日中国交40年 「互恵」再構築へ長期戦略を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 29, 2012)
Long-range strategy a must for Japan-China reciprocity
日中国交40年 「互恵」再構築へ長期戦略を(9月28日付・読売社説)


When diplomatic relations were established between Japan and China in 1972, who could have imagined the relationship would become as strained as it is now?

Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of a joint declaration by then Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing. Despite the importance of the milestone, events celebrating Japan-China ties have been canceled or suspended one after another.

Boycotts of Japanese goods have spread in China, and the bilateral relationship is in an unprecedentedly grave situation. There are no signs that Chinese protests against Japan's decision to nationalize the Senkaku Islands will subside anytime soon.

Rocky relations between the world's No. 2 and No. 3 economies are bound to have an adverse effect on the region as well as the global economy.

How should Japan deal with China? First, it must map out and execute a long-range strategy for normalizing relations.


A political, economic chill

Among the anti-Japan demonstrations that have occurred recently in China, the event that best symbolizes the bleak state of bilateral ties was the attack on a Panasonic Corp. factory by a violent mob.

Panasonic has played a pioneering role among Japanese firms in expanding its operations in China.

A meeting in 1978 between Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of the current Panasonic, and visiting Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping served as a catalyst for expansion by Japanese companies in China. In the meeting, Deng asked Matsushita to support China's development with both technology and business management.

In the wake of the meeting, Japanese firms rushed to establish offices in China, which created many jobs. In addition, the Japanese government continued to loan China yen until fiscal 2007.

There is no doubt the assistance of the Japanese government and companies strengthened China's economic fundamentals and helped China's economy surpass even that of Japan's in terms of gross domestic product.

Japan's cooperation with China, however, is largely unknown to the ordinary people of China.

On the contrary, China in the 1990s strengthened patriotic education in its schools, inculcating anti-Japan sentiment and spreading attitudes downplaying Japan's role among the Chinese public even as the economy developed.

This state of mind appears to be intensifying in China, allowing the current political and economic chill in the bilateral relationship.

Nevertheless, it should never be forgotten that the economies of Japan and China have grown deeply intertwined.

The two countries have established a system of international division of labor in which China imports industrial parts from Japan to assemble into finished products. These are then marketed domestically in China or exported to the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Both sides must not forget this fact.


Strengthen coast guard

The root cause of problems surrounding the Senkaku Islands lies in China's unilateral assertion of a groundless claim to the islets in the 1970s, but only after learning that the area of the East China Sea around the islands might contain rich oil resources.

At a press conference when the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China came into effect in 1978, Deng said, "It does not matter if this question [the dispute over the Senkaku Islands] is shelved for some time," thus proposing leaving the issue to future generations to solve.

However, China in 1992 enacted its Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, which specifies that the islands belong to China. More recently, China has caused friction to flare by repeatedly sending surveillance ships to the waters around the islands.

The recent nationalization of some of the Senkaku Islands is merely a transfer of ownership from a private citizen to the central government. China may have been angered because the purchase took place shortly after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Vladivostok, Russia, but China's ire has been greater than Japan expected.

At a recent meeting between Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in New York, Yang called Japan's nationalization of the islands a "denial" of the outcome of "the anti-fascist war," by which he meant China's victory over Japan in World War II.

We see Yang's attempt to associate the islands with unrelated historical events as extremely far-fetched.

Japan should not stand idly by while China battles for world opinion by vehemently criticizing Japan over nonexistent "faults."

Noda, speaking before the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, said, "Any attempt by a nation to achieve its ideology or claims through the unilateral threat or use of force is absolutely unacceptable." We see this view as eminently reasonable.

China recently launched its first aircraft carrier. The country's policy of expanding its military is sure to continue under its new leadership and will likely be promoted more strongly than ever.

If effective control over the Senkaku Islands were lost, it would be extremely difficult to regain. Therefore, the government must set as its highest priority the strengthening of the Japan Coast Guard's capabilities to counter any infringement on the nation's sovereignty.

Needless to say, a military confrontation must be avoided at all costs. The deployment of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft to the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture is an important part of boosting deterrence toward China.


Achieve prosperity together

Since several years ago, beginning with the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan had held talks with China over the joint development of gas fields in the East China Sea from the standpoint of fostering a "strategically reciprocal relationship" so both nations could live in harmony and prosperity.

However, "reciprocal" ties have been stalled since a Chinese fishing vessel rammed JCG patrol vessels off the Senkaku Islands in 2010.

Thorough preparations are essential to rebuilding the reciprocal relationship. The government must inform China through various channels that it is willing to cooperate, not only in the industrial and tourism sectors and in enhancing agricultural productivity, but also in areas such as energy efficiency and environmental protection.

Close cooperation with the United States is also vital in improving the Japan-China relationship, as is strategic diplomacy by reinforcing ties with neighbors, including India, Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2012)
(2012年9月28日01時12分  読売新聞)

安倍自民新総裁 政権奪還への政策力を高めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 28, 2012)
Abe should enhance policymaking capability to retake reins of govt
安倍自民新総裁 政権奪還への政策力を高めよ(9月27日付・読売社説)


Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "retry" comes with a heavy task--retaking the reins of government.

Abe was elected president of the Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday, defeating four contenders, including former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Shigeru Ishiba.

Ishiba won the first round of the race by securing a majority of local chapters' votes, but Abe turned the tables in a runoff in which only Diet members were eligible to vote.

Depending on the results of the next House of Representatives election, it is highly likely that Abe will become prime minister. After winning the presidential election, Abe expressed his resolve, saying: "I'll make all-out efforts to retake the reins of government. I'll make a strong Japan." He needs to devise a strategy and policy to revive the nation starting now.


Senkaku issue changes race

The fact that the runoff was fought by Abe and Ishiba, neither of whom head their own faction, illustrates the changes in LDP presidential elections, which in the past were characterized by alliances of intra-party factions.

Initially, LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara was seen as the likeliest to win the LDP presidency, but Abe and Ishiba expanded their support among local rank-and-file members. This is obviously related to China's high-handed behavior toward Japan over the Senkaku Islands.

During the presidential election campaign, Abe and Ishiba stressed the importance of diplomacy and security policy, saying they will resolutely protect Japan's land and territorial waters.

However, we cannot expect sticking to a hard-line stance to improve Japan's relationship with China.

When he was prime minister, Abe rebuilt the relationship with China, which had deteriorated under the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Abe agreed with Beijing to seek a "mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests."

Amid growing anti-Japan sentiment in China after the Japanese government's purchase of three of the Senkaku Islands, concrete measures to rebuild the Japan-China relationship are now called for again.

Abe indicated that he will work on strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance by enabling Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense and also that he would work to amend the Constitution. In addition, he has a favorable attitude toward reviewing a 1993 statement concerning so-called comfort women, which was issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

These are all reasonable aspirations. We urge Abe to present concrete steps to realize them.

It was unfortunate that there was little in-depth discussion on the challenges Japan currently faces during the party presidential race.


Show clear stance on TPP, energy

Regarding the issue of whether to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, Abe has been wary of clarifying his stance. "We first have to enhance our bargaining power. Then we should consider whether [joining the TPP] would serve the interests of the nation," he said.

A considerable number of LDP members oppose Japan's joining the TPP, so we assume Abe was concerned about the opinion of such lawmakers. However, if Abe really plans to lead the party in regaining power from the Democratic Party of Japan, he must prepare measures to enhance the competitiveness of the nation's agricultural sector and pave the way for the nation to join negotiations for the TPP.

On the energy issue, it was appropriate for him to express negative views on the DPJ-led government's "zero nuclear" policy. However, that is not enough.

Abe should lead discussions within the party over an energy policy capable of securing a stable supply of electricity for the nation--a purpose for which safe nuclear power plants are necessary--and come up with a viable counterproposal.

Six years ago, Abe became the first Japanese born after World War II to assume the post of prime minister. Under the slogan of "departing from the postwar regime," he revised the Fundamental Law of Education and upgraded the Defense Agency to the Defense Ministry. His other achievements include the enactment of the National Referendum Law, which stipulated procedures to amend the Constitution.

However, under his leadership, the LDP suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Councillors election in July 2007, which divided the Diet as opposition parties took control of the upper house. Soon after the election, Abe resigned from his post.

It is now said that one of the reasons Abe decided to quit was a chronic disease--ulcerative colitis--but the abrupt resignation left a strong impression with the public that Abe had irresponsibly thrown away his administration.

Abe will be tested on whether he can wipe away his negative image of being plagued with health problems and a lack of vigor.

Abe's first task as new LDP president will be to appoint new party executives.

In the first round of the presidential race, Ishiba secured a majority of votes cast by local chapters. At a press conference held after being chosen as the new president, Abe said he will "take this fact seriously." The results showed that Ishiba is highly popular at the local level. It would be reasonable for Abe to give him an important post.

During his time as prime minister, Abe was criticized for appointing too many of his sworn friends and aides to important Cabinet posts. We would like to carefully watch to whom Abe will give senior party posts.


Avoid unproductive confrontations

How Abe will steer the LDP in the next extraordinary Diet session will be important in determining his fate as the new leader.

The ordinary Diet session closed earlier this month after the upper house adopted an opposition-backed censure motion against Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The LDP has said the fact that the upper house has adopted the censure motion will carry over to the next Diet session. However, Abe showed a flexible attitude on the censure motion at the press conference, saying that his party will not necessarily refuse to participate in all Diet deliberations.

It seems that Abe wants to hold Noda to his promise to dissolve the lower house "sometime soon," which the LDP regards as a gentlemen's agreement, in exchange for the LDP's cooperating with the Noda administration on such matters as the passage of a special bill that enables the government to issue deficit-covering bonds in the extraordinary Diet session. We believe this is a constructive approach.

Abe was plagued by a divided Diet when he was the prime minister. It is time to put an end to unproductive confrontations between the ruling and opposition parties, such as opposition parties refusing to participate in Diet deliberations and justifying it with the passage of a censure motion, and political paralysis caused by such confrontations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 27, 2012)
(2012年9月27日01時30分  読売新聞)

中台の領海侵入 示威行動に動ぜず冷静対処を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 27, 2012)
Japan should not be perturbed by recent territorial intrusions
中台の領海侵入 示威行動に動ぜず冷静対処を(9月26日付・読売社説)

China and Taiwan are stepping up pressure on Japan over the Senkaku Islands. The government must remain unshaken by this, and should seek to calm the situation through levelheaded diplomacy as soon as possible.

A week has passed since China sent about 10 surveillance ships at one time to areas around the Senkaku Islands. China has repeatedly intruded into Japan's territorial waters, making such surveillance activities appear to be routine operations.

On Tuesday, about 40 Taiwan fishing boats and 12 patrol ships entered Japan's territorial waters. The Taiwan vessels departed after Japan Coast Guard patrol ships took measures against the intruders, such as spraying water at fishing boats.

Taiwan and China in succession started claiming territorial rights over the Senkaku Islands during the 1970s. If the government allows Taiwan and China to enter Japan's territorial waters with impunity, the nation's effective control of the islands might be shaken.

The government must address the issue with precautions and countermeasures. To maintain maritime order, surveillance by JCG patrol ships and other means must be strengthened as much as possible.


Enforcement must be firm

With the enforcement of the revised law on navigation of foreign ships, the JCG is now allowed to issue an order for foreign fishing boats operating in Japan's territorial waters to exit without boarding the vessels. It is essential to eliminate illegal actions more quickly and effectively than before and demonstrate the nation's determination to protect its sovereignty.

Since the government placed the Senkaku Islands under state ownership, China has continued making outrageous responses.

China has called off exchange events with Japan in economic, cultural and sports fields one after another. A major memorial event to mark the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, scheduled for Thursday, has been canceled. So has a visit to China by a Japanese business organization. This is an unusual situation.

These unilateral actions will undermine the international reputation of China itself. Further deterioration in Japan-China relations will only leave scars that will be hard to erase, and the situation will become much more difficult to heal.


Clear understanding needed

The fact that Japan has effectively controlled the Senkaku Islands has not been properly conveyed to the Chinese people due to Beijing's control of the media in that nation. We suspect the Chinese people do not understand what Japan's "nationalization" of the islands means.

China is stepping up its diplomatic offensive as well. It has released a white paper to justify its territorial claim to the Senkaku Islands. In doing so, Beijing apparently aims to make its case in the court of world opinion.

Japan, for its part, needs to make other nations properly understand what has happened with the Senkaku Islands and how calmly Japan has dealt with the issue.

Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai has held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing. The Chinese side reportedly said that Japan "must abandon any illusion, face up to its erroneous actions and correct them with credible steps."

This highlighted Beijing's usual high-handed attitude. But the fact that the two nations agreed to continue talks on the matter can be viewed as positive. The government should find a way to break the deadlock by having a series of talks between foreign ministers as well as between the top leaders of the two nations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 26, 2012)
(2012年9月26日01時22分  読売新聞)

液化天然ガス 官民連携で高値買い是正せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 26, 2012)
Public, private sectors must team up to lower LNG prices
液化天然ガス 官民連携で高値買い是正せよ(9月25日付・読売社説)

Imports of liquefied natural gas to be used as fuel for thermal power plants have skyrocketed, and the price of LNG has been surging. The public and private sectors must cooperate more to ensure LNG can be procured at a lower price.

LNG-consuming nations, including Japan and South Korea, and producing countries, including Qatar, took part in the first LNG Producer-Consumer Conference in Tokyo last week.

Japan is the world's biggest LNG importer and sucks up 30 percent of the total production volume. Since the crisis began at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Japan has increased its reliance on thermal power generation as an alternative to nuclear power.

Before the crisis, Japan's LNG import bill came to about 3 trillion yen a year. This is expected to double to about 6 trillion yen this year.

If generation costs at electric power companies increase and these costs are passed on through higher electricity bills, it will deal a blow to industries and people's daily lives.


Paying a 'Japan premium'

We are concerned that LNG import prices have surged to about six times the price of natural gas in North America.

LNG prices in Asia are linked to crude oil prices; the recent spike in LNG is partly due to higher oil prices. During last week's conference, Japan called for a review of the current crude oil-linked pricing system, but discussions on the matter ended up being carried over to the next conference.

The top LNG importers following Japan are South Korea, Taiwan, China and India. Asian countries and regions import more than 60 percent of total global LNG output.

It is essential for Japan, together with South Korea and other nations, to introduce a new pricing system and lower LNG prices by pressing producing countries.

As for price negotiations with LNG-producers, we hope a method in which not just a single company but many firms, including electricity and gas utilities, can jointly participate will be considered.

With Japan unable to restart idled nuclear reactors and the government laying out a zero nuclear power policy, LNG producers are cashing in by charging a "Japan premium"--forcing Japan to pay a higher price for LNG.

To alleviate this situation, the government should quickly reactivate nuclear reactors once they have been confirmed safe to operate. The government must give consideration to maintaining a balance among power sources, or it could find itself at even more of a disadvantage when negotiating LNG prices.


Shale gas could be savior

In the United States and other countries, new technologies are being used to extract shale gas contained in rocks deep underground. Shale gas reserves are huge, and extracting them will likely relax the supply-demand balance in the market in the future. Some observers have called this the "shale gas revolution."

It is encouraging that Japanese trading and other companies have started moves to obtain concessions to develop shale gas fields in the United States. The government should provide massive development funds and build a framework that will ensure the stable procurement of shale gas.

However, the United States has decided that its LNG can be exported only to nations that are signatories of free trade agreements with Washington.

The U.S. policy on LNG exports under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement--an expanded version of an FTA--remains unclear. Nevertheless, Japan, to prepare for the future, needs to quickly announce it will participate in the TPP to ensure negotiations on the trade framework are to its advantage.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 25, 2012)
(2012年9月25日02時13分  読売新聞)

中国威圧外交 リスク増大で日本の投資減も

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 24, 2012)
Anti-Japan stance may curb investment in China
中国威圧外交 リスク増大で日本の投資減も(9月23日付・読売社説)

Anti-Japan demonstrations in cities around China to protest the Japanese government's purchase of the Senkaku Islands have mostly calmed down.

However, it is a problem that the Chinese government is escalating its overbearing approach in diplomacy.

Chinese authorities banned demonstrations in Beijing after Tuesday, which marked the 81st anniversary of the Liutiaohu bombing incident that prefaced the Manchurian Incident.

The authorities apparently became wary that continuing to allow the demonstrations could threaten social stability because some of them developed into riots.

But we are concerned that Chinese President Hu Jintao and other national leaders have made a series of hard-line statements against Japan. Premier Wen Jiabao said in Brussels, where the China-European Union summit meeting was held, that China "must take strong measures," referring to the Japanese government's purchase of the Senkaku Islands.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who will succeed Hu at the upcoming National Congress of the Communist Party of China, also said some groups in Japan repeated mistakes and "staged the farce" of purchasing the islands.

They apparently were expressing their determination to make no concessions at all to Japan.


Doing business in China risky

However, we believe it was to the Chinese side's disadvantage that the demonstrations have made Japanese companies keenly realize the risks of doing business in China.

Resumption of operations is being delayed at some of the Japanese factories in China attacked by demonstrators. The Chinese side has not shown any willingness to pay compensation for damage caused during the protests. The Japanese nonlife insurance sector estimated that insurance payouts to the damaged companies would reach 10 billion yen in total. That eventually might raise insurance fees of the companies.

It is also a matter of concern that strikes for pay raises are occurring frequently at Japanese-affiliated plants in Guangdong and other provinces in China.

We understand why one Japanese business leader after another is expressing wariness about investment in China, saying they must be cautious.

Japanese firms have placed much value on China as the factory of the world and increased their investment in that country. Such investment reached a total of 6.3 billion dollars last year, up 50 percent from the previous year. This contrasts with U.S. investment in China, which fell 26 percent last year to a mere 3 billion dollars.


Millions work at Japan firms

Such aggressive investment by Japanese companies is sustaining China's employment and economy. It is estimated that several million Chinese work at Japanese-affiliated companies in China.

The violent anti-Japan demonstrations have trampled on cooperative relations between China and Japan that have been nurtured over many years.

It is highly likely that Japanese companies will sharply curb their investment in China and instead increase investment in other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand.

Because the Chinese economy is continuing to slow down due to a decrease in exports and other factors, China's real economic growth rate this year is expected to drop below 8 percent. It is certain that--depending on the investment strategy of Japanese companies--downward pressure could further increase on the Chinese economy, negatively affecting employment there.

China should realize that continuing its hard line against Japan could boomerang to its own disadvantage.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 23, 2012)
(2012年9月23日01時13分  読売新聞)

野田代表再選 民自公党首会談で連携確認を




The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 23, 2012)
With Noda reelected, DPJ must reconfirm 3-party pact
野田代表再選 民自公党首会談で連携確認を(9月22日付・読売社説)


By the numbers, it was a landslide victory, but considering the difficulty of the tasks ahead, the win can only be seen as bittersweet.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was reelected as Democratic Party of Japan president on Friday. Former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi and the two other challengers only managed to garner about one-third of the votes between them.

At the cost of splitting the ruling party, the prime minister pushed legislation through the Diet to comprehensively revamp the social security and tax systems, reforms that are essential for Japan's revitalization. Noda's reelection is a clear sign that DPJ members endorse the agreement to work together toward reform made between the three major political parties--the DPJ, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.


Noda's stance endorsed

In a speech after winning the election, Noda called for party unity, telling DPJ members, "I'd like to work with all of you to make a country where smiling faces are everywhere."

We think the party should now unite behind its newly reelected leader.

However, it was disappointing that the DPJ presidential candidates did not conduct a meaningful policy debate.

Noda has been supportive of Japan participating in talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, but he hedged his remarks on the issue during the campaign, only acknowledging that the discussions with other countries are ongoing. He did not address the issue directly around his rivals, who were either against the TPP or had adopted cautious positions.

The prime minister was probably concerned that pushing for TPP participation would cause more DPJ members to bolt. However, the decision should not be put off any longer, and we urge the government to join the TPP negotiations as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Noda supported the goal of eliminating nuclear power in the nation in the 2030s. "I want to unswervingly promote various measures in line with this basic policy," he said, while Haraguchi and the other candidates proposed an even earlier target date.

However, it is worrying that the four candidates hardly touched on the formidable challenges that could arise from reducing the nation's reliance on nuclear power to zero, such as negative impacts on the economy and foreign affairs, as well as how to maintain consistency with already existing policies such as a nuclear fuel-cycle policy.

They appeared enamored with the belief that touting the zero nuclear policy would work to their advantage in an election. As prospective leaders of the ruling party, we see such actions as irresponsible.

The debate over how to buffer low-income earners from the impact of a consumption tax hike also was mostly left alone, although two contenders--Hirotaka Akamatsu and Michihiko Kano, both former agriculture, forestry and fisheries ministers--proposed implementing reduced tax rates on certain items.

We lament that the DPJ missed an opportunity to set the direction for several key issues through its leadership election.


Thornier path ahead

Although he emerged victorious, Noda faces even more difficulties than before the election in steering the ship of state.

A total of 114 ballots were cast against Noda in the party leadership race.

In the debates prior to the election, Kano criticized Noda by calling for a "stronger culture of responsibility in the DPJ," while Haraguchi called for Noda "to take responsibility for causing the party to split more than once."

Seeking any possible advantage in the next House of Representatives election, DPJ members have continued to move away from the party to join the new Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and other emerging political forces.

If around 10 more DPJ lower house lawmakers were to leave, the party would lose its majority in the powerful chamber, even counting the seats held by its coalition partner, the People's New Party. This would leave the ruling camp vulnerable to a no-confidence motion against the Cabinet proposed by the opposition.

In such circumstances, the prime minister walks a tightrope in navigating political issues, and must maintain a precarious balance between preserving party unity and addressing difficult policy tasks.

At this stage, it is vitally important that the tripartite framework between the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito be kept intact.

In the divided Diet, where the opposition controls the House of Councillors, no bill stands a chance without cooperation between the three parties.

The prime minister has said he will make a preliminary decision on a reshuffle of the DPJ leadership by Monday, when he leaves for the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

The focal point in the reshuffle is whether Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi will retain his post. Noda appointed Koshiishi to the No. 2 post last year to help ensure party unity.

Koshiishi, however, has clashed often with the opposition over Diet affairs, including during the deliberations over the social security and tax system reform. Koshiishi's behavior highlighted the differences between his views and Noda's.

We urge Noda in reshuffling his party's executive lineup to place more importance on promoting cooperation between the ruling and opposition camps, instead of sticking only to crafting a strategy relating to dissolving the lower house for a general election.

The prime minister has also expressed an intention to meet with the new leader of the LDP, who will be elected in the largest opposition party's presidential contest Wednesday, to reconfirm the three-party reform accord.

We see a meeting in which the heads of the three main parties can exchange views on key political challenges as highly significant.

We hope the three party chiefs will have a candid discussion over such issues as how to rectify vote disparities in lower house elections, legislation for issuing deficit-covering bonds, and the compilation of a supplementary budget for fiscal 2012.


Start by cutting 5 seats

Concerning reform of the lower house's electoral system, the DPJ caused considerable consternations in the Diet by proposing, over strong objection from the opposition, legislation that included partial adoption of a seat-allocation formula for proportional representation elections that would favor small and midsize parties. The ruling party should not repeat such a sloppy, irresponsible act.

Noda in a news conference showed he is willing to tackle the task of slashing the number of seats in the lower house.

Before anything else, it would be practical to cut five single-seat districts to end the "state of unconstitutionality" in vote disparities. This would pave the way for dissolution of the lower house.

There is a high possibility that any talks between the three party heads would include on the agenda the prime minister's pledge to dissolve the lower house for a general election "sometime soon."

Noda has hinted that a general election should be postponed because "the political situation has changed" after the passage of an opposition-backed censure motion against him in the upper house. However, neither the LDP nor Komeito has backed off their demands for an early lower house dissolution.

Given this, we suspect the prime minister will have a difficult time unilaterally scrapping his pledge to dissolve the lower house.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 22, 2012)
(2012年9月22日01時14分  読売新聞)

原子力規制委 安全確認の基準作りを急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 22, 2012)
New N-body must quickly create safety guidelines
原子力規制委 安全確認の基準作りを急げ(9月21日付・読売社説)

It is urgently necessary for the new regulatory body to restore public trust in the administration of nuclear safety, which has been damaged by the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which was launched Wednesday, and its secretariat organ, the nuclear regulatory agency, bear heavy responsibilities in this regard.

In launching the new authority, regulatory divisions that had been overseen by several ministry and agency bodies have been absorbed into the new entity. The new authority has also been separated from the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and other government bodies that promoted nuclear power generation.

The new authority is an organ set up in line with Article 3 of the National Government Organization Law, and it has a high degree of autonomy from politics.

What is required for the new entity is, first and foremost, to make objective and rigorous judgments on whether the safety of each nuclear power plant can be ensured, based on its technical knowledge and expertise.

The new authority, comprised of chairman Shunichi Tanaka and four commissioners, must hammer out safety guidelines and establish effective inspection protocols as soon as possible.


Idle plants need to be restarted

Except for the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear power plant, where operations were restarted in July, the other 48 nuclear reactors in the nation remain idle.

This situation was caused by the provisional guidelines the government set for restarting suspended operations of nuclear reactors. Taking lessons from the Fukushima crisis, the government imposed emergency safety requirements, such as improved measures to secure power in emergencies, on the nuclear plants.

In addition, the government ordered utility companies to conduct stress tests at nuclear plants. The tests were introduced by former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, an advocate of abandoning nuclear power, and have no legal grounds.

Although test results on 30 nuclear reactors have been submitted, most of the results have yet to be examined. These results have been passed on to the new regulatory authority.

It is necessary to correct this half-hearted situation.

Tanaka said at a press conference: "Stress tests are politically motivated. I won't stick to them."

We consider this remark reasonable, given that stress tests are not a condition for restarting nuclear reactors in the United States or Europe.

It is also understandable that he showed an intention to improve disaster prevention systems and look into whether existing safety measures are flawed.


Timing is important

The problem is how much time the new authority will spend in compiling safety guidelines and making safety assessments.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. has expressed serious concerns over whether winter electricity supplies will meet demand without the restart of nuclear reactors. But Tanaka said, "It will probably be difficult [to restart] by year-end." He also said, "I'm not going to take electricity supply and demand into account."

Surely, it is not acceptable to make snap decisions on matters concerning safety measures. But if the new authority postpones making judgments by giving too much weight to thoughtless calls to abandon nuclear power, which likely will have a negative impact on industry and the people's daily lives with blackouts, the role of the authority itself will be put into question.

The new authority is facing a number of tasks, such as establishing measures to ensure safety at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant while its reactors are decommissioned and studying the feasibility of decommissioning reactors after 40 years of operation.

There has been criticism over the fact that Diet approval has yet to be given to the government's appointments of members of the new authority. But nothing is more important for them than steadily fulfilling their duties and producing tangible results.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 21, 2012)
(2012年9月21日01時40分  読売新聞)

原発ゼロ方針 「戦略」の練り直しが不可欠だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 21, 2012)
Govt must retract zero nuclear target for good of economy
原発ゼロ方針 「戦略」の練り直しが不可欠だ(9月20日付・読売社説)

What was the conclusion of the recent Cabinet meeting on the government's "zero nuclear" target? It is unclear whether the government has decided to review the policy or push it through.

The government should clearly retract the zero nuclear target, which could deal a serious blow to the economy and employment if implemented, and instead come up with a feasible energy strategy.

The Cabinet refrained from approving the government's "innovative energy and environmental strategy," which sets a target of "zero nuclear power plants operating" in the 2030s, at the meeting Wednesday.

Instead, the Cabinet merely approved the government's policy to "conduct responsible discussions with related local governments and the international community based on the strategy" and implement future energy and environmental policies "while making tireless efforts to examine and revise them."

The new energy strategy has drawn angry reactions from the business community as well as local governments that host nuclear power plants. The United States, which concluded a cooperation agreement on nuclear energy with Japan, has also expressed strong concerns over the plan.


Economic losses 'unavoidable'

Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, heads of the nation's top three business organizations--the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Japan Association of Corporate Executives--held a joint emergency press conference Tuesday to demand the government retract the zero nuclear target.

It was unusual for the heads of the three top business organizations to jointly express their dissatisfaction with government policy. The demand reflected their fears that electricity charges may double if the government implements a zero nuclear policy, and unavoidably force companies to relocate production overseas, leading to massive employment losses.

The government has so far failed to work out how to secure viable alternatives to nuclear energy, such as methods to further utilize renewable energy, mainly solar and wind power. The zero nuclear target may threaten the country's ability to secure a stable supply of electricity.

Considering these concerns, it was entirely appropriate for the Cabinet to refrain from quickly approving the new energy strategy.

However, Motohisa Furukawa, state minister in charge of national policy, said at a press conference that the Cabinet meeting "did not change the decisions made regarding the strategy." It was problematic for him to make remarks that can be interpreted as the government maintaining the zero nuclear target.

Without assuaging the deep resentment of the business community, it will be almost impossible for the government to implement its energy strategy smoothly. The government should sincerely listen to the opinions of businesses and improve soured relationships with them soon.


Energy policies not political tool

Energy policies should not be made to please voters in the upcoming general election--far-sighted initiatives concerning the nation's future are necessary.

All candidates of the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential race have carefully avoided expressing opinions in favor of the zero nuclear target. We believe they made appropriate decisions.

Meanwhile, during the election campaign for the Democratic Party of Japan's presidential race, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said: "The public has expressed its resolve [to abolish all nuclear power plants]. Based on the wishes of the people, the government has also made its decision."

However, we doubt whether there is a sufficient number of people who understand the risks of a zero nuclear policy--such as unemployment and poverty--and would be willing to undergo the hardships involved.

The government has a responsibility to choose the best national policy. It is a mistake for the government to pass the responsibility to the public and justify it as the "will of the people."

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 20, 2012)
(2012年9月20日01時21分  読売新聞)

反日デモ続く 対中感情の悪化を招くだけだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 20, 2012)
Anti-Japan rallies can only worsen feelings toward China
反日デモ続く 対中感情の悪化を招くだけだ(9月19日付・読売社説)

In the face of days of fierce anti-Japan demonstrations in China, Japan's attitude toward China has continued to deteriorate. We wonder to what extent the Chinese government is aware of the serious effect the protests are having on bilateral relations.

On the 81st anniversary of the Liutiaohu Incident, which triggered the Manchurian Incident, on Tuesday, large-scale anti-Japan demonstrations were held in dozens of places across China. Demonstrations over the Japanese government's nationalization of the Senkaku Islands have been held for the eighth consecutive day.

In Shenyang, Liaoning Province, where the Liutiaohu Incident took place, the windows of the Japanese Consulate General were smashed by rocks thrown by demonstrators. This reckless violence followed vandalism against Japanese-affiliated companies in a number of places in China last weekend.

Although the Chinese government appears to be trying to stem the extreme violence, it still permits the demonstrations. Some Japanese-affiliated companies have been forced to suspend factory operations and close their outlets. Chinese working at Japanese-affiliated companies or Japanese restaurants are also victimized by the acts of destruction.


Income gap also protested

Demonstrators holding portraits of Mao Zedong aloft apparently were also showing their strong discontent over the growing income disparity under the current Chinese administration. This indicates the demonstrations were not simply aimed only at Japan.

If China's pressure on Japan escalates, tensions between the two countries will increase further. To prepare for unpredictable events, the Japanese government should keep in close contact with Japanese citizens and Japanese-affiliated companies in China. It also should strongly press the Chinese government to ensure the safety of Japanese people and companies.

It has been reported that more than 10,000 Chinese fishing vessels set sail in the East China Sea and that about 1,000 vessels are expected to arrive in areas around the Senkaku Islands. In an attempt to wrench the islands from Japan's control, those vessels, escorted by fishery surveillance ships of the Chinese Agriculture Ministry, may enter Japan's territorial waters.

Ships sent by the Chinese authorities entered Japan's territorial waters Friday and Tuesday. The Japan Coast Guard must not relax its vigilance and surveillance activities in the immediate future.


Japan, U.S. should cooperate

In talks in Tokyo on Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba agreed the two nations would cooperate to prevent Japan-China relations from being irreparably damaged. Japan and the United States must continue to urge China to handle the matter in a levelheaded manner and resolve the situation as soon as possible.

The Japanese and U.S. governments also have agreed that deployment of the U.S. Marine Corps' new Osprey transport aircraft in Okinawa Prefecture will proceed as planned.

Strengthening the functions of the U.S. forces stationed in Japan will help guide China to act in a restrained manner.

The Chinese government has submitted to the United Nations a nautical chart that identifies the areas around the Senkaku Islands as its "territorial waters." Beijing also has decided to submit an application to move the outer limit of its continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles from the baseline of its territorial waters in the East China Sea. These are steps apparently aimed at strengthening China's territorial claim over the Senkaku Islands.

The Japanese government for its part must make its stance clear to the international community that the Senkaku Islands are an integral part of Japan's territory.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 19, 2012)
(2012年9月19日01時50分  読売新聞)

反米デモ 中東の不安定化を憂慮する

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 19, 2012)
Anti-U.S. feelings mustn't lead to destabilization of Middle East
反米デモ 中東の不安定化を憂慮する(9月18日付・読売社説)

Anti-U.S. demonstrations have spread in Middle Eastern and Asian countries over a video clip from a U.S. film regarded by Muslims as disparaging the Prophet Mohammed.

In the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, the U.S. ambassador and three staff members were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate. It is strongly believed that armed extremists carried out the terrorist attack by taking advantage of the chaos caused by the anti-U.S. protests.

In Cairo, some protesters stormed into the U.S. Embassy compound. U.S. embassies also were attacked in Sudan and Tunisia. In Yemen, people were killed in clashes between protesters and police.

The wave of protests has spread to Asian countries with Muslim majorities, including Indonesia and Malaysia.

Images from the video clip of the film, which was produced in the United States, spread across the world after it was posted on the Internet. It is not known which individual or group produced the video clip or why it was posted on the Internet, but it has fueled religious hostility. No wonder Muslims are offended.


Violence should be avoided

Even so, acts of violence and sabotage should never be permitted regardless of the anger the film provoked.

U.S. President Barack Obama strongly denounced the attacks on the U.S. ambassador and others, saying "we reject the denigration of any religion...Yet there never is any justification for violence."

We hope the situation will calm down as early as possible.

A major concern is that anti-U.S. sentiment has spread widely among common people in the Middle East, not just Muslim radicals.

This may be because of their distrust in and discontent with U.S. policies vis-a-vis the Middle East.

After taking office in 2009, Obama made an effort to improve relations with the Islamic world, where anti-U.S. sentiment had increased because of the Iraq War. He supported the Arab Spring reform movement against autocratic leaders.

Nevertheless, the demonstrations triggered by a video that has no connection whatsoever with the U.S. administration have spread. This underscores the existence of deep-rooted anti-U.S. feelings in addition to religious issues. Obama's Middle East policies do not seem to be functioning effectively.


Democratization half done

In Egypt and other countries where autocratic rulers were ousted during the Arab Spring movement, democratization is only half carried out. We are worried over how the anti-U.S. protests will affect the internal politics of Middle Eastern countries.

If the Middle East is thrown into chaos, it will have a global impact.

As a "Pacific nation," the United States has attached more importance to Asia. But if Washington changes this policy and deploys a significant number of troops to the Middle East, it may affect Japan's national security.

As Japan relies on the Middle East for slightly more than 80 percent of its crude oil imports, it is essential for this country to support the region's economic development by providing official development assistance and contribute to stabilizing the political situation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 18, 2012)
(2012年9月18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



[ 英字新聞リンク ]
yahoo geolog

[ HPリンク ]
cocolog 家族のアルバム
fc2 家族のアルバム
Preliminary Japanese lessons for Thai students

  • ライブドアブログ