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2016年7月31日 (日)

追加金融緩和 日銀は政権のしもべか

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 30
EDITORIAL: BOJ must free itself from the shackles of state policy
(社説)追加金融緩和 日銀は政権のしもべか

The Bank of Japan has decided to open the monetary spigot further. The central bank said July 29 that it will double its annual purchases of exchange-traded funds (ETF) to 6 trillion yen ($58.8 billion).

The BOJ’s action came as a response to a request for further monetary expansion from the Abe administration, which will soon unveil a huge package of policy measures to stoke economic growth. The program will come in at 28 trillion yen.

The central bank has already taken radical steps to pump money into the economy, by setting negative interest rates and making massive purchases of government bonds. As experts have warned that expanding these measures would be ineffective and even harmful, the BOJ, apparently under pressure to play ball with the government, resorted to one of the few remaining options.

The thinking behind the monetary policy is to ensure that the Japanese economy will continue stable and sustained growth.

It is doubtful whether the central bank’s latest move will serve this purpose.

In the latest of its quarterly “Outlook for Economic Activity and Prices” report, released on July 29, the BOJ said the economy “has continued its moderate recovery trend” and “is likely to be on a moderate expanding trend.”

A clutch of economic indicators confirmed the BOJ’s assessment, indicating the economy is on a stable footing. The ratio of job offers to job seekers has risen above 1 in all the 47 prefectures for the first time since such records started being kept.

Even though there is a degree of uncertainty in European and emerging economies, no compelling case can be made for putting together an outsized package of economic stimulus measures at this moment. The BOJ should have taken exception to the administration’s plan, but the central bank has instead provided support to the administration through the additional monetary easing.

The BOJ deserves to be criticized for following the government’s lead into a questionable move.

Two of the nine members of the BOJ’s Policy Board, which makes the bank’s policy decisions, voiced opposition to the proposal to increase the purchases of ETFs, investment vehicles traded on stock exchanges.

They argued, quite reasonably, that the step would have negative effects on price formation in the market. But such dissenting voices within the central bank’s policy-making body are now more unlikely to be heard than before because the Abe administration has replaced retiring members with supporters of the prime minister's "Abenomics" economic policy. The two members opposed to the latest action are both private-sector economists who joined the Policy Board before Shinzo Abe returned to power in December 2012.

If the Policy Board is dominated by similar-minded members, it will lose its ability to check the aggressive and controversial “different dimension” monetary expansion policy that has been promoted by BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda.

We are concerned that the BOJ might become even more inclined to adopt a monetary policy supportive of the administration’s agenda.

But the Policy Board should be given credit for refraining from an expansion of the negative interest rate policy, which could put an additional strain on the financial health of banks, and also from an increase in the amount of government bonds bought by the BOJ, which could be seen as the central bank’s attempt to finance government spending.

Markets had warned that failing to take these steps would trigger the yen’s upswing as well as a major stock market decline. But this view itself reflects a distorted relationship between monetary policy and financial markets.

The BOJ’s excessive monetary expansion is now doing more harm than good to both companies and households.

The negative interest rate policy has delivered a serious blow not just to banks but also to pension funds whose investment plans have gone awry due to the measure.

To bring its monetary policy back to a normal state, the BOJ should start mapping out an exit strategy for its different dimension monetary easing program as soon as possible.

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2016年7月29日 (金)

ロ事件40年 浄化の道なお遠く

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 27
(社説)ロ事件40年 浄化の道なお遠く
EDITORIAL: Corrupt politics linger 4 decades after Lockheed bribery scandal

July 27 marked the 40th anniversary of the arrest of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka over the Lockheed bribery scandal.

Even after he was indicted on criminal charges, Tanaka (1918-1993) led a massive faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and wielded huge political clout by playing kingmaker. Since then, the landscape in Nagatacho, the political power center in Tokyo, has changed dramatically. Factions within the LDP have sunk into political irrelevance. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has acquired so much political power that many pundits are lamenting the lack of political forces that can pose a serious challenge to his leadership.
However, one thing remains unchanged in Japanese politics. It is the power of money that keeps breeding graft and corruption.

During the past four decades, a series of steps have been taken to tackle the problem. The electoral systems of both houses of the Diet have been reformed. The Political Fund Control Law has been revised to remove special-interest money from politics, while the guilt-by-association rule concerning elections has been enhanced.
But the politicians who created the new rules have installed convenient loopholes. The current situation is nowhere close to the elimination of doubt and the restoration of public trust in politics.

Just recently, Akira Amari resigned as economy minister over his dubious relations with a construction company. And a month ago Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe stepped down after he failed to offer convincing explanations about his seemingly inappropriate use of political funds.

Despite all these and other money scandals involving politicians, lawmakers, especially those of the LDP, remain reluctant to make any vigorous response to the deep-seated problem.

During their campaigns for the July 10 Upper House election, most parties other than the LDP, including the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, the main opposition Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and the Initiatives from Osaka, promised to take measures to clean up the rot in politics, although their proposals differed in content and strength.
The promised measures included imposing stronger responsibility on politicians to oversee the acts of their secretaries, injecting greater transparency into the expenditures of political funds and state-financed expenses for political activities, and banning political donations by companies and other organizations.

But the LDP, which has Amari among its members and supported Masuzoe in the previous Tokyo gubernatorial election, made no reference to this problem in its campaign platform.

This kind of attitude only widens the distance between citizens and politics and deepens public cynicism.

Although the LDP won a major victory in the Upper House election, the ruling party will be long remembered for its failure to make a serious response to scandals involving its members and allies.

We urge the other parties, including Komeito, to make nonpartisan efforts to find common ground on this issue and create a situation that prods the reluctant LDP into action.

What they should do first is to make all flows of money into politics completely transparent and establish a system in which citizens can always check and evaluate the flows.

Tanaka left another big blot in the history of Japanese politics.

One and a half years before he was arrested, Tanaka was forced to resign as prime minister amid allegations about his shady financial connections. At that time, he pledged to “clarify the truth someday to win people’s understanding.”

But he died without carrying out his promise. Now, both Amari and Masuzoe remain silent about the allegations against them, apparently waiting for the storm of criticism to pass.

Nowadays, there is a growing wave of positive reviews about Tanaka’s political record, probably due in part to nostalgic feelings about his era, when the Japanese economy was growing rapidly.

But the dark role of big money in politics and politicians’ inability to be honest and straightforward with the public about money are both negative legacies from the era that still haunt Japanese politics 40 years after the downfall of the powerful, but corrupt politician.

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2016年7月28日 (木)



爆買いのチャンス!Qoo10「夏祭り SUPER SALE」へGO!(2016年7月26日~7月31日)~割引クーポンを毎日先着33,000名様にプレゼント!~ ジオシス合同会社

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ASEAN会議 中国の国際法無視が目に余る

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China’s disregard for international law glaringly apparent at ASEAN
ASEAN会議 中国の国際法無視が目に余る

Beijing continues to reject the court of arbitration’s decision dismissing the country’s self-serving claims that its sovereignty covers almost all the area in the South China Sea. We believe such a high-handed stance can never be accepted.

Foreign ministers gathered for meetings of the East Asia Summit — Japan, the United States, China and Southeast Asian countries are among the members — and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Regarding Beijing’s moves to militarize the South China Sea, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for China to respect the ruling, saying, “It is an arbitration, the results of which ... is legally binding.”

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida followed suit, stressing, “Parties concerned should comply with the court of arbitration, which will contribute to solving the issue.”

It is crucial for Japan, the United States and other countries concerned to work together to keep urging China to abide by the ruling.

During a meeting with Kishida, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for Japan to be discreet in word and deed because Tokyo is “not a party concerned in the South China Sea issue.” This cannot be overlooked.

It is nothing less than in the common interest of the international community to maintain order in the South China Sea based on the rule of law, and ensure freedom of navigation. We regard Wang’s claims as unreasonable.

Following the ruling, Beijing announced that it had sent new bombers on patrol around the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which is close to the Philippines. The country said it will regularly conduct such missions, and has also expressed a policy to continue building artificial islands in the area. A series of such moves will only heighten tension.

Apparent maneuver

Ahead of the EAS meeting, foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a joint statement at their gathering, which said they “remain seriously concerned” over current developments in the South China Sea. The document failed to directly refer to the ruling because of strong opposition from Cambodia, which receives huge amounts of economic assistance from China.

“Only one country mentioned the court of arbitration during this meeting,” Wang said, with an eye on the Philippines. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s administration, which suffered a serious diplomatic setback from the ruling, apparently believed that it was able to regain lost ground by splitting ASEAN members.

We suspect that China is also drawing up a scenario to woo the Philippines, which has just undergone a change of administration, to set aside the ruling and hold talks.

Wang announced that China had set a target of completing the establishment of a code of conduct with ASEAN — which would legally bind moves by countries concerned in the South China Sea — by the first half of next year. Beijing’s reluctance has so far hampered talks on the envisioned set of rules between the two sides.

China presented the target apparently with the aim of fending off criticism from ASEAN. We cannot believe that China, which disregards international law, will seriously engage in the establishment of multinational rules. Countries concerned should beef up pressure on China to give the code of conduct more teeth.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2016)

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2016年7月27日 (水)

letter from Joe Biden (vice-president of U.S.A) on 27 July 2016

Kiyoshi --

There is no one I admire -- or trust -- more than Hillary Clinton, and that's what I'm going to say at the Democratic Convention this week.

This country needs her to win this election -- and she needs you on her side to do it.

Donald Trump simply has no credibility or standing to represent American interests abroad. His small-minded, unstable temperament, his shocking incoherence regarding the norms and details of foreign policy, and his dangerous ideology are all completely disqualifying.

Trump barely understood the Brexit decision, which sent ripples of economic anxiety and nationalist sentiment across Europe. He believes more, not fewer, nations should acquire nuclear weapons. He praises authoritarians like Vladimir Putin. He thinks people like President Obama and Hillary are to blame for the rise of ISIS and the collapse of Libya. He considers NATO -- a bedrock alliance dating back to 1949 -- a security agreement we could casually withdraw from or renegotiate unilaterally. Just this weekend, he talked about leaving the World Trade Organization as well.

I've known Hillary for decades, and I know that the choice we have to make in November could not be more clear or more consequential. If you're with her and trust her as much as I do, show her -- and show the world how much better we are than the disturbing and dark vision Donald Trump offers.

If you've saved your payment information, your donation will go through immediately.

Thank you,


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2016年7月26日 (火)



日本百名月 と称されていますが、それらをネットで鑑賞できるWEBサイトが開設されています。


日本の美しい名月を観光資源に。『日本百名月』公式WEBサイトを開設! 百名月認定を推進し、日本の名月スポットが続々と登場します。


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Stabbing spree in Japan leaves at least 19 dead, dozens injured

July 26, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Stabbing spree in Japan leaves at least 19 dead, dozens injured

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A knife-wielding man went on a stabbing rampage at a residential care facility for the disabled in Kanagawa Prefecture west of Tokyo early Tuesday, killing at least 19 people and injuring 26 others, 20 of them seriously, police and firefighters said.

Kanagawa prefectural police arrested Satoshi Uematsu, 26, who drove to the Tsukui Police Station and turned himself around 3 a.m. Tuesday, saying "I did it."

"It's better that the disabled disappear," the police quoted him as saying.

Uematsu, who said he was a former employee of the facility in the city of Sagamihara and a resident of the city, had a bag full of knives and other edged tools, some bloodstained, when he turned himself in.

The police arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder and unlawful entry to a building.

The police are investigating the motive behind the attack that took place at the Tsukui Yamayuri En (Tsukui Lily Garden) facility around 2:30 a.m., they added.

According to its website, the residential care facility for the disabled was set up by the Kanagawa prefectural government and run by a social welfare corporation. It has about a 30,000-square-meter total site area and can accommodate up to 160 people.

As of the end of April, it had 149 residents between 19 and 75 years of age, with 40 of them believed to be over 60.

The facility is located about 50 kilometers from downtown Tokyo and is near private residences and an elementary school.

After the news about the stabbing rampage spread, families of the residents as well as neighbors of the facility flocked to the facility to get information about the residents' condition, saying they had received no information from the facility.

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ビートコミュニケーションは「クラウド型フランチャイズ」として有名で、最近では、ハッピーカーズに「Beat Messenger&Beat Shuffle」を導入してきましたが、これは、業界の常識を覆す、新しいビジネスモデルだと称されています。

ビートコミュニケーションは、社内向け交流サイト(SNS)を手掛ける株式会社Beat Communicationとタイアップして、この新しい事業に参入してきました。
社内SNS成功例 で有名なBeat Communicationと、ビートコミュニケーションが、まるで車の両輪のような、絶妙な補完作用をなして、これからのあたらしいかたちのビジネスモデルになるのではないかと期待されています。

ビートコミュニケーション、「クラウド型フランチャイズ」ハッピーカーズに「Beat Messenger&Beat Shuffle」を導入 業界の常識を覆す新ビジネスモデルで加盟店数倍増を達成!


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2016年7月25日 (月)

米大統領選 党の亀裂深めたトランプ指名

The Yomiuri Shimbun
GOP deepens party rift with Trump nomination for presidential election
米大統領選 党の亀裂深めたトランプ指名

Can the U.S. Republican Party heal its rift to win the November presidential election and hold power for the first time in eight years? This can be described as a launch with many issues remaining.

Donald Trump was officially nominated as the Republican presidential candidate at the party’s convention, setting off a full-fledged campaign against Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state who will be the Democratic candidate.

In his acceptance speech, Trump said, “The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents is that our plan will put America first.” He vehemently presented his inward-looking attitude by setting a high value on the national interest while dismissing globalism.

It is worrisome that Trump once again clearly showed his isolationism and populism by stirring up the public’s anger and fear.

Trump insisted that he will build a border wall to stop illegal immigration, while demanding that immigration should be immediately suspended from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism. “I will restore law and order to our country” through these policies, the nominee said.

Trump expressed his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, describing the free trade pact as something that “will make America subject to the rulings of foreign governments.”

Could it ever be possible for the United States to shut itself behind closed doors to ensure economic development and safety at a time when more and more countries are engaged in free trade and international cooperation is urged in monetary policies and countermeasures against terrorism?

Personal attacks

When it comes to Clinton, Trump presented his rival as a symbol of the existing establishment and criticized her for allegedly causing chaos in the Middle East and terrorism as secretary of state. “We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore,” he said as justification for his personal attacks and his crude comments and behavior.

A business tycoon running a hotel chain, Trump has no political or military experience. He will definitely aim to win support as an outsider from a wide range of voters, including some Democrats and political independents, during the presidential election, just as he did in the primaries.

It is a grave situation that the internal split was clearly visible at the Republican National Convention, even though it was supposed to serve as an opportunity to confirm unity. The gathering was boycotted by many of the party’s heavyweights, including former U.S. President George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, the nominee in the 2012 presidential election.

In the vote to nominate the candidate of the Republican party, candidates other than Trump won as much as a combined 30 percent of the delegates, because mainstream candidates competing against the billionaire in the primaries and others refused to support him even after they accepted defeat and dropped out of the presidential race. There undoubtedly remain some emotional divisions caused by mudslinging severe enough to have candidates reject each other’s personal character.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was nominated as Trump’s vice presidential running mate. Pence has extensive political experience and enjoys solid confidence from the Republican mainstream, but we cannot expect that he will be able to unify the party.

Trump’s campaign team issued an apology over plagiarism in the speech delivered by his wife, Melania, at the convention. Policies and comments by the candidate and those close to him will be put under stricter scrutiny in the coming months. We wonder if his team can secure specialists in each field on its own.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 24, 2016)

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2016年7月24日 (日)

ポケモンGO マナーを守って街を歩こう

The Yomiuri Shimbun
‘Pokemon Go’ players must observe manners as they pursue creatures
ポケモンGO マナーを守って街を歩こう

Only when attention is paid to safety and the rules are observed is it fun to play games.

The globally popular smartphone game “Pokemon Go” has now been released in Japan.

After downloading the game app free of charge, a player is able to view their surroundings with the smartphone’s camera and catch virtual characters that appear on the screen by hitting them with a ball.

The game developers include The Pokemon Co., an affiliate of Nintendo Co. The app has attracted attention as a new type of game in which virtual characters are collected as gamers walk around towns and cities.

The number of people playing “Pokemon Go” in the United States has reached about 23 million per day, which is said to be a record high for a smartphone game. Those who have downloaded the app mainly are people who were children when the animated Pokemon enjoyed popularity in the 1990s.

The current “Pokemon Go” craze is a good example of content that originated in Japan being loved overseas.

A positive economic effect can also be expected. If the locations for acquiring virtual tools to catch Pokemon are set in such establishments as restaurants, it will help to attract customers. For example, McDonald’s Japan has announced a tie-up with “Pokemon Go.”

The Nintendo stock price briefly hit the ¥30,000 level for the first time in six years. Related stocks also fared well. It is hoped the current craze will reinvigorate the game industry.

Matters of concern

On the other hand, many concerns have also been expressed.

In the United States, a series of incidents have occurred in which players, distracted by the smartphone’s screen, suffered injuries as they bumped into signboards and other objects. There have also been cases in which accidents have occurred as players were absorbed in playing the game while they were at the wheel or fell from a cliff after losing their footing.

In Japan, too, looking at smartphones while walking has become a major issue, and there is concern about whether the “Pokemon Go” game will exacerbate the problem. Railway companies are nervous about the possibility of accidents occurring on station platforms.

It can be anticipated that players will enter places unfit for the game. In the United States, Pokemon appeared at such locations as a memorial at the site of terrorist attacks in New York and at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, with the facilities’ operators expressing discomfort.

The game app provider is required to sort out dangerous sites and unfit facilities for playing the game and work out software configurations that will exclude such locations from the game. In case problems occur at specific locations, it is necessary to deal with them flexibly by omitting such locations from the game as soon as possible.

As the school summer holidays have started, many children will play the “Pokemon Go” game. The government has released a message of caution on the internet, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, in a rare move, called for players to be aware of safety during a news conference Friday, saying, “We want them to pay heed to points of caution for safe playing.”

At home, parents must tell children how to stay safe when they play the game.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 23, 2016)

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2016年7月23日 (土)

トルコ非常事態 ここまでの粛清が必要なのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Can mass purge of Gulen supporters really be called necessary in Turkey?
トルコ非常事態 ここまでの粛清が必要なのか

Turkey is a regional power linking Europe and the Middle East. If Turkey becomes unstable, it could have a negative effect on efforts to prevent terrorism and deal with Syria’s civil war and the resulting refugee problem.

Turkey should refrain from politically exploiting the failed coup d’etat launched by part of its military and must avoid a situation that deepens rifts within society.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency. The president said this step was needed “to remove swiftly all the elements of the terrorist organization involved in the coup attempt.” Emergency rule will make it possible to significantly restrict the rights of Turkish citizens, and could result in an escalation of heavy-handed politics in that nation.

The Turkish government has already detained several thousand people suspected of involvement in the coup attempt, including senior military personnel and judges. The figure shoots up to 60,000 if the number of police officers, civil servants and teachers who have been suspended or dismissed is added. Twenty-four TV and radio stations have had their broadcast licenses revoked, and controls on freedom of speech have been tightened.

Erdogan has pointed the finger of blame at Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Muslim cleric and political foe he claims is the “mastermind” behind the coup attempt. The so-called Gulen Movement, which has built schools to spread his teachings, has extended its influence into many fields and reportedly has several million supporters.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the failed coup, but Turkey’s government is demanding the United States extradite him. There is little the government can do to avoid criticism that its mass purge of Gulen supporters is a “witch hunt.”

Self-restraint needed

Erdogan has led Turkey for 13 years, first as prime minister and now as president. He apparently wants to sweep aside his opponents and speed up moves to amend the Turkish Constitution to strengthen the authority of the president.

In response to a call by Erdogan, many Turkish citizens took to the streets and blocked the attempted coup by rebellious members of the military. Some people even risked their lives to defend democracy. If Erdogan simply steps up his crackdown even though the coup has been suppressed, he likely will lose some of his supporters.

U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Erdogan and quite rightly called on him to respect the rule of law. The European Union has warned that Turkey will not be able to join the EU if it reinstates the death penalty.

There is concern that if confusion drags on within the police and military forces, their ability to uphold public safety will decline. At the end of June, a major terrorist attack occurred at the international airport of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city.

Operations by an international coalition aimed at wiping out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant extremist group are at a crucial stage in efforts to take back key locations in Syria and Iraq. Turmoil in Turkey also could deal a blow to international cooperation in these operations.

Turkey is known as a pro-Japan nation, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has built up a relationship of trust with Erdogan. Japanese companies that entered the Turkish market through involvement in the construction of a nuclear power plant and a subway line are concerned about the current situation there. Erdogan will need to exercise more self-restraint.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 22, 2016)

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2016年7月22日 (金)

美しい夜景は人間の心を癒してくれます 夜景検定試験のお知らせ


丸々もとお氏が代表理事を務める東京の夜景観光コンベンション・ビューローですが、このたび、第九回「夜景検定 」(夜景鑑賞士検定)開催を決定いたしました。



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昭和の伝統を引き継ぎながら、新しいスタイルを模索する 神楽坂五十番

神楽坂五十番 新宿小田急エース店 は、新しいスタイルを模索する、素敵で落ち着いたお店です。



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コンカーでは、日本最大級のクラウドイベント である「Concur Fusion Exchange 2016 Tokyo」を9月8日に開催決定しています。


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新潟三大サマーイルミネーションのひとつ「いくとぴあ食花」で、 新演出満載のサマーイルミネーションがスタート! 一般社団法人夜景観光コンベンション・ビューロー

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トランプ氏指名 愚かな「壁」を築くのか

July 21, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Trump brings nothing to the table but rancor, future discord
トランプ氏指名 愚かな「壁」を築くのか

So it has come to this.

After months of offensive remarks, rude behavior, and widespread expectations that his candidacy would eventually, inevitably, crash and burn, businessman Donald Trump is now the Republican Party's nominee for president of the United States.

Trump's pick for vice president is Indiana Gov. Michael Pence, an experienced politician (unlike the nominee himself) who can act as a bridge with the Republican mainstream. However, the selection of Pence does absolutely nothing to ameliorate how dangerous Trump is.

The Republican National Convention (RNC) is usually a grand love-in for the GOP's presidential nominee, but this year has been different. The party continues to churn with misgivings about Trump, and Republican stars including both former Bush presidents, 2008 nominee Sen. John McCain, 2012 nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and onetime 2016 candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich have all stayed away from the convention.

What's more, some RNC delegates made an early push to be "unbound," or permitted to vote freely and not according to the results of the party's presidential primaries, revealing a deep vein of anti-Trump animosity. Yet more controversy was stirred when Trump's wife Melania gave a speech with parts that appeared to have been copied from Michelle Obama's address to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

But all this convention floor drama is a mere nothing compared to the stunning wrong-headedness of Trump's policies. First is his infamous plan for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to stop illegal immigration, which has now been duly included in the Republican platform. We are surprised that the GOP, with its emphasis on respect for American tradition and customs, would endorse such a foolish idea, which has even been condemned by Pope Francis as "not Christian." The Republican Party has drifted badly off-course. There is no other way to describe it.

Then there is Trump's suggestion that Japan and South Korea acquire nuclear weapons. These exact words do not appear in the Republican policy platform, but the document does state that the U.S. must "rebuild relationships with our allies, who understand that as long as the U.S. nuclear arsenal is their shield, they do not need to engage in nuclear proliferation."

The GOP platform similarly fudges Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S., stating instead that "we must apply special scrutiny to those foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States from terror-sponsoring countries or from regions associated with Islamic terrorism."

These two policy ideas are filled to bursting with future problems. In particular, the effects of a U.S. rethink of its nuclear policy would inevitably hit Japan. The Republican platform's cautious attitude to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact is also a cause of serious concern for Japan.

One eye-catching and alarming detail of the GOP platform is that it begins with the following sentence: "We believe in American exceptionalism." Furthermore, the document accuses the administration of President Barack Obama of weakening the U.S. and having "invited aggression," resulting in "an emboldened China in the South China Sea (and) a resurgent Russia occupying parts of Ukraine and threatening neighbors from the Baltic to the Caucasus." It also calls North Korea "the Kim family's slave state." However, nowhere does the Republican platform describe in any detail what it wishes to do about these three countries.

Simply heaping criticism on the Obama administration will not win the Republicans the White House.

In the loudly shouted slogans "America first" and "Make America great again," there is absolutely nothing that tells us how Trump views the safety and stability of the world.

If he is to boast that the United States is a special country, he must think not just about the benefits and losses of his own nation, but about global interests.

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2016年7月21日 (木)

南スーダン支援 安全優先でPKOを継続せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
PKO in S. Sudan should continue while putting priority on security
南スーダン支援 安全優先でPKOを継続せよ

Japan plays a part in U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan to stabilize the African country. It is important to continue these missions while taking all possible measures to ensure safety.

Fighting broke out earlier this month in the capital of Juba between followers of the South Sudan president and vice president, leaving many people dead.

The Ground Self-Defense Force engineering unit taking part in the U.N. Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), comprised of about 350 personnel, suspended its operations, which included developing roads and building facilities for related organizations in the suburbs of Juba.

To help Japanese civilians evacuate from South Sudan, the government sent an Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport aircraft. The plane ultimately collected four Japanese Embassy officials. We regard this as a broadly appropriate response.

The C-130 aircraft had to refuel at several locations before arriving in the country because it has a short cruising distance. To conduct more mobile operations overseas, it is vital to beef up efforts for the full-fledged deployment of C-2, a new primary transport aircraft with a range of about 6,500 kilometers.

The government also considered having the GSDF transport Japanese civilians by land from central Juba to an airport, a plan that was eventually put off as the local security situation improved. However, it is important for the GSDF to be ready to deal with a mission of this kind.

The GSDF unit is currently conducting activities around its base only, such as setting up tents for locals who have fled the fighting and supplying them with food.

The government will continue the GSDF missions in South Sudan, stating that the five principles for taking part in U.N. peacekeeping operations — such as a ceasefire agreement reached between parties concerned in the conflict — are still being observed. We believe this is a reasonable decision.

Reputation at stake

The UNMISS involves 62 nations, such as India, South Korea and China. If Japan hastily pulls out, the decision could undermine the trust that exists between Japan and the United Nations as well as Japan and other countries, while also causing doubts over Tokyo’s commitment to international contributions.

Since South Sudan’s independence in 2011, the Japanese government has dispatched GSDF units, rotating them at a pace of about once every half a year.

We believe that the GSDF’s engagement in building roads, which serves as a foundation of nation-building, contributes to the country’s stability and development.

Currently, South Sudan is the only country where Japan takes part in U.N. peacekeeping operations. We hope that the mission will be soundly implemented, as this can also help realize a “proactive contribution to peace” as advocated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration.

A focus for the future is authorizing rescue missions by GSDF units, based on the security-related laws that have been enacted.

The laws enable them to rescue U.N. officials, civilians, foreign troops or others in South Sudan when they face attacks by armed groups.

The Defense Ministry has established rules of engagement that stipulate, among other things, limits on the use of arms, while also starting to study training programs for this kind of duty. The ministry is expected to authorize a GSDF unit, which it will dispatch to the African country in November at the earliest, to carry out this mission.

An emergency situation that will require a rescue mission could occur at any time, even if not frequently. The ministry is urged to make extensive preparations in advance and offer training programs.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 20, 2016)

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2016年7月20日 (水)

中国成長横ばい 過剰な生産設備の是正を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China’s excessive production capacity must be cut to ensure stable growth
中国成長横ばい 過剰な生産設備の是正を急げ

How can China overcome the pain that accompanies structural reforms and realize stable growth? The latest data on the nation’s economy has thrown into relief the difficulties of managing its economy.

China must face the arduous challenge of streamlining excessive manufacturing facilities and curtailing inefficient state-owned firms while averting a sudden business slowdown.

China’s real-term gross domestic product grew 6.7 percent in the April-June quarter when compared to the same period last year. The growth rate leveled off from the previous quarter, and a downtrend was halted for the first time in four quarters. However, it still marked a seven-year low since the shock that resulted from the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Given the slackening of investments and exports, it has become clear that China’s “world’s factory” model, used as a driving force for high growth, has reached its limit.

The Chinese administration of President Xi Jinping is pursuing a shift from investment-centered high growth to a “new normal” state of consumption-led stable growth. But consumption, which is essential, lacks the power to supplement investments and exports.

The switch to expanded growth will require the overproduction of steel and coal to be rectified. However, efforts in this regard are struggling.

China’s crude steel production has ballooned to about 800 million tons a year due to a large-scale stimulus package adopted in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. China’s share of the global market has swelled to half, causing steel prices to fall.

The excessive capacities of steel and other industries was mentioned as “a global issue” in the statement issued after a meeting of trade ministers from the Group of 20 major economies, held this month in Shanghai.

Specter of ‘zombie firms’

China has made moves to reduce crude steel output by suspending operations at facilities, including its old blast furnaces. However, this is akin to pouring water on a hot stone. If restructuring is pushed ahead, it is estimated that 1.8 million workers will be rendered jobless in the steelmaking and coal mining industries alone.

Due to opposition from local governments, which are concerned about employment, curtailing production facilities has progressed little.

It is necessary to alter the industrial structure by promoting the service and other industries, thereby making it possible for workers who lose their jobs due to structural reforms to be accepted elsewhere.

Some state-owned businesses and firms related to local governments have, in effect, gone bust, but survive thanks to public subsidies. These “zombie companies” have become a serious issue.

It is worrying that nonperforming loans — made by financial institutions to unprofitable businesses and in connection to investments in excessive facilities and real estate — have become bloated.

According to China’s official statistics, outstanding nonperforming bank loans stand at slightly more than 1 trillion yuan. However, it is strongly believed the actual figure is several times larger.

The liquidation of zombie companies is indispensable to reforming China’s state-owned firms by shifting their central businesses from the public to private sector. However, if the issue of bad debts surfaces, it could trigger financial unrest.

Changes in the Chinese economy, and the issue of Britain’s exit from the European Union, pose a risk to the global economy. How can China maintain the sensitive balance between reform and business?

It is essential for the many Japanese firms that conduct business transactions with China to take responsive measures while closely monitoring how the matter evolves.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 18, 2016)

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2016年7月19日 (火)

トルコ軍反乱 鎮圧が国民融和につながるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Would suppression of military revolt in Turkey lead to reconciliation?
トルコ軍反乱 鎮圧が国民融和につながるか

The attempt by Turkish forces to use arms and overthrow a government chosen through a democratic process cannot possibly be condoned. There is a pressing need for the interested parties to exercise restraint so further bloodshed will be averted.

Some military troops attempted a coup through such actions as deploying tanks and occupying broadcasting stations in Turkey’s capital of Ankara and its largest city of Istanbul. There were clashes of arms and explosions, resulting in a large number of casualties. Large bridges connecting Europe and Asia and arterial roads were temporarily closed.

Military and police forces supporting the government have nearly quelled the rebel troops. The coup attempt ended in failure, with many soldiers killed or detained. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized that the coup attempt had been quashed, saying he was “in control” of the situation.

It was only natural for the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and others to express support for the Turkish government and call for the restoration of order. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “I’m concerned about the situation.” The Japanese government must strive to secure the safety of Japanese residents in Turkey in case the turmoil continues for an extended period.

One of the factors behind the latest revolt seems to be that part of the military was dissatisfied with the measures implemented to reduce their power, including constitutional amendment, at a time when the Erdogan administration has become even more religious.

Turkey has stood by its national principle of secularism — the separation of religion and politics — since Kemal Ataturk, who hailed from the military, was installed as the first president of the country in 1923.

History of coups

The military see themselves as “the defenders of secularism.” They have staged coups in the past, too, citing the government’s Islamization and political corruption as the reasons for their actions.

At the helm of a moderate Islamic party, Erdogan became prime minister in 2003 and president in 2014. Based on his initiative to achieve economic growth, Erdogan has implemented policy measures marked by a tilt toward Muslims, such as a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at night.

The problem is that Erdogan’s iron-fisted approach is heightening friction within the country.

Antigovernment demonstrations have been cracked down on, and control has been exercised over organs of public opinion critical of the government. Fighting against armed groups of separatist Kurds has turned into a quagmire, and little headway has been made in preventing terrorist attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other militant groups.

There will be no hope of stabilizing the political situation unless Erdogan facilitates reconciliation with secularists.

Turkey has allowed U.S. forces to use military bases for a campaign by the coalition of the willing to uproot the ISIL group. The country also plays an important role in hindering the movement of foreign ISIL fighters.

Turkey has also been asked to promote cooperation with the EU in dealing with the issue of Syrian refugees staying in that country despite wanting to leave for Europe.

It is indispensable for the international community, including Japan, to become actively involved in this respect, a task essential for preventing the latest incident from further exacerbating the situation in the Middle East.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 17, 2016)

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2016年7月18日 (月)

アジア欧州会議 中国は国際法に背を向けるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Countries should work together to urge China not to reject international law
アジア欧州会議 中国は国際法に背を向けるな

It cannot be overlooked that China is disregarding the court of arbitration’s decision, which fully dismissed Beijing’s claims regarding its sovereignty over the South China Sea.

It is crucial for countries concerned to work together to continue to urge Beijing to follow the ruling.

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) ended its summit by adopting a chairperson’s statement that mentioned the importance of solving disputes based on the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The document refrained from making a direct reference to the South China Sea, in consideration of Beijing. This is in a way unavoidable because documents, in principle, have to be adopted unanimously.

We welcome the fact that many leaders discussed the South China Sea issue during the summit and expressed support for maintaining maritime order based on the rule of law.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized that the ruling was “final and legally binding for countries concerned in the dispute.” We regard his comments as a matter of course.

It was questionable that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during a meeting with Abe, said once again that his country rejected the ruling. “Japan should not make a fuss about and intervene in the South China Sea issue,” Li said.

Beijing dismissed the arbitration proceedings as a “political farce” and even described the ruling as “paper waste.” The country has been repeating landing tests by civilian aircraft at airports on artificial islands it has constructed in the Spratly Islands, with the aim of making its effective control over the South China Sea a fait accompli.

Unworthy of UNSC

Beijing has been heightening regional tensions even further by turning its back on the international court’s decision. Such self-serving actions and statements are unworthy of a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, which is responsible for regional stability.

Beijing claimed that it was unfair that Shunji Yanai, then president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, appointed four arbitration court judges in charge of the South China Sea case. However, we regard this as unreasonable.

Experts were chosen as judges for the case based on procedures under UNCLOS. It is China’s boycotting of the procedures that is the problem.

China is staging a propaganda campaign to justify itself by claiming that more than 70 countries support its position. We suspect this action indicates how desperate Beijing is about becoming isolated in the international community.

It is of no small significance that the chairperson’s statement expressed a resolve to prevent violent extremism, following the terrorist attacks in Nice, France, and Bangladesh.

Armed groups and others are committing attacks in many parts of the world in response to calls by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant organization. In the medium and long term, it is important to work together in coping with social issues that can serve as hotbeds of extremism, such as employment measures for younger generations.

In the economic field, the summit focused on stabilizing the global economy, which has been shaken since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

It is reasonable that the statement confirmed that countries are ready to use all their policy tools: monetary, fiscal and structural reforms.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 17, 2016)

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2016年7月17日 (日)

仏車突入テロ 祝祭を標的にした新手の蛮行

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Using truck as a terror weapon during celebrations a heinous act
仏車突入テロ 祝祭を標的にした新手の蛮行

It was an unforgivable, heinous act of terrorism that targeted people celebrating Bastille Day, which commemorates the French Revolution and is France’s most important holiday.

A heavy truck drove onto a promenade in Nice, a Mediterranean resort city in southeastern France, traveling about two kilometers while mowing down a crowd of people watching fireworks. The attack took the lives of many people, including children.

The driver was shot dead after exchanging fire with police officers. According to sources, he was identified as a 31-year-old Tunisian-born Frenchman who lived in Nice. He had a criminal record of theft, but was not under police surveillance.

This attack is categorized as a mass murder on a soft target — the man chose a lightly guarded place where large numbers of the general public gather. What makes the matter even more serious is the fact the incident was caused by a new type of “weapon” — a truck, which is relatively easy to acquire.

The French government began investigating the incident after concluding it was a terrorist attack. We hope the government will swiftly discover the overall picture of the situation, including the background and the man’s motive.

The attack dealt an immeasurable blow to France.

“France was hit on its National Day, July 14, the symbol of freedom,” French President Francois Hollande said, while expressing his resolve not to succumb to terrorism. We believe he made his remarks with the significance of the French Revolution — the people’s revolution in the 18th century — in mind.

Difficulty ensuring security

France had just finished hosting the European Championship soccer tournament under heavy security, and was scheduled to lift a state of emergency late this month, which was imposed after the November coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris.

The fact that a major terrorist attack took place at such a time in a regional city underscored the difficulty of ensuring security.

“The whole of France is under the threat of Islamist terrorism,” Hollande said.

The French government will extend the state of emergency for another three months, and tighten its security through such measures as calling up its military reserves. It is also important to review the nation’s program of surveillance of an estimated several thousand potential terrorists.

The European Union nations agreed to reinforce their public security cooperation at a summit meeting last month. The aftershock of Britain’s decision to exit from the EU should not stall the organization’s efforts against terrorism.

It was totally appropriate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in Mongolia to participate in a summit meeting of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), to say, “Despicable acts of terrorism that involve innocent people are absolutely unforgivable.” Other world leaders also sent a string of messages expressing their unity with France’s fight against terrorism.

In Bangladesh, the attack by gunmen that took place earlier this month at a restaurant made it clear that terrorism caused by Islamic extremists is also spreading in Asia.

The ASEM meeting should be utilized as an opportunity to deepen cooperation on measures against terrorism between Asia and Europe.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 16, 2016)

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2016年7月14日 (木)

Emperor Akihito expresses intention to abdicate: gov't source

July 13, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Emperor Akihito expresses intention to abdicate: gov't source

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are pictured in Manila in this Jan. 28, 2016 file photo. (Mainichi)

Emperor Akihito has expressed his intention to abdicate, making way for his son Crown Prince Naruhito to ascend the Chrysanthemum throne, a government source has disclosed.

The Emperor conveyed his intention to a person close to the Imperial Household Agency, according to the government source. He is said to have expressed his intention to abdicate within several years.

The Imperial Household Agency is making arrangements for the Emperor to publicly express his intention in the near future. As the Imperial House Law does not contain stipulations on the Emperor's abdication, discussion will likely begin over revisions to the legislation.

Emperor Akihito, 82, is Japan's 125th emperor. After undergoing heart surgery in February 2012, he had his official duties reduced, including Imperial rituals. However, he has continued to perform numerous duties, including matters of state as stipulated in the Constitution, visiting areas affected by earthquakes and other disasters, and meeting with foreign heads of state.

According to informed sources, the Emperor does not wish to have his duties drastically reduced, nor remain in his position while leaving his duties to a substitute. He also believes that a person who can sufficiently perform his duties as a symbol of the state as stipulated in the Constitution should remain on the Chrysanthemum throne. The Emperor is said to have conveyed his intentions to Empress Michiko, Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino.

Emperor Akihito ascended the throne in 1989 as the first emperor to do so under the post-World War II Constitution, which stipulates that "The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people." During a press conference marking his ascension to the throne, which he attended with Empress Michiko, Emperor Akihito said, "I want to fulfill my duties as Emperor that are laid out in the Constitution to work for the happiness of the people and to have a monarchy that is fitting for the present age."

He has continually pursued ways to carry out his role as the symbol of the state including visits to facilities for disabled people and areas affected by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and other disasters.

At a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of his ascension to the throne, he said, "It is our important duty to empathize with disabled and elderly people, those affected by disasters, as well as those who dedicate themselves to society and the people."

The Imperial Household Agency has pursued ways to reduce the burden on Emperor Akihito as he has grown older. The agency announced in January 2009 that the Emperor would stop issuing statements in a large number of ceremonies after he developed a heartbeat irregularity, and suffered other illnesses apparently caused by mental stress in December 2008.

The Emperor underwent coronary-artery bypass surgery in February 2012. Nevertheless, he attended memorial services for victims of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami held shortly afterwards. At a news conference prior to his 79th birthday, Emperor Akihito said he wanted to stay active for the time being.

At the same time, the Emperor has begun to hand over some duties to Crown Prince Naruhito. His last visits to facilities as part of his official duties were in 2014, on the occasions of Children's Day and Respect-for-the-Aged Day. In May this year, the agency further reviewed Emperor Akihito's official duties, cancelling eight planned meetings with the heads of national and local governments.

It was not unheard-of among the past 124 emperors to abdicate and hand over the Imperial throne to their successors while they were alive, according to the Imperial Household Agency. The last emperor to do so, however, was Emperor Kokaku, who was on the throne from 1780 to 1817 during the late Edo Period.

In royal families in European countries, it is not unusual for the monarch to hand over his or her throne to a successor. In 2013, then Netherlands Queen Beatrix, who has friendly relations with the Japanese Imperial Family, and Pope Benedict XVI abdicated, drawing worldwide attention.

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2016年7月13日 (水)

自公が国政選4連勝 「後出し改憲」に信はない

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 11
EDITORIAL: Election victory is not a mandate to change the Constitution
(社説)自公が国政選4連勝 「後出し改憲」に信はない

The outcome of the July 10 Upper House election has turned out to be a watershed in the nation's postwar politics.

In the 1956 Upper House election, the Socialists, along with other parties, erected a sort of legislative wall by securing more than one-third of the seats to prevent the newly formed Liberal Democratic Party from carrying out its pledge to amend the Constitution.
Six decades on, the wall in the Upper House has now crumbled. It had already gone in the Lower House.

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner, Komeito, won a crushing victory in the election. The four pro-amendment parties, which include Initiatives from Osaka, together with some independent members who support the idea but didn’t face election this year, now control more than two-thirds of the chamber. The LDP and Komeito already have a two-thirds majority in the Lower House. Constitutional amendments can be initiated by the Diet through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each chamber.

Rewriting the Constitution, of course, is a very complicated political challenge, and these numbers don’t mean the process will move forward immediately.

The four pro-amendment parties have widely different political agendas. Komeito, in particular, is increasingly cautious about pushing through any initiative to amend the Constitution.

There is, however, no doubt that debate on constitutional amendments will gain traction in the Diet in the coming months as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to activate the Commission on the Constitution in both houses during the next Diet session. In the process, the prospects of actual changes in the Constitution will increase gradually.

This is the first time that the postwar Constitution faces a realistic possibility of amendments being made. It’s nothing less than a critical turning point for Japan’s postwar politics.


Before the election campaign kicked off, Abe expressed his desire to carry out constitutional amendments while he was in office. But he avoided addressing the issue head-on during the campaign.

The election is now over, and Abe is again ratcheting up his rhetoric about constitutional change.
We have to say Abe's approach to realize his long-held political aspiration is insincere.

Exactly what kind of message did Japanese voters send out in the poll?

Abe said the key election issues were the appropriateness of his decision to again postpone a rise in the consumption tax rate and whether his economic policy, known as "Abenomics," should be promoted further.

As for the consumption tax rate increase, Katsuya Okada, president of the main opposition Democratic Party, had already called for it to be delayed before Abe announced his decision. The party pointed to the limitations of Abenomics but failed to offer a convincing alternative.

The LDP, on the other hand, promised to achieve a “virtuous cycle of growth and distribution,” a slogan that is reminiscent of the Democratic Party’s pledge to pursue both “distribution and growth.”

The opposition parties focused their campaigning on blocking the Abe administration’s bid to amend the Constitution. But the prime minister did not respond to their challenge.

There was no detailed debate on energy policy, which is facing the crucial decision of whether to promote or phase out nuclear power generation.

All in all, the election campaign was short on vital elements that could strongly affect voters’ decisions at the ballot box.

Abe argued that his efforts to revitalize the economy through Abenomics have not been a failure, but still have a long way to go. Many voters may have cast ballots for the status quo in a “wait-and-see” stance even though they were not fully sold on Abe’s argument.


Why did Abe not talk much about his desire to amend the Constitution?

He has probably learned a lesson from his bitter experience with regard to the 2007 Upper House election, when he campaigned on a pledge to seek the initiation of constitutional amendments in 2010. He resigned after the ruling party took a drubbing in the poll.

Abe apparently thought that the more he talked eagerly about his wish to rewrite the Constitution in specific terms the more likely the public would react negatively to his case.

Abe also pointed out that any proposal to amend the Constitution has to be approved by the public through a national referendum and said it was not vital to discuss the issue in an election campaign.

But he is wrong. The due process of amending the Constitution should be composed of three stages. First, a specific proposal to change the Constitution should be made a key topic for an election. Then, the elected representatives of the people should have mature debate on the proposal at the Diet for the purpose of building broad consensus. And finally, the proposal should be put to a national referendum for public approval.

If he really believes it is not necessary to listen to the people’s opinions about a proposal to amend the Constitution until the Diet initiates the amendment, Abe has the wrong idea about to whom the Constitution belongs.

Abe himself has admitted that there is no agreement on which provision should be amended first. This is clear evidence that there is no urgent need to change the Constitution.

The outcome of the election doesn’t at all mean Abe has a public mandate to amend the Constitution.


Whether he will immediately start taking steps toward constitutional amendments or not, it is certain that Abe now has a very strong power base after four consecutive wins in national elections.

This is not simply about the ruling camp’s overwhelming majority in both houses. Since he returned to power in December 2012, Abe has appointed individuals he favors for posts that should be independent of political power, such as the Bank of Japan governor, the chief of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau and the governors of Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK).

Abe is also putting unprecedented political pressure on appointments to senior posts at ministries and agencies through the Cabinet bureau of personnel affairs.

There is no political force in the nation’s governing system that can counter or check the huge political power Abe has amassed.

Meanwhile, four opposition parties, including the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, fielded their unified candidates for all of the 32 single-seat constituencies in the election. They formed an electoral alliance for the common goals of repealing the national security legislation and thwarting Abe’s attempt to amend the Constitution.
The opposition alliance has proved effective, at least to a certain degree. But it has failed to shape up as a powerful national movement that can give a unified voice to public criticism about the Abe administration.

As the election campaigning entered its final stage, the opposition coalition came under fierce attack from the ruling camp, which denounced their partnership as an unprincipled coalition for political convenience. In particular, the ruling camp roundly criticized the Democratic Party and its non-communist allies for campaigning with the JCP, which regards the existence of the Self-Defense Forces as unconstitutional.

If they hadn’t formed the alliance, however, they would have lost in even more of the single-seat constituencies. Their electoral cooperation has been meaningful from this point of view.

Under the current election system, nearly 300 of the 475 Lower House seats are contested in single-seat constituencies. Single-seat constituencies are also vital for the overall outcomes of Upper House elections.
An electoral alliance is undoubtedly the most effective way for smaller opposition parties to fight against the dominant ruling camp under this system.

The opposition parties need to figure out an effective formula for their alliance for the next Lower House election, which will enable voters to choose their government.
If they fail to do so, the LDP is likely to continue winning overwhelming election victories.

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2016年7月 9日 (土)

part of my lifework as a musician

Coffee Break (wma file 01 to 13)
I will present my favorite wma music to those who might be tired in editing postings.
I play classical guitar and the attached wma music are for classical guitar except no.1, romance by Faure.
Thank you.




(1) Romance by G.Faure (France) 
(2) Yesterday by the Beatles (England)
(3) Killing me softly with his song by words:norman gimbel music:charles fox (U.S.A. ?)
(4) Un Sueno En La Floresta by Agustin Pio Barrios Mangore  (1885-1944)(Paraguay?)


(5) Angostura-Vals Venezolano(Venezuelan Walts) by Antonio Lauro  (1917-1986)(Venezuela)
(6) Pavane-Capricho, Op.12 (Guitar arr. by Tarrega) by ALBENIZ, Isaac (1860-1909) (Spain)
(7) Sor-study no.19 (selected by Andress Segovia) op.29-no.13  by Fernando Sor (1778-1839)(Spain)
(8) Pavane for a Dead Princess by Joseph Maurice Ravel  (1875-1937)(France)
(9) Dedicatoria by Enrique Granados  (1867-1916) (Spain)
(10) Prelude No 5 - A419/5 ? by Heitor Villa-Lobos  (1887-1959) (Brazil)
(11) Js Bach-suite for unaccompanied cello no.6 in D, bwv 1012 by Johan Sevastian Bach  (1685-1750) (Germany)

(12) Pastral by Joaquin Rodrigo  (Joaquin Rodrigo)  (1901-1999)(Spain)
(13) Prelude no.1 by Manuel Maria Ponce  (1882-1948)(Mexico)

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2016年7月 8日 (金)

1st typhoon of season expected to bring heavy winds, rain to southwestern Japan

July 7, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
1st typhoon of season expected to bring heavy winds, rain to southwestern Japan

Nepartak, a fierce typhoon and the first of the season, was moving northwest south of the Sakishima islands in Okinawa Prefecture as of the morning of July 7.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the powerful storm has a central pressure of 900 hectopascals and winds gusting up to 60 meters per second near the core. The typhoon will probably bring winds of at least 15 meters per second to the Sakishima islands, and make landfall on Taiwan on the morning of July 8.

The storm is expected to draw closest to the Sakishima islands between the evening of July 7 and the pre-dawn hours of July 8. It is predicted that waves will reach around 9 meters high and winds will hit speeds of up to 25 meters per second by the morning of July 8.

The JMA is calling on residents not to go near the ocean.

Okinawa's main island, meanwhile, has been covered in clouds from the outer rim of the typhoon, and is likely to see heavy rains of up to 50 millimeters per hour through the evening of July 7. Damp air has made its way to southern Kyushu as well, bringing unstable weather to the region. The Amami region is expected to see rain until July 8.

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2016年7月 6日 (水)

Victim of Dhaka terror attack volunteered in Japan and abroad

July 5, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Victim of Dhaka terror attack volunteered in Japan and abroad

As a government plane carrying the bodies of seven Japanese hostages killed in a terrorist attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh, arrived at Haneda Airport on the morning of July 5, among the white-draped coffins it carried was the body of 27-year-old Rui Shimodaira, who had been an active volunteer both in Japan and abroad since she was a student.

Shimodaira graduated from Shibaura Institute of Technology's School of Architecture and went on to study social engineering in graduate school at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, during which time she studied abroad in Thailand. She was involved with the activities of the NPO Japan team of young Human Power since when she was a second-year university student. In March 2009 she was part of a group of about 20 people from this NPO who went to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and to the country's northwest city of Battambang, where together with her fellow volunteers she built swings for elementary schools.

The head of the NPO's secretariat, Masayoshi Kiyokuni, 45, who also took part in these activities, remembers well how amid scorching temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius Shimodaira still stepped forward to engage in physical labor.

"During breaks she was friendly with the children, and she was mindful of those around her," he recalls.

After returning to Japan, Shimodaira reportedly said of her volunteer experience, "I got back more than I gave." After the Great East Japan Earthquake, from April to May of 2011 she did volunteer work in the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, to clean photographs pulled from the tsunami rubble so they could be returned to their owners.

Shimodaira gained employment at Almec Corp., an architectural consultant company, in order to help the progress of developing countries. When Kiyokuni learned that Shimodaira had gotten this job, he says he felt, "Her volunteer activities until now and her research at university and graduate school will all prove useful. This is a job that she chose of her own desire."

Kiyokuni mourned Shimodaira's death in the Dhaka attack, saying, "She must have still had many things she wanted to do in her life."

Professor Hideaki Shimura at Shibaura Institute of Technology, who gave Shimodaira guidance for her graduation research, says, "She was a brave student of action. She had a clear goal of wanting to work in developing countries."

Even after graduating, Shimodaira would give undergraduates advice on studying abroad and finding work, says Shimura.

"I had been looking forward to what she could accomplish in the future. We lost a precious, capable person," he says.

The 69-year-old owner of a dry cleaning shop in the city of Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture, near the home where Shimodaira grew up who knew Shimodaira since she was a child says, "When she was little she would often bring laundry here. She was a very cheerful and modest child."

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2016年7月 5日 (火)


丸々もとお 氏が代表理事を務める夜景観光コンベンション・ビューローですが、日本の夜景観光をつかさどるトップクラスと称して差し支えないでしょう。



東日本最大級のイルミネーション開幕! 「アパリゾート上越妙高イルミネーション」グランドオープン!


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オンライン英会話 はネット上にたくさん見かけることができますが、こと専門分野の英会話を集中的に学習するのでしたら、オンライン英会話「スキマトーク」がベストではないでしょうか。それには理由があります。


うれしいサービスとして、 2カ月先まで予約できる新プランがあります。

国内最大級のネイティブオンライン英会話「スキマトーク」、 2カ月先まで予約できる新プランをリリース。月額8,500円~。


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Bodies of Dhaka terrorist attack victims arrive in Japan

July 5, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Bodies of Dhaka terrorist attack victims arrive in Japan

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A government plane carrying the bodies of seven Japanese victims of the terror attack in Bangladesh returned to Japan on Tuesday morning, with the victims' relatives also aboard the aircraft.

The Air Self-Defense Force jet landed at Tokyo's Haneda airport shortly before 6 a.m., after leaving Bangladesh's capital Dhaka on Monday evening.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda laid flowers and held a moment of silence in front of the caskets unloaded onto the tarmac.

"It is extremely regrettable that precious lives were lost in a savage and heinous terrorist attack," Kishida told reporters afterward. "I felt deep sorrow and strong indignation."

The victims were Makoto Okamura, 32, Yuko Sakai, 42, and Rui Shimodaira, 27, all of whom worked for Tokyo-based construction consulting company Almec Corp.; Hideki Hashimoto, 65, Nobuhiro Kurosaki, 48, and Hiroshi Tanaka, 80, who worked for Tokyo-based consulting firm Oriental Consultants Global Co.; and Koyo Ogasawara, 56, an employee of Katahira & Engineers International.

Tamaoki Watanabe, who was among the 13 people rescued when police stormed the restaurant, is recovering from a gunshot wound. The sole Japanese survivor of the attack, who is in his 40s, returned to Tokyo on a small jet early Tuesday morning.

Police are planning to conduct postmortems on the victims to ascertain the precise cause of death as they launch a murder investigation.

The government will hold a meeting of Cabinet ministers in the morning to discuss the case.

Twenty hostages including nine Italians and one person each from the United States and India as well as the seven Japanese were killed after heavily armed Islamist militants attacked a restaurant frequented by expatriates in Dhaka on Friday evening.

Six attackers were shot dead and one captured when police stormed the restaurant on Saturday. Two police officers were also killed, while 13 hostages were rescued.

The relatives of the Japanese victims and survivor left for Dhaka on the government plane on Saturday evening.

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2016年7月 4日 (月)


サラリーマンの経費精算 に関する実態調査」の結果と考察が発表されたのです。




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新しい発想の転換が生み出した、異次元加齢臭対策 加齢臭対策スプレー『薬用 DEO 35』


加齢臭 につき、新しい話題を発見しました。
それは、ニオイ対策専門ブランド『ドクターデオドラント』の、 加齢臭対策スプレー『薬用 DEO 35』(デオサンジュウゴ)』です。

加齢臭対策スプレー『薬用 DEO 35』(デオサンジュウゴ)』は、お風呂上がりにスプレーすれば、その効果が翌日まで丸1日続きます。

ニオイ対策専門ブランド『ドクターデオドラント』が、 加齢臭対策スプレー『薬用 DEO 35』(デオサンジュウゴ)』を発売。 お風呂上がりから翌日まで丸1日加齢臭を強力に抑える!


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社労士事務所のプライバシーマーク(Pマーク)取得 ならば、ユーピーエフが一番です。


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「#Qoo10夏ランキング」インスタグラム、ツイッター投稿キャンペーンを開催! ジオシス合同会社

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香山リカのココロの万華鏡 : 選挙で大人の階段上る /東京

July 3, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Voting is Japanese youths' new rite of passage
香山リカのココロの万華鏡 : 選挙で大人の階段上る /東京

Revisions to the Public Offices Election Law lowering the legal voting age to 18 from 20 came into effect this year, just in time for the July 10 House of Councillors election.

There are some people who wonder if 18-year-olds, most of whom are still in high school, are capable of choosing a candidate and voting properly, but I for one am in favor of the new voting age. I think it's excellent that young people now have the chance to express their strong opinions about our society.

However, to the question, "Is an 18-year-old really an adult who can formulate a solid opinion?" I would have to answer "no." Until the present era, the psychology community considered 18 to be the age when a person had more or less got a good grasp on what kind of person they were. They were ready to start work, or go onto more specific study in university, or to begin looking for their life partner.

But what about now? I believe that there are very few 18-year-olds now who have a firm idea of who they are, or who can make solid decisions grounded in their own will about study and work. From this perspective, it's understandable to think that 18 is too early an age to start voting.

However, that begs the question: "How old does a person need to be to make their own decisions?" There are more and more people these days who declare that, though they are legal adults, they are still "searching" for themselves. There are ever more people in their 30s, 40s or even 50s who come to my practice and tell me, "I can't find myself. I've tried a lot of different things, but I just can't think of a job or a lifestyle that's really me."

There are others whose sons or daughters have started their adult lives, and the parents ask me, "Will my kids be OK?" Some admit to being so concerned they call the companies their children work for.

That being the case, I think we ought to give 18-year-olds -- many of them nearing graduation from high school -- the vote, simply to say to them, "All right, now is the time to use your head. You ought to be able to make a choice for now (in an election)." This will usher them into adulthood, a full member of adult society, hopefully sparking a new self-awareness. Then parents, too, may be able to tell themselves that their teenage child, heading out to vote, has become an independent individual.

I'd like to add that today's young people have spent their entire lives in a Japan that is struggling economically, and have a pretty good idea of what the world has in store for them. As the world goes through its upheavals, there are many young people who have used the free flow of information across our planet to develop a real globalist sense.

I have high expectations of the coming upper house election and its newly enfranchised 18- and 19-year-old voters. We have to somehow get adults who say they have "no interest in politics or elections" involved again, too.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist) (精神科医)

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2016年7月 3日 (日)

Bangladesh Attack Suggests a Continuing Shift by ISIS

New York Times
Bangladesh Attack Suggests a Continuing Shift by ISIS

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladeshi troops stormed an upscale restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter on Saturday, ending an 11-hour standoff with gunmen who had hacked patrons to death and sent photos of the carnage to the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

The authorities said 20 hostages, most of them foreigners, had been killed in the siege, the deadliest and boldest in an accelerating series of attacks by Islamist militants that have shaken the country’s secular underpinnings.

But this assault, along with recent attacks in other countries, including the shooting in Orlando, Fla., are viewed by Western intelligence officials as bloody examples that as the Islamic State loses territory in Iraq and Syria, it has increasingly turned to directing and inspiring terrorist missions elsewhere around the world.

Most of the victims in Dhaka were “ferociously” attacked with sharp weapons, a military spokesman said. A kitchen worker who escaped said the attackers had been armed with pistols, swords and bombs.

A team of army commandos rescued 13 hostages and killed six attackers in the raid on Saturday morning, the military said. A seventh attacker was arrested.

The government said Saturday that the dead hostages were nine Italians, seven Japanese, an Indian, two Bangladeshis and an American.

At least 30 people were wounded, mostly from shrapnel. Two police officers were killed in the initial standoff, the authorities said.

“Islamic State commandos attack a restaurant frequented by foreigners in the city of Dhaka in Bangladesh,” Amaq, an information outlet linked to the Islamic State, said Friday. Early Saturday, the group posted photographs of what it said were the bodies of foreigners who had been killed.

The Bangladeshi soldiers, backed by armored vehicles, swept into the restaurant, the Holey Artisan Bakery, at 7:40 a.m.

The entire operation took 12 or 13 minutes, Brig. Gen. Nayeem Ashfaque Chowdhury, the head of military operations in Bangladesh, said at a news conference. However, gunfire and explosions were heard outside the restaurant for about 40 minutes.

Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, was locked down on Saturday, with checkpoints every few blocks stopping cars and pedestrians.

The attacks have raised fears that the once-moderate country is in the grip of a wave of violence coordinated by international terrorist groups, although the government has insisted that the attacks are committed by local groups and not coordinated by outside forces.

The government recently concluded a crackdown in which more than 10,000 people were arrested, 194 of them reportedly connected with local militant networks.

The scale and level of coordination of Friday’s attack should force the government to reconsider its position that the militancy is locally run, critics said.

“The continuous denial of the presence of local militant group connections with international terror groups has not been helpful,” said Ali Riaz, a professor of political science at Illinois State University and an expert on South Asian politics. “What we’re witnessing can’t be small groups coming together. It is clearly a very coordinated attack. If this doesn’t convince them to come out of denial, then I don’t know what will.”

Bangladeshi detectives debriefed the surviving hostages. One of them, Sat Prakash, an Indian physician who worked in a nearby clinic, escaped shortly before the army raid. He complained in a telephone interview that he was exhausted from a terrifying, sleepless night and should not have been forced to endure round after round of questioning right after his release.

“I can’t believe we’re being held for so long after the night we’ve had,” he said. He declined to discuss what had happened during the attack.

The Western intelligence officials acknowledge that they now face a challenging and vicious transformation in the Islamic State: The terrorist group that burst onto the scene by professing to create a religious state is increasingly becoming a larger, more sophisticated version of its stateless rival, Al Qaeda.

The military solutions to combating the Islamic State, mostly air and ground strikes in Iraq and Syria, remain important, officials say. But those traditional military efforts now are just one approach, since deterring, preventing and dealing with threats against far-flung and chiefly civilian targets is a growing priority for law enforcement and intelligence services.

One of the first victims to be publicly identified in the Dhaka attack was Tarishi Jain, 19, of India. Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister of external affairs, said Ms. Jain was a student at the University of California, Berkeley, and a graduate of the American International School in Dhaka.

“I have spoken to her father Shri Sanjeev Jain and conveyed our deepest condolences,” Ms. Swaraj wrote on Twitter. “The country is with them in this hour of grief.”

Emory University identified the slain American as Abinta Kabir, a sophomore who lived in Miami. The university also said an Emory junior, Faraaz Hossain, had also been killed. He was from Dhaka.

Armed men entered the restaurant, where about 20 foreigners were dining, about 8:45 p.m. on Friday, Sumon Reza, the kitchen worker, told reporters. The attackers shouted “God is great” before opening fire and detonating several explosives, he said.

A cook, Sumir Barai, said he had taken refuge with several other employees in a tiny bathroom.

Mr. Barai, 28, said two men, one carrying a gun and the other a knife, had forced them to open the door. The men, speaking in Bengali, lectured the employees on the importance of praying and reading the Quran. The men then herded the employees back into the bathroom, and let them out again shortly before soldiers raided the restaurant.

Mr. Barai said one of the militants had pointed to bodies on the floor, saying, “The same thing is going to happen to us now,” suggesting that the militants knew they were going to die.”

The restaurant’s chef, Diego Rossini, an Argentine, told C5N, a television network in Argentina, that four to six young men, who appeared to be in their early 20s, had entered with a big bag of weaponry, including grenades and long rifles.

Mr. Rossini was able to escape to the roof and hide there. “They came looking for me, and I had to throw myself to the next building,” he said.

At least 40 people have been killed in attacks by Islamist militants in this Muslim-majority country since 2013. Most were carried out with machetes and first targeted atheist bloggers, then religious minorities, gay activists, foreigners and others.

The Islamic State and a local branch of Al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for many of the attacks. The Islamic State is known to have claimed responsibility for 18 of them, most perpetrated against religious minorities, including Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.

The Holey Artisan Bakery, in Dhaka’s Gulshan neighborhood, is popular with expatriates, diplomats and middle-class families.

Mr. Reza, the kitchen worker, said he and another employee had escaped by jumping from the second floor.

“They blasted several crude bombs, causing wide-scale panic among everyone,” Mr. Reza told a Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star. “I managed to flee during this confusion.”

During the standoff, the police erected a cordon around the restaurant, where relatives of those inside gathered to await information. Fazley Rahim Khan, a businessman, waited on the edge of the police line. He said he believed that his son Tahmid Hasib Khan, 22, was being held hostage.

Mr. Khan said Tahmid, a student in Canada, had just returned home on Friday for Ramadan. The family celebrated the iftar, the evening meal breaking the Ramadan fast, and then the son headed to the restaurant.

“I’m just praying to get back my son,” he said. The son survived, along with two of his friends, the police said.

At least two Sri Lankans were among the hostages, Harikesha Wijesekera, a former president of the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, and his wife, Shyama, according to the group’s current president, T. D. Packir.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said later that two Sri Lankan citizens had been rescued and were unharmed.

At least one Japanese citizen was among those rescued, Japan’s deputy chief cabinet secretary, Koichi Hagiuda, said at a news conference.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency said the Japanese were employees of three Tokyo-based companies that were working on a transportation project sponsored by the agency.

NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting network, identified the Japanese survivor as Tamaoki Watanabe. It quoted a hospital spokesman in Dhaka as saying that Mr. Watanabe had been shot in the face and was in surgery.

In recent interviews, John O. Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has been unusually blunt about the slow nature of progress in the fight against the Islamic State outside Syria and Iraq. He has voiced fears that allied policy is not keeping up with a formidable and resilient enemy that is accelerating its shift to a new phase of terrorism.

Correction: July 2, 2016 
A previous version of this article misidentified an employee of the restaurant. He is Sumir Barai, not Soumir Roy.

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2016年7月 2日 (土)

参院選 沖縄と日米 思考停止から脱却を

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 1
EDITORIAL: Japan, U.S. should abandon fixation on base plan in Okinawa
(社説)参院選 沖縄と日米 思考停止から脱却を

About 75 percent of all U.S. military facilities in Japan are located on Okinawa Prefecture, which accounts for only 0.6 percent of the nation’s land.
This fact has often been quoted to underscore the unfairly heavy burden of hosting U.S. bases borne by the southernmost prefecture.

Recently, however, U.S. Forces Japan made a surprise move to take exception to this description.

USFJ, headquartered in Tokyo, claimed in a posting on its Facebook page June 23 that it is “a misrepresentation of the facts” to say 75 percent or more of all American military facilities in Japan are located on Okinawa. The posting also said Okinawa, in fact, is home to only “39 percent of U.S. exclusive use facilities.”

Even if the “39 percent” figure is accurate in terms of the number of facilities, it is also an undeniable fact that the U.S. bases in Okinawa account for 74 percent of all American military facilities in Japan in terms of area.

Both the prefecture and the Japanese government have been using this number as an indicator of the burden shouldered by Okinawa.

There are certainly many ways to look at the reality. But it is odd to hear the USFJ claim that the 74 percent version distorts the facts.

The U.S. military deserves criticism for failing to recognize the excessive burden imposed on Okinawa. This argument could only widen a rift that should be narrowed.

Japan’s security alliance with the United States doesn’t work unless there is solid mutual trust among the three parties involved--Okinawa Prefecture, the Japanese government and the U.S. government.

The situation surrounding the U.S. bases in Okinawa can only be described as critical for many reasons. There are simply too many U.S. bases in the island prefecture, which has been plagued by an endless series of crimes and accidents linked to the U.S. military.
Meanwhile, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been recalcitrant about pushing through the proposed relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan in central Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district of Nago, another city in the prefecture.

Both the Japanese and U.S. governments should confront the reality that it is difficult to carry out the relocation plan in the face of strong opposition from people in Okinawa. This view is shared by some experts in both Japan and the United States.

In June, a third-party panel named the Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council, which had been trying to mediate a legal dispute between the central government and Okinawa over the Futenma relocation plan, stopped short of taking sides and urged further talks.
The Okinawa prefectural government had asked the council to judge the appropriateness of a request by Keiichi Ishii, the minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, to retract the Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga’s revocation of his predecessor's approval of land reclamation work off Henoko.

Explaining the council’s decision, Mitsuo Kobayakawa, the panel’s chairman, said: “We did not think that making a decision in either direction would contribute to the construction of the proper relationship between the central and local governments.
“The best path for both sides to take is to hold sincere talks to achieve their common goal of Futenma’s return (to Japan) and make efforts to find an answer acceptable (for both).”

The Abe administration should take these words seriously. It should spare no effort to hold constructive dialogue with Okinawa Prefecture.

In the campaign for the July 10 Upper House election, the ruling and opposition camps are at loggerheads over the issue.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has pledged to carry through the Futenma relocation plan. The four opposition parties--the Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends--have proposed to “call off the plan to build a new military base in Henoko against the public will in Okinawa.”

The political impasse over the issue needs to be broken. Tokyo and Washington should abandon their blind adherence to the view that a Futenma replacement facility in Henoko is the only option. They should scrap the current relocation plan and review the scale and functions of U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa to transfer part of the functions out of the prefecture or out of Japan.

Given that the U.S. military has been promoting rotating deployments of Marines to Australia and the Philippines, there should be a way to ease the burden on Okinawa while maintaining deterrence.

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2016年7月 1日 (金)

農業政策 TPP前提に競争力を高めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Agricultural sector should get competitive with an eye on TPP
農業政策 TPP前提に競争力を高めよ

To revive the nation’s agricultural sector, it is vital to take aggressive measures such as expanding exports and promoting large-scale farming.

For the upcoming House of Councillors election, parties should compete in presenting forward-looking policies to allow future generations to have brighter prospects.

The focus of contention is how to deal with the agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact reached by 12 countries including Japan and the United States.

According to government estimates, the TPP framework will generate economic benefits exceeding ¥13 trillion, largely thanks to increases in exports of manufactured products. On the other hand, agricultural production is estimated to decrease by up to ¥210 billion annually. Those engaged in the agricultural sector have strong concerns over the inflow of inexpensive foreign products.

In its campaign pledges, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party presents a measure the government will take to adjust supply and demand when the trade pact goes into effect, under which domestically grown rice would be purchased for reserves in the same amount as imported foreign produce. The pledges also seek to achieve the current goal of increasing exports of farm, forest and marine products to ¥1 trillion before the originally set target date of 2020.

In 2015, the value of Japan’s exports of these products totaled ¥745.1 billion, rewriting a record high for three consecutive years. We believe that more open overseas markets under the TPP framework will contribute to expanding sales channels for Japanese products.

To encourage the agricultural sector to develop into an export-oriented industry, it will be necessary to help the sector develop brand-name produce and come up with specific measures to achieve “sixth industrialization,” which means engaging in the entire process from production to retail.

DP complaints unfounded

It is hard to understand that the Democratic Party opposes the latest agreement even though it aimed to take part in TPP talks while in power as the Democratic Party of Japan. The main opposition party argues that the accord fails to exempt sensitive categories of farm products — such as rice — as sanctuary items, while also deeming the negotiation process unclear.

However, Japan’s rate of tariff elimination on agricultural, forestry and fisheries products stands at 81 percent, far lower than the corresponding figures for its counterparts. The participating countries also agreed that they would not make details of the negotiation process public. The DP’s claims seem to miss the point.

For the upcoming election, a political organization set up by the JA agricultural cooperatives does not support LDP candidates, and many of its prefectural chapters have decided that it is up to each member to decide whom they will vote for. The decision has been prompted by frustration over the TPP agreement and the agricultural cooperatives reform.

We hope that parties will compete in coming up with concrete strategies for boosting global competitiveness in the agricultural sector, based on the assumption that the TPP framework goes into effect.

The DP’s promises to revive the scheme of providing subsidies for individual farms to support their incomes, a policy set while the DPJ was in power, is also questionable. Offering uniform subsidies to farmers, including tiny-scale or part-time ones, would run counter to the efforts to promote large-scale farming and improve its management.

The LDP pledges to increase budgets to support farming and agricultural communities, but is urged to look into cost-effectiveness to carefully select projects that can boost the agricultural sector to an advanced level.

The nation’s agricultural population stood at 2.09 million last year, having decreased as much as 20 percent over five years. To put a brake on this trend, it is vital to realize “profitable farming.” The LDP calls for reducing costs and switching to high-revenue items and growing methods, and we believe that it will be necessary to make all-out efforts for these targets.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 29, 2016)

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