教科書検定 押しつけは時代遅れだ

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 19
EDITORIAL: Do not impose government’s viewpoints on school textbooks
(社説)教科書検定 押しつけは時代遅れだ

School textbooks are not tools for the government to indoctrinate young people with its views and opinions.

The education ministry on March 18 announced the results of its screening of new high school textbooks to be used from spring next year.

This year, the ministry applied, for the first time, new rules about the authorization of textbooks to those used at high schools.

Besides changing the guidelines for editing textbooks, the ministry also revised its screening standards to require publishers to ensure descriptions on issues about which the government has announced an official position reflect that view.

These changes were made in response to demands from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The outcome of the screening of high school textbooks reminds us of what happened last year, when new textbooks for junior high schools underwent the process.

The ministry instructed the publishers to describe Japan’s territorial disputes with its neighbors in line with the government’s position. In one case, an article in a textbook about war reparations had to be rewritten after the ministry criticized the text for failing to reflect the government’s stance on compensation for wartime forced laborers from China.

Notably, the ministry demanded that the descriptions on controversial topics, such as the Self-Defense Forces, the Constitution and nuclear power generation, be in line with the positions of the Abe administration.

The ministry, for instance, took issue with one textbook’s description about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “proactive pacifism.” The original text described Abe's foreign policy principle as one that has "changed the government's interpretation of the Constitution" and provides for "the SDF to operate in wider areas."

The ministry contended that the passage could cause a misunderstanding. Since proactive pacifism is a doctrine, the ministry said, the goal it is designed to achieve should also be mentioned.

Consequently, the text was revised to say that the doctrine is intended to enable Japan to “make active contribution to ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in international society” by changing the interpretation of the Constitution with regard to the SDF’s activities.

Acquiring knowledge about the government’s official positions on various issues is not harmful for students. But treating the government’s views as the right answer to think about these issues is tantamount to imposing specific opinions on young people.

The administration’s approach to textbook screening is more and more coming to resemble the prewar system of government-designated textbooks.

The government overestimates the influence of textbooks on young people’s thinking, in the first place.

Textbooks are not the only sources of knowledge for children. By visiting a library, for instance, they can easily find written works presenting different opinions and viewpoints from those of the government.

The education ministry is now working on new official curriculum guidelines.

It is planning to create new subjects, including a comprehensive study of modern world history and civics education about the rights and obligations of citizens and voters.
These subjects will be aimed at helping students develop the ability to think about things from diverse viewpoints and angles, according to the ministry.

Textbooks for these subjects should be designed to show that the government’s views and opinions are relative to the standpoints of various players, including opposition parties, citizens and other countries.

It is questionable whether the current textbook screening system will be suitable for the goals of the new subjects.

The current system is based on the assumption that textbooks are traditional printed books.

But an increasing number of textbooks show the addresses of websites that offer good reference materials.

The ministry checks the content in these websites during its textbook screening, but the pages of a website are updated constantly. It is impossible for the government to keep track of all changes in the content of the websites mentioned in textbooks.

The current textbook screening system, which tends to nitpick over specific terms and phrases in the text, is already outdated.

The government should shift its education policy to allow a wider range of teaching materials, expand the discretion of teachers in how to teach classes and increase opportunities for children to think from diverse viewpoints. The government should start taking steps to reinvent the textbook screening system in line with these principles.


北ミサイル発射 国際社会で孤立深める軽挙だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
North Korea’s missile launch a rash act that increases its isolation
北ミサイル発射 国際社会で孤立深める軽挙だ

North Korea apparently wants to flaunt the enhancement of its nuclear capability, but in reality, the country is just intensifying its international isolation.

Pyongyang launched a missile believed to be a Nodong medium-range ballistic missile from around Sukchon in the western part of the country. It flew a distance of about 800 kilometers and fell into the Sea of Japan.

According to the South Korean military, North Korea fired another missile, but it immediately disappeared from radar. It is possible that it exploded in the air.

In response to North Korea’s nuclear testing and other incidents, the U.N. Security Council early this month adopted a resolution anew that bans the country from firing ballistic missiles.

Following the launch of short-range ballistic missiles a week ago, North Korea’s latest action clearly violates the resolution.

It was reasonable that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned North Korea and said Japan would respond decisively while working closely with the international community.

North Korea is reacting more and more furiously against the Security Council’s resolution and U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises that started this month.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared that he will soon conduct a test explosion of a nuclear warhead and test-fire several types of ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

He also claimed that his country has succeeded in reducing the weight of nuclear warheads, and even suggested the country would become able to make a “preemptive nuclear attack” to counter the United States.

Security concern for Japan

Kim apparently wants to strengthen his leadership in the run-up to the Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, which is to be convened in May. However, many observers doubt that North Korea has advanced its miniaturization of nuclear warheads enough to load them on missiles.

“If the latest missile launch leads to enhancement of North Korea’s ballistic missile capabilities, it will be a source of strong national security concern for Japan,” said Defense Minister Gen Nakatani.

Pyongyang is said to have already deployed many Nodong missiles that could reach Japan. Because the missiles use mobile launchers, it is difficult to detect advance signs of launches. It remains necessary to keep an eye on North Korea’s attempts to improve the accuracy of its missiles by repeatedly conducting test-firings.

Also, preparations must be made to deal with further military provocations North Korea might engage in to heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The international community must not overlook the reckless attitude of Kim, who does not try to hide his ambition to possess nuclear-armed missiles.

First, sanctions resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council should be strictly implemented. It is essential to enhance an international coalition that is working to shut down the flow of funds and materials necessary for development of nuclear missiles to North Korea.

The tripartite security partnership of Japan, the United States and South Korea has become even more important for inhibiting North Korea’s reckless actions without being intimidated by its threats.

Japan, the United States and South Korea are trying to organize summit talks of their leaders on the sidelines of a Nuclear Security Summit to be held in the United States late this month. We hope concrete measures that would improve the efficacy of sanctions will be discussed while obtaining China’s cooperation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 19, 2016)


中国全人代閉幕 「独善」と「強権」が進む一方だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chinese govt continues headlong with self-serving, authoritarian approach
中国全人代閉幕 「独善」と「強権」が進む一方だ

It appears the administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping has further strengthened its self-serving approach to foreign policy, and its authoritarian governance over domestic matters.

China’s National People’s Congress, its equivalent of the Diet, has closed its annual meeting.

At a press conference after the Congress closed, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was asked about Japan-China ties. He said, “There have been some signs of an improvement in Sino-Japanese ties, but it is not fully established and still fragile.” On issues related to perceptions of history, Li made a request to Japan, saying: “It is important to match one’s words with concrete actions. What I don’t want to see is [the issues] going backwards.”

Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also displayed his distrust of Japan when he said: “On the one hand, the Japanese government and leaders say nice things about wanting to improve relations. On the other hand, they are making trouble for China at every turn.” He then criticized Japan by saying, “This is a typical case of double-dealing.”

These comments probably stemmed from resentment at such factors as Japan’s moves, in tandem with the United States, to check the expansion of China’s effective control of the South China Sea.

However, we think it is China that is being Janus-faced, as it advocates “peaceful development” even while its actions heighten regional tensions. The point China argues is absurd.

According to the U.S. government, Beijing is expected to complete the establishment of military facilities on manmade islands in the South China Sea at the end of this year or early next year.

In a swipe aimed at the United States, Wang said: “China cannot be accused of ‘militarization.’ The label is more suited to some other countries.” But no matter how much the Xi administration uses sophistry, it cannot cover up its military expansion.

Senkaku ruling inappropriate

It is unacceptable that the Supreme People’s Court (China’s Supreme Court), in a report to the Congress, insisted China had demonstrated “jurisdiction” over waters around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. It said a Chinese maritime court had mediated a case involving a collision between a Chinese fishing vessel and a Panama-registered freighter in September 2014.

While this aimed to raise the issue of territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, the collision actually happened outside the territorial waters of the islands, so China’s standpoint has no foundation. The Japanese government rightly lodged a protest.

The National People’s Congress also adopted a new five-year plan for economic and social development. Worryingly, a chapter titled “building a national security system” that was added to this blueprint included steps to strengthen the monitoring of opinions expressed on the Internet.

Since the Xi administration was launched, it has stepped up its oppression of human rights lawyers and nongovernmental organizations. It is certain that censorship, such as tighter controls on the media, will be further strengthened in the name of this “national security system.”

The ruling administration’s anxiety over the economic slowdown also is behind its moves to strengthen its control. The string of speakers at the Congress voicing concern over overseas shopping sprees by Chinese was probably another indication of this.

Even if China tries to suppress dissenting opinions by force, its image as an anachronism will only spread through the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 18, 2016)


米大統領選 煽動的言辞が招く社会の亀裂

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Incendiary language by a presidential candidate invites divisiveness in U.S.
米大統領選 煽動的言辞が招く社会の亀裂

Primary elections were held in five U.S. states, including Florida, as candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties chase the nomination to contest the presidential election in November. More than 60 percent of Republican Party delegates have been decided. The party’s race has passed the halfway mark.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump maintained the lead for the Republican nomination. Hard-line conservative Sen. Ted Cruz remains behind in second place. While Trump has kept his dominance in the race, some forecasts suggest he will fall short of the majority of delegates needed to assure him the nomination. It is too early to tell what will happen.

Mainstream candidate Sen. Marco Rubio lost in his home state of Florida and announced his withdrawal from the race. John Kasich picked up his first victory in Ohio, where he is the governor. Some pundits believe “anti-Trump” votes flocked to him.

This likely reflected widening efforts among mainstream Republicans to cooperate to halt Trump’s momentum. They have been concerned by Trump’s frequent off-color remarks.

Some prominent figures responsible for policies within the Republican Party have even suggested a preference for former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is increasingly likely to be the Democratic nominee.

Disturbingly, violent incidents have been occurring at Trump’s rallies. As a black audience member who had criticized Trump was being led from a venue, he was punched by a white man in the crowd. Trump himself has ordered protesters to be removed, and lashed out with comments such as they “should have been roughed up.”

A Trump campaign rally was even canceled due to the impact of protest activities by African-Americans and Latinos.

Japan under fire

The main cause of these confrontations has been Trump’s “pledges,” which could be interpreted as racial discrimination. These include his call to deport all illegal immigrants living in the United States, and to ban all Muslims from entering the country.

There are a myriad of problems with Trump’s method of boosting his support by branding opposition forces as the enemy to stir up confrontation. People from a diverse variety of races, religions and beliefs coexist in the United States. His comments are fueling feuds between these groups and deepening divisiveness in U.S. society.

The senior leadership of the Republican Party bears a heavy responsibility for these developments. Within the party, a conservative hard-line element, which seeks to minimize the role of the government by largely reducing tax for the wealthy and cutting social security spending, is gaining strength. The mainstream element has been unable to stop this movement, and what is effectively a split inside the party has been left as it is.

By painting himself as an outsider, Trump has exploited this confusion and broadened his support among the moderate element of the party and political independents. He has suggested policies including limiting the scope of tax cuts for the wealthy to make his candidacy more acceptable to middle-income earners.

Regarding the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, Trump has declared it is unfair that the pact unilaterally obliges the United States to defend Japan and also calls on Japan to accept more of the burden. On the North Korea’s nuclear issue, he stated Washington does not need to lead.

For Japan, Trump-mania cannot be simply overlooked.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 17, 2016)


人工知能 上手に使って住み良い社会に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Artificial intelligence: Use it well for a society where humans can thrive
人工知能 上手に使って住み良い社会に

The recent feat achieved by AlphaGo was a marvel of striking progress in artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
AlphaGo, an AI-based computer program developed by a British corporation under the umbrella of Google Inc. of the United States, has won against the world’s top Go player, South Korea’s Lee Se Dol, 4-1.

Previously, AI programs had defeated skilled human players in the fields of chess and shogi. However, it was said that it would take 10 years to see an AI system win against human players in the world of Go.

It was cited as a high hurdle that the surface of a Go board is broad, and that there are an immeasurable number of choices for moves to be made in playing a match.

No wonder Japan’s top master of Go, Yuta Iyama, described AlphaGo’s victory as “shocking.”

AlphaGo is able to learn on its own which are the best moves to make in playing a game. The program has read about 30 million images depicting the stages of development in games played by professional and other players. Then it has learned what kinds of patterns are preferred at which stages of development in a game, giving itself a better chance of winning. This has made AlphaGo ever more highly skilled in playing a match.

That approach, called “deep learning,” is one of the state-of-the-art AI theories. To put its victory in a human context, AlphaGo has developed “taikyokukan” (broad-based perspective).

AI technology has already been put to practical use, such as in image searches. It may be possible that the spread of more advanced AI technology could greatly change our day-to-day life. There also are concerns that the technology could take over clerical work carried out by humans.

It is necessary to live with AI technology and make good use of it.

Myriad potential benefits

The self-driving car system is designed to prevent accidents by perceiving vehicles and pedestrians around an autonomous car and predicting how they would move.

The use of diagnostic imaging technology will increase the probability of detecting cancer cells. It will also make it possible to predict how the condition of a cancer patient would develop, thereby enabling the patient to receive appropriate treatment.

Progress is being made in developing the technology to instantly distribute to smartphones information about which route should be taken in evacuating at the time of tsunami and other disasters.

We hope the public and private sectors will join hands in fully tapping into the advantages of AI technology.

In the United States, Google, IBM and others are fiercely competing with each other in applying AI technology to the analysis of big data, the development of pharmaceutical products and for other purposes.

It is disturbing to see that the presence of Japanese corporations is weak in this respect. Because of budgetary constraints and other reasons, these companies have hardly been able to apply their research results to the commercialization of products. Research papers originating in Japan account for a slumping 2 percent to 3 percent of those submitted from around the world.

It is necessary to quickly nurture young researchers and engineers in this country.

The main pillar of the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan, finalized by the government at a Cabinet meeting in January, is to realize “a supersmart society” through the use of AI technology.

If robotics technology, Japan’s field of expertise, is combined with AI, a mix of these technologies could be expected to make up for labor shortages in a society whose population is decreasing.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 16, 2016)


福島の住民帰還 人口減に備える地域再生策を

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Plans to revive areas hit by N-disaster must cover population decline problem
福島の住民帰還 人口減に備える地域再生策を

Even though five years have passed since the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant occurred, nearly 100,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture continue to live as evacuees both in and outside the prefecture.

The government plans to lift by March 2017 the evacuation orders for areas where residence is restricted — excluding those that are designated as difficult-to-return zones because of extremely high levels of radiation — as well as areas where preparations are being made for the lifting of evacuation orders.

How the blueprints for regional rejuvenation should be drawn up with evacuees’ return home in mind is a major challenge facing the municipalities concerned.

One headache in this regard is that lifting the evacuation orders will not necessarily lead to the return of evacuees. In the case of Naraha, from which the entire population was evacuated, only 6 percent of the town’s former residents have returned their home bases since the orders were lifted last September.

According to a survey of the residents’ opinions conducted in January by the Reconstruction Agency and other entities, those who said they would resume living in the town totaled slightly more than 50 percent of respondents, including those who have already returned.

In regard to the towns of Futaba and Okuma, most of which are in difficult-to-return zones where the prospects for lifting the evacuation orders are not in sight, only around 10 percent of respondents expressed intentions to return. Those who answered “not returning” accounted for 50 percent to 60 percent.

Population declines in every municipality will be unavoidable even after the evacuation orders are lifted.

The percentage of those who want to return is higher among elderly people. First of all, preparations to resume operations at core hospitals must be accelerated. Four of these hospitals located in Futaba county, comprising Naraha and seven other municipalities, have had their operations suspended.

Wider cooperation crucial

It is also essential to improve public transportation systems, which are needed for hospital visits and shopping.

Service continues to be partially suspended on the JR Joban Line. Bus services remain suspended on many regular routes in disaster-affected areas. It will also be necessary to restructure the traffic network connecting municipalities around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant with other cities in the prefecture, including Fukushima, Koriyama and Iwaki.

If regional revival is undertaken by each municipality on an individual basis, there are limits to what can be achieved. The municipalities should push ahead with reconstructing the entire region through efforts that reach beyond the boundaries of municipalities.

Many disaster-affected municipalities are aiming to establish compact towns where administrative offices and commercial, medical and welfare facilities are concentrated. It may be an idea for municipalities to cooperate in working out plans on community building.

If functions necessary to improve residents’ livelihoods are provided through the cooperation of municipalities, their fiscal burdens will be reduced. It is also important for the national and prefectural governments to coordinate measures adequately.

To entice younger generations to return, job opportunities must be available. Government support is needed to attract businesses to the region.

The envisaged “Innovation Coast” — to concentrate research facilities and corporate entities related to the decommissioning of damaged reactors along the coastal area — is expected to lead to job creation and an inflow of new residents. We want to see this innovation steadily put into place with the government taking the initiative.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 15, 2016)


女性の活躍 現実に目を向けてこそ

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 13
EDITORIAL: Take a close look at reality before touting ‘women’s active roles’
(社説)女性の活躍 現実に目を向けてこそ

One anonymous blog has underscored the serious issue of children on waiting lists for nursery schools, along with the lack of understanding on the part of political leaders.
Titled “Hoikuen Ochita Nihon Shine!!!” (My kid was rejected by a nursery school. Go to hell, Japan!!!), the blog was posted in mid-February by a mother whose child had failed to gain admission into a nursery school.

She used harsh language to vent her anger, saying things such as, “What about a ‘society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged?’” and "I’ll have to quit my job.”
A “society in which all citizens are dynamically engaged” is one of the key slogans of the Abe administration.

When an opposition lawmaker raised the subject during Diet debate, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cited the anonymity of the posting in replying to her and said, “I have no way to confirm the story, including whether it really took place.”

Lawmakers of the ruling bloc heckled the opposition lawmaker, with one shouting, “Bring the one who wrote it!”

Members of the public who shared similar problems and anxieties reacted furiously to these verbal exchanges. They staged protests in front of the Diet building and collected signatures for a petition calling for a more extensive child-care system.

The government and the ruling parties were taken aback by the development, and began hastily discussing new measures for reducing the number of children on waiting lists--so goes, in brief, the story to date.

The response of political leaders has been particularly poor. While one ruling Liberal Democratic Party official has stated that the initial response was wrong, the story is much more than that of a “wrong” reaction. One has to say that a lack of understanding of how serious the current situation is has come to light.

The question of children on waiting lists is posing a serious problem for every household facing it, as mothers in some families are eager to stay in their current jobs, whereas other families need dual incomes to maintain their standards of living. The blog caught on with a broad audience, and many citizens lashed out against the administration, probably out of a strong resentment of the issue that has failed to improve over the years.

The government and the ruling parties should take that squarely to heart.

Abe has formulated such slogans as “women’s active roles” and a “society where all women shine.” One has to ask, however, if there really is an environment for making that happen. The dearth of child-care services is not the only factor that is keeping women from playing “active roles.”

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women issued a recommendation earlier this month to the Japanese government.

The unflattering document, which said, “The committee’s previous recommendations have not been fully implemented,” once again urged Tokyo, among other things, to develop legal measures for banning and preventing discrimination in employment and to increase the number of women in decision-making positions, such as lawmakers and corporate workers in senior management posts.

Japan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1985. The Basic Law for Gender-Equal Society took effect in 1999. More women are working, but wage gaps between men and women are continuing to widen, in part because many female workers are employed on a nonregular basis.

Men’s participation in child care and in nursing care for the elderly is still low, and there remains a deep-rooted perception among the public that men and women are supposed to assume different roles. The latest Gender Gap Index report of the World Economic Forum put Japan in 101st place, in the lower rung of the ranking, as usual.

Political leaders should first look squarely at reality if they are to ever talk of “women’s active roles.”


ECB追加緩和 金融政策頼みだけでは危うい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Eurozone economic recovery based just on monetary easing will be fragile
ECB追加緩和 金融政策頼みだけでは危うい

Monetary easing alone will not be able to eradicate concerns about deflation and realize a full economic recovery in the eurozone. Other steps will be essential, including expanding public investment and undertaking structural reforms to boost the economy’s growth potential.

The European Central Bank has decided on a comprehensive, additional monetary-easing policy that exceeded market expectations.

The ECB will lower the rate of interest paid when private banks deposit surplus funds at the central bank from the current minus 0.3 percent to minus 0.4 percent.

In addition, the ECB will expand its quantitative easing program, which pours capital into the markets. This program, which includes buying government bonds, will be boosted from €60 billion a month to €80 billion (about ¥10 trillion) a month.

The eurozone is on the brink of tumbling into deflation. Sluggish crude oil prices and other factors pushed the single-currency bloc’s February rate of consumer price increases into negative territory for the first time in five months.

Concerns are growing that the eurozone could see low economic growth over an extended period due to a decline in production and exports accompanying a slowdown in China and other emerging economies.

The ECB’s aim of attempting to underpin the economy by launching another wave of monetary easing to dig up demand for capital among companies and individuals is appropriate.

In the markets, the additional easing was welcomed in some quarters, which sent shares up and the euro down against the dollar. However, before long, share prices dipped and the euro strengthened again.

Risks of easy money

At a press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi stated, “We don’t expect that it will be necessary to reduce rates further.” This comment was made to dash market expectations for further easing.

We think this symbolizes the extent to which the eurozone economy has become dependent on monetary easing.

If the ECB continues to push interest rates deeper into negative territory, it runs the risk of worsening side effects such as weakening banks’ earnings and causing real estate prices to soar as money freed up by the easing pours into this sector.

Germany and other nations that oppose purchasing massive volumes of government bonds may strengthen their opposition to the plan, leading to the unraveling of the unity among euro nations and heightening the risk of sparking turmoil in the markets.

A recovery of Europe’s economy that relies only on monetary policies will be fragile. As was confirmed during February’s meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 major economies, each European country should be using every policy at its disposal, such as devising growth strategies and fiscal stimulus packages.

In southern European nations, where unemployment levels remain high, labor market reforms and other steps to improve mobility in employment will be vital.

We hope Germany, which has the financial wherewithal to do so, will embark on a program to increase government expenditures to stimulate the economy and pull growth along.

Another urgent task is restoring the health of the financial system by accelerating efforts by each bank in Europe to dispose of nonperforming loans.

While Europe and Japan continue their monetary easing, the United States is searching for an opportunity to raise interest rates again. Financial authorities in each nation must exercise great care to ensure sudden currency flows seeking to take advantage of differences in the direction of their policies do not throw the markets into confusion.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 13, 2016)


巨人野球賭博 選手の規律順守を徹底したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Giants must work toward ensuring self-discipline on part of players
巨人野球賭博 選手の規律順守を徹底したい

Pitcher Kyosuke Takagi of the Yomiuri Giants has admitted his involvement in gambling on Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) games. He is the latest Giants player to admit betting on ball games, following three other pitchers who were suspended by NPB last November for an indefinite period.

The Giants have made all-out efforts to regain confidence lost over the gambling scandal. It is extremely regrettable that the latest revelation came out shortly before the pennant race begins, betraying baseball fans again. The club’s president, Hiroshi Kubo, apologized at a news conference, saying, “I couldn’t regret this any more than I do.”

The club has filed a complaint against Takagi with NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki. Appropriate disciplinary action will be handed down following the NPB’s investigations.

To take the responsibility for a series of gambling scandals, Giants owner Kojiro Shiraishi, Chairman Tsunekazu Momoi and Executive Adviser Tsuneo Watanabe have resigned. Shoichi Oikawa, executive adviser of The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, will succeed Shiraishi as the club’s owner.

“I deeply apologize to all baseball fans,” Oikawa said. “I would like to regain the trust of the public as soon as possible.”

Lawyer Noboru Matsuda, who has served in such positions as chief of the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, has assumed the post of acting owner. We want him to help the team strengthen its discipline.

Bolster instruction programs

Takagi bet on eight or nine professional baseball games from April to May in 2014 at the inducement of Shoki Kasahara, who was disqualified indefinitely. Takagi bet against a restaurateur who is an acquaintance of Kasahara. NPB investigations determined that the man habitually bets on baseball games.

Takagi’s acts obviously violate the article of the Nippon Professional Baseball Agreement that bans betting on baseball games. He bowed at a press conference, saying, “I am very sorry for betraying the confidence of the people concerned.”

In hearings conducted by the club, questioning all Giants players, Takagi denied involvement in gambling on ball games. The restaurateur in question did not comply with the club’s request for cooperation in the investigation.

The probe by the club, which has no investigatory power, could have its own limits. But the fact remains that the club could not uncover Takagi’s involvement when the wrongdoing by the other three players came to light. It cannot be helped if the club is criticized, in hindsight, for failing to conduct a thorough probe.

Kazuhiro Kiyohara, who once played with the Giants, has been indicted on charges of possessing stimulant drugs.

Children look up to pro baseball players. If they commit wrongdoing, it will have a big social impact. Fully aware of the heavy responsibility they bear, they need to exercise self-discipline throughout their careers and even after retirement.

The Giants must bolster instruction of their players through seminars and other programs.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 12, 2016)


震災から5年 心は一つ、じゃない世界で

--The Asahi Shimbun, March 11
EDITORIAL: The voices from Tohoku must be heard 5 years after the disaster
(社説)震災から5年 心は一つ、じゃない世界で

Exactly five years have passed since March 11, 2011, when Japan was struck by what has been described as the biggest postwar national crisis.
On that day, the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami ravaged wide areas in the northeastern Tohoku region and triggered the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Reconstruction work is continuing in coastal areas of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. Many residents are still struggling to rebuild their shattered livelihoods.

Around 170,000 people, mainly residents in Fukushima Prefecture, are living away from their homes as evacuees.

People in the affected areas are still reeling from the aftermath and fallout of the devastating natural disasters and the harrowing nuclear accident.

But how many people in other parts of the nation far from the stricken areas truly understand the harsh realities in communities battered by the disasters?


Immediately after the disasters occurred, everybody’s heart went out to people in the affected areas. Many Japanese talked about “mutual support” and the “ties” that bound them with the victims. The kanji for “kizuna,” meaning “human bonds,” was chosen as the Chinese character that most powerfully symbolized the year.

But we now wonder if all of the sympathetic feelings expressed back then were genuine. In the disaster-stricken areas, many people are lamenting the growing psychological distance with the rest of Japan.
Various emotionally charged issues have divided communities in the affected areas.

They include forcing residents to leave the places where they have lived for a long time, and constructing levees that separate the land from the sea, which has supported their livelihoods.

Debates over whether to preserve or remove remnants of buildings destroyed by the disasters have raised complicated feelings: a desire to forget what happened mixed with a determination to never forget.

Such divisions threaten to destroy harmony among community members. The problem is most acutely felt in Fukushima Prefecture.

Disputes over the effects of radiation have shaken residents’ values and judgments. The problem has been compounded by the fact that Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, paid different amounts of compensation to victims based on radiation levels in their areas.
Families and communities have been split into opposing groups.

Some residents are working hard to repair the severed ties, and a variety of efforts are under way to heal wounded communities. They include a program to guide visitors to deserted towns and a project to provide information about Fukushima to people who voluntarily fled their communities in the prefecture.

Sachiko Bamba, a resident of Minami-Soma city, has worked with doctors to organize more than 80 study sessions to help citizens learn about radiation.

Her project is driven by the belief that acquiring accurate knowledge about radiation helps people make educated decisions about their futures and assume a positive attitude toward life.

Bamba and other like-minded people are concerned that residents’ struggles to overcome the huge challenges over the past five years remain largely unknown to people in other parts of the nation, creating widening perception gaps.

They still receive questions from people outside Fukushima Prefecture on whether local residents must wear masks when they go out or whether rice produced in Fukushima Prefecture is safe for eating.

The safety of various farm products from Fukushima Prefecture has been confirmed through constant measurements of airborne radiation and human exposure doses as well as continuous efforts to decontaminate polluted areas and check radiation in all foodstuffs.

But people outside the prefecture are not receiving much information about such improvements and progress.

Last year, a man outside Fukushima Prefecture who called himself an anti-nuclear activist criticized a mother for remaining in Koriyama and supposedly exposing her child to health risks. She was deeply disheartened by the simple, inconsiderate and ill-founded argument against living in Fukushima that was based on his opposition to nuclear power.

“How long will this kind of nonsense continue?” she uttered to herself.


It is probably inevitable that differences in perceptions will appear over time between people in the disaster areas and those in the rest of the nation.

To make our society less vulnerable to disasters, however, it is vital to constantly narrow such perception gaps. The positions of people currently struggling with hardships and those who are not may be reversed at any time.

People in Fukushima Prefecture want to share their experiences over the past five years with the outside world. They believe the facts about the divisions caused by the nuclear disaster and their efforts to overcome them should be part of the lessons learned by the entire nation.

People in the prefecture are continuing their quest to find ways to achieve this goal.

At Futaba Future School, a prefectural high school that opened last spring in the town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, theater is a required course.

The course is taught by reputed playwright Oriza Hirata, who has instructed his students to “express as they are the discrepancies in feelings due to different positions and unsolvable issues.”

At the outset of the course, Hirata told the students: “Let me tell you something. Nobody in the world understands things about Fukushima and you.”

The challenge facing the students is how to communicate their feelings to indifferent people. Tackling this challenge requires them to ask themselves whether they can really imagine the feelings of others.

Bamba of Minami-Soma has also set up a study group to learn from TEPCO executives. She decided to stay in contact with the operator of the crippled nuclear plant to learn more about the company, which is responsible for rebuilding the devastated communities in the prefecture.

In this world, people’s hearts are not one. History is littered with many examples of painful divisions among people, including the cases of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only cities to suffer a nuclear attack, communities afflicted by pollution-caused diseases like Minamata disease, and Okinawa Prefecture, which has been forced to bear an excessive burden of hosting U.S. military bases.

Various areas around this nation have been suffering on their own and fighting the pain caused by misunderstandings and perception gaps. Exchanges are growing between Fukushima Prefecture and other areas grappling with these problems.


If people living in different places and thinking about different issues want to connect with each other, they need to start talking about things that they both do not understand and continue their dialogue.

“A desire to communicate is only born out of an experience of being unable to communicate,” Hirata says. “From this point of view, children in the stricken areas who have experienced the disaster, the mutual help and the divisions have the potential to play leading roles in reconstruction efforts and open up a new future for our society.”

Every Japanese should pay fresh and serious attention--and respond--to the messages people in the affected areas are sending out.







[ 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 ]
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01 あいさつ
02 別れのあいさつ
03 声をかけるとき
04 感謝の言葉と答え方
05 謝罪の言葉と答え方
06 聞き直すとき
07 相手の言うことがわからないとき
08 うまく言えないとき
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
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07 果物王国タイランド
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