電力株主総会 批判を糧に信頼回復に努めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 29, 2012)
Power utilities should seriously take in criticism to restore trust
電力株主総会 批判を糧に信頼回復に努めよ(6月28日付・読売社説)

Nine electric power companies that own nuclear power plants held shareholders meetings Wednesday. Many shareholders called for management reform at the utilities.

Public opinion has turned strongly against power companies in the wake of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Concerns are mounting over the nation's electricity supply. There is no prospect of reactors other than two at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear power plant being restarted although the searing summer heat is almost here.

Power companies should seriously take shareholders' criticism of the current situation into account and utilize it for their management reform.

About 4,500 shareholders attended TEPCO's meeting, which lasted a lengthy 5-1/2 hours, about the same as last year's meeting.

Proposals from TEPCO, including one concerning the appointment of its directors, were approved. The new management team in which outgoing Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata will be replaced by Kazuhiko Shimokobe, former head of the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund's steering committee, was decided.

An amendment to its articles of incorporation, which is necessary for strengthening TEPCO's financial standing through an injection of 1 trillion yen in public funds, also was approved. This paved the way for TEPCO's de facto nationalization.


TEPCO must be humble

The reborn TEPCO must steadily implement its comprehensive special business plan to reconstruct itself. The company also must fulfill its responsibility to decommission reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, pay compensation to people and businesses affected by the nuclear accident and ensure a stable electricity supply. TEPCO should drastically improve its corporate culture.

Many people seeking compensation were bewildered when TEPCO sent them hefty tomes of application documents to fill out. TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa provoked further ire late last year when he said, "Rate increases are a power company's right." At present, there is no likelihood that TEPCO can raise electricity rates for households.

TEPCO's insensitive responses were unsurprisingly lambasted as "a monopoly company's arrogance." It is important that the utility does not repeat such blunders.

At TEPCO's meeting, the Tokyo metropolitan government--a major shareholder in the utility--proposed that the company's articles of incorporation include a provision stipulating that putting customer service first is TEPCO's mission. At KEPCO's shareholders meeting, the Osaka city government, the company's largest shareholder, made a proposal demanding thorough information disclosure, among other things.

All these proposals were voted down. However, power companies should seriously take to heart public criticism of their tendency to give users short shrift and their closed management.


No N-power not an option

The meetings were used by many shareholders to call for the companies to end nuclear power generation. It was particularly disconcerting that the Osaka city government proposed KEPCO abolish all of its nuclear plants immediately. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto also urged KEPCO to change its management strategy to one based on the assumption there will be no nuclear power.

Isn't Osaka, a city that consumes a massive volume of electricity, being irresponsible in taking the initiative in insisting that KEPCO abandon nuclear power generation?

Nuclear power is a fundamental power source for ensuring a stable energy supply. It was only natural that every proposal to dump nuclear power generation--including one put forward at the KEPCO meeting--was voted down.

Ensuring nuclear reactors are safe and restoring trust in the utilities are the most important factors in getting the reactors steadily reactivated. To this end, power companies must work hard to ensure air-tight safety at their nuclear plants and appropriately and thoroughly disclose information.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 28, 2012)
(2012年6月28日01時49分  読売新聞)

一体法案可決 民自公路線で確実に成立を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 28, 2012)
3 main parties must ensure reform bills pass upper house
一体法案可決 民自公路線で確実に成立を(6月27日付・読売社説)


The House of Representatives passed bills on integrated reform of the social security and tax systems at a plenary meeting Tuesday. This marked a significant step toward the nation's fiscal reconstruction and social security reform.

The set of bills--with an increase in the consumption tax rate as the centerpiece--was approved by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and its junior partner, People's New Party, and also by the two main opposition parties, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.

We applaud the fact that nearly 80 percent of lower house legislators voted for the bills on the consumption tax increase.

The nation's political parties should ensure the bills pass the House of Councillors. This will require breaking free from the kind of politics that has prevented leaders from making hard decisions.

It was disappointing that as many as 57 DPJ lawmakers--mostly from groups led by former party President Ichiro Ozawa--voted against the consumption tax hike bills.


If 54 or more DPJ lawmakers leave the party, the ruling coalition would lose its majority in the lower house and become a minority government.

The ruling party's effective breakup over the bills is proof that its executives lack leadership skills.


Take action against rebels

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will face more hardships in managing his administration if the ruling coalition becomes a minority government. While preserving his party's agreement on the reform bills with the LDP and Komeito, Noda should urgently rebuild the DPJ, which has been dysfunctional as a ruling party.

Deciding how to deal with Ozawa and other dissidents should be his first step.

When Ozawa's supporters held a meeting after the vote, they agreed to leave their next move in Ozawa's hands. "I'll have to make a decision soon," he reportedly said.

Ozawa apparently aims to shake up Noda's administration further with an eye on leaving the DPJ to form a new party.

On the surface, Ozawa insists that top priority should be placed on issues related to people's daily lives--a phrase the party trumpeted in its manifesto for the 2009 lower house election. Dig a little deeper, however, and it seems he is only interested in ensuring his and his group members' survival with an eye on the next lower house election.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama also voted against the consumption tax increase bills, saying the issue was not among the policies proposed in the manifesto. Hatoyama acted as if he owned the DPJ when he then said he would not leave the party.

Hatoyama himself should seriously reflect on his role in misleading the public by promoting the impractical manifesto.

The DPJ's immature and vague policymaking process was not the only factor behind such a large number of lawmakers joining the rebellion. Part of the blame can be laid with Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi, who hinted before the vote that the party would give only lenient punishments to members who defied the DPJ leaders.

The DPJ has never expelled members just because they rebelled against the party's leadership in voting. However, passage of the comprehensive reform bills is something that Noda declared he would stake his political life on.

As a condition for his party's cooperation in Diet deliberations on the reform bills, LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki called on the DPJ leaders to strictly punish the dissenting lawmakers.

Noda expressed his intention to come down hard on the rebels. We think the DPJ top brass should impose severe punishments as soon as possible. In particular, it does not need to show any restraint in dealing with Ozawa, who has gone as far as suggesting he will establish a new party.

The DPJ's relationship of trust with the LDP and Komeito will be undermined unless it takes definite disciplinary action against the rebels. The possibility cannot be ruled out that further revolts will occur during upcoming votes in the upper house.


Tripartite cooperation significant

At a news conference after Tuesday's vote, Noda said: "We can no longer keep passing debts on to future generations. Securing stable fiscal resources for social security programs and getting the nation's fiscal conditions back on a sound footing is the point of carrying out the integrated reform."

State debts, including those accruing from the issuance of government bonds and borrowings, amounted to about 960 trillion yen as of March 31, 2012. This is more than 7.5 million yen for every person in Japan. Furthermore, the social security budget will record a natural increase of 1 trillion yen a year as the population continues to age.

It is obvious to everyone that state finances cannot be sustained by borrowing more money to pay off debts.

Noda was forced to reshuffle his Cabinet twice this year. This is one example that shows his clumsy management of the government. But on the issue of integrated reform, he has pushed ahead without flinching. He should be lauded for this.

It is undeniable that Noda could not have come up with a scenario for legislating the reform bills without the cooperation of the LDP and Komeito.

The two opposition parties joined talks with the DPJ on revisions of the bills even though there was no guarantee the lower house would be dissolved for a general election, and voted for the bills. This was a wrenching choice for the parties to make. The LDP and Komeito, it can be said, displayed a responsible attitude befitting parties that held power for many years as a coalition government.

There are still hurdles to overcome before the final passage of the bills. But they will clear the Diet if the DPJ, LDP and Komeito maintain their "partial coalition."


Electoral reform urgent

In the upper house, discussions must be deepened on more efficient budget spending, such as cuts in social security benefits, as well as how to lift the national economy out of deflation. To help low-income earners, who will be affected more acutely by a consumption tax increase, introduction of reduced tax rates on some items should be studied.

The three parties must tackle other pending issues in addition to the integrated reform bills. It will be necessary to pass a special bill for the issuance of deficit-covering bonds.

Reform of the lower house electoral system must not be left on the back burner.

The disparity of vote values between some constituencies under the current system has been judged by the Supreme Court as being in "an unconstitutional state."

However, no concrete steps have been taken to rectify this situation, which can only be described as dereliction on the part of the ruling and opposition parties.

In cooperating with the LDP and Komeito, the DPJ should give priority to correcting the vote value disparity by quickly implementing a plan to cut single-seat constituencies from five prefectures without increasing seats in other prefectures.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2012)
(2012年6月27日01時18分  読売新聞)

エジプト大統領 イスラムと軍は共存できるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 27, 2012)
Can an Islamist-led govt coexist with Egypt's military?
エジプト大統領 イスラムと軍は共存できるか(6月26日付・読売社説)

Mohammed Morsi, the candidate fielded by the Muslim Brotherhood, was declared the winner Sunday in the Egyptian presidential runoff election held earlier this month.

Electing their own president in their first free election following the region's "Arab Spring" revolutionary democracy movements is a historic achievement for the people of Egypt, a great power in the Middle East and North Africa.

But it remains to be seen whether Egypt's democratization will prove successful. This is not only because there is no affinity between Islamism and democracy, but because the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the interim ruler of the country, may not relinquish power.

The extent to which Morsi will be able to advance democratization while avoiding confrontation with the military remains uncertain.

Morsi gained about 52 percent of the vote, just ahead of his rival, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. The rise in the power of Islamism in the aftermath of the collapse of the former Egyptian regime led by Hosni Mubarak continued in the presidential election. But nearly half of Egyptians are still anxious about the Brotherhood.


Islamism vs secularism

After being declared the election winner, Morsi said, "I am a president for all Egyptians," thus emphasizing his stance of giving consideration to secular elements. He also said he has respect for the military.

The statements apparently reflect his intention to overcome the nation's polarization into Islamism and secularism.

But the road to this goal will be a rocky one.

In the first place, the SCAF has greatly restricted the authority of the president's office. In addition, Morsi's support base is weak.

The SCAF has dissolved the country's parliament, in which the Brotherhood was the dominant force. The SCAF has issued amendments to a "constitutional declaration" that is equivalent to a provisional constitution, thereby grabbing powers over legislation and the appointment of those who will draft a new national charter. This will make it possible for the SCAF to intervene in the process of formulating a new constitution.

These developments will considerably delay a real transition to civilian control.

But it is to be noted that one factor behind the difficulty in creating a new constitution is that the Islamist forces themselves failed to smoothly select drafters of a charter in the parliament.


Mutual concessions vital

Whether Islamist forces and the military can make concessions to each other to work toward an early formulation of a new constitution is the key to progress in the country's democratization.

The Egyptian economy is in dire straits. Last year's political upheaval directly impacted tourism, a major industry of the country, and led to a drop in foreign investment. The country's foreign exchange reserves dropped sharply. The military administration has been holding talks with the International Monetary Fund to obtain financial aid.

If Egypt is to restore public safety and reconstruct its economy through international assistance, it is essential for the president-elect and the military to cooperate with each other.

Islamist forces have been on the rise in Arab countries where long-ruling autocrats have been overthrown. Will democratization move ahead after all in Egypt? How the Morsi-led government will turn out is a crucial test for the future of the region.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 26, 2012)
(2012年6月26日01時26分  読売新聞)

買い物弱者 地域の生命と活力守る支援を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 26, 2012)
Assist 'disadvantaged shoppers,' revitalize local economies
買い物弱者 地域の生命と活力守る支援を(6月25日付・読売社説)

Stores in many neighborhoods have closed, but residents do not have the means of transportation to reach distant places to shop. The problem of "disadvantaged shoppers" who face obstacles in buying daily necessities such as food is quite serious.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has estimated the number of disadvantaged shoppers based on the national census, commerce statistics and other data.

There are as many as 9.1 million people around the country without cars whose homes are 500 meters or more from stores where they can buy fresh food. Ten percent of the populations of Hokkaido and Nagasaki Prefecture are disadvantaged shoppers. The number topped 500,000 in Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture, respectively.


Problem not only in rural areas

People tend to think disadvantaged shoppers exist only in remote areas where depopulation and aging are steadily progressing and there is little public transportation. However, the ministry's study shows urban areas are no exception to the trend.

Due to the advance of mass market retailers into suburban areas, local shopping arcades are being deserted and small shops are closing. This trend is growing nationwide.

This is a serious situation that shows so-called food deserts--areas where daily food necessities such as fish, meat and vegetables are inaccessible--have been growing.

Both the public and private sectors should cooperate to map out various measures to deal with the respective situations of local communities.

A variety of programs have already started in some areas, including mobile stores operated by local brick-and-mortar stores that visit residential areas, Net supermarkets that deliver commodities ordered online and shopping buses operated by residents.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake, mini-mobile convenience stores in the quake-hit areas encouraged the quake-hit victims and contributed greatly to restoration of their daily lives.


Creative ideas necessary

We expect the distribution industry to produce imaginative and creative ideas. Helping disadvantaged shoppers can also become an opportunity for businesses to uncover demand they previously missed. We hope the industry will look into the matter from a long-term business perspective.

Nevertheless, some places such as underpopulated areas deep in the mountains will remain unprofitable no matter how hard the private sector alone tries. It will be indispensable for local governments to support private companies' efforts.

It may be necessary for local governments to promote the "compact city" initiative--bringing commercial and residential districts physically closer together--while securing public transportation for aged people that will make it easier for them to go shopping. Such community planning is important.

If the problem of disadvantaged shoppers is left untouched, the outflow of population will never stop and local communities will become further devitalized. We hope residents, volunteers, companies and local administrations will combine their wisdom to come up with ways they can work together.

Concerning assistance to disadvantaged shoppers, a wide range of policy problems are interrelated--revitalization of local communities, transport policy and distribution of food are examples.

The farm ministry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry should not carry out research or introduce model cases separately, but reinforce measures to assist the shoppers in a unified manner as the government.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 25, 2012)
(2012年6月25日01時25分  読売新聞)

リオ+20 環境を守る責任は新興国にも

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 25, 2012)
Emerging economies must accept environmental responsibilities
リオ+20 環境を守る責任は新興国にも(6月24日付・読売社説)

The summit ended as an illustration of how difficult it is for the international community to make truly concerted efforts to tackle global environmental problems.

The U.N. development summit to establish sustainable development goals, known as Rio+20, ended in Rio de Janeiro with the adoption of an agreement confirming the importance of making environmental protection consistent with economic growth.

The summit, held 20 years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, was attended by heads of state and government officials of about 190 countries and territories, who discussed environmental protection measures for the next 10 years.

Yet it must be said that the summit produced extremely poor results.

The leaders failed to decide on a global schedule for shifting to a "green economy," the biggest focus of the summit, leaving each country to tackle environmental problems on its own.

Building a "green economy," which means shifting to a low-carbon society by reducing dependence on oil and other fossil fuels while at the same time fostering industries related to environmental protection, is a task the whole world faces.


An old divide between nations

At the summit, Japan and other industrialized countries asserted that all countries must aim at shifting toward a green economy. But developing countries opposed the idea, saying it would hinder their economic growth.

Thus the summit ended up achieving no progress on the confrontation between developed and developing economies.

Following the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, landmark accords such as the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change have been concluded, with countries making efforts to pursue the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities."

The principle is based on the notion that, historically, global environmental degradation has mainly stemmed from the economic activities of the developed countries, making it necessary for the industrialized countries to assume heavier responsibilities for environmental problems.

This notion was later put into concrete form in the Kyoto Protocol based on the U.N. framework convention, under which only the developed countries are held responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


China joins big-league emitters

Yet the global situation has changed greatly. Greenhouse gas emissions from such emerging economies as China and India, which have achieved rapid economic growth, continue to increase, with China surpassing the United States to become the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter.

Despite these facts, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao insisted during the latest summit talks on defining his country as a "large developing country," maintaining China's stance that the developed countries must assume responsibility for environmental problems.

It is obvious that to protect the global environment, such emerging economies as China have to assume their own responsibilities, commensurate to their economic scale.

At the summit, leaders agreed to reinforce the U.N. Environment Programme.

But more than the expansion of a U.N. organization that is preoccupied with coordinating conflicting interests among member countries, what is needed is for developed countries to encourage newly emerging economies and developing countries to more actively tackle environmental problems.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba has made clear Japan's intention of extending financial assistance of 6 billion dollars (about 477 billion yen) to developing countries over three years from fiscal 2013. It is also important for Japan to take the lead in offering technological assistance, such as energy-saving technologies, to developing countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 24, 2012)
(2012年6月24日01時28分  読売新聞)

核燃料サイクル エネルギー戦略の重要な柱だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 24, 2012)
Nuclear fuel cycle essential to national energy strategy
核燃料サイクル エネルギー戦略の重要な柱だ(6月23日付・読売社説)

The Cabinet Office's Atomic Energy Commission presented several options in its review of the government's policy of reprocessing all spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants around Japan.

These options are being used in discussions at the government's Energy and Environment Council, which has been reviewing the nation's energy strategy in the wake of last year's crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The commission drafted three options for the treatment of spent nuclear fuel, assuming nuclear power's share of total electricity generated in Japan in 2030 will stand at 0 percent, 15 percent, or 20 percent to 25 percent.

The most realistic scenarios are those assuming Japan will continue to use nuclear power. In those scenarios, the commission assumes the nuclear fuel cycle will be continued. We think their contents are based on the nation's conventional atomic energy policy and are reasonable.

With the nuclear fuel cycle, uranium resources could be used efficiently and the amount of radioactive waste could be reduced. That is why Japan has long seen reprocessing of all spent nuclear fuel as a national policy.


Spent fuel disposal proposed

However, if nuclear power's share of the nation's total electricity generation drops to 15 percent, reprocessing all spent fuel will produce more fuel than necessary. In that case, it would be appropriate to dispose of some spent fuel without reprocessing it, such as by burying it underground, the commission said.

This is the first time an official assumption has been made that spent fuel would be disposed of--even though the commission said this would only apply to some spent fuel. Since it is hard to imagine the number of nuclear power plants increasing for the time being, a revision of the national policy of reprocessing all spent fuel cannot be avoided.

As for the scenario in which nuclear power accounts for 0 percent of the nation's electricity supply, all existing spent nuclear fuel would have to be disposed of. But this is unrealistic if Japan's difficult energy situation, without any viable alternative power sources in sight, is taken into consideration.

It would also be a waste of the valuable reprocessing-related technology that has been developed so far.

The Energy and Environment Council is scheduled to reach a conclusion around August. It should set firm positions in the nation's far-reaching energy strategy for the continuation of nuclear power generation and spent fuel reprocessing.

However, a mountain of problems remain.

The government has to decide at which nuclear power plants reprocessed nuclear fuel should be used while obtaining consent from the communities hosting such plants.


Solid nuclear policy needed

Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.'s reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, which is still under construction, is meant to become the nation's center for nuclear fuel reprocessing. However, the plant is facing technological difficulties as it nears completion.

Meanwhile, the Monju test fast-breeder nuclear reactor in Fukui Prefecture has had its own series of problems, though it is expected to make the nuclear fuel cycle efficient if it begins full-scale operations.

The nation needs a solid nuclear power policy to deal with those difficult challenges.

The Atomic Energy Commission asked the council to take national security into consideration in discussing the options, stressing that an international viewpoint is essential.

It is an important aspect of the issue because Japan's reprocessing technology can contribute to nuclear nonproliferation in a world where emerging economies have higher expectations for development of nuclear power plants in their own countries.

The bill to create a new independent regulatory commission for nuclear plant safety, which recently passed the Diet, and the revised Atomic Energy Fundamental Law both stipulate that the nation's safety regulation on nuclear plants must contribute to protection of the nation's security. This is a matter of course if the role of nuclear technology is taken into consideration.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 23, 2012)
(2012年6月23日01時09分  読売新聞)

小沢氏造反明言 民主は厳正処分を事前に示せ



The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 23, 2012)
DPJ must act against dissenters before reform vote
小沢氏造反明言 民主は厳正処分を事前に示せ (6月22日付・読売社説)

Ahead of a vote on social security and tax system reform bills, the Democratic Party of Japan must take a firm stand against dissenters if it hopes to extricate itself from a situation in which the ruling party can't even reach a consensus on such a crucial matter.

At a meeting Thursday, secretaries general of the DPJ and the two main opposition parties--the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito--agreed to put a set of social security and tax system reform bills to a vote in the House of Representatives as swiftly as possible, and to have them enacted before the end of the current extended Diet session.


Overshadowing the expected passage of the bills in the lower house Tuesday are moves within the DPJ to rebel against the party's leadership.

DPJ kingpin Ichiro Ozawa reiterated Thursday his opposition to the reform bills, saying he will make what he believes is the best choice after a vote is held. Ozawa also indicated he is considering forming a new party.

If he remains opposed to the bills, which Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has made a top priority, it is a matter of course that Ozawa would break away from the ruling DPJ.


Majority at stake

There is a possibility that DPJ legislators and others who support Ozawa's position will vote against the bills, withhold their ballot or refuse to attend the vote during a plenary session of the lower house.

In the worst-case scenario, where a large number of dissenting DPJ lawmakers secede from the party, the ruling camp could lose its majority in the lower house, just as it did in the House of Councillors.

Given this possibility, DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi vowed to do his utmost to stop the party from splitting, saying he would "keep the party together" even if a certain number of DPJ lawmakers vote against the bills.

If the DPJ leadership imposes weak punitive measures against dissenters, however, it would be no more than a Band-Aid solution, temporarily covering a deeply rooted policy rift in the DPJ.

The DPJ has avoided imposing severe punishments on lawmakers who dissented from the party leadership in past votes on a nonconfidence motion against a previous cabinet and a state budget.

It cannot be denied that discipline within the party has slackened and that party leadership has deteriorated.

Ahead of this crucial vote, we believe the DPJ executives must show their clear resolve to work out stern measures against dissenters, such as expulsion from the party or a request they leave. Such steps would do much to deter opposition to passage of the reform bills.


Manifesto proved unworkable

As one reason for his opposition to the bills, Ozawa said, "Implementing a large-scale tax increase ahead of other key tasks is a serious breach of the people's trust."

He also reiterated an argument made in the DPJ's manifesto pledges for the 2009 general election that overhauling administrative bodies and eliminating wasteful spending of taxpayer money would yield significant revenue.

But this insistence at the core of the DPJ's manifesto that revenue sources could be raised--eventually by as much as 16.8 trillion yen--by such measures as reworking the state budget has already been proven false. What does Ozawa have to say about this?

Three successive cabinets, led by Yukio Hatoyama, Naoto Kan and now Noda, have acknowledged that major points of the DPJ manifesto are not realizable, and have adopted a more realistic approach to steering the government.

Arrogant logic that disregards what the DPJ has learned in its policy discussions since it came to power can never be convincing.

What Ozawa needs to realize is that opposing the consumption tax rate increase, and thereby endangering the nation's social security system and government finances, is what should be condemned as an act of betrayal against the people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 22, 2012)
(2012年6月22日01時28分  読売新聞)

G20首脳宣言 欧州包囲網が迅速な行動促す

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 22, 2012)
Show concrete measures toward eurozone integration
G20首脳宣言 欧州包囲網が迅速な行動促す(6月21日付・読売社説)

It is meaningful that Japan and the United States, as well as China and other emerging economies, pressed Europe to take swift action to contain the eurozone fiscal and financial crisis.

At a summit meeting in Mexico, leaders of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies have adopted a declaration saying the G-20's eurozone members "will take all necessary policy measures to safeguard the integrity and stability of the area."

The declaration also pointed out the growing risks and uncertainties in the world economy.

Parties backing austerity policies won a slim parliamentary majority in the recent Greek election, avoiding at least for the moment the worst-case scenario of Greece exiting the eurozone--which would inevitably plunge stock and exchange markets into chaos.

However, the future of the eurozone still remains unclear. The eurozone crisis is far from being settled as financial instability is spreading in Spain. The turmoil in Europe is holding back the world economy, slowing it down.


Achievements at G-20 meeting

Frustrated by the eurozone's slow response to the crisis, U.S. President Barack Obama piled pressure on its member economies to make more efforts during the G-20 summit meeting.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda presented a united front with the United States on pressing Europe at the summit, saying, "There's no time to waste."

In response, European G-20 members including Germany and France said they will consider devising a road map toward the creation of a banking union, a plan including such measures as centralizing the supervision of banks and procedures to deal with failed banks, which currently differ from one country to another.
The nations said they will also consider strengthening fiscal integration of the area.

The fundamental problem with the euro is that although the currencies of the eurozone nations have been integrated, their fiscal and monetary policies have not. That is why the eurozone economies are still unable to find their way out of the crisis although they have implemented piecemeal measures again and again.

However, Germany remains cautious about the banking union, as it is wary of an additional financial burden. Germany is also resisting the introduction of common euro bonds, which would allow the eurozone countries to raise funds as a unit, a measure considered key to strengthening the region's fiscal integration.

It will not be easy to bridge the gaps among the eurozone economies, but they should take seriously the fact that G-20 members expressed their support for a banking union and other measures in the declaration, and deepen their economic integration.


Germany, France must take lead

Germany and France must take the initiative at a summit meeting of European Union leaders scheduled for next week to demonstrate concrete steps toward further fiscal integration to the world.

In addition, eurozone leaders should speed up their efforts to rescue Spain's banks, which hold massive bad loans. The cooperation between Greece's new government and other eurozone economies is also essential.

At the summit meeting, G-20 leaders also agreed that implementing excessive austerity measures alone will not be sufficient to rejuvenate the eurozone economy, and instead provoke financial instability.

It is praiseworthy that the G-20 members stated clearly in their declaration that "strong, sustainable and balanced growth remains the top priority of the G-20" and revised their stance of prioritizing restoration of fiscal health above all else.

In another step toward containing the crisis, China and other emerging economies pledged huge sums to the International Monetary Fund, enabling the IMF to expand its pool of emergency loans to about 456 billion dollars (about 36 trillion yen).

Markets are still doubtful the eurozone crisis will be resolved soon. In addition to the further self-help efforts of the eurozone economies, it is essential for the G-20 nations to strengthen their cooperation to contain the crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 21, 2012)
(2012年6月21日01時32分  読売新聞)

民主党法案審査 政策決定過程が未熟すぎる

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 21, 2012)
DPJ's policymaking process far too immature
民主党法案審査 政策決定過程が未熟すぎる(6月20日付・読売社説)

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan idles away its time as its executives try in vain to persuade its members to support certain policies. But its discussions are very difficult to control as everyone seems to have a different opinion. How many times have we seen this happening?

The DPJ's internal procedures for approving the drafts of the revised bills on integrated reform of the social security and tax systems saw many twists and turns up until the last minute, despite agreement between the ruling and the two main opposition parties--the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.

When the DPJ held a joint meeting of subcommittees of the Policy Research Committee on Wednesday, some members opposed to or cautious over increasing the consumption tax rate argued it would be difficult for them to win an election if the party changed its policy of creating a minimum guaranteed pension system as this was a fundamental part of its manifesto for the 2009 House of Representatives election.
Others said the DPJ has made too many concessions to the LDP on social security issues.

As Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has staked his political life on passage of the comprehensive reform, it is unreasonable for DPJ members to work against the person they chose to be party president. It is no exaggeration to say that they maintained this kind of attitude when the DPJ was an opposition party.

The DPJ should be aware its ability to remain in power is being tested, so it should approve the drafts of the revised bills as soon as possible.


Unstable process causes confusion

The fundamental problem lies in the DPJ's internal culture in which it holds never-ending discussions and avoids making decisions.

In September, Noda's Cabinet confirmed the DPJ's internal procedures for approving bills-- subcommittees of the Policy Research Committee review them first before they are approved by the committee's executive members. When it comes to important bills, a council of top government officials and DPJ executives give the final stamp of approval following a review by the committee.

The DPJ has changed its policymaking process every time it elects a new president. The administration of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama scrapped the Policy Research Committee, which was then revived by his successor, Naoto Kan. Noda's Cabinet has strengthened the committee's authority.
This means the DPJ has failed to establish a stable policymaking process, causing internal discussions to stray off course.

The LDP and Komeito, on the other hand, left discussions on revising bills on the integrated reform up to their respective executives before the three parties started talks. Both parties also have completed internal procedures to approve drafts of the revised bills.

The two parties have built up a mature decision-making process through their years in power, so these steps are a matter of course. Even though opinions differed, they manage to complete their discussions without causing problems.


Responsibility as a ruling party

In contrast, the DPJ's discussions on important issues involve all of its Diet members--even first-term lawmakers.

DPJ members may feel they are having vigorous and open arguments, but their discussions are poor in substance.

Under the divided Diet, it is odd if DPJ lawmakers believe all of the ruling party's opinions should score points. Instead, the party has a responsibility to move the nation's politics forward by considering arguments from opposition parties. It also should have enough will and capacity to fulfill its responsibility.

Even some of DPJ's prefectural chapters have criticized the group led by former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa, which opposes the consumption tax hike even though the party has painstakingly gone through internal procedures on the issue.

The DPJ should be aware that a ruling party has to make concise--and prompt--political decisions.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 20, 2012)
(2012年6月20日01時07分  読売新聞)

ギリシャ再選挙 ユーロ離脱は避けられたが

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 20, 2012)
Greek poll outcome must be 1st step toward ending crisis
ギリシャ再選挙 ユーロ離脱は避けられたが(6月19日付・読売社説)

Parties calling for the maintenance of austerity policies expanded their support among voters in a Greek parliamentary election held Sunday, making it likely the country will avoid the worst-case scenario of a departure from the eurozone.

This must serve as the first step toward ending the Greek turmoil and containing the European debt crisis.

Election results show the center-right New Democracy party gained the biggest number of seats, while center-left PASOK placed third. The two pro-austerity parties thus managed to acquire a parliamentary majority.

The anti-austerity radical left Syriza bloc came in second.

If the Syriza bloc had won the election, the European Union would have almost certainly withheld financial support for Greece. If this led to the country's departure from the eurozone, it would have dealt a great blow to the world economy, including Japan.

We applaud the Greek people for making a wise judgment at the eleventh hour. It is quite natural that finance ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, including Japan and the United States, issued a statement that Greece staying in the eurozone while fulfilling its commitment to carry out fiscal austerity policies would be beneficial to all parties.


Outlook still uncertain

But the prospects for the future remain unclear. The fact that stock price rebounds in Tokyo and other Asian markets and the buying back of the euro were limited indicates market skepticism about the possibility of Greece's economic rejuvenation.

A host of challenges lie ahead. First, New Democracy must hold talks on the formation of a coalition government. It is necessary to establish as soon as possible a stable coalition government aimed at restoring fiscal health.

Taking into consideration the people's opposition to fiscal austerity policies, New Democracy told voters during the election campaign that it would again hold negotiations with the EU to reexamine bailout terms and pledged to push back the date targeted for fiscal reconstruction.

But there is strong pressure from Germany and other eurozone countries for Greece to push through austerity and structural reform policies.

Simply tightening fiscal discipline will only invite a backlash from the people, making it impossible to open up new prospects. The Greek economy is expected to suffer continued negative growth. A sharp rise in runs on banks is amplifying financial unrest.


Exploring breakthrough steps

We urge Greece and the EU to explore the possibility of working out breakthrough measures so fiscal rehabilitation and economic growth can accompany each other. It is worth studying revitalization measures utilizing a bailout framework that will include the European Investment Bank.

Financial uncertainty also is becoming serious in Spain, where banking business deteriorated due to the slump that has occurred in the aftermath of the bursting of the property bubble. Delay in taking action to deal with the Spanish crisis will send the EU into a vicious circle in which the crisis expands.

Following a summit conference of the Group of 20 economies that opened Monday in Mexico, an EU summit meeting will be held late this month. Germany and France are urged by the international community and markets to display leadership in formulating comprehensive prescriptions to remedy the European crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2012)
(2012年6月19日01時28分  読売新聞)









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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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