休眠預金法案 公正性の確保へ審議を尽くせ


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Bill on using dormant accounts must be deliberated to ensure fairness
休眠預金法案 公正性の確保へ審議を尽くせ

A nonpartisan group of lawmakers has compiled a bill to use money in dormant bank accounts — accounts that have had no deposit or withdrawal activity for more than 10 years — for social welfare and other purposes.
The group said that it would submit the bill for passage during the current Diet session.

Every year, about ¥50 billion worth of deposits are categorized as dormant and recorded as profits of financial institutions. Britain and South Korea have a system to use such funds to support welfare and other activities. The nonpartisan group drafted the bill based on those and other examples.

The bill stipulates that the money would be used for various welfare activities, including assistance for children, youth and impoverished people. But if depositors subsequently claim their money, it would be repaid, according to the bill.

We think the bill’s aim to use such funds to improve welfare while paying due consideration to protecting depositors is reasonable.

Private-sector organizations would be entrusted to distribute the funds to foster activities beyond the reach of the support from the government and other public-sector organizations. To coordinate the distribution, a general incorporated foundation called a “designated utilization organization” would be created.

This organization would choose several fund distribution organizations from among incorporated foundations around the country. Through the fund distribution organizations, aid funds would be given or loaned to nonprofit and volunteer organizations working on welfare projects.

With the wisdom of private-sector organizations involved, we expect the money to be used for assistance in a way that suits situations on the ground.

Legal compliance important

However, it is worrying to see that there are not a few who doubt if the bill guarantees fair and transparent distribution of the funds.

They particularly find problems concerning good governance and legal compliance of the envisaged utilization and distribution organizations. Many of them point out that measures to prevent corrupt conduct such as payoffs from fund recipients are obscure.

Both organizations, which would broker a huge amount of funds, would require strict management.

New Cabinet Office ordinances would be made to set up details of the system to use the deposits, according to the bill. However, we think that a law should include more details concerning regulation to secure fair distribution of aid funds, such as an auditing method.

A measure to prevent people involved in the distribution of funds from providing “peer support” to organizations they belong or are related to is essential.

After all, money in dormant accounts belongs to the account holders. As much of this money as possible should be returned to the original depositors. Britain and South Korea have an online system enabling the public to check easily whether they have dormant accounts. Japan, too, should consider efforts to reduce the amount of dormant deposits.

It is important to win the public’s understanding of the system to utilize dormant deposits by eliminating various suspicions about it. The Diet should thoroughly deliberate the bill to improve the envisaged system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 30, 2015)


自民党総裁選 無投票再選も前向きな選択肢


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Unopposed reelection of Abe as LDP leader a positive course
自民党総裁選 無投票再選も前向きな選択肢

We think it appropriate that the schedule for election of the Liberal Democratic Party president has been decided from the standpoint of lessening its effects on Diet deliberations of the security-related bills, which are the most important business in the current session.
Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s term as LDP president expires at the end of September, the main ruling party decided to hold its presidential election on Sept. 20, with the official campaign period to begin on Sept. 8.

An LDP presidential race at the expiration of a presidential term is normally held before an extraordinary session of the Diet in autumn. However, since the current ordinary Diet session has been significantly extended, the upcoming election is held during the session — an exceptional situation.

The LDP considered other schedules, such as holding the vote on Sept. 27 with a campaign period starting on Sept. 15. However, since deliberations on the security-related bills are a little stagnant at the House of Councillors, the party has decided to hold the election as early as its election regulations permit after examining its effects on deliberations of and voting on the bills at the Diet, as well as a scheduled trip abroad by the prime minister.

In the presidential race, Abe is highly likely to be elected again without a contest.

All seven factions of the LDP, including the Hiroyuki Hosoda faction of which Abe was originally a member, have decided to support the prime minister. With such moves, the factions apparently aim to win posts for their members in the Cabinet reshuffle and the changes of LDP executives expected in October after the current Diet session adjourns.

Shigeru Ishiba, minister in charge of vitalizing local economies, competed with Abe in the LDP leadership race in September 2012, but he does not intend to run for the presidency this time because he is currently a member of the Abe Cabinet. Former LDP General Council head Seiko Noda is trying hard to run for the election but is said to be having difficulty collecting the support from 20 LDP lawmakers required for candidacy.

No rival candidate

Considering the prime minister’s achievements in the last three years, it is certainly not easy to field a rival candidate. Abe has built a strong political foundation by scoring crushing victories in two House of Representatives elections and one upper house election. Even after a drop, his Cabinet still has a public approval rate above 40 percent.

In September last year, Abe reshuffled his Cabinet but retained ministers necessary to keep its basic frame, such as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Finance Minster Taro Aso. At the same time, he appointed Sadakazu Tanigaki as LDP secretary general and Toshihiro Nikai as LDP General Council head, both executive posts of his party. The Abe regime has been made stable with his strategy of placing political heavyweights in important posts in anticipation of a long-term government.

If several candidates run for the presidential race, it is likely to create an opportunity for policy discussions on the course of Japan for the next three years. However, can the LDP afford that now?

The global economy is destabilized, and the recovery of the Japanese economy is at a standstill. Is it really productive to spend energy on making counterproposals to Abenomics, the prime minister’s economic policy package, and fighting among members of the same party?

The security-related bills are extremely significant in terms of securing the peace and safety of Japan and the surrounding region, but the understanding of the bills is not necessarily spreading among the public.

With Diet deliberations on the bills entering a crucial phase, it is also difficult to secure the environment necessary to hold a full-scale presidential election, including arrangements for a stumping tour of candidates around the country and voting by party members.

It may be a positive course for LDP members to unite under Abe to overcome difficult challenges.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 29, 2015)


橋下氏維新離党 何とも分かりづらい内紛だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hashimoto’s departure from JIP caps baffling intraparty squabble
橋下氏維新離党 何とも分かりづらい内紛だ

Conflict within the Japan Innovation Party has spiraled into the departure of two members who founded the party. Many people must be baffled at the events that led to this.
Toru Hashimoto, supreme adviser of the JIP and also Osaka mayor, and adviser Ichiro Matsui, who is also Osaka governor, have both announced they will leave the party.

Hashimoto said he “plans to shift his focus from a national political party to Osaka’s regional politics” for Osaka gubernatorial and mayoral elections, which will be held in November. In the background to his decision was a lack of confidence in JIP leader Yorihisa Matsuno and other party executives, and there is a possibility that this intraparty friction could lead to a split.

The origin of the squabble was JIP Secretary General Mito Kakizawa’s support for an expected candidate in next month’s Yamagata mayoral election who also was backed by the Democratic Party of Japan and other parties. Matsui regarded this as problematic and demanded Kakizawa resign from his party post. Kakizawa refused to step down. Consequently, Matsui lashed out at Kakizawa and some other members, saying, “They’re addicted to what’s going on in Nagatacho,” referring to the Tokyo area that is considered the nation’s political nerve center.

As the JIP’s local organization in Yamagata had been maneuvering to support another expected candidate, party headquarters had refrained from supporting any specific contender. Although it is undeniable that Kakizawa’s actions, which disregarded the party situation, were indeed careless, the general consensus is that he had not done anything that warranted his resignation.

The decision by Hashimoto and Matsui to step away from the party was overly abrupt and shows a lack of responsible attitude.

Questions must be raised about the behavior of two politicians who wield tremendous influence over the running of the second-largest opposition party. In particular, it is difficult to understand why Hashimoto left the party while he accepted Kakizawa staying in his post.

Keep security talks on track

Matsuno’s inability to bring this fracas under control also displayed a lack of leadership.

Hashimoto and others are close to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and have taken stances toward the administration on an issue-by-issue basis. In contrast, Matsuno and Kakizawa have placed great emphasis on working with the DPJ and other parties, so a policy conflict continued within the JIP.

The party is scheduled to hold a leadership election in November. It is possible that many of the party’s Osaka-affiliated lawmakers in the Diet and local assembly members might follow Hashimoto, who is skilled at conveying messages to the public, and leave the party en masse. Such repeated splits and political realignments, which have been done so easily, will make it harder for the JIP to gain the support of the public.

This is a crucial moment for the JIP.

We also are concerned about the impact of the party’s ructions on discussions regarding security-related bills.

The JIP has submitted five counterproposals to the House of Councillors and planned to hold negotiations with the ruling coalition parties about possible amendments to the bills. It also is considering the joint submission — with the DPJ — of a territorial security bill and other bills.

Wide gaps remain between the government-sponsored bills and the JIP counterproposals, so the negotiations were expected to be anything but smooth. Even so, it was hugely significant that constructive discussions were to be held on a range of key points.

Hashimoto stressed, “When the security bills reach an important phase, it is not the time for internal dissension.”

We hope Matsuno and other JIP bigwigs will sincerely engage in talks on possible amendments to the bills. The JIP’s ability to remain a “responsible opposition party” is on the line.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 28, 2015)Speech


企業年金改革 多くの人が活用できる制度に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Make corporate pension programs accessible for more employees
企業年金改革 多くの人が活用できる制度に

It is important to make many people eligible to participate in corporate pension programs, as a means of supplementing public pensions.
A bill to reform the corporate pension system is under deliberation at the House of Representatives. The government aims to get the bill passed into law during the current Diet session.

The central pillar of the bill is to review the defined contribution pension system, in which subscribers choose how their pension premiums should be managed, with the amount of their pension benefits to be determined by the results.

The bill calls for establishing “simplified defined contribution pension plans,” with the establishment procedures to be simplified so as to make it easier for even small and midsize corporations to introduce them for their employees.

The bill also envisages creating a system to support the subscription of more people, by creating “individual-type defined contribution pension plans” for employees of companies unable to have such plans on their own and for self-employed people. Under this system, corporations, if only small and midsized firms, can add their contributions to their employees’ pension premiums.

A corporate pension plan is a program to be established by each corporation voluntarily in addition to the kosei nenkin corporate employees pension scheme, part of the nation’s public pension system.

As the level of benefits paid under the public pension system declines against the backdrop of a low birthrate and a graying population, the role of corporate pension plans is growing.

It is appropriate for the corporate pension plan to be utilized by workers other than only those at big companies.

At present, among subscribers to the kosei nenkin scheme, fewer than 40 percent also participate in corporate pension programs. And the ratio of companies that have introduced corporate pension programs is declining. Among smaller firms, with 30 to 99 employees, only 18.6 percent have introduced such programs.

Major programs dissolving

On top of this, kosei nenkin kikin (corporate employees’ pension funds), which once were the leading corporate pension programs, are to be dissolved, with certain exceptions, by March 2019. Faced with management difficulty following the collapse of the bubble economy, one corporate employees’ pension fund after another became unable to stay afloat. As leading companies have pulled out of their schemes swiftly, most of the pension funds still operating are ones formed by smaller firms.

It is an open question whether the reform will be sufficient to help those who will no longer be covered by corporate employees’ pension funds after they are dissolved. It is necessary to try one way after another to promote the spread of the corporate pension plans envisaged by the bill, while assessing the status of the introduction of schemes such as “simplified defined contribution pension plans.”

Also incorporated in the bill is an expansion of the scope of people eligible to participate in “individual-type defined contribution pension plans,” by making full-time homemakers and public-service workers also eligible. In effect, anyone will be able to participate in defined contribution pension schemes.

As working styles have diversified, voluntary resignations and job-switching have become common. The number of nonregular workers who are not eligible to participate in corporate pension plans has also increased.

We can understand the course of action to encourage people’s self-help efforts for their post-retirement years, by providing everyone with a means of supplementing the roles of public pensions.

Open to question is the idea of making even homemakers eligible to participate in “individual-type defined contribution pension plans,” which offer preferential tax treatment, while keeping in place the system of “Category III insured,” under which a dependent spouse of a company or government employee is eligible for basic pension benefits without paying pension premiums themselves. Will the envisaged plan give them excessive preferential treatment?

Regarding nonregular workers, it is also vital to attempt to increase pension benefits for them, by expanding the scope of nonregular workers eligible to participate in the kosei nenkin scheme.

It is important to discuss income security for people in their old age within the framework of the whole pension system.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 27, 2015)Speech


世界同時株安 市場不安の沈静化を急ぎたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prompt efforts should be made to soothe concerns of markets
世界同時株安 市場不安の沈静化を急ぎたい

With China’s economy the focus of concern, turmoil continues to roil global markets.
The Nikkei Stock Average plunged 733 points from Monday’s close to end at 17,806 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Tuesday. This was the sixth straight trading day the market has declined, with the plunge totaling more than 2,800 points.

The accelerated appreciation of the yen on the foreign currency market also helped send stocks plummeting.

The plunge in stock prices, which started on the Chinese market, has had a knock-on effect on other major markets — the United States, European and Asian countries — taking on an aspect of stock prices simultaneously falling the world over.

We should not let our guard down, but a feature of the wild fluctuations of stock prices seems to be due to speculative moves.

Economic revitalization minister Akira Amari said it is necessary to deal with the issue calmly. In fact, the economies of Japan, the United States and European countries are still on a firm footing. We should not become too pessimistic about the current situation.

It is vital to assuage the uneasiness in the market and prevent it from adversely affecting the real economy.

Japan, the United States, European countries and China have to strengthen policy coordination to calm the market.

The stock plunge was triggered by China’s devaluation of its currency, the yuan, on Aug. 11. This led to the view that China’s economy had deteriorated to such a degree that measures were needed to prop up its exports, leading to prices on the Shanghai Stock Exchange to nosedive.

China is maintaining its economic growth at 7 percent. But many of the country’s key economic indicators, such as consumption and exports, have shown signs of an economic slowdown. There is a deep-seated belief that the real state of the economy is even more serious.

China slowdown worse?

By pursuing a “new normal” policy, which allows the country’s economic growth to slow down, can the Chinese government lead its economy to a soft landing through structural reforms? A sense of distrust in the Chinese government’s economic management has exacerbated market uneasiness.

The administration under Chinese President Xi Jinping needs to face up squarely to the reality that China has become the cause of the global market turmoil.

Although China decided to further ease monetary policy on Tuesday, it needs to do much more to stabilize its economy.

Another major point of issue is whether the United States will raise interest rates in the near future. It has been pointed out that if the United States forcibly raises interest rates while markets are still in tumult, funds would immediately flow out of emerging markets, possibly resulting in currency and financial crises.

The United States has to end its monetary relaxation policy eventually, but it should not send the world economy into disorder by hastily exiting from that policy. The Federal Reserve Board should keep a close eye on market trends and look for the proper time to increase rates.

Following the stock price decline, there are calls, including those within the Liberal Democratic Party, for a supplementary budget to initiate economic stimulus measures.

But as the performance of Japanese companies is at a record high level, the government should refrain from taking fiscal action too quickly.

It is most important to steadily implement Abenomics, the economic policy pursued by the administration under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and realize a full-fledged economic growth led by private-sector demand. The government should promote a comprehensive growth strategy to induce vitality into the private sector by easing regulations to encourage the fostering of new businesses.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2015)


南北高官協議 衝突の回避へ冷静に歩み寄れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
North, South Koreas must work toward concessions to avert armed conflict
南北高官協議 衝突の回避へ冷静に歩み寄れ

Escalating tensions through military provocations while seeking to win concessions through dialogue — North Korea should avoid this dangerous brinkmanship and practice self-restraint.
Given the heightening of military tensions between South and North Korea, representatives from the two countries entered into negotiations Saturday at the Panmunjom.

The South was lead by chief of the National Security Office of South Korea, and the North was lead by Hwang Pyong So, director of the General Political Bureau of the North Korean People’s Army. The exceptionally high-level bilateral talks were held on and off for three consecutive days. But the two sides are having difficultly reaching any kind of compromise.

To avoid the worst-case scenario of an armed conflict, we want the two sides to make an earnest effort to reach mutual concessions and find concrete measures to ease tensions.

Tensions were triggered after two South Korean soldiers were seriously injured when land mines, believed to have been laid by North Korea, exploded on Aug. 4 near the military demarcation line.

Seoul criticized Pyongyang for violating the Korean Armistice Agreement, and in response resumed anti-North Korea loudspeaker broadcasts for the first time in 11 years.

The North demanded a halt to the broadcasts and fired artillery shells into South Korean territory. Pyongyang proposed negotiations with Seoul while at the same time threatening to take further military action. North Korea has been alternating between a hard-line or moderate attitude to rattle the Park Guen-hye administration, which took retaliatory measures.

North Korea’s international isolation is regarded as a factor behind its latest provocative action. Its relations with China, historically the most friendly nation to the North, soured after Pyongyang carried out nuclear tests in defiance of international protests. Exchanges of leaders between the two communist countries have been suspended.

Cool heads vital

The North’s artillery fire came immediately after Park announced she would attend a Chinese ceremony to mark the “victory in its war against Japan.” We wonder whether this action was aimed at cooling the relationship between Seoul and Beijing, which has become closer.

Kim Jong Un issued a decree declaring a “quasi-state of war” to the country’s frontline troops. Can Kim, who lacks leadership experience, deal adequately with such an explosive situation while the country's political situation is so unstable? This fear will be difficult to eliminate.

Park, on the other hand, declared that her country “will cope with the provocation resolutely.” She cannot make concessions easily due to a domestic situation in which popular support for her administration has declined and media organizations are insisting on a hard-line stance.

It is essential, however, for the two Koreas to consider the risk of a military conflict and deal with the situation with cool heads.

The North Korean leadership is reportedly trying to tighten its grip on the military and the Workers’ Party of Korea, among others, by emphasizing the “threat” posed by South Korea. There is speculation that North Korea will test-launch an intermediate-range or a long-range missile to enhance its national prestige and time it to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the party on Oct. 10.

Japan, South Korea and the United States must cooperate closely and bolster information-sharing on North Korean affairs. Preparing all possible deterrent measures is also essential to deal with the North’s new military provocation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 25, 2015)


(社説)自民と教科書 政治は採択に関わるな

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 23
EDITORIAL: LDP should not meddle in school textbook selection process
(社説)自民と教科書 政治は採択に関わるな

The process is under way for local governments to select textbooks that will be used in junior high schools from next spring.

Given that, a league of lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has compiled a brochure that compares social studies textbooks issued by various publishers, and has distributed it to local LDP assembly members across the country.

The action is purportedly aimed at encouraging boards of education, through questions by local assemblies and other means, to select textbooks with a strong conservative slant.

Selections, after all, belong to the authority of education boards, which are supposed to make them on the basis of discussions from educational viewpoints on which textbooks are the most suitable for the children and schools of their communities.

Political parties are free to have their own perceptions of the textbooks issued by different publishers. But they should refrain from encouraging the selection of textbooks that are more in line with their philosophies.

Local assembly members are there to approve the appointments of education board members. They should exercise self-restraint so that their actions will not be perceived as applying pressure. What they should do is to serve as a monitor to ensure that education boards can fulfill their primary functions.

The brochure, certainly, contains no text that explicitly recommends any particular publisher.

But the issues being taken up in the brochure include the national flag and the national anthem, the right to collective self-defense and constitutional amendment--pet issues of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe--as well as the Nanking Incident and "comfort women," which the LDP has argued some textbooks contain “self-deprecating” statements about.

Concerning the national flag and the national anthem, for example, the brochure presents strongly conservative textbooks in a favorable light, saying that one contains “detailed descriptions on a feature page.” Some other textbooks are portrayed in a negative light, as seen in a statement that “some textbooks contain no reference in the index” to the issue of the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea.

School textbooks are not tools for inculcating arguments of a political party.

Education board members should ensure they are making independent judgments and, even if they are asked questions at local assemblies, they should only regard these queries as the opinions of individuals.

The education board system was reformed so that, starting this spring, the heads of local governments should set up a “general education council,” a forum for exchanging views with education boards.

The education ministry has said the selection of school textbooks should not be a subject of discussions in the council, because it is believed that political neutrality is de rigueur in the textbook selection process.

The LDP has proposed--and has realized--a revision in textbook screening rules so that textbooks must mention the government’s official position, wherever available. As 18-year-olds will be given suffrage from next year, the party has also proposed to Abe that law could be revised to punish senior high school teachers who have deviated from political neutrality.

We cannot accept the sequence of these moves, whereby the political sector is meddling in public education.

The selection process throughout the nation will continue through the end of August.

The LDP brochure is titled, “To deliver better textbooks to our children.”

Thought should be given again to what should be done and not be done by a political party and assembly members if that goal is to be achieved.


露首相択捉訪問 領土交渉に背向ける軽挙妄動

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Through rash actions, Russia turning its back on territorial talks with Japan
露首相択捉訪問 領土交渉に背向ける軽挙妄動

It is an action that will greatly set back the momentum toward improving bilateral ties between Japan and Russia and settling territorial disputes. By no means can we tolerate this.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Etorofu Island in the northern territories on Saturday.

After inspecting the status of the development of harbor and airport facilities on the island, he announced, at a political forum for local youths, a policy of designating the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri as “advanced development territories.”

The visit is apparently aimed at demonstrating that Russia’s effective control of the northern territories is entrenched, as this month marks the 70th year since the then Soviet Union occupied the islands.

By ignoring Japan’s request to cancel the visit, Medvedev’s arrival on the island constitutes a serious infringement of sovereignty.

It was reasonable that Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told Russian Ambassador to Japan Evgeny Afanasiev on Saturday, “The visit hurt the feelings of the Japanese people and was extremely regrettable.”

Lately, Russia’s hard-line stance on Japan has been intolerable. At the end of June, Russia decided to impose a ban, starting next year, on drift-net fishing for salmon and trout within Russia’s exclusive economic zone, where Japanese fishing vessels also operate. There are fears the Japanese fishing industry will be affected.

Since July, the Russian health minister and the deputy prime minister have successively visited the northern territories. Russia has also announced a “development program,” injecting about ¥120 billion over 10 years for the development of social infrastructure for the whole of the Kuril Islands.

Moscow makes threats

We can discern Russia’s intention of shaking the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and causing disarray in Japan’s cooperation with the United States and European countries, which are imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukrainian crisis.

Japan has attached importance to dialogue with Russia to hold in check China’s military rise and to prevent China from forming a united front with Russia against Japan.

By using the personal relationship between Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japan is seeking a possible visit to Japan by Putin sometime this year to advance bilateral negotiations over territorial issues. We can understand Abe’s strategic course of action.

But Russia’s recent moves vividly demonstrate that the Putin administration has no intention of earnestly dealing with the territorial issues with Japan.

Even if Putin’s visit to Japan is realized, it is hard to expect any substantial dialogue between Abe and Putin, nor any tangible results.

Kishida said he would freeze for the time being the coordination for his planned visit to Russia, in preparation for Putin’s visit to Japan. Japan’s strategy is coming to an impasse.

Behind Russia’s recent moves is the reality that Putin is utilizing as a unifying force for his administration his adoption of hostile views, particularly toward the United States, and inflaming patriotism in the Russian people.

Putin has also referred to the possibility of using nuclear weapons, having repeatedly made threatening remarks to the United States and European countries.

By undergoing a rapid military buildup, Russia also continues its military provocations toward the United States and European nations. Russia’s changing of the status quo by force, such as its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, can never be permitted.

A Russia that abides by international rules and assumes a constructive role would benefit Russia. Japan, in cooperation with the United States, has to continue urging Putin to understand this point, on such occasions as the U.N. General Assembly and the summit talks of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, both scheduled for this autumn.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 23, 2015)


年金情報流出 危機感の欠如が被害を広げた

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Low security consciousness at JPS exacerbated pension data breach
年金情報流出 危機感の欠如が被害を広げた

The Japan Pension Service can hardly be regarded as an organization properly handling a massive amount of personal information. Its sloppy information management must be corrected urgently.
An in-house investigation committee at the JPS and a third-party panel at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry have released, separately, reports on the findings of each of their investigations into an incident in which 1.25 million cases of personal information, including the basic pension numbers of pension recipients, were compromised at the JPS.

According to the JPS report, the organization received a total of 124 targeted e-mails carrying a virus from May 8 to 20. File attachments of five of the e-mails were opened, causing 31 personal computers to be infected with the virus and information to be compromised within three days from May 21.

There were several opportunities during that period for the JPS to prevent the damage from spreading.

However, the organization failed to block further e-mails from the address used for the first problematic e-mail following its receipt. It did not confirm properly from mail recipients whether they had opened attachments, and delayed action to cut off Internet connections for the entire JPS computer system.

JPS President Toichiro Mizushima said during a news conference Thursday, “I thought we had confirmed whether the attachment had been opened.” The comment is one indication of the lenient attitude within JPS of leaving everything to those in charge. It was natural for the report to say that “a sense of crisis was lacking.”

It is also problematic that sloppy information management has become everyday practice at the JPS.

Personal information was permitted to be stored in an Internet-connected shared file server when deemed necessary. It can thus be said that the JPS faced a constant danger of the unauthorized exposure of information.

Absence of systematic checks

Rules such as setting passwords were not observed and the JPS did not have a system in place to check what was going on.

The report identified that long-standing problems — carried over from the era of the JPS’s predecessor, the Social Insurance Agency — including a lack of unity as an organization, underlie the data breach. At the now defunct SIA, a lack of control was caused by a three-tier structure for employees, including those recruited by the SIA’s central and local offices. This led to a number of scandals, including a huge blunder with pension record-keeping.

Such an organizational culture likely remains pervasive within the JPS. A sweeping organizational reform is called for, in addition to the bolstering of information management systems.

The welfare ministry’s responsibility is also grave in this regard.

According to the report released by the ministry’s third-party investigation panel, adequate supervision could not be provided because it was not clear which department at the ministry was in charge of the JPS’s information systems.

Despite the fact that the JPS had suffered a similar cyber-attack in April, before it received the targeted e-mail in May, the ministry provided no information on the incident nor did it issue an alert.

It was natural for welfare minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki to say, “Both the JPS and the ministry must take responsibility [for the incident].” It is necessary to ensure that a recurrence of similar incidents is robustly prevented, and that work proceeds toward restoring confidence in the pension system.

Joint efforts by private and public sectors are sought to deal with cyber-attacks, which are becoming more ingenious and shrewd.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 22, 2015)


社説:武藤議員離党 公認した自民の責任は

August 21, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: LDP's responsibility for money scandal involving legislator questioned
社説:武藤議員離党 公認した自民の責任は

House of Representatives member Takaya Muto has left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) over a money scandal. The scandal has raised questions as for what purposes he became a legislator.
It is still fresh in people's memory that Muto, 36, came under fire for criticizing a group of students and other youths as "selfish" after they urged the public to participate in demonstrations against security bills. He just cannot draw a curtain on his own problem simply by leaving the LDP. The party's responsibility for endorsing him in elections is also serious.

According to the Shukan Bunshun weekly magazine, Muto recommended last year that acquaintances and others buy pre-listed shares of a software company, telling them that they could buy shares specially set aside for Diet members. He then collected approximately 40 million yen from 23 people as funds to buy shares. However, shares of the company were never purchased for these people, and some investors have not got back the money they paid. Some have pointed to the possibility that Muto communicated with others over share transactions, using a communication application, while he was attending a session of the lower chamber's Committee on Foreign Affairs.

It is necessary to conduct a further probe to get to the bottom of the scandal because those involved have made conflicting statements.

The latest scandal involving pre-listed shares apparently has reminded numerous members of the general public of the Recruit stock-for-favors scandal that came to light in 1988 and rocked the political world. In the Recruit case, pre-listed shares of a company, whose prices were certain to rise significantly after the stock was listed, were donated to prominent figures in the political and business worlds as well as bureaucrats, and a few of those involved were convicted of giving and accepting bribes.

In the latest case, it remains unclear whether some shares of the software company were actually set aside for legislators. Still, it is common sense for politicians not to be involved in transactions in pre-listed shares. It is only natural that some legislators from opposition parties are demanding that Muto step down as a lawmaker.

In 2007, Muto reportedly joined the policy staff for an alliance of political parties within the Shiga Prefectural Assembly and individual assembly members that backed then Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada, who was calling for suspension of dam construction projects. However, Muto did an about-face, and applied to run for the lower house on the ticket of the LDP that was critical of Gov. Kada after the party publicly sought candidates. He is currently in his second term as a member of the lower chamber. One cannot help but wonder how the LDP has evaluated and officially endorsed Muto, who appears to lack qualifications as a representative of the people, judging from his policies.

Muto was also present at a study session in June among junior LDP legislators supporting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in which some attendees called for pressure on the news media. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, leader of an LDP intraparty faction of which Muto was a member, has been quoted as warning Muto to "express your personal views after the security bills are passed into law" over Muto's criticism of the youth group opposing the proposed legislation. This suggests that Aso viewed the timing of Muto's remarks, and not their content, as a problem.

The LDP's responsibility for the money scandal and other scandals involving Muto is grave and the party's half-baked response is also inappropriate. Nevertheless, LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki and other top-ranking members of the governing party failed to question Muto in person over the details of the latest case. After Muto notified the party leadership that he would leave the party, Tanigaki said, "The legislator needs to fulfill his accountability," as if to regard the money scandal as someone else's problem, and not a problem involving the party.

The LDP also has accountability for the money scandal.

毎日新聞 2015年08月21日 東京朝刊









[ 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



[ 英字新聞リンク ]
yahoo geolog

[ HPリンク ]
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Preliminary Japanese lessons for Thai students

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