香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「女性ならでは」の意味 /東京

September 14, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The meaning of a 'perspective unique to women'
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「女性ならでは」の意味 /東京

The new Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was launched on Sept. 3. He appointed a record-tying five women to ministerial positions, and has established a new post -- minister in charge of promoting women's active participation. He told a news conference that he hopes the new women ministers make creative changes from a "perspective unique to women." I think the latest ministerial appointment reflects the prime minister's policies on encouraging women in the workforce.

In addition, the Cabinet Office has recently invited women of different ages to a meeting to discuss women's participation in the workplace.

But what I don't quite understand is what Prime Minister Abe means by a "perspective unique to women."

Abe's wife First Lady Akie talked passionately about "peace-making from a women's perspective" at a seminar last year in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, which was hosted by a local women's group. She went on to say, "Women are straightforward, driven by their instincts. Men want to rationalize themselves."

I believe what First Lady Akie meant by "women's peace-making" was that women "don't want wars, but want to protect lives and get along with foreign countries" -- a straightforward way of thinking about peace -- and I am all for that.

So, when her husband says making "creative changes from a perspective unique to women," is he saying that he means what she said?

Women in general value people's lives and health, as well as community and solidarity, and they care for the weak. They feel that what they need is a feeling of security, rather than surviving through fierce competition, and that people of all kinds need to get along. Those are the beliefs that are unique to women, as women have been forced into a socially vulnerable position and struggled for a long time in a man's world.

Some of the new women ministers, however, have made bitter remarks toward neighboring Asian countries. At least one minister has said she became a politician to "defend Japan's honor." Of course, I'm not saying that these comments would directly affect their duties as ministers, but I can't help questioning their position, because they don't necessarily appear to care about the weak or minorities. They seem to lack a cooperative attitude of "let's get along and help each other."

I wonder what kind of "perspective" Prime Minister Abe expects from these women ministers.

I see many women at my clinic who suffer from problems that particularly affect women, such as poverty, domestic violence and enduring stress from taking care of their elderly parents. I sincerely hope that these women ministers take notice of less fortunate women and help them survive in difficult times.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2014年09月09日 地方版


社説:参院選挙改革 自民の身勝手さに驚く

September 13, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: LDP's selfishness exposed in friction over electoral reform
社説:参院選挙改革 自民の身勝手さに驚く

It has been said that achieving consensus over reform of the electoral system for the House of Councillors is no easy task. But the utter confusion within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leaves us dumbfounded.
Masashi Waki, an LDP legislator who heads a consultative body on electoral reform for the upper house, laid out a new reform plan at a meeting of the panel on Sept. 11. The consultative body comprises both ruling and opposition party members, focusing on how to correct vote-value disparities among upper house constituencies.

Waki's proposal, however, met a backlash from within the LDP. The following day, the party decided to dismiss him from the post of secretary-general of its upper house caucus. Waki is also expected to be ousted as head of the consultative body.

The ruling and opposition camps are now likely to face difficulties reaching an agreement over the issue by the end of the year -- the initial target deadline. The incident exposes the LDP's selfishness and reluctance to engage in electoral reform.

At the Sept. 11 meeting, Waki proposed a plan to merge 10 prefectural constituencies into five electoral districts -- modifying an original plan to integrate 22 prefectural constituencies into 11 electoral zones. However, LDP legislators -- especially those whose electoral districts were to be affected by the plan -- expressed dissatisfaction with the proposal.

When Waki first presented the proposal of merging upper house constituencies, Kensei Mizote, head of the LDP's upper house caucus, reportedly resisted, saying, "This is the first that I've heard of it." His response reveals a fundamental lack of intra-party coordination within the LDP.

So far, the party has produced no workable alternative. It cannot escape criticism that its legislators, with their vested interests, are inherently reluctant to implement electoral reform.

Ahead of the recent Cabinet reshuffle, there was a move within the LDP's upper house caucus to have Waki appointed as a Cabinet minister, in order to unseat him from the head of the consultative body on electoral reform. The attempt to oust Waki failed after he refused the proposed appointment. The idea of linking a ministerial appointment to legislators' own electoral interests leaves us astonished.

The merger proposal may not be the best plan, but it is one possible method to rectify vote-value disparities among electoral districts. Some opposition party members have voiced support for the plan. Even within the LDP, a number have reportedly endorsed the plan, saying they may have no other choice. Waki, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have made sufficient efforts to ease conflict within the LDP, as all he did was to denounce Mizote and other opponents of the plan.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the 2010 upper house election was held "in a state of unconstitutionality." A supplementary provision was subsequently added to the revised Public Offices Election Law, stating that a drastic review of the electoral system would be carried out ahead of the next upper house election to be called in 2016. However, the Diet has thus far only taken the stop-gap measure of reducing the number of seats in the most sparsely populated constituencies by four and increasing that in the most densely populated districts by four. There is little time left to conduct drastic electoral reform for the upper chamber.

In the meantime, a third-party advisory panel to the speaker of the House of Representatives has started discussing reform of the lower house electoral system. This has sparked criticism from Waki and other LDP members. They say it is irresponsible for lawmakers to leave their own electoral system in the hands of a third-party organization. The members stressed that upper house legislators were carrying out reforms "on their own."

Now, however, it seems that the upper chamber will also end up having to outsource the task to a third-party body, as the LDP is making no ground in coordinating the opinions of its members.

毎日新聞 2014年09月13日 02時32分


社説:吉田調書公開 次は「幸運」に頼れない

September 12, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Nuclear plants cannot rely on luck
社説:吉田調書公開 次は「幸運」に頼れない

A document detailing testimony by the late former head of the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant conveys the terror of the serious accident at the atomic power station that occurred 3 1/2 years ago.

The record of the government fact-finding panel's hearing of Masao Yoshida, former head of the power plant, over the accident has been released along with those on interviews with 18 others.
The document quotes Yoshida as saying, "Nobody came to help us," "Necessary supplies didn't reach us," and "there was a wide perception gap between the plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) headquarters and the prime minister's office."

Both power companies including TEPCO and the government should pay close attention to Yoshida's testimony and clarify whether each problem he pointed out has been improved.

When the nuclear disaster broke out, the biggest challenge Yoshida and other workers encountered was to inject water into the plant's reactors, and they were asking for outside help. However, no one extended substantive or effective assistance to the plant. A lot of equipment that plant workers needed, such as power-supply vehicles, batteries, fire engines and diesel fuel, reached a nearby supply depot, but there was nobody who was able to transport the supplies to the power station. As a result, workers at the plant were forced to come to the depot to pick up the supplies despite a serious shortage of personnel at the power station. Such a frustrating situation is apparently attributable to high radiation levels inside the plant.

Power companies are primarily responsible for dealing with any accident at power plants they operate. Regardless, it is imperative to address in advance how to support workers at a nuclear power plant where radiation levels have surged in case of a serious nuclear accident and how the national and local governments, the Self-Defense Forces and firefighters should cooperate in responding to the accident.

During the hearing, Yoshida repeatedly pointed out a perception gap between plant workers, the TEPCO headquarters and the prime minister's office. The headquarters and the prime minister's office did not understand the situation of the plant at the time of the accident. As such, the headquarters ordered plant workers to stop injecting sea water in the reactors at the strong urging of the prime minister's office, obstructing worker's efforts to bring the crisis under control instead of extending support to the workers. The central government and utilities should clearly show whether they have implemented remedial measures to prevent a recurrence of such a problem.

The government stiffened regulatory standards for nuclear plants following the accident but emphasis is primarily placed on the hardware aspect. It is necessary to verify how far countermeasures in the software aspect, such as information and personnel, the flow of supplies and the chain of command, have been taken.

Yoshida, who faced a difficult response to the crisis in which the plant's No. 1 to 4 reactors fell into critical condition, pointed out problems involving the concentration of nuclear plants in small areas. However, Japan still faces risks arising from multiple nuclear plants in many areas, and it is necessary to seriously consider how to rectify the situation.

Yoshida's testimony suggests that the Fukushima No. 1 plant barely evaded a further catastrophe thanks to good luck.

Recalling the critical situation in which workers had been unable to inject water into the No. 2 reactor over an extended period, Yoshida was quoted as saying, "We were afraid that all radioactive substances would leak and spread. We visualized all of eastern Japan being devastated."

Keeping in mind that the worst-case scenario cannot be prevented by good luck, the government and power suppliers that are aiming to reactivate idled nuclear plants should learn lessons from the Yoshida testimony and all documents released by the government's fact-finding panel.

毎日新聞 2014年09月12日 02時30分


社説:川内原発再稼働 なし崩し的に進めるな

September 11, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Move to restart reactors without sufficient debate a huge mistake
社説:川内原発再稼働 なし崩し的に進めるな

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has approved a screening document giving the No. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai Nuclear Power Plant a pass under new screening standards -- a first in Japan.

The power company is now stepping up efforts to gain local consent to restart the reactors. But many issues have been left unaddressed, and we cannot accept reactivation without proper debate on these issues.
Two months before the screening document was adopted, the Mainichi Shimbun proposed two minimum conditions for restarting the reactors: preparing a way to curb damage to residents based on lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and having the government outline a roadmap for eliminating dependence on nuclear power and clarify where the reactivation of nuclear reactors is positioned within the nation's overall energy strategy.

This month the government sent workers to Kagoshima Prefecture, among other areas, to help formulate evacuation plans that would be implemented in the event of a nuclear accident. It is also considering making power companies present maintenance plans for aging reactors and urging utilities to reach a decision on whether to decommission or extend the life of their reactors.

But these measures have come too late, and even if they guarantee the effectiveness of evacuation plans, we still have no outline of how the nation can free itself from reliance on nuclear power.

The government says it plans to proceed with restarting nuclear power plants that have passed NRA screening. But it has not explained how it plans to obtain the consent it needs from local bodies for the plants to go into operation.

Under current rules, power companies must obtain consent from prefectural governments, as well as cities, towns or villages, where the nuclear power plants are located. But that leaves restarting nuclear reactors entirely in the hands of power companies and local bodies.

Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito has asked the government to state in writing why it is necessary to reactivate the Sendai plant's nuclear reactors. In doing so he has expressed the position that the government bears responsibility for restarting the reactors. The government intends to comply, but this must not end up a mere ceremony.

It is feared that if nuclear power plants are not restarted, then imports of fossil fuels will be pushed up, which could negatively affect the economy. But the risk of accidents that goes hand in hand with reactivation of nuclear reactors remains. So why are officials deciding to restart these reactors? Are we perfectly prepared for any accident that could occur?

The government has a responsibility to spend time explaining the issue to the public, deepen discussion, and reflect this in its policies.

When proceeding to gain consent for reactivation from local bodies, the government must deeply respect the opinions not only of the municipalities where the reactors are located, but also those within a 30-kilometer radius of the nuclear power plant, where evacuation plans must be prepared.

In July, the municipal assembly of the city of Aira, which lies within 30 kilometers of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, expressed opposition to restarting the plant's reactors, stating that residents felt uneasy about evacuation plans. It approved a document calling for the reactors to be decommissioned. In the Kagoshima Prefecture city of Ichikikushikino, meanwhile, more than half of the city's residents signed a petition opposing reactivation.

However, as is the case with the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant and many other nuclear facilities, there exists no mechanism enabling the opinions of residents in these neighboring municipalities to be reflected in decisions on whether or not nuclear reactors should be restarted.

Municipalities hosting nuclear power plants tend to favor reactivation due to the strong economic ties they have to those plants. If the government and power companies are hoping they can restrict consent for activation of nuclear power plants to as small a sphere as possible, then they are making a huge mistake.

毎日新聞 2014年09月11日 02時35分


社説:全米テニス 歴史を刻んだ錦織選手

September 10, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Nishikori makes history at U.S. Open
社説:全米テニス 歴史を刻んだ錦織選手

In an essay shortly before he graduated from elementary school and moved to the United States at age 13, Kei Nishikori wrote that his dream was to be the world champion in tennis. Nishikori has added a new page in the history of tennis although he will have to wait a bit longer for his dream to maybe come true.

Nishikori, 24, was overwhelmed by the powerful serve of Croatia's 25-year-old Marin Cilic in the final of the U.S. Open. After the match, Nishikori said "it wasn't my best tennis," and apologized for failing to win the trophy. However, he does not have to apologize. He should be proud that he became the first Japanese tennis player to advance to the final of a singles event at one of the four major tennis championships -- the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Nishikori was not highly evaluated before the tournament began. He underwent surgery to his right big toe in early August, and expressed concern about the condition of the toe at a news conference prior to the event. However, he won his more than four-hour-long fourth match by beating one of the world's top-ranked players and won the quarterfinal with his tenacious play, becoming the first Japanese tennis player in 96 years to advance to the semifinal. He then won the semifinal by stunning favorite Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

In recent years, the men's tennis world has been dominated by top four players led by Djokovic. This time, Nishikori joined the top-ranked players along with Cilic, who won a major championship for the first time, possibly changing the rankings in the men's tennis world dramatically.

Nishikori told a news conference following the final that he hopes to advance to the finals of a major tournament again. His international ranking has risen from 11th prior to the game to eighth. The public can place high expectations on the possibility that his dream will come true next season or beyond.

Nishikori's outstanding performance at the U.S. Open has also shed light on the great Japanese players of yesteryear.  歴史に埋もれていた日本の偉大なプレーヤーたちに光を当てたことも錦織選手の功績だろう。

Many people have learned that Japanese tennis had its golden age from the late 1910s to the 1930s. Ichiya Kumagai became the first Japanese player to advance to the semifinal of the U.S. Open in 1918. Zenzo Shimizu played in the semifinals of Wimbledon while Jiro Sato made it to the semifinals of the French Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

Nishikori is not the only Japanese player who performed outstandingly in the latest U.S. Open. Kimiko Date-Krumm, 43, advanced to the semifinals of women's doubles for the first time, and made it to the semifinals of women's singles -- for the third time in a major championship. Date retired from tennis at the age of 26 but made a comeback in 2008 at age 37 after getting married. Many people apparently sympathize with Date who says she enjoys both tennis and her private life.

Shingo Kunieda, 30, won the championship in wheelchair men's singles -- for the first time in three years and fifth time overall -- while Yui Kamiji, 20, won her first championship in wheelchair women's singles. Both of them also won doubles. Their performances tended to be overwhelmed by Nishikori's play during the competition, but their achievements should also be highly praised.

毎日新聞 2014年09月10日 02時32分


社説:昭和天皇実録 国民に開く近現代史に

September 09, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Emperor Showa's annals important material for modern history
社説:昭和天皇実録 国民に開く近現代史に

The Imperial Household Agency has released the annals of Emperor Showa that records his words and deeds throughout his 87-year-long life. The official record has provided an important temporal axis for research on the history of Emperor Showa, but it is still necessary to clarify the true meaning of, and evaluate the significance of his words and deeds. The release of the annals should be an important step toward fruitful research on the history of the Showa Era that is open to the public.

Modern history, including the history of the Showa Era, is complex just like a maze in a deep forest. The annals of Emperor Showa were expected to shed light on how he made decisions at various stages of that era, what he said and how he changed, or was unable to change, certain situations.

However, the 60-volume annals contain nothing that could overturn what are regarded as established historical facts.


Based on constitutional monarchy under the Meiji Constitution, Emperor Showa was wary of the military's tyrannical behavior and had some feuds with the military because he hoped for peace, according to the annals. As such, the record confirms the well-established image of Emperor Showa.

Still, it may be somewhat disappointing to those who expected the annals to reveal Emperor Showa's anguish and wavering as well as other details.

The annals quote Emperor Showa and describe how he expressed his views in a restrained manner.

None of Emperor Showa's words were blacked out, as opposed to the annals of his father Emperor Taisho. However, some researchers have pointed to the possibility that the editor of the annals of Emperor Showa may have chosen to use non-committal descriptions instead of blacking out any of his words it quotes.

Regarding this point, the Imperial Household Agency explained, "Once the details of his remarks are written in his annals, the words have wings. We cautiously considered each of his words and chose mainly to write the points of his remarks instead of directly quoting him."

However, the editor could have made up for a lack of direct quotes from Emperor Showa by explaining what he said in notes. Moreover, some of what are widely regarded as his well-known words are omitted in his annals.

Some critics say that the standards for selecting historical materials and deciding whether to record events in his annals remain obscure, with one of them saying, "The selection appears arbitrary and is hard to understand."

There are problems with the way the sources of information are identified. The annals do not show the dates, pages and chapters of books from which it quotes information, making it difficult for researchers to assess the official record or conduct further research on the history of Emperor Showa.

One of the most important achievements in the annals is the discovery of new historical materials, which will certainly contribute to future research activities.

A total of 3,152 historical materials were used to compile the official record, which took nearly a quarter of a century to complete, according to the Imperial Household Agency. About 40 of these materials are believed to be documents that had not been publicized before the release of the annals.

For example, the diary and other materials kept by former Grand Chamberlain Saburo Hyakutake, who served Emperor Showa during World War II, can be important research objects. Moreover, diaries kept by other chamberlains shed light on Emperor Showa's daily activities.
Measures to release these materials to the public and effectively use them for research should be implemented without being bound by precedent. The Imperial Household Agency intends to withhold chamberlains' diaries without designating them as official documents. Still, the annals are important records.


The Showa Era is already part of history. What happened in that era has been regularly discussed in the past, and the annals of Emperor Showa have drawn extensive attention from the public.

Why do we look back on the history of the Showa Era and try to learn from that period? It is because many challenges we face now are rooted in that era. The challenges involve not only politics, diplomacy and the economy but also a wide diversity of matters including lifestyles and values.

Moreover, we must continue to ask why Japan was unable to avoid the catastrophic war. In the annals, one of the important points that have drawn special attention from the public is the change in the situation concerning Japan before and after the war broke out. However, the matter is far from being clarified.

The annals should be open to the public as a source that allows people to learn lessons from the Showa Era and put them to good use in the future all the more because the number of those who were involved in or experienced the war, which brought unprecedented hardships and changes to both Japan and the world, have significantly decreased.

The process of Japan snowballing from crisis to crisis and eventually collapsing in the war is complex and difficult to clarify. However, clarifying this process would provide important lessons for us.

There are various ways of utilizing the annals.

It records the names of those who were allowed to meet with Emperor Showa as well as the details of their meetings. Although the purposes of their meetings are summarized or omitted, the names of individuals who met with Emperor Showa, the timing of their meetings and the frequency and how much time was spent on the meetings could be a clue to in-depth research.

The writings of Emperor Showa in his childhood, as well as the wide variety of Japanese and overseas films he enjoyed, which the annals introduce to its readers, shed more light on his human side. This is also an important achievement of the annals.

It goes without saying that journalism has the responsibility to ensure that information recorded in the annals is open to the public so that researchers study the Showa Era from various angles and people can share the information as common property.

毎日新聞 2014年09月09日 05時15分(最終更新 09月09日 06時48分)


社説:原発と火山災害 巨大噴火を侮るなかれ

September 08, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Volcanic threat no light matter for Japan's nuclear plant operators
社説:原発と火山災害 巨大噴火を侮るなかれ

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has released a "basic concept" for dealing with major volcanic eruptions threatening the nation's nuclear power plants. If abnormal volcanic activity posing a threat is detected near a nuclear plant, the regulatory body will ask the power company in charge to halt the plant's reactors and remove nuclear fuel -- even if it might turn out to be a false alarm. The NRA is set to convene a meeting of experts to determine standards for taking such action.

Experts are aligned on the view that the No. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima -- recently judged by the NRA to meet new safety standards -- together face the greatest risk of being damaged in a major volcanic eruption. This should have been considered before the plant underwent safety screenings. Japan is one of the most volcanic countries in the world, and neither the NRA nor the nations' power companies should make light of the threat of eruptions.

The landscape around the Sendai plant is marked by calderas -- cauldron-like geographical features that form when a large amount of magma spews out from under the ground, causing it to collapse. Mount Aso and Kagoshima Bay are two examples. In Japan, a major caldera-forming eruption is said to occur about once every 10,000 years.

Nuclear safety regulations established last year require power companies to conduct surveys on the possible effects of eruptions of volcanoes located within 160 kilometers of any nuclear power plant. Under the regulations, if there is a chance that an eruption could occur while the plant is in operation and produce a pyroclastic or lava flow that reaches the plant, then the land will be deemed unfit for nuclear power generation, and the plant will not be able to operate.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. has said the chance of such an eruption occurring while reactors at the Sendai plant are in operation is "sufficiently low." It says the plant could endure an eruption of the Sakurajima volcano that produced 15 centimeters of volcanic ash. Additionally, it says that even if a major eruption were to occur, then magma would build up several decades in advance, and if changes in the earth's crust were observed, then officials could perceive the danger.

In its safety evaluation, the NRA basically accepted Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s arguments.

However, during a subsequent meeting of experts, it was pointed out that it is difficult to predict the size and timing of a major eruption. An opinion was also put forward that measures should not be left entirely in the hands of power companies but be addressed at the national level.

There are many nuclear facilities around Japan that could be affected by volcanic eruptions. The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is a benchmark for those facilities in measures against eruptions.

NRA Commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki, who currently serves as acting chairman of the regulator, says he doesn't know how far the body can go in setting standards for decisions pertaining to major eruptions. But unless officials remain on the safe side when forming standards, there could well be confusion when responding to an abnormality.  規制委の島崎邦彦委員長代理は、巨大噴火に関する判断基準の策定について「どこまでできるか分からない」と述べた。だが、安全サイドに立った基準をあらかじめ作成しておかなければ、異常が検知された時の対応に混乱が生じかねない。

Of course, if a major eruption does occur, it could threaten Japan's very existence.

In May last year, a Cabinet Office panel advised that monitoring be stepped up and evacuation plans quickly formulated, due to fears that volcanic activity could increase as a result of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. At the same time, delays in research on major eruptions have been pointed out.

To avoid an "unexpected event" such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster, we hope officials will take NRA's planned formulation of standards for its decisions as an opportunity to promote research and countermeasures against major volcanic eruptions.

毎日新聞 2014年09月08日 02時32分


香山リカのココロの万華鏡:目に見えない敵は怖い? /東京

September 07, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Fear of an invisible threat
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:目に見えない敵は怖い? /東京

For the first time in 70 years, cases of dengue fever have been confirmed originating within Japan.

There are said to be around 100 million new cases of dengue fever around the world a year, and hundreds of people are believed to bring cases of the diseases into Japan every year after catching it in tropical climates. However, the recent cases that have made the news are said to be the first instances in post-World War II Japan for people who had not traveled abroad.

People needn't be excessively worried, as dengue fever does not pass directly between people, and most who catch the disease recover from their symptoms in around a week. Mosquitos are believed to be the source of the recent infections, and workers have conducted large-scale spraying with insecticide in Yoyogi Park, where the infected mosquitoes are thought to be. Looking at the imposing footage of these workers doing their job, some people have probably conjured up images of the Ebola pandemic, and become anxious.

A big reason why we sometimes become unnecessarily scared by infectious diseases like dengue fever is because we can't see the viruses that are behind them. We can protect ourselves from traffic accidents by looking both ways before we cross the road, but when it comes to viruses and bacteria, it is not so simple. There are probably people who, no matter how much they wash their hands, worry that they still have bacteria or viruses somewhere that they missed.

There are also scam artists who take advantage of people's fear of invisible threats. "Termites are trying to eat away the foundations of your house," they may lie, proceeding to charge a heavy fee for termite extermination. There is also a continuing problem with scam artists who will tell people they are cursed by the ghosts of their ancestors, even if they cannot see them, and sell them various things to "lift the curse."

The victims of these scams may originally dismiss the scam artists' claims, but since the "threat" is invisible, they start to doubt themselves and then wonder whether even though they can't see anything, maybe the scam artists can. In the end they are tricked into paying extraordinary sums to deal with the imagined threat.

Of course, unlike with these scams, dengue fever is a real threat, so we shouldn't treat it in the same way. However, if we become neurotic, we will be scared just by going outdoors, and our health can deteriorate just by thinking we are infected. As for the media, it is important to release correct information, and I would like the media to refrain from posting lots of big pictures of mosquitos, or workers spraying insecticide in the darkness just because they are photos with "impact." Meanwhile, we should all keep in mind that an invisible threat is twice as scary just for being invisible.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2014年09月02日 地方版


社説:リニア建設 本当に進めて大丈夫か

September 06, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Time still left to review maglev line
社説:リニア建設 本当に進めて大丈夫か

Plans to build a magnetically levitated (maglev) bullet train line that will eventually connect Tokyo and Osaka have moved a step forward with Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Central) applying to the land, infrastructure, transport and tourism minister for permission for construction.
JR Central plans to begin operations on the Maglev Chuo Shinkansen Line between Tokyo's Shinagawa Station and Nagoya in 2027 and extend the line to Shin-Osaka Station by 2045. The line would cut the journey between Tokyo and Osaka down to one hour.

If permitted, the large-scale project will finally get under way 41 years after the central government mapped out its basic plan.

However, questions remain over whether the project should be given the green light without a review.

JR Central intends to fully foot the costs of the project, which are expected to total approximately 9 trillion yen. Critics have expressed concern as to the profitability of the "super-superexpress" line.

If the maglev train line were to threaten the company's management, it would not just be a problem for JR Central alone, but could force the national government to use taxpayers' money to bail out the company, since the project is of a highly public nature.

Nevertheless, the Diet has failed to hold comprehensive deliberations on the project and there has been no full-scale national debate on the issue. This is the biggest problem. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism should not easily allow the project to go ahead as if it has been decided in advance.

The maglev train line project aims mainly to make up for a capacity shortage on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, decrease the traveling time on this section, and secure an alternative route for the Tokaido Shinkansen in case the line is affected by a powerful earthquake.

However, some have expressed doubts and concerns over the project, not only with regard to the line's profitability but also over safety and its impact on the environment.

The construction of a tunnel passing through the South Alps is expected to present a challenge, and the entire project could be substantially delayed because of this. JR Central has recently revised upward the estimated costs of the construction on the line between Tokyo and Nagoya by 93.5 billion yen from the figure the company had announced five years ago. Considering uncertain factors such as the work period, the price of construction materials, personnel expenses and interest rates, moreover, there is no guarantee that the costs won't increase any further.

The company has admitted that the Maglev Chuo Shinkansen Line project will be unprofitable even if unexpected increases in expenses are disregarded.

"The maglev line alone will never pay," JR Central Chairman Yoshiomi Yamada told a news conference in September last year when he was serving as its president.

JR Central apparently intends to use profits from the Tokaido Shinkansen Line to make up for deficit generated by the maglev train line, but it remains uncertain whether the company can increase or even maintain the current level of demand as the population is decreasing and aging. It is extremely difficult to predict what Japan will look like 31 years from now, when the construction work on the line to Shin-Osaka Station is expected to be completed.

There have been numerous examples of large-scale projects in which operational costs snowballed from their initial estimations. For example, the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway has cost 3.8 times its initial estimate. Lessons should be drawn from reckless projects based on overly optimistic forecasts for demand.

If an alternative route is necessary for the Tokaido Shinkansen in case of a Tokai earthquake that could hit the line, it does not have to use a maglev train system, and the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line could be used as an alternative route. The project should be considered as an issue that affects the whole nation. It is not too late to launch in-depth debate now to review the project.

毎日新聞 2014年09月06日 02時30分


社説:刺された盲導犬 人の心も傷ついた

September 05, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Attacks on guide dogs hurt owners, too
社説:刺された盲導犬 人の心も傷ついた

A guide dog for a blind man living in Saitama was injured in July after being stabbed by an unknown assailant. Guide dogs serve as eyes for the blind and support their owners' daily lives. The heartless attack left the dog's owner fearful of venturing outside, and deserves harsh criticism.

The perpetrator apparently harbors ill will and hostility toward visually impaired people. The incident has raised concerns that the Saitama case could trigger copycat crimes. The perpetrator in the latest incident not only inflicted deep physical and psychological damage on the guide dog, but also traumatized its owner. Police should thoroughly investigate the case.

It is suspected that the guide dog, named Oscar, was stabbed while he was accompanying the man on his way to work.

Guide dogs and their owners share a close bond. They undergo training that lasts for nearly a year, and become partners for visually impaired people after going through a training camp with the owner over a period of about one month. Such guide dogs dedicate themselves to supporting their owners while the owners are legally required to look after the dogs in their daily lives in all aspects, including sanitation.

Dogs that can enjoy living with people and gently react to people are selected as candidates to become guide dogs. They are trained not to bark unless their owners are in danger. Oscar did not bark even when he was stabbed.

Since the incident was reported by media outlets, misunderstanding has spread that guide dogs are trained to endure any pain. Some visually impaired people have received complaints from people with unimpaired eyesight that guide dogs are being suppressed. Such a lack of understanding deeply hurts the disabled and is intolerable.

There are also many cases in which people attempt to hit guide dogs or deliberately step on their tails.

The Act on Assistance Dogs for Physically Disabled Persons provides stipulations on guide dogs, hearing dogs, and service dogs, which help people with disabilities in their limbs. Enacted in 2002, the law stipulates that public facilities and public transportation systems as well as private facilities such as restaurants used by members of the general public are in principle forbidden from denying entry to people with such assistance dogs. Nevertheless, there are numerous incidents in which disabled people with assistance dogs are denied entry into such facilities.

In some cases, managers of restaurants and medical institutions cite sanitation as a reason for not allowing assistance dogs to accompany their owners into their facilities. However, assistance dogs have been trained to excrete strictly in designated locations and are kept clean on the responsibility of their owners.

It bears mentioning that the law requires facility managers to accept assistance dogs. Denying assistance dogs entry is tantamount to refusing to admit the disabled people they are accompanying.

The motives behind the cruel attack on the guide dog in Saitama remain unclear. Still, the incident reminds members of the public that general understanding of disabled people and assistance dogs is far from sufficient.

Since the incident, however, organizations that train guide dogs and others supporting handicapped people have received messages from numerous citizens saying they want to help ensure the safety of guide dogs. Such voices will certainly lead to public understanding of disabled people and assistance dogs.

毎日新聞 2014年09月05日 02時40分









[ はじめに ]

[ 名前 ]
松井 清 (スラチャイ)

[ 略歴 ]
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[ 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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