所信表明演説 危機突破へ成長戦略を語れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 30, 2013)
Abe must formulate strategy to boost nation's growth
所信表明演説 危機突破へ成長戦略を語れ(1月29日付・読売社説)

Strong determination and concrete policy measures are imperative in achieving the breakthroughs needed to overcome the crises facing Japan.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his first policy speech since regaining power at the plenary sessions of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors.

Abe said the source of his determination to serve as prime minister for the second time lies in his "deep sense of patriotism." He clearly demonstrated his resolve to have his entire Cabinet make utmost efforts to address crises in four areas: the economy, reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake disaster, foreign and security issues, and education.

What he underscored as the biggest and most pressing issue was economic revitalization. A strong economy will help increase individuals' income and strengthen the foundations for social security systems. The prime minister's recognition of the importance of this issue is appropriate.

The government has issued a joint statement with the Bank of Japan that stipulates a 2 percent inflation target. A supplementary budget that includes stimulus measures worth 10 trillion yen will be submitted to the Diet shortly. We praise Abe for setting in motion two of his "three arrows" for economic revitalization--monetary easing and fiscal measures.


Handle divided Diet carefully

The remaining "arrow" is growth strategy. At the Headquarters for Japan's Economic Revitalization, comprising the entire Cabinet, and the Industrial Competitiveness Council, in which relevant Cabinet ministers and outside experts are participating, the Abe administration must hammer out effective policy measures to stimulate private investment to increase synergistic effects with monetary and fiscal policy measures.

To overcome the nation's crises, the prime minister called on the opposition bloc to cooperate. "Let us mobilize the wisdom of the ruling and opposition parties and demonstrate Japan's strength to the greatest possible extent," Abe said in his speech. It also is essential for the administration to carefully handle the Diet, as the upper house is controlled by the opposition.

A focal point in the Diet is that the government must obtain approval for its appointment of the successor to Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa, whose term expires in April. Early passage of budgets and related bills also is of major importance.

Besides holding talks with the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest party in the upper house, the ruling parties should hold discussions with Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party, which share similar views on monetary and economic policy measures. We believe the Abe administration should consider the possibility of joining hands with these parties on a policy-by-policy basis.


How will PM rebuild China ties

In his speech, Abe delivered simple and easy-to-understand messages as he narrowed the points to highlight certain issues.

On the other hand, we consider unsatisfactory Abe's failure to refer to many important issues. We want him to clarify his stances on these issues through Diet debates.

They include the government's policy toward China, one of the nation's biggest pending issues. Abe earlier said the nation would "resolutely protect" the Senkaku Islands. But we wonder how Japan-China relations will be rebuilt.

Abe also did not touch on energy policy. We think he should have provided a full explanation on the necessity of reactivating idled nuclear reactors so that public anxiety over electricity shortages will not hinder economic revitalization.

He clearly stated in his speech that Japan would play a leading role in economic and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

Therefore, he should have Japan enter negotiations on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework so the nation will be able to take full advantage of growth in other parts of Asia.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 29, 2013)
(2013年1月29日01時27分  読売新聞)

オバマ氏2期目 米国再生へ真価が問われる

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 29, 2013)
Can U.S. achieve revival during Obama's 2nd term?
オバマ氏2期目 米国再生へ真価が問われる(1月28日付・読売社説)

The coming four years will be a crucial test of Barack Obama's ability to revive the United States.

After his reelection, Obama has launched his second term as U.S. president.

In a speech marking the inauguration of his second term, Obama touted his first-term achievements, saying: "A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun."

U.S. troops in Afghanistan will complete their combat mission shortly and pull out at the end of next year. Stock prices that nosedived after the "Lehman shock" have been rising sharply, exceeding precrisis levels. And the U.S. energy boom is surging due to the so-called shale gas revolution.

Obama probably takes pride in his achievement of overcoming negative legacies of the previous Bush administration.

However, a bumpy road lies ahead before the United States can attain a full-scale revival.


Fiscal mess must be fixed

The top-priority challenge will be fiscal reconstruction.

Fiscal deficits topped 1 trillion dollars (about 90 trillion yen) for four consecutive years, and government debts ballooned to exceed 16 trillion dollars.

The United States has so far avoided the double threats of falling off the fiscal cliff: mandatory spending cuts and the expiration of large-scale tax breaks. A government default will likely be avoided for about three months by raising the ceiling on the issuance of U.S. Treasury bills, which limits federal borrowing.

However, implementation of drastic fiscal reconstruction measures are being put on the back burner.

Obama must display strong leadership in passing necessary bills through Congress.

Partisan confrontation has been intensifying rather than subsiding under a divided Congress in which the House of Representatives is controlled by the opposition Republican Party and the Senate by the Democratic Party. Obama will face a tough job in dealing with Republican representatives on key bills.

To help overcome the challenge, Obama is replacing key Cabinet members--including secretaries of Treasury, state and defense--and has nominated seasoned politicians with broad influence in Congress to fill the posts.


A host of challenges

Obama faces a host of difficult policy challenges at home. Among them are legislation for gun control in the aftermath of the shooting rampage that claimed the lives of 20 elementary school students, and reform of the immigration system to give the children of illegal immigrants conditional citizenship.

On diplomatic and security fronts, Obama will have to cope with the ongoing nuclear development programs of North Korea and Iran. Washington's active engagement will be indispensable to promote the deadlocked Middle East peace process and deal with the turmoil stemming from the Arab Spring pro-democracy movement.

Above all, the Obama administration's strategy of focusing on Asia is being put to the test.

How will the White House develop a relationship with the Chinese administration led by Xi Jinping while curbing the moves of China, which has been expanding its military and economic power? It will be essential for the United States to buttress relations with Japan and other allies to build a free, open and peaceful Asia-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the United States next month and hold a summit meeting with Obama. We hope the two leaders will discuss how to reinforce the Japan-U.S. alliance from a strategic viewpoint focusing on China.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 28, 2013)
(2013年1月28日01時07分  読売新聞)

巨額貿易赤字 輸出力の強化と原発再稼動を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 28, 2013)
Restart nuclear power plants, boost exports to recoup trading ground
巨額貿易赤字 輸出力の強化と原発再稼動を(1月27日付・読売社説)

The foundation of Japan as a trading country is eroding. Both government and private sectors must work together to recoup lost ground.

The 2012 trading balance--exports minus imports--ran up a record deficit of 6.9 trillion yen, far exceeding 2.6 trillion yen in 1980 that immediately followed the second oil crisis.

Last year's trade deficit is 2.7 times more than the 2011 figure, the first trade deficit in 31 years, which was attributable to the negative effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake. This is a very serious situation.

The trade deficit was caused by a decline in exports due to the European financial crisis and deceleration of the Chinese economy, combined with a sharp increase in imports.

After the disaster occurred at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the operations of nuclear reactors were suspended around the country. Since then, only two have been reactivated.

As an alternative electricity source, power companies have been operating thermal power stations at full blast. Consequently, imports of liquefied natural gas, the fuel needed for these power stations, have increased abnormally to a massive 6 trillion yen a year.

Meanwhile, Japan's current account balance, which includes dividends and interest from overseas investment, remains in surplus. However, there are concerns that this balance will eventually fall into the red if the trade deficit continues.


Hollowing out of industry

To rebuild its status as a trading nation, Japan first has to strengthen the competitiveness of its manufacturing industry to increase exports.

Japanese electrical appliance manufacturers have fallen behind their South Korean rivals in the markets of flat-screen televisions, mobile phones and others. Japan also has a 3 trillion yen a year excess in imports for medicine and medical equipment, markets that are growing quickly.

Japanese manufacturers must develop attractive products of high value and find ways to capitalize on growing markets in the emerging economies of Asia and other regions.

Behind the huge trade deficit is the rapid hollowing-out of the domestic manufacturing industry, as Japanese firms are moving their production overseas to avoid the high costs of operating in this country.

The government should help Japanese companies by such means as lowering corporate tax and giving tax credits for investment so they will be able to take full advantage of manufacturing in Japan. The Industrial Competitiveness Council created recently by the government should devise measures to promote "made-in-Japan" products.


Make decision on TPP

The government also should not wait any longer to decide on participating in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact to help Japanese firms compete better in overseas markets.

What would be most important to reduce imports would be to reactivate idle nuclear reactors quickly after their safety has been confirmed. The longer Japan depends on thermal power generation, LNG imports will continue to increase and the nation's wealth will flow to countries rich in natural resources.

The rising cost of LNG also will eventually result in an increase in electricity charges.

The excessively strong yen has been corrected and the weaker yen is becoming the norm on foreign exchange markets. This helps exporters, but excessive depreciation of the yen will further increase the prices of imports of LNG and other foreign products. Close attention should be paid to this.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 27, 2013)
(2013年1月27日01時34分  読売新聞)

途上国リスク 日本企業が抱える課題は重い

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 27, 2013)
Hostage crisis shows challenges facing Japanese firms abroad
途上国リスク 日本企業が抱える課題は重い(1月26日付・読売社説)

The taking of hostages by Islamist militants at a natural gas plant in Algeria has forced Japanese companies operating abroad to review their security management systems.

They have to strike a difficult balance between developing business opportunities abroad and preparing countermeasures against terrorism and other risks.

In the recent crisis, 10 employees of major plant construction company JGC Corp. and companies related to it were killed. On Friday, the bodies of nine of them returned to Japan on a Japanese government plane, along with seven survivors.

JGC has developed natural resources in Algeria since the 1960s. It does business not only in Africa but also in many countries in the Middle East, Asia and other regions.

JGC is a pioneering Japanese corporation in doing business abroad. Over 70 percent of its sales are earned in other countries. We have to take very seriously the fact that even JGC, with its thorough knowledge of operating in developing countries, could fall victim to terrorism.


Risks in developing countries

"[The hostage-taking incident] shows the challenge of doing business and securing safety simultaneously," said JGC President Koichi Kawana at a press conference. His words reflect a common challenge for other Japanese firms operating abroad.

About 15 Japanese companies have offices in Algeria. In other African countries that are also rich in natural resources and expected to grow economically, Japanese firms compete with each other in the trade, construction, automobile and many other industries.

According to a survey by the Japan External Trade Organization, 70 percent of Japanese firms operating in Africa said the continent will become increasingly important. But 90 percent said Africa had problems regarding political and social stability, which undermines security. The figures show the dilemma such firms face.

After the latest incident, Japanese firms operating abroad have taken defensive measures such as prohibiting employees from traveling to countries where security concerns are high and enhancing the security of their offices and plants. We think those are appropriate actions.


Coordinate with governments

However, there is a limit to the defensive measures a private company can afford to take. We expect companies to reexamine their security measures by strengthening their coordination with the Japanese government and the governments of the other countries where they operate.

Meanwhile, the government plans to review its own response to the incident while organizing a panel of experts to study ways to protect Japanese nationals abroad. It is important to discuss the risks in developing countries from a broader perspective.

We would like to suggest that both ruling and opposition parties begin talks as soon as possible on establishing a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council to enhance the government's ability to systematically gather and analyze intelligence on terrorism.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner New Komeito plan to discuss revision of the Self-Defense Forces Law. Though it is already possible under the current law to transport Japanese nationals on SDF ships and planes, the parties are considering revising the law so that the SDF can also rescue and transport Japanese people on land in other countries.

However, the advance agreement of the countries concerned will be necessary for the SDF to carry out such missions. The missions will also require a relaxation of the rules on the use of weapons, which is narrowly restricted to immediate self-defense at present. It will also be necessary to specially train Ground Self-Defense Force members in how to protect people in their care.

The ruling parties should have serious and responsible discussions of these issues.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 26, 2013)
(2013年1月26日01時36分  読売新聞)

税制改正大綱 難題先送りでは責任果たせぬ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 26, 2013)
Postponing tax question will not lead to solution
税制改正大綱 難題先送りでは責任果たせぬ(1月25日付・読売社説)

A stopgap approach to resolving a challenge can never lead to reinvigoration of the national economy. Drastic revision of the tax system is urgently needed now.

The Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito have decided on an outline of the ruling bloc's tax system revisions for fiscal 2013.

With the consumption tax rate scheduled to be raised to 8 percent from April 2014, the posture of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration has drawn much attention.

Regarding the wisdom of applying a reduced rate to such goods as foodstuffs, the two parties have agreed to strive to introduce a lower tax rate when the consumption tax is raised from 8 percent to 10 percent in October 2015.

The LDP and Komeito seem to have postponed the introduction of a low tax rate on daily necessities mainly because they took into account objections from small and midsize businesses and others that their business operations would be complicated by the introduction of a reduced tax rate.

To secure public understanding about the consumption tax increase, however, it is definitely desirable to implement a lower rate system when the rate is raised to 8 percent. We believe the decision to put off its introduction is problematic.


Reduced rate must be 5%

The LDP and Komeito have agreed to have the specific rate of reduction, and the range of lower-rate goods, discussed by a panel of experts and to reach a conclusion toward the end of the year when deciding on tax system revisions for fiscal 2014.

Discussions on the issue must be launched promptly to ensure that lower rate arrangements are implemented when the tax is raised to 10 percent.

When the low tax rate system is introduced, the rate should be set at 5 percent on not only foodstuffs but also newspapers and magazines, which are public goods that serve as pillars of democracy.

Discussions on the motor vehicle acquisition tax and weight tax were difficult to the last, and the question of how to deal with these taxes was narrowly settled as a result of concessions by various sides.

Under the LDP-Komeito accord, the motor vehicle acquisition tax will be reduced when the consumption tax is raised to 8 percent and abolished when the rate is increased to 10 percent. As for the weight tax, the current tax breaks on eco-friendly vehicles will become permanent, with a view to using the motor vehicle-related tax revenue for improving and maintaining roads.

The planned abolition of the motor vehicle acquisition tax will reduce local governments' tax revenues by about 200 billion yen a year.

The tax system revision outline stipulates that abolition of the acquisition tax will "not adversely affect the finances of local governments." There have been no prospects, however, of how to secure revenue sources to make up for the lost income.


Simplify motor vehicle taxes

The automobile industry has called for abolition of both the motor vehicle acquisition tax and weight tax. It argues that they will cause a slump in motor vehicle sales if they remain in place after the consumption tax goes up. But local governments, concerned about loss of revenue, have opposed the abolition of the two taxes.

Apparently taking this summer's House of Councillors election into account, the LDP-Komeito agreement is an equivocal one intended to show deference to both the automobile industry and local governments.

The purposes for which the automobile weight tax is to be used are also problematic.

The two parties' agreement on the matter could eventually lead to a revival of the tax revenues set aside for road construction that the administration of the Democratic Party of Japan did away with in 2009 in the name of reducing fiscal waste.

It is important to thoroughly review and simplify the highly complicated tax structure on motor vehicles, including the gasoline tax.

Also envisioned in connection with tax system revisions for next fiscal year are increases in income and inheritance taxes on the wealthy. The effect of the tax hikes in securing fiscal resources for the government, however, is certain to be limited, and they may discourage people in high income brackets from working, lessening the nation's economic vitality.

Expansion of the tax breaks on housing loans and on some items of business activity has also been incorporated into the tax system revision outline, but it is unclear how effectively these steps will bolster the economy.

Such measures as a full-fledged cut in corporate income tax, coupled with a solid growth strategy, must be realized.

The government should explore ways to balance the tax burdens in each category of income level, assets and consumption.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 25, 2013)
(2013年1月25日01時20分  読売新聞)

対「北」制裁強化 安保理決議の実効性を高めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 25, 2013)
Sanctions on North Korea meaningless if not effective
対「北」制裁強化 安保理決議の実効性を高めよ(1月24日付・読売社説)

It is crucial for the international community to make continuous efforts to pressure North Korea and improve the effectiveness of sanctions against the country.

On Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2087, which boosts sanctions against North Korea.

The resolution condemned Pyongyang's December launch of a long-range ballistic missile, which North Korea claimed sent a satellite into orbit. The Security Council also expressed its "determination to take significant action" if the country launches another missile or conducts a new nuclear test.

It took time for the Security Council to arrange the details of the sanctions. However, the new resolution means that members of the international community have joined hands to make a tough response to North Korea's provocative actions. This deserves praise.

The latest resolution was a product of compromise between the United States and China, both of whom are permanent members of the Security Council.


Resolution not best, but better

The United States tried to heighten punitive actions against North Korea by adding new sanctions with the help of Japan and South Korea. However, China reportedly opposed this idea and insisted the Security Council should issue a presidential statement--which is not legally binding--instead of a resolution.

In the end, the Security Council decided to adopt a resolution but refrained from imposing new sanctions on North Korea. Instead, the Security Council has beefed up existing sanctions stipulated in previous resolutions, such as adding new entities to its travel ban and freeze on assets.

The resolution could have been better if it imposed new sanctions, such as obligating member countries to inspect North Korean cargos. However, this is clear progress compared to the Security's Council's response to North Korea's previous missile launch in April.

At that time the Security Council only managed to issue a presidential statement condemning North Korea, due to protests from China. It is clear that the Security Council's lukewarm response has inflated Pyongyang's ego, and is one reason the nation decided to launch another missile in December.

The Security Council's new resolution has drawn an angry response from North Korea. The nation said it will take countermeasures against the resolution and "bolster its military capabilities for self-defense, including nuclear deterrence." This could be interpreted as expressing Pyongyang's intention to conduct a fresh nuclear test.

North Korea has twice conducted nuclear tests, both of which took place in response to the Security Council's condemnation of Pyongyang's missile launches. If the international community fails to prevent Pyongyang from conducting a third test, the horror of a nuclear-armed North Korea will become more imminent, further exacerbating regional tensions.


China must act

As a permanent member of the Security Council and a regional neighbor, China should strongly urge North Korea to stop threatening the international community.

The underlying reason why China agreed to adopting a U.N. resolution is its strained relationship with the United States over Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea and to the Senkaku Islands. We believe China judged it would be an additional burden on the country if it also clashed with the United States over North Korea.

Efforts to boost sanctions against North Korea will be meaningless if they fail to produce tangible results. China, which accounts for about 70 percent of North Korea's trade, has a heavy responsibility to strictly comply with and strengthen the sanctions, such as an embargo on commodities related to weapons of mass destruction and luxury goods.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said the government plans to take independent action against North Korea, such as beefing up Japan's sanctions against the country. We urge the government to come up with ideas that will effectively discourage North Korea's provocations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 24, 2013)
(2013年1月24日01時07分  読売新聞)

邦人死亡確認 人命軽視はやむを得ないか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 24, 2013)
Was military action only way to end Algerian siege?
邦人死亡確認 人命軽視はやむを得ないか(1月23日付・読売社説)

The Algerian hostage crisis has ended with tragic consequences.

Seven Japanese, including employees of plant engineering and manufacturing firm JGC Corp., were confirmed to have been killed during an attack on an Algerian natural gas plant by a group of Islamist militants.

We condemn the criminal group for targeting "corporate warriors" diligently working in a foreign country under severe conditions.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denounced the terrorist attack Tuesday, saying: "It's extremely heartbreaking. We'll never tolerate terrorism." We agree entirely.

The siege was unusual in that more than 30 heavily armed terrorists held hostage scores of people from several countries, including Japan, Britain and the United States.

An investigation must be conducted urgently to get to the bottom of this incident. Suspicion has arisen that the assailants had collaborators at the plant who provided information and guidance.

At a news conference Monday, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said 37 foreigners died and 29 militants were killed in the siege.


Hostages' lives not priority?

The Algerian military operation to bring the situation under control as soon as possible has been criticized for not giving enough consideration to the hostages' lives. Sellal stood by the decision to launch the assault by stressing his government's stance of not yielding to terrorism. His statement also reflects the domestic situation in which long years of civil war killed as many as 150,000 people in Algeria.

Sellal said launching the military operation soon after the siege started was necessary because the militants had attempted to flee Algeria with the hostages and planted explosives in a bid to blow up the gas complex.

If the militants had been allowed to get away with their crimes, it could lead to second and third terrorist attacks. The Algerian government apparently felt it had no alternative but to resort to the use of force.

Any unilateral attack on economic activity in a civilized society must be met with return fire.

British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that his government was not told of the military operation in advance. But after the siege ended, he showed a degree of understanding of the early Algerian military operation by saying resolving the crisis would be a very difficult mission for security forces of any country.


Lessons for Japan

The Abe administration has dispatched a government-chartered aircraft to Algeria to bring home survivors and the victims' bodies. We also urge the government to quickly confirm what happened to three Japanese who remain unaccounted for.

It is important that the Algerian government be asked to give detailed explanations on the circumstances under which the military operation was conducted, and how the Japanese died.

The crisis has brought problems with the Japanese government's crisis management system to the surface.

Like the United States and European countries also affected by the siege, Japan only obtained scant snippets of information while the Algerian forces conducted the military operation.

Japan has 49 uniformed defense attaches stationed overseas, including only two in Africa--one in Egypt and one in Sudan. The number of such attaches in Africa must be steadily increased.

To protect Japanese firms operating in troubled regions, specialists with expertise on these areas and antiterrorism measures should be trained, and the nation's information-gathering and analyzing capabilities strengthened.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 23, 2013)
(2013年1月23日02時00分  読売新聞)

防衛指針見直し 同盟強化へ日本の役割拡充を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 23, 2013)
Japan's role must be enhanced in defense cooperation with U.S.
防衛指針見直し 同盟強化へ日本の役割拡充を(1月22日付・読売社説)

The effectiveness of the Japan-U.S. alliance cannot be guaranteed through a treaty and documents alone. It is essential to expand the role of the Self-Defense Forces and enhance the relationship of trust between the two nations by having Japan undertake its fair share of responsibilities and burdens.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have started reviewing the guidelines for bilateral defense cooperation. Given the Chinese military's recent expanded maritime activities and other factors, the review of guidelines is meant to effectively strengthen cooperation between the SDF and U.S. forces.

The current guidelines released in 1997 enabled the SDF to provide logistic support to U.S. forces in the event of an emergency in areas surrounding Japan, and led to the establishment of legislation in 1999 on the nation's response to such contingencies.

It was of great significance that defense cooperation was concretely stipulated in preparations for any contingency on the Korean Peninsula--a crisis that could happen on Japan's doorstep--and that a new direction for the Japan-U.S. alliance in the post-Cold War era was clearly spelled out.


Security situation severe

But since then, the security situation in areas around Japan has become even more severe: China is pushing on with a robust military buildup and has engaged in saber-rattling around the Senkaku Islands, and North Korea conducted two nuclear tests.

This fundamental review of Japan-U.S. defense cooperation, for the first time in 16 years, fits in neatly with the United States' "rebalance" toward Asia, which was clearly expressed in its new defense strategy guidelines released in January last year, and the planned revision of Japan's National Defense Program Guidelines as early as this year. We highly regard the review of bilateral defense cooperation.

One focal point in this process will be tightening Japan-U.S. cooperation in times of peace.

Since the contingency law was established, an emergency situation has yet to be recognized under the law. It is imperative that the SDF and U.S. forces work closely in sharing information to prevent a crisis from occurring and establish systems to jointly deal with any situation that has become tense but is yet to reach the point of being an emergency.

We want more joint exercises by the Ground Self-Defense Force and U.S. Marine Corps for the defense of remote islands, and expanded warning and surveillance operations through joint operations by the Air Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Air Force of Global Hawk unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.


Ease restrictions on support

The SDF can provide refueling and transport support to U.S. forces only in emergency situations. We suggest consideration be given to enabling these operations in times of peace as well.

Cooperation should not just be limited to the SDF and U.S. forces, but also concrete measures for cooperation involving such organs as the Japan Coast Guard and police, as well as the military forces of South Korea, Australia and India, should be compiled.

Another key issue in the spotlight is whether Japan can exercise its right to collective self-defense.

The government is expected to soon hear opinions again from an expert panel launched under the first Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and start studying how to handle the right to collective self-defense.

If a U.S. military vessel comes under attack during a joint exercise on the high seas, an SDF vessel will launch a counterattack. If a ballistic missile is heading toward the United States, Japan will intercept it. These are among four scenarios that had been studied by the expert panel. We think it is an urgent task to enable the nation to use its right to collective self-defense in these four scenarios.

Reflecting such a tangible result properly in the process of reviewing the defense cooperation guidelines will further solidify the Japan-U.S. alliance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 22, 2013)
(2013年1月22日01時34分  読売新聞)

邦人人質事件 テロ封じに国際連携が肝要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 22, 2013)
Intl cooperation needed to stamp out terrorism
邦人人質事件 テロ封じに国際連携が肝要だ(1月21日付・読売社説)

The terrorist attack and hostage-taking incident launched by an armed Islamist group in Algeria has come to a bloody end.

It will be essential to get to the bottom of this incident so measures to prevent any repeat occurrence can be devised.

The incident at a natural gas plant at Ain Amenas in eastern Algeria ended Saturday, three days after it started, when Algerian special forces stormed the complex to bring the situation under control.

Dozens of Islamist militants and hostages have been confirmed dead, according to the Algerian government. The dead reportedly include Japanese employees of JGC Corp., a major plant engineering and manufacturing firm. We offer our sincere condolences to the victims caught up in this incident and their families.

Algerian government forces launched an attack on the terrorists Thursday, the day after the hostages were seized. This reflected its sense of urgency that similar terrorist attacks might follow unless the crisis was brought under control immediately.


Attack can't be condoned

In the 1990s, about 150,000 people were killed in an internal war between Algerian government forces and Islamist militants. In view of this, the Algerian government was unbending in its refusal of any request for negotiations with the terrorists this time.

The Islamist group's capture of plant workers and taking them hostage is a despicable act of terrorism that can never be condoned. This is obvious. But a question arises over whether the Algerian military operation was taken after carefully working out a strategy from the viewpoint of rescuing the hostages.

In talks with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal over the telephone Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed regret that the crisis had ended in a bloodbath. Abe was quoted as telling Sellal: "Japan had called for giving top priority to the hostages' safety. It was regrettable that we received severe information about the Japanese hostages."


Lack of communication

British Prime Minister David Cameron has expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that his government was not told of the attack in advance. Communication between the Algerian government and countries affected by the crisis was not smooth, and Algeria's release of information on the safety of hostages has been insufficient.

The Algerian government must unveil to the international community all the details of the hostage crisis and its rescue operations after investigating why it could not prevent the militants from entering a vital gas plant where many foreigners work.

Armed Islamist forces are active not only in Algeria but also in northern and western areas of Africa. Unraveling the hostage-taking incident will help shed more light on this situation.

The international community must use this incident as a step toward standing firm against terrorism and taking effective steps to stamp it out.

The siege has left many issues to be addressed by Japanese companies operating overseas. They need to urgently review their crisis prevention and response arrangements.

Abe took the lead in working out government measures to handle the hostage crisis. It may be said that Japan reacted diligently to the crisis, with the Prime Minister's Office at the heart of the response.

However, the government's information-gathering and analyzing capabilities have been revealed to be inadequate. The government should consider necessary measures including a review of the personnel in diplomatic missions overseas. Further efforts must be made to bolster the country's crisis management system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 21, 2013)
(2013年1月21日01時50分  読売新聞)

中国大気汚染 成長至上主義の限界露呈した

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 19, 2013)
China's air pollution shows limits of focus on growth
中国大気汚染 成長至上主義の限界露呈した(1月18日付・読売社説)

China now has to pay the price for its distorted policy of ignoring environmental protection measures as a result of its focus on economic growth above all else.

In various Chinese cities, air pollution has become a serious problem. In Beijing, for instance, the concentration of particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less--known as PM2.5--found per cubic meter in smoke from factories and exhaust gas from automobiles briefly rose to more than 10 times the recommended environmental standard in China and nearly 40 times the safe limit in the guideline set by the World Health Organization.

PM2.5 particles can penetrate deep inside the lungs, causing asthma, bronchitis and lung cancer. Thick smog containing these particles has been generated in China, and the number of people with respiratory ailments has sharply increased. Low visibility caused by the smog has greatly affected traffic.


Environment ignored

The daily life of Japanese living in the country has been also threatened, with two schools for Japanese children in Shanghai recently suspending students' outside activities. This is a serious environmental pollution that cannot be overlooked.

The main causes of the thick smog are an increase in exhaust gas, the combustion of coal for heating and a lack of strong wind, resulting in the retention of polluted air in the atmosphere. The phenomenon occurs every year around this time, but this year the pollution is extremely bad.

Factors behind the situation include the disorderly expansion of production activities along with sharp economic growth and a drastic increase in the number of automobiles.

Manufacturers do not observe environmental regulations and regional authorities do not supervise them strictly. The quality of desulfurization devices is said to be poor and some even say many are not operating.

Under a "scientific development concept" banner, the previous administration of Hu Jintao transformed the country's gross domestic product-centered policy and declared it would aim at sustainable development while also paying consideration to the environment. However, the current reality shows the level of China's environmental pollution has already gone beyond the acceptable limit.

If environmental measures are delayed, the Chinese government will have to pay a great price for its mistaken policy. The Xi Jinping administration must fully recognize this and take measures to sufficiently deal with the air pollution.


Japan's problem, too

For Japan, the air pollution in China is not a fire on the opposite side of the river. Similarly to yellow sand, the particles will disperse into neighboring countries such as Japan and South Korea via westerly winds. So it is unavoidable for the pollutants to cause a certain degree of contamination across borders.

Although it is not yet determined that they came from China, particulate matter exceeding the Japanese safety level has been observed in Japan. Caution will be necessary hereafter.

Japan has promoted cooperation with China in energy saving and environmental protection to create a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests. We wonder to what extent this policy produced results.

More than a dozen nuclear reactors have been operating in China, and the government plans to construct more than 50 additional reactors.

If a reactor accident took place, it would have an immeasurable effect on Japan. There must be many ways Japan can cooperate with China in this field.

Japan should patiently appeal to China about the importance of environmental problems and needs to call on the country to utilize the know-how of Japan's antipollution measures.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 18, 2013)
(2013年1月18日02時01分  読売新聞)









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

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

01 雨の日にも傘をささないタイ人
02 勉強熱心なタイ人女性たち
03 タイ人は敬謙な仏教徒
04 タイの市場
05 タイの食堂
06 タイ人は外食が大好き
07 果物王国タイランド
08 タイ人の誕生日
09 タイの電話代は高い
10 微笑みの国タイランド



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