原発汚染水対策 政府は廃炉まで積極関与せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 21, 2013
Govt must take more active role in handling N-contaminated water
原発汚染水対策 政府は廃炉まで積極関与せよ(9月20日付・読売社説)

Resolving the problems at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is a process requiring as many as 30 to 40 years before plant’s reactors can be dismantled.

During that time, the government must retain the ability to involve itself responsibly in resolving problems at the complex.

Visiting the plant on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspected items such as tanks that leaked water contaminated with radioactive substance. He also gave workers words of encouragement.

Abe urged TEPCO management to push forward with cleaning up the tainted water by instituting deadlines for the task. He also called for the decommissioning of the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors, which have remained idle even though they did not suffer meltdowns or hydrogen explosions after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

It seems Abe has taken the bull by the horns and resolved to beef up countermeasures against the vast amounts of tainted water. It is only natural and reasonable that, after the on-site inspections, he reiterated that the government “must take the lead and fulfill its responsibility” in tackling the crisis.

The government has decided to allocate about ¥47 billion to try to address the contaminated water problem. Its steady budgetary implementation is imperative.

Until now, the government has left the task of handling the crisis, including tainted water disposal, in TEPCO’s hands.

There can be no denying that the government’s inaction slowed efforts to deal with the accident and ensuing turmoil.

The Liberal Democratic Party, for that matter, has begun considering enacting a special law to share responsibility for the clean up between the government and TEPCO and clarify a chain of command. Passage of such a law will provide the government with the mandate to extend fiscal support to end the crisis.

Just beginning of resolution

What is of high importance in this matter is that the special law should not be limited to countermeasures against contaminated water, but should cover the entire process of resolving the crisis.

The task of containing the tainted water is nothing more than the beginning of resolving the crisis.

Given the colossal expenses and manpower needed for reactor decommissioning, decontamination and related challenges, it would be unrealistic to leave everything to TEPCO. The system of extending assistance to the utility must be drastically revamped.

At the International Olympic Committee general meeting earlier this month in Buenos Aires, Abe said the tainted water problem at the plant “is under control.”

In a bid to win the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the prime minister’s remark was based on the idea that contaminated water is limited to the port adjacent to the plant. After Thursday’s inspection, he said the message was intended to “assure the world that the situation is safe and secure and poses no risk to human health.”

The Democratic Party of Japan, for its part, has criticized the prime minister’s message, saying the current situation at the plant “is far from being under control.” However, the public will surely take such remarks as little more than frivolous objections.

First of all, it was the DPJ administration that set the pattern of leaving crisis resolution to TEPCO.

It has been brought to light that DPJ leader Banri Kaieda, while serving as economy, trade and industry minister two years ago, acknowledged TEPCO’s decision to postpone plans to install protective walls to prevent tainted water leaks at the Fukushima plant.

The top priority for both the ruling and opposition camps should be to come up with better ways to resolve the issue.

Discussions should be deepened between the ruling and opposition blocs about such issues as how the crisis should be addressed and how the burden should be shared between the government and TEPCO, through such venues as meetings during the Diet recess and deliberations in the extraordinary Diet session, which will be convened in mid-October.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 20, 2013)
(2013年9月20日01時30分  読売新聞)

南シナ海情勢 日米ASEANで対中連携を

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 20, 2013
Japan, U.S. and ASEAN must team up to counter China’s maritime advance
南シナ海情勢 日米ASEANで対中連携を(9月19日付・読売社説)

It is becoming apparent that China intends to strengthen its hegemony in the South China Sea while stalling for time in drawing up a code of conduct to avoid hostilities.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations held the first official talks among senior officials to move toward deciding on a code of conduct to regulate the activities of countries concerned in the South China Sea.

Yet China remained halfhearted over the issue throughout the talks, with the meeting only deciding on the establishment of a meeting of experts.

In the South China Sea, China is in conflict with such ASEAN countries as the Philippines and Vietnam regarding sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and other islands and reefs.

China asserts a claim of exclusive sovereignty over not only the Spratly Islands but nearly all of the South China Sea. Yet it has not brought the international community around to its point of view.

For over a decade, the ASEAN countries have been trying to secure agreement from China on the establishment of rules of conduct to prevent overt hostilities in the South China Sea. Yet, with its overwhelming military and economic power, China refused to hold such a meeting until recently.

It is regrettable that even when China finally did come to the negotiating table, it proposed discussing other issues instead and would not go into a detailed discussion on the code of conduct.

Scarborough stare-down

In the South China Sea, with no code of conduct for concerned countries, the crisis is only deepening. The current focal point lies in the conflict between the Philippines and China.

Around the disputed Scarborough Shoal, over which both countries claim sovereignty, naval vessels from the two sides faced each other for two months. The government of the Philippines said that after it moved its vessels away, China placed concrete blocks on the shoal.

Earlier this year, the Philippines filed a request for arbitration under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, asserting that China’s claim of sovereignty over the shoal is unlawful. This month, China held an exhibition inviting heads of ASEAN member countries. But the president of the Philippines was not invited.

The snub must be interpreted as an attempt by China to rebuke the Philippines over the country’s having taken legal action against China.

It is understandable that the Philippines, pressured physically by China, has been intensifying relations with the United States and Japan.

While having expanded a joint military exercise with the United States, the Philippines is moving ahead in talks with the United States that are likely to lead, in effect, to the stationing of U.S. forces in the Philippines again. There is a possibility that the Subic naval base, once a strategic foothold for the United States, will again be used for the deployment of U.S. forces.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, since he took office last December, has intensively visited ASEAN countries and presented his plan of providing 10 patrol vessels to the Philippines.

For both Japan and the United States, which face the expanding presence of China in the East China Sea and the western Pacific, the significance of cooperating with ASEAN member countries by taking concerted actions with them is not limited to the South China Sea. It will help their efforts to check China from expanding its maritime activities elsewhere as well.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 19, 2013)
(2013年9月19日01時32分  読売新聞)

園児犠牲訴訟 津波への予見と情報があれば

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 19, 2013
Kindergartens must ensure safety of children when disasters occur
園児犠牲訴訟 津波への予見と情報があれば(9月18日付・読売社説)

A private kindergarten in Miyagi Prefecture has been taken to task in a court ruling on a lawsuit filed by parents whose kindergarten children died in the March 2011 disaster. The ruling blamed the kindergarten for failing to protect its pupils from the tsunami triggered by the catastrophic Great East Japan Earthquake, and the facility’s operator was ordered to pay compensation. This may serve as a wake-up call for facilities taking care of small children.

On Tuesday, the Sendai District Court ordered the kindergarten’s operator to pay about ¥177 million in compensation to the parents of four children who died along with a kindergarten employee when the tsunami engulfed their school bus immediately after the earthquake.

The lawsuit had been filed by the parents, who argued that the deaths were caused by the kindergarten’s failure to take appropriate action to protect their children’s lives. In supporting the plaintiffs, the district court concluded that the kindergarten had neglected to gather information about the likelihood of a tsunami following the quake.

Kindergarten pupils are far less competent in avoiding danger than grown-ups. It is difficult for them to escape to safety at their own discretion in an emergency.

The court ruling was quite reasonable in stating that there was no way for kindergarten children to ensure their safety other than to trust the school’s director and teachers and follow their instructions.

Kindergartens are duty-bound to protect the safety of their pupils. In fact, the court ruling stated that kindergartens are obliged to anticipate possible danger and do their utmost to avert any threat.

Based on this, the court placed the blame on the kindergarten in Ishinomaki, arguing that the facility should have expected the arrival of a tsunami considering that an earthquake with a maximum seismic intensity of lower 6 on the Japanese scale of 7 had continued for about three minutes. The ruling said the kindergarten should have listened closely to the radio and the community public address system to gather information about a possible tsunami.

No preparations made

During the trial, the kindergarten insisted that the tragedy was an unavoidable accident caused by a devastating tsunami that could not have been foreseen.

It should be noted, however, that the bus taking the children home was headed toward the sea after leaving the kindergarten, which was on elevated ground. It was reasonable for the four children’s parents to argue that the loss of life should be attributed to the kindergarten’s thoughtless conduct, especially as the facility itself was not affected by the tsunami.

A manual prepared by the kindergarten to protect its pupils whenever a major earthquake occurs requires its employees to ensure the children take refuge in the facility’s play area at first, and then allow them to return home with their parents when they arrive to pick them up. However, most of the kindergarten’s staff had not known of the manual. No disaster drills had been carried out in accordance with the manual, either.

Evidently, the kindergarten lacked preparations regarding a massive earthquake and possible tsunami.

If the kindergarten appeals to a higher court, a new round of hearings will start. It remains to be seen whether the kindergarten will be able to pay the massive amount of court-ordered compensation.

If a feared massive Nankai Trough earthquake actually strikes, a tsunami is predicted to follow that would cause damage in excess of that incurred by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Kindergartens must secure evacuation sites and routes in preparation for such a disaster, while also conducting periodic disaster drills to make sure their teaching staff and pupils know how to use them. This task should be tackled immediately by all facilities that take care of children, including day-care centers and primary schools.

At municipally run kindergartens in Kushimoto, Wakayama Prefecture, children, teachers and all other staff conduct drills in which they evacuate to higher ground almost every day. This is the kind of effort that should be made in other parts of the country.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 18, 2013)
(2013年9月18日01時28分  読売新聞)

法科大学院 優秀な人材をどう集めるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 18, 2013
Nation’s law schools must improve for the good of the profession, society
法科大学院 優秀な人材をどう集めるか(9月17日付・読売社説)

If things are left as they are, talented young people may no longer be attracted to careers in law. The nation’s law schools, meant to be the core of efforts to foster legal professionals, have fallen into a critical situation.

The number of people who passed this year’s national bar exam after graduating from law school stood at 1,929. The pass rate remains low. Hovering around 26 percent, it is a far cry from the 70-80 percent rate originally assumed.

In light of such a reality, students are becoming less interested in going to law school. The number of applicants for law school enrollment this spring has fallen to one-fifth of what it was at its peak.

The popularity of law departments at universities is also declining. At national and other public universities, the number of students applying to law departments has fallen by about 10 percent over the past two years.

As one of the three branches of government depends on a strong pool of legal talent, the foundation of a state under the rule of law may be shaken if the number of young people who aspire to enter legal circles declines.

The first law schools opened in 2004 to further judicial system reform by “fostering an ample source of legal professionals both in terms of quality and quantity.” The schools were initially expected to produce work-ready law practitioners equipped with specialized knowledge and legal analytical abilities.

Yet as the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry broadly allowed many academic institutions to open law schools, as many as 74 law schools with varying levels of quality have opened. As a result, a number of schools had only single-digit numbers of their students pass the national exam for the year.

Weed out subpar schools

Next fiscal year, the education ministry is set to cut its subsidies to 18 law schools that have failed to produce strong results, as the pass rate of their students remains low. The cut is designed to urge these schools to integrate with other schools or leave the field altogether. Law schools that fail in fostering legal professionals must inevitably be weeded out.

Meanwhile, the number of people who passed the bar exam without graduating from law school has been increasing sharply. Such people become eligible to take the bar exam after passing a preliminary qualification test. This year, the number who succeeded surged to 120, nearly double last year’s figure.

The preliminary test system was introduced to open the way for people unable to enroll in law school for economic reasons to tackle the bar exam. Despite this purpose, many law school students used the preliminary exam to take and pass the bar exam without graduating from law school.

If an increasing number of people use the preliminary test as a shortcut to pass the bar exam without completing their law school studies, the hollowing out of law schools will only accelerate.

If the law school system is to be maintained, it is necessary to review it, such as by allowing law school graduates to take the bar exam more often, so that students will become more willing to go on to law school.

Needless to say, law schools, for their part, are asked to strive to improve their quality of education.

Furthermore, the current situation in which many of those who have passed the bar exam and become lawyers are unable to find jobs is serious.

It is naturally expected that students will tend to shy away from entering the legal profession as long as there is little prospect of employment.

The government and legal circles must discuss ways to expand the range of activities for lawyers by, for instance, expanding their job opportunities in local governments and private businesses as soon as possible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 17, 2013)
(2013年9月17日02時11分  読売新聞)

米露外相合意 シリアに時間稼ぎを許すな

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 17, 2013
U.S.-Russia agreement should not permit Syrian regime to buy time
米露外相合意 シリアに時間稼ぎを許すな(9月16日付・読売社説)

Military strikes against Syria have been averted, at least for now, apparently in a move aimed at achieving a political settlement to that country’s civil war. However, quite a few problems must be overcome.

The foreign ministerial talks between the United States and Russia that were held in Geneva for three days until Saturday produced an agreement designed to formulate a framework to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.

Under the Washington-Moscow accord, Syria must hand over a complete list of its chemical weapons arsenal within a week, and the U.N.-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is scheduled to embark on inspections of Syria’s chemical weapons sites by November. Complete destruction of the arsenal is planned for the first half of 2014.

The accord, however, leaves one major question after another unanswered.
Is there any guarantee Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, which did not acknowledge until recently the existence of chemical weapons in the country, will unequivocally declare a list of its chemical weapons and live up to its promise to do away with them?
Will it be possible for OPCW inspectors to carry out effective inspections in the midst of a civil war?

In regard to North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program, we recall that Pyongyang, after committing to abandoning the program, maneuvered to have it delayed and eventually refused to accept inspections.

The Assad government must never be allowed to buy time to prolong the life of the regime by deliberately delaying the implementation of the inspection accord.

UNSC resolution essential

The latest agreement came after Russia, the patron of the Assad administration, embarked on diplomatic arbitration in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement of plans to launch punitive military action against Syria following the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

After striking the deal with Moscow, Washington agreed to delay military operations against Damascus. The question over whether the Assad regime used chemical weapons has been shelved.

The agreement stipulates that if the Assad administration fails to comply with the terms of the accord, including a ban on the use of chemical weapons and their transportation without prior permission, the U.N. Security Council would take measures based on Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which will pave the way for military sanctions.

This means that strong pressure, including the threat of military strikes, is essential to ensure the Assad regime abides by the agreement to eliminate chemical weapons.

In a statement released after the agreement, Obama said, “If diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act,” implying that the United States retains the option of carrying out military strikes.

The U.N. Security Council, for its part, is set to draw up a resolution in response to the U.S.-Russia accord. The resolution must be adopted promptly, as it is indispensable for the international community as a whole to continue to exert pressure on the Assad regime to honor the accord.

The civil war has already claimed the lives of 100,000 people, and refugees total 2 million. It is imperative to end the war as soon as possible.

The U.S. and Russian foreign ministers are scheduled to meet again in New York soon to discuss the feasibility of holding an international conference with both Assad regime officials and rebels taking part.

The rebels are far from united, as they comprise a multitude of forces, such as Islamist groups and secular organizations. Diplomatic negotiations to resolve these differences face many difficulties.

Japan, for that matter, should not stand idly by. It should expand its humanitarian aid, including refugee relief, to the Syrian people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 16, 2013)
(2013年9月16日01時41分  読売新聞)

原発事故不起訴 東電と政府の責任は免れない

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 16, 2013
Govt, TEPCO still bear responsibility for roles in Fukushima catastrophe
原発事故不起訴 東電と政府の責任は免れない(9月15日付・読売社説)

A decision by prosecutors has brought to light how difficult it is to establish criminal responsibility for the consequences of an unprecedentedly massive disaster.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office announced Thursday it would not indict any of the 42 people against whom complaints had been filed seeking indictment on charges of professional negligence resulting in deaths and injuries in connection with the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Among them were top executives of TEPCO and government leaders at the time of the outbreak of the nuclear crisis.

The prosecutors office said the gigantic tsunami triggered by the March 11, 2011, earthquake should be considered unpredictable and the failure of TEPCO management and nuclear regulatory authorities to take sufficient precautionary measures in advance did not constitute criminal negligence.

The office also said an on-the-spot inspection that then Prime Minister Naoto Kan conducted at the crippled nuclear plant immediately after the disaster could not be deemed to have hindered the venting of steam to lower pressure inside the reactors.

Given that the prosecution could not produce enough clear evidence to establish a case for criminal negligence, the decision not to indict should be considered inevitable.

In the nuclear crisis, the power sources for the backup generators for the plant’s reactors were disabled, rendering them unable to pump cooling water and eventually leading to reactor core meltdowns and hydrogen explosions in reactors Nos. 1, 3 and 4. The result was that radioactive substances were spewed from the tsunami-wrecked plant, exposing a large number of residents in the vicinity to radiation.

After determining the loss of power supply was caused by the tsunami, the prosecutors office, after hearing the opinions of seismologists, concluded the colossal scale of the tsunami was unforeseeable even by experts.

Be ready for the unforeseen

To establish a case for professional negligence in such a situation, there must be evidence to prove failure to take necessary steps despite being aware of the potential danger of the tsunami, instead of merely a nebulous feeling that a crisis could occur.

The fact that the tsunami was an unpredictable natural disaster posed a high hurdle for the prosecutors.

It is noteworthy that probes into professional negligence focus on individuals, which was another hurdle in this case. The extremely chaotic nature of the crisis made it very hard for prosecutors to charge a particular individual with criminal responsibility for the accident.

In the United States, courts sometimes award huge punitive damages for unscrupulous corporate behavior to prevent similar harmful actions. In Japan, however, there is no such system even in civil litigation.

In light of the grave impact the nuclear crisis has had on society and the nation’s economy, both TEPCO and the government still bear heavy responsibility for the disaster, even though they are exempt from criminal responsibility.

The government panel tasked with investigating the accident has pointed out that TEPCO had been complacent about safety. It also noted that the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry’s former Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and other nuclear power generation regulators had left the task of implementing safety measures up to TEPCO. Both the government and regulators left the studies of risk factors on a back burner. The Diet commission that investigated the accident declared in its report that the disaster was “man-made.”

Bearing the lessons of the crisis deeply in mind, both the government and TEPCO must urgently address the task of creating effective safety procedures to cope with unforeseen situations.

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is struggling to contain highly radioactive water flowing out of the wrecked reactors.

Countermeasures as well as operations to decommission the reactors must steadily be implemented.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 15, 2013)
(2013年9月15日01時31分  読売新聞)

宮崎監督引退 アニメ芸術の志引き継ぎたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 15, 2013
Filmmakers must inherit Miyazaki’s aspirations for artistic animation
宮崎監督引退 アニメ芸術の志引き継ぎたい(9月14日付・読売社説)

Fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s animation undoubtedly want him to continue making movies. He will be greatly missed after his retirement.

Miyazaki, who has enchanted people around the world with a variety of spectacular masterpieces, has decided to retire from the production of full-length anime movies. The currently showing “Kaze Tachinu” (The Wind Rises) will be his last film.

Miyazaki said, “No matter how much I get in shape, the number of hours I can concentrate has been decreasing year by year.” He has probably recognized that at 72, he has reached his limit physically.

Sticking to hand drawing, he has taken extra care in drawing even the effects of wind, the motion of water and the play of light. Drawing requires long hours of work with great strain on the eyes and hands. Miyazaki has also thought about story lines while proceeding with production, without deciding on the conclusion at the outset. Hence anime production was extremely hard work for him.

Miyazaki also said, “I’m free and there are many things I want to do and try.”

We hope he will display his talents again in other fields besides production of animated feature films, which require long hours of work and impose a heavy physical burden.

Insightful messages

Miyazaki’s greatest achievement was his contribution to raising the production of entertainment anime, initially designed for children, to the level of art backed by deep insightful messages and creating a new Japanese anime culture that is preeminent in the world.

His productions have also proved successful in terms of box office returns. This could be attributed to the fact that he was extremely fortunate in his producers, many staff members and investors.

“Kaze no Tani no Naushika” (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind), released in 1984, depicted a world after the collapse of a great civilization and contained philosophical insights into nature and civilization. It also criticized Japanese society, which tends to be preoccupied with economic wealth.

Miyazaki depicted a poetic world in “Tonari no Totoro” (My Neighbor Totoro, 1988), which featured the rich natural environment of the countryside. He broke new ground with “Mononoke Hime” (Princess Mononoke), released in 1997, which featured battles between malevolent gods and humans in medieval Japan.

“Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (Spirited Away, 2001) achieved the highest box office returns in Japanese movie history and won the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The film was highly acclaimed as a refined and powerful fantasy.

Influenced by children’s literature, Miyazaki has provided a dreamy beautiful world for children. He is said to have wanted to tell them “this world is worth living for.” This desire underlies his anime movie production.

As a message to the next generation of anime producers, he said, “Never stop trying to achieve more universal and profound expressions of humanity.”

We hope to see the emergence of filmmakers who will inherit this aspiration and grow to receive international acclaim.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 14, 2013)
(2013年9月14日01時35分  読売新聞)

国家安保戦略 日本の将来へ包括的指針示せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 14, 2013
Comprehensive security strategy must be drawan up
国家安保戦略 日本の将来へ包括的指針示せ(9月13日付・読売社説)

It is imperative for this country to clearly designate the national interests and goals of its diplomatic and security policies for the medium- and long-term, and create a comprehensive set of policy guidelines for their realization.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has instructed relevant Cabinet members to draw up a national security strategy as the basis for the nation’s security policy. A panel of diplomacy and security policy experts met for the first time Thursday at the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss specifics of the envisioned strategy.

The government plans to submit a bill to create a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council to an extraordinary Diet session this autumn. The newly established body is scheduled to make its national security strategy public around the end of the year.

A new version of the Defense Program Guidelines, an outline of the nation’s long-term defense policy, which the government will also present at year’s end, will be compiled to translate the strategy into reality.

The government worked out the first Defense Program Guidelines in 1976, having revised the key security document three times so far.

The main purpose of the guidelines concerns the buildup of the nation’s defense capabilities. The envisaged comprehensive national security strategy encompassing diplomatic and economic issues as well as defense will be the first of its kind. Along with the planned NSC, a control tower to address national security tasks, the forthcoming national security strategy will surely be extremely significant.

The United States has been formulating its national defense strategy since 1987. The government of President George W. Bush, the predecessor of the administration of President Barack Obama, had a strategy of preemptive strikes against terrorism-sponsoring countries. However, the Obama administration follows a goal of international collaboration. Other countries, such as Britain, Russia, South Korea and Australia, have set similar strategies.

More ‘active’ pacifism

Given the rapidly deteriorating security environment surrounding Japan in recent years, this country should have drawn up its own national security strategy sooner.

China, aiming to become a major maritime power, has been ramping up its military, conducting menacing and provocative activities in the East China Sea and elsewhere. In addition to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development programs, the threat of terrorist activities and cyber-attacks have also increased.

To ensure the peace and prosperity of Japan and the Asian region, what goals should be set up and what approach should be taken to that end?

The chief cabinet secretary, foreign and defense ministers, other relevant Cabinet members and members of the expert panel are strongly urged to have deep discussions in crafting a national strategy.

Of high importance to the ministries and agencies involved will certainly be the ability to share priority tasks and awareness of problems among themselves, in a feasible manner to be reflected adequately in policies.

To be able to address the many security challenges facing this country, what must be tackled first is the bolstering of the Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard’s capabilities to defend the integrity of Japan’s territory. Beefing up the SDF’s cooperation with U.S. forces to strengthen that bilateral alliance is also a must.

Based on Abe’s initiative for a more “active” pacifist stance, Japan should play more roles than it has so far for such causes as international peacekeeping operations and actions to fight pirate activities, by boosting cooperation with the international community. International cooperation on economic and energy issues should also be steadily consolidated.

These must be systematically incorporated into the planned national security strategy.

Making Japan’s goals and key policies as clear as as possible is vital, at it will ensure their transparency both at home and abroad.

By doing so, it will become possible to deepen public understanding of the national security strategy, while making it clear that the claim of Japan’s “drift to the right” is far off the mark. It will also differentiate Japan from China, which has been under criticism for the lack of transparency of its military.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 13, 2013)
(2013年9月13日01時52分  読売新聞)

福島の除染計画 「1ミリ・シーベルト」への拘りを捨てたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 13, 2013
Don’t stick to ‘1 millisievert’ in decontamination work
福島の除染計画 「1ミリ・シーベルト」への拘りを捨てたい(9月12日付・読売社説)

We want the government to advance its decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture swiftly and efficiently, looking ahead to the early return of residents who are still forced to live as evacuees.

As decontamination work has not been going as planned in municipalities around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Environment Ministry has announced it will revise its decontamination program.

This is because the ministry cannot finish decontamination in seven out of 11 cities, towns and villages where decontamination has been conducted under its direct jurisdiction by the end of March next year, the date it initially scheduled to end the work. The ministry will formulate new programs for each of the seven municipalities within this year at the earliest.

Many owners of land lots that are subject to decontamination have evacuated to different areas, making it difficult to obtain their consent for the work. The ministry has also had trouble gaining residents’ understanding for the establishment of temporary storage sites for removed surface soil. As a result, the ministry does not have clear prospects for constructing interim facilities to store contaminated soil at temporary storage sites in an integrated manner.

Given these circumstances, reviewing the decontamination project is inevitable. The Environment Ministry must tenaciously explain the situation to residents to get their cooperation.

It is also vital to make the decontamination work more efficient. The ministry needs to employ cutting-edge equipment in such efforts as removing surface soil and cleaning road surfaces to speed up the process in general.

In its review of the decontamination project, the ministry has expanded the range of decontamination in forests, in response to residents who asked for a greater area to be cleaned. However, if the residents’ early return is taken into consideration, the decontamination of forests should be limited to areas where people live and surrounding areas.

If forests are decontaminated on a large scale, it will be quite difficult to determine when such work will end and costs will swell out of control. It will also be hard to secure places to store the huge amount of contaminated soil. Removing plants and trees over a wide area brings a danger of sediment disasters such as landslides.

Understanding numbers

Among the 11 municipalities, meanwhile, decontamination work has finished in Tamura. In Naraha, Okuma and Kawauchi, decontamination is expected to be finished within the current fiscal year, which runs through March next year. These municipalities are required to promote such steps as improving infrastructure aimed at rebuilding residents’ lives.

The government has set a maximum annual dose of 20 millisieverts as a guideline for realizing residents’ return to the 11 municipalities, based on a recommendation by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

In keeping with this recommendation, the government’s policy is to lower the guideline over the long term to 1 millisievert or less a year. However, many residents are demanding the standard for returning be set at 1 millisievert or less immediately.

Human beings are exposed to radiation from outer space and the ground every day. A CT scan at a hospital may expose a person to about 8 millisieverts in one test. Also, experts point out that no causal relationship has been established between the development of cancer and accumulated doses of radiation of 100 millisieverts or less in a follow-up study on atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It is important for the government to make people well aware of accurate information about radiation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 12, 2013)
(2013年9月12日01時31分  読売新聞)

尖閣国有化1年 毅然たる態度を貫くしかない

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 12, 2013
Remain resolute on Senkakus in face of China’s provocations
尖閣国有化1年 毅然たる態度を貫くしかない(9月11日付・読売社説)

Japan should remain undaunt-ed by China’s persistent menacing conduct and adhere to its resolute stance in dealing with that country.

Wednesday marks one year since the government placed the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture under state control. On 63 days during the past year, Chinese government ships have entered Japanese waters around the group of islands. Chinese aircraft also have intruded into Japan’s airspace during that time.

On Sunday and Monday, two Chinese bombers and warships passed between Okinawa Island and Miyakojima—an island about 290 kilometers southwest of the former island. On Monday, an unmanned Chinese aircraft flew over waters off the Senkaku Islands, an incident that prompted an Air Self-Defense Force fighter to scramble. Such incidents could trigger an accidental conflict between the two countries.

One of the most important tasks facing Japan and China today is to rebuild bilateral relations. The two nations have close economic ties. They also need to promote cooperation in addressing such issues as North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and China’s environmental problems.

If the hostile situation facing Japan and China continues, it is bound to adversely affect both nations.

However, Tokyo cannot yield to Beijing over issues related to this nation’s sovereignty. The Senkaku Islands—which China calls Diaoyu and Taiwan Tiaoyutai—inherently belong to Japan from the standpoint of both international law and historical facts. Therefore, no territorial dispute exists between Japan and China over the islands. By the same token, there is no need to leave the Senkaku issue to gather dust on the shelf, either.

Given this, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had good reason to reject China’s offer to hold a Japan-China summit meeting “if [Tokyo] acknowledges there is a territorial dis-pute [over the Senkakus] and agrees to shelve the problem.”

Better policing needed

The government is currently stepping up efforts by the Japan Coast Guard to better police waters surrounding the Senkaku archipelago. It is essential that Japan continue to do all it can to defend its territorial integrity, including improving its defense capability.

The government’s recent signing of a fisheries agreement with Taiwan can be regarded as a certain measure of success in stopping Beijing and Taipei forming cooperative ties in dealing with the Senkaku issue. This is significant because Taipei also claims sovereignty over the Senkakus.

The Senkaku Islands are covered by the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which serves as the greatest deterrence to China. The Japan-U.S. relationship was unstable when the then Democratic Party of Japan-led government placed the Senkakus under state control. However, immediately after taking office as prime minister, Abe made an appropriate decision to try to bring the shaky bilateral alliance back on track.

During talks in St. Petersburg last week, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to resolve the Senkaku issue through diplomacy and dialogue rather than force. The U.S. president’s direct call for the top Chinese leader to exercise restraint in this respect is significant.

Japan and the United States must closely cooperate in dealing with China and refrain from making concessions to that country. By doing this, Beijing may be encouraged to change its strong-arm diplomatic tactics.

During a brief meeting with Abe in St. Petersburg, the Chinese president said he wanted to see progress in promoting what has been repeatedly called “strategically reciprocal relations” by the two countries’ top leaders in recent years. It was the first time the two leaders had spoken to each other.

What was the true motive behind the Chinese leader’s remark?

Xi’s administration has sought to stir nationalistic sentiment among the Chinese in trying to unite his people and gain popular support. This means he cannot adopt what his people may perceive as “a weak-kneed approach” in dealing with Japan. With this in mind, the Japanese government must be prepared to see China’s threatening and provocative conduct in waters around the Senkaku Islands continue for some time to come.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 11, 2013)
(2013年9月11日01時34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
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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
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