一票の不平等 いつまで放置するのか

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 26
EDITORIAL: Vote-value disparity a gross inequality that cannot continue
(社説)一票の不平等 いつまで放置するのか

The Supreme Court’s latest ruling on the issue of vote-value disparity has left us wondering how long it will take until this clear, outrageous inequality is corrected.
It seems that both the judiciary and the legislature lack awareness of the urgent need to fix this unacceptable situation.

The Supreme Court’s Grand Bench ruled on Nov. 25 that the Lower House election in December last year was held in a “state of unconstitutionality,” citing a huge disparity in the relative vote-value among constituencies.

Given that the top court has handed down three similar rulings in the past four years, it has become almost routine to hear it declare that an election was held in a “state of unconstitutionality.”

The Diet has dragged its feet on reforming the electoral system, so a fundamental solution to the problem has yet to be found.

We are concerned that the Supreme Court’s tepid ruling on the issue could be used by the Diet as an excuse for its inaction.

In its ruling in 2011, the top court argued that the method of first distributing one seat to each of the 47 prefectures before allocating the remaining seats in the single-seat constituency part of the electoral system in proportion to population was the main cause of the vote-value disparity. The court said this approach should be “abolished as soon as possible.”

In its 2013 ruling on the Lower House election held in December 2012, however, the court took note of the Diet’s last-minute move to reduce the number of seats slightly as “certain progress,” easing the pressure on the Diet. The court’s latest ruling is in line with the 2013 decision.

In the Nov. 25 ruling, the Supreme Court had encouraging words for work by a Lower House expert committee on the election system to come up with measures to revamp the seat-allocation method, saying efforts to improve the situation are being made in line with the past rulings.

Let us ponder this problem from a basic standpoint.

In the Lower House election last December, one vote in the nation’s least populated constituency was worth 2.13 votes in the most heavily populated district. In other words, the weight of one person’s vote in a certain district was less than half of the weight of another person’s vote in a different district.

Casting votes in elections is the most important of the few opportunities for the public to exercise their sovereign power that is invested in them by the Constitution.

Allowing a situation to continue where a vote in one district is worth less than half of a vote in another represents an egregious inequality among the people that must be redressed immediately.

The fact that the flawed seat-allocation method remains basically unchanged four years after the Supreme Court criticized is testimony to the Diet’s gross negligence.

What is notable about the latest Supreme Court ruling is that three of the 14 justices of the Grand Bench criticized the Diet for its failure to tackle the problem, saying sufficient time had passed to realize equality in voting.

Two of the three dissenting justices argued for invalidating the Lower House election, and the remaining one called for declaring the election “unconstitutional” in the text of the judgment.

In the ruling, the top court maintained that the constitutional order should be formed through interactions between the judiciary and the legislature.

The interactions apparently work as follows. The Diet makes laws, and the Supreme Court sends its messages on certain laws through its rulings. The Diet then reforms the laws in response to the court’s rulings.

This seems to mean that the top court puts much importance on “dialogue” between the legislature and the judiciary.

But history shows the Diet has repeatedly ignored messages from the judiciary or interpreted them in a way convenient to it.

In order to ensure meaningful “dialogue,” the top court should have made more specific demands, such as setting clear deadlines for corrective actions by the Diet.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly declared that both the Upper and Lower Houses have been elected in a “state of unconstitutionality.” This is simply an extraordinary situation.

It is unacceptable that the Diet members, who are obliged to respect the Constitution, allow such serious inequality to remain unchanged.

This injustice should be rectified immediately.


五輪基本方針 テロ対策にも万全を期したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Take every possible antiterror step in preparation for 2020 Tokyo Games
五輪基本方針 テロ対策にも万全を期したい

Preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games stumbled significantly due to the withdrawal of plans for a new National Stadium and an emblem design.

There will soon be 4½ years remaining before the opening of the sports extravaganza. The government must accelerate a diverse range of preparatory work based on the basic policy approved by the Cabinet.

The basic policy defines the 2020 Games as “an opportunity for Japan to demonstrate to the world an advanced undertaking in a mature society.”

Above all, the policy calls for enriching Paralympic programs, saying that it “will contribute greatly to encouraging the impaired to become self-sustaining.” The term Paralympics was first used in the 1964 Tokyo Games. The 2020 Games will mark the first time a city has hosted the Summer Paralympics twice.

In view of this history, seeking to make the 2020 Paralymics the biggest ever is significant from the viewpoint of promoting the building of a symbiotic society.

A noticeable point in connection with the Olympics is that the basic plan set forth a goal of acquiring the highest number of gold medals in the country’s history. The past record of 16 was set at the 1964 Games in Tokyo and the Athens Olympics in 2004.

As far as public money spent in reinforcing training programs for athletes, it is natural for the government to present a specific target. If Japanese athletes perform spectacularly, it will contribute greatly to generating excitement for the Games.

A strategic approach is crucial to achieving the goal. It is necessary to make effective use of limited fiscal resources through such means as allocating training expenses to promising athletes on a priority basis in preparation for the 2020 Games. The Sports Agency, which is in charge of fund distribution, has a grave responsibility.

Anti-doping measures critical

Anti-doping measures are important for conducting fair athletic events. Against the background of the doping scandal that has hit the Russian athletics circle, eradication of doping has become a top priority in the sports world.

The basic policy, however, makes no concrete commitment on the issue, saying only that efforts will be made to “secure a well-prepared system” in cooperation with such organizations as the World Anti-Doping Agency. It is imperative to accelerate the study of specific measures to strengthen the doping test system.

To ensure the safety of athletes and spectators, utmost attention must be focused on antiterrorism measures.

The basic policy expressed a sense of crisis concerning terrorism, saying, “Terrorist threats are becoming a reality,” and pointed out the need to “ramp up intelligence gathering and analysis, border security and vigilance and security at venues, among others.”

It is indispensable for the private and public sectors to cooperate in enhancing the ability to cope with any possible situation.

The basic policy enumerates various measures, including those on the expansion of roads and transport infrastructure and those to deal with the summer heat. To prevent expenses from swelling, it is necessary to list measures in the order of priority.

To smoothly prepare for the Games, the need to clarify the division of the roles and responsibilities to be undertaken by the government, the organizing committee and the Tokyo metropolitan government must not be forgotten.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 28, 2015)


露軍機撃墜 非難合戦を続けている場合か

The Yomiuri Shimbun
It’s not the time for lobbing criticism over downing of Russian warplane
露軍機撃墜 非難合戦を続けている場合か

This situation has poured cold water on the opportunity for cooperation between Russia, the United States and Europe that arose due to the terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month. Lobbing criticism at each other must not be allowed to derail unity among nations seeking to wipe out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group.

This week, a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian bomber near the Turkey-Syria border. Turkey insists the Russian plane intruded into Turkish territorial airspace and the pilot did not respond to repeated warnings to leave the area. It reportedly had lodged protests against numerous previous violations of its airspace.

Russia, which in late September launched airstrikes in Syria, saying its aim is to stamp out ISIL, is supporting the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkey supports Syrian antigovernment groups and gives priority to toppling the Assad administration. The diametrically opposed positions of Moscow and Ankara lurk in the background to the downing of the Russian warplane.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the plane violated Turkish airspace and angrily retorted there would be “serious consequences.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov canceled a visit to Turkey, and Moscow has started taking other retaliatory measures such as restricting imports of agricultural products from Turkey.

However, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has supported Turkey’s side of the story, and the U.S. military also confirmed the Russian aircraft received the warnings. Russia’s assertions seem to lack credibility.

ISIL is common enemy

It is important that Russia and Turkey stop their tit-for-tat criticism, restore calm to the situation and move toward preventing a recurrence.

Russia and a coalition of willing nations led by the United States continue to conduct independent airstrikes in Syria. Setting up lines of communication between these military forces is an urgent task to help prevent unexpected situations like the downing of the Russian plane.

The international community should be concentrating on weakening ISIL, which is a common enemy. Countries with a stake in this matter also must avoid discussions that go in circles on ways to end Syria’s civil war and on a transition of political power.

The U.N. Security Council recently unanimously adopted a resolution that calls on member states to fight terrorism and newly spells out the council’s determination to crush ISIL. Britain has indicated a plan to expand airstrikes in Syria, and France has strengthened its aggressive stance by deploying an aircraft carrier to the region.

French President Francois Hollande has embarked on a rapid series of diplomatic summits as he seeks to build a wide-ranging coalition that includes Russia. Hollande and U.S. President Barack Obama held talks in Washington, and they agreed to deepen cooperation to combat ISIL. We attach great important to this chain of international cooperation.

Putin considers France to be an antiterrorism “ally” and is taking a cooperative stance on this point. He probably aims to get the United States and European nations to relax sanctions imposed on Russia due to its intervention in Ukraine, and to break Moscow’s international isolation.

However, Russia’s position does not appear to change with its aim to keep Assad in power while seizing the initiative in the Syrian situation through the use of force. Under these circumstances, it will be difficult for the United States and Europe to “fight together” alongside Russia.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 27, 2015)


衆院選違憲状態 国会に制度改革促した最高裁

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Top court urges the Diet to reform lower house electoral system further
衆院選違憲状態 国会に制度改革促した最高裁

While respecting the discretionary power of the legislature, the latest ruling can be seen as the judiciary making as much of a request as it can.

The Grand Bench of the Supreme Court handed down a ruling Wednesday that the House of Representatives election in December last year, which had a maximum vote-value disparity of 2.13-to-1 in single-seat constituencies, was in a state of unconstitutionality.

On the grounds that the current state of vote-value disparity runs counter to the vote-value equality called for by the Constitution, the top court told the Diet, “There is a need [for the Diet] to steadily continue improving the electoral system.”

It also acknowledged that a reasonable amount of time to correct the situation has not yet elapsed. The Diet has to make continued efforts to rectify the vote-value disparity.

The law concerning the establishment of the council on rezoning the electoral districts of the lower house stipulates the basic principle that the maximum vote-value disparity should not exceed 2-to-1.

Prior to last year’s poll, the Diet cut the number of lower house seats by five in single-seat constituencies to reduce the disparity to less than 2-to-1. When the election was held, however, the disparity exceeded 2-to-1 in some constituencies, due to demographic change.

Yet the top court acknowledged the Diet’s effort, calling it “a certain amount of progress toward realizing the correction.” It is a realistic view that takes into consideration the fact that it requires time to rectify the disparity.

Imprudent court decisions have become conspicuous in recent years, with some high courts ruling, for instance, that the 2012 lower house election was “unconstitutional” and the results of the election were “invalid.”

Self-restraint shown

The top court reiterated its view that “even if the court judges that there is a problem under the Constitution, it cannot establish any specific systems on its own.” This is a reasonable judgment showing the top court has restrained itself in its consideration of the role of the judicature.

The Supreme Court has been saying the vote-value disparity primarily stems from the current seat-distribution system, which allots one seat to each prefecture and then decides, in proportion to the population, how many additional seats each prefecture should be allocated in the single-seat section of the election.

In response, the Diet has already revised a related law to abolish the provision concerning the seat-distribution system.

The top court again said in its latest ruling that the vote-value disparity exceeds 2-to-1 due to the fact that the allotment of seats based on the seat-distribution system was kept in place in single-seat constituencies in Tokyo and other prefectures, which were not included in the prefectures where a combined total of five seats were reduced.

A research panel of experts tasked with reform of the lower house electoral system is studying the possibility of adopting, in place of the current system, the so-called Adams’ method, which would better reflect the population ratio than the current one. With this method, the vote-value disparity is expected to be held to less than 2-to-1, at least for the time being.

The discussion concerning the reduction of the overall number of lower house seats is worrying. Takeshi Sasaki, chairman of the research panel, has said that in light of the fact that political parties are calling for reducing lower house seats in their public pledges and otherwise, we “cannot ignore political promises.”

Should the overall number of lower house seats be reduced, however, it would become more difficult for diverse public opinions to be reflected in the election.

It may also scale down the Diet’s primary functions of making laws and overseeing the administration through the deliberation of bills.

When looking at the number of seats compared to the population, the number of Diet members is not as large as in European countries.

The research panel may also need to seriously consider the negative aspects of reducing the number of seats.

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


韓国朴教授起訴 自由な歴史研究を封じるのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Isn’t South Korea repressing free research on history with indictment?
韓国朴教授起訴 自由な歴史研究を封じるのか

The latest action taken against a South Korean scholar constitutes an attempt to negate free and calm research activities and discussions on history.

The move to build a criminal case against an academic study could amount to an abuse of public authority. The recent action, taken by a South Korean district prosecutors office, has also cast a shadow on Japan-South Korea relations.

Park Yu Ha, a professor at Sejong University in Seoul, has been indicted, without being detained, on charges of defamation. According to her indictment, Park damaged the honor of former so-called comfort women in her book called “Teikoku no Ianfu” (Comfort women of the empire), in which she denied their forcible recruitment.

The prosecutors office dismissed as untrue her assertion that “forcible recruitment, which consists of a violence committed by a state, has never been used against Korean comfort women.” The indictment also regarded as problematic her statement in the book: “Basically, Korean comfort women had a comradely relationship with soldiers.”

In stating the reason for Park’s indictment, the prosecutors office said that these descriptions had infringed on the personal rights of the former comfort women, adding that her book deviates from the constitutional guarantee of academic freedom.

The latest action came after 11 people, including former comfort women, filed a complaint against Park in June last year, followed by investigations into the case by the Seoul Eastern Prosecutors Office. Questions can be raised about the prosecutors’ action taken to pass judgment on historical facts about which even experts have divergent views.

Park has refuted the prosecutors’ assertion, calling it “a distorted interpretation.” Her argument goes that the circumstances surrounding comfort women were varied, and that it is impossible to generalize them as “sex slaves,” “prostitutes” or otherwise.

Her book points to some other problems involved in the matter, saying that the corps of women mobilized for wartime labor services are confused with comfort women even today.

Unreasonable basis

What cannot be overlooked is that the documents cited by the prosecutors office as the basis for branding Park’s assertion as false included a statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono and the U.N. Human Rights Commission’s Coomaraswamy Report.

During the process of preparing the Kono statement, no document that proved the “forcible recruitment” of comfort women by the wartime Imperial Japanese Army was discovered. The statement was a result of political compromise between Japan and South Korea, according to a report issued in June last year by the Japanese government after months of examining the process in question.

The Coomaraswamy Report included a number of unfounded descriptions. For instance, it stated that 200,000 Korean women had been forced to work as “sex slaves,” and that most of them had been killed later. The document also quotes false statements by Seiji Yoshida, who claimed women on South Korea’s Jeju Island had been forcibly recruited as comfort women.

It is unreasonable to use these statements as a basis for the assertion that women were forcibly recruited as comfort women.

A Japanese-language version of Park’s “Teikoku no Ianfu” has been published, with some modifications made to its contents. The book has been chosen as the winner of Waseda University’s Journalism Award.

In her book, Park states that the Korean comfort women were collaborators for the wartime Imperial Japanese Army, while at the same time criticizing the prewar “Empire of Japan” for being responsible for creating severe circumstances for these women.

We must say that imposing restrictions on expressing such an objective view will make it difficult to facilitate constructive dialogue between Japan and South Korea regarding the issue of comfort women.

(The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2015)


日豪2プラス2 安保協力を重層的に進めたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan-Australia security relationship must be enhanced on multiple layers
日豪2プラス2 安保協力を重層的に進めたい

Security cooperation between Japan and Australia is an important foundation for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The collaboration must be deepened multilaterally by promoting bilateral communications.

After the so-called two-plus-two meeting of their foreign and defense ministers in Sydney, the two countries issued a joint statement calling for strengthening defense cooperation through joint military exercises and exchange between troops, among other things.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the Japan-Australia relationship is “a special one sharing fundamental values and strategic interests.” His Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, responded by saying the bilateral relationship is more important than ever.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who had built a close relationship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, resigned in September over an economic slump and other matters. As his successor, Malcolm Turnbull, who belongs to the same Liberal Party as Abbott, attaches more importance to relations with China, there was concern in some quarters before the two-plus-two meeting that Tokyo-Canberra relations would regress under his administration.

Abe and Turnbull held their first conference in mid-November in Turkey. With the holding of the recent two-plus-two meeting, Tokyo-Canberra relations seem to be on track. The two governments must continue political dialogue as they work toward building confidence.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani explained the security-related laws enacted in September. Bishop welcomed the security legislation, saying that it would allow Japan to make a greater contribution to peacekeeping activities, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The security legislation is primarily aimed at solidifying the Japan-U.S. alliance and international cooperation, thereby ensuring security for Japan and the world.

Trilateral cooperation

The scope of Japan’s logistic support has been expanded to include troops other than those of the United States based on the assumption that Australian troops would be mobilized in case of emergencies around Japan.

A multilayered cooperative relationship must be built through such efforts as joint drills between Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military and trilateral exercises involving U.S. troops.

Australia will select a partner for joint development of its next-generation submarine from among Japan, France and Germany.

Japan’s submarine manufacturing technology is said to be among the best in the world. In this connection, the government needs to hold sufficient talks with Australia to prevent the leak of technologies to third-party countries.

With China’s maritime advances in the East and South China Seas and construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea in mind, the joint statement expressed “strong opposition to any coercive and unilateral actions.” The statement also said all nations have the freedom of navigation and flight under international law.

The U.S. Navy’s patrols within 12 nautical miles of the reclaimed islands embody the principle of international law. Japan and Australia need to support the United States through every possible means.

Japan and Australia plan to provide assistance measures for Papua New Guinea and other island countries in the Pacific, such as enhancing the capabilities of ensuring maritime security and improving social infrastructure.

Ensuring the safety of sea-lanes in the Western Pacific is of common interest to all the nations concerned. Japan should make a proactive commitment in this regard.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 24, 2015)


東アジア会議 南シナ海で対中圧力を強めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nations must pressure China to conform to intl law in S. China Sea
東アジア会議 南シナ海で対中圧力を強めよ

China’s words and deeds to justify its own behavior while threatening freedom of navigation, which is based on international law, can never be tolerated. It is important to repeatedly voice to the international community over the menace and self-righteousness of the country.

The leaders of 18 countries, including Japan, the United States, China and Russia plus members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, gathered in Malaysia on Sunday at a meeting of the East Asia Summit. China on the one hand and such countries as Japan and U.S. on the other exchanged at the meeting over China’s building artificial islands and promoting the establishment of military strongholds in the South China Sea.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed the need to thoroughly preserve the rule of law on the seas. With China in mind, Abe said, “A large-scale and rapid reclamation project aimed at creating a base for military purposes is under way” in the South China Sea, and The prime minister expressed “serious concern.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking in light of U.S. plans to continue patrol operations by its warships within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands, emphasized the importance of the “freedom of navigation and overflight.” Philippine President Benigno Aquino and others agreed with Obama.

Japanese-U.S. joint endeavors in cooperation with other countries concerned to beef up pressure on China are indispensable for maintaining regional stability.

it must not be overlooked that China has been criticizing Japan and the United States for their involvement in the South China Sea issue, labeling the two as “countries from outside the region.”

China’s deception politics

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for “countries outside the region” to “refrain from taking actions that may cause tensions in the region.” His statement is apparently aimed at stopping the U.S. military’s patrol activities.

The task of ensuring safety in the key maritime route(sea-lane) in the South China Sea is doubtless in the interest not only of the countries bordering the South China Sea but also the international community, including Japan and the United States. China’s assertion is wide of the mark.

Although China has agreed to consult with ASEAN to formulate a legally binding code of conduct for the contested area, there are no prospects for a timeframe for the code’s completion. It cannot be denied that China is using the dialogue to buy time, with the intention of making its control over the South China Sea a fait accompli.

In last week’s summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the issue of the South China Sea was not discussed. We can see China presumably maneuvered in advance to tamp down the issue.

Early this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Vietnam, with which China has had confrontations over the territorial problem, while sending Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the Philippines, the APEC chair.

China is using an old trick to try to split ASEAN members by using its economic clout. As long as Beijing continues to use deception as an expediency and fails to stop unilateral actions based on force, it will only increase regional distrust of China.

China’s tactic of distabilizing could hurt the unity of the member countries of ASEAN, which have declared they will launch an ASEAN Economic Community toward year-end. They are seeking to create a single market with a combined regional population of more than 600 million. Japan, in cooperation with the United States, must support the development of ASEAN as a whole.

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


歴史観の訴追 韓国の自由の危機だ

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 21
EDITORIAL: Indictment of historian a crisis of freedom in S. Korea
(社説)歴史観の訴追 韓国の自由の危機だ

Prosecutors in South Korea have indicted a university professor on defamation charges, claiming she falsely described former “comfort women” who were forced to provide sex to wartime Japanese soldiers.
Park Yu-ha, who is attached to Sejong University, was charged without arrest on Nov. 18 in connection to her book, “Comfort Women of the Empire,” which prosecutors assert defamed these women.

Prosecutors acted on complaints made by former comfort women.

“Korean comfort women and the Japanese military were basically in a comradely relationship,” Park wrote in her book.

Prosecutors claim this, and some other descriptions in her book, are factually wrong.

While acknowledging that speech, press and academic freedoms are basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution, prosecutors contend that Park violated the personal rights of former comfort women and overstepped the boundaries of academic freedom.

There are a wide variety of views and opinions concerning the comfort women issue among former comfort women and their supporters, but it is not the mandate of public prosecutors to judge whether descriptions of historical facts are correct or not.

It is even more dangerous for authority to punish free academic activities concerning interpretations and descriptions of history.

In her book, Park mainly discussed the structural problems of imperialism that were behind the suppression of women.

She harshly blames the imperial Japan for driving these women into a situation in which they had no choice but to have a comradely relationship with soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.

In South Korea, there have been criminal investigations and court rulings that seem to be influenced more by national sentiment than by legal theories in cases concerning issues related to Japan’s past.

The latest move by the country’s prosecutors appears to be one example of this.

After former comfort women sought a temporary injunction against the publication of Park’s book, the Seoul Eastern District Court handed down a ruling in February that banned the publication of the book unless some passages were deleted.

Many facts about the comfort women issue remain unclear, such as the actual number of them.

However, since former comfort women in South Korea began to come forward to tell their stories in the early 1990s, a lot of historical research on the subject has been conducted, mainly in Japan and South Korea. As a result, the real picture of comfort women has been gradually emerging.

These studies on comfort women have disclosed that there was actually a great diversity of cases.

Park’s book focused on this diversity and her descriptions about some cases do not necessarily fit the common image of comfort women among South Koreans as “innocent girls.”

If researchers face the constant threat of criminal prosecution over the publication of their research findings, however, the pursuit of learning is impossible.

Progress in academic research and the natural selection of academic theories take place through mutual reviews and criticism of various theories, discoveries and interpretations.

Suppressing dissenting views and opinions is a serious challenge to freedom.

The indictment of Park represents a problem that far transcends her personal concerns.

South Korean media have not given extensive coverage of the action taken by the prosecutors. We strongly hope to see a wide spectrum of the South Korean public stand up for the protection of freedom.


日米首脳会談 中国の海洋進出に連携対処を

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Deepen Japan-U.S. cooperation to handle China’s maritime advances
日米首脳会談 中国の海洋進出に連携対処を

Japan and the United States must work closely together and play a leading role in both the political and economic fields to maintain order in Asia.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama held talks in Manila and agreed to enhance mutual cooperation in dealing with issues related to artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea.

During the summit talks, Obama expressed his intention to continue the U.S. Navy’s patrol operations within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands. They will be carried out as routine activities, he said.

Abe expressed support for the U.S. patrol operations and told Obama he would “consider the possibility of the Self-Defense Forces conducting operations in the area while examining the impact of the situation on Japan’s national security.”

China must be stopped from carrying out large-scale reclamation in the area and turning the artificial islands into military bases based on self-serving logic in violation of international law. Japan and the United States have to cooperate with Southeast Asian nations and patiently call on China to exercise self-restraint and improve the situation.

The U.S. Navy’s operations are significant to prevent China’s unilateral attempt to change the status quo from becoming established fact. Even if it is not participating in them, Japan should provide indirect support for the U.S. operations. The Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Navy have built strong mutual trust through joint exercises, and joint reconnaissance and surveillance operations, over a long period.

Japan must also try to help the navies and coast guards of the Philippines and other countries in the area develop their capabilities through official development assistance.

Abe pledges Futenma progress

Abe also told Obama that his administration would proceed resolutely with the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district. Obama thanked Abe and expressed his intention to work with Tokyo in returning U.S. military facilities in the prefecture to Japan, among other issues.

It is important for Abe to maintain his stance of proceeding steadily with the relocation. Any attempt to seek an entirely new solution will further complicate the issue and only delay the removal of the dangers posed by the Futenma Air Station.

Obama praised the passage of security-related laws in Japan, saying they are historic achievements. He also said the United States strongly supported the Japan-South Korea bilateral meeting that was achieved recently.

In reply, Abe expressed his intention to strengthen cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

The cooperation of the three countries is essential for security in the northeast Asian region. Japan and the United States must keep urging South Korea to take positive steps toward that goal.

Referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, the prime minister said Japan and the United States’ leadership of the negotiations made it possible for the countries involved to reach a broad agreement. Obama said the TPP pact would drastically change the global environment and the next challenge was how the pact could be brought into effect and implemented.

It is significant that Japan and the United States have led the formulation of free, fair and transparent rules on trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Taking the future expansion of participating countries into consideration, the countries concerned must try to ratify and implement the TPP pact as soon as possible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 21, 2015)


APEC 自由貿易拡大はTPPを軸に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Expansion of free trade framework must center around TPP pact
APEC 自由貿易拡大はTPPを軸に

Broadening high-level trade liberalization based on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement is indispensable to the further development of the world economy.

A declaration was adopted Thursday at a summit meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, of which a major pillar is to speed up discussions about creating a “Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific” (FTAAP).

The declaration stressed that the realization of the envisioned FTAAP “should be pursued as a comprehensive free trade agreement.”

The FTAAP would endeavor to economically integrate 21 countries and regions, including Japan, the United States, China and Russia. We welcome the fact that the APEC members — despite their widely different levels of economic development, ranging from industrially advanced to developing — have reconfirmed the importance of unifying trade rules.

If the broad agreements reached in the TPP negotiations, such as the abolition of tariffs and the application of fair and transparent trade rules, spread to nations outside the TPP, it will certainly invigorate the economic activities in the region.

It is a cause for concern that China and Russia, which are not involved in the TPP, have reacted adversely to the envisaged economic integration centering on the TPP.

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed caution in a lecture during the summit, saying: “With various new regional free trade arrangements cropping up, there have been worries about the potential of fragmentation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote in an article ahead of the APEC summit that “the confidential fashion in which the TPP negotiations were conducted is probably not the best way to facilitate sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific region.”

U.S. Congress is key

One country after another has shown interest in taking part in the TPP, including South Korea and the Philippines. China and Russia, whose intentions to vie with the economic order led by the United States are now in jeopardy, have apparently taken steps to check the moves of other nations to become additional TPP members.

China is poised to seek the region’s economic integration based on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which it has been negotiating with countries including Japan, South Korea and India. The United States is not a party to RCEP negotiations.

However, the tariff abolition targets being sought in the RCEP initiative are lower than those under the TPP. It has been pointed out that the RCEP talks have yet to make progress regarding such matters as environmental protection and human and intellectual property rights, while TPP member countries and businesses are required to comply with standards regarding those matters.

To ensure fair and free economic activity, it is more desirable to have the TPP rules accepted as international standards.

It was right that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the APEC summit: “Japan hereafter will energetically pour our efforts into expanding the TPP.” By cooperating with such countries as Australia, Japan must play a leading role in the RCEP negotiation process — in which the United States is absent — with the aim of bringing its levels of trade liberalization closer to those of the TPP.

It is worrying that rough sailing is expected regarding the ratification of the TPP by the U.S. Congress. In addition to objections from the Republican Party, trade unions, which are the support base for the Democratic Party, have also been intensifying their resistance toward the TPP.

The TPP cannot be put into force without ratification by the United States. We hope the U.S. administration will strenuously tackle the challenge in Congress.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 20, 2015)









[ 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 ]
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[ HPリンク ]
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Preliminary Japanese lessons for Thai students

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