--The Asahi Shimbun, April 29
EDITORIAL: Judiciary can’t afford to duck concerns about security laws
(社説)安保違憲訴訟 司法の真価が問われる

About 500 citizens have sued the government over national security legislation enacted last year, claiming the legislation is unconstitutional because it allows Japan to engage in collective self-defense.

The lawsuit, filed with the Tokyo District Court on April 26, demands a court order to block any Self-Defense Forces deployment under the security laws, which passed the Diet last September and came into force on March 29. Similar legal actions are expected in various parts of the nation.
The judiciary should respond head-on to the vital constitutional questions raised by these suits. The courts should fulfill their judicial responsibility by making their own constitutional judgments on the matter. The Supreme Court, the guardian of the Constitution, should then make the final decision.

We should remember the Diet debate on the security bills submitted last year by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Many legal experts, including constitutional scholars and former Supreme Court justices, denounced the legislation as “a violation of the Constitution” and “a denial of constitutionalism.” Many Japanese were disturbed by the government’s explanations about its interpretation of related constitutional provisions that were clearly at odds with past government statements.

But the government and ruling camp dismissed all these criticisms, saying it is the Supreme Court that has the mandate to make the final judgment on the constitutionality of laws. The government also argued that one top court ruling is more important than 100 theories. Eventually, the ruling coalition rammed the bills through the Diet by using its dominant parliamentary majority.

The administration’s policy of heeding only what the Supreme Court says in dealing with constitutional issues related to the legislation should not be taken as a sign of respect for the judiciary.

Through personnel changes, the Abe administration effectively stripped the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, the watchdog of legislative actions, of its ability to check bills from the legal point of view.

The Diet, the nation’s legislature, proved to be ruled by the dictates of the majority.

The role of the judiciary as one of the three branches of government under the checks and balances system has never been as important as it is now.

The plaintiffs of the latest lawsuit are demanding compensation for what they say is a violation of their constitutional right to live in peace. They also claim the people’s right to amend and determine the Constitution has been violated by the effective change to war-renouncing Article 9 made by the administration without following the formal procedure for constitutional amendments.

Past court rulings on lawsuits over such constitutional issues indicate that the plaintiffs face high hurdles.

Conventional wisdom in the Japanese judicial community says courts should not judge the constitutionality of specific laws unless there are concrete legal disputes that require such judgment.

A court refused to hear another lawsuit seeking the annulment of the new security laws, saying such a demand is inappropriate for judicial determination.

The consensus view among judicial experts is that even if a court decides to hear such a lawsuit, a constitutional judgment should not be made unless it is necessary for settling a dispute involving concrete interests.

Given the history of court rulings in this type of case, courts may opt to avoid making any constitutional judgment while rejecting the plaintiffs’ demand for compensation.

But the plaintiffs of the latest lawsuit include relatives of SDF personnel and residents living near military bases.

They need to make concrete arguments regarding their specific interests to persuade the court to hear the case.

At the heart of their lawsuit is serious anxiety about the government’s lack of respect for the basic principles of constitutionalism.

The judiciary should make sincere responses to the constitutional questions raised by these lawsuits without trivializing them.

The courts should not act in a way that will only further undermine public confidence in the governing system.
2016/04/30(土) 09:11 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Control tower urgently needed for export of defense equipment
豪潜水艦に落選 装備輸出の司令塔作りを急げ

It is important to scrupulously examine the reason Japan lost its bid for the contract and rebuild the government’s preparedness for exporting defense equipment.

With Japan, Germany and France competing to build next-generation submarines for Australia, Canberra selected a French company as its partner.

In accordance with the three principles on the transfer of defense equipment and technology, the Japanese government, jointly with the private sector, had proposed building a fleet based on the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s most advanced Soryu-class submarine, manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and other companies.

Soryu-class submarines are equipped with the world’s most advanced technology. They excel in cruising capability, silent running to evade detection when navigating underwater, sonar detection and other attributes.

The huge contract, worth about 50 billion Australian dollars (¥4.3 trillion), was for the construction of 12 submarines. It would have become Japan’s first full-fledged export of defense equipment. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “It was a disappointing result.”

It is reasonable for Defense Minister Gen Nakatani to have indicated his intention to seek an explanation from Australia as to why Japan was not awarded the contract and learn lessons for future bids.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “The French offer represented the capabilities best able to meet Australia’s unique needs.”

As Australia’s economy has slowed, uncertainty over the country’s employment situation is spreading. France had emphasized it would make a full-scale technology transfer, help foster Australian companies and create jobs in that country.

As Turnbull intends to dissolve Parliament shortly, his selection may also reflect his decision to focus on the economy with the election in mind.

But for building submarines, a military perspective is important under normal circumstances. We cannot agree with the choice if it was made by placing priority on the political situation.

Experience lacking

Meanwhile, it is undeniable that Japan, while being overconfident in its high level of technology and paying little heed to its ratio of local production in Australia, failed to accurately comprehend either Australia’s needs or the moves taken by France and Germany in their bids, and did not exercise flexibility in taking the measures needed. This failure may have stemmed from the little experience MHI and other companies have in negotiating defense equipment deals with foreign countries.

It is crucial to build within such offices as the national security secretariat of the Cabinet Secretariat a framework to comprehensively analyze and assess business chances and domestic political circumstances of countries concerned, in addition to security issues, and establish a control tower to carry out such tasks.

Sufficient manpower should be mustered from such economy-related ministries as the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry as well as from private companies. Also needed is to have a vision on implementing a growth strategy.

Needless to say, measures to prevent the leakage of technologies to third-party countries are essential. We can understand that cautious views were expressed within the MSDF and other entities over Japan’s provision of technology to Australia.

Also worrisome is that China is said to have urged Australia not to accept Japan’s proposal this time. If Canberra turned down Japan’s bid by giving too much consideration to Beijing, we cannot overlook it.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had recognized the importance of security cooperation among Japan, the United States and Australia. The Turnbull administration should explain what sort of role it will assume for the stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 28, 2016)
2016/04/29(金) 08:26 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 27
EDITORIAL: Thorough talks needed to block abuse of planned hate speech law
(社説)ヘイト法案 反差別の姿勢を明確に

A bill to outlaw hate speech, sponsored by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, is currently under deliberation in the Upper House Legal Affairs Committee.

With the opposition camp having already presented a similar bill to the Diet last year, all Japanese political parties are at least in agreement that legislative measures must be taken to eliminate hate speech, which fans vile discrimination against certain ethnic groups.

But legal scholars are strongly concerned that such legislation could threaten freedom of expression depending on how it is enforced. Indeed, determining the conditions of enforcement will be a difficult and complex matter.

However, hate speech has shown no signs of abating in recent years. In a lawsuit against a citizens group that attacked the Tokushima prefectural union of teachers for donating money to a Korean school, the Takamatsu High Court on April 25 ruled that the group’s activities “represented an attitude of racial discrimination,” and it ordered the group to pay damages to the teachers’ union.

Hate-filled invectives against minorities, such as “get out of Japan,” are uttered nationwide. These human rights violations cannot be allowed to continue. We definitely believe the time has come to take some sort of legislative action.

Neither the ruling coalition-sponsored bill nor its opposition counterpart contains punitive provisions against offenders. While we would like both bills to clearly spell out that discrimination can never be condoned as a matter of basic human decency, we also believe that utmost care must be taken to ensure the legislation will not infringe upon freedom of expression.

The United Nations considers it a problem that Japan, which ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 21 years ago, still has no laws against racial discrimination. It has now become Japan’s obligation to the international community to declare a firm stance against discrimination of any sort against any race or nationality.

We hope the ruling and opposition parties will set aside their petty political interests and forge a consensus after thoroughly debating the issue and with complete transparency, from the standpoint of defending universal human rights.

Diet deliberations in the days ahead are expected to focus on the LDP-Komeito bill. But there are some problems with the legislation.

For instance, the bill defines victims of discrimination as “non-Japanese-born people and their descendants.” But the indigenous Ainu people of Japan have been subjected to discrimination. To make this right, we believe the ruling coalition should adopt the opposition-sponsored bill’s broader definition of victims as “non-Japanese races and ethnic groups.”

Another problem we see with the LDP-Komeito bill is that it will apply only to “legal aliens residing in Japan.” We find this hard to comprehend.

Discrimination in itself has nothing to do with the victim’s residency status. If this is left uncorrected, this bill could hurt those who are in the process of applying for refugee status.

In the past, the LDP manifested its intent to manipulate the hate speech issue to its own convenience. LDP legislators made statements hinting at applying hate speech legislation against anti-U.S. base activists and protesters opposed to nuclear power generation.

Such abuse of the law by politicians is exactly what we fear.

For the law to fully serve its intended purpose of eliminating all racial and ethnic discrimination, its non-arbitrary and appropriate enforcement must be guaranteed. And thorough discussion is also needed on how to monitor the enforcement of this law.
2016/04/28(木) 07:24 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 26
EDITORIAL: Doubts remain after top court apologizes for leprosy trials
(社説)ハンセン病 司法の差別、決着せぬ

The Supreme Court has officially admitted it made a serious mistake by allowing lower courts to hold criminal and other trials for leprosy patients outside regular courtrooms. But the mea culpa from the top court, which is regarded as the “bastion of human rights,” doesn’t answer key constitutional questions.

The Supreme Court on April 25 officially apologized to former leprosy patients and other people who suffered from this practice, saying it “deeply regrets having degraded the personalities and dignity of the patients and apologizes.”

The top court acknowledged that its approvals of the special separate trials for leprosy sufferers were discriminatory in nature and violated the court organization law.

It is extremely unusual for the nation’s highest court to admit having made a misjudgment concerning judicial procedures and offering such an apology. It took a step in the right direction by examining the issue.

However, the key question in this controversy was the constitutionality of the policy. The top court concluded that the “special trials” didn’t violate the constitutional principle of open trials.

The Supreme Court should ask itself whether this conclusion is acceptable to former patients and their families who suffered from discrimination and prejudices against leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease.

The opinions of the court’s expert panel on the issue, released at the same time, raised two important constitutional questions.

First, the panel said there is no denying that the special trials for leprosy patients violated the constitutional principle of equality under the law. Secondly, the panel argued that it is hard not to suspect that the policy also violated the constitutional principle of public trials.

In 2005, an independent inquiry panel set up by the health ministry had already pointed out similar constitutional questions concerning the practice.

It is difficult to claim that the Supreme Court’s conclusion, issued after many years of failing to respond to the criticism, offers convincing, straightforward answers to these questions.

The health ministry’s panel referred to a controversial murder trial of a man from Kumamoto Prefecture who was said to have leprosy. In this case, known as the “Kikuchi Incident,” the defendant was eventually executed despite claiming his innocence.

The ministry panel said the man had effectively been tried in a closed-door proceeding.

The Supreme Court started looking into this issue after it received a demand for an examination of the legitimacy of the special trials. The demand came from lawyers and former leprosy patients who were seeking a retrial for the Kumamoto man.

Unsurprisingly, an organization of former leprosy patients involved in this campaign has denounced the top court’s failure to acknowledge the unconstitutionality of the practice. The organization said it strongly demands that the court “sincerely admit its own mistake.”

In its probe into the matter, the Supreme Court avoided making any judgment about individual cases on the grounds of the independence of judges.

But flawed judicial procedures could cast doubts on the appropriateness of the trials themselves.

The top court should have scrutinized individual cases for possible relief for victims and restoration of their honor.

The judiciary should seriously consider any request for a retrial from a victim of the system.

The challenge facing the Japanese judiciary is how to use the results of the investigation to promote efforts to eliminate discrimination and prejudices from society.

The Supreme Court should move beyond this apology and continue performing its responsibility to tackle this challenge.
2016/04/27(水) 08:25 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 24
EDITORIAL: Improved system needed to assist disabled people in disasters
(社説)震災避難 障害者への支援確保を

Many people with disabilities have been unable to enter crucially important evacuation shelters in areas hit hard by the recent succession of earthquakes in Kumamoto and other prefectures.

“I was told that people on wheelchairs are not allowed because the hall has bumps on the floor,” one of them said.

“I got no information from anywhere, so I spent nights in a car for a week,” said another.

“Welfare evacuation shelters” were supposed to be set up for people with disabilities and elderly people, who would find it difficult to live in evacuation shelters for the general public.

Welfare evacuation shelters refer to schools, welfare facilities and other institutions that have signed agreements with municipal governments in preparation for a possible disaster.

But the system failed in the face of the real earthquake disaster.

Some 35,000 people in Kumamoto, the capital of Kumamoto Prefecture, are registered as “persons requiring support,” who were expected to need help in evacuating from a disaster.

While 176 institutions had signed agreements to serve as welfare evacuation shelters, the number of institutions that actually accepted people in need was slow to grow.

Some of the institutions were short-staffed because care providers became quake victims themselves. Some of the buildings were destroyed, and water supply was cut.

After volunteer workers were recruited, 33 welfare evacuation shelters were opened by April 22. But only 80-odd people have entered those shelters. Officials at one shelter have complained that all they can do is to provide space because they cannot afford to provide assistance.

People with disabilities and others who remain out of welfare evacuation shelters may face serious difficulties from the prolonged consequences of the earthquake disaster. Checking for their safety has turned out to be more difficult than initially expected.

Given the situation, Kumamoto Gakuen University has been drawing attention for its activities. The university in Kumamoto city has made its presence felt by accepting up to 60 or so people who are disabled or elderly.

Initially, the university only had its athletic field designated as a wide-area evacuation ground. As local residents began to assemble on its campus amid the succession of powerful earthquakes, however, the university decided to let local inhabitants use four of its classrooms.

It also designated a grand hall in one of its buildings for exclusive use by "persons requiring support." University officials have arranged a framework, whereby certified care workers with connections to the university and volunteering students are available 24 hours a day to watch those evacuees who require support.

The law on the elimination of disability discrimination, which took effect this month, says public institutions are obliged to “provide reasonable accommodation.” They are supposed to respond, to a reasonable extent, to the requests of disabled people to eliminate social barriers.
Kumamoto Gakuen University’s undertaking is a pioneering attempt at fleshing out the spirit of that law.

Two professors at the university, who were involved in opening the evacuation shelter, have worked with groups of disabled people and their supporters to set up a “center for people with disabilities in disaster areas.”

Instead of bringing disabled people together in a single evacuation shelter, the center will serve as a hub for providing appropriate information to people with disabilities in different areas, and will continue to give them necessary support until they can return to their previous lifestyles.

Close to 80,000 people continue to live in evacuation following the Kumamoto earthquakes. And it is never easy for people with disabilities to live the same way as people without disabilities.

In normal times, we should prepare mechanisms, for example, to use the list of “persons requiring support” to determine their safety status in emergencies and to allow welfare institutions to dispatch staff members to each other on a broader regional scale.

Doing so would be one way to prepare for the next disaster, which could hit any part of Japan.
2016/04/26(火) 07:14 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 21
EDITORIAL: 40-year rule for nuclear reactors on verge of being a dead letter
(社説)原発40年規制 早くも骨抜きなのか

The 40-year lifespan for nuclear reactors, established after the catastrophic accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011, is now in danger of being watered down to irrelevance.
The rule requires the decommissioning of aging reactors, starting with the oldest, for a gradual, carefully controlled process of phasing out nuclear power generation in this country.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on April 20 formally decided that the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, which have been in service for over 40 years, meet new nuclear safety standards introduced after the devastating 2011 accident.

This is the first license renewal for a reactor that has been in operation for more than four decades under the new standards.

If they pass the remaining regulatory inspections concerning technical details by the July deadline, the reactors will likely continue to generate electricity for two more decades.

The 40-year lifespan provision was introduced through a revision to the law after the Fukushima disaster.

Just one service life extension of up to 20 years is allowed, but only as an “extremely exceptional” measure.

This exception was made to avoid a shortage of electricity. But concerns about any serious power crunch have virtually dissipated thanks to a marked rise in levels of power and energy conservation in society.

The NRA’s formal decision to extend the life of the two aging reactors came amid a series of earthquakes rocking central Kyushu around Kumamoto Prefecture which have been described by the Japan Meteorological Agency as “a deviation from the rules extracted from past experiences.”

Many Japanese are concerned that the quakes could affect Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai nuclear plant in neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture. The NRA’s decision to grant an exception to the rule so quickly could have the effect of relaxing the safety standards and deepening public distrust of the government’s nuclear regulation.

The Abe administration is leaving all licensing decisions on individual reactors entirely to the NRA. But it has mapped out a long-term energy supply plan based on the assumption that the service life of reactors will be extended.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who repeatedly pledged to lower Japan’s dependence on nuclear power as much as possible, has been changing his stance little by little without announcing any clear policy shift.

The NRA’s mission is to enhance the safety of nuclear plants from a scientific viewpoint.
But the way the nuclear watchdog assessed the safety of the reactors at the Takahama plant has raised questions about its appropriateness. The NRA has, for instance, allowed Kansai Electric Power to delay required quake resistance tests.

If it has scheduled its assessment work in a way to ensure that the July deadline will be met, the agency has got its priorities completely wrong.

A troubling situation is now emerging where decisions on whether to decommission specific reactors are effectively left to the utilities that operate them. As a result, these decisions are being based primarily on whether extending the life of the reactors will pay.

Operating many nuclear reactors in Japan, a small country with a large population that is highly prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters, inevitably entails a large risk.

This grim reality was the starting point for the reform of the nuclear power policy prompted by the Fukushima accident.

If the government sticks to the policy of maintaining nuclear power generation, the burden on society, including the costs of disposing of nuclear waste, could increase over the long term.

There is a clear global trend toward raising energy self-sufficiency through efforts to develop renewable energy sources.

A transition period may be necessary. But the only policy that makes sense is to shut down reactors steadily over a period of years.

The 40-year rule is one of the key principles of this policy. The government should remember this fact.
2016/04/25(月) 08:06 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Osprey aircraft prove valuable in earthquake relief operations
自衛隊熊本支援 オスプレイの活用は効果的だ

The Self-Defense Forces have mobilized more than 20,000 personnel to carry out rescue and relief operations for victims of the Kumamoto Earthquake.

The operations are difficult, and rescuers face dangers from secondary disasters such as aftershocks and landslides caused by heavy rains. But we know they will make their utmost efforts as they engage in the operations.

The Defense Ministry has set up a joint task force of the Air, Ground and Maritime Self-Defense Forces. The task force is based at the GSDF’s Western Army Headquarters in Kumamoto. About 120 aircraft, mainly helicopters, and 10 transport and other vessels have been dispatched to the task force.

The SDF personnel engage in such activities as searching for missing people, transporting the sick and injured and providing meals and water. SDF personnel are transporting food and daily necessities directly to evacuation centers and other locations to cover the lack of manpower at local governments.

The SDF is a self-sustaining organization, providing its own food, clothing and shelter. Due to lessons learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the SDF has enhanced telecommunication and other equipment and strengthened cooperation with local governments through disaster-response drills.

In the wake of the latest disaster, the SDF dispatched liaison personnel to relevant local governments, including the Kumamoto and Oita prefectural governments, and this action has facilitated the relief operation. To prevent duplication of efforts with local governments and police, proper sharing of tasks is crucial.

U.S. cooperation appreciated

We would like to acknowledge the unreserved cooperation of U.S. forces, which follows Operation Tomodachi in the wake of the 2011 Tohoku disaster.

Based on the Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation Guidelines — which were renewed in April last year — the SDF and the U.S. forces have set up a joint coordination center at the SDF’s task headquarters. The coordination center is now serving as the control tower of rescue operations.

The U.S. forces dispatched four Osprey transport aircraft belonging to Futenma Air Station. The Ospreys shuttled back and forth to carry drinking water, food, blankets, portable toilets and other supplies to Kumamoto Prefecture’s Minami-Aso, a village isolated due to the collapse of a national highway, playing a very important role in sustaining the daily lives of many evacuees.

Compared to conventional transport helicopters, the Osprey has great superiority in its maximum speed, payload and range. Also, it has been pointed out that the Osprey’s ability to operate in mountainous areas because of its ability to take off and land vertically makes it useful for disaster response.

The opposition parties have criticized the use of Ospreys in relief operations — an act totally incomprehensible. Saying there are concerns over the safety of the aircraft, former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi of the Democratic Party (Minshinto) said: “People who are taking refuge are worried. We thank the U.S. Forces for their cooperation, but we want them to stop.”

However, the risk of serious accidents involving the Osprey is lower than that of other U.S. military aircraft. It has a successful track record in relief operations after a typhoon in the Philippines and the recent earthquake in Nepal. If Ospreys had not been used for the latest earthquake, provision of supplies could have been stalled, creating greater anxiety for the disaster victims.

The Ground Self-Defense Force plans to introduce 17 Ospreys by fiscal 2018 to be based in Saga Airport. The conjecture that the use of Ospreys in the Kumamoto relief operation may have been an effort to smooth the way for the Saga deployment should be rejected.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 23, 2016)
2016/04/24(日) 08:46 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
As families wait, expedite efforts to retrieve remains of war dead
戦没者遺骨収集 遺族の思いを汲んで速やかに

Seventy years have passed since World War II ended, and the families of Japan’s war dead are growing older. Efforts to find and retrieve remains of those who died in countries far from home must be accelerated.

This month, a law to promote collection of the remains of the war dead came into force. The law’s main points are that it clearly positions retrieval of these remains as “the responsibility of the state,” and sets a nine-year period starting from this fiscal year as an intensive implemen-tation period for government efforts to find and repatriate remains.

The law requires the government to collect remains systematically and effectively. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry set aside ¥2.1 billion from this fiscal year’s budget to cover costs associated with this undertaking.

Returning remains to Japan has not progressed as well as hoped. Of 2.4 million Japanese who died on foreign battlefields or in Siberian internment camps after the war, the remains of 1.13 million still rest at sites overseas. In the past 10 years, the government has collected only 28,000 sets of remains.

Many people are dissatisfied with the ministry’s efforts, saying they are “not well planned.”

The law was passed as legislation was proposed by lawmakers cooperating across party lines. We applaud the fact that the law promotes attempts to make up for the inadequacy revealed in efforts to date. We hope putting the law into effect will add momentum to the collection of remains.

Bumps in the road

An especially important element of the law is the stipulation that greater efforts will be made to study documents stored at public records offices and other facilities overseas to collect information regarding where Japanese war dead are buried. It is clear that the conventional method of relying on the memories and other information provided by fellow soldiers has its limits.

Spelling out that the health, labor and welfare minister will work closely with the foreign minister and other ministers to ensure smooth progress in negotiations with governments of nations where remains lie is also an appropriate measure.

In 2011, it was revealed that remains collected in the Philippines by a nonprofit organization commissioned by the welfare ministry had been mixed with remains of people other than Japanese soldiers.

Reflecting on this, the new law says the government will designate a public corporation as a task force to handle collection of the remains. The new corporation is scheduled to be set up by people involved in groups for families of the war dead. The welfare ministry will establish an expert panel to check progress in these activities.

The government will soon settle on a basic plan encompassing these specific policies, and will launch it this fiscal year. The new structure must function effectively.

Many problems remain unaddressed. Because DNA examinations are essential for identifying remains, the government is working on a database of samples that can be tested. We hope a system in which these samples can be smoothly compared with DNA provided by relatives will quickly be put in place.

About 230,000 sets of remains still lie in China, where remains cannot be collected because anti-Japan sentiment has hampered this operation, and North Korea, a nation with which Japan does not have diplomatic relations. At present, there is no timeframe for when remains might be collected from these countries.

Families are ardently waiting for remains to be returned home. With their feelings in mind, we request that every possible effort be made to realize their wishes.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 22, 2016)
2016/04/23(土) 13:31 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 21
EDITORIAL: Kyushu quake exposes potential safety problem for Shinkansen
(社説)新幹線脱線 地震対策の総点検を

The powerful earthquake in Kyushu has exposed a potential weakness of Japan’s reputed Shinkansen technology by disrupting operations of the Kyushu Shinkansen Line.

An out-of-service bullet train carrying no passengers derailed about 1.3 kilometers south of JR Kumamoto Station following the earthquake that rocked southern Japan on April 14.
Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) has also found damaged Shinkansen facilities at about 150 locations, including cracks in elevated bridges and fallen parts of noise-blocking walls.

JR Kyushu on April 20 resumed operations on a section of the Shinkansen line between Shin-Minamata Station in Kumamoto Prefecture and Kagoshima-Chuo Station in Kagoshima Prefecture. But there is no telling when the company can restart operations on the remaining northern portion from Shin-Minamata Station to Hakata Station in Fukuoka.

This is the third derailment caused by an earthquake in the Shinkansen’s history of over half a century, following one in 2004 caused by the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake and one in 2011 triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The Kyushu Shinkansen train ran off the rails after the nighttime April 14 quake, which measured a maximum 7 on the Japanese intensity scale in Mashiki.

The violent shaking derailed all six cars of the train, which was running at a speed of around 80 kph. Fortunately, no passengers were on the train, and the driver was not injured.

If the train were carrying passengers at a higher speed, however, it could have been a major disaster.

Safety should be the absolute top priority for Shinkansen operations, which carry large number of passengers at very high speeds.

The derailment should prompt all JR companies offering Shinkansen services to make sweeping reviews of their bullet train systems and operations to secure greater safety.

Shinkansen lines are equipped with a system to detect preliminary tremors and stop the trains. However, as the Kumamoto accident shows, this system doesn’t work when earthquakes occur close to the lines.

Since this problem was exposed by the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake, JR companies have been taking steps to prevent quakes from causing derailments.

JR Kyushu has been working to install “derailment prevention guards” for 55 km of the Kyushu Shinkansen Line, or slightly over 10 percent of both the inbound and outbound bullet train lines.

The guard is designed to prevent the wheels from veering off the track by sandwiching them with the rail. The company has already installed the guards on 48 km of the planned sections.

The project covers sections in areas over active faults. But the accident site was not covered.

JR companies have made their own decisions on which sections of their Shinkansen lines should be protected by anti-derailment guards. Their decisions are based on estimates of the risks of severe quakes.

Central Japan Railway (JR Tokai) decided to install the guards for 596 km, or 60 percent, of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line. The company has already finished work for 360 km under the project.

On the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, operated by West Japan Railway Co. (JR West), the protection guards had been installed on 110 km as of the end of last year. JR West plans to extend the protected sections by another 110 km.

East Japan Railway Co. and Hokkaido Railway Co. are installing different types of anti-derailment systems on their Shinkansen lines.

The Kumamoto earthquake underscores the risk of a huge destructive force occurring at unexpected locations directly below urban areas.

The JR companies should seek opinions of experts to reassess the effectiveness of their current plans to protect their Shinkansen lines from such quakes.

Derailment prevention systems are costly, requiring hundreds of millions of yen per kilometer. In addition, work to install such systems can only be done around midnight when the service is off.
But the JR companies should try to figure out ways to implement their plans ahead of schedule.

The 2011 earthquake damaged poles supporting overhead electric lines beside the tracks.

This time, a chimney of a plant located along the Shinkansen line fell and blocked the rails.

Giant quakes always create unexpected problems. All we can do is glean all possible lessons from each big quake and make steady efforts to enhance safety.
2016/04/22(金) 08:57 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
April 17, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Discrimination destroys the heart
香山リカのココロの万華鏡 :差別は心を破壊する /東京

Rika Kayama (Mainichi)

Japan's ruling parties have submitted a bill to the current Diet session aiming to eliminate hate speech. On the Ministry of Justice's website, hate speech is defined as "discriminatory language and actions that reject the people of a particular ethnic group or nationality." Saying, "I don't like that person because they are mean," is simple badmouthing, but saying, "Get out of Japan, people of (such-and-such a country)" or, "The people of (such-and-such an ethnic group) are inferior" is hate speech.

Unfortunately, in recent years this kind of speech has been dispersed not only over the Internet, but on Japan's streets.

Hate speech is a problem around the world, but Japan has lagged in responding to the issue. The ruling parties are now rising up to legislate measures against hate speech, and I'm all for celebrating this.

However, I still have worries. Under the ruling parties' bill, hate speech is considered "improper, discriminatory language and behavior that encourage the removal of people born in countries or territories outside Japan who are living lawfully." Of course language and actions falling under this definition are unforgivable, but hate speech in Japan is not only directed at "people born in countries or territories outside Japan."

For example, as someone from Hokkaido, I immediately think of the Ainu. The Ainu continue to be discriminated against in both employment and marriage, and it is not uncommon for them to be forced into an economically difficult lifestyle. Furthermore, lately there has been an increase in heartless comments directed at the Ainu, particularly online. There are even people who deny their existence, saying, "The Ainu people don't exist anymore."

Under the ruling parties' bill, the Ainu, who are Japan-born Japanese nationals, are not considered targets of hate speech. The bill is to be debated in the House of Councillors from here on, but I hope it can somehow be expanded to include "discrimination against any ethnic group or race."

Regardless, how can people say things like "get out" or "get lost" to their fellow humans in the first place? Why are the completely natural ideas that "discrimination is bad" and "everyone has human rights" no longer being followed? It's a shame that we must make a law to stop this, but since hate speech is actually being used widely, legal restrictions are unavoidable.

I have also had a patient come to my consultation room who was emotionally hurt by seeing a rally involving hate speech. I want people to remember that discrimination destroys the heart.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
2016/04/21(木) 09:12 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Expedite freeze on oil production levels to stabilize crude prices
産油国会合不調 価格安定へ増産凍結を急げ

Oil ministers of major oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, at a meeting on Sunday put off reaching an agreement on freezing oil output levels.

In a bid to stem the decline in crude oil prices, they had aimed to freeze oil output at January levels. As Saudi Arabia was angered by the absence of Iran, which has indicated it would increase production, the ministers put off reaching an accord.

They are said to continue negotiating intermittently until the next meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries scheduled in June.

Slumping crude oil prices not only have an adverse impact on the economies of oil-producing countries but also are risk factors for oil-consuming countries and the rest of the world.

When combined, the crude oil output of the 18 countries that participated in the meeting accounts for half the world’s production. Major oil-producing countries must expedite their efforts in building a consensus on specific measures to stabilize oil prices, including freezing production levels.

Following the failure by oil-rich countries to agree to freeze production levels, crude oil futures, which had been traded in the lower half of the $40 range per barrel on the U.S. market, fell further to the upper half of the $30 range.

Fearing that further declines in crude prices may cause turmoil in financial markets, investors have taken a risk-avoidance stance, causing the yen to strengthen and stock prices to decline on the Tokyo market.

For Japan, an oil-consuming country, a decline in crude oil prices would usually have a positive effect, but at the current time, the situation is different. We must not underestimate the possible negative impact on the Japanese economy when the pace of its economic recovery has been sluggish.

Saudi-Iran rivalry

Oil-producing countries with tight fiscal situations may accelerate their moves to pull their oil money out of financial markets, causing stocks to plunge around the world. Such doubts and fears show signs of spreading. Strict observation of market trends in the days ahead is needed.

Behind the failure of oil-producing countries to reach an accord is a tug-of-war for hegemony in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia, which refers to itself as the leader of Sunni Muslim nations, and Iran, a major Shiite-dominated country.

Their confrontation has intensified as the two countries severed diplomatic ties in January following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Saudi Arabia is strongly resistant to any agreement that would favor its rival Iran. Meanwhile, Iran can hardly go along with freezing output levels as the country has just begun increasing its production following the lifting in January of economic sanctions imposed by the United States and European countries over Tehran’s nuclear development.

It will not be easy to untangle the complex factors that are blocking an accord on freezing oil output. The roles Russia and the United States play are important as they are major oil-producing countries outside the Middle East.

Due to falling crude prices, Russia is suffering from negative economic growth as the country has been hit by the ruble’s sharp decline and high inflation. Meanwhile, the United States has seen the profit margins of its shale oil wells fall. While taking heed of the impacts on their own economies, Russia and the United States should press Saudi Arabia and Iran to reach some kind of compromise.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 19, 2016)
2016/04/20(水) 09:03 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
To stabilize global economy, G-20 needs to strengthen coordination
G20と世界経済 政策協調の実効性が問われる

Each country is being tested in its efforts to strengthen coordination in implementing the crucial policies needed to stabilize the global economy.

The Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors reiterated during a recent meeting their determination to employ all policy tools, such as fiscal and monetary policies, as well as structural reforms.

Expressing concern over the prospects of the world economy, a communique said, “However, growth remains modest and uneven, and downside risks and uncertainties to the global outlook persist ...”

While the financial market is becoming calmer, the G-20 reaffirmed the importance of coordination without relaxing its vigilance. We believe this is appropriate.

However, the G-20 is not a monolith, as the situations in each country differ.

While the United States pointed out the effectiveness of an agile fiscal policy, Germany remained cautious on this stance.

Deflationary concerns are growing over the European economy. To prop it up, it may be effective for countries with fiscal leeway to start expanding their expenditures.

The communique also expressed the intention of avoiding competitive currency devaluation. “We reiterate that excess volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability,” it says. A similar phrase was used in the previous meeting.

Overcoming differences key

Japan deems that the legitimacy of a new dimension of monetary easing has been acknowledged, and its market intervention to deal with the rapid rise in the yen has won understanding.

Because of a possible slowdown in the pace of additional interest rate increases in the United States, there is concern that the yen may rise further in the future. At a press conference after the G-20 financial leaders meeting, Finance Minister Taro Aso stressed, “Taking necessary action against exchange rate movements is in line with the G-20 agreement.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, however, attempted to curb Japan’s moves to guide the yen’s value lower, saying, “Despite recent yen appreciation, foreign exchange markets remain orderly.” This is because Lew is wary that the yen’s slide against the dollar could lead to a drop in U.S. exports and worsening employment.

Unless developed countries strengthen their coordination by overcoming differences in their intentions, market stabilization will be far from certain.

The G-20 also hammered out a policy of strengthening measures to stop excessive tax saving. This is based on the fact that the Panama Papers, which exposed a situation in which money is being salted away in tax havens, has become a global issue.

One cannot ignore that companies and wealthy people possessing huge assets pay too little tax, although this is not a clearly illegal act. The G-20’s direction of building an international cooperation framework to close tax loopholes is appropriate.

It is hoped the G-20 will closely exchange information and strive to craft more effective rules to also deal swiftly with new methods of avoiding taxes.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 18, 2016)
2016/04/19(火) 10:04 英字新聞 記事URL COM(0)










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seesaa100 英字新聞s HPs 1





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

seesaa100 英字新聞s HPs 2

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
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07 果物王国タイランド
08 タイ人の誕生日
09 タイの電話代は高い
10 微笑みの国タイランド



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