NSC法成立 意義深い与野党の幅広い合意

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 29, 2013
Passage of NSC bill vital development in safeguarding nation’s peace, security
NSC法成立 意義深い与野党の幅広い合意(11月28日付・読売社説)

We welcome the passage of a bill designed to establish an organ to play a key role in issuing directives related to our country’s diplomatic relations and national security. This legislation will soon launch a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, with the aim of ensuring the nation’s peace and security and defending its national interests.

On Wednesday, the Diet enacted the NSC establishment law. Our country’s NSC will be inaugurated in early December. The first task of the soon-to-be-launched command center will be drafting a comprehensive national security strategy, the first of its kind for Japan, while also writing a new version of the National Defense Program Guidelines. This will likely be followed by the launch in January of a national security secretariat that will serve as the NSC’s executive office.

The NSC establishment law was endorsed by the governing coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, as well as the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party. National security policies should be formulated based on suprapartisan consensus. Given this, it is highly significant that more than 90 percent of lawmakers in both Diet chambers united to pass the NSC bill into law.

The envisaged NSC’s central pillar will be a meeting of the prime minister and three key cabinet members—the chief cabinet secretary, the foreign minister and the defense minister. As a general rule, the meeting is to be held once every two weeks, also attended by the deputy prime minister.

It is most significant that a new system will be set up, by which the prime minister and relevant cabinet members will meet periodically to discuss important issues related to our country’s security and develop a common view on such matters. Themes will include situations related to China and North Korea, the ongoing realignment of U.S. armed forces in this country and issues related to our territory.

The NSC scheme will make it possible for top officials at the Prime Minister’s Office to afford a certain amount of time and energy to address diplomatic and security matters even at a time when the government is confronted by a number of tasks to be tackled at home. This task will be supported by the NSC executive office, which will comprise personnel with professional expertise, including senior Self-Defense Forces members.

We hope all these arrangements will do much to ensure that diplomatic and security policies are given higher priority and are better formulated.

Ensuring PM takes the lead

It will be necessary to ensure the Prime Minister’s Office takes the lead in determining the direction of security policy, a task that requires eliminating a lack of coordination among pertinent ministries and agencies.

This can be exemplified by such immediate tasks as responding to China’s recent move to set up an expanded air defense identification zone and the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture. Seeking solutions to both problems requires cooperative relations among several government ministries and agencies. The NSC will be tested over its ability to coordinate and adjust cooperation among these government offices.

Making appropriate decisions about security issues requires improving the ability of all government organs to gather and analyze information.

The NSC establishment law states that relevant ministries and agencies are required to supply the new organ with information related to its function. Information to be managed by the NSC will include government secrets whose confidentiality would be tightly guarded under an envisaged law seeking to stiffen penalties on public servants who leak such information.

With this in mind, relevant cabinet members must give their ministry personnel instructions necessary for facilitating a smooth information supply.

It is also essential that the Diet does not fail to pass the bill designed to prevent the leakage of specified government secrets. The government should also make progress in reforming the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, although it has not done so in connection with the NSC scheme.

Some duties of the NSC and the intelligence and research office may overlap, including analyzing the overseas state of affairs and intelligence regarding acts of international terrorism. The two organizations should promote effective cooperation between them.

The Diet has also adopted a resolution supplementary to the NSC establishment law that will require the government to consider producing the minutes of NSC ministerial meetings. This resulted from negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties.

Admittedly, it is necessary to create a system for compiling records regarding how decisions are made about important policy issues, so that each decision-making process could be verified in the future. Nonetheless, whether to produce the minutes of NSC meetings and disclose related information must be considered by putting all relevant government meetings into perspective, including cabinet meetings and conferences attended by cabinet ministers related to the NSC scheme.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 28, 2013)
(2013年11月28日01時34分  読売新聞)

秘密保護法案 指定対象絞り「原則公開」確実に

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 28, 2013
Scope of secrecy must be narrowed; more Diet discussions needed
秘密保護法案 指定対象絞り「原則公開」確実に(11月27日付・読売社説)


The House of Representatives’ passage of a bill to tighten the confidentiality of specified government information can be regarded as a clear indication that many legislators believe this country needs such legislation comparable to what has already been enacted in other advanced nations.

The bill is designed to tighten penalties on public servants and others who leak classified information related to national security. On Tuesday, the legislation was laid before a plenary session of the lower house, which approved it with the endorsement of a significant 70 percent of lawmakers in that chamber—those from the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, as well as Your Party and some other legislators. The bill was then forwarded to the House of Councillors for further discussions.

Members of the opposition Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) left the chamber before the bill was put to a vote, despite its earlier agreement to support the legislation if some modifications were incorporated into it. Ishin no Kai was antagonized by the governing coalition’s decision to vote on the bill Tuesday instead of going along with its calls for more discussions.

Although Ishin no Kai regrettably refused to vote in favor of the bill, we find it commendable that the legislation passed the lower house with the backing of many lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties.

Japan NSC comes into play

Still, debates on revisions to the initial bill—an amendment drafted by the ruling parties, Your Party and Ishin no Kai—were far from sufficient. It is also a stretch to say that public anxiety about the nature of the bill has been laid to rest, as shown by the widespread fear that the legislation could restrict the people’s right to know.

The government and the ruling parties should carefully explain how the envisaged law would be applied in actuality during upper house debates on it, with the aim of gaining broad support for it.

Japan’s security environment has become even more difficult in recent years due to such factors as North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and China’s growing military build-up.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had every reason to tell a session of the lower house Special Committee on National Security that “information gathering is critical for defending the safety of the people.”

The Abe administration intends to establish a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council that would play a central role in issuing directives related to Japan’s diplomatic relations and national security. Every nation needs to refine its legal framework to ensure none of its secrets are leaked. This is essential for promoting efforts to exchange and share critical information among allies and friendly powers.

Given this, the envisaged NSC and legislation for preserving the secrecy of crucial information are inseparable when it comes to the government’s strategic decision-making function.

The most contentious issue debated in connection with the bill was how the government would actually apply the envisaged law. During debates in the lower house, legislators said it would be impossible to dispel the anxiety that the government could arbitrarily expand the scope of information to be designated under the legislation, thus making it possible to keep concealing such secrets.

The prime minister brushed off that assertion as a mistaken notion about the bill. He insisted that the legislation would be used as a multilayered system by which the government would be prevented from making arbitrary decisions about designating information as secret. Steps to be taken for that purpose include limiting the scope of designation to items stated in a table attached to the bill, and setting standards for secrecy designation based on the opinions of experts.

Information to be classified under the legislation would be removed—as a general rule—from the list of secrets 30 years after its designation. The modified bill stipulates the term of designation for each secret could be renewed by consent of the cabinet, but that the ultimate period would not exceed 60 years, except for areas of critical importance, including secret codes used by the government and sources of confidential information.

The prime minister told the lower house that information whose designation period could be extended beyond 30 years would be limited, as a general rule, to these seven areas.

Debates on the bill in the lower house certainly did much to clarify the government’s thinking about how to apply the law, and also imposed tighter limits on the duration of secrecy designation.

Fend off arbitrary judgment

Nonetheless, bureaucratic organizations, with their ingrained principle of not rocking the boat, are expected to broaden the range of documents subject to protection as specifically designated secrets and become more cautious about declassifying them.

Presently, the government possesses about 420,000 documents containing specially managed secrets. Ninety percent of these documents are said to be related to Japan’s information-gathering satellites. The government should narrow down the range of classified information to be protected when it transfers documents into the category of specifically designated secrets.

If the number of specifically designated secrets grows too large, it would be physically difficult to check every piece of classified information and to declassify them should “the heads of administrative organizations” be replaced through a change of government or a cabinet reshuffle. It is important to work out a structure that prevents bureaucrats from hanging on to specifically designated secrets for too long.

During a Diet session, Abe went so far as to say the government should establish a “third-party body” that would examine the appropriateness of the designation of documents branded as secret. He referred to such organizations as the Information Security Oversight Office within the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

It would be unreasonable for specifically designated secrets to be examined by people outside the organization. It would also give rise to the danger of information leaks. If a third-party organization is to be set up, it would be proper to have an internal unit within an administrative organization do the job, modeled on the setup in the United States.

According to the modified bill, all secret documents that have been declassified “are to be made public, in principle” after a certain period. This modification is an improvement that will enable future generations to examine these documents.

How such documents should be made public, stored or destroyed are major issues to be resolved. The Democratic Party of Japan asserted that certain rules should be established on information disclosure so that courts will be able to look at specific documents when handling a lawsuit that involves classified information. We think this proposal has some merit.

As to the Diet’s involvement in specifically designated secrets, the ruling and opposition parties should stipulate such matters as the management of closed meetings through lawmaker-initiated legislation.

Protecting ‘right to know’

The bill also clearly gave some consideration to the freedom of news gathering and reporting. We welcome the fact that news gathering activity by people in the media will not be considered a crime unless it is conducted illegally or extremely improperly.

Some opposition parties have been up in arms and claimed this bill “will cover the people’s eyes and ears and muzzle their mouths” and “control the state’s information and silence any criticism of the Japan-U.S. alliance.” But such fears are off the mark.

That being said, there is a danger that public servants will become so afraid of leaks that they will reject requests for interviews, making it harder for the media to share necessary information with the public.

How should the protection of classified information for national security be balanced with the people’s “right to know”? This topic also needs in-depth discussion in the upper house.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 27, 2013)
(2013年11月27日02時13分  読売新聞)

法人税減税 競争力強化へ具体策を詰めよ




The Yomiuri Shimbun November 27, 2013
Tax changes should boost companies’ competitiveness to promote growth
法人税減税 競争力強化へ具体策を詰めよ(11月26日付・読売社説)

Reducing the corporate tax rate is an effective way to enhance the competitiveness of Japanese companies and reinforce the foundations for national economic growth.

At the instruction of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, tax system talks on further reducing corporate tax have gotten into full swing between the government and the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.

Their commitment to a growth strategy will be tested by how far they go in presenting a specific course of action.

In Tokyo, the effective corporate tax rate, when national and local taxes are combined, stands at about 38 percent. Even if the special reconstruction corporate tax—temporarily imposed on companies to finance post-disaster reconstruction projects—is excluded, companies still face corporate tax up to about 36 percent, which is much higher than the rates in European and other Asian countries, where it is mostly in the 20 percent range.

As long as the corporate tax remains high, not only will much of the vitality of Japanese companies be lost, but the hollowing out of industry—companies moving production overseas to avoid the high cost of operating in Japan— may accelerate. The high tax will also have an adverse impact on employment and wages. Furthermore, to attract investment from abroad, a further reduction in the corporate tax rate is urgently needed.

Abe’s intention of improving the competitive environment for companies and adding impetus to the growth of the national economy is quite appropriate.

More than a few ruling party members take a cautious view about having ordinary households bear a heavier burden due to the consumption tax increase set for next spring, while reducing the corporate tax at the same time.

But it would be more beneficial to create a virtuous circle in which the invigoration of companies would have a ripple effect that would benefit households through wage hikes and other improvements.

Seek new revenue sources

A cut of even one percentage point in the corporate tax rate is projected to reduce government revenue by about ¥400 billion. Therefore, one significant remaining hurdle is finding a tax revenue source to make up for the shortfall.

As the fiscal situation is harsh, the tax base must be broadened so as to collect taxes from a wider range of companies.

Special policy measures to reduce corporate taxes on specific sectors of industry have a worth totaling about ¥7 trillion. As these measures vest interests in certain companies and industries, many criticize them as unfair. It is also argued that the policy effects of these steps are uncertain.

The government and the ruling parties should consider abolishing the special tax-cut measures deemed to have outlived their intended purpose, and cutting the scale of measures whose effect has been lessened.

The fact that more than 70 percent of domestic companies do not pay corporate taxes is also problematic.

One possible idea is to review the system of carrying forward net operating losses, under which companies can reduce their tax expense by applying net operating losses from the past several years to the current year’s profit. With this option it would be possible to have more companies pay their fair share of taxes.

The abolition of the special corporate tax for post-disaster reconstruction one year earlier than initially planned, as worked out by the government, is also an important topic for talks by the ruling parties.

The one-year difference will cut tax revenues by ¥900 billion, lessening the burden on companies.

However, a shortage of funds needed for reconstruction projects because of this measure must be avoided. The government and ruling parties have to clearly state an alternative revenue source and win the understanding of the people so as not to hinder the rebuilding effort.

Also needed is for companies to use their accumulated internal reserves to make their own efforts. We hope to see the reinforcement of a strategy in which surplus funds at companies are used effectively and help rejuvenate the national economy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 26, 2013)
(2013年11月26日01時45分  読売新聞)

COP19閉幕 国際協調で温暖化対策を前へ

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 26, 2013
Push ahead measures to tackle climate change with international cooperation
COP19閉幕 国際協調で温暖化対策を前へ(11月25日付・読売社説)

Due to the conflicting interests of developed and developing countries, including emerging economies, the just-concluded discussions on climate change made hardly any progress. The latest U.N. talks on the issue vividly demonstrated the difficulties facing the international effort to tackle global warming.

The 19th Conference on Climate Change (COP19) has ended in Warsaw. The participants extended the meeting by one day, managing to prevent it from breaking down.

A new greenhouse gas reduction framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol is to be implemented in 2020. By when should the participating countries submit their voluntary greenhouse gas emission targets for the years beyond 2020? As to this major point of contention, the participants agreed on a final draft of their joint communique that encourages their governments to present their targets in 2015.

While advanced countries had tried to put a specific process in motion to build a new framework, developing countries opposed specifying the timing. It can be said that both sides went as far as they could in reaching the agreement. The negotiations on a new framework have a tough road ahead.

Recent spates of climate catastrophes such as the occurrence of super typhoons are said to be caused by global warming. When the delegation from the Philippines, which was hit hard by Typhoon No. 30, appealed for an immediate increase in efforts to tackle global warming, the appeal won the sympathy of other countries.

Developing nations want help

While sharing a sense of crisis over global warming, developing countries repeatedly asserted that advanced countries should proactively support them because of their weak financial position. They did so because they believe the advanced countries are responsible for global warming, as they have emitted a massive amount of greenhouse gas with their industrial production.

Indeed, it will be necessary to extend a certain amount of support to developing countries that cannot afford to take measures to deal with environmental issues on their own.

On the other hand, we should not forget the reality that the total amount of emissions from developing countries as a whole has topped the total amount for advanced countries now. It was quite reasonable for advanced countries, including Japan, to call on developing countries to adopt the stance of reducing emissions on their own initiative.

In particular, such emerging economies as China—the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gas—need to assume their fair share of responsibility for reducing the emissions.

Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara emphasized at the COP19 conference that the new framework should be fair and effective and be applied to all countries. It is vital to firmly maintain this course of action.

At the conference, the Japanese government expressed its new goal of “reducing its domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 3.8 percent from the fiscal 2005 level by the end of fiscal 2020,” a target that drew criticism from other countries as being too low.

Yet the 3.8 percent cut is a numerical value set at a time when none of the nation’s nuclear power stations, which do not emit any carbon dioxide when generating electricity, are operating.

The government should expedite its efforts to work out a basic energy plan that specifies a future ratio of nuclear power generation. It is important for the government to raise the emissions reduction target by the end of 2020 based on such a basic plan and to make steady progress in setting a realistic target for the years beyond 2020.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2013)
(2013年11月25日01時17分  読売新聞)

猪瀬氏に5000万 「個人の借り入れ」は通らない


The Yomiuri Shimbun November 25, 2013
Inose's explanation of why he took Tokushukai funds defies common sense
猪瀬氏に5000万 「個人の借り入れ」は通らない(11月24日付・読売社説)

In a development that left many scratching their heads, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose was found to have received ¥50 million from the Tokushukai medical group—under investigation by prosecutors for suspected election law violations—just before the December Tokyo gubernatorial race, in which he was elected to the post for the first time.

According to his accounts, Inose visited Torao Tokuda, a former House of Representatives member and the founder of Tokushukai, in November last year to solicit support for his election bid, shortly after which the hospital group offered to provide funds to Inose. He received the ¥50 million directly from Takeshi Tokuda, the second son of Torao and a lower house member, at the Diet members’ building.

What was the purpose of the funds?

If they were meant for election campaigning, Inose was required to declare the ¥50 million in a campaign funds report, in accordance with the Public Offices Election Law. But there was no mention of the funds from Tokushukai in Inose’s report.

At a press conference, the governor said, “I personally borrowed the funds because I worried my savings would be wiped out due to election campaigning.” He is apparently claiming that because the funds from Tokushukai were not for his election campaign, his conduct did not violate the election law.

It is, however, only natural to assume he received the cash with the view of possibly using it for election campaigning as it was just before the start of official campaigning for the Tokyo race when he asked Tokuda to support his candidacy.

Inose said he gave an IOU to Tokuda, but what exactly he scribbled down on the note is unknown, although he claimed the money was a no-interest, no-collateral loan. It was nonetheless a monetary transaction that is far from the social norm.

Disclosure came late

Even if it was a personal loan, as Inose claims, there is a problem. Although a metropolitan government ordinance requires the governor to report any loans, if any, in an asset disclosure statement, Inose did not do so. He revised the statement only after the scandal came to light Friday.

The timing of his returning the money also stokes suspicion. The governor returned the money in full in late September right after the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office searched Tokushukai’s Tokyo headquarters and other locations, suspecting violations of the election law.

“I told them I would return the money in January or February, but I never got around to it,” Inose explained. But it is hard not to suspect he returned the money hastily as the investigation unfolded.

The metropolitan and prefectural governors have the authority to grant permission to open hospitals and supervise them after they open.  都道府県知事は病院などの開設を許可する権限を持つ。開設後も指導監督する立場にある。

There are a number of hospitals and nursing homes for the elderly run by Tokushukai in Tokyo, but Inose denied providing any quid pro quos to the medical group for receiving the money—an act, in the first place, showing his lack of consciousness about social norms.

The governor is playing a central role in preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. We regret that this scandal has poured cold water on the festive mood of hosting the sports extravaganza.

If the scandal is prolonged, it could have negative ramifications on his management of the Tokyo metropolitan government. He must urgently give every possible explanation to convince doubters.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2013)
(2013年11月24日01時49分  読売新聞)

秘密保護法案 与野党の修正案は評価できる

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 24, 2013
Modified bill to protect specially designated secrets deserves credit
秘密保護法案 与野党の修正案は評価できる(11月23日付・読売社説)

The Liberal Democratic Party and its ruling coalition partner New Komeito have agreed separately with the major opposition parties Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party on modifications of a bill aimed at strengthening the protection of specially designated state secrets. The bill is intended to stiffen penalties for public servants who leak such information.

This legal arrangement is essential for the envisioned Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, which will serve as the headquarters for Japan’s security strategy, to function well. The ruling coalition was right to discuss the matter over and over with the opposition parties without forcing its way with its dominant number of lawmakers.

If Ishin no Kai and Your Party take office, they will also have to designate such secrets and rescind the designations. Thus, it is important that both ruling and opposition parties work together to create the system.

The modifications are designed to enhance information management by the Cabinet through such measures as allowing the prime minister to supervise the secrecy designations and report them to a panel of experts to seek their opinions. The revisions also call for ministries and agencies to lose the authorization to make such designations if they do not exercise it within five years after the secrecy protection law takes effect.

The bill initially stipulated that the period of confidentiality would be up to five years and would be renewable, and that the period could be extended to 30 years or longer with Cabinet approval. However, a stipulation that the period cannot exceed 60 years has been added to the revised bill. Exceptions for this are limited to highly sensitive information in seven categories, such as secret codes, defense equipment and information sources.

The revised bill also stipulates that all the documents not designated as secrets beyond 30 years should be transferred to the National Archives of Japan.

Revisions ease some concerns

It is questionable whether the prime minister’s intended greater role will prove workable. However, it appears to be appropriate that the revised bill stipulates specially classified secrets will eventually be made public “in principle” while referring to exceptions and a system to archive key government documents.

To some extent, the modifications likely will dispel concerns that the government may arbitrarily increase the subjects for designation as secrets and permanently conceal information inconvenient to it from the public.

The ruling parties have also included a supplemental provision in the bill that calls on the government to consider setting up a third-party body to check the appropriateness of the designations.

We understand that this provision is meant to keep the government in check by a third party. But questions have been raised over whether outsiders would be able to make appropriate decisions considering the massive amount of highly sensitive information that affects national security. If more people gain access to such secrets, the risk of leaks is expected to rise.

Unless the composition of the panel and how it will work are determined carefully, such a body could become a mere facade.

The Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition party, has decided to oppose the secret protection bill unless the ruling parties accept its proposals.

The DPJ proposes a narrower scope of specially classified secrets and sets the period of confidentiality at 30 years in principle. It also seeks a penalty of imprisonment of less than five years for violators of the law. As for the provision of such state secrets to the Diet, the DPJ says it would address the issue by amending the Diet Law. Such proposals are worth considering.

Both ruling and opposition parties are urged to make efforts to deepen discussions on the matter.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 23, 2013)
(2013年11月23日01時56分  読売新聞)

放射性廃棄物 政府は最終処分に責任を持て

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 23, 2013
Govt must act responsibly to find site for final N-waste repository
放射性廃棄物 政府は最終処分に責任を持て(11月22日付・読売社説)

No time must be wasted in strengthening government efforts to secure a site for a final disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste generated from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants.

An expert panel of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry has hammered out a set of new steps regarding how to secure candidate sites for a final repository, focusing on a recommendation that the government should be at the forefront of efforts to make progress on the issue.

Currently, candidate sites are being sought through open solicitation, inviting volunteer candidates among municipal governments to host a final disposal site for radioactive waste. As a result, the opinions of local communities are being given great weight in the matter. So far, the government has just waited for municipalities to volunteer, but no candidates sites have been found since open solicitation began in 2002.

To break the impasse, it is reasonable for the expert panel to propose that the government take on the responsibility of designating areas where high-level radioactive waste can safely be disposed of. This is the same policy followed by Sweden, which has selected a final disposal site. We hope to see the planned approach result in progress in locating candidate sites.

Authorities envision burying high-level radioactive waste deep underground, at least 300 meters below the surface, by constructing a disposal facility in stable rock formations in an area where there are no volcanoes or other threats.

Similar methods have been employed overseas, since they make it possible to dispose of nuclear waste in a stable manner for more than 100,000 years.

Radioactivity lessens with time, more than 99 percent of it ceasing to exist in about 1,000 years.

Excessive political risks

It should be noted that there is little public understanding of the current technological level and safety of geological disposal, hindering efforts to find a candidate site. Government efforts to widely disseminate correct, scientific knowledge about the matter are indispensable.

Open solicitation of volunteer candidates is problematic in that municipal leaders put themselves at great political risk if they support hosting a disposal facility. When the mayor of Toyo, Kochi Prefecture, applied to be a candidate site, residents fiercely opposed the idea and the mayor was in danger of having to resign. The town’s application was withdrawn.

The selection process of candidate sites can hardly make progress without wide-ranging support from the central government.

On Wednesday, urging the government to redouble its efforts to find candidate sites, the ministry’s expert panel cited the need to boost government efforts to promote the local economies of the municipalities concerned. The panel also proposed a forum in which the government and local residents closely exchange views on the matter. Both suggestions are very important.

The task of establishing a final disposal repository has been undertaken by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, which was established by power utilities and other organizations under the Specified Nuclear Waste Final Disposal Law enacted in 2000. Reform of the waste management organization, which has failed to produce any tangible results, is also urgently needed.

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has continued making unrealistic calls to completely stop the nation’s nuclear power generation, saying it is “too optimistic and irresponsible” to assume that a site can be found for a final disposal facility.

Even if the nation’s nuclear power generation should be eliminated, the problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste remains. It is impermissible to pass the burden of inaction on the matter to the next generation.

The Liberal Democratic Party is also studying ways to secure a final disposal facility, and there are moves in the Diet to create a suprapartisan group of legislators to address the problem of a final repository. They should engage in discussions with a strong sense of responsibility.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 22, 2013)
(2013年11月22日01時31分  読売新聞)

衆院選違憲状態 国会の裁量に配慮した最高裁





The Yomiuri Shimbun November 22, 2013
Top court respects Diet’s discretionary power over vote-value disparity
衆院選違憲状態 国会の裁量に配慮した最高裁(11月21日付・読売社説)

It was a judgment by the nation’s top court that respected the Diet’s discretionary power over the election system to the maximum extent possible.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the House of Representatives election in December last year, in which the maximum disparity between the value of votes was 2.43-to-1, was in “a state of unconstitutionality.” The Diet must take the ruling seriously and swiftly tackle election system reform.

“Equality in the value of voting rights is not the absolute standard to determine the framework of an election system,” the top court said.  最高裁は「投票価値の平等は選挙制度の仕組みを決定する絶対の基準ではない」と指摘した。

When deciding the zoning of single-seat constituencies, such factors as local demographics, transportation conditions and geographical circumstances must be taken into account and balanced with equality in the value of voting rights, it said.

‘Plus 0, minus 5’ praised

It was a practical and quite reasonable judgment in which the Supreme Court did not think improvement in the disparity of vote values in single-seat constituencies was an absolute necessity, but it recognized the need to take regional circumstances into consideration.

The Supreme Court previously judged that the 2009 lower house election was in “an unconstitutional state” when the maximum disparity in the value of votes between the least populous constituency and the most heavily populated district was 2.30-to-1. As the disparity was further expanded in the lower house poll in December last year, some experts predicted the top court would judge it was “unconstitutional.”

But was the disparity left untouched for an excessive period of time that could not be overlooked?

That was the deciding factor in its decision whether the 2012 poll was unconstitutional or in a state of unconstitutionality.

In addition to how long the disparity was left untouched, the Supreme Court said that factors such as the content of measures to remedy the disparity and the necessary procedures for such measures should also be taken into consideration from a comprehensive viewpoint. This judgment will be an important index for making court decisions on similar cases in the future.

The latest top court decision praised the remedy of “increasing no seats, but decreasing five seats” in single-seat constituencies under the revised Public Offices Election Law that was passed by the Diet in June as “a step forward.” The disparity shrank to less than 2-to-1 through the measure.

To change the zoning of constituencies, it was necessary to go through such procedures as having the lower house electoral district council recommend a reform plan to the prime minister and revise the Public Offices Election Law based on that plan.

It is therefore understandable that the top court realized that remedying the situation requires a certain amount of time.

Need to reflect regional voices

However, there are also questionable elements to the decision. In the distribution of the quota of seats for single-seat constituencies in each prefecture, the method of distributing one seat first to each prefecture is still effectively in practice. Touching upon this point, the Supreme Court said, “It is hard to say that the structural problems were definitively resolved.”

However, we feel that an attempt to transform the electoral system into one that does not reflect the rationale behind this formula could mean the opinions of voters in areas with a declining population are not properly represented in the results of lower house elections.

Legislators must step up their electoral reform drive in response to the top court’s ruling.

Instead of finding the vote-value disparities to be unconstitutional, the latest ruling found the gaps to be in a state of unconstitutionality, meaning these differences border on a violation of the vote-value equality guaranteed in the Constitution. However, lawmakers should not be allowed to become blase about debating how to reform the election system, citing the ruling as a reason for their neglect. The need to fundamentally reform the system remains unchanged, though the vote-value disparities fall only within a state of unconstitutionality.

The ruling and opposition parties should actively promote discussions on electoral reform. In debating reform plans, they must take to heart their responsibility to ensure that any changes in the system will help create a stable political environment in a manner that represents the will of the people.

In early November, the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito and the leading opposition party the Democratic Party of Japan held talks over lower house electoral reform. The parties agreed to reduce the number of lower house members while maintaining the current electoral system—known as the heiritsu formula, which combines single-seat constituencies with the proportional representation system—for the time being.

The ruling parties have said they will seek a 30-member reduction in lower house members to be chosen under the proportional representation system, while maintaining the current number of lawmakers in that chamber who are to be elected from single-seat constituencies.
This is in contrast to the proposal advanced by the DPJ, which has insisted on cuts in the number of lower house members in both categories. The ruling parties and the DPJ are no closer to reaching a compromise on the issue.

The LDP, Komeito and the DPJ have said they intend to start discussions with other parties soon. However, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) insists on reducing the number of lower house members by a sizable 144.

If Ishin no Kai sticks to its guns, it will be difficult to see an agreement emerge from among these parties. However, the total number of legislators in this country cannot be deemed too large if compared with those in other nations. Given this, there is no need to be too obsessed with reducing the number of Diet members.

Political parties should separate a proposed cut in lower house members from the overall issue. Instead, they should reconsider how the system should be operated and reformed.

Consensus difficult

It is difficult for political parties to reach a consensus about how to reform the election system, an issue bound to provoke conflicts of interest among them. We believe the ruling and opposition parties should first hurry to determine what kind of broad course should be adopted in the pursuit of fundamental electoral reform, a task that should be followed by a plan to commission an independent panel of experts to draw up specific reform proposals, as suggested by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Incumbent members of the lower chamber have a bit more than three years to serve in their positions if they complete their terms. They do not have enough time to take on electoral reform, considering the amount of time necessary for amending the legislation and making any changes in the system known to the public.

We believe it will be a viable idea to basically maintain the current system, but work to correct the vote-value disparities, as proposed by the LDP, Komeito and the DPJ.

Electoral reform is not limited to the lower house. The House of Councillors is seeking to adopt a new election system, beginning with an election in 2016. In fact, lawsuits have been filed in several locations in the country over disparities in the value of votes cast in July’s upper house race. Two high courts and a branch of another high court are set to rule on these suits starting late this month. Their rulings are expected to affect the dispute over electoral reform related to vote-value disparities.

The ruling and opposition parties should think about what kind of role the lower and upper houses should play, while at the same time striving to make progress in promoting electoral reform.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 21, 2013)
(2013年11月21日01時36分  読売新聞)

核燃料取り出し 政府が前面に出て廃炉目指せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 21, 2013
Govt must take lead in Fukushima nuclear reactor decommissioning
核燃料取り出し 政府が前面に出て廃炉目指せ(11月20日付・読売社説)

Decommissioning work at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which is expected to take 30 to 40 years, is finally under way.

Work has begun to remove nuclear fuel from the plant’s No. 4 reactor, bringing the decommissioning work into a new stage of the timetable drawn up by the government and TEPCO.

There are many unknown aspects to deal with, and work to remove nuclear fuel is difficult, as it will continue to take place in an environment with high radiation levels. TEPCO must give top priority to ensuring safety and tackle this task with utmost seriousness.

The No. 4 reactor was offline for a regular inspection at the time of the outbreak of the nuclear crisis in March 2011. Unlike the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors, a core meltdown did not occur at the No. 4 reactor, as nuclear fuel was kept with unused fuel in a storage pool inside the reactor building.

However, hydrogen believed to have come from the neighboring No. 3 reactor via an exhaust system exploded, blowing off the upper portion of the No. 4 reactor building.

Inside the storage pool, there are 1,331 spent nuclear fuel assemblies and 202 unused fuel assemblies. TEPCO plans to remove all of them by the end of next year.

Although reinforcement work has been carried out at the No. 4 reactor, leaving nuclear fuel in the seriously damaged building brings risks of radiation leaks. Removing nuclear fuel is thus an indispensable part of reactor decommissioning. Nuclear fuel assemblies are to be pulled out of the storage pool one by one with a crane, placed in a shipping container and moved to a shared pool.

During the nuclear fuel removal process, meticulous attention must be given to debris remaining inside the No. 4 reactor’s storage pool. It is necessary to prevent such debris from damaging nuclear fuel assemblies when the assemblies are pulled out of the storage pool.

Thorough NRA checks needed

The Nuclear Regulation Authority will oversee the nuclear fuel removal work under a special system. It is important that the NRA thoroughly check whether its schedule is realistic and ensure that potential sources of trouble have not been overlooked.

As for the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors, damaged areas have yet to be identified and the melted fuel situation is unknown. The amount of water contaminated with radioactive substances apparently leaking from damaged areas has continued to increase.

We urge TEPCO to apply the expertise it gains during the nuclear fuel removal work at the No. 4 reactor to recovering melted fuel and other materials at the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors.

The development of advanced robots that can be used for monitoring the situation inside reactors, as well as technology to repair damaged sections, must be taken full advantage of.

One major challenge is to secure a sustainable workforce for decommissioning the reactors.

The decommissioning work is arduous, since it requires workers to wear a full face mask and protective suit. It remains difficult even now to organize the 2,000 to 3,000 workers believed to be needed for this work.

As the decommissioning work proceeds, workers will face increased levels of exposure to radiation, and some restrictions may be needed to limit access to the sites by experienced technicians.

More than ¥2 trillion is said to be necessary for reactor decommissioning work and measures to deal with contaminated water. The government must move steadily forward with this long-term decommissioning work, by taking the lead in developing the needed technology, securing a sustainable workforce, and providing financial assistance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 20, 2013)
(2013年11月20日02時21分  読売新聞)


Thai Democratic Party struggled with the ghost of Thaksin Shinawatra







cite from bangkok shuho,













[ はじめに ]

[ 名前 ]
松井 清 (スラチャイ)

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

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

[ 学習の手引き ]
・Think in English.

seesaa100 英字新聞s HPs





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

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

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



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