日比首脳会談 中国の海洋権益拡大に警戒を

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan, Philippines must stay watchful over China’s maritime expansion
日比首脳会談 中国の海洋権益拡大に警戒を

Countries concerned should take concerted action and strengthen their cooperation over how to handle China’s continuing self-serving maritime advances.

In Laos, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has held his first talks with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and unveiled a plan to provide two 90-meter patrol vessels to Manila. The vessels will be constructed in Japan, financed through yen loans totaling up to about ¥16.4 billion and delivered to the Philippine Coast Guard.

The poor maritime security capabilities of nations facing the South China Sea have allowed China to unilaterally establish a military foothold in the region. Duterte expressed gratitude for the new ships, saying they would enable the Philippines to strengthen its patrols and boost its presence in the area.

Japan also is providing 10 40-meter patrol boats to the Philippines. Combined with these larger vessels, which are capable of traveling long distances, they should be effective in keeping China in check to a certain extent.

During the Abe-Duterte talks, Japan formally decided to lend up to five of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s TC-90 training aircraft to the Philippines. Japan will also help train the flight crews and maintain the aircraft, which will be useful in disaster relief operations and transporting supplies. We hope this support will be expanded in the future.

During the meeting, Duterte said the ruling handed down by an arbitration court that rejected China’s claims over the South China Sea should be respected. However, Duterte also said he was willing to have talks with China.

Scarborough Shoal a concern

It is said that China has refused to recognize the ruling and wants to bring about an advantageous agreement through bilateral negotiations with the Philippines. If Manila easily yields concessions on this issue, China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, and the militarization of those islands, could become an accomplished fact.

Establishing the rule of law in the South China Sea will benefit the entire international community. The Philippines needs to work closely with Japan, the United States and other nations with a stake in this issue.

It is worrying that China has dispatched dredging vessels and other equipment near Scarborough Shoal, which is close to the Philippines. There are fears China might start reclamation work around the shoal and construct an artificial island.

If China installs radar installations and builds a runway on the shoal, the range of its fighter jets would grow to cover the entire South China Sea. It also could lead to the establishment of an air defense identification zone.

It was regrettable that a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Duterte was canceled after Duterte insulted Obama with an offensive remark.

Strained U.S.-Philippine ties will only benefit China. We hope they quickly normalize relations.

Duterte’s foreign policies have yet to become clear, and a new administration will soon take office in the United States. It appears China is aiming to expand its maritime interests during this period.

The Obama administration has warned China that it will take unprecedentedly tough steps if China starts building an artificial island at Scarborough Shoal. To more effectively urge China to exercise self-restraint, it is important that the international community — not just the United States — shows unity and speaks up about this issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 8, 2016)


日中首脳会談 関係改善には緊張緩和が要る

The Yomiuri Shimbun
First ease tension to start improving bilateral ties between Japan and China
日中首脳会談 関係改善には緊張緩和が要る

For all the differences in what both sides assert, it is essential for Japan and China to make efforts to build trust through constructive dialogue.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou, China, on Monday and both agreed to work to improve ties between the two countries. It was their third bilateral talk and the first since April 2015.

Abe and Xi also agreed that the two countries will accelerate discussions on soon putting into operation a “maritime and air liaison mechanism” aimed at preventing accidental clashes between the Self-Defense Forces and Chinese forces in the East China Sea.

Included among the mechanism’s main pillars are establishing a hotline between the Japanese and Chinese defense authorities, and enabling naval vessels and aircraft of both countries to communicate directly on site if they get close to each other.

There was a series of incidents around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in June, in which Chinese military vessels sailed in the contiguous zone around the islands and its military aircraft flew close by.

To avoid any untoward incident, the defense authorities of both countries should put the finishing touches on the talks so as to hurry the launch of the mechanism’s operations.

Regarding such incidents as Chinese government vessels entering Japan’s territorial waters, Abe said they would be construed as “actions that will unilaterally escalate tension,” rightly calling on China to improve the situation.

Take concrete action

Xi responded by saying that the two countries should “properly handle the issue via dialogue and consultation.” But it would only be reasonable for China to first restrain itself in terms of deeds. To fully mend the bilateral relations between Japan and China, it is vital to ease tension.

During the talks, Abe and Xi also agreed that the two countries will hold discussions on resuming negotiations on the joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea.

China has been developing the fields unilaterally, reneging on a 2008 bilateral accord. The accord must be carried out sincerely.

Referring to China’s moves to militarize artificial islands in the South China Sea, Abe urged China to abide by the international law and make efforts to dispel concern among neighboring countries.

It is unacceptable that Xi hit back against Abe’s call by saying, “Japan should exercise prudence in its words and deeds.” Ensuring the safety of sea lanes is a common benefit to the international community.

During the talks, Abe brought up the issue of North Korea firing three ballistic missiles into waters off the coast of Hokkaido. He called on Xi to cooperate in “taking concrete steps against North Korea’s repeated provocations.”

China, which is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has a certain amount of influence on North Korea. China fulfilling its responsibilities could constitute a step forward in the bilateral cooperation between Japan and China.

China has suffered a series of diplomatic setbacks in its foreign policy lately: a ruling by the court of arbitration categorically dismissed Beijing’s claim of sovereignty in the South China Sea; and its relations with South Korea have deteriorated.

The success of the summit of the Group of 20 major economies, which Xi chaired, was a challenge vital for China to recover its own prestige.

Some believe that after the end of the G-20 summit talks, China will take a more hard-line stance in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Wouldn’t it be to China’s advantage to contribute to the stability of Asia, rather than intensify friction with its neighboring countries?

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 7, 2016)


G20首脳宣言 中国の「有言実行」が問われる

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China being tested over whether it will actually live up to G-20 accords
G20首脳宣言 中国の「有言実行」が問われる

It is essential to raise the growth potential of the global economy by steadily promoting structural reform and free trade, thereby putting the global economy on a sustainable recovery path.

The Group of 20 major economies wrapped up its summit meeting Monday after holding a two-day session in Hangzhou, China.

In a communique issued after the summit, the G-20 leaders warn that global growth is weaker than anticipated and that downside risks exist. The communique also mentions that all three policy tools of monetary and fiscal policies, and structural reform must be used separately or collectively.

Given Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and the decline in the prices of resources, both advanced and emerging economies lack the power to serve as an engine for global economic growth.

The G-20 communique adhered to the agreements reached at the Ise-Shima Summit of the Group of Seven advanced nations hosted by Japan in May. It is highly significant that the G-20 economies, including emerging and oil-producing countries with different economic powers, have shared common views on the global economy.

The crucial point is for all G-20 countries to play their role.

During the G-20 summit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it was important for all the countries to demonstrate their commitment through concrete action. It was natural for him to make such a statement.

The key to reinvigorating the global economy is likely to be promotion of structural reforms to enhance productivity and boost growth.

Japan has announced plans to reform ways of working, including correcting long working practices and realizing equal pay for equal work. Fulfillment of the Abenomics economic policy package will lead to realization of the G-20 agreements.

Key structural issue

The communique took up excessive production of steel and other products as a serious structural problem for the first time.

The overproduction issue was triggered by China, which has kept protecting loss-making state-owned companies. There have been rampant increases in the number of these so-called zombie firms, which have actually gone bankrupt but have continued to be supported by the Chinese authorities, posing a risk to the global economy.

It was agreed during the summit to set up an international framework to promote information-sharing in a bid to resolve the overproduction issue. Because China served as the host nation to work out the agreement, China will be required to carry out its commitments in deed.

As for free trade, which is indispensable to economic expansion, the G-20 agreed to reject all forms of protectionism.

In the United States, both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees have expressed opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework. In emerging economies, import restrictions to protect their domestic industries have been invoked one after another.

Signatories to the TPP agreement, including Japan and the United States, must promote early ratification of the accord while emerging economies must exercise self-restraint on excessive import restrictions. Each G-20 nation must work toward advancing free trade.

A questionable point is that China guided G-20 discussions into concentrating on economic issues in a bid to avoid discussions over the South China Sea, where it has been building military strongholds. If China remains indifferent to regional stability, it is doubtful whether the country will fulfill its commitment to economic cooperation, too.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 6, 2016)


米中首脳会談 アジア安定に心残りはないか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Do Obama, Xi regret their summit talks didn’t do much for Asian stability?
米中首脳会談 アジア安定に心残りはないか

Given that both sides seemingly went to pains to give the appearance of getting along while putting aside pending questions over China’s high-handed maritime advances, this cannot be described as a relationship between responsible major powers.

U.S. President Barack Obama has held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit meeting of the Group of 20 major and emerging economies.

This was the first time Obama and Xi have met since a ruling by an arbitration court completely rejected China’s territorial claims over much of the South China Sea. Obama stressed that the “principles of international law” must be upheld and called on China to abide by the court’s ruling.

It is unacceptable that Xi insisted China would “firmly continue to protect its sovereignty and maritime rights” in the South China Sea. Beijing has called on Washington to play a “constructive role” in dealing with this issue, but it is China that is raising tensions in the region and challenging the U.S.-led order there.

It was unfortunate that this last chance for Obama to draw out a compromise from China before his term ends in January 2017 failed to produce a positive result.

Obama has avoided a sharp split in U.S.-China ties and has pushed a conciliatory approach that placed emphasis on expanding cooperation. This strategy was dependent on a positive change from China, but we think Obama ended up being viewed by Xi as merely an “opponent who is easily taken advantage of.”

U.S. must stand up to China

Xi has broken a promise he made last year that China had no intention of boosting the militarization of manmade islands in the South China Sea, and has accelerated the building of runways and radar installations on the islands. The prospect of China establishing an air defense identification zone is becoming a reality.

China probably intends to complete the creation of this military foothold while the Obama administration is still in office. Among the nations affected by these developments, there is growing dissatisfaction that the U.S. response has always been a step behind.

The United States must stand at the forefront of efforts to maintain stability in the South China Sea and strengthen the pressure being applied on China. It is essential that patrol activities conducted by U.S. military vessels and aircraft are stepped up around the manmade islands.

Xi’s announcement that he opposes the planned deployment of the United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea also cannot be overlooked.

North Korea is continuing its dangerous provocations, including testing a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Deploying THAAD is an urgent task. China must adopt a tougher stance toward North Korea and ensure sanctions against Pyongyang are thoroughly enforced.

Before the Obama-Xi talks, the leaders announced both nations had ratified the Paris Agreement, the international framework for measures to combat global warming from 2020. This collaboration by the world’s two largest emitters is a significant step toward the agreement coming into force before the end of this year.

There was no change in Xi’s assertions on human rights issues and Chinese cyber-attacks on U.S. companies and other entities, two issues of concern for the United States.

It seems progress can be expected only in fields where it will be to China’s advantage.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 5, 2016)


日露首脳会談 大統領来日で「領土」は動くか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Can Putin’s visit to Japan help move N. territories issue forward?
日露首脳会談 大統領来日で「領土」は動くか

Will Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan serve as the first step in moving forward with the northern territories issue, which has remained unsettled for as long as the 71 years since World War II ended?

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Putin in Vladivostok, Russia, and the two leaders officially agreed to meet in Yamaguchi Prefecture on Dec. 15. They also agreed to hold talks in Peru in November on the sidelines of an international conference.

“I was able to find a specific approach to move the negotiations forward,” Abe said following the talks with Putin. “I sensed a solid response.” Having held talks as many as 14 times so far, the two leaders have obviously built a certain relationship of trust.

There is strong opposition in Russia to the return of the four northern islands. The waters around them hold military significance as part of the Pacific route, and Russian forces have increased the number of soldiers stationed there. Therefore, we cannot have an optimistic view about the territorial negotiations.

We believe that no one but Putin, the most powerful figure in Russia, can make such a significant decision as returning the territories. It is understandable that Abe aims to settle the issue using a top-down approach while holding frequent talks with his Russian counterpart.

The prime minister apparently had a similar aim when he delivered a speech in Vladivostok calling for talks with Putin to be held once a year.

Leading up to Putin’s visit to Japan, the government should make every effort in the preliminary negotiations so this precious opportunity — the first visit by a Russian president in about six years — can give momentum to the northern territories issue.

During the latest talks, Abe and Putin reconfirmed that their countries will hold territorial negotiations using a “new approach,” without sticking to conventional ideas. Japan’s basic strategy is that it will look for clues to settle the issue while improving bilateral cooperation in various fields to move Japan-Russia relations forward as a whole and from a future-oriented standpoint.

Don’t be hasty

Abe also discussed the current situation in the eight areas of economic cooperation Japan has presented, including energy and development in Russia’s Far Eastern region. The prime minister said that Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko has been named to concurrently serve as minister for economic cooperation with Russia, and a council comprising of government and private-sector entities will also be established.

Russia has great hopes for Japan because it has been suffering a sluggish economy hit by falling oil prices and other factors. We believe Japan also can enjoy advantages, such as securing natural resources and gaining profits from investment in Russia, depending on the extent to which bilateral cooperation develops.

However, Japan should never be hasty, because the history of bilateral relations shows that the northern territories issue has always been left behind while only bilateral economic cooperation was put forward. The government should scrutinize what is included in projects when promoting cooperation with Russia.

It is also important for the two countries to work together in the security field. The Japanese and Russian foreign ministries held talks on the issue in early July. We hope they make sure to continue strategic dialogues.

A serious rift remains, with Russia on one side and the United States and European countries on the other, over Russia’s activities in Ukraine and Syria. Japan should refrain from disrupting cooperation among the Group of Seven major powers in terms of economic sanctions against Russia.

The U.S. government is taking a calm stance regarding Putin’s visit to Japan, saying it is “not concerned or worried.” Japan should continue its efforts to provide the United States and European countries with extensive explanations on its relations with Russia to seek their understanding.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 4, 2016)


JOC報告書 納得にはほど遠い

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 3
EDITORIAL: Report on probe into Tokyo’s Olympic bid far from convincing
(社説)JOC報告書 納得にはほど遠い

The Japanese Olympic Committee obviously faced some tough challenges in its investigation into the Tokyo Olympic bid committee’s dubious cash payments to a consulting company. But that doesn’t justify the JOC’s failure to produce a convincing report on the matter.
The JOC’s investigative team on Sept. 1 published a report on its probe into the bid committee’s payments totaling 230 million yen ($2,2 million) to a Singapore-based consulting firm.
It said the cash payments were not illegal and that the bid committee had no intention of resorting to bribery or other illegal acts.

But the report failed to make clear how the money paid by the bid committee was actually used. The investigative team contacted a number of foreign figures suspected to be linked to the consulting company. They included Lamine Diack, a former International Association of Athletics Federation president who was then a member of the International Olympic Committee. Diak was in a position to influence the vote to decide the host.
His son Papa Massata Diack, who had close ties with the consulting firm, is also under the spotlight. But neither of them offered to cooperate with the JOC for the investigation, according to the report.

The conclusion of the inquiry team was based almost entirely on remarks made by Japanese officials involved. It is far from a clear and complete picture of what transpired.

Since French prosecutors have also been looking into the matter, new developments could arise.

The probe has shed some light on the opaque nature of people who work as "consultants" in the international sports arena as well as on the bid committee’s slipshod approach to selecting consultants it hires.

Senior officials of the bid committee had no independent information about the Singapore-based firm. The committee paid a large amount of money to the company it knew little or nothing about based on the advice of Dentsu Inc., Japan’s leading ad agency, which has been involved in marketing operations in the international sports community.

The bid committee for the 2020 Olympics hired 11 consulting companies, including the Singapore-based one. The committee that represented Tokyo’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Summer Games, which were granted to Rio de Janeiro, struck deals with some 30 consulting businesses.

There are no market rates for fees to be paid to such companies, and deals are often done at the prices asked by the firms. The Japanese bid committee for the 2020 Games paid more than 1.1 billion yen in consulting fees.

Only a small number of senior officials of the committee were aware of what roles the consultancies were playing and the kind of work in which they were engaged.

The ways bidding cities contact with IOC members are limited, which make it virtually impossible for a city to host Olympics without the help of consultants. Even so, senior officials of the bid committee are at least responsible for making careful and conscientious decisions on whether the service offered by a specific consultancy is worth the cost.

As a first step in the reform of bids for Olympics, the IOC, starting with the 2024 Games, will require bidding cities to register the consultants they hire and disclose the information about the consultants working for the cities. In addition, the IOC has also decided to require consultants to declare they will abide by the rules concerning Olympic bids.

Many questions have been raised about the huge costs involved in trying to host the Olympics and actually holding the events.

Still, there’s high level of social interest in the Olympics, with people around the world eagerly awaiting these events.

Currently, the race to host the Olympics is determined to a large extent by people working behind the scenes.

If this situation continues, the Olympics will eventually lose their luster.


予算概算要求 危機感の乏しさを憂う

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 31
EDITORIAL: Government still ignoring Japan's fiscal woes at budget time
(社説)予算概算要求 危機感の乏しさを憂う

In early August, the government set its basic policy concerning budget requests from government ministries and agencies, based on which the nation's fiscal 2017 budget will be compiled.
"We will thoroughly review policy priorities, do everything to eliminate wasteful spending and boldly focus on the substance of the budget," the government declared.

But for all these brave words, we are appalled by the government's apparent lack of awareness of the dire, unprecedented fiscal straits confronting the nation.

Aug. 31 is the final day for government ministries and agencies to make their fiscal 2017 budget requests.
For the third consecutive year, their total budget requests topped 100 trillion yen ($970.57 billion).

This can be attributed largely to the government's decision not to set a ceiling on budget requests and allow some budget requests to exceed the initial fiscal 2016 budget figures by nearly 20 percent.

Obviously, not all requests are going to be met. They will be screened and trimmed by the Finance Ministry.

Still, given the nation's serious fiscal problems, all budget requests should have been made in keeping with the government's basic policy, which went to the effect that every government ministry and agency "must thoroughly review and evaluate the performance results, efficiency and efficacy of its existing projects before submitting its budget request."

But how did individual ministries and agencies proceed?

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism requested more than 6 trillion-plus yen for public works projects, up 16 percent from the initial fiscal 2016 budget.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's request topped 1.4 trillion yen, including a special account budget, up 9 percent from fiscal 2016.

But the Reconstruction Agency, whose reconstruction projects in areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 have already peaked, requested a smaller budget than for fiscal 2016.
Still, most government ministries and agencies seem intent on maximizing their chances of securing as much funding as possible by requesting as much as they could.

Against this backdrop, what attracted our attention was the budget sought by the Cabinet Office for promoting Okinawa's development. The requested amount of 321 billion yen was 14 billion yen less than in the initial fiscal 2016 budget.

Some people claim this reduction is meant to "restrain" Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, with whom the central government has been at odds over the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district in Nago.

Dismissing this allegation out of hand, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stressed, "When compiling a budget, it is only natural to make constant efforts to ensure the implementation of effective policies by reviewing various expenditures as needed. And the budget for Okinawa's development is no exception."

If we are to take Suga's words at face value, then we must ask: Have all government ministries and agencies made such "constant efforts" in regard to their budget requests?

Before the government started accepting budget requests for fiscal 2017, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved the second supplementary budget for the current fiscal year. With the additional issuance of construction bonds worth upwards of 2.7 trillion yen to fund more public works projects, the total came close to 3.3 trillion yen.

This is the same old pattern of using supplementary budgets as a "loophole" for spending more on items similar to those in the initial budget and letting the expenditures bloat.

One thing is certain. So long as the government continues with this sort of fiscal management, the nation's fiscal health faces a long battle for recovery.


サバ漁国際規制 資源が枯渇してからでは遅い

The Yomiuri Shimbun
It will be too late to take steps after key fishery resources are depleted
サバ漁国際規制 資源が枯渇してからでは遅い

Even familiar fish could become luxury foods beyond the reach of ordinary people if their stocks are depleted. Japan must take a leading role in international management of fishery resources.

The North Pacific Fisheries Commission, whose six members include Japan, China and South Korea, has reached an agreement on a recommendation not to increase the number of mackerel vessels on the high seas in the northern Pacific Ocean.

It is the first international agreement on the protection of mackerel resources. Controlling the number of fishing boats was left to voluntary efforts of each country and region. The Japanese government considers the agreement to be equivalent to “standing at the minimum starting line.” Ensuring that the decision will be effective is a challenge.

The domestic catch of mackerel exceeded 1.6 million tons in 1978, but dramatically decreased to 250,000 tons in 1991. After that, the mackerel catch was restricted with the aim of protecting stocks. Currently, the fish haul remains at about 500,000 tons a year, mainly in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The number of Chinese mackerel boats operating in international waters adjacent to the EEZ is rapidly increasing. This number increased from 20 in 2014 to at least 80 in 2015, based on reports. The 2015 fish haul increased five times to more than 130,000 tons compared with that of the previous year.

At the commission meeting held in Tokyo this time, Japan urged the other members to make it mandatory to limit the number of fishing vessels out of a sense of urgency that if the number of Chinese boats continues to increase at its recent rate, the fishery resources could be depleted again.

Resource survey essential

However, China rejected Japan’s request, saying that the restriction should not be strengthened because it is unclear if the quantity of the resources is decreasing. In the end, the meeting did not adopt a mandatory restriction.

To have China recognize the significance of the restriction, it is important for Japan to play a central role in swiftly proceeding with a fact-finding survey on the volume of stocks, which the participants in the meeting agreed to conduct, and provide scientific data.

Against the background of diversifying dietary behaviors and the development of fisheries in China and other countries, there is a growing threat to the sustainability of fishery resources consumed mainly by Japan.

The commission, launched under the leadership of Japan last year, made it mandatory not to increase the number of sanma saury fishing boats.

Concerning Pacific bluefin tuna, additional restrictive measures to be taken in case immature fish rapidly decrease are an immediate challenge. The catch of immature fish has already been restricted. An international conference is being held in Fukuoka to discuss concrete rules on the issue and conditions for implementing restrictions.

Japan, as a major fishery country, has the responsibility to conduct sustainable fishing by taking such actions as first determining the volume of stocks and then protecting against overfishing of immature fish. It is vital to maintain a balance between the protection of various resources and the promotion of fisheries.

Large-scale fishing methods, such as trawling and longline fishing, which collaterally catch species on top of the targeted ones, also are considered problematic. We hope Japan will take a leading role in changing these fishing methods to ones that will minimize the adverse influence on the ecosystem.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 31, 2016)


アフリカ会議 良質な支援で中国と差別化を

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Differentiate Japan’s aid to Africa from China’s in terms of quality
アフリカ会議 良質な支援で中国と差別化を

Africa’s healthy development is indispensable to world stability. It is necessary to provide support through the joint efforts of the public and private sectors and establish a relationship of reciprocity embracing the potential for growth as the continent develops.

The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) was held in Nairobi, with the leaders of Japan and about 50 African nations attending, among others. They adopted the Nairobi Declaration, calling for economic structural reforms and reinforcing measures against communicable diseases as its main pillars.

In a keynote speech, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged a total of $30 billion (about ¥3 trillion) in investments from the public and private sectors over a period of three years through 2018, and to develop human resources, including about 10 million engineers. “The time has come to make the best of Japan’s capabilities, Japanese companies’ capabilities,” Abe emphasized.

Blessed with rich natural resources and given its rapid increase in population, Africa is referred to as “the final frontier” of the world economy, leading many countries to compete to make investments in the continent.

But, in recent years, Africa has faced such challenges as declining prices for natural resources, the spread of Ebola and other infectious diseases, frequent civil wars and terrorism. The continent is far from being in a situation under which it can eradicate poverty and achieve social stability.

It is reasonable that the Nairobi Declaration refers to “economic diversification” without relying merely on exports of resources. It is essential to promote investment in high-quality infrastructure and foster human resources through the prudent use of Japanese expertise, thereby encouraging self-sustained development.

Diverse cooperation

Many Japanese business corporations and associations took part in the TICAD conference, which was held for the first time in Africa, and discussed concrete investment projects. The Japanese business community has high expectations for Africa as a potentially huge market.

Twenty-two Japanese firms and business associations signed memorandums on a total of 73 projects. It is highly significant that the range of cooperation is diverse, covering geothermal power generation, agricultural development, hospital construction and malaria control measures.

Abe announced a plan to launch the “Japan-Africa Public and Private Economic Forum” as a permanent forum for which members of the Japanese Cabinet, together with top executives from Japan’s major business associations and corporations, will visit Africa once every three years. It is imperative for Japan and Africa to maintain close cooperation and pursue mutual benefits.

In December, China announced a plan to offer $60 billion in aid to Africa over a period of three years. This figure is double Japan’s. But there is strong criticism that China’s assistance will not lead to fostering personnel and technical transfers because China places priority on profits for its firms and procurement of resources.

In addition to construction of infrastructure with an emphasis on quality, it is essential for Japan to provide know-how on the maintenance and operation of infrastructure and offer elaborate programs to foster local experts, thereby differentiating its assistance from China’s.

Abe has come out with an India-Pacific initiative of making the Pacific and Indian oceans “peaceful seas governed by the rule of law.” Maintaining a rules-based maritime order and the necessity of reforming the U.N. Security Council were also incorporated in the Nairobi Declaration.

Both of these points were made with China in mind. From the viewpoint of encouraging China to exercise restraint and avoid self-centered behavior, Japan must build a strategic relationship with African countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 30, 2016)


相続法制見直し 高齢社会に見合う仕組みとは

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Reflect needs of graying population in revision of inheritance legislation
相続法制見直し 高齢社会に見合う仕組みとは

It is important to establish a system of inheritance that takes into account the needs of Japan’s rapidly graying society.

The Legislative Council is gathering opinions from the public regarding a tentative draft put together to revise a Civil Code provision related to the inheritance of property left by the deceased.

The focus of the draft is to protect the rights of the spouse of the deceased. As one of its proposed measures, the Justice Ministry panel says the spouse’s right of residence should be established. This right would allow the spouse to continue living in the house for a certain period of time, even if he or she does not have the right of ownership.

When a couple has no property of any value other than their house, the spouse of the deceased is sometimes forced to sell the house due to the partition of the estate involved. This means that the spouse could end up with no place to live if they are aged and only have a tiny income. Establishing the spouse’s right of residence is expected to help prevent such a situation from arising.

The panel’s draft also includes a proposed increase in the spouse’s legal portion of an inheritance.

Under the current law, the spouse’s share is fixed regardless of the length of the couple’s married life. However short their marriage is, the spouse inherits half of the property involved if the estate is divided between the spouse and children. With the rise in the number of elderly people who choose to remarry, however, there are growing doubts about this system.

With this in mind, the panel has proposed increasing the spouse’s portion of an inheritance if the couple is married longer than a certain period of time — for example, 20 or 30 years. Another proposal would raise the spouse’s share in proportion to an increase in the size of the property after the couple married. These proposed ideas have been included in the latest draft.

It is understandable that the council has sought to make sure the degree of the spouse’s contribution to property accumulation is reflected in his or her portion of an inheritance.

Downside to proposal

The panel’s latest discussions were prompted when the civil law was revised in 2013. In response to a Supreme Court ruling that the disparities in inheritance shares allotted to children born in or out of wedlock were unconstitutional, the pertinent civil law provision was abolished. This drew objections from Diet members of the Liberal Democratic Party and others, who said the legal change could “upset the family system, which is built on legal marriage.”

Considering the circumstances under which the council began its discussions, the direction of the draft proposal is reasonable, as it clarifies the significance of legal marriage by protecting the rights of the spouse.

However, the panel’s proposal involves a downside — the procedures involved would become more complex.

If the spouse exercises the right of residence for extended periods, it would be deemed that he or she had inherited the bulk of the property involved. How would the value of that inheritance be assessed?

The draft also includes a plan to create a mechanism by which anyone, other than heirs to the estate involved, would be authorized to demand monetary payments if that person had rendered services to the deceased person, such as providing nursing care.

If the number of people involved in an inheritance increases, feuds among relatives and others would become more common and last for extended periods.

After studying public opinion, the council will hold further discussions on pertinent issues. The Justice Ministry wants to submit to the Diet a bill aimed at revising the civil law by the end of next year at the earliest.

We hope the ministry will work out a new system in a way that attaches importance to procedures that are easy to understand, as inheritance is a personal issue for everyone.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 29, 2016)





[ はじめに ]

[ 名前 ]
松井 清 (スラチャイ)

[ 略歴 ]
・99/10 タイ全土を旅行
・00/10 タイに移住
・03/07 カイちゃん誕生
・07/06 シーファーちゃん誕生

[ 座右の銘 ]
Slow and steady wins the race.

[ 学習の手引き ]
・Think in English.

[ English Newspapers ]
Japan Times
Washington Post
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Bangkok Post
The Nations
Phuket Gazette

[ 英字新聞の英和対訳学習 ]

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01 あいさつ
02 別れのあいさつ
03 声をかけるとき
04 感謝の言葉と答え方
05 謝罪の言葉と答え方
06 聞き直すとき
07 相手の言うことがわからないとき
08 うまく言えないとき
09 一般的なあいづち
10 よくわからないときの返事
11 強めのあいづち
12 自分について述べるとき
13 相手のことを尋ねるとき
14 頼みごとをするとき
15 申し出・依頼を断るとき
16 許可を求めるとき
17 説明してもらうとき
18 確認を求めるとき
19 状況を知りたいとき
20 値段の尋ね方と断り方
21 急いでもらいたいとき
22 待ってもらいたいとき
23 日時・場所・天候を尋ねるとき
24 その他

01 あいさつ
02 別れのあいさつ
03 声をかけるとき
04 感謝の言葉と答え方
05 謝罪の言葉と答え方
06 聞き直すとき
07 相手の言うことがわからないとき
08 うまく言えないとき
09 一般的なあいづち
10 よくわからないときの返事
11 強めのあいづち
12 自分について述べるとき
13 相手のことを尋ねるとき
14 頼みごとをするとき
15 申し出・依頼を断るとき
16 許可を求めるとき
17 説明してもらうとき
18 確認を求めるとき
19 状況を知りたいとき
20 値段の尋ね方と断り方
21 急いでもらいたいとき
22 待ってもらいたいとき
23 日時・場所・天候を尋ねるとき
24 その他

01 雨の日にも傘をささないタイ人
02 勉強熱心なタイ人女性たち
03 タイ人は敬謙な仏教徒
04 タイの市場
05 タイの食堂
06 タイ人は外食が大好き
07 果物王国タイランド
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