cite from washington post

China Now World's Second-Largest Economy

Surpassing Japan, China's economy is second only to that of the United States, which it is projected to overtake sometime around 2025. The per-capita income, though, is still a paltry $3,800.

検索大手提携 グーグルの市場支配が心配だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 31, 2010)
Yahoo Japan-Google tie-up must be monitored
検索大手提携 グーグルの市場支配が心配だ(7月30日付・読売社説)

Internet search giant Google Inc. and Japan's top portal Yahoo Japan have agreed to form a search engine alliance and cooperate in online advertising and other services.

The partnership between Yahoo Japan and Google of the United States will mean the two companies will acquire a dominant 90 percent of the Internet search market in this country. This could reduce the options available to Internet users seeking a more diverse variety of online information. With this in mind, it is necessary to ensure that the alliance does not prevent the Internet market from growing further.

Ironically, while the Japanese portal, in which telecom operator SoftBank Corp. has a major stake, has joined hands with its rival Google, Yahoo Inc. of the United States is struggling to catch up with the world's largest search service provider through a tie-up with Microsoft Corp.

Yahoo Japan's move apparently reflects a decision that it has no choice but to adopt Google's cutting-edge technology if it wants to survive in the search market, the major battleground in the Internet business.

Under the agreement, Google will provide Yahoo Japan with a search engine and technology to display ads associated with the search results.

Will U.S. giant control market?

The search engine appends indexes to vast amounts of data on the Internet, with each piece of information ranked depending on keywords users type in, enabling them to select the data they need instantly. Use of search engines has taken firm root in our daily lives, as is evident by the fact that 50 million people use such Internet tools in this country every month.

Corporations strive to attract customers through the Internet by having their Web sites and ads displayed in the upper ranks of search results, so such information will be easily discerned by users.

However, the Google-Yahoo Japan alliance is problematic as the U.S. search giant could end up monopolizing the market in Japan.

Yahoo Japan has denied this, saying its services will include data and information distinct from that provided by the U.S. firm.
However, some people fear users may be unable to access the information they need because of Google's ability to control search results. Is there no reason to worry? There also is a concern that the Google-Yahoo Japan tie-up could lead to an increase in ad rates.

FTC sees no problem

The Fair Trade Commission has said the partnership between the two giants--both of which operate separately--does not pose a problem in relation to the Antimonopoly Law.

It should be noted, however, that the U.S. Justice Department put a stop to an attempt by Yahoo Inc. and Google to form a tie-up two years ago, saying their alliance would violate the U.S. antitrust law. In Europe, the regulatory authorities are reportedly keeping watch on Google to thwart any bid to control the market.

The FTC needs to keep a close eye on how the Google-Yahoo Japan alliance works out.

The Internet's remarkable development is the result of intense competition among start-up companies in providing a variety of services. This is also the case with Google, which has grown into a huge company providing excellent services through its innovative search engine technology.

Admittedly, access to online search engine services free of charge is great, but there is a danger of information being selected and ranked arbitrarily. Internet users should take this to heart.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 30, 2010)
(2010年7月30日01時27分 読売新聞)


防衛白書延期 禍根残す政府の事なかれ主義

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 30, 2010)
Defense report delay unnecessary
防衛白書延期 禍根残す政府の事なかれ主義(7月29日付・読売社説)

The government's decision to put off the release of this year's defense white paper is nothing but an attempt not to disturb the Japan-South Korea relationship. But a retreat to safe ground on this issue is an ill-thought-out move to turn a blind eye to future trouble that could arise between Tokyo and Seoul.

The administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has postponed giving cabinet approval to the "Defense of Japan 2010" white paper until September, despite an earlier plan to finalize the annual report Friday.

In explaining the government's decision, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku cited recent actions taken by the United Nations in connection with the sinking of a South Korean naval ship in March. He added the government wanted the white paper to address some issues that will be taken up in a report to be issued in August by a government panel tasked with reviewing the current National Defense Program Guidelines. Sengoku's reasoning is far from convincing.

In the first place, the government does not have to write about the developments cited by Sengoku in the white paper. His account does little to convince the public of the need to postpone the release of the report, more than 14,000 copies of which have already been printed at a cost of about 9.4 million yen.

The real reason behind the decision, according to government sources, is that Tokyo does not want to antagonize Seoul. Previous defense white papers described the disputed Takeshima islets as "an inherent part of our nation's territory."

The sources said the government did not want to stir up anti-Japanese sentiment among South Koreans as this year marks the centennial of the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty of 1910. On Aug. 29 that year, the treaty took effect, starting 35 years of Japanese rule over the Korean Peninsula.

Takeshima belongs to Japan

However, the government has every reason to incorporate into the white paper its assertion that Takeshima inherently belongs to Japan.

Admittedly, South Korea has protested the Japanese government's view every year, claiming sovereignty over the islet group. However, Seoul's reaction has not been so strong as to undermine bilateral relations. Some people fear anti-Japanese feelings could grow among South Koreans as Aug. 29 marks the 100th anniversary of the treaty. So far, however, no such hostility has surfaced.

We think the government should have adhered to its practice of publishing a defense white paper at this time of year.

Postponing the paper's release and then scrambling for an explanation as to why has proved of no avail. Doing so has only drawn public attention to the Takeshima controversy. We feel all this could adversely affect the Japan-South Korea relationship. The Kan administration made the wrong decision about the release of the report.

The Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry had insisted the defense report should be released as initially scheduled. Last week, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Seiji Maehara and Parliamentary Vice Defense Minister Akihisa Nagashima visited South Korea, where some officials reportedly asked them to reconsider the timing of the white paper's release. After being briefed by Maehara and Naga-shima, the prime minster and the chief cabinet secretary decided to delay the report's release, according to informed sources.

Not the DPJ's first blunder

This episode is yet another perfect example of an ill-advised initiative taken by political leaders--that is, members of the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration--in formulating key policies. Political confusion has erupted frequently since the DPJ came into power, as best exemplified by the turmoil created by the government's ham-handed handling of the dispute over the transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.

In December, the DPJ government decided not to include a reference to the Takeshima issue in a teacher's manual for high school geography lessons to be given under the education ministry's new course of study. Failure to say what Japan needs to say could be interpreted as a willingness by our government to make concessions on issues that could affect the foundation of the country.

Takeshima belongs to Japan, both historically and under international law. South Korea is an important neighbor, but our government should not easily buckle to Seoul when dealing with territorial issues.

It is entirely possible for Japan to maintain proper relations with other countries despite a conflict over territorial problems. The government should pursue such a diplomatic approach.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 29, 2010)
(2010年7月29日01時08分 読売新聞)


概算要求基準 予算編成を人気取りに使うな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 29, 2010)
Budget compilation isn't popularity contest
概算要求基準 予算編成を人気取りに使うな(7月28日付・読売社説)

The Cabinet has adopted guidelines for fiscal 2011 budgetary requests.

Last year, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Cabinet decided to drop similar guidelines, which led to the fiscal 2010 budget ballooning to become the biggest ever.

We think the government is right to revive the guidelines for budgetary requests, considering what happened last year. However, the government seems set to charge ahead with the free-spending handout policies the Democratic Party of Japan announced in last year's election manifesto. In stark contrast to planned spending cuts, the government plans to offer income compensation to farmers and partially abolish expressways tolls.

The government also plans to set aside funds to be funneled to growth fields, such as medical and nursing services as well as the environment. It also proposed that determining how to allocate this special budget would be conducted in full view of the public.

The government apparently plans to conduct something along the lines of the budget screening for wasteful spending, which smacked of political grandstanding.


Kan seeking boost?

The plan appears to be an attempt to restore the falling popularity of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. But we doubt whether cool-headed discussions can be carried out in an environment open to the public. The government must not use the budget compilation process as a tool to gain popularity.

The prime minister must sincerely review and retract funding scheduled to be used for the manifesto pledges, and secure revenue sources before the fiscal 2011 budget will be decided at the end of the year.

The outline for the budgetary request guidelines is in line with the fiscal management strategy compiled in June. The government will cap general-account spending, excluding debt-servicing costs, below 71 trillion yen and new government bond issuance below 44 trillion yen, just as in the fiscal 2010 budget.

Based on these figures, the Cabinet approved a natural increase of 1.3 trillion yen in social security costs. An expected rise in these costs from the graying population and declining birthrate will be unavoidable, but the child-rearing allowance should be reviewed from scratch.


Growth fields

The focus of the budget will be the special allocation for growth fields. The DPJ initially proposed to the government that 2 trillion yen be earmarked for the scheme. The two parties eventually settled on the ambiguous expression of "an amount far above 1 trillion yen."

Combined with the natural increase in social security costs, the government will need an additional 3 trillion yen or so. The government said this could be covered by a uniform 10 percent cut in policy-related spending for all ministries and agencies--including spending on education, defense and public works projects.

However, the government likely will struggle to secure the revenue it needs, given that ministries and agencies have bristled at the across-the-board 10 percent cut plan, and manifesto-related budgets are to be handled separately.

The government used more than 10 trillion yen in nontax revenue, including surplus funds in special accounts, dubbed "buried treasure," for the fiscal 2010 budget. However, the buried treasure chest is almost empty. If nontax revenue drastically declines, the government may be forced to issue more government bonds than it did in the current fiscal year, rather than capping the issuance at 44 trillion yen as planned.

But this would make a mockery of Japan's international pledge to put state finances back on a sound footing. Securing revenue sources will be essential to reducing the budget deficit.

The fiscal 2011 budget compilation process is spelling out in black and white that the government must urgently tackle tax system reform--including an increase in the consumption tax rate.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 28, 2010)
(2010年7月28日01時18分 読売新聞)


video clips of kai chan and seefaa chan

I’ve just posted family video clips of kai chan and seefaa chan.

english version

thai version

名古屋場所閉幕 「賜杯なき優勝」を繰り返すな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 28, 2010)
Learn from tourney lacking Emperor's Cup
名古屋場所閉幕 「賜杯なき優勝」を繰り返すな(7月27日付・読売社説)

The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, which was rocked by a scandal over illegal betting on professional baseball games, ended Sunday with a remarkable accomplishment by yokozuna Hakuho--he became the first wrestler since the end of World War II to claim three consecutive championships without losing a single match.

Since the Japan Sumo Association refrained from accepting any awards from outside organizations due to the gambling scandal, Hakuho received only the championship flag and a certificate at the award ceremony.

Hakuho also extended his winning streak to 47 bouts, exceeding legendary yokozuna Taiho's record of 45, but said with tears in his eyes that the Nagoya tournament was "very difficult."
"On behalf of [all] wrestlers, I wish I could've received just the Emperor's Cup," he added.

To prevent such situations in the future, the JSA must proceed with reforms and regain the trust of sumo fans as soon as possible.


More problems arise

Regrettably, however, a few cases suggesting close ties between sumo officials and gangsters were revealed during the Nagoya tourney. One of them involves stablemaster Matsugane and is too serious to overlook.

A former ozeki who wrestled under the name Wakashimazu, Matsugane has used a building rented from the president of a gang-related real estate agency as lodgings for his wrestlers during spring tournaments in Osaka. He has done so since he started his own stable 20 years ago.

The company president in question was arrested in 2008 over land sharking, the practice of forcing people to sell their residences so a land shark can resell consolidated plots of land for large development projects. Despite knowing this, however, Matsugane continued to rent the building.
"I thought he was a businessman," Matsugane said.

Nevertheless, he should have at least stopped using the building when the president was arrested. This is a scandal caused by insufficient risk management.

Securing lodgings for wrestlers is certainly an important issue for a stable, and stablemasters badly need offers of help. But sumo officials must not forget that this is one way gangsters approach them.

Gangs use their close ties with the sumo world to flaunt their influence. We strongly feel that gangs are spreading their tentacles into everything.


Rules not enough

Also, a serious problem has surfaced over special ringside seats at sumo tournaments, the kind primarily allocated to financial supporters of the JSA. It was discovered that a gang boss obtained a ticket for a ringside seat via a chain of people that included an acquaintance of a member of the special panel investigating the gambling scandal.

Since this could erode public trust in the investigation panel, the JSA was quite right to dismiss that member.

An independent panel of the JSA tasked with improving the association's governance and implementing organizational reforms is planning to compile measures to eliminate gangsters' influence, including a provision that would penalize sumo wrestlers and officials severely if they associate with gangsters.

Of course, strict rules are necessary. But, it is more important that sumo wrestlers and stablemasters learn lessons from the commotion during the Nagoya tournament and strengthen their determination to sever their ties with gangsters.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2010)
(2010年7月27日01時17分 読売新聞)


アフガン会議 支援とともに監視が必要だ


srachai from khonkaen, thailad

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 25, 2010)
Aid to Afghanistan must be accounted for
アフガン会議 支援とともに監視が必要だ(7月24日付・読売社説)

For the past nine years, the international community has continued to provide reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan to keep the country from becoming a nest of terrorists again.

The administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai must respond to this steady flow of support with action.

At an international donor conference recently held in Kabul, Karzai declared the Afghan government would take responsibility for its own security, for which it currently relies largely on foreign troops, across the country by the end of 2014. Countries participating in the conference welcomed the initiative.

Karzai's declaration likely matched the intentions of Western leaders who are eager to draw up an exit strategy as soon as possible amid growing opposition at home to the continued deployment of their troops in Afghanistan.

Given the status quo, however, we must say that such a scenario is unlikely to occur.


Is the end really in sight?

An increase of U.S. troops by 30,000 is expected to be completed next month, bringing the total number of foreign troops stationed in Afghanistan to 150,000. But their operations to hunt down members of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban, which has sheltered members of the international terrorist organization Al-Qaida, have been unable to make progress in the face of the ongoing insurgency. Meanwhile, the number of casualties among the international troops continues to rise.

The recent dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after he criticized the U.S. government's handling of Afghanistan is probably not unrelated to the deadlock seen in that nation.

To transfer security responsibility, it is essential to train Afghan security forces. The Afghan government plans to increase the number of personnel in the military and police to more than 300,000 by October next year. But the question is the quality of the security forces. Afghan security forces are not only ill equipped, they are also known for a low literacy rate and a lack of discipline.

To improve the security situation, job creation projects and the establishment of infrastructure related to daily life also must proceed. There are too many issues that must be resolved before the Afghan government can be entrusted with maintaining security.


Where does the money go?

Since 2002, more than 35 billion dollars (about 3 trillion yen) in aid money has been poured into Afghanistan. Most of the funds were provided directly to international nongovernmental organizations and other entities engaged in reconstruction work.

An agreement was made at the conference that up to half the aid money would be channeled through the Afghan government in two years. Donor nations accepted Karzai's request that his government be given discretion to more effectively use aid money.

But we still frequently hear about corruption and irregularities involving senior officials of the Afghan government. It is unacceptable for aid funds to be embezzled or misappropriated.

Karzai has expressed an intention to strengthen corruption countermeasures, such as the creation of a special tribunal to try those accused of corruption. We hope to see these measures producing results as soon as possible.

Japan pledged to provide 5 billion dollars in aid during the five years from 2009. Donor nations, including Japan, need to strictly check whether aid money is properly used.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 24, 2010)
(2010年7月24日01時07分 読売新聞)


入安居(いりあんご)= カオパンサー


入安居(いりあんご)= カオパンサー

入安居はタイ語ではカオ パンサーと呼ばれている。
入安居の発祥の地はお釈迦さま(ゴータマ シッタルータ)の生れたインドで仏僧は雨季の間約3ヶ月間、外出を控え、お寺にこもり修行に専念する。
あと3ヶ月したら、今度は出安居(であんご:オーク パンサー)の行事があり、そのあとには、灯篭流し(ローイ クラトーン)がやってくる。
タイ国の国王のお名前はプミポーン アドンヤデートといわれる。


臨時国会 強引な運営はもう通用しない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 24, 2010)
No room for arrogance in Diet affairs
臨時国会 強引な運営はもう通用しない(7月23日付・読売社説)

The ruling and opposition parties have agreed to open Budget Committee meetings in both Diet chambers during an extraordinary session to be convened at the end of this month.

It is unusual for the legislature to call Budget Committee sessions so soon after a House of Councillors election. However, the ruling camp has bowed to strong demands from the opposition bloc to hold such discussions.

These meetings should have been convened during the last ordinary Diet session--namely, before the July 11 upper house election. This would have enabled Prime Minister Naoto Kan to wage a battle of words with the opposition parties for the first time since he took office.

However, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan rejected opposition demands for Budget Committee sessions, and refused to extend the last Diet session. The DPJ's move apparently reflected its belief that the party would fare better in the election if the poll took place while the Cabinet was buoyed by high popular support generated by Kan's replacement of his unpopular predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama.

The DPJ also refused to open a plenary session of the upper chamber, turning a deaf ear, in effect, to a no-confidence motion submitted against upper house President Satsuki Eda by the opposition camp. The DPJ feared the motion would be narrowly adopted.

The DPJ's high-handed approach to Diet management was a ploy repeatedly used by the party's preceding top brass led by former party Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa and others.


Move came too late

The DPJ's concession to opposition demands for Budget Committee meetings comes too late. The ruling party should seriously reflect on its conduct in steering Diet sessions. The DPJ must end its overbearing attitude toward the opposition bloc and, instead, seek a dialogue with the rival camp.

A spate of politics-and-money scandals involving some DPJ members--most notably Ozawa--remain unresolved. During its days in power, the Liberal Democratic Party accepted opposition demands for scandal-tainted party members, including former prime ministers, to testify in the Diet about their problems. Given this, the DPJ has no reason to keep rejecting demands for its scandal-hit lawmakers and others to be summoned before the legislature.

The DPJ forcibly arranged for a plenary session of the House of Representatives to vote on a postal reform bill after only six hours of discussions on the legislation at a lower house committee. The bill was eventually scrapped in the last Diet session. Nevertheless, the DPJ should stop slighting Diet debates.

The DPJ's defeat in the July 11 election created a divided Diet. This has made it difficult for the DPJ to bulldoze bills through the Diet.

These circumstances have apparently encouraged the DPJ to maintain a low profile in dealing with the opposition camp. What is truly required of the DPJ, however, is to end its arrogant Diet management, an approach resulting from its numerical strength in the lower house.


Opposition must play ball

Meanwhile, we hope the opposition parties will behave sensibly. While an opposition party, the DPJ repeatedly rejected government proposals on personnel affairs at important institutions subject to Diet approval. In those days, the LDP-New Komeito coalition had an overwhelming majority in the lower house, while the upper chamber was controlled by the opposition camp.

The LDP and other opposition parties should not act out of spiteful retaliation toward the DPJ under the circumstances.

The upper house will elect its new president and vice president at the outset of the forthcoming extraordinary Diet session.

The opposition camp has insisted Eda not be reelected as upper house president, saying he failed to steer the chamber fairly.

However, the opposition parties' bid to choose a new upper house president from their camp is little more than an abuse of their numerical strength for deciding Diet matters. This would run counter to the long-running practice of selecting the upper house president from the predominant party in the chamber--currently the DPJ--and choosing the vice president from the second-largest party in the house.

The election of the upper house president and vice president will be the first test of whether the Diet can become a citadel of cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties. We hope both sides will properly discuss the selection of the upper chamber's president and vice president.

The upcoming Budget Committee sessions are expected to focus on such issues as the politics-and-money scandals and Kan's recent remarks about a possible increase in the consumption tax rate. We hope lawmakers will engage in lively verbal battles during the all-too-brief extraordinary session.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 23, 2010)
(2010年7月23日01時55分 読売新聞)




photo by srachai from OCNフォトフレンド

就職留年者急増 職業意識を高め再挑戦しよう

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 23, 2010)
Whet students' appetite for working life
就職留年者急増 職業意識を高め再挑戦しよう(7月22日付・読売社説)

An estimated 79,000 university seniors who failed to find jobs chose to repeat a year despite having reached the end of their studies this spring, according to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

The figure equates to one in every seven prospective graduates opting to stay on at school. It also is disturbing to see that about 31,000 students graduated this spring despite failing to secure jobs. All this illustrates the grim employment situation as a result of the corporate sector's severe business environment.

An important factor behind the large number of students choosing to repeat a year because of their unsuccessful hunt for a job is the system by which corporations hire fresh graduates en masse. The system mainly selects successful job applicants from seniors expected to graduate in March. This encourages students to stay on at school if they fail to find work, and look for jobs as fresh graduates, instead of allowing themselves to be treated as graduates from an earlier school year.


Revamp recruitment policy

According to a survey by the Japan Business Federation, about 59 percent of corporations polled said they had no plan to accept graduates from an earlier year as job applicants.

We believe these businesses should give students as many chances as possible to find work by, for example, treating past graduates the same as new graduates for a certain period and hiring graduates as employees throughout the year. The corporate sector should reconsider its recruitment method to offer more jobs.

It is no less important to educate students about the significance of working. Questions can be raised about whether high schools, colleges and universities have properly taught students what it means to work in society. Many students do not choose a career path before graduating from high school, preferring to go to university before looking for a job.

Obviously, many students lack basic scholastic ability. Many corporations are skeptical of the university education system's ability to churn out potentially talented employees.

In February, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry revised its university establishment standards, requiring all universities from the next academic year to raise their students' job consciousness.

Students need more than just cosmetic skills such as the ability to give a polished performance at a job interview. It is essential to encourage students to set postgraduation targets while acquiring skills and moral values indispensable for occupations they hope to take up.


Onus also on students

It is also necessary for academic and business circles to maintain a dialogue and agree on what abilities and aptitudes should be required of students.

Students also need to think about their own attitude toward job hunting.

Many may well be inclined toward job offers at large corporations, which are more likely to enable them to live a stable life. However, switching jobs and other means can help improve one's career. Doors could open by using experiences gained through jobs that students believe best suit their skills and ambitions.

Progress in economic globalization is certain to increase the number of corporations that will employ foreign students studying in this country. This means Japanese students likely will face even greater competition for jobs.

We hope students who have chosen to repeat a year after failing to find work will spend the additional year wisely by, for instance, honing their foreign language and other skills.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 22, 2010)
(2010年7月22日01時44分 読売新聞)







金元工作員来日 政府は「北」に拉致協議を促せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 22, 2010)
Nudge North Korea on abduction talks
金元工作員来日 政府は「北」に拉致協議を促せ(7月21日付・読売社説)

Kim Hyon Hui, a former North Korean agent responsible for the fatal 1987 bombing of a Korean Air passenger jet, has arrived in Japan. During her stay through Friday, Kim is scheduled to meet the families of several Japanese abducted decades ago by North Korean agents.

The Japanese government asked the South Korean government to allow Kim--who now lives in the South--to visit Japan to "generate resentment toward the abductions and prick public awareness of the issue." The visit comes against the backdrop of South Korean President Lee Myung Bak's hard-line stance against North Korea.

As part of her special spy training, Kim received lessons she said were "designed to transform her into a perfect Japanese" between 1981 and 1983 in North Korea. Kim's instructor was Yaeko Taguchi, who was abducted from Tokyo in 1978.

During questioning by Japanese and South Korean authorities, and in her autobiography, Kim gave detailed accounts on the lead-up to and execution of the KAL bombing. In March last year, she met with Taguchi's relatives in Busan, South Korea.


Little room for optimism

Kim later told Japanese officials she had met with Megumi Yokota, a Japanese abducted by Pyongyang's agents from Niigata in 1977.
We do not hold much hope that Kim will provide any new information that might shed light on the fate of the abductees.

Nevertheless, we hope Kim will sincerely engage with abductees' family members, who are desperate for any crumb of information about how their loved ones lived after being snatched away.

The South Korean government has concluded a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine sank a South Korean Navy ship in March. This incident encapsulates just how North Korea's nature as a terrorist state has not changed one jot.

North Korea has promised it would reinvestigate the fate of Japanese abductees that Tokyo believes could still be alive. However, Pyongyang has made no tangible progress on the reinvestigation, so bilateral negotiations on the issue have been locked in a stalemate for nearly two years.

Kim's visit to Japan is partly intended to demonstrate that the Democratic Party of Japan-led government is seriously tackling the abduction issue. However, we believe it is even more important to bring to light the entire picture of the abductions by North Korean agents and step up pressure on Pyongyang to return the abductees to Japan.


Political decision

Kim's visit has not been without its problems.

Firstly, Kim is a former death row inmate. She was sentenced to death in South Korea in 1989 for her role in the airliner bombing, but was freed by a presidential pardon in 1990.

From Japan's perspective, Kim is a suspect in a case involving a forged official document. She allegedly traveled with a fake Japanese passport under the name of Mayumi Hachiya in the airliner bombing.

The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law bars foreign nationals who have been sentenced to one year or more in jail from entering Japan, with political prisoners as exceptions.

Justice Minister Keiko Chiba issued a special permit for Kim to enter Japan in line with a special provision under the immigration law.

Japanese police would normally be expected to question Kim as a suspect, but they plan to forgo questioning her this time.

The government may have made a political decision it believes best serves the national interest. But we think the government should give the public a detailed explanation of the reasoning behind its decision.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 21, 2010)
(2010年7月21日01時36分 読売新聞)




srachai from khonkaen, thailand

cite from Mainichi Jp


cite from wikipedia

1987年11月29日 - 平壌の順安飛行場から、モスクワ・オーストリア・ベオグラードを経てバグダッドに到着し、ここからKAL858号機に乗り込んだ。アブダビでパナソニックのAM/FMラジオRF-082型(実際にラジオとして動作する)に偽装した時限爆弾と、酒瓶に詰めた液体爆弾を青のビニール製ショッピングバッグに詰め、座席 (7B、7C) の上の棚に置いたまま二人は飛行機を降り、バーレーンに向かう。




2010/07/20--The Asahi Shimbun, July 19
EDITORIAL: Closer Japan-China ties.

Chinese companies are increasingly eyeing mergers and acquisitions (M&As) with Japanese companies. High-end clothing maker Renown Inc. becoming an affiliate of a large Chinese textiles company is but one example. These moves symbolize the coming of an era of increased business management fusion between China and Japan.

Renown, which is now restructuring its management, will hold an extraordinary shareholders' meeting to decide whether to accept a 40-percent injection of capital investment from Shandong Ruyi Science and Technology Group.

Renown has been suffering under the onslaught of new competition, unable to move out of its old business model that relied on department store sales. Renown has famous brand products and the company has strong management skills.

Shangdon Ruyi, on the other hand, is strong in high-end wool textiles, courtesy of its unique spinning technology. But it is still weak in terms of merchandising and brand-development strategies.

The heads of the two companies said they will try to nurture a cooperative relationship "like brothers" and become a shining example of a new kind of M&A between Japan and China, where each company complements the other. This will help to advance both the development of the Chinese market and business innovation in Japan.

Previously, it was a one-way street with Japanese companies buying Chinese businesses. The collapse of Lehman Brothers in fall 2008 changed the tide. Chinese enterprises, which continue to grow, have begun buying Japanese companies even though they have particular skills and business know-how. More management fusion between Japan and China via M&As should occur.

Some people fear there will be an outflow of Japanese technology. But if this is in a specific area that Japan simply cannot let go, then there are ways to prevent a skills drain, with the cooperation of business partners and, if necessary, government support.

Rather, in order to open up a path whereby Japanese companies can better utilize their accumulated skills and know-how, perhaps they should approach M&A proposals more aggressively.

To help blend into the Chinese market, Japanese companies should consider how to get more people in China to understand Japanese business practices. M&As are one way of removing national barriers within management. It would be the quickest way to enhance Chinese appreciation of Japanese technology and tastes and demonstrate that these qualities will work to increase China's prosperity.

In the case of golf club maker Honma Golf Co., which was absorbed by a conglomerate of Chinese retailers, it was the Chinese who admired Honma's high-grade artisan club sets, which cost millions of yen. Now, they are planning to market the clubs to China's new rich class.

The winds of fusion are bringing change to Japanese enterprises, too. The business style of Japanese electronics retailer Laox Co. changed markedly during the past year or so after Suning Appliance Co. of Nanjing took over.  「融合」は日本での事業にも新風を吹き込む。家電量販店ラオックスの経営は、南京市の蘇寧電器集団の傘下に入ったこの1年余で激変した。

Its flagship shop in Akihabara, Tokyo, is at the forefront of international retail. Of the 116 sales clerks, 60 percent are not Japanese, but Chinese, Russian, Brazilian and so on. Staff can handle inquiries in 23 languages. This turned the tide, which had been constantly on the decline.

Japanese companies that have entered into business ventures in China are also appointing more Chinese to top executive positions, so fusion is progressing.

In the Chinese classic "Yi Jing," there is a passage that goes as follows: "When hard-pressed, things will change; when things change, a path will open; when a path opens, it will last." Thus, in order to adapt to change and open up a vision for the future, it is important to pursue the path of fusion that utilizes each other's strong points.





その後のことだが、自民党のある代議士(名前をだすと問題かな)が、フィリピンでご法度の蝶々探しに大使館員が参加。運悪く その中の一人が高圧電線にふれて死亡。それをアレンジした大使館員もその後自殺。という不幸な出来事があったが、住職はその亡くなられた方のお嬢様の面倒を見られている。今度日本の大学からフィリピンの大学に英語教育のために転向させるとのこと住職のお心には頭が下がります。







『 日向博美の長女です。ちっちゃなシジミチョウを好むということで、それを捕まえに父は行き、そして、鳩山氏一行がチョウの隠れる草むらをパタパタさせていたのをみて、俺に任せな!って感じで父は竿を振り上げていたそうです。軽いからいつも使う竿はカーボンな父でした。父が病院へ運ばれたときには直ぐにホテルに帰る。そして次の日以降も蝶取り。こんな人の為にクリスマスを、命を犠牲にした父が一番憎たらしいです。 』

財政健全化 来年度予算の編成が試金石だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 20, 2010)
Drawing up next year's budget a touchstone
財政健全化 来年度予算の編成が試金石だ(7月19日付・読売社説)

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan faces difficulty managing policy due to his party's debilitating defeat in the House of Councillors election. Whatever the effects of the poll, the fact that Japan faces a serious fiscal crisis remains unchanged.

The fiscal 2011 budget, compilation of which will start soon, must be the first step Kan takes toward putting state finances back on sound footing.

Of the 92 trillion yen in spending in the fiscal 2010 budget, a mere 37 trillion yen can be covered by tax revenue. After including nontax revenue, the 44 trillion yen shortfall must be made up for by issuing government bonds.

Moreover, the combined long-term debt of the central and local governments adds up to a staggering 862 trillion yen, the worst among industrialized nations.

Because of the concern that Japan will follow Greece on a path of fiscal meltdown, Kan called for raising the consumption tax rate and restraining government spending.


Spending-cut framework

The government has already established a framework for curbing spending.

In the fiscal management strategy approved by the Cabinet last month, the government decided to cap expenditures, which consist of general-account spending and tax grants allocated to local governments, at 71 trillion yen, the figure for fiscal 2010, in the fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2013 budgets. Government bond issuance was set at no more than 44 trillion yen for fiscal 2011.

However, the proposed plan to cut government spending is insufficient because what was used as a reference, the fiscal 2010 budget, was a typical example of a bloated budget.

The government must seriously reexamine the handout policies based on the Democratic Party of Japan's manifesto for last summer's House of Representatives election.

The budget for the current fiscal year includes a large portion of allocations to cover child-rearing allowances, for income compensation for farming households, and to make some expressway portions toll-free.

In its campaign platform for the recent upper house poll, the DPJ pledged to maintain and expand these handout policies, raising the fear that government spending will increase further. Given the dire fiscal situation, the government cannot afford to continue such spending policies.

With this in mind, a ceiling on budgetary requests made by government ministries and agencies becomes indispensable.


Secure revenue sources first

In compiling the current fiscal budget, the administration of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama eliminated the ceiling established by the previous government formed by the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito. This led to government offices making unlimited budgetary requests and eventually to bloated government spending.

Reflecting on this, the Kan Cabinet was scheduled to reinstate the ceiling by approving it at a Cabinet meeting Friday.

However, discussions on the reinstatement of the ceiling have not made any headway because some Cabinet ministers raised objections. Given the deadlock, it looks less likely that the Kan administration will be able to halt the increase in government spending.

The government's fiscal management strategy incorporates the principle that a revenue source must be secured before a new policy is implemented. Cabinet ministers must comply with this principle when making budgetary requests for fiscal 2011.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 19, 2010)
(2010年7月19日01時32分 読売新聞)




大相撲改革 世間の常識が通用する協会に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 19, 2010)
Sumo body must shed closed culture
大相撲改革 世間の常識が通用する協会に(7月18日付・読売社説)

Stamping out evil practices that have taken deep root in the Japan Sumo Association is the only way to rebuild the national sport, which has lost public trust due to illegal gambling by sumo wrestlers and officials on pro baseball.

We hope the "independent committee concerning improvement of governance," which was inaugurated with 11 third-party members to reform the JSA, will present a road map toward the sumo body's rebirth that can fully satisfy sumo fans.

The committee, which held its first meeting Friday, is mostly discussing ways to eliminate the involvement of organized crime syndicates, prevent the recurrence of scandals and strengthen the JSA's crisis management methods, before the panel comes up with a reform proposal. These are unavoidable and important tasks for drastically overhauling the JSA.

As the committee's name suggests, there is no doubt that the JSA, which is run by former sumo wrestlers, is remarkably incapable of governing its own affairs.


JSA's faulty logic at issue

The thinking that "only people in the sumo world can understand sumo" has led to the JSA's closed culture. Logic that does not hold water in the world at large has put a brake on the body's own reform efforts. This is the source of the saying, "Common sense in the sumo world equals thoughtlessness in the wider world."

Some stablemasters opposed the appointment of Hiroyoshi Murayama, a former chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, to the post of acting chairman, despite the fact that the gambling scandal led to unprecedented consequences such as the dismissal of the ozeki wrestler Kotomitsuki.

What first must be eliminated is this inward-looking logic.

Two of the current JSA directors who decide important matters for the association come from outside sumo. The JSA finally opened its doors to the outside world after the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry requested the body appoint outsiders to its board following the 2007 case in which a teenage sumo wrestler was fatally abused by fellow wrestlers in the Tokitsukaze stable.


Reform requires outside push

However, such efforts to date have been far from satisfactory. To steadily move forward with reform at the JSA, it is necessary to increase the number of directors from outside sumo. We hope the independent committee will compile a sweeping proposal that includes increasing the number of outside JSA directors to a majority.

The gambling scandal will not be brought to a close just because stablemasters and sumo wrestlers stopped gambling. It is said that organized crime syndicates run the gambling on pro baseball games. It is crucial and paramount that the sumo world completely cut its ties with mobsters.

It is essential to apply stern punishment, up to and including dismissal, to stablemasters and sumo wrestlers who had relationships with organized crime syndicates.

The Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament--which is being held under the extraordinary circumstances of NHK declining to broadcast live coverage of the tourney and six wrestlers in the top makuuchi division having been suspended--has entered its middle phase.

Vacant seats are noticeable at the 15-day tourney and prize money has fallen sharply. These factors indicate the depth of the wound suffered by the JSA as a result of the recent gambling scandal.

The JSA never will be able to restore the public trust it has lost unless the body is reborn as an open organization and resolutely carries out bold reforms.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 18, 2010)
(2010年7月18日01時06分 読売新聞)


豪雨被害 的確な情報で早めの避難を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 18, 2010)
In 'guerrilla rain' fight, the key weapon is data
豪雨被害 的確な情報で早めの避難を(7月17日付・読売社説)

Torrential rains caused by a seasonal rain front have brought death and destruction to the nation, mainly in western Japan.

A number of people have been killed or are missing. The victims were crushed in their homes by mudslides or swept away by rain-swollen rivers.

In the past month, there have been over 350 reported landslides. In Matsue, a mudslide on the slope behind a private house caused two huge rocks, each measuring four meters in diameter, to strike the building, killing two residents. In Yaotsucho, Gifu Prefecture, a mudslide crushed a private house, killing three residents.



Landslides must be studied

In recent years, experts have attributed large-scale mudslides to the so-called deep-seated landslide mechanism. Heavy rain soaks into cracks in the bedrock, which has been weakened over time, and when the bedrock collapses downhill, it takes a large volume of upper soil with it.

Unlike shallow landslides, which can be prevented to a certain degree through good forestry practices, there are no known measures to prevent the occurrence of deep-seated landslides. We consider it necessary to urgently study what steps could be taken.

Meanwhile, the phenomenon of so-called guerrilla rain--sudden downpours into relatively narrow zones, mainly in urban areas--has attracted attention in recent years. Such rain is caused mainly by cumulonimbus clouds that form in a clash of warm and cold air. But some experts think the urban heat island phenomenon and global warming trends have a causal relationship to the sudden downpours.

Guerrilla rain is frightening in that it is difficult to predict and the damage it causes occurs all at once.

In the summer of 2008, five workers died in Tokyo after being washed away by a surge in sewer water while working underground. Also that summer, a swollen river killed five people, including primary school children, in Kobe.

On July 5 this year, an intense rainfall of 107 millimeters per hour was recorded in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward.

To prevent damage from heavy rain, it is essential to have highly accurate weather forecasts and to issue appropriate warnings. Such information must be adequately conveyed by local governments to residents in affected areas. It is imperative that those residents be advised to evacuate if necessary as soon as possible.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has started introducing advanced radar systems capable of accurately measuring the strength of precipitation mainly in major cities. Such radar can also be used to predict situations in wide areas affected by heavy rain. There also are private-sector services offering guerrilla rain forecasts on mobile phone sites.

Since late May, the Meteorological Agency has issued warnings and advisories on heavy rain and floods in a much more detailed manner as it increased the number of forecasting areas from 375 to 1,777 to correspond to each municipality.


Stay alert to stay safe

We urge each municipal government to effectively use such information to issue advisories and instructions for evacuations of local residents. It also is important that local governments regularly conduct disaster drills and establish systems to provide local residents with necessary information via community wireless services and other means in the event of an emergency.

As the rainy season winds down across the nation, summer vacations will soon start for schoolchildren. We are entering a holiday season during which people flock to beaches, mountains and rivers. People must not forget to take precautions against rain and flood disasters wherever they go.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 17, 2010)
(2010年7月17日01時49分 読売新聞)


第1検察審議決 小沢氏不起訴にまた疑問符

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 17, 2010)
Prosecutors should keep Ozawa in sights
第1検察審議決 小沢氏不起訴にまた疑問符(7月16日付・読売社説)

A panel for the inquest of prosecution has again pointed out shortcomings in the investigations into former Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa over a scandal involving his political funds management organization. Prosecutors must take this situation gravely.

Public attention is focused on whether the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution will recommend for the second time that Ozawa should be indicted. The Tokyo No. 1 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution made a separate conclusion Thursday that it was "unjust" for prosecutors not to have indicted Ozawa over the funds body's alleged falsification of its 2007 political funds report.

Three of Ozawa's former secretaries, including House of Representatives member Tomohiro Ishikawa, have been indicted on suspicion of making false entries into political funds reports for 2004, 2005 and 2007 to hide a shady transfer of 400 million yen the funds management body, Rikuzan-kai, used for the purchase of a plot of land in Tokyo.


Waiting for 2nd conclusion

However, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office decided not to indict Ozawa due to lack of evidence. Because civilians dissatisfied with this decision filed for a review of the case, the No. 5 panel has been reexamining whether the prosecutors' decision was appropriate regarding the false entries for 2004 and 2005, while the No. 1 panel did likewise for the 2007 report.

The No. 5 committee in late April concluded Ozawa "merits indictment." This panel is now reviewing the case for the second time after the prosecutors office again said it would not indict Ozawa.
If the No. 5 panel again concludes Ozawa should be indicted, the ruling party bigwig will face mandatory indictment.

A DPJ presidential election is scheduled for September. As such, the timing of the No. 5 panel's second conclusion has become a focus of mounting concern, especially among politicians with a stake in the race and its outcome.

If prosecutors decide not to indict Ozawa after their investigation despite the No. 1 committee's "unjust" decision, there will be no second review of the case by the panel.

Nevertheless, the panel flatly stated that Ozawa's explanation to the prosecutors--that he left the entry of data into the reports entirely to his secretaries--was "unnatural" and demanded prosecutors conduct a more exhaustive investigation.

Regarding false entries in the political funds reports, the panel concluded that confessions by Ishikawa and another former secretary--they claim they told Ozawa they would not enter the 400 million yen transaction into the reports and received Ozawa's approval for the omission--are credible. The panel said they could not escape the belief that the prosecutors' questioning of Ozawa "did not go far enough."


Unusual demands

The panel also demanded the prosecutors ask Ozawa and the former secretaries to submit pocketbooks and notes in which they recorded their activities and check them against the facts. It is quite unusual for members of the panel, who are chosen from the public, to make such demands on investigation methods to prosecutors.

The panel has implicitly warned the prosecutors not to simply go through the motions by deciding the outcome before even starting their investigation. We urge the prosecutors to leave no stone unturned in their investigation.

Ozawa appeared emboldened by the prosecutors' decision not to indict him and has refused to give any explanation about the scandal at the Diet. The possibility that Ozawa might take the stand at the House of Representatives Deliberative Council on Political Ethics has been left up in the air.

The Tokyo No. 1 panel's conclusion was a resounding "no" to Ozawa's refusal to clear up this matter. We again urge Ozawa to fulfill his responsibility to clearly explain to the public his involvement--if any--in the alleged wrongdoing.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 16, 2010)
(2010年7月16日01時17分 読売新聞)


振興銀首脳逮捕 “改革派”の仮面がはがれた

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 16, 2010)
Arrest of ex-bank head debunks reformist mask
振興銀首脳逮捕 “改革派”の仮面がはがれた(7月15日付・読売社説)

Former Incubator Bank of Japan Chairman Takeshi Kimura, incumbent President Tatsuya Nishino and three other former and current executives have been arrested on suspicion of violating the Banking Law by obstructing an audit of the Financial Services Agency.

As financial inspections by the agency loomed last year, the then executives deleted--on Kimura's orders--280 e-mails likely to have been of interest to the inspectors.

Suspicions of other shady behavior by the bank have since emerged. We hope the Metropolitan Police Department uncovers the whole truth of the case through an exhaustive investigation.

Kimura, who started his business career as a Bank of Japan official, served as a brain truster of Heizo Takenaka, who was state minister in charge of economic, fiscal and financial policy in Junichiro Koizumi's administration. Later, Kimura established the Incubator Bank of Japan with like-minded comrades at the Junior Chamber International Tokyo. The bank's motto was to support small and midsize enterprises.

Against the backdrop of structural reform pushed by Koizumi's administration, market fundamentalism and the "profit-comes-first" principle based on the law-of-the-jungle philosophy had many strong followers among young entrepreneurs.

This excessive worship of money was exemplified by the window-dressing case that battered Livedoor Co., including its former president, Takafumi Horie, and insider trading committed by the so-called Murakami Fund, whose president was Yoshiaki Murakami.


Unjustifiable actions

During this period, Kimura prided himself as being a standard-bearer of financial reform. In the end, however, he betrayed himself--just like Horie and Murakami did.

Despite once being deeply involved in financial administration, Kimura now is a suspect in a criminal case. His alleged actions cannot be justified.

Writer Go Egami, who was one of the bank's outside directors, has been appointed as the bank's new president.

Egami has written about his days as a banker at the defunct Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank. In one memorable episode, he pressed the Dai-Ichi Kangyo management to terminate its ties with sokaiya corporate racketeers.
The management environment at Incubator Bank is severe. As president, Egami must tread a thorny path.

It has become apparent that the bank put profit-making before all else, while projecting itself as "the friend of small and midsize enterprises."

The bank allegedly charged a hefty commission when asking major moneylender SFCG Co. to buy back loan claims. This, in effect, was the equivalent of imposing an illegally high interest rate of about 46 percent, far above the upper limit stipulated in the Investment Deposit and Interest Rate Law, according to investigation sources. SFCG, which earned an unsavory reputation for its strong-arm loan collection methods, is undergoing bankruptcy procedures. The bank disguised the transactions as legitimate trades of loan claims. However, a healthy bank would not make such moves that took away proceeds from a loan shark facing difficulties raising funds.


More suspicions remain

Incubator Bank also allegedly recommended a person affiliated with the bank be appointed as an executive to a company that had applied for a loan, and pressed the applicant firm to accept the plan. The person consequently took control of the firm's management. The bank thus had shades of a corporate raider.

The FSA inspections that began last year exposed the bank's illegal activities. But we wonder if the agency could have detected the bank's true nature--and penchant for breaking the rules--much earlier.

Investigators will try to trace the inner workings of a group of the bank's client companies, a network established under Kimura's presidency. The bank extended loans to these member firms, which in turn accepted requests to boost the bank's capital.

We wonder whether such loans and capital increases were legal. The MPD should get to the bottom of this matter, too.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 15, 2010)
(2010年7月15日01時01分 読売新聞)


税制抜本改革 ひるまず消費税論議を進めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 15, 2010)
Get cracking on consumption tax talks
税制抜本改革 ひるまず消費税論議を進めよ(7月14日付・読売社説)

The Democratic Party of Japan's crushing defeat in Sunday's House of Councillors election has raised concern that discussions on far-reaching tax reform, including a possible consumption tax hike, will be put on the back burner.

DPJ Secretary General Yukio Edano has indicated his intention not to stick to Prime Minister Naoto Kan's plan of formulating concrete plans on tax reform by the end of fiscal 2010. "We won't necessarily adhere to the initial deadline," Edano said.

However, the government cannot put off discussions on consumption tax any longer. The nation is mired in an extraordinary fiscal condition in which tax revenue is less than the amount of new government bonds issued. Furthermore, the increasingly creaky social security system needs urgent repair.

The Kan Cabinet must swiftly resuscitate the economy, which in turn will boost tax revenue, and knuckle down to reform the tax system--including consumption, corporate and income taxes.

The election defeat has stung Kan. But the prime minister must dust himself off and start full-fledged efforts to coordinate intraparty opinions on consumption tax and continue inviting opposition parties to start suprapartisan discussions on the issue.

We urge the opposition camp to take up the prime minister's offer of discussions on a new consumption tax system.


Tax not reason for defeat

At Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, Kan suggested the consumption tax dispute contributed to the ruling bloc's failure to retain its majority in the upper house, saying his remarks on the issue just before the election likely caught the public by surprise.

However, the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party increased its number of upper chamber seats, despite proposing raising the consumption tax rate to 10 percent in its election platform.

A Yomiuri Shimbun survey taken after Sunday's election showed more than 60 percent of the public believe a consumption tax hike will be necessary. This figure barely changed from a similar survey conducted before the election.

In the election, voters did not give a verdict on a consumption tax hike per se, but rather on Kan's inconsistent remarks on the matter.

During the campaign, Kan failed to present clear principles on fundamental questions about a consumption tax hike, such as why an increase is necessary and how the extra tax revenue it brings in would be used.

When Kan found himself being boxed in by criticism over the consumption tax issue, he tweaked his previous statement, saying he would not raise "even yen1" in consumption tax until the next general election. This gave the impression that Kan was uncertain what to do.


Build intraparty consensus

To restore public trust in the DPJ, the party must form a consensus on a consumption tax hike as soon as possible and carefully explain its position to the public.

Future discussions likely will focus on measures to alleviate the burden any increase would place on low-income earners, among other issues.

A consumption tax refund was one option floated, but this idea is fraught with problems, such as where to draw the line on household income that would be subject to the scheme and how accurately the government can calculate individual households' income.

A reduced tax rate system, under which tax rates are set lower for daily necessities and other items, might be one possibility. Given that reduced tax rates are applied to newspapers, books and food in some European countries, such a system is certainly worth consideration.

The DPJ must spell out that the primary purpose of raising the consumption tax rate is to fund ballooning social security costs in pension, medical care and nursing services.These costs will only increase as the nation's society grays and birthrate declines.

After storming into power in September, the DPJ insisted it would find the money to fund its policies by weeding out wasteful spending. However, efforts to cut government fat had less of an impact than expected on the fiscal 2010 budget compilation.

The consumption tax, which imposes a financial burden on a wide spectrum of people, is the only stable tax revenue source, given that income and corporate tax revenues can fluctuate greatly, depending on the state of the economy.

If the government can restore the social security system through a consumption tax increase, it also would help stimulate consumer spending as the public would be more willing to buy things if they did not have so many anxieties about their future.


Lower corporate tax rates

Discussions on tax reform should aim to create a society free from concerns by stabilizing the public finances and social security, as well as maintain economic vitality.

Japan's effective corporate tax rate is more than 40 percent, far higher than the average of 26 percent among the 30 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. We think the government should quickly lower corporate tax rates as this will strengthen Japanese companies' international competitiveness.

To make up for expected tax revenue shortfalls, the government must expedite discussions on tax system reform for fiscal 2011, including streamlining tax incentives that have run their course.

During the election campaign, Kan suggested strengthening the progressive taxation system, under which high-income earners and others bear heavier tax burdens.

However, the maximum income tax rate already stands at 40 percent, which is high by international standards. Because this rate is applied to only a few taxpayers, no visible tax revenue increase can be expected from Kan's plan. Rather, the prime minister seemed to be trying to fend off public criticism that the proposed consumption tax hike would hurt the pockets of the wider general public.

Raising the maximum income tax rate will discourage people from working hard and undermine efforts to energize the country's businesses.

Before all else, the government should review its tax deduction measures.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 14, 2010)
(2010年7月14日01時38分 読売新聞)


菅首相続投 経済再生へ政治の機能回復を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 14, 2010)
Restore Diet function to revive economy
菅首相続投 経済再生へ政治の機能回復を(7月13日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's administration suffered a crushing defeat in Sunday's House of Councillors election. The result has created a serious problem for his government--a so-called divided Diet, in which the opposition parties control the upper house and the ruling parties the lower house.

Given this situation, the prime minister should drastically review the handout measures contained in the manifesto created by the Democratic Party of Japan last year and seek cooperation from the opposition parties.

The results of the upper house election, which was a chance for voters to give their interim assessment of the change of administration, were more severe than expected for the ruling coalition parties.

The DPJ won only 44 seats, 10 seats less than its preelection strength, and the People's New Party, the DPJ's junior coalition partner, could not obtain any seats at all. Consequently, the coalition parties--including an independent who was backed by the coalition parties--now hold a total of 110 seats, 12 short of 122, a majority in the upper house.


High-handedness backfired

The Kan administration has postponed making changes to the Cabinet and the DPJ leadership until the DPJ presidential election is held in September, when Kan's term as party president will expire.
But the road ahead is rocky.

At an extra Diet session to be convened at the end of this month, the prime minister is planning only to elect the president and vice president of the upper house. However, if his administration fails to cooperate with any opposition party before the next extraordinary Diet session in autumn, the prime minister will not be able to pass any important bills and will have difficulty managing the government.

After a major victory in the 2007 election, the DPJ and other opposition parties controlled the upper house. The DPJ employed hard-nosed tactics as it faced off against the Liberal Democratic Party-led government and its ruling coalition regarding the appointment of a Bank of Japan governor and other important issues, focusing on creating a favorable political situation for itself.

Even after becoming the ruling party, the DPJ repeatedly used its numerical strength to ignore traditional practices concerning Diet deliberations during this year's ordinary Diet session. The party used high-handed methods worse than those the LDP had employed to steer Diet business and deepened its split with the opposition parties.

Now that the opposition controls the upper house, however, the Kan administration will have to acknowledge that the opposition parties may seek "revenge," so he must manage Diet affairs in a nonconfrontational manner based on reaching consensus.

In the latest upper house election, voters decided to prevent the DPJ from running wild rather than support the DPJ-led coalition government. However, that does not mean they want a lame-duck government unable to pass important bills in a divided Diet.


Concessions necessary

Japan is facing many challenges.

Leaders of the Group of 20 developed and major emerging countries set a goal at their summit meeting last month of restoring fiscal soundness while maintaining economic growth. Japan also made an international pledge there to simultaneously achieve economic growth and fiscal health.

Now the government has to start reviewing public pension and other social welfare systems, and try to mend Japan-U.S. relations that were strained under the administration of former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

To tackle these issues, the Kan administration must make policy concessions with the opposition parties and seek their cooperation.

Leaders in various sectors are voicing their concerns about a possible political stalemate.
"The government should not postpone processing the mountain of issues due to the divided Diet," said Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren).

Currently, every opposition party is refusing to form a coalition with the DPJ. Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe said Monday that the division between the upper and lower houses demonstrates the will of the public today, and demanded the prime minister resign.


Manifesto must be revised

However, all the opposition parties are leaving room for a "partial" coalition with the government, in which the ruling and opposition parties may work together depending on the issue.

For example, the Kan government is expected to work together with Your Party to reform the civil servant system and with the LDP on social welfare policy and reform of the taxation system.

Of course, the opposition parties have various motives, so cooperation between the ruling and opposition parties may not be easy. However, the major requirement for any cooperation will be a drastic revision of the DPJ's manifesto.

The Kan government should admit the failure of the DPJ's handout measures that lack financial backing, such as the child-rearing allowances and abolition of expressway tolls. It should offer an explanation and an apology to the public.

The DPJ lost in the upper house election not because Kan mentioned an increase in the consumption tax rate but because he was inconsistent in his remarks and actions. Kan is contradicting himself as he advocates a thorough cut in government expenditures while continuing handout measures.

Public understanding of the need to increase the consumption tax rate is deepening as social welfare-related spending is increasing by 1 trillion yen a year.

It is important for the prime minister to reach an agreement among the ruling and opposition parties on the details of a hike in the consumption tax rate, such as when and how much it should be raised. The LDP should not only criticize the government and the ruling coalition but also respond positively to talks between the ruling and opposition parties.


Don't rush to Ozawa

Meanwhile, a group of DPJ members, including those close to former DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, is questioning the responsibility of current Secretary General Yukio Edano and other party executives for the party's debacle in the upper house election. Efforts to field a candidate against Kan will become increasingly active ahead of the party presidential election scheduled for September.

This will require difficult maneuvering by the prime minister.


However, Kan should not easily join hands with Ozawa to quickly restore party unity. He should not allow Ozawa to control the DPJ again by compromising on the consumption tax rate and other political issues.

Kan must remember that his administration enjoyed a high approval rating immediately after its inauguration because the public approved of his efforts to eliminate Ozawa's influence.

The prime minister has decided to keep Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, who lost her Diet seat in Sunday's election, in her current post until after the party presidential election in September. He said this was to maintain continuity in the administration, but it seems Kan actually wanted to avoid confrontations and confusion within the party over the selection of her successor.

There is little precedent for a person who has lost his or her Diet seat to stay in a ministerial post for more than a month. Though Chiba's post is not as important as the finance and foreign ministers, the popular judgment regarding Chiba should be taken more seriously. We question Kan's decision to retain Chiba as justice minister.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 13, 2010)
(2010年7月13日01時30分 読売新聞)


参院選民主敗北 バラマキと迷走に厳しい審判

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 13, 2010)
Voters give DPJ policy the thumbs-down
参院選民主敗北 バラマキと迷走に厳しい審判(7月12日付・読売社説)

Voters have passed a stinging judgment on the Democratic Party of Japan's 10 months in government since it came to power following last summer's general election.

The DPJ suffered a crushing defeat in Sunday's House of Councillors election and fell far short of the 54 seats targeted by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who also is DPJ president. Justice Minister Keiko Chiba lost her seat. The DPJ and its tiny coalition partner, the People's New Party, failed to hold their majority in the 242-seat upper house, including uncontested seats.

The election has led to a divided Diet in which the House of Representatives is controlled by the ruling camp and the upper chamber by opposition parties. To gain a majority in the upper house, the DPJ has no alternative but to stitch together a coalition with one or more opposition parties.

At a news conference after the election, Kan insisted he would stay on, saying, "I would like to continue to responsibly manage the government." However, Kan's political clout has undeniably been weakened. Political chaos is all but certain as moves grow within the DPJ demanding the party leadership--including Kan--take responsibility for the election loss.

Kan's handling of the consumption tax issue was the biggest factor behind the DPJ's setback.

Kan hinted the rate could be lifted to 10 percent, a move echoing the Liberal Democratic Party's campaign pledge. But Kan failed to properly explain the purpose of the tax increase and how the revenue would be used. He compounded his problems by making inconsistent remarks on tax refunds for low-income earners.

The DPJ was not unified on the consumption tax. Some party members openly opposed Kan's tax policy.

Of course, other factors also contributed to the election defeat, including political funding scandals that tainted former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and former party Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa; the Hatoyama administration's bumbling of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture; and deadlock over handout policies such as child-rearing allowances.


LDP's strategy successful

The LDP won the most seats contested Sunday, topping the number snared by the DPJ. The LDP's election tactics, such as fielding rookie candidates handpicked from public applicants, proved successful.

Nevertheless, it is premature to conclude the LDP has made a full recovery.

The LDP rode to victory largely thanks to the DPJ's shortcomings. The LDP fared worse than the DPJ in the proportional representation bloc elections. Many voters probably were counting on the LDP to prevent the DPJ from "running wild."

Your Party made major gains by attracting voters disillusioned with both major parties. The party called for slashing the number of government employees and abolishing amakudari--a practice in which high-ranking government officials parachute into cushy jobs after retirement.

The party now has a responsibility to act in a manner befitting the number of seats it holds. The party might have to rethink some of its policies and behavior that smack of populism.

Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe, who had set the goal of positioning his party to hold a decisive say in the Diet, should not whip up political turmoil by taking advantage of the seats his party gained in Sunday's election.


Promote tax debate

A hallmark of this election campaign was that the two major parties--the DPJ and the LDP--did not sidestep debate on a consumption tax hike.

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey during the campaign, two-thirds of respondents said a tax hike will be "necessary." This indicates public understanding of a consumption tax hike has solidified.

On the campaign trail, Kan called for suprapartisan discussions on sweeping tax system reform, including an increase in the consumption tax. The LDP, for its part, wants a similar roundtable discussion on the matter.

But it is unreasonable to launch such a debate while the DPJ-led government charges ahead with child-rearing allowances and other cash handouts. A responsible government would only enter discussions on a consumption tax hike after reviewing such handout policies.

The DPJ and the LDP both should make concessions to start talks on the matter.

The end of August is the deadline for deciding on a construction method for a runaway at a replacement facility for the Futenma base and other relocation details. The government must follow through on the Futenma agreement reached with the United States and get bilateral ties back on track before U.S. President Barack Obama visits Japan in November.

The DPJ's election loss could embolden a group of party members who support Ozawa to strengthen moves to shake up the party leadership ahead of the party's presidential election in September.

But if Kan changes tack on the consumption tax and Futenma issue in the face of intraparty opposition, public confidence in his government will fade even further.

Kan should maintain the pragmatic approach to domestic and diplomatic issues he adopted in a major break from the line taken by the Hatoyama administration.

The DPJ commands an absolute majority in the lower house. But the DPJ and the PNP hold fewer than two-thirds of the seats in the lower house, the threshold at which the ruling bloc can approve again--and pass--a bill voted down in the upper house.

Consequently, the Kan administration will face a more difficult job in steering Diet business than the LDP-led administrations of three former prime ministers--Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda and Taro Aso--that also found themselves in a divided Diet.


Policy-based coalition needed

At the news conference, Kan said he would reach out to opposition parties to hold policy discussions and try to build a coalition government.

He should remember that the coalition with the Social Democratic Party blew up in the DPJ's face because their security policies had little in common. The major premise for a coalition government should be that the parties involved share basic policies.

With the next lower house election in mind, many opposition parties have said they will not join a coalition government. Therefore, the government will inevitably pursue a noncabinet partnership or a partial coalition with an opposition party on certain bills.

Many hurdles loom for the Kan administration, including an extraordinary Diet session and a DPJ presidential election.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 12, 2010)
(2010年7月12日03時55分 読売新聞)