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)


香山リカのココロの万華鏡「ほめ言葉」にも原則ある /東京

August 28, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Praise athletes for their sporting excellence, not looks
香山リカのココロの万華鏡「ほめ言葉」にも原則ある /東京

When referring to good looking men today, the Japanese word "ikemen" is often used. I heard a TV announcer during the Rio Olympics broadcast say, "He is popular as an ikemen runner," about an athlete participating in the Games. Women in sports, on the other hand, have been called "pretty athletes" or described as "too beautiful to be a swimmer" when people comment on their looks.

Whether it is "ikemen" or "pretty," those who say these words use them without hesitation since they are supposedly both compliments. But I wonder how people on the receiving end of these words feel.

I have a friend who is a physician. She is tall and has fine facial features and says she has been spotted by talent agencies many times. When she spoke at a local health conference, the moderator said at the end of the event, "While today's theme was the prevention of high blood pressure, my blood pressure has been skyrocketing because of your beauty, doctor."

Though the comment had the audience laughing, she said she was disappointed. "I did my best to speak about exercise and diet that are good for preventing high blood pressure, but it felt like I was told that all that didn't matter," she recalled.

What about Olympians? There must be some athletes who want the media to focus attention on their sport and outcomes of the events they are participating in rather than being in the spotlight for their looks. I occasionally see some interviewers asking athletes irrelevant questions such as, "How do you keep yourself beautiful?" but I assume there are some athletes who would feel disappointed to be asked such questions, especially right after their race was finished, or personal questions like, "Do you have a girlfriend?"

It is indeed very beautiful how athletes devote themselves to their sports. I have no intention of picking on those who use words like "ikemen" and "beautiful" to praise the athletes' efforts. At the same time, when someone repeats comments and questions toward a person about their looks that are irrelevant to what they have achieved, it can be regarded as sexual harassment.

It's OK to say, "the way he runs is beautiful," but not, "she is so pretty that she can be in show business" -- I imagine some people might think that's too much trouble, but if you just think a little, you would understand. We should not bring up topics about someone being a man or woman, or their looks, when they are putting their best into something regardless of such labels. Then we can simply applaud their sporting excellence.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist) (精神科医)


北SLBM発射 増大する脅威へ対処が急務だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Urgent measures needed to counter growing N. Korean SLBM threat
北SLBM発射 増大する脅威へ対処が急務だ

North Korea’s latest firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) indicates that Pyongyang’s military threat is growing further. The international community must work together to speed up efforts to halt the country’s provocations.

The U.N. Security Council has started considering issuing a statement to condemn North Korea’s SLBM test launch toward the Sea of Japan.

It is vital for the UNSC to swiftly send a strong message to North Korea, which has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches in violation of U.N. sanctions resolutions.

The regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un opposes the planned deployment of the United States’ state-of-the-art Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea. The SLBM launch, which was conducted during a U.S.-South Korean joint military exercise, was apparently intended to shake Japan, the United States and South Korea by demonstrating North Korea’s ability to carry out a surprise attack.

Kim, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, watched the test-firing and declared that the SLBM launch proved his country “joined the front rank of military powers fully equipped with nuclear attack capabilities,” according to the Korean Central News Agency. He also ordered increased efforts to develop nuclear weapons and ways to deliver them, the KCNA reported.

If North Korea successfully deploys an SLBM equipped with a miniaturized nuclear warhead for combat use, it would allow the country to conduct nuclear attacks in various different ways. This is a source of grave concern that could undermine regional stability.

Significant improvements

Signs of an impending SLBM firing are difficult to detect. Even if North Korean military forces on land were destroyed, SLBMs could enable the country to retaliate from a submarine.

Since North Korea test-fired the missile in waters in spring last year, its SLBM capability has improved significantly.

According to the South Korean military, the latest SLBM flew about 500 kilometers. The missile’s range could reach 2,000 kilometers. Initially, it was expected to take two or three years for North Korea to be able to deploy SLBMs for combat use, but some observers say the deployment could happen earlier. Japan, the United States and South Korea must urgently strengthen their deterrence capability.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has described Kim as “unpredictable” and expressed strong concern, saying North Korea’s “nuclear and missile threats” are becoming a reality.

Park’s recent remarks deserve attention. She said Kim could conduct further provocations to tighten his grip as the country’s elite class is showing “signs of cracks.”

The remarks came after a series of defections by North Korean diplomats. Earlier this month, a minister at the North Korean Embassy in London defected to South Korea.

In April, North Koreans working at a “North Korean-run restaurant” in China defected, in a rare group move.

While the “Kim dynasty” dictatorship has become increasingly isolated in the international community, North Korea can no longer cover up growing discontent among its people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 27, 2016)


海洋ごみ汚染 国際連携で拡散を防止したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
International cooperation needed to prevent spread of marine garbage
海洋ごみ汚染 国際連携で拡散を防止したい

We hope the circle of international cooperation will widen to reduce the volume of plastic trash that is threatening the marine environment.

In fiscal 2013, about 45,000 tons of trash that had drifted ashore was retrieved along Japan’s coastline. The Environment Ministry estimates the total volume of trash washed ashore, including rubbish that was not collected, was from 310,000 tons to 580,000 tons.

Beach clean-ups conducted before and after the summer swimming season are becoming more expensive each year. In fiscal 2013, cleaning beaches around the nation cost ¥4.3 billion.

The majority of this trash is plastic, such as PET bottles and detergent containers. Some was thrown away inland but swept to the sea by rivers, while much of the trash found along the Sea of Japan coast of Kyushu and Honshu drifted ashore from overseas from countries such as China and South Korea.

A wide spectrum of steps, such as reducing the use of plastic products, recycling and campaigns to discourage people from littering, will be indispensable for curbing the overall volume of marine trash.

As global plastic production continues to increase, some estimates suggest at least 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean each year. Some calculations say China and countries in Southeast Asia are among the main sources of this garbage.

At the meeting of environment ministers from the Group of Seven advanced nations held in Toyama city in May, the ministers confirmed the G-7 would lead and promote international cooperation to combat marine litter.

Japan is already engaged in efforts to address this issue with South Korea and China, and with Russia. These include sharing information on policies related to plastic litter, training on fact-finding surveys regarding marine pollution, and jointly conducting coastline clean-ups. These countermeasures will need to be expanded further with the countries concerned.

Microplastics a bugbear

Marine trash not only spoils the natural scenery of the coastline; it also damages fishing nets and becomes mixed in with marine products, lowering their commercial value. Fish and birds that accidentally swallow this trash often die.

In recent years, the increase in microplastics — plastic particles 5 millimeters in size or smaller — has become a serious problem. They are created when PET bottles and other plastic are broken into small fragments due to ultraviolet rays from sunlight or abrasive wave action. Microplastics have spread across oceans around the world, and are said to be almost impossible to remove from the environment.

The impact of microplastics even reaches smaller living creatures. Last year, a survey that Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology conducted in Tokyo Bay found microplastics were present in almost 80 percent of 64 Japanese anchovy. Microplastics were even detected in shellfish living on the seabed.

We should also be wary of microplastics’ tendency to adsorb toxic substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). This can accumulate in the food chain, and there are also concerns it could affect humans and the breeding of marine life.

Japan, the United States and Europe are at the forefront of research into microplastics. However, there are still only a few researchers, and methods for measuring microplastics and assessing their impact have not been standardized. Japan should use its experience and take the lead in creating a base for measures to combat microplastics.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2016)


日中韓会談 協力の重み自覚して

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 25
EDITORIAL: Despite tussles, Japan, S. Korea, China must learn to cooperate
(社説)日中韓会談 協力の重み自覚して

Although the current mood among Japan, China and South Korea is not totally positive, the foreign ministers of the three countries held talks in Tokyo on Aug. 24.

Such meetings among the top diplomats of the three countries should play a vital role in stability and development in Northeast Asia.
We welcome the fact that this important meeting took place again this year following the one held last year.

Disputes tend to immediately strain relations between two countries. But the two countries locked in a diplomatic row may feel comfortable attending a meeting involving a third nation.
This smart formula should be used effectively for three-way relationships. A meeting among the leaders of the three countries should also be held by the end of the year.

Unlike last year, when perceptions about history took center stage, tensions this year have grown over national security issues.

One security issue straining relations between Japan and China are the disputes over islands in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

The number of Chinese government vessels entering areas around the Senkaku Islands has increased sharply this month. China has continued sending ships into Japanese waters around the islands despite Tokyo’s repeated protests.
China’s actions run counter to a bilateral agreement struck in 2014 to “prevent the deterioration of the situation through dialogue.”

Another security issue creating tensions in the region lies between China and South Korea.

In response to the decision by Seoul and U.S. forces stationed in South Korea to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in the country, China has taken steps that appear to be reprisals, such as canceling some cultural exchange events.

Behind all these issues are internal political factors that make it hard for the countries to make concessions. The tussles also reflect the intensifying tug of war between the United States and China in the Asia-Pacific region.

The factors creating friction among Japan, China and South Korea will continue rocking their diplomatic relations. That makes it all the more important for the three countries to hold regular meetings of their leaders and ministers.

Despite their disagreements over certain issues, the three countries face a raft of challenges they should tackle in a cooperative manner.

The biggest challenge is the security threat posed by North Korea. The country fired a missile from a submarine on Aug. 24 that reached Japan’s air defense identification zone.

In a natural response to the missile firing, the foreign ministers of the three countries agreed to demand that North Korea stop such provocative acts.

In particular, China, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council with close ties to North Korea, should use its influence to put pressure on Pyongyang.

It is also a pity there has been little progress in creating a framework for economic cooperation among the three countries, such as a trilateral free trade agreement.

Given the combined economic weight of the three countries, which together account for 20 percent of the world economy, they should do more to find a formula to expand their economic cooperation.

Earlier this month, a Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel rescued crew members of a Chinese fishing boat that sank after a collision with a Greek freighter off the Senkaku Islands.

The episode drove home the reality that situations requiring cooperation from the two neighboring countries facing the same sea can arise at any time.

The three countries are bound by the undeniable need for cooperation over not only rescue operations at sea but also environmental problems and disaster responses.
They should continue steady efforts to expand and enhance their cooperative relationships.


露トルコ急接近 米欧の安保秩序に影を落とす

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Rapid Russia-Turkey rapprochement casts shadow on West’s security order
露トルコ急接近 米欧の安保秩序に影を落とす

If Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, becomes excessively close to Russia, it would affect the security order led by the United States and Europe. The current situation is serious.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held talks in Russia with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they agreed to mend the bilateral relations strained after the shooting down of a Russian military jet by Turkey in November.

Stating that Erdogan apologized for the downing of the plane in June, Russia is set to gradually lift economic sanctions on Turkey, including restrictions on sightseeing trips to the country and an import ban on Turkish livestock and agricultural products. During his latest visit to Russia, Erdogan even described Putin as his “dear friend.”

The easing of tensions between the two nations can be a positive move conducive to preventing the regional situation from becoming complicated. What is worrying is that the rapid formation of a closer relationship between the two countries noticeably points to their ulterior motive of restraining the United States and European nations.

Erdogan escalated a purge of opponents after an abortive coup took place in July. The president has demanded Washington extradite a religious leader living in the United States whom Erdogan regards as the mastermind of the coup attempt. He is also considering reinstating the death penalty, a move the European Union opposes.

Erdogan’s efforts to forge a highly amicable relationship with Russia without listening to U.S. and European criticism directed at him may indicate his determination to adhere to an iron-fisted regime, even by abandoning his country’s long-cherished aim of gaining accession to the EU.

Maintain dialogue with EU

Turkey has also hinted at suspending a measure to accept Syrian refugees remaining in Greece. If Turkey’s accord reached with the EU in March is scrapped, there would inevitably be a renewed rise in the number of refugees who are smuggled into European countries.

It is important for Turkey and the EU to maintain their dialogue so common ground can be found in their positions, a task necessary to steadily implement the agreement.

Russia has been at odds with the United States and European nations over the Ukraine situation and other issues. Russia’s acceptance of Turkey’s calls for improving their ties at this juncture may signify an attempt to shake NATO and take the initiative in dealing with the Syrian situation.

Russia joins Iran in supporting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. In mid-August, Russian forces for the first time used an air base in Iran to conduct air strikes in Syria.

Given that Turkey, as a member of the U.S. and European camp, is supporting Syria’s antigovernment forces, the mending of ties between Moscow and Ankara seems to have been intended to keep the Assad administration in place by drawing Turkey closer to the Russian side.

The U.S. military is conducting air strikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militant group in Syria using an air base in Turkey from which to send planes. If Turkey continues to cozy up to Russia, it would adversely affect the U.S. operations. That could also hinder peace talks over Syria.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will soon visit Turkey. His visit must serve as an opportunity to find out about Erdogan’s true motives while also rebuilding relations between their nations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 21, 2016)


核先制不使用 首相はオバマ氏に力を

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 19
EDITORIAL: Abe should be backing Obama’s ‘no first use’ nuclear proposal
(社説)核先制不使用 首相はオバマ氏に力を

The nuclear “no first use” principle means a country will not use nuclear weapons unless it is first attacked by an enemy using nuclear arms.

U.S. President Barack Obama is said to be considering adopting this policy. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has conveyed his opposition to such a move to Adm. Harry Harris Jr., head of the U.S. Pacific Command, according to a recent report by The Washington Post.

The report said Abe expressed concerns that if Obama declares a “no first use” policy, deterrence against North Korea will suffer and the risks of conflict will rise.

The Japanese government has made no official comment on the report, and it is not clear if Abe really made these remarks.

The Japanese government’s traditional position has been that it cannot support the “no first use” policy because it would undermine deterrence of the nuclear umbrella.

Talking to The Asahi Shimbun about the report, a senior Foreign Ministry official said: “If the U.S. administration declares no first use of nuclear weapons, there can be no extended deterrence provided by the United States to protect Japan. That’s not going to happen.”

For Japan, which once suffered nuclear devastation, this stance is too backward-looking to take.

There can be no winner or loser in a nuclear war.

And the risk of nuclear warfare cannot be eliminated as long as nations depend on nuclear deterrence for their security.

A major nuclear power’s attempt to reduce the role of nuclear arms in national security is a boost to efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation.

A harsh assessment of the security environment is necessary. But many experts argue that conventional weapons of the U.S. military offer sufficient deterrence against North Korea and other countries.

In his speech in Hiroshima three months ago, Obama said, “We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them (nuclear weapons).”

Abe, who stood beside Obama in Hiroshima, should cooperate actively with the president in his bid to promote the policy of “no first use.”

In addition to Japan, South Korea, which is also protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and two nuclear powers--Britain and France--have communicated their concerns about the change in the U.S. nuclear-weapons policy, according to The Washington Post.

On the other hand, a group of former government officials of Asia-Pacific countries, including former Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, recently released a joint statement calling on the Obama administration to pledge never to be the first to use nuclear weapons and urging Japan and other U.S. allies to support the policy.

Japan, which has first-hand experiences of the ravages of nuclear attacks, should never take action that hinders any global trend toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Japan’s foreign policy should be focused on efforts to realize a security system not dependent on the nuclear umbrella. Tokyo should declare its will to pursue that goal and hold serious negotiations with Washington to achieve it.

Such efforts would enhance Japan’s moral position and contribute to stability and peace in the region.

In Hiroshima, Abe pledged to “continue to make efforts” to realize a world without nuclear weapons.

Abe needs to offer a clear vision and take concrete actions to deliver on his promise.


中国と南シナ海 行動規範を骨抜きにするな

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Beijing mustn’t undermine code of conduct for South China Sea
中国と南シナ海 行動規範を骨抜きにするな

To rein in backlash from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China has agreed to hold negotiations on international rules. But it seems to be making a self-centered effort to render any agreement toothless.

In a bid to work out a code of conduct to prevent any conflict in the South China Sea, China has agreed with ASEAN to hold formal negotiations among high-ranking officials with the aim of reaching a framework agreement by the middle of next year.

China had been cautious about the establishment of such a code. But Beijing has likely changed its tack based on the belief that international criticism would be directed toward it during a meeting of Group of 20 major economies to be chaired by China early next month.

However, it cannot be overlooked that China has expressed its intention of not taking up the South China Sea issue during the G-20 meeting. It has become all the more important for leaders of participating countries to discuss the matter.

A code of conduct would legally restrict the actions of China, the Philippines and other countries involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Such a code is supposed to incorporate respect for the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and the establishment of a system to oversee the behaviour of the countries concerned.

But the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to have the intention of weakening the binding power of a code of conduct as much as possible in the process of forthcoming negotiations with ASEAN countries so that its moves to militarize man-made islands will not be restricted.

Intl pressure vital

China has not accepted an international court ruling in July that wholly denied China’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, dismissing the ruling as a “piece of wastepaper.” It is impossible to think that China, which disregards international law, can fulfill its responsibilities in working out international rules.

Japan and the United States, in cooperation with the likes of ASEAN member countries and Australia, must ramp up pressure on Beijing as much as possible to make the planned code of conduct practically effective.

Problematic in this respect is that China has emphasized “the need to prevent outside intervention” in South China Sea affairs, thus clarifying its stance of excluding Japan and the United States.

China has recently been accelerating moves to strengthen its effective control in the Spratly Islands and elsewhere.

Analysis released by a U.S. policy research institute this month says that China has been pushing ahead with the construction of hangars capable of accommodating such aircraft as fighter jets and airborne early warning and control systems (AWACS) planes on artificial islands it has built.

The Chinese military has also been conducting patrol flights of its new bomber over areas near the Scarborough Shoal close to the Philippines.

These moves represent nothing but China’s expansionist attempt to bring under control by large military power almost all of the South China Sea, while turning its back on the principle of the rule of law.

To ensure stability in the South China Sea, it is indispensable that the United States continues seaborne and airborne surveillance activities to secure “freedom of navigation and flight,” as well as to establish a monitoring system with other countries concerned.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 19, 2016)


香山リカのココロの万華鏡 子どもがいなくても

July 31, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Stand tall, women without children
香山リカのココロの万華鏡 子どもがいなくても

Japan's decreasing birthrate has reached grave levels. Meanwhile, mothers face a whole range of serious problems, from "maternity harassment" while they're pregnant to postpartum depression and the many stresses of raising children. There is no question that building a society where people can feel confident and at ease about having and bringing up kids is one of the most urgent tasks facing Japan today.

However, there are women in every era who don't have children. There are those who want to have kids but, for various reasons, can't. And then there are those who chose not to have children for reasons of their own. These women may not insist that they are having a tough time, but they do indeed have their own specific problems and worries. I have written a book called "Non-mama to iu ikikata" (A non-mother's way of life) aimed at these very people, based not just on my experiences as a practicing psychiatrist but also on my personal life as a woman without children.

Patients seeing me about their child-reading worries will often ask me, "Do you have children, doctor?" I answer honestly and directly, "No, I don't." On many occasions, the patient has replied, "Oh, well then you can't understand my problems." A senior doctor once told me, "Psychiatrists only truly come to understand people's feelings when they have kids of their own." In all honesty, it hurt to hear that, and it made me wonder if I was doomed to remain forever incomplete as a psychiatrist.

I admit I have sometimes been a little envious when listening to an old school friend talk happily about their kids. However, as I've built up various kinds of experience, I have come to think that the fact I don't have children gives me the ability to consider people's feelings and the problems of child rearing from a perspective not available to parents. And I think that's a good thing about me.

Women without kids who come to my office often feel guilty somewhere in their hearts, and it saps their confidence. Some of them end up burning out from overwork after taking on the responsibilities of other women at their workplaces who have taken parental leave. To these tired women I always say, "You are always you, whether you have kids or not. Give what you can do your utmost effort, and don't be shy about refusing things you can't do."

Having kids and raising them to adulthood is a wonderful thing, but that does not mean that not having kids is somehow less wonderful.

Women who choose not to have children face various circumstances and many worries, but there are also things that only they can do and be proud of. I believe in my heart that everyone should be able to stand tall and say, "I am me."

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist) (精神科医)


タイ新憲法 国民和解につなげられるのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Can Thailand’s new constitution lead to national reconciliation?
タイ新憲法 国民和解につなげられるのか

One would have to conclude that Thailand has opted for prolonging the life of the junta. Is it possible to pave the way for national reconciliation, which is Thailand’s biggest challenge?

To obtain the trust of the international community, the junta must put all its efforts into realizing a full transition to civilian rule.

A draft of a new constitution compiled under the military rule was endorsed by a majority of votes in a referendum. As the constitution was designed to ensure the military’s political influence, the content of the new basic law is far from democratic.

Under the new constitution, the prime minister is not required to be a lower house member, making it possible for military personnel to assume the post. As a provisional measure in the initial five years, the junta can appoint anyone it wants to the upper house. The referendum also approved granting the upper house the right to nominate a prime minister.

An electoral system that makes it difficult for any single party to win a majority will be introduced in the lower house. Behind this move is the junta’s aim to block the reinstatement of the political force led by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, which is strong in elections with its support base of farmers in rural areas and low-income earners in urban areas. A general election will be held by the end of next year.

There has been a fierce confrontation in Thailand for more than 10 years between the Thaksin forces and anti-Thaksin forces. The anti-Thaksin forces mainly comprise groups with vested interests, including military personnel and bureaucrats.

Behind the approval of the new constitution is the public’s hopes for a stable society even under the military rule amid expectations that the new constitution will be a step forward toward a return to civilian rule.

No legitimacy

However, for whatever reason, it is clear that the junta, which ignored democratic procedures and took power in a coup, has no legitimacy.

It is worrisome that the junta is clamping down on free speech and stifling opposing opinions with an iron fist.

The junta has repeatedly temporarily detained students opposing the new constitution, and politicians and reporters who have criticized the junta. It also totally prohibited systematic campaigns seeking discussions of the pros and cons of the new constitution.

National reconciliation cannot be realized with such a governing method. After the referendum, there was a series of explosions in the central part of the country, where Thai royal family palaces are located, and in resorts in the south. The junta suspects that opponents of the new constitution were involved in the incidents.

It is feared that continued uncertainty in the political situation will affect the economy, curbing foreign investment and profits from tourism. Thailand is an important production base for Japanese companies, such as automobile manufacturers.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is shaken by the issue of the South China Sea. The stability of Thailand — one of the association’s main member countries — is also important for ASEAN unity.

In response to the referendum, interim Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a statement that said he would employ every possible means to eliminate public concern. It is indispensable for him to sincerely make efforts to overcome the nation’s divided society as mentioned in the statement.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 17, 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.

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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
08 タイ人の誕生日
09 タイの電話代は高い
10 微笑みの国タイランド



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