流入 欧州の結束と人権が問われる

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Refugee crisis tests EU solidarity and human rights principles
難民大量流入 欧州の結束と人権が問われる

There has been a sharp rise in the number of refugees and illegal migrants flowing into Europe from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, magnifying the turmoil.

Can the European Union, which emphasizes principles of human rights, organize a mechanism for member states to share the burdens of accepting refugees smoothly? Their solidarity will be put to the test.

The rapid rise in refugees stems from the ever volatile situation in the Middle East and North African countries as a civil war grinds on in Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group gains power.

The total number of refugees and illegal migrants arriving in EU countries by crossing the Mediterranean this year topped the 300,000 mark by the end of last month, already surpassing by far the about 220,000 refugees who reached there in the whole of last year.

In many cases, they headed for Europe aboard small vessels arranged by smugglers, with tragic incidents occurring one after another. Large numbers of migrants have lost their lives when their vessels capsized.

The photographs of a dead Syrian toddler washed ashore on a Turkish beach have shocked the world.

The EU has to cooperate with the relevant countries and quickly take such measures as cracking down on migrant smuggling vessels to prevent such incidents from recurring.

Most of the refugees and migrants are seeking to be resettled in wealthy countries such as Germany and the Nordic nations. In Budapest, a large number of refugees gathered at a station in an attempt to board trains for Germany, temporarily paralyzing the functions of the station.

Central role for Germany

Holding the key to the EU’s refugee policy is Germany, a country that has accepted the largest number of refugees. This year the number of refugees seeking asylum in Germany from around the world is expected to quadruple from last year to 800,000.

Germany, due to reflection on its persecution of Jews during the Nazi era, has adopted a liberal asylum policy. Its warm treatment, including the provision of living expenses to asylum seekers, has drawn a flood of refugees.

As a result, friction has surfaced there, with far-right extremist groups attacking refugee shelters.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed her strong sense of alarm, saying that for the EU, the refugee issue will have greater importance than the Greek fiscal crisis.

Merkel asserted that it is necessary to make “fair distribution” of refugees among the EU member countries and intends to realize this with cooperation of France and others.

From September to October, the issue of refugee quotas will be taken up for discussion at an emergency meeting of EU justice and interior ministers and at an EU summit.

The EU member countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Hungary, are opposed to quotas for refugee relocation among EU countries. In these countries, with less vibrant economies, there is strong anxiety among the people that their jobs will be taken away by refugees.

Germany and France need to expedite their efforts to win these countries’ agreement to the quota. It will be necessary to differentiate between refugees seeking protection from persecution and illegal migrants seeking jobs in EU countries.

For the fundamental solution to the refugee problem, it is vital to improve the situations in the Middle East and Africa. It is important for the international community, including Japan, to reinforce diplomatic efforts and support to achieve regional stability.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 8, 2015)

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2015年9月 8日 (火)

軽減税率代替策 「面倒くさい」で済まされるか


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Giving up on realizing reduced tax rates for being ‘bothersome’ too irresponsible
軽減税率代替策 「面倒くさい」で済まされるか

A policy that takes the easy way out by depending on handout measures would not protect people’s livelihoods from the increasing burden of a future increase in the consumption tax rate.

The Finance Ministry has drafted measures to alleviate taxpayers’ burdens when the consumption tax rate is raised to 10 percent.

The ministry says a 10 percent tax should be levied on all purchased goods and consumers would later receive “benefit payments” equivalent to two percentage points of the consumption tax on food and beverages.

Although the ministry says the idea is an alternative to a system of reduced tax rates, the proposal is fraught with flaws, and can hardly be called a convincing alternative.

Explaining the ministry’s idea, Finance Minister Taro Aso had the gall to say, “Introducing plural tax rates [reduced tax rates] would be bothersome, so we used our ingenuity to make the matter less of a problem.” This is extremely irresponsible.

The Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito included a consumption tax rate-related agreement in their platforms in the 2014 election of the House of Representatives. In December 2013, the two ruling coalition parties had agreed to introduce lower tax rates on daily necessities.

Although the task of determining what items should be eligible for reduced tax rates would undoubtedly be difficult, discarding the result of discussions by the ruling coalition parties merely because the decision is “bothersome” is unforgivable.

The ruling coalition parties should fulfill their political responsibility by ensuring that reduced tax rates are introduced on such daily necessities as food, newspapers and others.

Far from being realistic

Under the draft, consumers would have to pay for all goods that include the full 10 percent consumption tax rate, so they would hardly feel any effects of the tax burden alleviation system. There is a possibility that the benefits received later will be put into their savings. Under the circumstances, it is strongly feared that personal consumption will cool off.

Other problems involve the ministry-envisioned scheme of figuring out the amounts of benefits by projecting the total amount of consumption according to such criteria as income brackets and family composition. The shoddy way the system has been designed in deciding on benefit payments without considering the reality of what happens when people shop cannot help but give rise to doubts regarding the adequacy and impartiality of the ministry’s plan.

The Finance Ministry’s draft covers almost all items of food and beverages. Fiscal expenditures for funding the planned benefits, if provided to all households, would run up to a massive ¥1.3 trillion. Should restrictions on the benefit payments be imposed on the basis of income brackets, a sense of unfairness would arise again over where to draw a line in imposing income-based restrictions.

The ministry’s plan has incorporated utilization in the future of the My Number system, but the proposed use of the system for the benefit payments is nothing more than the ministry’s desperation attempt to avert criticism against the benefit system for being a handout measure, so it should be deemed unrealistic.

The draft claims that if information of individuals’ purchases at retailers is read using their My Number card to accumulate their purchase history, the amounts of benefit payments will be calculated accurately.

Would it really be possible to build a data management system to have all of the nation’s retailers, including small stores, equipped with scanners and related devices necessary to read purchasing records?

Considering the government’s stringent finances, it will most likely be inevitable for the government to raise the consumption tax rate to a level above 10 percent sometime in the future. For the purpose of building a framework geared to securing steady revenue sources for financing social security outlays while minimizing the adverse impact the social security system would have on personal consumption, introduction of a reduced tax rate system is indispensable.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 7, 2015)

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ミュージックバンカー がシニアタレントを募集しています。





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2015年9月 7日 (月)

防衛費概算要求 安保法制を支える装備調達に


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ensure equipment procurement to support new security legislation
防衛費概算要求 安保法制を支える装備調達に

To make the government-envisioned new security legislation truly effective, it is vitally important to steadily fortify the nation’s defense capabilities.

The Defense Ministry, in its budget demand estimates for fiscal 2016, has requested ¥5.09 trillion, up 2.2 percent from fiscal 2015’s initial defense budgetary appropriations. This represents the fourth consecutive year-on-year budget increase sought by the ministry.

China’s defense spending has been expanding more than 10 percent every year, now amounting to more than three times that of Japan’s. North Korea’s nuclear and missile development and its military provocations also continue unabated. The Defense Ministry’s budget increase requests take into account the markedly severe security environment.

The ministry’s budget estimates emphasize beefing up defense of the Nansei Islands to cope with the intensifying activities of Chinese forces in the East China Sea. The ministry for the first time is seeking such defense equipment purchases as 36 maneuver combat vehicles (MCVs) and a new type of aerial refueling aircraft.

MCVs, while having firepower on par with that of tanks, are considerably lighter than tanks and capable of traveling at a maximum speed of about 100 kph. They can be transported by aircraft for such purposes as defending remote islands.

The budget estimates also include expenditures for 12 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft and 11 AAV7 amphibious assault vehicles. Aiming to ramp up warning and surveillance activities, the ministry is set to introduce three Global Hawk drones.

In addition, the ministry plans to earmark outlays for building an Aegis-equipped vessel for ballistic missile defense and a submarine of the latest model.

The security-related bills are designed to make it possible for this country to exercise the collective self-defense right to a limited extent, to operate in defense of U.S. military vessels. For the purpose of protecting U.S. vessels and others in peacetime, stipulations concerning “defense of weapons and related equipment” in the Self-Defense Forces Law are to be revised.

Deploy troops broadly

To make it possible to respond rapidly to such “gray-zone contingencies” as the seizure of a remote island by forces from abroad in the guise of fishermen, part of the procedures for mobilizing SDF troops has been simplified through a Cabinet decision.

To reliably implement a series of such operations, procurement of equipment and garrisoning of troops commensurate with the tasks are indispensable.

Ensuring legal arrangements to empower the SDF to protect U.S. forces in an emergency and equipping the SDF to carry out such missions would beef up the relationship of mutual trust between Japan and the United States, which would in turn make the bilateral alliance even more unshakable.

Regarding the garrisoning of troops, the ministry’s budget estimates this time call for expenditures for developing premises and acquiring plots of land for a Ground Self-Defense Force base on Miyakojima island, Okinawa Prefecture, and another somewhere on Amami Oshima island, Kagoshima Prefecture, by the end of fiscal 2018.

No GSDF troops are currently deployed in the Nansei Islands region except for the Okinawa main island. Around the Okinawa main island, SDF fighter jets were scrambled against an intrusion by Chinese aircraft for two days in a row near the end of July.

If the deployment of SDF units with land-to-air and surface-to-sea missiles is materialized, this country’s deterrence in that region will certainly be bolstered significantly.

Gaining the consent of local community residents concerned is essential for the envisaged deployment of GSDF troops. The city assembly of Miyakojima island adopted a petition in July calling for early GSDF deployment, while the city mayor expressed his intention to support deployment. The Defense Ministry is also planning to deploy troops on Ishigakijima island. Arrangements to obtain local residents’ agreement should be advanced without delay.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 6, 2015)

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2015年9月 6日 (日)

石炭火力発電 安定供給と環境対策の両立を

> 安全の確認できた原発を着実に再稼働させ、

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Coal-powered plants part of balance between stable supply, environment
石炭火力発電 安定供給と環境対策の両立を

How to strike a balance between stable power supply and measures against global warming? The government needs to present a path to this goal.

Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki has put holds on private-sector coal-fired power plant construction projects one after another.

Regarding projects in Aichi and Chiba prefectures, Mochizuki submitted written opinions to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa on Aug. 14 and 28, respectively, saying that they “cannot be approved” based on the Environmental Impact Assessment Law. Regarding a project in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Mochizuki presented a similar written opinion in June.

With its low fuel cost, coal-fired thermal power is an effective source of electricity. But it produces twice as much greenhouse gas as power generation using liquefied natural gas.

If new construction projects are approved easily, it will make it difficult to achieve the government’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent from the figure for fiscal 2013 by fiscal 2030. It is no wonder that the environment minister has a heightened sense of crisis as coal-fired thermal power plants are planned in turn.

The government has put forth a policy of lowering the percentage of coal-fired power generation within the nation’s total electricity sources from the current 30 percent to 26 percent in 2030. However, major utility firms and new entrants have shown moves to build additional coal-fired thermal plants.

Coal-fired thermal power is a stable baseload electricity source as it can be generated day and night. Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, it has sustained the power supply in the face of a crisis caused by the suspension of all domestic nuclear power plants. It is natural for all utilities to rely on coal-fired power generation under such circumstances.

While newly building up-to-the-minute coal-fired thermal power plants that discharge less greenhouse gas, it is essential to abolish superannuated facilities with poor power generation efficiency one after another.

No clear control tower

It is problematic, however, that there is no clear control tower that makes adjustments on new construction and abolition projects to realize the optimal composition of electricity sources.

It strikes us as strange that the environment minister puts the brakes on construction of individual coal-fired thermal projects in the name of environmental impact assessments. The industry and environment ministries must coordinate views with major utilities and new entrants in the private sector and present concrete and desirable ways to expand the system to secure electricity sources.

Also important is the role played by the Organization for Cross-regional Coordination of Transmission Operators, which has been established to coordinate power supply and demand on a nationwide basis.

It cannot be overlooked that construction plans on coal-fired power plants with a capacity of less than 112,500 kilowatts, which are not subject to the mandatory environmental impact assessment, have emerged at random. But this cannot be helped even if this is regarded as evasion of regulations.

To prevent the abuse of legal loopholes, the Environment Ministry reportedly plans to expand environmental impact assessments to cover small-scale coal-fired power plants. The industry ministry, for its part, is considering tightening controls with a view to promoting the introduction of highly efficient facilities. Highly practical measures are called for to prevent additional coal-fired power plants from being built too easily.

One way to prevent excessive reliance on coal as an energy source would be for nuclear reactors to be restarted steadily after their safety is confirmed and for the government to present a policy of building new nuclear power stations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 5, 2015)

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2015年9月 5日 (土)

抗日戦勝70年 習氏が内外に誇示する軍事力

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Xi shows Chinese military might at home, abroad / Distortion of history by China, ROK unacceptable
抗日戦勝70年 習氏が内外に誇示する軍事力

China’s display of military might is symbolic of its arms expansion policy and threatens regional stability. The administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping must exercise self-restraint in challenging the international order.

A 70th anniversary ceremony and military parade marking China’s “victory in the War of Resistance against Japan” were held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Thursday. “This great triumph crushed the plot of Japanese militarists,” Xi said in his speech.

China said the anniversary events were “not targeted at Japan as it is today.” However, it is crystal clear that they were intended as part of anti-Japan propaganda activities.

Abe’s absence right

Excessively highlighting the past and eliminating future-oriented elements would hinder the improvement of Japan-China relations.

It was proper for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to decline a request to attend the anniversary events.

China held a celebration on Sept. 3, 1945, the day after Japan signed its instrument of surrender. Last year, the Xi administration officially designated that date as “the day to celebrate the victory of the war of resistance against Japan.” Thursday’s parade was China’s first since October 2009, when it celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and the first of its kind to mark the country’s “victory against Japan.”

Xi probably wants to stir up patriotism by emphasizing both China’s status as “a victorious nation” and its “military power,” and thereby strive to maintain the political leadership of his administration.

About 12,000 officers and soldiers participated in Thursday’s parade, which is said to have been China’s biggest ever. About 200 aircraft, including the latest types of early-warning planes and fighter jets, and domestically produced weapons such as cruise and ballistic missiles, were on display.

Worthy of note was China’s first public showing of its new intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Coupled with the fact that Xi made no reference in his commemorative speech to the role played by the United States during World War II, this suggests China intends to eliminate Washington from the Asian order.

During a meeting with Lien Chan, a former leader of Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), Xi mentioned that both the Chinese Communist Party and the Nationalist Party “contributed significantly to the victory in the war of resistance against Japan,” thereby acknowledging the Nationalist Party’s role in the war.

At the time it was engaged in war with Japan, China was largely under the rule of the Nationalist Party. Concluding the victory as one gained by the whole of China is likely intended to emphasize the legitimacy of the communist administration. Isn’t this a distortion of history?

Heads of state and leaders from more than 20 nations, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, attended the ceremony and the parade. Leaders from Japan, the United States and major European nations skipped the events.

Attendance at the parade could be interpreted as giving approval to China’s military buildup. Part of the reason many nations did not send a leader is that the parade was held in Tiananmen Square, the site of a crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Putin was the only leader from the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to attend the parade. If anything, this highlighted how China and Russia stand apart from other nations. Both have strengthened their dictatorial systems, and they will not elicit much sympathy even as they profess “victory in the anti-fascist war.”

Ban lacking neutrality

We felt the attendance of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at the ceremony was problematic. Ban, who also attended a Russian ceremony commemorating “the 70th anniversary of the victory over Germany,” justified his participation by saying he has taken part in various events marking the end of World War II.

We wonder if this sends a message of approval for the actions of China and Russia as they seek to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China and South China seas, and in Ukraine. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was quite right to show concern and say that the United Nations “should keep a neutral position.”

China is South Korea’s largest trading partner. Park’s attendance at the parade indicates that she has to give greater weight to ties with Beijing as South Korea’s economic dependence on it grows.

During talks with Xi held before the parade, Park said, “[Our] two countries together underwent a time of great adversity during the past century.” This was affirmation of Xi’s comment that the peoples of both nations had fought against Japanese aggression.

This once again gave the impression that South Korea is tending to side with China on issues of history.

Park will travel to Shanghai, where she will attend a commemorative event for the office building of “the provisional government of the Republic of Korea,” a site regarded as a stronghold of the independence movement.

Closer ties on security

Does Park want to close her eyes to the fact that Japan and South Korea did not fight against each other, and emphasize the self-flattering historical perception that the independence movement achieved liberation from Japanese colonial rule?

South Korea’s leader attended these events even though Seoul is an ally of Washington. Their alliance has its origins in the United States fighting alongside South Korea in the Korean War, in which China stood on the North Korean side.

It appears China’s extension of assistance to ease recent tensions between the Koreas has shaken South Korea’s position and, in the national security field, Seoul is straying from its previous path.

Japan and the United States must increase their vigilance against attempts to drive a wedge between cooperation among Tokyo, Washington and Seoul.

Xi and Park have agreed to hold talks with Abe as early as late October in South Korea. It is highly possible that Abe and Park will hold their first talks at this gathering. It is vital that Japan pursues strategic and productive summit diplomacy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 4, 2015)

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2015年9月 4日 (金)



榮伸のランドセル は、丈夫で長持ちするだけではなくって、デザインが洗練されています。




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女性活躍法 長時間労働の是正が不可欠だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Shortening long working hours vital for women’s active participation in society
女性活躍法 長時間労働の是正が不可欠だ

With the workforce shrinking, it is increasingly important to improve the working environment for women to enable them to fulfill their potential.

“The final curtain has been drawn on the era in which people ask why we promote the dynamic engagement of women in society. Now is the time for us to discuss how to bring it into reality,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at an international symposium held last week.

By a majority vote supported by parties including the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party of Japan and Komeito, a new bill was recently enacted to promote the active engagement of women in society. We hope this law will help accelerate efforts in this regard by both the public and private sectors.

The new law makes it obligatory for companies with a workforce of at least 301 people to draw up and publicize action programs to promote women, including numerical targets. Companies with 300 or fewer employees are only urged to make efforts to compile action programs.

What the numerical targets apply to and their specific levels are to be decided by the companies themselves, depending on the situation of each company. Envisaged numerical targets include the number of women hired and the percentage of managerial positions held by women. There are no penalties for failing to reach the targets.

The hiring of women and their promotion to executive posts vary by industry and by company. It is realistic for the government to let companies decide these targets on their own, instead of establishing unified standards.

By also establishing a system for the government to recognize companies that excel in meeting their targets, the new law will encourage companies to tackle these tasks proactively. It is important for each company to decide on effective targets and plans.

Diversity benefits companies

The government aims to have 30 percent of leadership positions held by women by 2020. The present figure in Japanese companies is 11 percent, far below U.S. and European companies where the number ranges from 30 to 40 percent.

Utilizing diverse human resources should enhance companies’ creativity and improve their competitiveness. Some companies have already started publicizing their numerical targets and expanding on-the-job training for women.

Both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors have passed an additional resolution to the new law that calls for companies to adjust the wage gap between men and women, and implement measures to improve the treatment of non-regular workers.

A majority of working women are low-wage, non-regular employees, such as part-timers. Improving the treatment of these female workers is essential in making the new law function effectively. The government must push forward a concrete study of this issue.

Regarding the promotion of women’s active participation in society, Abe also pointed out that “Our greatest barrier is a working culture that endorses male-centered long working hours.”

Calling on women also to be actively engaged in work, while leaving most of the household chores and child rearing to them, would only generate resentment among women. It is urgent to review how people work, correcting the long working hours and encouraging men to participate more in household chores and child rearing.

Companies also need to shift to employment management and personnel evaluations that are based on the premise of supporting employees’ work-life balance.

There must also be reform of the tax and social insurance system, which presently make it more advantageous for women to be dependent on their spouses than to work outside the home.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 3, 2015)Speech

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2015年9月 3日 (木)

WTO提訴 科学的根拠欠く韓国の禁輸


> WTO協定は、健康を守る貿易規制に関して、科学的な理由がない「恣意しい的または不当な差別」を禁じている。ルールに基づく迅速な解決を期待したい。


> 原発事故後、日本の食品の輸入規制をした約50か国・地域のうち、オーストラリアなど14か国はすでに撤廃した。
50-14=36 か国では、今だに輸入規制をしているということです。

The Yomiuri Shimbun
South Korea should lift unscientific import ban before WTO ruling
WTO提訴 科学的根拠欠く韓国の禁輸

It is important to ensure that South Korea scraps its unscientific import restrictions, a task necessary for rectifying the damage done by unfounded rumors about Japanese food products.

Japan earlier filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over South Korea’s total ban on imports of marine products from Fukushima and seven other prefectures in this country. The WTO is expected to decide to set up a dispute settlement panel in response to Japan’s demand as early as at the end of this month, despite South Korean objections to the move.

Japan has insisted South Korea’s import ban is a violation of WTO agreements. In explaining the reason for its import ban, South Korea cited the contaminated water problem arising from the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Japan has repeatedly urged South Korea to abolish the ban since it was put in place in September 2013. However, Seoul has never accepted Tokyo’s demand.

The fishery commodities in question are shipped only if sample inspections detect no radioactive materials exceeding safety standards. Japan had good reason to bring the case before the WTO, saying South Korea’s import restrictions had “no scientific grounds.”

Failure to settle the issue through bilateral talks between Japan and South Korea symbolizes a cooling off in their relations, even as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic normalization.

The WTO agreement prohibits scientifically groundless and “arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination” regarding trade restrictions for the protection of health. We hope the dispute will be swiftly resolved under WTO rules.

Groundless restriction

South Korea is not convincing when it asserts the import ban has been imposed in consideration of the safety of its people, saying the ban does not infringe on the WTO accord.

Seoul’s decision on the import ban came as the country had to respond to a sharp decrease in the sales of fishery commodities, including its own domestic products, due to rumors related to leakage of contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear facility.

The import ban has also made it possible, in effect, to ban the distribution of Japanese marine products from areas other than the eight prefectures if even a minuscule level of radioactive cesium is detected from them. Meanwhile, it permits the distribution of fishery commodities produced in South Korea if their cesium level falls within the safety criteria. South Korea’s stance can only be described as a double standard.

Japan laid down the world’s most rigorous safety standards for food products after the nuclear accident. Water quality surveys are also conducted in addition to sample inspections on marine products.

Late last year, South Korea sent an expert panel to Japan, and carried out on-the-spot inspections. The result of the South Korean team’s research has served to support the credibility of the Japanese inspections. However, the panel only revealed the data collected through its surveys with no further action. South Korea’s refusal to express an opinion on the safety of Japanese food products is unreasonable.

About 50 nations and regions imposed import restrictions on Japanese food products after the nuclear accident. Fourteen of them, including Australia, have lifted such bans.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has urged South Korea to make a reasonable decision on its own import ban, saying, “[Seoul] should abolish its restrictions at an early date, not waiting for the WTO to arrive at a conclusion.” The Japanese government needs to persistently urge South Korea to lift the ban through diplomatic channels.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 2, 2015)

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『くにおくん』GBシリーズ、初のサウンドトラックが発売決定!待たせたなボーイ達!熱血マッハサウンドはまだ終わらない! 株式会社シティコネクション

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2015年9月 2日 (水)

概算要求 成長力強化へメリハリつけよ




The Yomiuri Shimbun
Budget priority must be given to strengthening growth strategy
概算要求 成長力強化へメリハリつけよ

With the prospects of the world economy becoming increasingly uncertain, it is important to compile a budget for next fiscal year that will help accelerate the implementation of a growth strategy.

Budgetary requests for fiscal 2016 are expected to exceed ¥102 trillion.

This will be the second straight year for such requests to exceed ¥100 trillion. As the government wants to rein in the growth of spending to about ¥1.6 trillion over the coming three years, it will be necessary to trim the budget by around ¥5 trillion.

How will it be possible to boost the national economy while eliminating wasteful spending? The Finance Ministry must clearly prioritize budgetary requests.

It is important to ensure effective functioning of special quotas, which have been set for the third straight year to allot budgets for the implementation of policies given priority by the Abe administration.

The ministry has curtailed the amount of budgetary requests for “discretionary spending,” including that for public works projects, by 10 percent from the fiscal 2015 budget. However, the ministry has approved ¥4 trillion in budgetary requests for projects related to the growth strategy, among others. Apparently, budgetary requests from other government offices have virtually reached their limit in this respect.

These requests, however, include conventional ones for the construction of regional roads that have been filed on the pretext of dealing with depopulation and creating jobs. Budget allocations must be limited strictly to projects that meet the requirements of the special quotas.

Duplication of budget requests

There are a number of cases in which budgetary requests for similar projects have been made by two or more government offices.

For instance, both the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry included in their budgetary requests projects to enhance corporate competitiveness and promote industrial-academic-government cooperation by utilizing information and communications technology.

Many government offices are seeking budgetary allocations for such projects as regional vitalization and the promotion of active social participation by women. The Finance Ministry must work toward making adjustments to eliminate duplication of similar projects by government offices.

Of concern is that the pressure for expanded spending has been mounting within the ruling parties ahead of a House of Councillors election next summer.

With an eye on concluding negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry significantly increased budgetary requests for agricultural land improvement projects and subsidies for the families of rice farmers.

In response, the Liberal Democratic Party’s Agriculture and Forestry Division and other divisions have decided to seek an increase in budgetary allocations.

To trim social security spending, the government will look into the possibility of lowering medical service fees to be paid to medical institutions until the end of the year. But strong opposition is expected from the LDP as doctors’ associations are among its list of supporting organizations.

An intensive reform period for the government’s fiscal soundness achievement plan will start in fiscal 2016. The government will be put to the test, in the first year of the period, over whether it will be able to cut into social security spending that has ballooned to ¥32 trillion, accounting for one-third of total spending.

The national debt has swelled to more than ¥1 quadrillion, and debt-servicing costs for principal and interest repayment of government bonds are estimated to hit a record ¥26 trillion in fiscal 2016, a rise by 11 percent over the current fiscal year. It is imperative to keep a tight rein on fiscal spending.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 1, 2015)

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2015年9月 1日 (火)



9月21日は敬老の日 です。あなたの身近にいる高齢者は両親やおじいちゃん、おばあちゃんでしょう。敬老の日のプレゼントにマグネシウム合金の杖はいかがでしょうか。
株式会社マクルウが高強度マグネシウム合金パイプを採用した杖 FLAMINGO(フラミンゴ)を新発売です。




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旧ソ連抑留者 「シベリア以外」の解明も急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Determine fate of detainees at former Soviet camps outside Siberia
旧ソ連抑留者 「シベリア以外」の解明も急げ

At long last, there are important clues in regard to finding out the whole truth about a tragedy that has so far been shrouded in darkness.

Materials concerning Japanese nationals who were detained at camps and other facilities of the former Soviet Union after the end of World War II have recently been discovered one after another.

It has been disclosed that the Russian national archives have a number of documents, such as 55 photos of Japanese interned in Dalian in northern China and lists of deceased Japanese detainees in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, the southern region of Karafuto (now called Sakhalin) and in Dalian.

In the wake of reporting by The Yomiuri Shimbun on the lists of deceased internees, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has made public lists of a total of 10,723 Japanese internees, although some cases may have been listed more than once.

Among the lists released by the ministry are the names of 2,130 people who do not fall into the category of “detainees in Siberia” — those who were interned in the former Soviet Union or Mongolia.

Actual conditions of Japanese detainees in areas other than Siberia are virtually unknown, including how many died. Measures to support bereaved families must be provided promptly, including fact-finding investigations and providing information to aging families of the deceased.

In the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration, Tokyo and Moscow agreed to mutually abandon the right to claim compensation for wartime damage.

Returnees from Siberia and bereaved families of deceased detainees in Siberia have filed lawsuits for compensation against the Japanese government, demanding payment of wages that the plaintiffs say should have been paid for forced labor the detainees engaged in, as well as damages for their internment.

The 1988 legislation of a special fund law for the provision of compensation for those who were interned and the 2010 enactment of a temporary statute requiring the government to conduct investigations were all designed to provide detainees in Siberia with relief measures.

Russia’s ‘confidential’ info a key

Regarding those who died while interned in areas other than Siberia, however, the government fell short of making public lists of detainees’ names and failed to carry out investigations, even though the government obtained the lists in and after 2000, as priority was given to those who were detained in Siberia. The fact that health and welfare minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki apologized for this, pledging to take steps to rectify the situation, can be considered a positive step forward.

Many tasks must be undertaken if the government attempts to provide bereaved families of those who were interned in areas other than Siberia with new assistance measures and to put into effect investigations relevant to them. This is because the current laws have limited the scope of beneficiaries to those who were interned in the former Soviet Union and Mongolia.

Studies should be made in connection with this on ways to beef up arrangements to conduct investigations. One idea would be to let Japanese experts on the matter to take part in investigation.

To uncover what actually happened, it is imperative to dig out information Russia still has not offered Japan.

To cite an example, Russia has yet to make public information about the fate of the Japanese interned in a number of detention camps near Pyongyang, where several thousands of the detainees are said to have perished. Even though Russia has provisioned the information to the Japanese government regarding the situation in the northern region of the Korean Peninsula, or information about “repatriation camps” in two areas of Hungnam and Wonsan.

Because the records relating to deaths by execution and abuses of the Japanese detainees have been designated as “confidential,” Russia’s security institutions in charge of the matter is said to be negative about lifting the ban on disclosing this information.

Whether Russia discloses the information in question may depend on a high political judgment in Russia, perhaps by President Vladimir Putin.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been probing the possibility of having face-to-face talks with Putin this autumn. If the meeting materializes, Abe should seek a cooperation in resolving the problem of the detention of Japanese by the former Soviet Union.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 31, 2015)

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