新成長戦略 目標実現の具体策が見えない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 31, 2009)
Govt's new growth strategy short on details
新成長戦略 目標実現の具体策が見えない(12月31日付・読売社説)

Having an ambitious goal alone is not enough to ensure a bright future. The government's newly unveiled growth strategy for a "shining Japan" lacks vital substance in that it fails to illuminate how to achieve these goals in detail.
The strategy, the basic policy of which was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, sets a target of achieving a more than 2 percent annual growth in the gross domestic product in real terms through fiscal 2020. In nominal terms, the growth target is aimed at staying above 3 percent.

This means that in 10 years, the nominal GDP is expected to grow from the 470 trillion yen of this fiscal year to 650 trillion yen. But the fact is that the nominal GDP has been in negative territory for the past six straight quarters, pushing GDP down by 50 trillion yen. As the economy has entered a deflationary phase, which also shrinks the GDP, obstacles to reaching the target are extremely high.


Solid ends, vague means

In its growth strategy, the government declared it would pursue a "third way" of seeking the creation of new demand, instead of relying on public works projects or following the principle of market fundamentalism as seen under the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The new stance touted by the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama appears to be in line with a policy pledge to "shift from concrete to human beings," meaning a departure from an industrial structure heavily dependent on public works projects.

The strategy listed two areas--the environment and energy, and medical and nursing care services--that the government intends to focus on and shore up. In these areas, which Japan can boast of having strengths in, there will be a goal of creating new demand worth 100 trillion yen and 4.2 new million jobs.

The government also intends to stimulate trade with other Asian nations--whose economies are continuing to grow fast--support scientific and technological development and strengthen measures to sustain employment.

There is nothing wrong with the direction of these policy courses. But, in terms of details in the measures, we find little difference with those included in about a dozen growth strategies hammered out by the governments of the past decade.

This is likely because the strategy was compiled from worn-out proposals submitted by ministries and agencies concerned. As it took only half a month to devise the strategy, it gives an impression that the government threw it together in order to thwart criticism that the current administration has no growth strategy.


Get private sector input

The government intends, by June, to complete the growth strategy by putting flesh on these basic policy bones and provide a road map for achieving these goals.

But it would be better to drastically review the strategy by, for example, inviting ideas widely from the private sector and narrowing down the list of measures to those that appear to have the greatest potential effect and feasibility. There also should be mention of how necessary funds for nurturing new industries and supporting technological development should be allocated.

If the Hatoyama administration sticks to its policy pledge not to raise the consumption tax rate for four years, it is unlikely that it will be able to secure a stable revenue source to implement policy measures. It must not have faith in a "rising tide" theory of economic growth being able to increase tax revenues.

It also is necessary to show the path to fiscal reconstruction for the mid- to long-run in order to ease people's anxiety about the future of social security and other matters.

Unless measures are taken to prevent a further economic decline and solve the deflation problem, any great growth strategy will merely end up being pie in the sky.

The government has cut spending for public works projects by nearly 20 percent in the fiscal 2010 budget, compared with the current fiscal year. Spending for urgently needed projects such as construction work to improve the earthquake resistance of primary and middle school buildings also has been reduced. These projects should be revived and used to help economic recovery.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 31, 2009)
(2009年12月31日01時16分 読売新聞)

09回顧・国際 オバマ政権登場で動いた世界

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 30, 2009)
2009 provided plenty of grist for media mill
09回顧・国際 オバマ政権登場で動いた世界(12月30日付・読売社説)

It has been a busy year. From a pandemic of a new type of influenza that hit the world this year to the struggles of the global economy to get out of recession to the prevention of nuclear proliferation and global environmental problems--the international community had to tackle a wide variety of issues.

On the list of the top 10 international news stories chosen by readers of The Yomiuri Shimbun, Barack Obama's inauguration as U.S. president and his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize ranked second and fifth respectively. This shows how popular Obama is, even in Japan.

In April, Obama announced his target of a nuclear free world during a speech in Prague--a story that ranked 13th on the list. Although he said it would be difficult to realize that goal during his lifetime, Obama chaired a summit-level meeting of the U.N. Security Council in September and led the council to approve a historic resolution aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons--a story that ranked 15th on the list.

However, Obama said during a speech at the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in December; "The instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace," positioning the U.S. war in Afghanistan and other conflicts as "just wars."
He made the remark as the leader of the world's preeminent superpower, based on the cold, hard realities of the world.


N. Korea still source of concern

In April, North Korea test-fired a long-range ballistic missile--the news story raking sixth on the list. The U.N. Security Council immediately adopted a presidential statement condemning the launch, but Pyongyang held an underground nuclear test in May (story No. 14 on the list).

As it was the second nuclear test North Korea has conducted since 2006, it was reasonable that the Security Council unanimously approved a resolution widening sanctions against the reclusive state.

Though the United States and China are continuing negotiations with North Korea, the six-way talks aimed at stopping Pyongyang's nuclear development program have remained suspended and will see the old year out without any likelihood of resumption.

The news story ranked eighth was the riots by Muslim Uygurs that erupted in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xingjian Uygur Autonomous Region, in which 197 people died. The incident highlighted the antagonism between China's majority Han people and Uygurs, showing that ethnic minority issues could prove to be the Achilles' heel of China, whose economy continues to grow rapidly.

In October, China celebrated the 60th anniversary of People's Republic of China, staging the military parade for the first time in 10 years, a story readers ranked 18th. It symbolized the efforts by the Chinese Communist Party and the government to boost national prestige. However, the administration of Chinese President Hu Jintao, who has just three more years or so in office, is facing a mountain of problems such as the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and spreading corruption.


Deadly blaze

The news story ranked seventh on the list is the shooting range fire in Busan, South Korea, in November that killed 15, including 10 Japanese tourists.

Also in South Korea, former President Roh Moo-hyun killed himself in May and Kim Dae Jung, former president and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, passed away in August, both of which were sad news for South Koreans.

From the first outbreak in Mexico in April, a new type of flu spread around the world this year. According to the World Health Organization, the global death toll from the disease, including deaths in Japan, topped 10,000. This was the No. 1 story on the The Yomiuri Shimbun's list of the top 10 international news stories.

The new flu pandemic highlighted various concerns about the way governments around the world cooperate to fight the global spread of infectious diseases. Developing countries suffered shortages of vaccines against the type A H1N1 flu virus.

The financial crisis entered its second year in the wake of momentous events in the first half of the year including the bankruptcies of major U.S. auto manufacturers General Motors and Chrysler--the story ranked fourth on the list of international news stories.


首相インド訪問 新たな大国との関係強化を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 29, 2009)
Japan should cement ties with new big power India
首相インド訪問 新たな大国との関係強化を(12月29日付・読売社説)

Despite the hectic political calendar at year-end, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama chose to schedule a trip abroad, to South Asian major power India.

India, which has been displaying remarkable economic growth, emulating that of China, is located in an important position connecting the Middle East and East Asia. Japan should promote an economic alliance and security cooperation with India and strengthen the bilateral relationship from a strategic perspective.

India has been maintaining an annualized economic growth rate of 8 percent and has the second-largest population in the world. The country is an attractive economic market for advanced nations. The number of Japanese companies that have advanced into India has tripled in the past three years.

But Japan's total trade volume with India has remained at a low level, and amounts to about one-twentieth of the value of the trade this country does with China.

Signaling his desire to boost the Japan-India bilateral economic relationship, Hatoyama held talks with business leaders in the commercial city of Mumbai before traveling to New Delhi for talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


Intensify EPA talks

Experts point out that India's social infrastructure is still insufficient, hindering the expansion of investment from abroad. It is important for Japan to steadily implement its economic assistance for large-scale projects in India, including the construction of a railway for freight transportation linking New Delhi and Mumbai.

Japan also needs to accelerate its negotiations for an economic partnership agreement with India.

In the negotiations, India has asked Japan to streamline its procedures for approving generic drugs and increase the number of tariff-free items. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry are reluctant to accept such demands, but we hope that concerned ministers will discuss policies for the negotiations, working out which items Japan should compromise on and which ones it should not, without relying too much on bureaucrats.

This summer, South Korea signed an economic partnership agreement with India. Japan should be aware this means South Korean companies will be able to get a head start in India on a more advantageous footing than Japanese firms.


Antipiracy steps needed

In Tuesday's summit meeting, Hatoyama and Singh are expected to establish a regular bilateral security consultation forum involving the foreign and defense vice ministers of the two countries. The countries are considering upgrading the security talks to a ministerial-level meeting in the future.

Ensuring the security of sea-lanes connecting the Middle East and East Asia is desperately important for Japan, which relies heavily on foreign countries for energy resources and food. We hope the Japanese and Indian leaders will discuss concrete steps toward that goal, such as sharing of information on pirates and mounting joint antipiracy patrols.

India is an important partner for Japan in the regional cooperative framework centered around the East Asia Summit.

On the other hand, concerning the new round of multilateral trade talks under the World Trade Organization and the climate change problem, India, along with China, continues to take the side of developing countries, and its words and deeds have caused friction with advanced nations, including Japan.

Japan should patiently call on India to play constructive roles that fit its new status as a major power.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 29, 2009)
(2009年12月29日01時16分 読売新聞)

指導要領解説書 「竹島」に触れないのは問題だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 28, 2009)
Teaching manual mustn't avoid Takeshima dispute
指導要領解説書 「竹島」に触れないのは問題だ(12月28日付・読売社説)

The generations who will forge this nation's future must be accurately taught about its territories and history.

However, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has made no reference to the Takeshima islets--which South Korea claims as its sovereign territory, an assertion Japan disputes--in an instruction manual containing its new high school curriculum guidelines on geography A and geography B set to come into effect in the 2013 academic year. This omission is extremely questionable.

Japan established sovereignty over the Takeshima islets no later than the mid-17th century--in the early Edo period (1603-1867).
In 1905, the islets were placed under the jurisdiction of Shimane Prefecture following approval by the cabinet.

However, South Korea has been occupying the islets unlawfully since 1952, when Seoul unilaterally drew the Syngman Rhee Line--a boundary laid down by then South Korean President Syngman Rhee in the Sea of Japan claiming fishing rights in the area--a move made in defiance of international law.

This country's official stance on the islets is that Takeshima has always been an integral part of the nation's territory, a view backed historically and by international law.

In current high school textbooks, six authorized textbooks for geography A and five books for geography B state there is a sovereignty dispute with South Korea over the Takeshima islets, and that they are an integral part of Japan.


1 step backward

In July last year, the education ministry added for the first time the teaching of Japan's stance on the Takeshima islets to a teaching manual for middle school curriculum guidelines for social studies, which will take effect in the 2012 academic year.

But the teaching manual in question does not clarify that the territorial dispute involves the Takeshima islets. It simply says, "Following up on what is taught in middle school, we should handle this issue accurately, based upon our country's rightful assertions, and help students deepen their understanding."

The education ministry says the government's stance--that the Takeshima islets are an integral part of the nation--remains unchanged. If so, the ministry should state this clearly. It makes no sense that what is taught about the Takeshima dispute at high school level is a step backward from what is taught at middle school level, despite high school being a place to develop what has been studied at middle school.


Consideration for S. Korea

Unlike the curriculum guidelines, the teaching manual comes with no legal obligation to be implemented. However, it will be a lodestar both for textbook publishers and teachers preparing for classes. The manual in question has the potential to generate misunderstanding among textbook publishers and teachers and cause them to disregard the Takeshima dispute.

Sources said Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made the final decision that the new manual should not mention the Takeshima issue.

When he was in the opposition camp, Hatoyama said, "It's natural to clearly state [the Takeshima issue]" when the issue was included in a teaching manual for middle school curriculum guidelines for social studies, which drew a series of harsh protests from South Korea. It is doubtful his latest decision could be squared with his previous remark.

Observers said the absence of any mention of the Takeshima issue resulted from the government's consideration for South Korean ties, as next year will mark the 100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of Korea.

Territorial issues and how to teach them at schools form an important theme that touches on the fundamentals of nationhood. South Korea is a valuable neighbor, but fundamental truths must not be distorted due to diplomatic considerations.

It will not be easy to resolve the territorial dispute over the Takeshima islets. For this reason, an unstinting effort must be made to educate people who will in the future help the public fully understand the issue as well as convey Japan's stance to the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 28, 2009)
(2009年12月28日01時22分 読売新聞)

09回顧・日本 越年となる政権迷走と不況

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 27, 2009)
New govt, economy top stories of 2009
09回顧・日本 越年となる政権迷走と不況(12月27日付・読売社説)

In our annual ranking of the 10 domestic news stories of the year, the change of government tops the list. The administration led by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama was launched after the Democratic Party of Japan's overwhelming victory in the August House of Representatives election, in which it claimed 308 seats.

Day after day the new administration offered up eye-catching proposals. However, three months since the administration was launched under a banner of change, the high expectations initially held by the public have waned, with a sense of uncertainty and concern about the coalition government creeping in.

Much public attention had been paid to the fate of the DPJ's manifesto pledges, such as the child-rearing allowance program, the abolition of provisionally higher tax rates for gasoline and other auto-related taxes, and government subsidies for high school tuition.

Toward the end of the year, however, there was an unexpected development regarding these issues, with DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa seeking a drastic government review of the pledges. It was as if we were watching a drama unfold on TV.

The Government Revitalization Unit's review of budgetary requests for fiscal 2010, conducted to weed out wasteful spending, was an attention-getter, but it failed to find and cut as much wasteful spending as it hoped.

On the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, Hatoyama decided to put off a decision on the issue that had emerged as a hot topic until next year, leaving the Japan-U.S. relationship severely strained.

Prosecutors have indicted two former secretaries of Hatoyama without arrest over falsified fund reports that violated the Political Funds Control Law. The trial of Ozawa's former secretary over a political funds scandal has recently begun. All of which have brought problems involving politics and money back to the fore this year.


Expressway issues

Seventh on the top 10 list is the introduction of expressway tolls set at 1,000 yen or lower. Discounted tolls on weekends and holidays for standard-sized passenger vehicles started in March on all expressways except those in major metropolitan areas. This is no doubt a topic close to the hearts of drivers.

The system was introduced in spring by the then cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso. But the new administration sought to go even further, proposing that all expressways be made toll-free.

However, if expressway tolls were done away with, there is concern that free expressways could lead to people in regional areas being deprived of public transport, such as railways, if such forms of transportation were to find themselves unable to make ends meet and were forced to cease operations due to more people opting to travel by car.

The 20th year of the Emperor's ascension to the throne ranks sixth. In the past two decades, the Emperor has resolutely adhered to the philosophy of sharing in the joys and sorrows of the people, always seeking to determine what his role should be as the symbol of the state.

Also this year, the Emperor and Empress celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. A variety of events were held to celebrate the 20th year of the Emperor's enthronement and the Imperial couple's 50th wedding anniversary.

Near the end of this memorable year, controversies emerged over the audience of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping with the Emperor, after it came to light that the Hatoyama Cabinet had broken with protocol to set up the meeting.


New-flu fears

The No. 2 domestic news story is the outbreak in Japan of the new type of influenza. The disease spread from Mexico to a host of other countries in spring, and reached Japan in May. The epidemic has yet to abate, and it has become a common sight in this country to see great numbers of people wearing face masks.

来年度予算 公約優先では財政がもたない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 26, 2009)
DPJ must find funds for its election pledges
来年度予算 公約優先では財政がもたない(12月26日付・読売社説)

The shift in power brought about by the last general election has caused a sea change in the process of putting together a government budget. However, the budget for the next fiscal year devised by the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration indicates that the government is unchanged in relying on the issuance of government bonds and nontax revenue for resources to underwrite its budget.
In fact, the next budget shows the government has become even more dependent on borrowing as a means of securing budgetary resources.

On Friday, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama finalized the budget for fiscal 2010. Its general account expenditures total 92.3 trillion yen, an all-time high for an initial fiscal budget.

The budget entails 53.5 trillion yen in spending for specific government policies, greater than the amount of expenditures in this category under the fiscal 2009 budget. Debt-servicing costs--expenditures needed to redeem government bonds and pay interest on such bonds--total 20.6 trillion yen, and local tax grants for discretionary purposes 17.5 trillion yen.


Only 37.4 tril. yen from taxes

Meanwhile, the next fiscal budget has set annual government revenue from taxes at 37.4 trillion yen, which nearly compares with that to be expected under the fiscal 2009 budget in the wake of a second supplementary budget. Tax revenue has fallen to about the same level as was registered 26 years ago.

The government hopes to make up for a projected revenue shortfall using nontax revenue totaling 10.6 trillion yen--known as "buried treasure"--and government bond-generated revenue worth 44.3 trillion yen. The money includes funds deposited in the special account for government loan and investment programs, as well as surplus funds from the foreign exchange special account.

Government bond issuance accounts for 48 percent of total revenue under the fiscal 2010 budget, meaning almost half of revenue is expected to come from debts.

The current economic situation is so precarious it must be rectified by an underpinning fiscal stimulus. Given this, issuing new government bonds will be unavoidable. It is easy to see, however, that the government's chronic reliance on debt cannot be left unaddressed any longer if one stops to look at the government's fiscal crisis from a medium- and long-term standpoint.

The greatest factor behind the difficulties in devising the next budget was the Hatoyama Cabinet's obsessive adherence to its goal of carrying out policies spelled out in the DPJ's election manifesto. The confusion embroiling the government in this respect started immediately after the new Cabinet was launched. The Hatoyama administration scrapped the guidelines for budgetary appropriation requests set by its predecessor, the coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, and also ordered each government ministry and agency to submit new budgetary demands.


2 miscalculations

Total budget requests came to 95 trillion yen, up 6.5 trillion yen from the 2009 initial budget. This increase was the result of the inclusion of policies contained in the DPJ manifesto, such as child-rearing allowances, making public high school eduction virtually free and a plan to eliminate some expressway tolls.

In the course of discussing how to fund these pledges in the budget, the Hatoyama administration noticed it had made two glaring miscalculations: a major drop in tax revenue, and its pruning of budget requests fell well short of expectations.

The economic downturn has caused tax revenue for fiscal 2009 to plunge more than 9 trillion yen below initial forecasts, with the fall in corporate tax especially severe. Tax revenue is also expected to stay flat for fiscal 2010.

The DPJ assumed it could secure additional revenue by cutting wasteful programs. However, its attempts to eliminate budget fat finished with disappointing results.

The DPJ had insisted 10 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen could be freed up by reviewing both the general and special accounts. In its manifesto, the party stipulated it would wring out nearly 17 trillion yen annually four years after taking power.

The budget screening to cut wasteful spending started with great fanfare. However, the screening panel could not find wasteful programs to the extent that the DPJ first assumed. The administration initially set a target of 3 trillion yen in cuts, but could only come up with about 1 trillion yen.

Despite this, the Hatoyama administration insists revenue sources are still waiting to be uncovered. The administration bears a heavy responsibility for these actions.

Despite this chronic revenue shortage, Hatoyama refused to budge from his plans to implement policies spelled out in the DPJ manifesto. This greatly delayed the compilation of fiscal 2010 tax reform plans.

Hatoyama eventually accepted DPJ requests submitted by Ichiro Ozawa, the party's secretary general, and modified several manifesto pledges, such as virtually retracting a proposal to abolish the provisionally higher gasoline tax. In the end, the budget was compiled within this year, although it was anything but smooth sailing.

Worryingly, huge sums have been allocated to policies apparently designed to impress voters ahead of next year's House of Councillors election, such as an income compensation plan for individual farmers.

Also disconcerting is the slashing of public works-related budgets by 1.3 trillion yen to 5.8 trillion yen, an 18 percent reduction from the initial budget for this fiscal year.

元秘書2人起訴 鳩山首相の政治責任は重大だ

Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 25, 2009)
Scandal responsibility lies with Hatoyama
元秘書2人起訴 鳩山首相の政治責任は重大だ(12月25日付・読売社説)

Prosecutors have decided not to indict Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama over falsified reports on his political funds. However, the prime minister bears a heavy political responsibility for, in effect, allowing his former secretary to continue illegal accounting practices for years. The prime minister also deceived the public as he did his best to avoid telling the truth on the murky matter.

Prosecutors on Thursday indicted Hatoyama's former state-funded first secretary without arrest for alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law. The secretary, who was in charge of the administrative affairs of Hatoyama's political fund management organization, allegedly falsified official fund reports of Hatoyama's political fund organizations. The prosecutors also filed a summary indictment against another state-paid former secretary for policy affairs to Hatoyama, who served as the accountant for the fund organization, ordering him to pay a fine.

The prosecutors concluded the former first secretary disguised funds extended by Hatoyama and his mother as income from individuals' donations and sales of tickets for fund-raising parties. The former policy affairs secretary was charged with gross negligence for failing to notice the falsifications by leaving the accounting work up to the first secretary.

It is extremely unusual for former aides to a prime minister to be indicted while the premier is still in office. But the amount of funds falsely entered in the reports totaled about 400 million yen over five years. The scale of the deception means that laying criminal charges in this case was an easy call to make.


Prime minister standing firm

Hatoyama has deflected calls to step down over the messy affair. "It's my responsibility to fulfill my mission as a politician," he said at a press conference following the indictments.

While Hatoyama was a member of the opposition camp, however, he was quick to make comments that seem to contradict his position in this case. "The responsibility lies with a politician if his or her secretary committed a crime." "If I were the person involved, I'd take off my Diet member pin." Hatoyama took these potshots on such occasions as the arrest of a secretary to former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Koichi Kato and that of a secretary to Muneo Suzuki, a House of Representatives lawmaker.

But now the shoe is on the other foot and Hatoyama must face up squarely to the situation he finds himself in. Where once Hatoyama was calling on others to resign, now he finds himself the target of such demands.

Hatoyama insisted at the press conference that he was "totally unaware" of the massive amount of funds originating from his mother. Even if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, his explanation leaves us shaking our heads.

Even if Hatoyama did not know about the funds dispensed from his mother up until June, when disguised donations filed in the names of dead people came to light, he later had the first secretary make a report on the matter and let a lawyer look into the case. It is inconceivable that Hatoyama did not notice the about 1.2 billion yen in funds from his mother.


Questions unanswered

The revelations came out just as the lower house election was approaching. If Hatoyama hid the funds from his mother in an attempt to save his own neck and avoid any negative fallout that could impact on his party's election chances, this would be an act of betrayal against the public.

Why did the first secretary make false entries in fund reports? For what purposes were the mother's funds used? Was the provision of funds from his mother a way to dodge paying inheritance tax?

Hatoyama has provided scant explanations to these questions. The prime minister must explain in detail about the series of fund-management irregularities. Without doing so, he will never be able to regain public trust.

「佐藤」核密約 東西冷戦下の苦渋の選択だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 24, 2009)
Secret accord inevitable during Cold War era
「佐藤」核密約 東西冷戦下の苦渋の選択だ(12月24日付・読売社説)

A key document that gives credence to the existence of a secret agreement between Japan and the United States over the reentry of nuclear weapons into Okinawa after its reversion to Japan has been discovered.

The document is an "agreed minute" signed by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and U.S. President Richard Nixon during a summit meeting held in Washington in November 1969, prior to the 1972 return of Okinawa.

The document showed that the United States intended to remove all nuclear weapons from Okinawa by the time of its reversion. It also indicated that Washington would require the reentry of nuclear weapons into Okinawa during emergencies, such as a possible incident in the Far East.

The existence of this kind of secret accord had already been suggested by Kei Wakaizumi, who served as a secret envoy for Sato. However, proof of the existence of the document has now come to light and the finding is of significant historical importance.


Difficult decision

During talks over the reversion of Okinawa, Japan requested "nuclear-free, mainland status" for Okinawa. The United States, on the other hand, stressed the necessity of allowing for the reentry of nuclear weapons in the case of an emergency.

Agreeing to the secret accord was thus a tough decision taken to ensure the reversion of Okinawa by striking a balance between the Japanese public's negative feelings about nuclear weapons, and security concerns within the Cold War structure brought about by the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Foreign Ministry has set up a panel of experts to research and examine the issue of four purported secret agreements with the United States, including the one relating to the reentry of nuclear weapons after the reversion of Okinawa. The recent discovery of the aforementioned document likely will help the panel make significant progress.

Sato kept the document at home and we wonder whether its contents were passed on to successive prime ministers and senior ministry officials in an appropriate manner. The panel should uncover the truth through interviews with the people concerned, and via other means.

The government has consistently denied the existence of such agreements. But, to restore the people's trust in this nation's diplomacy, the government should acknowledge that secret accords were struck and thereby settle the controversy.


Deterrence still essential

Though the Cold War has ended, it is hard to say whether the circumstances surrounding Japan's security have improved.

North Korea, which has twice conducted nuclear tests, reportedly possesses a huge number of ballistic missiles capable of striking Japan. Meanwhile, China has registered double-digit growth in its defense spending for 21 consecutive years. China reportedly has deployed a number of nuclear missiles targeting Japan.

The U.S. military's nuclear deterrence is still essential for Japan.

Presently, however, the Japan-U.S. alliance is being seriously shaken. The administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has indecisively handled the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, resulting in a strong sense of U.S. distrust toward Japan.

To maintain the effectiveness of the U.S. deterrence, we believe it is worth giving consideration to allowing port calls or stopovers of vessels and aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. However, such an act would have implications for the third of the nation's three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not allowing the entry of nuclear weapons into this nation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 24, 2009)
(2009年12月24日01時31分 読売新聞)

来年度税・予算 政権公約へのこだわり捨てよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 23, 2009)
Put the economy before manifesto promises
来年度税・予算 政権公約へのこだわり捨てよ(12月23日付・読売社説)

Compilation of the fiscal 2010 budget has entered the homestretch.

The outline of tax revisions for next fiscal year was approved Tuesday at a Cabinet meeting, and the treatment of child-rearing allowances and an income compensation system for individual farmers has been decided, too.

However, a serious tax revenue shortfall has cast a shadow over the process. Tax revenues in fiscal 2009 are estimated to be 36.9 trillion yen, over 9 trillion yen less than initially expected. Tax revenues in fiscal 2010 will remain almost the same.

This situation has made measures to secure tax revenue the most important agenda item in discussing tax revisions. However, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama failed to make any decisions on this matter, preferring to stick to implementation of the Democratic Party of Japan's manifesto pledges made for August's House of Representatives election, which will lead to huge budgets and a drastic reduction of tax revenue.

Hatoyama, having gone back and forth, finally decided the outline by accepting the requests of the DPJ submitted by its Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa.

The prime minister followed the same process in the budget compilation.

The government's budget plan for fiscal 2010 is to be decided soon. The prime minister in a few days must come up with a way to make a budget that can pump up the economy and offer reassurance to people with insufficient financial resources.

Treatment of the provisionally higher tax rate on fossil fuels, including gasoline, symbolizes the confusion afflicting tax revisions. The prime minister initially was determined to abolish the provisional tax rate in April as it was the pillar of his party's election pledges, but he finally decided only to lower the rates of the automobile weight tax.

We think Hatoyama's decision is reasonable. If the provisional tax rate was abolished, central and local governments would lose a total of 2.5 trillion yen in tax revenues, worsening fiscal deficits.

The DPJ had claimed that the provisional tax could be abolished because abundant new financial resources could be created by trimming fat from government spending. But wasn't it apparent from the very beginning that such a claim would end up being pie in the sky?

This shows the collapse of so-called manifesto politics. We have to say that the actions and remarks of Hatoyama, who stuck to the abolition of the provisional tax rate, have ended up deceiving the public.

The prime minister is apparently unaware of his own responsibility, maintaining that his change of policy is in line with public opinion. He must give the public a detailed explanation of why he decided to change the policy.

The government said it would spend a year or so studying the introduction of an environment tax, which was once considered to offset the scrapping of the provisional tax rate on fossil fuels. An environment tax, which would be imposed widely on fossil fuels and others, would become a heavy burden on industries and household budgets if introduced. It should be considered very carefully.


Child benefit needs rethink

The government likely will set up a special fund worth 2 trillion yen in the next fiscal budget, using such financial resources as the revenue to be generated through the maintenance of the provisionally higher tax rates. The money set aside for this specified-purpose budgetary framework will be used to help create more jobs, reinvigorate regional economies and implement other pump-priming policies.

The government has good reason to consider giving the economy an additional shot in the arm. It is also essential that the list of purposes for which such budgetary means would be used be narrowed down to a handful of measures that promise to produce an immediate economy-boosting effect.

Another focus of the dispute over the fiscal 2010 budget was whether an income limit should be imposed on the eligibility of households to be covered by the child-rearing allowance system. The government has settled the controversy by deciding the scheme will not set such a limit. This means every family with a child or children in the middle school age bracket or younger will be paid 13,000 yen per child monthly.

野口飛行士 宇宙の新時代を開く活躍を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 22, 2009)
Noguchi's ISS trip heralds new era for space activity
野口飛行士 宇宙の新時代を開く活躍を(12月22日付・読売社説)

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi safely departed for the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Noguchi will stay aboard the ISS for about six months.

His stay will be the longest that a Japanese astronaut has experienced. We hope he will steadily fulfill his duty in international space cooperation and enhance Japan's international presence.

Unlike a past stay by a Japanese astronaut, Noguchi plans to stay for about six months and has a private room.

Construction of the ISS is near completion. The number of residents there will increase from the initial two to the maximum of six by next spring, when Noguchi will still be at the station.

We can now say that the ISS is in full operation, and world space activities have entered a new age.

Noguchi is expected to not only conduct space experiments for Japan, but also support the operation and maintenance of the station and experiments carried out by other countries, including one the United States plans to ascertain the perceptual effect of sleeping drugs. Noguchi himself will be involved in the U.S. experiment by taking the drugs.


Soyuz a trusted spacecraft

As part of leisure and public relations activities designed to promote international space cooperation, Noguchi will make sushi in space. He will be very busy with various missions in the ISS, but we hope he will relax and carry out his duties.

This is the first time that an official Japanese astronaut will use the Soyuz capsule for a return trip from the Earth to space.  日本の公式の宇宙飛行士が地上との往復にソユーズ宇宙船を利用するのも、今回が初めてだ。

Past Japanese astronauts used U.S. space shuttles, but the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is preparing to retire its aging space shuttle fleet after the completion of construction of the ISS in the spring. Traveling into space means relying on Russia until the United States develops a new spacecraft. The launch of the Soyuz rocket this time is the first case under such circumstances.

The vital structures of the Soyuz spacecraft have been kept, and other parts have been steadily improved over the past four decades since the era of the former Soviet Union, during which period the vehicle has been launched about 100 times. The Soyuz has accumulated technology and is very safe, and its launch cost is one-tenth the 80 billion yen it costs to launch a U.S. space shuttle.


Space station's future unclear

In Japan, meanwhile, there are growing calls for this country to develop manned spacecraft.

The H-2 Transfer Vehicle, Japan's first unmanned spacecraft, which successfully delivered materials to the ISS in September, is said to be a prototype for the nation's manned spacecraft.

The HTV can haul more than twice as much cargo as Russia's unmanned supply spacecraft. The United States is considering using the HTV to supply materials to the ISS after the space shuttles are retired. The experience with the Soyuz spacecraft will provide Japan with pointers on what is required to turn the HTV into a manned spacecraft.

What worries us is the unclear future of the ISS. The United States, one of the major countries promoting the ISS project, only plans to use the ISS until 2015.

Plans to develop space will not proceed smoothly unless the nations concerned take ample time beforehand to think them through. In line with the start of the full-fledged operation of the ISS, the government should quickly discuss its plan with concerned countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 22, 2009)
(2009年12月22日01時24分 読売新聞)








[ 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.

seesaa100 英字新聞s HPs





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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