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2015年11月30日 (月)

一票の不平等 いつまで放置するのか

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 26
EDITORIAL: Vote-value disparity a gross inequality that cannot continue
(社説)一票の不平等 いつまで放置するのか

The Supreme Court’s latest ruling on the issue of vote-value disparity has left us wondering how long it will take until this clear, outrageous inequality is corrected.
It seems that both the judiciary and the legislature lack awareness of the urgent need to fix this unacceptable situation.

The Supreme Court’s Grand Bench ruled on Nov. 25 that the Lower House election in December last year was held in a “state of unconstitutionality,” citing a huge disparity in the relative vote-value among constituencies.

Given that the top court has handed down three similar rulings in the past four years, it has become almost routine to hear it declare that an election was held in a “state of unconstitutionality.”

The Diet has dragged its feet on reforming the electoral system, so a fundamental solution to the problem has yet to be found.

We are concerned that the Supreme Court’s tepid ruling on the issue could be used by the Diet as an excuse for its inaction.

In its ruling in 2011, the top court argued that the method of first distributing one seat to each of the 47 prefectures before allocating the remaining seats in the single-seat constituency part of the electoral system in proportion to population was the main cause of the vote-value disparity. The court said this approach should be “abolished as soon as possible.”

In its 2013 ruling on the Lower House election held in December 2012, however, the court took note of the Diet’s last-minute move to reduce the number of seats slightly as “certain progress,” easing the pressure on the Diet. The court’s latest ruling is in line with the 2013 decision.

In the Nov. 25 ruling, the Supreme Court had encouraging words for work by a Lower House expert committee on the election system to come up with measures to revamp the seat-allocation method, saying efforts to improve the situation are being made in line with the past rulings.

Let us ponder this problem from a basic standpoint.

In the Lower House election last December, one vote in the nation’s least populated constituency was worth 2.13 votes in the most heavily populated district. In other words, the weight of one person’s vote in a certain district was less than half of the weight of another person’s vote in a different district.

Casting votes in elections is the most important of the few opportunities for the public to exercise their sovereign power that is invested in them by the Constitution.

Allowing a situation to continue where a vote in one district is worth less than half of a vote in another represents an egregious inequality among the people that must be redressed immediately.

The fact that the flawed seat-allocation method remains basically unchanged four years after the Supreme Court criticized is testimony to the Diet’s gross negligence.

What is notable about the latest Supreme Court ruling is that three of the 14 justices of the Grand Bench criticized the Diet for its failure to tackle the problem, saying sufficient time had passed to realize equality in voting.

Two of the three dissenting justices argued for invalidating the Lower House election, and the remaining one called for declaring the election “unconstitutional” in the text of the judgment.

In the ruling, the top court maintained that the constitutional order should be formed through interactions between the judiciary and the legislature.

The interactions apparently work as follows. The Diet makes laws, and the Supreme Court sends its messages on certain laws through its rulings. The Diet then reforms the laws in response to the court’s rulings.

This seems to mean that the top court puts much importance on “dialogue” between the legislature and the judiciary.

But history shows the Diet has repeatedly ignored messages from the judiciary or interpreted them in a way convenient to it.

In order to ensure meaningful “dialogue,” the top court should have made more specific demands, such as setting clear deadlines for corrective actions by the Diet.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly declared that both the Upper and Lower Houses have been elected in a “state of unconstitutionality.” This is simply an extraordinary situation.

It is unacceptable that the Diet members, who are obliged to respect the Constitution, allow such serious inequality to remain unchanged.

This injustice should be rectified immediately.

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日豪2プラス2 安保協力を重層的に進めたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan-Australia security relationship must be enhanced on multiple layers
日豪2プラス2 安保協力を重層的に進めたい

Security cooperation between Japan and Australia is an important foundation for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The collaboration must be deepened multilaterally by promoting bilateral communications.

After the so-called two-plus-two meeting of their foreign and defense ministers in Sydney, the two countries issued a joint statement calling for strengthening defense cooperation through joint military exercises and exchange between troops, among other things.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the Japan-Australia relationship is “a special one sharing fundamental values and strategic interests.” His Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, responded by saying the bilateral relationship is more important than ever.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who had built a close relationship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, resigned in September over an economic slump and other matters. As his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, who belongs to the same Liberal Party as Abbott, attaches more importance to relations with China, there was concern in some quarters before the two-plus-two meeting that Tokyo-Canberra relations would regress under his administration.

Abe and Turnbull held their first conference in mid-November in Turkey. With the holding of the recent two-plus-two meeting, Tokyo-Canberra relations seem to be on track. The two governments must continue political dialogue as they work toward building confidence.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani explained the security-related laws enacted in September. Bishop welcomed the security legislation, saying that it would allow Japan to make a greater contribution to peacekeeping activities, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The security legislation is primarily aimed at solidifying the Japan-U.S. alliance and international cooperation, thereby ensuring security for Japan and the world.

Trilateral cooperation

The scope of Japan’s logistic support has been expanded to include troops other than those of the United States based on the assumption that Australian troops would be mobilized in case of emergencies around Japan.

A multilayered cooperative relationship must be built through such efforts as joint drills between Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military and trilateral exercises involving U.S. troops.

Australia will select a partner for joint development of its next-generation submarine from among Japan, France and Germany.

Japan’s submarine manufacturing technology is said to be among the best in the world. In this connection, the government needs to hold sufficient talks with Australia to prevent the leak of technologies to third-party countries.

With China’s maritime advances in the East and South China Seas and construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea in mind, the joint statement expressed “strong opposition to any coercive and unilateral actions.” The statement also said all nations have the freedom of navigation and flight under international law.

The U.S. Navy’s patrols within 12 nautical miles of the reclaimed islands embody the principle of international law. Japan and Australia need to support the United States through every possible means.

Japan and Australia plan to provide assistance measures for Papua New Guinea and other island countries in the Pacific, such as enhancing the capabilities of ensuring maritime security and improving social infrastructure.

Ensuring the safety of sea-lanes in the Western Pacific is of common interest to all the nations concerned. Japan should make a proactive commitment in this regard.

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

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2015年11月29日 (日)

五輪基本方針 テロ対策にも万全を期したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Take every possible antiterror step in preparation for 2020 Tokyo Games
五輪基本方針 テロ対策にも万全を期したい

Preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games stumbled significantly due to the withdrawal of plans for a new National Stadium and an emblem design.

There will soon be 4½ years remaining before the opening of the sports extravaganza. The government must accelerate a diverse range of preparatory work based on the basic policy approved by the Cabinet.

The basic policy defines the 2020 Games as “an opportunity for Japan to demonstrate to the world an advanced undertaking in a mature society.”

Above all, the policy calls for enriching Paralympic programs, saying that it “will contribute greatly to encouraging the impaired to become self-sustaining.” The term Paralympics was first used in the 1964 Tokyo Games. The 2020 Games will mark the first time a city has hosted the Summer Paralympics twice.

In view of this history, seeking to make the 2020 Paralymics the biggest ever is significant from the viewpoint of promoting the building of a symbiotic society.

A noticeable point in connection with the Olympics is that the basic plan set forth a goal of acquiring the highest number of gold medals in the country’s history. The past record of 16 was set at the 1964 Games in Tokyo and the Athens Olympics in 2004.

As far as public money spent in reinforcing training programs for athletes, it is natural for the government to present a specific target. If Japanese athletes perform spectacularly, it will contribute greatly to generating excitement for the Games.

A strategic approach is crucial to achieving the goal. It is necessary to make effective use of limited fiscal resources through such means as allocating training expenses to promising athletes on a priority basis in preparation for the 2020 Games. The Sports Agency, which is in charge of fund distribution, has a grave responsibility.

Anti-doping measures critical

Anti-doping measures are important for conducting fair athletic events. Against the background of the doping scandal that has hit the Russian athletics circle, eradication of doping has become a top priority in the sports world.

The basic policy, however, makes no concrete commitment on the issue, saying only that efforts will be made to “secure a well-prepared system” in cooperation with such organizations as the World Anti-Doping Agency. It is imperative to accelerate the study of specific measures to strengthen the doping test system.

To ensure the safety of athletes and spectators, utmost attention must be focused on antiterrorism measures.

The basic policy expressed a sense of crisis concerning terrorism, saying, “Terrorist threats are becoming a reality,” and pointed out the need to “ramp up intelligence gathering and analysis, border security and vigilance and security at venues, among others.”

It is indispensable for the private and public sectors to cooperate in enhancing the ability to cope with any possible situation.

The basic policy enumerates various measures, including those on the expansion of roads and transport infrastructure and those to deal with the summer heat. To prevent expenses from swelling, it is necessary to list measures in the order of priority.

To smoothly prepare for the Games, the need to clarify the division of the roles and responsibilities to be undertaken by the government, the organizing committee and the Tokyo metropolitan government must not be forgotten.

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

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2015年11月28日 (土)

露軍機撃墜 非難合戦を続けている場合か

The Yomiuri Shimbun
It’s not the time for lobbing criticism over downing of Russian warplane
露軍機撃墜 非難合戦を続けている場合か

This situation has poured cold water on the opportunity for cooperation between Russia, the United States and Europe that arose due to the terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month. Lobbing criticism at each other must not be allowed to derail unity among nations seeking to wipe out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group.

This week, a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian bomber near the Turkey-Syria border. Turkey insists the Russian plane intruded into Turkish territorial airspace and the pilot did not respond to repeated warnings to leave the area. It reportedly had lodged protests against numerous previous violations of its airspace.

Russia, which in late September launched airstrikes in Syria, saying its aim is to stamp out ISIL, is supporting the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkey supports Syrian antigovernment groups and gives priority to toppling the Assad administration. The diametrically opposed positions of Moscow and Ankara lurk in the background to the downing of the Russian warplane.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the plane violated Turkish airspace and angrily retorted there would be “serious consequences.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov canceled a visit to Turkey, and Moscow has started taking other retaliatory measures such as restricting imports of agricultural products from Turkey.

However, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has supported Turkey’s side of the story, and the U.S. military also confirmed the Russian aircraft received the warnings. Russia’s assertions seem to lack credibility.

ISIL is common enemy

It is important that Russia and Turkey stop their tit-for-tat criticism, restore calm to the situation and move toward preventing a recurrence.

Russia and a coalition of willing nations led by the United States continue to conduct independent airstrikes in Syria. Setting up lines of communication between these military forces is an urgent task to help prevent unexpected situations like the downing of the Russian plane.

The international community should be concentrating on weakening ISIL, which is a common enemy. Countries with a stake in this matter also must avoid discussions that go in circles on ways to end Syria’s civil war and on a transition of political power.

The U.N. Security Council recently unanimously adopted a resolution that calls on member states to fight terrorism and newly spells out the council’s determination to crush ISIL. Britain has indicated a plan to expand airstrikes in Syria, and France has strengthened its aggressive stance by deploying an aircraft carrier to the region.

French President Francois Hollande has embarked on a rapid series of diplomatic summits as he seeks to build a wide-ranging coalition that includes Russia. Hollande and U.S. President Barack Obama held talks in Washington, and they agreed to deepen cooperation to combat ISIL. We attach great important to this chain of international cooperation.

Putin considers France to be an antiterrorism “ally” and is taking a cooperative stance on this point. He probably aims to get the United States and European nations to relax sanctions imposed on Russia due to its intervention in Ukraine, and to break Moscow’s international isolation.

However, Russia’s position does not appear to change with its aim to keep Assad in power while seizing the initiative in the Syrian situation through the use of force. Under these circumstances, it will be difficult for the United States and Europe to “fight together” alongside Russia.

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

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2015年11月27日 (金)

衆院選違憲状態 国会に制度改革促した最高裁

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Top court urges the Diet to reform lower house electoral system further
衆院選違憲状態 国会に制度改革促した最高裁

While respecting the discretionary power of the legislature, the latest ruling can be seen as the judiciary making as much of a request as it can.

The Grand Bench of the Supreme Court handed down a ruling Wednesday that the House of Representatives election in December last year, which had a maximum vote-value disparity of 2.13-to-1 in single-seat constituencies, was in a state of unconstitutionality.

On the grounds that the current state of vote-value disparity runs counter to the vote-value equality called for by the Constitution, the top court told the Diet, “There is a need [for the Diet] to steadily continue improving the electoral system.”

It also acknowledged that a reasonable amount of time to correct the situation has not yet elapsed. The Diet has to make continued efforts to rectify the vote-value disparity.

The law concerning the establishment of the council on rezoning the electoral districts of the lower house stipulates the basic principle that the maximum vote-value disparity should not exceed 2-to-1.

Prior to last year’s poll, the Diet cut the number of lower house seats by five in single-seat constituencies to reduce the disparity to less than 2-to-1. When the election was held, however, the disparity exceeded 2-to-1 in some constituencies, due to demographic change.

Yet the top court acknowledged the Diet’s effort, calling it “a certain amount of progress toward realizing the correction.” It is a realistic view that takes into consideration the fact that it requires time to rectify the disparity.

Imprudent court decisions have become conspicuous in recent years, with some high courts ruling, for instance, that the 2012 lower house election was “unconstitutional” and the results of the election were “invalid.”

Self-restraint shown

The top court reiterated its view that “even if the court judges that there is a problem under the Constitution, it cannot establish any specific systems on its own.” This is a reasonable judgment showing the top court has restrained itself in its consideration of the role of the judicature.

The Supreme Court has been saying the vote-value disparity primarily stems from the current seat-distribution system, which allots one seat to each prefecture and then decides, in proportion to the population, how many additional seats each prefecture should be allocated in the single-seat section of the election.

In response, the Diet has already revised a related law to abolish the provision concerning the seat-distribution system.

The top court again said in its latest ruling that the vote-value disparity exceeds 2-to-1 due to the fact that the allotment of seats based on the seat-distribution system was kept in place in single-seat constituencies in Tokyo and other prefectures, which were not included in the prefectures where a combined total of five seats were reduced.

A research panel of experts tasked with reform of the lower house electoral system is studying the possibility of adopting, in place of the current system, the so-called Adams’ method, which would better reflect the population ratio than the current one. With this method, the vote-value disparity is expected to be held to less than 2-to-1, at least for the time being.

The discussion concerning the reduction of the overall number of lower house seats is worrying. Takeshi Sasaki, chairman of the research panel, has said that in light of the fact that political parties are calling for reducing lower house seats in their public pledges and otherwise, we “cannot ignore political promises.”

Should the overall number of lower house seats be reduced, however, it would become more difficult for diverse public opinions to be reflected in the election.

It may also scale down the Diet’s primary functions of making laws and overseeing the administration through the deliberation of bills.

When looking at the number of seats compared to the population, the number of Diet members is not as large as in European countries.

The research panel may also need to seriously consider the negative aspects of reducing the number of seats.

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

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2015年11月26日 (木)

韓国朴教授起訴 自由な歴史研究を封じるのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Isn’t South Korea repressing free research on history with indictment?
韓国朴教授起訴 自由な歴史研究を封じるのか

The latest action taken against a South Korean scholar constitutes an attempt to negate free and calm research activities and discussions on history.

The move to build a criminal case against an academic study could amount to an abuse of public authority. The recent action, taken by a South Korean district prosecutors office, has also cast a shadow on Japan-South Korea relations.

Park Yu Ha, a professor at Sejong University in Seoul, has been indicted, without being detained, on charges of defamation. According to her indictment, Park damaged the honor of former so-called comfort women in her book called “Teikoku no Ianfu” (Comfort women of the empire), in which she denied their forcible recruitment.

The prosecutors office dismissed as untrue her assertion that “forcible recruitment, which consists of a violence committed by a state, has never been used against Korean comfort women.” The indictment also regarded as problematic her statement in the book: “Basically, Korean comfort women had a comradely relationship with soldiers.”

In stating the reason for Park’s indictment, the prosecutors office said that these descriptions had infringed on the personal rights of the former comfort women, adding that her book deviates from the constitutional guarantee of academic freedom.

The latest action came after 11 people, including former comfort women, filed a complaint against Park in June last year, followed by investigations into the case by the Seoul Eastern Prosecutors Office. Questions can be raised about the prosecutors’ action taken to pass judgment on historical facts about which even experts have divergent views.

Park has refuted the prosecutors’ assertion, calling it “a distorted interpretation.” Her argument goes that the circumstances surrounding comfort women were varied, and that it is impossible to generalize them as “sex slaves,” “prostitutes” or otherwise.

Her book points to some other problems involved in the matter, saying that the corps of women mobilized for wartime labor services are confused with comfort women even today.

Unreasonable basis

What cannot be overlooked is that the documents cited by the prosecutors office as the basis for branding Park’s assertion as false included a statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono and the U.N. Human Rights Commission’s Coomaraswamy Report.

During the process of preparing the Kono statement, no document that proved the “forcible recruitment” of comfort women by the wartime Imperial Japanese Army was discovered. The statement was a result of political compromise between Japan and South Korea, according to a report issued in June last year by the Japanese government after months of examining the process in question.

The Coomaraswamy Report included a number of unfounded descriptions. For instance, it stated that 200,000 Korean women had been forced to work as “sex slaves,” and that most of them had been killed later. The document also quotes false statements by Seiji Yoshida, who claimed women on South Korea’s Jeju Island had been forcibly recruited as comfort women.

It is unreasonable to use these statements as a basis for the assertion that women were forcibly recruited as comfort women.

A Japanese-language version of Park’s “Teikoku no Ianfu” has been published, with some modifications made to its contents. The book has been chosen as the winner of Waseda University’s Journalism Award.

In her book, Park states that the Korean comfort women were collaborators for the wartime Imperial Japanese Army, while at the same time criticizing the prewar “Empire of Japan” for being responsible for creating severe circumstances for these women.

We must say that imposing restrictions on expressing such an objective view will make it difficult to facilitate constructive dialogue between Japan and South Korea regarding the issue of comfort women.

(The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2015)

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2015年11月24日 (火)

東アジア会議 南シナ海で対中圧力を強めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nations must pressure China to conform to intl law in S. China Sea
東アジア会議 南シナ海で対中圧力を強めよ

China’s words and deeds to justify its own behavior while threatening freedom of navigation, which is based on international law, can never be tolerated. It is important to repeatedly voice to the international community over the menace and self-righteousness of the country.

The leaders of 18 countries, including Japan, the United States, China and Russia plus members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, gathered in Malaysia on Sunday at a meeting of the East Asia Summit. China on the one hand and such countries as Japan and U.S. on the other exchanged at the meeting over China’s building artificial islands and promoting the establishment of military strongholds in the South China Sea.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the need to thoroughly preserve the rule of law on the seas. With China in mind, Abe said, “A large-scale and rapid reclamation project aimed at creating a base for military purposes is under way” in the South China Sea, and The prime minister expressed “serious concern.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking in light of U.S. plans to continue patrol operations by its warships within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands, emphasized the importance of the “freedom of navigation and overflight.” Philippine President Benigno Aquino and others agreed with Obama.

Japanese-U.S. joint endeavors in cooperation with other countries concerned to beef up pressure on China are indispensable for maintaining regional stability.

it must not be overlooked that China has been criticizing Japan and the United States for their involvement in the South China Sea issue, labeling the two as “countries from outside the region.”

China’s deception politics

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for “countries outside the region” to “refrain from taking actions that may cause tensions in the region.” His statement is apparently aimed at stopping the U.S. military’s patrol activities.

The task of ensuring safety in the key maritime route(sea-lane) in the South China Sea is doubtless in the interest not only of the countries bordering the South China Sea but also the international community, including Japan and the United States. China’s assertion is wide of the mark.

Although China has agreed to consult with ASEAN to formulate a legally binding code of conduct for the contested area, there are no prospects for a timeframe for the code’s completion. It cannot be denied that China is using the dialogue to buy time, with the intention of making its control over the South China Sea a fait accompli.

In last week’s summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the issue of the South China Sea was not discussed. We can see China presumably maneuvered in advance to tamp down the issue.

Early this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Vietnam, with which China has had confrontations over the territorial problem, while sending Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the Philippines, the APEC chair.

China is using an old trick to try to split ASEAN members by using its economic clout. As long as Beijing continues to use deception as an expediency and fails to stop unilateral actions based on force, it will only increase regional distrust of China.

China’s tactic of distabilizing could hurt the unity of the member countries of ASEAN, which have declared they will launch an ASEAN Economic Community toward year-end. They are seeking to create a single market with a combined regional population of more than 600 million. Japan, in cooperation with the United States, must support the development of ASEAN as a whole.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 23, 2015)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nations must pressure China to conform to intl law in S. China Sea
東アジア会議 南シナ海で対中圧力を強めよ

China’s words and deeds to justify its own behavior while threatening freedom of navigation, which is based on international law, can never be tolerated. It is important to repeatedly voice to the international community over the menace and self-righteousness of the country.

The leaders of 18 countries, including Japan, the United States, China and Russia plus members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, gathered in Malaysia on Sunday at a meeting of the East Asia Summit. China on the one hand and such countries as Japan and U.S. on the other exchanged at the meeting over China’s building artificial islands and promoting the establishment of military strongholds in the South China Sea.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the need to thoroughly preserve the rule of law on the seas. With China in mind, Abe said, “A large-scale and rapid reclamation project aimed at creating a base for military purposes is under way” in the South China Sea, and The prime minister expressed “serious concern.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking in light of U.S. plans to continue patrol operations by its warships within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands, emphasized the importance of the “freedom of navigation and overflight.” Philippine President Benigno Aquino and others agreed with Obama.

Japanese-U.S. joint endeavors in cooperation with other countries concerned to beef up pressure on China are indispensable for maintaining regional stability.

it must not be overlooked that China has been criticizing Japan and the United States for their involvement in the South China Sea issue, labeling the two as “countries from outside the region.”

China’s deception politics

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for “countries outside the region” to “refrain from taking actions that may cause tensions in the region.” His statement is apparently aimed at stopping the U.S. military’s patrol activities.

The task of ensuring safety in the key maritime route(sea-lane) in the South China Sea is doubtless in the interest not only of the countries bordering the South China Sea but also the international community, including Japan and the United States. China’s assertion is wide of the mark.

Although China has agreed to consult with ASEAN to formulate a legally binding code of conduct for the contested area, there are no prospects for a timeframe for the code’s completion. It cannot be denied that China is using the dialogue to buy time, with the intention of making its control over the South China Sea a fait accompli.

In last week’s summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the issue of the South China Sea was not discussed. We can see China presumably maneuvered in advance to tamp down the issue.

Early this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Vietnam, with which China has had confrontations over the territorial problem, while sending Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the Philippines, the APEC chair.

China is using an old trick to try to split ASEAN members by using its economic clout. As long as Beijing continues to use deception as an expediency and fails to stop unilateral actions based on force, it will only increase regional distrust of China.

China’s tactic of distabilizing could hurt the unity of the member countries of ASEAN, which have declared they will launch an ASEAN Economic Community toward year-end. They are seeking to create a single market with a combined regional population of more than 600 million. Japan, in cooperation with the United States, must support the development of ASEAN as a whole.

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

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2015年11月23日 (月)

歴史観の訴追 韓国の自由の危機だ

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 21
EDITORIAL: Indictment of historian a crisis of freedom in S. Korea
(社説)歴史観の訴追 韓国の自由の危機だ

Prosecutors in South Korea have indicted a university professor on defamation charges, claiming she falsely described former “comfort women” who were forced to provide sex to wartime Japanese soldiers.
Park Yu-ha, who is attached to Sejong University, was charged without arrest on Nov. 18 in connection to her book, “Comfort Women of the Empire,” which prosecutors assert defamed these women.

Prosecutors acted on complaints made by former comfort women.

“Korean comfort women and the Japanese military were basically in a comradely relationship,” Park wrote in her book.

Prosecutors claim this, and some other descriptions in her book, are factually wrong.

While acknowledging that speech, press and academic freedoms are basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution, prosecutors contend that Park violated the personal rights of former comfort women and overstepped the boundaries of academic freedom.

There are a wide variety of views and opinions concerning the comfort women issue among former comfort women and their supporters, but it is not the mandate of public prosecutors to judge whether descriptions of historical facts are correct or not.

It is even more dangerous for authority to punish free academic activities concerning interpretations and descriptions of history.

In her book, Park mainly discussed the structural problems of imperialism that were behind the suppression of women.

She harshly blames the imperial Japan for driving these women into a situation in which they had no choice but to have a comradely relationship with soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.

In South Korea, there have been criminal investigations and court rulings that seem to be influenced more by national sentiment than by legal theories in cases concerning issues related to Japan’s past.

The latest move by the country’s prosecutors appears to be one example of this.

After former comfort women sought a temporary injunction against the publication of Park’s book, the Seoul Eastern District Court handed down a ruling in February that banned the publication of the book unless some passages were deleted.

Many facts about the comfort women issue remain unclear, such as the actual number of them.

However, since former comfort women in South Korea began to come forward to tell their stories in the early 1990s, a lot of historical research on the subject has been conducted, mainly in Japan and South Korea. As a result, the real picture of comfort women has been gradually emerging.

These studies on comfort women have disclosed that there was actually a great diversity of cases.

Park’s book focused on this diversity and her descriptions about some cases do not necessarily fit the common image of comfort women among South Koreans as “innocent girls.”

If researchers face the constant threat of criminal prosecution over the publication of their research findings, however, the pursuit of learning is impossible.

Progress in academic research and the natural selection of academic theories take place through mutual reviews and criticism of various theories, discoveries and interpretations.

Suppressing dissenting views and opinions is a serious challenge to freedom.

The indictment of Park represents a problem that far transcends her personal concerns.

South Korean media have not given extensive coverage of the action taken by the prosecutors. We strongly hope to see a wide spectrum of the South Korean public stand up for the protection of freedom.

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2015年11月22日 (日)

日米首脳会談 中国の海洋進出に連携対処を

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Deepen Japan-U.S. cooperation to handle China’s maritime advances
日米首脳会談 中国の海洋進出に連携対処を

Japan and the United States must work closely together and play a leading role in both the political and economic fields to maintain order in Asia.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama held talks in Manila and agreed to enhance mutual cooperation in dealing with issues related to artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea.

During the summit talks, Obama expressed his intention to continue the U.S. Navy’s patrol operations within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands. They will be carried out as routine activities, he said.

Abe expressed support for the U.S. patrol operations and told Obama he would “consider the possibility of the Self-Defense Forces conducting operations in the area while examining the impact of the situation on Japan’s national security.”

China must be stopped from carrying out large-scale reclamation in the area and turning the artificial islands into military bases based on self-serving logic in violation of international law. Japan and the United States have to cooperate with Southeast Asian nations and patiently call on China to exercise self-restraint and improve the situation.

The U.S. Navy’s operations are significant to prevent China’s unilateral attempt to change the status quo from becoming established fact. Even if it is not participating in them, Japan should provide indirect support for the U.S. operations. The Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Navy have built strong mutual trust through joint exercises, and joint reconnaissance and surveillance operations, over a long period.

Japan must also try to help the navies and coast guards of the Philippines and other countries in the area develop their capabilities through official development assistance.

Abe pledges Futenma progress

Abe also told Obama that his administration would proceed resolutely with the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district. Obama thanked Abe and expressed his intention to work with Tokyo in returning U.S. military facilities in the prefecture to Japan, among other issues.

It is important for Abe to maintain his stance of proceeding steadily with the relocation. Any attempt to seek an entirely new solution will further complicate the issue and only delay the removal of the dangers posed by the Futenma Air Station.

Obama praised the passage of security-related laws in Japan, saying they are historic achievements. He also said the United States strongly supported the Japan-South Korea bilateral meeting that was achieved recently.

In reply, Abe expressed his intention to strengthen cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

The cooperation of the three countries is essential for security in the northeast Asian region. Japan and the United States must keep urging South Korea to take positive steps toward that goal.

Referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, the prime minister said Japan and the United States’ leadership of the negotiations made it possible for the countries involved to reach a broad agreement. Obama said the TPP pact would drastically change the global environment and the next challenge was how the pact could be brought into effect and implemented.

It is significant that Japan and the United States have led the formulation of free, fair and transparent rules on trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Taking the future expansion of participating countries into consideration, the countries concerned must try to ratify and implement the TPP pact as soon as possible.

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

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2015年11月21日 (土)

APEC 自由貿易拡大はTPPを軸に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Expansion of free trade framework must center around TPP pact
APEC 自由貿易拡大はTPPを軸に

Broadening high-level trade liberalization based on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement is indispensable to the further development of the world economy.

A declaration was adopted Thursday at a summit meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, of which a major pillar is to speed up discussions about creating a “Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific” (FTAAP).

The declaration stressed that the realization of the envisioned FTAAP “should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement.”

The FTAAP would endeavor to economically integrate 21 countries and regions, including Japan, the United States, China and Russia. We welcome the fact that the APEC members — despite their widely different levels of economic development, ranging from industrially advanced to developing — have reconfirmed the importance of unifying trade rules.

If the broad agreements reached in the TPP negotiations, such as the abolition of tariffs and the application of fair and transparent trade rules, spread to nations outside the TPP, it will certainly invigorate the economic activities in the region.

It is a cause for concern that China and Russia, which are not involved in the TPP, have reacted adversely to the envisaged economic integration centering on the TPP.

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed caution in a lecture during the summit, saying: “With various new regional free trade arrangements cropping up, there have been worries about the potential of fragmentation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote in an article ahead of the APEC summit that “the confidential fashion in which the TPP negotiations were conducted is probably not the best way to facilitate sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific region.”

U.S. Congress is key

One country after another has shown interest in taking part in the TPP, including South Korea and the Philippines. China and Russia, whose intentions to vie with the economic order led by the United States are now in jeopardy, have apparently taken steps to check the moves of other nations to become additional TPP members.

China is poised to seek the region’s economic integration based on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which it has been negotiating with countries including Japan, South Korea and India. The United States is not a party to RCEP negotiations.

However, the tariff abolition targets being sought in the RCEP initiative are lower than those under the TPP. It has been pointed out that the RCEP talks have yet to make progress regarding such matters as environmental protection and human and intellectual property rights, while TPP member countries and businesses are required to comply with standards regarding those matters.

To ensure fair and free economic activity, it is more desirable to have the TPP rules accepted as international standards.

It was right that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the APEC summit: “Japan hereafter will energetically pour our efforts into expanding the TPP.” By cooperating with such countries as Australia, Japan must play a leading role in the RCEP negotiation process — in which the United States is absent — with the aim of bringing its levels of trade liberalization closer to those of the TPP.

It is worrying that rough sailing is expected regarding the ratification of the TPP by the U.S. Congress. In addition to objections from the Republican Party, trade unions, which are the support base for the Democratic Party, have also been intensifying their resistance toward the TPP.

The TPP cannot be put into force without ratification by the United States. We hope the U.S. administration will strenuously tackle the challenge in Congress.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 20, 2015)

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2015年11月20日 (金)

国内テロ対策 水際を固めて発生を阻止せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prevent international terrorist attacks by strengthening border controls
国内テロ対策 水際を固めて発生を阻止せよ

It is urgently required to establish a system to gather intelligence on foreign terrorists, and to prevent terrorist attacks in Japan.

Immediately after returning from a summit meeting of the Group of 20 major economies, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a meeting of the National Security Council. “I want all of you to implement every possible measure to prevent a terrorist attack from occurring,” Abe told the council.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group, which carried out the simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris last week, has named Japan as one of its targets. Given that Japan will host the Ise-Shima summit meeting of Group of Seven nations next year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the implementation of effective countermeasures cannot be put off any longer.

The targets of the Paris terrorist attacks included a theater and sports stadium where many and unspecified civilians assemble. Such places are often called “soft targets,” and the security measures in place tend to be less rigorous than at government institutions and other facilities.

Japan also has many places that could be considered soft targets. Security measures are needed, such as screening the personal belongings of people entering such places, but it is impossible for every facility to conduct increased security checks.

The important thing is not to allow terrorists to enter Japan. To ensure this, intelligence on individual terrorists and international terrorist organizations will be essential. The success or failure of countermeasures implemented at the nation’s borders will hinge on the extent to which such intelligence can be acquired beforehand.

Time is of the essence

ISIL has murdered two Japanese hostages. In response to these killings, the government decided in May to set up an “international terrorism intelligence-gathering unit” within the Foreign Ministry.

This organization will be led by the Prime Minister’s Office and collect terrorist information to be shared among all relevant branches of the government. The initial plan was to launch the unit in spring 2016, but the government reportedly will consider bringing this date forward.

It has been pointed out that Japan, which does not have an independent foreign intelligence agency, possesses scant intelligence on terrorists and terrorism. Enforcement of the law to protect specially designated state secrets should help rectify this weakness. We hope the intelligence-gathering unit will quickly get into action and strengthen ties with foreign intelligence services.

The number of foreigners visiting Japan for tourism and other reasons is expected to increase in the years ahead. Immigration checks at airports and other points of entry must swiftly detect any suspicious people.

The Justice Ministry plans to create a database of facial images of known terrorists and in the next fiscal year introduce at every international airport in Japan a system that can instantly check each visitor’s face against these photos. Combined with checks of fingerprints taken during entry to Japan, this system must be made to function effectively.

With regard to combating organized crime, there has been debate over the pros and cons of establishing conspiracy as a crime, allowing people to be punished for planning to commit a serious crime. Some observers have also advocated the broader monitoring of communications, which current laws only allow to be conducted within a severely restricted scope.

We hope the government will craft effective policies while giving due consideration to human rights.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 19, 2015)

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2015年11月19日 (木)



企業の社員たちの経費精算 業務を大幅に省力化してくれる、夢のIT技術です。



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シフトワンがマンガコンテスト 「第1回エンマンコロシアム」を開催します。




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G20対テロ声明 国境管理の徹底で封じ込めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
G-20 must contain intl terrorists through rigid border controls
G20対テロ声明 国境管理の徹底で封じ込めよ

The solidarity of the international community in the wake of the simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris must lead to effective measures to combat terrorism.

The Group of 20 (G-20) leaders summit ended with the adoption of a joint statement demonstrating their resolve to fight against terrorism.

The statement declared, “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the heinous terrorist attacks” in Paris on Nov. 13 and in Ankara in October.

It also said that the fight against terrorism “is a major priority for all of our countries” and called on the countries to take measures to cut off the financing channels for terrorism and to counter terrorist propaganda.

The statement also urged the countries to enhance cooperation in information sharing concerning an acutely growing flow of foreign terrorist fighters and thorough border controls.

There is nothing new, in particular, in any one of these specific measures. The countries concerned have already taken relevant measures but have so far been unable to prevent large-scale terror. What is needed is for the international community to strengthen its solidarity and enhance these measures’ effectiveness.

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his intention of intensifying a bombing operations in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “It’s only possible to deal with the terror threat by combining the efforts of the entire global community.”

French President Francois Hollande, who was absent from the G-20 summit, emphasized that “France is at war” with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group. The United States and Russia should respond proactively to France’s call for cooperation to eradicate ISIL.

France will shortly submit to the U.N. Security Council a draft resolution aiming at defeating ISIL. It is important for the security council to adopt such a resolution promptly and support the campaign to wipe out ISIL as the collective will of the global community.

Economic hazards

Terrorism impedes the flow of people and goods and adds uncertainty to the world economy.

The G-20 countries should make efforts to raise their economic growth level with the aim of overcoming problems, such as poverty and youth unemployment, that lie behind terrorism.

The key to meeting these challenges is an expansion in infrastructure investment deemed effective in creating jobs and raising the standard of living in newly emerging economies.

It is quite reasonable that the G-20 statement has pointed out that the “top priority is timely and effective implementation of growth strategies” that would create jobs and reduce inequality.

Also on the agenda was the economic slowdown in China and the prospect of a U.S. interest rate hike. Both are issues that could deal a blow to newly emerging economies. It is important, also from the viewpoint of nipping terrorism in the bud, to keep possible adverse effects to a minimum.

Should China’s economy stall, countries exporting oil and other natural resources will be in a predicament. There was a succession of calls from other G-20 countries urging Beijing to make efforts to structural reform that the country would not become a source of trouble for the world economy.

We agree with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said China needs to make efforts to tackle structural problems, including the scrapping of excessive production equipment.

If the United States raises interest rates, the flow of capital out of emerging economies may accelerate. It is considered appropriate that the G-20 leaders’ declaration called for the U.S. to make discreet decisions on its monetary policy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 18, 2015)

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2015年11月18日 (水)

対「イスラム国」 米露の主導権争いは不毛だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Leadership struggle between U.S., Russia over Syrian situation futile
対「イスラム国」 米露の主導権争いは不毛だ

A futile U.S.-Russian conflict over the Syrian situation can only benefit the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group, which carried out simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris.

It is vital for the international community to help bring to an end both the civil war that has bogged down in Syria and the exodus of refugees from the country, and for it to take concerted action to fight ISIL.

At a meeting of countries concerned with the Syrian situation, the United States, European nations, Russia and Arab countries agreed on a political road map aimed at starting talks between the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and opposition groups and holding democratic elections within 18 months.

They probably reached the accord because it was widely recognized that the delay in the international community responding to the Syrian civil war allowed ISIL to increase its sphere of influence and led to the latest terrorist attacks in Paris.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, held unofficial talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Turkey and agreed on the need for a ceasefire and a transition to a new administration. The two leaders hailed the road map as “diplomatic progress” on a political transition in Syria.

Washington’s acceptance of the road map worked out under the leadership of Russia, the Assad regime’s ally, can be considered a bitter concession because the United States had to give in prioritizing international solidarity over changing the Assad regime.

Yet the United States and Russia remain at odds over whether to allow the Assad regime to remain in power. Both countries must continue talks to steadily carry out the transition plan and move closer together.

Obama changes policy

In late October, the Obama administration changed its policy of not deploying ground troops to fight ISIL in Syria and decided to dispatch special forces. The shift in U.S. policy is believed to be taken in response to Russia launching a full-scale intervention with airstrikes in Syria.

The U.S. special forces would be fewer than 50 and train and assist rebels and Kurdish forces. They would neither be deployed on the front lines nor used in combat missions against ISIL.

Obama had earlier planned to have rebel fighters trained outside Syria and have them deployed in ground operations. As few Syrians volunteered for this training program and the U.S. plan virtually collapsed, the United States had no other option but to have its own forces prop up rebel groups.

However, there will be no tangible result if only piecemeal measures are taken every time the situation deteriorates.

The United States has criticized that 80 to 90 percent of Russia’s airstrikes have targeted the moderate Syrian opposition. Washington may be wary of Russia building a solid foothold in the Middle East.

The elimination of ISIL should be the common goal of both the United States and Russia.

The crash of a Russian passenger airliner in late October in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has increasingly been seen as caused by a terrorist bomb. ISIL had much earlier declared that it would retaliate for Russian airstrikes in Syria, and an organization under the wing of ISIL later claimed responsibility for downing the Russian plane.

If the crash is confirmed as a terrorist act taken in retaliation for Russia’s airstrikes, the necessity for the United States and Russia to cooperate in the exchange of information and other areas will grow further.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 17, 2015)

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2015年11月17日 (火)

パリの同時多発テロ 許せぬ自由社会への暴力

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 15
EDITORIAL: World shares France’s grief after heartless attacks in Paris
(社説)パリの同時多発テロ 許せぬ自由社会への暴力

The cruelty of the terrorist attacks in Paris made us shudder. This barbarous act, which took so many lives indiscriminately, was a tragedy not just for France, but for the entire globe.

A Friday night in Paris turned murderous. Random shootings and explosions occurred almost simultaneously at multiple locations in central parts of the city, leaving a tremendous number of people dead or wounded.

All the attacks took place at venues that were bustling with crowds. Guns were fired at random in a hall that was hosting a rock concert packed with young people, as well as at restaurants and a cafe. Bomb blasts, apparently from suicide bombers, rocked a soccer stadium in the suburbs.

Most of the victims were ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with conflicts or extremist thought. The grief of the victims and their families can never be fully fathomed.

This barbarous act of violence on citizens can never be forgiven.

The most important task for the government of France, for the time being, will be to eliminate public anxiety by restoring peace and order. The French government should also move steadily to uncover the facts and background behind the attacks.

The international community should work together to support that effort. France is not the only nation that is bearing the brunt of terrorism. Every citizen should be reminded that his or her country could be facing the same danger tomorrow.


In January, Paris was the site of successive attacks on the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly newspaper, and a kosher grocery. Seventeen people, including citizens and police officers, were killed in the serial attacks.

The latest attacks took place at a time when the Charlie Hebdo tragedy was still fresh in many minds, leaving the public seriously shocked.

Anxiety is also spreading across the globe, because later this month Paris will host the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). The terrorists possibly also had that in mind.

Since January, the government of France was supposed to have strengthened security in an all-out effort to prevent a recurrence. But that measure still failed to block the multiple coordinated attacks that once again stained the French capital in blood.

Civil facilities are called “soft targets,” which are not quite like military or other establishments. Even though their vulnerability to attacks is no secret, we are faced with a dilemma, whereby stepping up control over human mobility could erode the principles of a liberalist society.

Terrorist attacks are called challenges to freedom exactly for that reason.

Whatever their direct political motives, terrorist attacks are always intended to incite fear in a peaceful and civilized society and create a divide between people.

As in the case of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January, it has been pointed out that radical Islamists were involved in the latest attacks. But, even if that is true, we should not readily associate the attacks with Muslims at large or with immigrant communities.

It comes across as all too natural that a group of French Muslims has released a statement denouncing the attacks. Similar incidents are often followed by speech and actions that encourage attacks on Muslims or rejection of immigrants.

We should not play into the terrorists’ hands and allow society to become divided, which is what the terrorists want. We should remain level-headed and steady in taking countermeasures without compromising the principles of freedom.


The French government believes the latest attacks were perpetrated by the Islamic State (IS), a group of extremists that has expanded its influence in the Middle East.

Individuals under the influence of IS have carried out terrorist attacks in many parts of the world. French government officials said the latest attacks were planned and organized outside France.

Paris decided to institute military actions in the Middle East from last year. It joined a U.S.-led coalition and began air raids on targets in Iraq, and starting this autumn has also been conducting air strikes in Syria against the IS.

If the latest attacks were intended as retaliation against these actions, that means the world is once again facing a global chain of violence that transcends national and regional borders.

The 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001 were carried out by al-Qaida, a militant Islamist organization that was based in Afghanistan.

The Madrid train bombings of 2004 and the London bombings of 2005 were associated with the Iraq War and other turbulence in the Middle East. The latest attacks also appear highly likely to be repercussions in Europe of the wars being fought in the Middle East over the IS issue.

The civil war in Syria, which has yet to show signs of dissipating, has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 people and has displaced millions of refugees and evacuees. The chaotic state there is generating serious global problems, including the proliferation of terrorism and an outflow of refugees.

Dilapidation, warfare and poverty in a certain region, no matter what remote corner of the world, are bound to erode the stability of the entire global community in due course of time.

The ravaging consequences of the terrorist attacks should give us opportunities to once again reflect on the pathological state threatening today’s world and reconfirm the will of the international community to take that as a challenge and face it.


After the latest attacks, French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and had the country’s borders closed. The authorities called on the public to stay home and are restricting movement within the capital.

Although those response measures are well-intentioned to ensure safety and carry out investigations, they will inevitably cause a slowdown in civic life. We hope France will manage to get past the current crisis without forgetting its standing as a world-leading advocate of human rights.

Other nations, including Japan, should share the pain and grief of the French people and reaffirm their determination to create a world free of terrorism.

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2015年11月16日 (月)

パリ同時テロ 非道な「戦争行為」は許されぬ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Multiple attacks on Paris a brutal ‘act of war,’ must never be condoned
パリ同時テロ 非道な「戦争行為」は許されぬ

The latest gun and bomb attacks at locations across Paris were brutal acts of terrorism indiscriminately targeting ordinary citizens. Whatever the motive, these acts must never be condoned.

The international community must be more firmly united in its renewed efforts to prevent barbarous acts by terrorist organizations.

On Friday night, shootings and explosions occurred nearly simultaneously at a theater, restaurants and elsewhere in Paris, killing more than 120 people. French President Francois Hollande has declared a national state of emergency, describing the events in a TV address to be “terrorist attacks of unprecedented proportions.”

On Saturday, a militant group affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released an online statement claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks. At a press conference, Hollande affirmed the attacks were “an act of war” committed by the ISIL militant group.

Since September, France has been taking part in U.S.-led coalition airstrikes on ISIL in Syria. One likely explanation is that Friday’s attacks were made in retaliation to France’s actions.

A group of attackers used automatic rifles to fire wildly inside the theater, where a rock concert was taking place, killing dozens of people in the audience. There were also what seemed to be suicide bomb attacks near a sports stadium in the suburbs where Hollande was watching a friendly soccer game between France and Germany.

Several people responsible for Friday’s attacks are believed to have been killed. Other attackers may be on the run.

French authorities must strive to normalize the situation and restore public security at an early date while also establishing an overall picture of the attacks.

Bolster security measures

In January, gunmen linked to a militant group separate from ISIL carried out attacks on a weekly political newspaper office and elsewhere in Paris. After the incident, the French authorities strengthened their monitoring of people believed to harbor radical beliefs, with about 10,000 soldiers mobilized to guard the country.

In Europe, young people with Islamic roots that have been radicalized by extremist groups have posed an increasingly serious problem.

There will be a U.N. climate change conference in Paris at the end of this month — officially titled the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). The conference will be attended by top-level leaders from nations around the world, meaning there is a pressing need to reconsider the security precautions taken for the meeting.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Friday’s incident as “an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.” British Prime Minister David Cameron told the French: “We will do whatever we can to help.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has emphasized that Japan will “closely cooperate with France and other members of the international community in striving to prevent acts of terrorism.” It is important for nations around the world to share terrorism-related information and further increase their cooperation on such antiterrorism measures as immigration and emigration controls.

Japan and other pertinent countries should use the Group of 20 summit talks in Turkey as an initial step in renewed antiterrorism cooperation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 15, 2015)

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2015年11月15日 (日)

行革公開検証 もんじゅが焦点だ

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 10
EDITORIAL: Scrap Monju reactor project and use money to develop renewable energies
(社説)行革公開検証 もんじゅが焦点だ

The annual public review of policy programs by the government to identify wasteful spending ends on Nov. 13. For three days, the government’s administrative reform promotion council has been scouring the budgets of ministries and agencies for savings.

The focus of the budget review this year is the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority recently recommended that the operator of the troubled-plagued experimental reactor, the government-affiliated Japan Atomic Energy Agency, should be replaced.

Certain expenditures related to the Monju project, mainly state subsidies, were examined in the public review. But the council should take this opportunity to scrutinize all aspects of the controversial project instead of evaluating only the subsidies. We are keen to see the panel demonstrate that continuing the project doesn’t make sense and the reactor should be decommissioned from the viewpoint of administrative reforms.

It is already clear that the Monju project is a financial folly.

The construction cost, which was originally estimated at 35 billion yen ($285 million) when the project was in an early planning stage in the 1970s, has ballooned to 1 trillion yen. Although the reactor has been offline for more than 20 years due to a series of accidents and scandals, 20 billion yen is still spent annually, or 50 million yen a day, for maintenance.

The maintenance costs of the reactor under the initial budget for the current fiscal year are almost equivalent to the amount (23.8 billion yen) being shelled out to promote renewable energy projects for local power production and consumption.

The outlays for the Monju project are far larger than the spending on a demonstration project to build a transmission network for wind power generation (10.5 billion yen) or the appropriation to support research for the development of geothermal power sources (8 billion yen).

Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan widened the scope of its energy policy to make greater efforts to develop and promote alternative power sources, including renewable energy.

Instead of spending a huge amount of taxpayer money to keep Monju alive, the government should use the cash to build a new, cleaner energy future for this nation.

Japan is facing a serious fiscal crunch. The government is drowning in a sea of debt as its welfare spending is surging amid the rapid aging of the nation’s population.

The government has no choice but to raise taxes while cutting its expenditures on social security, education and other programs.

It cannot afford the luxury of pouring a hefty sum of money into a questionable nuclear reactor with no prospects for practical operation.

The Monju project has survived for so long despite its troubled history because nobody loses money when the reactor is out of operation.

When a reactor operated by an electric utility is shut down because of an accident or a scandal, the company will immediately face a rise in costs that hurts its financial standing.

In contrast, Monju is treated as a research reactor, and the national program gets funded almost automatically.

Both the industry ministry and the science and technology ministry, which are in charge of the nuclear power policy, have a clear interest in supporting the continuation of the Monju project.

If this project is terminated, these ministries will be forced to make a sweeping review of the entire nuclear fuel recycling program and tackle the formidable challenge of disposing of plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel.

This year’s public budget review is led by Taro Kono, the newly appointed minister in charge of administrative reform who has been a champion of the cause.

We urge Kono to make the decision to scrap the Monju project as a step to press ahead with meaningful administrative reforms.

There is definitely no reason for approving annual spending of 20 billion yen as the cost of postponing this decision.

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2015年11月14日 (土)

MRJ初飛行 航空機産業の裾野を広げたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
MRJ’s maiden flight must lead to broader horizons for aircraft industry
MRJ初飛行 航空機産業の裾野を広げたい

Japan’s first domestic-made passenger jet has successfully completed its maiden flight.

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet has been developed by Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. It is the first commercial aircraft to be made in Japan since production of the YS-11 turboprop airliner started about half a century ago.

We hope this will be a golden opportunity to invigorate the domestic aircraft industry.

The MRJ is a small plane built for short-distance flights linking cities. Its main selling points are a lightweight body and a new-type engine that has superb fuel efficiency. These features have made the MRJ about 20 percent more fuel-efficient than similar models produced by its competitors. The first delivery of the MRJ is set for 2017.

The global market for small passenger planes is expected to grow rapidly. In the next 20 years, demand is expected to top 5,000 jets, especially in emerging economies such as nations in Southeast Asia that are experiencing sizzling economic growth. The MRJ aims to capture orders for half of this market.

A string of design changes and other factors resulted in the MRJ’s first flight taking to the skies about four years later than initially scheduled. During this time, the MRJ’s superiority over its rivals has undeniably been eroded.

At present, Bombardier Inc. of Canada and Embraer SA of Brazil dominate the market for regional jets. The key to the MRJ’s success will be how it can break the stranglehold these companies have on the market.

Give companies support

Orders have already been received for more than 400 MRJ planes. Overseas sales promotions by top-ranking government officials will be essential to rake in more orders.

If more orders are locked in, the MRJ can be expected to nurture a core industry that will be a driving force for Japanese economic growth.

Major companies in Japan’s aircraft industry, such as Toray Industries and IHI Corp., have participated in developing passenger jets for Boeing Co. of the United States. They have refined their technologies while supplying carbon fiber parts for main wings and other components. It is vital for the expertise fostered by these large companies to be spread to small and midsize businesses.

In specific terms, we hope the proportion of domestically made parts in the MRJ — which is currently stuck at about 30 percent — will be increased as much as possible. Each MRJ is made from about 1 million parts, which is 30 times the number of parts contained in a car. There is wide scope for expansion in this industry.

It is necessary to encourage small and midsize companies possessing excellent technologies to enter this market, and to bring together the might of Japanese manufacturing.

Aerospace Iida established in the Iida district of Nagano Prefecture is a cluster of small and midsize precision-machinery and processing companies working on the development of parts for cockpits and wings. Some parts produced by them have been used in the MRJ.

“Whether we can provide high-quality parts at low cost will be key,” according to a company in Aichi Prefecture that makes the frame of the MRJ tail.

The government and large companies that are prime contractors will need to work together and support small and midsize firms with proven records in producing car parts and other components, such as by offering technical guidance tailored to the production of aircraft.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 13, 2015)

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2015年11月13日 (金)




日本でもこの12月初旬より、海外渡航時の通話・通信費を格段に安くするグローバルSIM「TAKT」 が販売されます。

グローバルSIM「TAKT」 の特長です
(1) 対象の約200 カ国において、95%のエリアで最安値の料金体系
(2) 各国で良質なネットワーク
(3) 月額料金なし プリペイド課金型
(4) 3 サイズ(標準、マイクロ、ナノ)に対応
(5) SIM カードの有効期限なし




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ミャンマー選挙 経済発展路線の継承が課題だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
After election, keep Myanmar’s economic development on track
ミャンマー選挙 経済発展路線の継承が課題だ

It is important that the economic development course put in motion by the administration of Myanmar President Thein Sein be inherited, and that nation-building efforts there are steadily kept on track.

A general election has been held in Myanmar for the first time since the transition from military rule to democratic government in 2011.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spearheaded the prodemocracy movement in Myanmar, is likely to win more than two-thirds of the seats up for election and not reserved for military representatives. The NLD, which is the largest opposition party, is forecast to secure a majority in the parliament.

The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which was formed by the old military junta, has admitted defeat. The parliament will choose the president in February 2016, and the possibility of a change in administration has increased.

Thein Sein’s administration snapped Myanmar’s excessive dependence on China and achieved high economic growth by improving the investment environment, which has pulled in more capital from overseas.

Despite these achievements, the USDP’s heavy defeat appears to be the result of demands for greater reform from the people who still distrust the military.

In 1990, the military government did not accept the result of a general election in which the NLD recorded a comprehensive victory, and refused to hand over power. The NLD boycotted the 2010 general election in opposition to rules put in place by the military government.

The latest election was conducted without any major disturbances, although there were flaws in the process including some people being unable to register on voter lists. Overall, the election can be applauded as a sign of progress in Myanmar’s democratization.

Suu Kyi’s odd comment

Myanmar’s Constitution contains a clause that prohibits anyone whose spouse or children are foreign citizens from becoming president. Consequently, Suu Kyi, whose sons are British, is disqualified from this position.

It is difficult to understand that, before the election, Suu Kyi said she would take a position “above the president” if the NLD triumphed. Does Suu Kyi intend to set up a puppet government even while she herself has been calling for greater democratization?

During the election campaign, there was no mention of her design for the administration, and no concrete policies have been revealed. Her political skills are questioned.

A pile of difficult issues need to be addressed. Achieving peace with armed groups among Myanmar’s ethnic minorities will not be easy. National reconciliation, including reducing religious conflict, is an urgent task.

The NLD lacks human resources capable of running a government. Even if a change in power does occur, the NLD will sooner or later become unable to keep going without the cooperation of the military and the USDP.

Myanmar has high strategic value due to its vital location linking the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Japan, the United States and other nations with interests in this region must strengthen ties with Myanmar to keep a check on China, whose unilateral maritime advances are heightening tensions in this area.

Japan welcomed the course taken by the administration of Thein Sein and actively supported it through a two-pronged policy of official development assistance and private investment. Political stability in Myanmar is essential for Japanese companies that have entered markets there. The public and private sectors should work closely together and continue to push for reform in Myanmar.

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

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2015年11月12日 (木)

衆院閉会中審査 競争力を強めるTPP対策に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
TPP-related measures must build strength of farming, manufacturing
衆院閉会中審査 競争力を強めるTPP対策に

The government must thoroughly explain the significance of a broad agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact and steadily carry out related measures at home.

The House of Representatives’ Budget Committee held a session of the Diet’s adjournment inspection on Tuesday, with the TPP and other issues taken up for deliberation.

Yuichiro Tamaki of the Democratic Party of Japan criticized the TPP accord reached last month, as it runs counter to a Diet resolution adopted in 2013 seeking to maintain tariffs on the “five key categories” of farm products, including rice and wheat.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pointed out that the tariff-free rate on farm goods to be imported to Japan remains at just 81 percent — markedly lower than in other member countries. “We have reached an accord which is consistent with the aims of the Diet resolution,” he emphasized.

In multinational trade talks, negotiating countries, in principle, need to make concessions to each other. Besides, the tariff-free rate on these five key items stands even lower, at 30 percent, and the reductions mainly apply to items for which Japan has only a modest record of imports and those for which alternatives are not available at home. It cannot be said that the accord runs against the Diet resolution.

Tamaki also labeled the automobile-sector negotiations as ones in which Japan “suffered complete defeat by the United States,” as he said it would take 25 years for U.S. tariffs to be eliminated on Japan-made automobiles.

Abe refuted Tamaki’s remark by saying: “What is important for Japan is to eliminate tariffs on auto parts. And we surely won in this regard.”

In light of the expanding local production of Japanese automakers in the United States, the government, during the TPP talks, put more weight on eliminating tariffs on auto parts than on automobiles themselves. As the tariffs on 80 percent of auto part items to be exported to the United States would be abolished immediately after the TPP takes effect, it can be said that a certain tangible result has been achieved.

Takagi must explain more

While expressing his support for Japan’s joining the TPP pact, Yorihisa Matsuno, leader of the Japan Innovation Party, requested that the TPP-related measures the government will draw up within this month not be unduly weighted toward public-works projects.

It is important that the TPP-related measures incorporate ways to expand the nation’s economic growth by focusing on the enhancement of international competitiveness of Japan’s farming and manufacturing sectors, rather than on the protection of farmers.

Meanwhile, Michiyoshi Yunoki of the DPJ questioned reconstruction minister Tsuyoshi Takagi over an allegation that Takagi had given condolence money to voters in his electoral district.

Takagi said, “The condolence money I offered at the funerals where I went myself was wrongly recorded [as having been given by my political organization in my political fund reports].” He then indicated his view that his deeds did not constitute a violation of the Public Offices Election Law.

But Yunoki was not satisfied with Takagi’s explanation and asserted that through his on-the-spot inquiry he had obtained testimony of a party concerned who said, “Takagi didn’t carry condolence money [when visiting the funeral sites].”

Takagi may need to still assume accountability over the allegations, including one over his having paid for “flowers placed at a deceased person’s bedside.”

The government and the ruling coalition parties plan not to convene an extraordinary session of the Diet this autumn. Since 10 members have joined the Abe Cabinet as new ministers through the latest reshuffle, an extra Diet session should be convened in principle. But as the ordinary Diet session was extended by 95 days this year and diplomatic schedules have been tight since October, it is somewhat inevitable for the extra session to be shelved.

We hope they will create occasions for debates as needed in the days ahead.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 11, 2015)

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2015年11月11日 (水)

介護職人材難 意欲と経験が報われる職場に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Workers at homes for elderly must be rewarded for skill, experience
介護職人材難 意欲と経験が報われる職場に

A principal goal of the government’s policy of creating a society that enables the dynamic engagement of all citizens is to reduce the number of workers who quit jobs to provide nursing care to zero. Speaking at a meeting of the Yomiuri International Economic Society, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his policy of building additional special nursing homes for the elderly.

But the facilities will be of little use if they do not have enough workers. We want the government panel on creation of a dynamic society to work out practical measures to ensure procurement of such personnel.

The effective opening-to-application ratio for nursing care jobs remains far above 2 to 1. This indicates that the industry faces serious difficulty in securing necessary personnel. Indeed, some operators have been forced to curtail services because of a lack of personnel.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry estimates 2.53 million nursing care workers — 800,000 more than exist today — will be required in fiscal 2025, when the first postwar generation of baby boomers will all become 75 years or older. There is likely to be a shortage of 380,000 nursing care workers if the number of such workers continues to increase at the current pace.

The main reason people shun nursing care jobs is the low pay, which now stands at about ¥220,000 a month. This is ¥110,000 less than the average for all industries. A manpower shortage causes a heavy work load, thereby making the job even less popular.

In revising the fees for nursing care services in April, the government expanded an added-fee system so that the monthly payment for nursing care workers can be raised by ¥12,000 on average. Administrative checks must be conducted strictly to determine whether pay hikes have been carried out.

Further improvement in conditions for nursing care workers will be indispensable. It is necessary to study measures to secure fiscal resources for that purpose at such forums as the government panel on creation of a dynamic society.

Steps to secure personnel

It is also essential to establish a system in which the wages of nursing care workers can be decided according to their experience and skills.

Highly specialized skills are required for the treatment of elderly people suffering from dementia. To ensure nursing care workers remain highly motivated, operators should set up a personnel and wage system under which training programs can be carried out systematically and the abilities of workers can be evaluated adequately.

Support by the central government and municipalities is also indispensable. The Shizuoka prefectural government, for example, presents nursing care operators with pay-scale models based on experience. Kyoto Prefecture has been encouraging efforts by nursing care home operators by setting up a certification system for operators who proactively foster human resources.

Nursing homes becoming workplaces where workers can see a bright future plan would help prevent the loss of existing workers and make it easier to secure new personnel.

The bill for revision of the Social Welfare Law that was submitted to the previous Diet session called for, among other things, institutionalizing a system that would require nursing care workers to notify administrative authorities if they quit. This is aimed at improving assistance measures by prefectural welfare personnel centers to help them return to work.

There are more than 500,000 nonworking certified care workers across the country. We strongly hope that the reform bill will be passed as soon as possible.

The utilization of a diversified human resources, including senior citizens, should be stressed. There are many supplementary jobs at nursing care homes, such as cleaning and catering. The foundation for securing personnel can be broadened if the division of roles of these jobs and jobs requiring high-level skills is clarified and training and other programs are developed in line with such a division.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 10, 2015)

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2015年11月10日 (火)


ヨーロッパの検体輸送「ワミ・メディカル・エクスプレス」 では、冷凍保存されている薬剤などの輸送サービスも展開しています。



オランダの航空貨物会社 WAMI B.V.(ワミビーブイ)は、これまで日本では試験的に提供してきたメディカル輸送サービス「ワミ・メディカル・エクスプレス」を本格展開すると発表した。


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ゲームマニアやゲーム家族にお勧めするのは「SMART GAME」のご利用です

実質5%OFFでゲームに課金するなら!  「SMART GAME」を経由してゲームをすればよいのです。
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「SMART GAME」の利用法は実に簡単です。

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ブログで口コミプロモーションならレビューブログ  レビューブログからの情報です

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レオマリゾートのレオマ光ワールド には、150万球ものLED電球を使った、中国四国地区で最大級のイルミネーションがあります。




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中台首脳初会談 急接近は地域安定に役立つか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Can sudden Beijing-Taipei detente help promote regional stability?
中台首脳初会談 急接近は地域安定に役立つか

For the first time since the Chinese mainland and Taiwan split in 1949, the top leaders from both sides of the Taiwan Strait have met face-to-face. This is definitely a historic meeting.

What influence can the sudden move toward rapprochement between Beijing and Taipei, each of which has refused to recognize the other’s sovereignty, have on the prospects for East Asia’s peace and prosperity? This question must be carefully scrutinized.

China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou had the meeting on Saturday in Singapore, reconfirming what is referred to as the “1992 Consensus” based on the principle of “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what that means.

Regarding Beijing-Taipei relations, Xi stressed in the meeting, “I hope the two sides will make joint efforts ... to uphold the 1992 Consensus ... keep the right direction in the development of cross-Strait relations.” Ma was said in response to have praised the current state of the relationship, noting the relations between the sides were “the most peaceful and stable period.”

China has positioned the Beijing-Taipei summit as a strategic step toward future unification of the two sides. The summit can also be deemed to have stemmed from a well-calculated step on Xi’s part that was designed to demonstrate at home and abroad his intent to play a leadership role in addressing the Taiwan problem.

It is considered likely that the upcoming presidential election in Taiwan, scheduled for January next year, will lead to a change of government for the first time in eight years. Opinion polls show the candidate backed by the largest opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party — which leans toward independence for Taiwan — has a wide lead over the candidate supported by the ruling Nationalist Party (Kuomintang), which has been pushing a conciliatory stance toward China.

Summit could backfire

Xi intends to indirectly support Kuomintang. Ma, for his part, is keen to recover lost political ground at home by urging voters to support his party’s pursuit of a stable relationship between Taiwan and China. The Xi-Ma summit was realized because the political motives of both sides were well aligned.

Ma, who is to leave his post in May next year, was probably also motivated to realize a meeting with China’s leader on an equal footing as his political legacy. However, it cannot be denied that the decline in popular support for the Kuomintang is due to the party’s policy of hastily getting closer to China economically, a policy that Ma has openly promoted since taking office in 2008, resulting in growing dependence on Beijing.

Anxieties have been spreading among residents of Taiwan that the region will be absorbed by China. There is also deep-rooted resentment that Taiwan’s closer ties with Beijing have benefited only the wealthy people.

An overwhelming majority of Taiwan’s residents want to maintain the status quo, neither unifying with China nor becoming independent. The summit this time will not necessarily benefit the Kuomintang in the presidential electoral campaign. On the contrary, the Xi-Ma meeting may backfire.

The agreement by the two leaders not to adopt a joint declaration presumably resulted from the two taking such circumstances into account.

Amid the intensified U.S.-China confrontation over the South China Sea, it could be inferred that Xi intended to use the summit to create distance between Taiwan on one side and Japan and the United States on the other.

In the meeting, Xi welcomed the participation by Taiwan in the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Directly supporting Taiwan’s participation in the bank in the summit after excluding Taipei as a founding member can be seen as part of China’s strategy to “embrace Taiwan.”

China, which has an overwhelming advantage over Taiwan in terms of both air and naval capabilities, has arrayed a large number of ballistic missiles on its coast. Stability of the Taiwan Strait is a matter of high importance that could affect Japan’s security.

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

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2015年11月 9日 (月)

国連核決議 核保有国との溝埋めよ

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 6
(社説)国連核決議 核保有国との溝埋めよ
EDITORIAL: Japan needs more robust diplomatic strategy to unite nuclear and non-nuclear powers

The recent vote on a Japan-proposed United Nations resolution on nuclear weapons highlighted anew the deep rift between nuclear powers and non-nuclear nations.

The resolution calling for action to eliminate nuclear arms, submitted to the U.N. General Assembly’s First Committee, which deals with disarmament and security issues, was adopted with the support of 156 countries. But China and Russia voted against the resolution, while the United States, Britain and France abstained.

In the latest resolution, Japan encouraged leaders of the world to visit “the cities devastated by the use of nuclear weapons” as a way to emphasize the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. This seems to be one of the reasons why the resolution failed to win the backing of the nuclear powers.

The argument that nuclear arms should be banned by an international treaty because nuclear attacks have inhumane consequences has been rapidly gaining support among nations without these weapons.

The Japan-drafted resolution doesn’t mention the need of a nuclear ban treaty. But the vote shows that nuclear powers are wary of the claim that nuclear weapons are inhumane by nature. This was clear from the unexpected moves by the United States and two other Western nuclear powers to abstain from the vote.

Following the failure of the May meeting of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons to agree on a final document, the refusal by the nuclear powers to support the resolution came as another sign of a disturbing stagnation in the nuclear disarmament movement.

The resolution was drafted by Japan in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire to establish “a guide for future nuclear disarmament efforts suitable for the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings (of Hiroshima and Nagasaki).”

One question that should be asked is whether Japan made sufficient efforts to win the support of nuclear powers for the document prior to the vote. 事前に核保有国の理解を得る努力は十分だったか。

This setback has underscored the tough challenges facing Japan’s diplomatic strategy for promoting the reduction of nuclear arms, a cause that is especially important for the nation as it has suffered devastating nuclear attacks.

Nations possessing nuclear arsenals have been reiterating that a gradual reduction in nuclear arms is the only path toward a nuclear-free future.

Their argument is based on the view that rapid cuts in nuclear arms, which constitute the core of their security strategies, would only endanger stability in the world.

A quarter-century since the end of the Cold War, however, there is no prospect of substantial progress toward the elimination of nuclear arms with more than 10,000 nuclear warheads still remaining in the world. The international community has been growing increasingly frustrated with this situation.

It is glaringly obvious that nuclear arms are inhumane by nature and should never be used again.

There is no hope for the abolition of nuclear arms unless the nuclear powers abandon their dependence on the threat of the weapons for their security.

The Japanese government has pledged to play a role in bridging the gap between nuclear powers and non-nuclear countries.

But the reality is that Japan has been reluctant to change its policy of depending heavily on the protection of the U.S. “nuclear umbrella.”

Japan had previously abstained from the vote on a resolution calling for a ban on nuclear arms proposed by Austria and other countries, bitterly disappointing victims of the atomic bombings.

Even if it is difficult for Japan to immediately wean itself from the protection afforded by the U.S. nuclear umbrella, there are ways it can contribute to the cause. Japan can, for example, get more actively involved in the international efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East to reduce the role of nuclear arms in security. Japan should strive to lead the campaign for a reduction in nuclear arms through such efforts.

To give momentum to the stagnant nuclear disarmament movement, it is vital to take more effective steps to close the rift between nuclear powers and non-nuclear nations.

Japan has a responsibility to keep recounting its suffering from the atomic bombings to make the world understand the consequences of nuclear attacks.

Tokyo should take the outcome of the vote on the resolution as a signal for the need to review its diplomatic strategy for promoting the reduction of nuclear arms.

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2015年11月 8日 (日)

思いやり予算 日米同盟の信頼損ねぬ議論を

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan-U.S. talks on ‘sympathy budget’ must be based on trust in alliance
思いやり予算 日米同盟の信頼損ねぬ議論を

Tokyo should conduct discussions calmly with Washington over its budgetary appropriations for host-nation support to U.S. forces in Japan — known as “omoiyari yosan” (sympathy budget) — because this support is crucial for this country’s security.

Negotiations between Japanese and U.S. governments have gone into high gear over a special treaty to determine Japan’s share of the cost of U.S. forces stationed in this country in fiscal 2016 and thereafter.

The Japanese side is insisting on a drastic reduction of its burden, but the U.S. side is poised to maintain its demand that the cost be increased by several tens of percents.

The Japanese government wants to conclude the negotiations by the end of this year and have a new draft treaty endorsed by the ordinary Diet session next year.

The sympathy budget made its debut in fiscal 1978. It mainly pays for the development and maintenance of barracks and housing units stipulated under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, and labor costs and some of the expense of lighting, heating and water determined by a special treaty that is renewed every two to five years.

The sympathy budget in fiscal 2015 is ¥189.9 billion. The budget has been gradually reduced after reaching a peak at ¥275.6 billion in fiscal 1999. But it has tended to level off in recent years.

In the current negotiations with the United States, Japan is requesting the abolition or reduction of the labor costs for employees at movie theaters and other entertainment facilities within U.S. bases, as well as expenses for lighting, heating and water because of the country’s difficult fiscal situation and the recent depreciation of the yen.

Bases key for security

Japan’s share of the burden will certainly increase in the future due to realignment of U.S. forces stationed in the country such as the transfer of U.S. marines in Okinawa Prefecture to Guam.

Formulation of new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation and development of the new security-related laws will lead to the Self-Defense Forces expanding activities conducted jointly with U.S. forces. Japan uses this as one of the reasons for demanding a reduction of its cost burden.

It is a matter of course for the government to try to eliminate wasteful spending in reducing the amount it pays for U.S. forces stationed in Japan and to rationalize use of the sympathy budget.

However, U.S. forces stationed in Japan are a foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance. Therefore, it is significant to maintain quality of life for U.S. military personnel.

Washington has reportedly cited reduction of its defense spending and the arms buildup due to its rebalancing effort to Asia as reasons for demanding an increase in Japan’s burden.

North Korea’s nuclear development and China’s maritime advances have made the security environment surrounding Japan increasingly volatile. The significance of the deterrence provided by U.S. forces in Japan is certainly increasing.

Also, U.S. forces in Japan are in effect a public asset for the Asia-Pacific region. It was a U.S. Aegis-equipped destroyer based at Yokosuka Naval Base that sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one of China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The government has shouldered part of the costs for U.S. forces in Japan not out of “sympathy.” They are necessary costs to secure peace and stability of Japan and in its neighboring region, and a fair share of responsibility as a U.S. ally.

The negotiations for the current treaty from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2015 experienced rough going, too, because of the vast difference between assertions made by Japan and the United States. But they finally agreed to maintain the status quo.

Tokyo and Washington must search for common ground by negotiating with each other based on how important this alliance is.

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

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2015年11月 7日 (土)

もんじゅ勧告へ 核燃サイクル継続へ正念場だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nuclear fuel cycle project faces crucial juncture for its continuation
もんじゅ勧告へ 核燃サイクル継続へ正念場だ

The nuclear fuel cycle project is an important pillar of Japan’s energy policy. For the fuel cycle project to continue, there is an urgent need to rebuild its system.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) decided Wednesday that the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), which oversees Monju, the fast breeder reactor, is not capable of operating and managing the reactor.

The NRA has also decided to issue a recommendation to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, which supervises the agency, to find an entity to take over operations and management of Monju from the JAEA within six months.

If the ministry fails to find a new entity, the NRA will call on the ministry to drastically reexamine what to do with Monju in the future.

Unlike an ordinary nuclear reactor, Monju is a special reactor that uses sodium as coolant. It will not be easy to find a new entity to take over its operations.

The NRA’s decision to issue the recommendation can be viewed as a way of keeping pressure on the science and technology ministry to take rigorous measures, including the possibility of decommissioning Monju.

Monju achieved criticality for the first time in 1994. Following a sodium leak accident in 1995, however, the reactor has hardly been put into operation.

In November 2012, when the reactor was in preparation for its restart, the NRA conducted an on-site inspection at the facility and found that the agency’s safety checks, including the setting of regular inspection periods, for about 10,000 out of nearly 50,000 pieces of equipment at the plant, were not appropriate. In May 2013, the NRA ordered the agency to suspend the preparatory work for restarting the reactor.

Poor report card

Even after that, the agency was criticized repeatedly for inadequate safety inspections, while engineering staff at the plant dealt with the problems only belatedly.

Undeniably, there is a problem with the agency’s capability in dealing with the issues. It is understandable for the NRA to criticize the agency, saying, “The JAEA had been explaining that things would be improved, but it has been failing to achieve results.”

The responsibility of the science and technology ministry, which failed to improve this situation, is also extremely grave.

In its Strategic Energy Plan approved by the Cabinet in April last year, the government heralded once again the promotion of the nuclear fuel cycle. The government judged that changing the policy of promoting the nuclear fuel cycle would make it difficult for the nation to make effective use of a nuclear power generation in the future.

Meanwhile, the government considers Monju as a nuclear reactor essential to test such capabilities as efficiently reprocessing radioactive waste.

The latest development may create a hole in the Strategic Energy Plan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference Wednesday, “The science and technology ministry should solve the issue promptly.” But measures to rebuild the system for the nuclear fuel cycle project should be discussed from a broad perspective by the government as a whole.

Many of the engineers who were in active service when Monju was constructed have already retired. The present plight shows the importance of maintaining and passing on technical knowledge. The NRA has also presented a viewpoint that a “deterioration in technical expertise” has made the matter more serious.

Measures to foster human resources engaged in nuclear power also need reinforcing.

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

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2015年11月 6日 (金)

南シナ海情勢 「航行の自由」確保へ結束せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Stand together to secure freedom of navigation in South China Sea
南シナ海情勢 「航行の自由」確保へ結束せよ

Concerned countries should jointly call on China, which has been using force to unilaterally change the status quo in the South China Sea, to exercise self-restraint.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter held talks with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan in Malaysia on the sidelines of a meeting of defense ministers from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other concerned countries.

Carter referred to a U.S. military vessel that sailed within 12 nautical miles of at least one of the artificial islands made by China in the South China Sea, and told Chang that the U.S. military would continue similar operations in the future.

The United States is behaving legitimately in using concrete actions to demonstrate the “freedom of navigation” based on international law.

Carter also demanded that China discontinue its reclamation and militarization of the disputed reefs for good. Chang opposed him, saying issues of the South China Sea are related to his country’s core interests. But, any action by China that undermines “freedom of navigation” for its “core interests” cannot be tolerated.

It is regrettable that the forum of defense ministers failed to adopt a joint statement.

Malaysia, which chaired the forum, stopped at simply announcing a statement emphasizing the significance of adopting as soon as possible a code of conduct that would legally bind the conduct of concerned countries.

China’s Defense Ministry blamed the United States for failure to adopt a joint statement, saying certain countries outside the region forcibly tried to include content unrelated to the discussions, but this is unreasonable.

Varying links with China

Degrees of closeness with China are different among ASEAN countries. Not a few of them support “freedom of navigation” but consider their economic ties with China important and do not want to cause any trouble with Beijing.

“Japan supports actions by the U.S. military in order to protect the order of free and open seas,” Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said during his talks with Carter. Stability in the South China Sea is also significant to secure the safety of sea-lanes for Japan.

Japan and the United States must further encourage concerned countries to take actions for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea ahead of the summit meeting of leaders from ASEAN members and other concerned countries to be held later this month.

Meanwhile, the United States maintains dialogues and the exchange of military personnel with China. Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, visited Beijing recently and held talks with Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission and the most senior uniformed officer of the Chinese military.

It is an urgent task for U.S. and Chinese forces to set up a hotline to avoid unforeseen accidents and clashes between their vessels and planes.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration late last month decided to hear territorial claims the Philippines had filed against Beijing that China’s artificial islands, which are built on reefs that go underwater at high tide, are not entitled to recognition as base points for claiming territorial waters.

This is an appropriate judgment because it means the tribunal rejected China’s claim that the court has no jurisdiction over disputes about territorial sovereignty.

China should sincerely participate in the trial to act in concert with the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 5, 2015)Speech

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2015年11月 5日 (木)

トルコ総選挙 対「イスラム国」で結束を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Stability in Turkey necessary for united front against ISIL
トルコ総選挙 対「イスラム国」で結束を急げ

Turkey plays an important role in key international issues such as the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group as well as the refugee crisis. It is essential that the nation’s political situation should stabilize.

The ruling Justice and Development Party, a moderate Islamic party known as AKP, won Sunday’s snap election, securing a single-party majority in the parliament. In June, the AKP fell short of securing a majority in the general election, and the party also failed to form a coalition. Following the deadlock, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared another election.

The political confusion has caused foreign capital to flee the country, which resulted in the depreciation of the nation’s currency. In early October, about 100 people were killed in Ankara by suicide bombings believed to be conducted by ISIL. We believe that the outcome of the recent election shows the majority of the people’s desire for a stable government, reflecting their concern about the nation’s future.

As battles between the government troops and Kurdish militants continue, the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party has lost a significant number of its seats in the election. Kurds make up about 15 percent of the nation’s population, and voices demanding more autonomy are prevalent among them.

The conflict between citizens of Turkish and Kurdish ethnicity has spilled over to Japan, resulting in a scuffle in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tokyo in late October.

We hope friction between different ethnic groups will not hamper efforts to tackle issues such as the prolonged civil war in neighboring Syria, as well as terrorist threats. It is apparent that Erdogan must work for national reconciliation.

Dark side of Erdogan

Erdogan led the nation to rapid economic growth after taking office as prime minister in 2003. He assumed his current role last year by winning the nation’s first direct presidential election. The president is now seeking constitutional amendments that would give more power to the president.

There is persistent criticism against his high-handed political attitude, such as police raiding offices of an opposition media group during the election campaign period and an interruption of a TV broadcast. It is obvious that the election victory does not mean that the public has approved such interference with the media.

The Erdogan administration has prioritized its efforts on toppling the regime of Syria’s Bashar Assad. In contrast, efforts against ISIL have been lagging behind, as airstrikes against ISIL and joint military operations with the United States have just begun this summer.

It is likely that Ankara will continue its military operations against Kurdish militants, a move that will only benefit ISIL. We believe it is worth considering the resumption of a ceasefire with the militants, which was suspended in July.

Many foreign fighters of ISIL have entered Syria via Turkey. In contrast, about 2 million Syrian refugees have crossed the border to Turkey, with some of them heading for Europe. It is urgent for Turkey to thoroughly manage its border with Syria, which stretches for about 900 kilometers.

Historically, Japan has deep ties with Turkey. In October, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Erdogan confirmed they will reinforce cooperation between the two countries at a summit meeting. In mid-November, a Group of 20 summit meeting will be held in Turkey. We urge Japan, the United States and European nations to proactively support the country in measures to deal with terrorism and the refugee crisis.

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

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西洋医学で治らないのならば東洋医学です 「はりQ」10周


鍼灸院探しならはりQ です。


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20年後…あの恐怖が蘇る…。クラリスディスクが今年最後に贈る衝撃のクリスマスプレゼント『CLOCK TOWER 20th Anniversary Sound Collection』レコ発イベントも開催 株式会社シティコネクション

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2015年11月 4日 (水)

日韓首脳会談 「未来志向」への道のりは遠い

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan, ROK face hard task forging future-oriented ties
日韓首脳会談 「未来志向」への道のりは遠い


Will the meeting between the top leaders of Japan and South Korea break the stalemate in the confrontation over issues of historical perception and territory, thereby leading to the restructuring the bilateral relationship into a future-oriented one?

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul for the first summit talks between the two countries in about 3½ years. They agreed to bolster bilateral cooperation in various fields, including security, economy and personnel exchange.

South Korea is primarily to blame for the stagnation of bilateral relations.
The deterioration was triggered by then South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s visit to the Takeshima islands in August 2012 and his demand for an apology by the Emperor (over Japan’s past rule of the Korean Peninsula). This was accelerated by Park’s continued insistence that a solution to the so-called comfort women issue should be a prerequisite to the holding of summit talks.

Dislike for S. Koreans

Park’s bad-mouthing diplomacy, in which she criticized Japan when she met dignitaries of other countries, and her obstinate anti-Japan stance evoked a dislike for South Koreans among Japanese.

The real purpose of diplomacy is not to adversely affect an entire bilateral relationship from a comprehensive perspective, even if there are difficult-to-resolve issues pending between the two countries.

Despite the existence of deep rifts over perceptions of history and other matters, Tokyo and Seoul need to work together toward building a constructive relationship of cooperation.

During the summit meeting, Abe and Park agreed to expedite talks on the comfort women issue with a view to resolving it as soon as possible, considering that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties. But it remains to be seen how the issue will be settled in concrete terms and when.

Park reportedly said, “The matter must be resolved promptly in a way that can be accepted by the victims and at a level satisfactory to the people.” If she demands compensation for former comfort women, what will be the legal basis? Furthermore, she leaves it up to the judgment of the former comfort women and others to solve the issue. Isn’t this an irresponsible stance?

In response, Abe said, “We should not leave obstacles [to the solution] for future generations.” This is in tune with his statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in which he emphasized, “we must not let our children ... even future generations be predestined to apologize.”

Discussions on concrete details will be held at the foreign ministry director general-level. It will be no easy task for them to compromise because of public opinion in the two countries.

More compensation?

As for the issue of compensation for comfort women, it is clearly mentioned in the 1965 Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation between Japan and the Republic of Korea that the issue was legally settled “completely and finally.” Moreover, Japan has established the Asian Women’s Fund through which atonement money was provided for 61 former South Korean comfort women, accompanied by a letter of apology from the prime minister.

In South Korea, however, an organization supporting former comfort women opposed the receipt of atonement money, leaving behind unpleasant feelings. How does Park assess such a development?

There is strong resistance among the people in Japan to the government implementing the additional measures sought by South Korea.

Even if some measures were taken, Japan would need a South Korean guarantee that it would be the final settlement.

If Park really wants to resolve the issue, she should make clear what South Korea would do, rather than demanding that Japan make unilateral concessions. For instance, removing the statue of a comfort woman near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul would be a good starting point.

During the talks, Abe urged Seoul to lift its restrictions on imports of Japanese marine products at the earliest possible time.

The marine products Japan ships do not contain radioactive materials in excess of safety standards. The credibility of Japanese safety inspections was later endorsed by inspections made by South Korea. Therefore, the assertion made by Seoul that “import restrictions have been imposed in consideration of the safety of the people” lacks scientific grounds.

South Korea should withdraw its import restrictions on Japanese marine products without waiting for a conclusion to be reached by a dispute settlement panel set up within the World Trade Organization.

With regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade accord, Park said she would expect Japan to cooperate should her country decide to join. Abe responded by saying that Japan would carefully monitor Seoul’s discussions about participating in the TPP.

During the trilateral summit meeting of Japan, China and South Korea held on Sunday, the three countries agreed to accelerate negotiations for a trilateral free trade agreement. There is no doubt that the broad agreement reached in the TPP negotiations among the members last month has prompted both China and South Korea, which have yet to join the TPP, to review their trade strategies.

S. China Sea problems

On the issue of North Korea’s nuclear development, Abe and Park confirmed a policy of cooperating closely among Japan, the United States and South Korea with the aim of inducing Pyongyang to move toward denuclearization.

They also agreed that the two countries would cooperate on the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.

Meanwhile, Abe brought up the issue of China’s reef reclamation and militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, saying it was “a matter of concern commonly held by the international community.” He also said Japan wants to cooperate with South Korea and the United States to protect an open, free and peaceful sea.

Park has been moving ever closer to China not only in the sphere of the economy but also in national security, as seen by her attendance at a military parade held in China in September. The United States also does not hide its distrust of Park’s actions.

To prevent China from changing the status quo with its use of force, it is essential to reinforce security cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea. It is important for Tokyo and Washington to strongly counsel Seoul to avoid getting too close to China.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 3, 2015)

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2015年11月 2日 (月)

cocomachi (ココマチ)で旅の楽しさと喜びを知りましょう



サイトには、日本の名だたる観光スポット が網羅されています。

「旅を通じ、たくさんの街を知ってもらい、その街を好きになってもらう。」 という、ココマチの姿勢に打たれました。

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(社説)中国一人っ子 出産規制全廃すべきだ

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 31
EDITORIAL: China should eliminate all restrictions on childbirths
(社説)中国一人っ子 出産規制全廃すべきだ

Decisions concerning childbirth should be left to individuals exercising their free will.

China should discontinue its distorted policy of forcefully restricting the number of children a family can have.

The Chinese government has decided to ease its strict “one-child” policy that limits the number of children in a family.

The decision is part of the Communist Party’s 13th Five-Year Plan, which sets economic policy priorities for the five years beginning in 2016. The economic plan was worked out in the recent Fifth Plenary Session of the party’s Central Committee.

In most countries, the government’s role in family planning is limited to educational and awareness campaigns at most.

China’s one-child policy, which has been in place since 1979, was originally a response to concerns about food shortages. But this drastic population control policy has been internationally criticized because it has involved serious human rights violations, including forced abortions.

In a 2013 move to ease the restrictions, the government allowed couples, where at least one parent was an only child, to have a second child. Beijing has now decided to allow all couples to have two children.

This is a step forward, but the system of regulatory birth control will remain in place. China should scrap this system altogether.

The government of President Xi Jinping, who has been pursuing a policy agenda focused on expansion of national power, probably decided on the policy change out of concerns about the consequences of tight population control. The Xi administration is facing the tough challenge of how to deal with serious problems caused by the country’s declining working population and the aging of society, such as slowing economic growth and a growing social security burden.

From this point of view, the decision has come too late.

A country’s demographic future can be predicted with considerable accuracy.

In China, where birthrates have fallen to extremely low levels due to the one-child policy, there have long been concerns that the effects of the aging population will start hurting the nation’s economic performance before its people become wealthy.
Due to this alarming prospect, there have been strong calls for the abolition of the controversial policy in China.

Why has the Chinese government been so slow to change the policy? One possible explanation is that a firmly entrenched system to regulate childbirths supported by a vast number of officials in central and local governments has led to vested interests.

It has been reported that fines imposed on couples who have violated the rules have been a source of revenue for local governments.

This is a structural problem deep-rooted in the country’s administrative and fiscal systems.

Easing the restrictions now may not produce much economic effect. In large Chinese cities, where the number of newborns has already declined as significantly as it has in Japan, the step to relax the policy in 2013 has only led to a marginal rise in births.

Even if the number of babies increases significantly, it will be more than 10 years down the road before they can join the nation’s work force.

The new Five-Year Plan also calls for promoting migration from rural areas to cities as a way to increase the working population.

This policy measure alone is related to a wide range of issues, including land problems in farming villages and the necessity to expand the social security and education systems for urban residents.

In addition to the demographic shift, China is now simultaneously facing almost all the various challenges Japan had to grapple with over the period of its fast economic growth from the late 1950s through early 1970s, including widespread environmental pollution.

The goal of the Xi administration’s domestic reform agenda should be to build a future where the country’s 1.3 billion people and children who will be born in the coming years can live with a sense of security.

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2015年11月 1日 (日)

(社説)辺野古、本体工事着手 埋め立て強行は許されぬ

--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 30
EDITORIAL: Japan's cherished values apparently don't apply to Okinawa
(社説)辺野古、本体工事着手 埋め立て強行は許されぬ

How long does the central government intend to continue the history of discriminatory treatment against Okinawa?

The government on Oct. 29 started the main part of land reclamation work in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, to build a new U.S. air base to replace the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, a crowded city in the southernmost prefecture.

We cannot help but cast serious doubt on the way the Abe administration has been forging ahead with its plan to build the base, paying little attention to the voices of many people in Okinawa who have clearly rejected the plan.

The administration is running roughshod over Okinawan people’s will and human rights.

At the same time, the situation raises some serious questions about the moral standards of this nation, which keeps forcing Okinawa, only a small part of it, to bear an unfairly excessive burden for national security.

Reasons for Okinawa’s rejection of Henoko plan

We again urge the administration to immediately stop the construction work in Henoko and hold serious talks with the Okinawa prefectural government over the issue.

Let us look back again on Okinawa’s history from the viewpoint of Okinawa’s people.

In the closing days of the Pacific War, Okinawa became a scene of a devastating ground battle that killed a quarter of the local population. Okinawa was used as a “sacrifice” for the defense of mainland Japan.

For many years after the end of the war, Okinawa was excluded from the benefits of Japan’s postwar Constitution, which espouses pacifism and guarantees basic human rights. The U.S. military, which ruled Okinawa with an iron fist, took land from local residents forcefully with “bayonet and bulldozer” and built bases around the prefecture.

Forty-three years since Okinawa’s long-awaited reversion to Japanese sovereignty, the prefecture, which constitutes only 0.6 percent of national land, is still home to 73.8 percent of the facilities used exclusively by the U.S. military in Japan.

Seven decades since the end of World War II, no other area in the world hosts as many foreign military bases.

Okinawa has been continuously plagued by accidents, crimes, noise and other problems related to U.S. bases. This is the grim reality of Okinawa.

Despite all of this, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga doesn’t deny the importance of Japan’s security alliance with the United States. Nor does he demand that the United States return its Kadena Air Base, which is important for deterrence provided by the U.S. forces.

Onaga and people in Okinawa are saying “no” to the government’s blatant attempt to force Okinawa to accept a new U.S. military base despite the prefecture’s long history of suffering from the heavy U.S. military presence.

Once a new base with state-of-the-art military facilities is built in Henoko, it will be hard to get it removed. It is quite likely to become a permanent base.

Listen to the voices of the people

The will of people in Okinawa to reject the planned new base was made indisputably clear in a series of elections last year. Candidates opposed to the Futenma relocation plan won in the Nago mayoral election in January, the Okinawa gubernatorial poll in November and in all of Okinawa’s four single-seat constituencies in the Dec. 14 Lower House election.

But the series of actions taken by the Abe administration to build the new base makes it hard to believe that the administration has any serious interest in listening to the voices of people in Okinawa.

To override Onaga’s decision to revoke approval of land reclamation work for the Henoko project, the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau resorted to the administrative complaint investigation system to request a temporary injunction against Onaga’s move. The land minister, a member of the same government, on Oct. 27 issued the requested injunction.

The system is originally designed to provide relief to private individuals who have suffered damage from actions by administrative organizations.

How can the Defense Ministry’s local bureau qualify as a “private individual?” Is it reasonable for the land minister, a member of the Cabinet, to decide on a dispute between the central government and a prefectural government? There is serious doubt about the fairness of this step.

At the same time, the Abe administration has also embarked on the procedures for administrative substitute execution under the local government law in an attempt to disempower the prefectural government.

The administration’s confrontational attitude indicates that it has no intention to try to find common ground with the prefecture.

As a point to note for the Okinawa governor’s permission for land reclamation in Henoko, talks are supposed to be held between the central government and the prefectural government before the main part of the work begins.
The administration has said repeatedly that the talks are already over, turning a deaf ear to the prefectural government’s claim that they are not.

In addition, the administration has announced its decision to provide state subsidies for local development directly to the three districts of Kushi, Henoko and Toyohara in Nago, collectively known as the “Three Kube Districts,” bypassing the governments of Okinawa Prefecture and Nago.

Do all these facts mean the administration intends to simply ignore the opinions and intentions of the prefectural and municipal governments, which are opposed to the Henoko base plan? Does the Abe administration think only areas that support its policy constitute the nation it serves?

During the one-month intensive talks between Tokyo and Okinawa over the issue held this summer, the administration did little more than let the prefectural government say what it had to say.

Given that the administration later switched to a hard-line stance toward the prefecture, it is hard to deny that the talks were only intended as a means to buy time for enacting national security legislation.

Japan’s integrity called into question

Removing the danger posed by the Funtenma air base is the usual refrain used by the government to justify its plan to build a new base in Henoko.

When the United States considered curtailing and consolidating its military bases in Okinawa, however, the Japanese government showed reluctance in supporting the idea.

Nineteen years have passed since the 1996 agreement between Tokyo and Washington on the return of the Futenma base to Japan. Its original purpose was to ease the burden borne by Okinawa.

To achieve the purpose, the government should first make all-out efforts to deliver on its promise to former Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima that the operations of the Futenma base will be terminated within five years.

The United States has been taking steps to deal with a major cut in its Marine Corps troops stationed in Okinawa, such as planning a transfer of thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam and rotational deployments to Hawaii and Australia.

The situation argues for Japan’s fresh efforts to reassess its official position that the relocation of the Futenma base to Henoko is the only possible option and explore an alternative way through a major review of all factors underlying its security strategy for the entire region, including the supposed necessity of a new facility to take over the functions of the Futenma base.

The will of the people in one prefecture has been continuously ignored. As a democratic country, Japan must not overlook this reality.

Is Japan really a nation that respects human rights? Is it a nation where people can influence the future of their own communities?

The question posed by the Futenma dispute is whether Japan, our nation, is a country that cherishes universal values.

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