「国防軍」 本質的な憲法論議に踏み込め

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 29, 2012)
Step up constitutional debate on 'national defense force'
「国防軍」 本質的な憲法論議に踏み込め(11月28日付・読売社説)

The Liberal Democratic Party has pledged in its manifesto for the upcoming House of Representatives election that it will revise the Constitution to enable Japan to possess a national defense military force. This has emerged as a key issue in the coming election campaign.

At this juncture, each political party should wade into more fundamental discussions on revising the Constitution.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was quick to take a swipe at the LDP pledge. "I don't understand the significance of revising the Constitution to position the Self-Defense Forces as a military force, by venturing to change the name to a defense military force," he said. Noda's comments ignited a debate on this issue.

LDP President Shinzo Abe countered Noda's criticism, saying the problem is that the SDF are regarded as a military force under international law, but they are not a military force according to the government's interpretation of the Constitution. Abe went as far as saying that if the SDF are not a military force, SDF personnel would not be handled as prisoners of war if they are captured.

We think Abe's point is quite reasonable.


Defining the SDF

The first paragraph of Article 9 of the Constitution stipulates the nation's renunciation of war. The second paragraph says, "In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained." Thus, it spells out that Japan will not possess military forces.

The LDP pledge mirrors a draft for revising the Constitution it announced in April when Sadakazu Tanigaki was the party's president. According to the draft, the first paragraph of Article 9 will be maintained, but the second paragraph will be deleted. The draft then stipulates the nation's maintenance of a "military force for defense," saying the preceding paragraph "does not prevent the country from invoking its right to self-defense."

It is only natural for the Constitution to clearly define the organization that will defend this country. We think it is time to end the ambiguity over the legal status of the Self-Defense Forces.

In 2004, The Yomiuri Shimbun proposed several revisions to the Constitution. One change we suggested was the maintenance of a "military force for self-defense."

When Noda's Democratic Party of Japan was an opposition party, he himself said in his book that the SDF are "a military force to the eyes of foreign nations," and they "have to be clearly defined [as a combat force] in the Constitution."

We cannot understand why Noda recently made a statement that flew in the face of his own argument.


Noda rejecting own theory

It is also problematic that the prime minister said such things as, "Does this mean Japan should transform the SDF into an organization that launches intercontinental ballistic missiles?" This is nothing but an electioneering tactic to affix a "hawk" label to the LDP under Abe and unnecessarily stir up voters' anxieties.

On the other hand, the previous DPJ manifesto's reference to planned discussions on revisions to the Constitution has vanished from its policy pledges for the coming election. This gives the strong impression that the party has retreated from its position three years ago, when it called for "free and unrestricted constitutional debate."

Given that the DPJ initiated the latest debate over the "defense military force," it must present its policy for defining the SDF and the right to self-defense in the Constitution.

We hope the election campaign will feature lively debate on whether the right to collective self-defense can be exercised, and how the SDF should conduct its international activities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 28, 2012)
(2012年11月28日01時23分  読売新聞)

韓国大統領選 対日・「北」政策を注視したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 28, 2012)
How will S. Korea's presidential election affect ties with Japan?
韓国大統領選 対日・「北」政策を注視したい(11月27日付・読売社説)

South Korea's presidential election campaign has officially kicked off. Voting is scheduled for Dec. 19.

Under the current Lee Myung Bak administration, the country's relations with North Korea and Japan have become severely strained. Will the new administration be able to rectify this situation? The outcome of the race will definitely affect Japan's future.

The election, the first in five years, is expected to be a virtual head-to-head battle between Park Geun Hye of the ruling Saenuri Party and Moon Jae In of the main opposition Democratic United Party. It has become a straightforward conservative versus liberal choice after independent Ahn Cheol Soo, who was considered a powerful rival, dropped out of the race. The contest is expected to be a neck-and-neck race.

Park, representing the conservative camp, seeks to become the first female president of South Korea. Her father, Park Chung Hee, made the bold decision to normalize relations with Japan and paved the way for the nation's high economic growth during his presidency.

Moon, who represents leftists whose origins can be traced back to those who served in the Kim Dae Jung administration, was imprisoned for opposing Park Chung Hee's long authoritarian rule, and has served as a human-rights lawyer and chief secretary of former President Roh Moo Hyun--Lee's predecessor.

Although Park and Moon belong to the same generation, they have contrasting careers and their policies differ widely. We should pay close attention to their verbal battles.


Economic growth main issue

The campaign's main point of contention will be economic policy.

Lee has succeeded in significantly boosting South Korea's exports through economic policies based on free trade agreements with the United States, the European Union and other countries. However, his policies have also resulted in a widening rich-poor gap. Unemployment among the younger generation also has become a persistent problem. The South Korean public has strongly criticized Lee for only focusing on big companies.

As a result, both candidates have pledged to narrow the rich-poor gap under the slogan of "economic democratization." Moon, for example, is focusing on reforming chaebols--South Korea's conglomerates--and placing more emphasis on helping ordinary workers. The two candidates will be tested on whether they can come up with concrete measures to ensure the nation's economic growth.

The second issue will be North Korea.

Moon has said he will adopt the conciliatory "Sunshine Policy" that the Kim and Roh administrations used in dealing with North Korea, indicating that he was prepared to resume large-scale food and fertilizer aid to the reclusive country. Moon also has declared he wants to hold summit talks between Seoul and Pyongyang next year.

We would like to know how Moon plans to approach North Korea to have that country abandon its nuclear development program.

Park said she would not hesitate to hold a summit meeting if it led to better ties between the two countries. However, she is taking a gradual approach on the issue, which is to deter North Korea from taking provocative actions on one hand while working on confidence building on the other. We believe her approach is more practical than Moon's.


Concern over bilateral relations

The two candidates' policies in regard to Japan are also important.

Japan-South Korea relations deteriorated rapidly after Lee's visit to the Takeshima islands and his call for an apology from the Emperor. The two candidates are in favor of rectifying strained relations with Japan, as they have talked about building "future-oriented" ties between the two countries. Park has also referred to the resumption of FTA negotiations between Japan and South Korea.

However, Park and Moon both take uncompromising attitudes against Japan on certain issues, such as Takeshima. Moon's stance is especially worrying, as he says he will no longer allow Seoul to continue "quiet diplomacy" on the issue. He also suggested he will pursue Japan's legal responsibility on the issue of so-called comfort women if he becomes president.

We are concerned that if Moon takes office, he would emulate the diplomacy of the Roh administration, which took an unyielding hard-line stance against Japan and stalled relations between the two countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 27, 2012)
(2012年11月27日01時12分  読売新聞)

社会保障 持続可能な制度へ論戦深めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 27, 2012)
Parties must deepen debate on sustainable welfare system
社会保障 持続可能な制度へ論戦深めよ(11月26日付・読売社説)


Political parties must engage in policy discussions on how to build a sustainable social security system.

The nation's population is aging quickly amid a chronically low birthrate. The present "cavalry-type" society in which every senior citizen is sustained by 2.4 people of the working population will change into a "piggyback-type" one in 30 years in which there will be only 1.3 people for every retirement-age Japanese.

If nothing is done to prevent this, the collapse of Japan's welfare system will only be a matter of time.


To help reconstruct state finances while covering rising social security costs, the Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito joined hands to pass the bill on integrated reform of the social security and tax systems. The centerpiece of this bill was a planned doubling of the consumption tax rate.

People's Life First and some other parties, however, want the planned tax increase rescinded. Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), on the other hand, says the social security system should not be sustained with the consumption tax." This is a questionable argument.

The DPJ, the LDP and Komeito need to elaborate on the significance of the welfare and tax system reforms during campaigning for next month's House of Representatives election.

It is disconcerting that every party tends to trumpet only support for increasing welfare benefits and lessening the burdens on the public as they try to pander to voters during the election campaign.

If welfare benefits are expanded without a clear objective, the inescapable result will be an endless rise in the consumption tax rate.


Benefit outlays must be cut

Parties have a responsibility to explain how they will cap social security benefits.

The revised National Pension Law enacted during the recent extraordinary Diet session was aimed at reining in pension payments. This should be applauded. The law revision will ensure pensions that had been overpaid by 2.5 percent will return to originally set levels.

To ensure pensions can be stably provided, payment levels must be lowered further in accordance with the shifting demographics and changes in wages.

Given the declining working population and erosion in wage levels caused by the sluggish economy, workers who pay pension premiums are shouldering heavier financial burdens. This will widen the generational gap in pension payments and make it inevitable that younger generations will receive smaller payments compared with their contribution of premiums and taxes. This will make it difficult to maintain the pension system.

We urge the parties to also discuss how to expand the application of the corporate employees pension plan to nonregular workers, who have been increasing sharply, and what can be done for people who receive small pensions or none at all.

In its effort to overhaul the pension system, the DPJ calls for establishing a guaranteed minimum pension payment. If this minimum monthly payment of 70,000 yen is to be covered by tax revenue, the consumption tax will have to be increased by up to another 6.2 percentage points. The likelihood that this proposal will be implemented is low.

The draft of the DPJ campaign platform for the upcoming election does not mention any concrete figure for the minimum pension payment, apparently a reaction to the criticism it received on this issue.

On the other hand, the LDP and Komeito want the current system maintained, but neither has shown enough concrete steps to keep it intact.

We urge each party to present its vision for the public pension system and ways to improve it.


Health insurance facing crisis

As baby boomers will be 75 or older in 2025, demand for health and nursing care will rise. It can safely be said that the improvement of at-home medical and nursing care and the upgrading of nursing care facilities are needed urgently.

The DPJ asserts that the medical insurance system for elderly people 75 or older should be abolished, and people in this age group transferred to the national health insurance program.

But this medical insurance system has taken root, and there is little need to ax it.

The LDP claims "the current system will be the base" of its plans. But some points need to be corrected.

Due to the sizable contributions paid to the medical insurance system for the elderly, the finances of health insurance programs have fallen into a critical state. One such case is the National Health Insurance Association, which chiefly covers workers at small and midsize companies and their families.

Each party needs to think harder about how the current system can be reviewed.

Time is of the essence for abolishing a special measure limiting out-of-pocket payments for medical bills people aged 70 to 74 pay to 10 percent of the total, and raising the limit to 20 percent as prescribed by law.

Medical costs have been creeping up partly because elderly patients often have medical consultations and checks at more than one institution and receive duplicate medication, and due to soaring dispensing fees. These costs must be brought down to reasonable levels.

Nursing care services are also being provided to some people whose need for it is not so pressing. Issues that need to be discussed include whether the out-of-pocket burdens of nursing care service bills should be raised and making sure people who need these services most are given priority.


Roles of new council

Our society also needs to do more to rectify the low birthrate. The total fertility rate--the average number of children each woman has in her lifetime--was just 1.39 in 2011.

Under the comprehensive reform of the social security and tax systems, 700 billion yen of the revenue generated by the consumption tax increase will be allocated to child-rearing support. It is also important to consider how to find money for steps to boost the birthrate. The nation will still spend less on this than European countries do.


The soon-to-be established national council on social security system reform will have crucial roles to play. It needs to discuss how to build a solid social security system and to prepare ways to hold down benefit payments.

Unless the social security system is stable, people will remain anxious about their future. Regardless of which party holds power, it should maintain the current system while making modifications to accommodate the changing state of society. With this in mind, we hope each party will take part in constructive debates on this matter.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 26, 2012)
(2012年11月26日01時20分  読売新聞)

エネルギー政策 「脱原発」の大衆迎合を排せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 26, 2012)
Parties should base N-policies on realism, not popular emotions
エネルギー政策 「脱原発」の大衆迎合を排せ(11月25日付・読売社説)


How should Japan achieve a stable supply of power, which is indispensable for people's livelihoods and economic growth? Energy policies will become a major issue in the House of Representatives election to be held Dec. 16.

Nuclear power policies by the ruling and opposition parties have come under the spotlight due to the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

It will be difficult to resolve many issues facing Japan, a country poor in natural resources, if the nation is divided simply between two camps--those seeking the abandonment of nuclear power and those wanting to keep it. All parties should hold in-depth discussions on the issue from various points of view, ranging from the economy and employment to the global environment and nuclear nonproliferation.


The Fukushima crisis has resulted in the public becoming increasingly anxious over the safety of nuclear reactors. The government has to take all possible measures to boost their safety and prevent a similar crisis from occurring.

Considering that Japan's self-sufficiency in energy stands at just 4 percent, it is unrealistic for the nation to immediately abandon nuclear power, which supplies about 30 percent of the nation's electricity.

The nation's system for supplying electricity--often described as the "lifeblood of the economy"--would be weakened if the government gets emotionally carried away by attempts to ditch nuclear power generation. Such a stance could create problems for the nation's economy in the future.

In campaigning for the election, each party should be aware that Japan stands at a crossroads in making an important choice--so should voters in casting their ballots.

It is a cause of concern that so many parties advocate denuclearization. We suspect they are just making policy promises that appeal to voters to win more support by taking advantage of people's anxiety over nuclear power generation.


DPJ's irresponsible pledge

When compiling its manifesto for the upcoming general election, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan reportedly will include a target of "zero nuclear power plants" operating in the 2030s--a policy stated by the government's Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment. However, this strategy is flawed, because it fails to take into account the serious blow denuclearization would have on the nation's economy, and it is troubling that the DPJ would base a campaign pledge on it.

Under the zero-nuclear power policy by the DPJ-led government, most nuclear power reactors' operations have remained suspended. Moreover, Japan's national wealth has been flowing out of the country at a rate of 3 trillion yen every year because of a surge of imports of liquefied natural gas and other fuel at a time when power suppliers are walking on a tightrope by operating aging thermal power plants at full capacity.

Japan's industrial hollowing-out is accelerating as more and more companies move their factories overseas. This has had a serious impact on the nation's employment. However, the DPJ has done insufficient soul-searching over its own political missteps in the electricity field.

Shinzo Abe, president of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, has criticized the DPJ as "really irresponsible" by proposing a zero-nuclear power policy. It is reasonable for the LDP--as a party aiming to return to power--to make clear in its campaign platform that an LDP government would take responsibility in reactivating nuclear reactors once their safety has been scientifically proved.

However, the LDP's election platform states that the nation's energy source structure for mid- and long terms should be mapped out in the next 10 years. This shows it badly lacks a sense of urgency.

The party must hammer out a clear-cut approach to effectively utilizing nuclear power generation. At the same time, it is essential to study ways to adequately dispose of radioactive waste.

Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), which showed how eager it was to form a "third political force" to take on the DPJ and the LDP when it merged with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara's Taiyo no To (The Sunrise Party), made the right decision by saying it would abandon its policy of "eliminating nuclear power generation altogether in the 2030s."

However, Ishin no Kai's new energy platform, which calls for nothing more than "building a new supply-demand framework of energy," is regrettably equivocal.


Renewable resources can't fill bill

Other parties, such as People's Life First and the Japanese Communist Party, have argued for the immediate or early cessation of the nation's nuclear power generation.

Foes of nuclear power generation have insisted this country's need for electricity can be met without nuclear power plants on the ground that there was no blackout during the peak power consumption period in summer. Their argument, however, ignores such adverse consequences as the decline in the nation's production and hikes in electricity rates.

The parties calling for the abandonment of nuclear power generation lack sincerity if they fail to explain to the voters the negative impacts that would accompany such a move.

As alternative sources of energy, most parties have stressed the importance of such renewable energy sources as solar power and wind power.

Although we would like to see the proliferation of such resources, renewable energy sources, with the exception of hydroelectric power generation, currently account for little more than 1 percent of the country's entire electricity output. It is far too optimistic to believe renewable energy sources would grow into a major source of electricity large enough in the near future to replace nuclear power generation.

The dearth of electricity, at least for now, cannot help but be addressed by the augmentation of thermal power generation using such fuels as coal and LNG.

It is nothing but an expedient, opportunist line of argument to advocate the abandonment of nuclear power while failing to mention such environmental problems as increases in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution due to an expansion of thermal power generation.

The lessons left behind by the two "oil shocks" in the 1970s and early 1980s, in which Japan, heavily dependent on oil for power generation, could have faced blackouts. It is imperative to secure a wide range of energy alternatives, including nuclear power generation.


Diplomatic, security ramifications

The zero-nuclear power policy of the government and the DPJ has puzzled the United States and European countries as it appears to contradict the government's stance of promoting at the same time the nation's nuclear fuel recycling program.

Washington, for that matter, has expressed strong concern that impediments may arise to ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear energy and nuclear nonproliferation.

This is because spent nuclear fuel, if unused for power generation purposes after being reprocessed, would continue to be amassed, meaning that Japan's stockpile of plutonium, which can be diverted for the production of nuclear weapons, would keep increasing.

There could even be a possibility of this country losing both the special right to stockpile plutonium as stipulated by the Japan-U.S. Nuclear Power Cooperation Agreement and the nation's status as a partner of the United States in its nuclear policy in Asia.

From the standpoint of the nation's diplomatic and security priorities, the irresponsible argument for eliminating nuclear power generation must be abandoned.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2012)
(2012年11月25日01時19分  読売新聞)

アジア経済連携 TPPテコに日本が主導せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 25, 2012)
Japan should take lead in regional trade pacts
アジア経済連携 TPPテコに日本が主導せよ(11月24日付・読売社説)

New initiatives have been launched to create two huge free trade blocs in Asia. Japan will face a test as to whether it can work out a strategy to expedite such moves to boost its economic growth.

In Phnom Penh, 16 countries--Japan, Australia, China, India, New Zealand, South Korea and the 10 members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations--announced the start of negotiations under a regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP).

The 16 nations are scheduled to begin the negotiations in early 2013 and aim to conclude terms, such as on tariff cuts and partial liberalization of investment in the region, by the end of 2015.

The combined gross domestic products of the RCEP nations total 20 trillion dollars, accounting for 30 percent of the global economy. This trade initiative is based on a vision Japan proposed. It would be significant to create a free trade zone that would include new economic giants China and India.

Hopes are high for the RCEP because the outcome of its negotiations could help Japanese companies expand their exports. The firms could also find it easier to develop international supply chains, which would link their production bases at home and in the RCEP region. This could pave the way for them to exploit Asia's dynamics to shore up their businesses.


Trilateral talks start next year

Japan, China and South Korea have also agreed to start trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations next year.

Japan and China remain in a state of confrontation over the Senkaku Islands, while Japan's relationship with South Korea has become tense over the Takeshima islands. It is reasonable for the Japanese government to separate such territorial rows from trade issues and enter the negotiations, giving priority to the economy. We hope the government will seek early trade agreements.

The launch of negotiations under these two trade frameworks was apparently prompted by China's concerns. Beijing appears to be wary about the strategy of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama to increase his country's influence in Asia by promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership multinational free trade talks.

To counter the TPP framework, which excludes China, Beijing has made its stance clear that it will push for the RCEP and the trilateral FTA, which do not involve the United States.

Apart from these, China has also agreed to create a free trade bloc under a framework, called the Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which comprises 21 members such as Japan, China and the Untied States.


U.S., China rivalry to intensify

The FTAAP has no clear prospects. In the meantime, the tug-of-war between the United States, which is focusing on the TPP, and China, which is attempting to make the RCEP central to the region's economic activities, is expected to intensify.

Meanwhile, Japan has come under pressure over its trade policies. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has repeatedly said his government "will pursue the TPP, the FTA among Japan, China and South Korea and the RCEP at the same time."

First of all, Japan should speed up work to join the TPP talks as early as possible. The government then should use the TPP participation as a catalyst to proceed with negotiations for the RCEP and the trilateral FTA for the nation's benefit. We also hope Japan will win the terms it is seeking in the TPP negotiations.

Amid competition between the United States and China, Japan needs to take the initiative in forming economic partnerships in Asia while protecting its interests.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2012)
(2012年11月24日01時34分  読売新聞)

自民党政権公約 国論二分の政策でも方向示せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 24, 2012)
Now is the time for the LDP to take courageous policy stands
自民党政権公約 国論二分の政策でも方向示せ(11月23日付・読売社説)

What lessons has the Liberal Democratic Party drawn from the past administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which lasted from September 2006 to September 2007, and its three years of being an opposition party?

Titled "We'll restore Japan," the LDP's platform for the Dec. 16 House of Representatives election includes a number of conservative policies reflecting the political leanings of Abe, who is once again the party's head.

One key pledge involves creating a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, which was a primary, though eventually unrealized, goal of Abe's past administration.

The country's national security environment has become increasingly severe in the face of China's rapid military buildup and North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Some mechanism to allow the country to cope rapidly with emergencies by blueprinting a comprehensive set of strategies is urgently needed.

We see the proposal to create something like the NSC to serve as a control tower for coordinating diplomatic and security policy, which should be crafted so the Prime Minister's Office plays a central role, as entirely reasonable.


Bold stand on security, education

We also support the LDP platform's calls for creating a "Basic Law on State Security" that would enable the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense.

This is a long-standing problem, and resolving it would do much to bolster Japan's alliance with the United States, which was marred by the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

The LDP election platform also presents an education policy representative of Abe's political principles.

The platform argues, "Due to the strong influence of Nikkyoso (the Japan Teachers' Union) on the Democratic Party of Japan, the DPJ will never be able to address the challenge of truly restoring the nation's education system."

In terms of specific measures, the platform calls for changing the textbook authorization system to conform with the Fundamental Law of Education, which stipulates the principle of "love of country and community." It also calls for reviewing the board of education system.
The education platform proposed by the LDP is sure to become one of the focal points of the election.

To stimulate the economy, the LDP platform advocates a basic law to "make Japan's territory resilient" to disasters, which would consist of a hefty package of antidisaster programs.

The DPJ has strongly criticized the LDP's proposed objectives, calling them "typical of the old style of pork-barrel public works projects."
The LDP needs to respond to the DPJ's criticisms by clarifying its proposals, especially about how to balance public works projects with the need for fiscal discipline.


Still muddy on nuclear power

Regarding the nation's idled nuclear power plants, the LDP platform calls for making judgments step by step, with the goal of solving the issue within three years.

The party needs to explain in detail how bringing nuclear plants back online is indispensable to preventing hikes in electricity rates and ensuring a stable power supply.

The LDP's platform punted on the future make-up of the country's energy supply, only saying the party would "establish the best mix of electricity sources." Obviously, a more clear-cut path toward utilizing nuclear power is needed.

Further, the platform's references to negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade pact are hardly sufficient.

Although Abe has stated that Japan's participation in the TPP talks "should be a matter of course if the national interests can be safeguarded," the party has backpedaled to its initial position of "opposing [the TPP] as long as negotiations are premised on the elimination of all tariffs without exception."

How long will the LDP believe it is acceptable to retain this irresponsible attitude as an opposition party over this issue? The party needs to move in a new direction that promotes participating in the TPP negotiations.

The LDP must have the courage to present clear, unequivocal policies, even if they carry the risk of splitting public opinion.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 23, 2012)
(2012年11月23日01時49分  読売新聞)

barack obama victory speach

バラク・オバマ米大統領、再選のスピーチ 英語全文

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.

Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.

I want to thank every American who participated in this election; whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time, by the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.

I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service. And that is a legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America’s happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.

And I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly. Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady.

Sasha and Malia; before our very eyes, you’re growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I am so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now, one dog’s probably enough.

To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics, the best..., the best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning. But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together.  And you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, to every hill, to every valley. You lifted me up the whole way, and I will always be grateful for everything that you’ve done and all the incredible work that you’ve put in.

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late at a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.

You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who’s working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight. And it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers, a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all of the good jobs and new businesses that follow.

We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened up by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever known, but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.

We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag, to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner, to the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president.

That’s the future we hope for. That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go: forward. That’s where we need to go.

Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock, resolve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward.

But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together -- reducing our deficit, reforming out tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us, it’s about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self- government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.

I am hopeful tonight because I have seen this spirit at work in America. I’ve seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job. I’ve seen it in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.  I’ve seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.

And I saw it just the other day in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care. I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd, listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes because we knew that little girl could be our own.

And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That’s who we are. That’s the country I’m so proud to lead as your president. And tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope.

I’m not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the road blocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunities and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.
こういう未来を、みんな一緒につかめると私は信じています。この国の政治が言うほど、私たち国民は分断していないからです。評論家たちが言うほど、私たちはシニカルではないからです。私たちは、個々人の野心の総和よりもはるかに大きい。そして赤い州や青い州の寄せ集めよりも大きい。私たちはこれまでも、そして永遠に、諸州が団結したアメリカという国(the United States of America)なのです。

And together, with your help and God’s grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth.

Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.
ありがとう、アメリカ。神様の祝福がみなさんにありますよう。この団結した諸州(united states)を神様が祝福してくれますように。


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米・ミャンマー 関係強化は中国へのけん制だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 22, 2012)
Japan, U.S. must join hands to aid Myanmar's reform drive
米・ミャンマー 関係強化は中国へのけん制だ(11月21日付・読売社説)

Recently reelected Barack Obama on Monday became the first serving U.S. president to visit Myanmar, a historic move in line with the U.S. strategy of attaching greater importance to Asia.

After meeting Myanmar President Thein Sein, Obama stressed the United States would support reform in the Southeast Asian nation, saying, "A process of democratic and economic reform here in Myanmar that has been begun by the president is one that can lead to incredible development opportunities."

Obama also met with Aung San Suu Kyi, president of Myanmar's largest opposition party, and applauded her efforts in leading the pro-democracy movement.

Myanmar was subject to tough economic sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States for many years while it suppressed human rights under the junta's rule.

But since the change to democratic rule in spring last year, the Myanmar government led by President Thein Sein has made steady efforts to promote democracy. Given this, the Obama administration has relaxed sanctions in phases since the start of this year. As a result, relations between the two countries have improved rapidly.


A bulwark against China

The United States went ahead with Obama's trip to take ties to a new level. The visit can also be regarded as a check against China, which has been expanding its military and economic presence. China cozied up to junta-ruled Myanmar, thereby boosting its influence over that country.

That Obama chose Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand as the first countries to visit after his reelection is significant.

By doing so, Obama sent a strong message that he will seek, in his second term too, to deepen cooperative relations with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in both economic and security fields.

China will certainly be stewing over the U.S. move. It seems inevitable that Washington and Beijing will intensify their tug-of-war over Myanmar.

The United States plans to provide Myanmar with about 13.7 billion yen over the next two years to assist its education and democratization programs. We hope the Thein Sein administration will use this U.S. support as a springboard to further promote reforms in various fields.


Crucial moment ahead

Myanmar will chair ASEAN in 2014. The country will face a crucial moment in its economic reconstruction as it seeks to shake off its status as the poorest nation in ASEAN. The road to further democratization likely will be bumpy. It will not be easy to reconcile with minority ethnic groups that still are at odds with the government.

Tokyo and Washington must work together to support democratization and economic reform in Myanmar. In October, Japan hosted a conference of industrialized nations and the World Bank in Tokyo, where arrangements for assistance to Myanmar were set.

In his meeting with Thein Sein in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced his government plans to offer yen credits to the tune of 50 billion yen next year.

Myanmar can become a new production base for Japanese firms. The Japanese government, for its part, must expedite its assistance to expand that country's economic infrastructure.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 21, 2012)
(2012年11月21日01時50分  読売新聞)

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[ はじめに ]

[ 名前 ]
松井 清 (スラチャイ)

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

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

[ 学習の手引き ]
・Think in English.

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

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

01 雨の日にも傘をささないタイ人
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04 タイの市場
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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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