--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 28
EDITORIAL: Japan needs to quickly compile road map for decontamination.

The Japanese government has finally decided on a basic framework on how to proceed with the decontamination process of radioactive materials spewed from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The government's plan, explained to local governments on Aug. 27, is to halve the residents' exposure within two years, and in the case of children, to reduce it by 60 percent by conducting thorough decontamination procedures in schools and school routes.

The center of the plan is to "reduce, step-by-step and rapidly" the number of areas that will measure 20 millisieverts and higher annually.

However, such a target will not put the residents' minds at ease.

The government estimates that even without actively doing anything, the amount of radiation exposure will decrease about 40 percent in two years due to rain and wind.

It is too unambitious for the government to say it will achieve only an additional 10-20 percent reduction on its own.

Moreover, the latest framework plan does not tell us, even broadly, when the evacuees can return to their normal lives.

The important thing is to have a comprehensive strategy.

To that end, it is essential to closely ascertain the exact situation of the contamination.

We need to measure it in detail, covering sections whose sides are 100 to 500 meters long.

People evacuated from their homes are also hoping to learn the radiation levels around their houses.

On Aug. 27, Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologized to the Fukushima prefectural governor of the possibility that residents of some areas close to the Fukushima nuclear plant will be unable to return to their houses for a long time.

Of course, it may be possible that in areas with the worst levels of contamination, residents may be forced to give up ever returning to their homes.

However, the residents can hardly accept that without sufficient data and some kind of yardstick.

Along with figuring out the actual state of the contamination, the government needs to calculate the cost of the decontamination process and the available level of manpower.

Based on those assessments, the government must hurry to put together a road map that indicates the grand design, and spell out where the process will begin, how it will be conducted and how much time it will take.

Besides, the decontamination work itself must not be haphazard.

In addition to households, public institutions like schools, roads, as well as farms and nearby forests must also be watched. Otherwise, there is no way residents can return to their normal lives.

One major obstacle to the decontamination process is where to store the contaminated topsoil once it is removed.

According to the framework plan, each local government is to set up a temporary storage place, and the central government will be responsible for securing a disposal site.

However, Prime Minister Kan told the Fukushima governor that the central government has no choice but to create the "intermediate storage facility" within Fukushima Prefecture.

Suddenly talking about a new storage facility at this point will only create confusion.

Decontamination is not an easy matter, including securing the disposal site.

The plan must be scrupulous, while also being meticulous about procedure.

And the process must be done swiftly.



The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 27
EDITORIAL: DPJ needs to reinvent its political future.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan officially announced his resignation on Aug. 26, saying, "I've done what I've had to do."

During the two years since the historic regime change, two prime ministers quickly got bogged down in a political quagmire and stepped down.

This is undeniably a disastrous failure of politics under the rule of the Democratic Party of Japan.

What are the root causes of the dreadful political situation?

It is not that Kan pushed policy in the wrong direction.

Kan deserves credit for responding to the Fukushima nuclear disaster by trying to lead the nation toward a future less dependent on atomic energy.

We also applaud him for tackling the tough political challenge of developing plans for the unpopular but important proposal of integrated tax and social security reform involving a consumption tax hike.

But executing a policy requires building consensus.

Kan was unskilled at consensus building, and he sometimes didn't even make efforts to win support for his proposals from his Cabinet members.

As he simply proposed policies without laying the necessary political groundwork, he was inevitably criticized for practicing off-the-cuff politics.

But let us hazard a question.

Would the Kan administration have lasted much longer if he had been a leader with a broader perspective and a greater ability to build consensus?

The DPJ is in such disarray that it is hard to answer the question in the affirmative.


Kan was constantly hobbled not merely by the opposition control of the Upper House but equally by perennial political wrangling within the ruling party.

Kan's efforts to push through such key policy initiatives as a consumption tax hike and a review of the party's election manifesto were met with opposition from party members, especially a group of lawmakers led by former DPJ chief Ichiro Ozawa.

With the party unable to reach agreement on these and other key policy issues, the Kan administration lost political momentum.

The confrontation within the party came to a head in June, when the Ozawa group threatened to support an opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Cabinet.

As he avoided a final Diet floor showdown with his opponents within the party, Kan set the stage for his departure.

As the top item in the memorandum he exchanged with his predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, during their talks for avoid passage of the no-confidence motion against him, Kan promised not to "destroy the DPJ."

This fact symbolized the grim reality and limitations of the party.

The DPJ was formed as a rugged collection of politicians pursuing sharply different political agendas and approaches.

It was a political alliance among a wide range of lawmakers who didn't belong to the Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled the nation for decades.

Its principal mission was to secure electoral victories in single-seat constituencies of the Lower House.

In a nutshell, the DPJ was a mutual electoral support group born out of the single-seat election system.
When it was in the opposition, the party managed to put up a united front under the banner of regime change.

As soon as it achieved this political goal, however, the party found itself without a shared vision and plunged into an endless cycle of infighting.

The DPJ's track record since it came to power suggests that the group is too politically immature to be called a political party.

If the party remains as it is, the next administration is sure to repeat the same failure.

The challenge facing the DPJ is whether it can outgrow its old self as an electoral mutual support group and morph into a full-fledged political party.

The party leadership election officially announced on Aug. 27 is of critical importance for the political viability of the DPJ.

During the prelude to the election, many prospective candidates talked about unity and reconciliation among party members.

Such talk may find a certain resonance among party members who are eager to see an end to the intraparty struggle that continued even after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March.

If, however, "party unity" here means turning a blind eye to differences over policies among members, such slogans only represent an extremely irresponsible answer to the party's problems.

If the candidates try to win the leadership race by offering the powerful Ozawa group key posts that control the party's election funds and the right to nominate official party candidates for national elections, the party will inevitably lose the support of even more voters.


It is clear what the party should do in the leadership race.

It should redefine its political position.


First, all the candidates should make clear their stances toward the party's manifesto for the Lower House election that led to its ascent to power.

Would they revise or stick to the platform?

Candidates who vow to adhere to the manifesto should say how they would raise the money needed to deliver on the election promises.

The DPJ's plan to raise funds through spending cuts has become synonymous with wishful thinking in the past two years.

Secondly, after the leadership election, all party members should come together to support the policies proposed by the winner and contribute to the new leader's efforts to push through his proposals.

The quality of the manifesto should be improved in line with the new policy agenda.

DPJ lawmakers who cannot agree to the new chief's policy agenda should leave the party.

Like the DPJ, the LDP also comprises politicians with widely different political stripes.

There is enough room for political realignment around key policy issues.

Such a development would give voters a fresh opportunity to choose a new government on the basis of policies instead of a simple choice between the LDP and the DPJ.


The worst thing that could happen to the party is a leadership contest without serious policy debate in which the candidates only propose vague policies in order to win as many votes as possible.
Even if the party can choose its new leader without meaningful debate, such a race would plant seeds of future confrontation that hamper progress in politics.
Political styles and ways to run the government should also be among major topics for the party leadership election.

We believe that politics of partisan confrontation driven by the power of numbers should come to an end.

When it was led by Ozawa, the DPJ exploited its power as the largest voting bloc in the Upper House to keep making things tough for the government of the LDP-New Komeito coalition.

The DPJ used its political muscle effectively to drive the LDP-led government into a corner through such maneuvers as rejecting the government's nominees for the new Bank of Japan governor and thereby keeping the post of the central bank chief vacant for a while.

The DPJ's strategy worked well to pressure the government into an early dissolution of the Lower House for an election to choose the government.

The DPJ came to power as a result, but the party has been suffering from political reprisals by the LDP.

During this period, Ozawa boasted that he would be able to raise any amount of money to finance the party's policy proposals and had the party increase the monthly child-care allowance it promised to 26,000 yen per child.

At the heart of such an approach to politics is a single-minded pursuit of power.

Japan should outgrow such old-fashioned politics and move toward a new era of politics in which the ruling and opposition parties try to find common ground through serious and constructive policy debate.

The principal lesson to be gleaned from the bitter experiences in the past two years is that this is the only way to break the political stalemate in this age of a divided Diet.


香山リカのココロの万華鏡:自己臭恐怖症 /東京

(Mainichi Japan) August 28, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: In defense of (a little bit of) body odor
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:自己臭恐怖症 /東京

A TV program I happened to see the other day featured clothing with odor-eliminating effects that have been a hit among consumers recently.

Sales of odor-eating underwear, socks and other clothing -- effective against everything from sweat and tobacco smells to the body odor of older men -- have been rising, according to the program.

Sure, there are unpleasant odors, but do people really want to make everywhere odorless so much?

If you get too nervous about eliminating odor, that could stress you out in itself.

In my consultation room, I sometimes see patients who suffer from a unique condition called "olfactory reference syndrome."

These patients wrongly assume that their body odor is offensive to people around them.

They spray air freshener on themselves again and again before they go out, or even refrain from going out at all. 消臭スプレーを何度も振りかけたり外出を控えたりする人もいる。

They usually show up at dermatologists or other doctors first and are then referred to psychiatric clinics.

Even if others tell them that they don't smell at all, these patients believe that they are "smelly and disturbing everyone." Many of these cases are difficult to treat.

Olfactory reference syndrome often plagues young people, whose futures remain undefined and who are still overly sensitive about what others think of them.

Such a trivial thing as a friend turning his or her eyes away from them makes them think they are smelly and making others uncomfortable.
「人からどう見られてるのかな?」と過敏になりがちな年ごろでは、たとえば友だちがたまたま自分から目をそらしただけで「どうして? そうか、私のにおいが苦痛なんだ」と結びつけてしまうのだ。

In contrast, these symptoms tend to disappear naturally when the patients get jobs and gain a certain degree of self-confidence.
"I may have been wrong to worry too much about odor," one such patient said.

The current "odorless" boom, therefore, could be said to show that today even fully-fledged adult members of society lack confidence in themselves, and are always conscious about how others think of them.

Let's say a person became completely odor-free. Would he or she be liked by everybody? Probably not.

Ridding odor is minimal etiquette, but it is nonsense to try to eliminate all your odor.

It is better to try and become someone who, even if smelling a bit sweaty, will be liked by everyone because of a cheerful smile and an even manner.
That's far better for each of us and for society as well.

Whenever I see a person who fills up his or her room with deodorizers to remove any trace of bodily scent, I'm tempted to utter an old saying, "Too much of a good thing."

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2011年8月23日 地方版


社説:民主党代表選 どうする外交 瀬戸際の自覚が乏しい

(Mainichi Japan) August 26, 2011
DPJ leadership hopefuls must tackle foreign diplomacy, long-neglected after disasters
社説:民主党代表選 どうする外交 瀬戸際の自覚が乏しい

Since the triple disasters of March 11, Japan has paid little attention to foreign diplomacy.

As the administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan struggled to begin rebuilding the devastated Tohoku region, a political battle was waged by ruling and opposition blocs over whether or not Kan should resign.

Bringing an end to the stagnation that such political warfare has created and normalizing the course of Japan's foreign policy is one of the most important challenges that awaits the next prime minister.

In spite of this, however, little has been said about diplomacy and security by politicians expressing an interest in running for the head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) -- and hence, the next prime minister.

We must not allow the upcoming election to become an inward-looking election, one solely concerned with political maneuvering for the right number of votes and the nature of the candidates' ties to former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa.

Meanwhile, other countries are making active and astute steps in their diplomatic affairs.

Take, for example, the United States and China. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recently visited both China and Japan, staying six days in China -- during which he poured his energies into establishing strong relations with Xi Jinping, said to be China's next president.

This was in stark contrast to Biden's visit to Japan, which lasted just two days and included a meeting with outgoing Prime Minister Kan as a mere formality.

In addition, China appears to be testing the DPJ's stance toward China, as demonstrated in two Chinese patrol boats' entry into Japanese waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands.

Furthermore, there have been rising tensions between China and Russia, both battling for political and economic influence in the Far East region.

The year 2012 will be a turning point not only in China, where the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party will change hands, but also in Russia, the U.S., and South Korea, where presidential elections are set to take place.

While others have been formulating diplomatic strategies with next year in mind, Japan, due to its internal political skirmishes, has trailed behind both in influencing the establishment of a new regional order and its pursuit of national interests.

As such, the diplomatic challenges that the next prime minister must deal with are all urgent.

There is the breakdown in talks over the Japan-U.S. joint declaration on bilateral security that needs to be addressed, and a much-needed breakthrough in the issue of relocating U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.

There's also a visit to China by Japan's new prime minister, and a visit to Japan by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which must take place before the end of the year.

Whoever takes the helm of government will be scrutinized for his ability -- or lack thereof -- to command a presence before other leaders at the East Asia Summit and APEC Summit, both set to take place this fall.

Have the DPJ leadership election candidates-to-be taken these responsibilities into consideration?

They are obligated to show how prepared they are for such duties.

In the two years since the DPJ government came to power, it has downplayed the importance of continuity and botched diplomatic dealings by putting precarious ideals ahead of everything else.

The administration's strategy-building capabilities failed to improve, and diplomats' information and networks were not put to effective use.

Japanese foreign policy has veered far off course because the DPJ put a lid on intra-party conflict in order to take over government, and failed to reach a consensus on basic policies such as the Japan-U.S. alliance and a vision for an East Asian community, the "third opening" of Japan, and its stance toward China.

We hope that those running in the DPJ presidential race will take the mistakes that have been made to heart, realize the crossroads at which Japan is now standing, and carry out a heated debate on diplomatic policy.

毎日新聞 2011年8月26日 2時31分


日本国債格下げ 財政悪化と政策停滞の警鐘だ

Moody's downgrade a warning over fiscal, political ills
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 26, 2011)
日本国債格下げ 財政悪化と政策停滞の警鐘だ(8月25日付・読売社説)

The major U.S. ratings agency Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday downgraded Japanese government bonds from Aa2, the third-highest rating, to Aa3, the fourth-highest.

The move should be taken as a warning regarding the deterioration of Japan's fiscal situation and the paralysis in its political sphere.

Now the level of Japanese government bonds is lower than those of Italy and Spain, where concern over government finances has been soaring, and the same as those of China and Chile.

In January, another U.S. rating firm downgraded Japanese bonds to the same level.

These are only independent evaluations by private firms, but they serve as guidelines for the creditworthiness of government bonds in the market.

If investors sell off Japanese bonds and force the interest rate to rise because of the downgrade, the government's costs for interest payments will rise, which would aggravate the fiscal situation.

Speculative moves have to be closely watched.


Fiscal rehabilitation in doubt

As reasons for the downgrade, Moody's named Japan's huge fiscal deficit and its doubts whether the country can become fiscally healthy.

The ratings agency said, "Over the past five years, frequent changes in administrations have prevented the government from implementing long-term economic and fiscal strategies into effective and durable policies." It is natural for Japan to receive such a severe evaluation.

Because of the divided Diet, confrontations between ruling and opposition parties have intensified, blocking progress on various policies.

The most pressing issue of all--restoration of fiscal health--has been put off, causing the situation to worsen.

The outstanding long-term debts of the central and local governments combined are expected to be about 900 trillion yen at the end of the current fiscal year, or 1.8 times the gross domestic product.

The country's debt-to-GDP ratio is worse than that of Greece, which is in a profound fiscal crisis.

According to the government's estimate, outstanding debts will balloon to nearly 1,200 trillion yen at the end of fiscal 2020.

The fiscal crises in the West have seriously affected global financial markets, but this situation is not what Japanese would call "a fire on the other side of the river."

Swift reforms in both revenue and spending must be enforced before it is too late.


Political will lacking

However, the politicians of this country have little sense of crisis about the status quo and lack firm determination to move forward with fiscal rehabilitation.

The key issues in the Democratic Party of Japan's presidential election, in which candidates are competing to replace Prime Minister Naoto Kan, will include tax hikes to secure revenue to rebuild from the Great East Japan Earthquake and a review of the dole-out policies in its manifesto for the 2009 House of Representative election.

However, many would-be candidates in the DPJ presidential election are cautious about the early introduction of tax hikes for reconstruction purposes.

Likewise, no one has spoken in-depth about the government policy for integrated reform of the social security and tax systems, which stipulates the consumption tax rate will be raised in stages to 10 percent in the mid-2010s.

The post-Kan administration should make progress in reconstructing from the great earthquake and restoring fiscal health.

The government has to make the economy steadily recover to realize an early exit from deflation. This is indispensable for recovering confidence in Japanese government bonds.

In the coming DPJ election we hope the candidates will discuss policies that prioritize economic growth, such as stabilizing the electricity supply and measures to combat the yen's appreciation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 25, 2011)
(2011年8月25日01時09分 読売新聞)


金総書記訪露 対「北」協力は核放棄が前提だ

N. Korea must give up nukes to get economic benefits
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 25, 2011)
金総書記訪露 対「北」協力は核放棄が前提だ(8月24日付・読売社説)

On his first visit to Russia in nine years, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il traveled about 5,000 kilometers by train to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in eastern Siberia on Wednesday.

Kim's visit to Russia follows his trip to China in May. This burst of summit diplomacy with Chinese and Russian leaders is probably a calculated attempt by Kim to strengthen ties with two major powers that share borders with his country to help guarantee his regime's survival.

Russia has been particularly positive toward Pyongyang.

Ahead of Kim's visit, Moscow decided to offer 50,000 tons of food aid to North Korea, which has been plagued with food shortages.

Russia will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vladivostok in autumn next year.

This will be a crucial opportunity for Russia to accelerate resource development in Siberia and its entry into the Asian market.

From this strategic viewpoint also, Russia is keen to stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula.


Tripartite cooperation plan

In a congratulatory message he sent to Kim on Aug. 15, the 66th anniversary of the end of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, Medvedev proposed that Russia, North Korea and South Korea cooperate in energy development and railway construction.

This clearly indicates Moscow's intention to strengthen its presence in Asia.

In concrete terms, the plan calls for building a natural gas pipeline vertically down the Korean Peninsula and opening a North-South railway that would link with the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Based on an agreement reached during summit talks, Russia and South Korea have held consultative meetings to discuss the supply of Russian natural gas, and transport routes via the Trans-Siberian Railway to the European market.

If realized, this ambitious project would ease tensions on the peninsula and stabilize the situation in Northeast Asia.

The project also would greatly benefit North Korea, which could earn rent for land used for the pipeline and receive electricity.


Preconditions for help

However, we think this economic cooperation should go ahead only if two conditions are met.

First, North Korea must not launch any military provocations against South Korea.

Confidence-building between the two countries is essential.

Second, Pyongyang must make good on the promise it made in the joint statement issued after six-nation negotiations in September 2005 to abandon its nuclear development program.

North Korea should also discontinue its uranium enrichment, which some observers fear could lead to a new nuclear weapons development program.

If Russia wants to push economic cooperation, it should use it as leverage to coax North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

It is important that Medvedev has an opportunity to convey these concerns to Kim.

At the very least, Moscow should continue to call on Pyongyang to allow inspections of its uranium enrichment facilities and put on hold nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 24, 2011)
(2011年8月24日01時39分 読売新聞)


社説:放射能汚染対策 説明尽くし国の責任で

(Mainichi Japan) August 23, 2011
Gov't should take responsibility for decontaminating soil tainted with radiation
社説:放射能汚染対策 説明尽くし国の責任で

The Japanese government appears prepared to go ahead with the decontamination of soil tainted with radioactive substances leaking from the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant after the ruling and opposition parties agreed to enact legislation to make up for a legal flaw.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and two key opposition parties -- the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito -- have agreed on the details of a special measures bill on land decontamination and disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances.

The bill likely will be submitted to the Diet as a lawmaker-initiated bill and become law during the ongoing session.

The Waste Disposal and Public Cleaning Law does not cover the disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances.

If enacted, the new law would be the first to cover how to deal with radiation contamination outside the premises of nuclear power plants.

Under the bill, the environment minister would designate areas with high levels of radiation as "special areas."  放射性物質を除去し、放射線量を下げる除染は、必要な場所について環境相が「特別地域」に指定。

The national government would decontaminate the designated areas based on a plan it would work out after listening to the opinions of the local governments concerned.

The minister would also designate areas where radioactive rubble must be disposed of, and the national government would collect such waste, and transport, store and dispose it at its own responsibility.

The bill would require Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima power plant, to bear the costs of decontamination and disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances as part of its compensation for the nuclear accident.

Even though the bill would clarify the central government's responsibility for radiation contamination countermeasures, many hurdles must be cleared before such measures are implemented.

In particular, it is difficult to predict when the environment of the areas where residents have been evacuated can be improved to a level where they can come back and live safely because such a large-scale decontamination operation is unprecedented anywhere in the world.

Therefore, the national government is required to fully release information on how far it intends to reduce radiation levels in affected areas based on its monitoring and provide a thorough explanation.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has for the first time released its estimation of annual cumulative radiation levels at 50 locations in no-entry areas within 20 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

At 35 of the locations, the amount surpassed 20 millisieverts -- a level that requires residents to evacuate -- suggesting that extensive decontamination operations will be needed over a long period.

The government should also fully release information suggesting that evacuated residents cannot easily return home.

Moreover, depending on radiation levels, it might not be realistic for residents to come home soon even if their neighborhoods were decontaminated in accordance with the bill.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to travel to Fukushima Prefecture later this week to explain to the local governments concerned as well as residents that even if decontaminated, some areas will likely remain unfit for living for many years.

If so, the prime minister must show concrete data and explain how long evacuated residents must wait until they are allowed to return home in order to win their understanding.

Furthermore, Kan should also explain specific measures to extend assistance to residents of such areas, including where they will live for the time being.

Difficult challenges to removing rubble will likely emerge in the future, such as how to secure a site for the disposal of ash generated after rubble contaminated with radioactive substances is incinerated.

Questions also remain as to whether the final disposal site should be created in Fukushima Prefecture or other areas.

The national government must take all possible measures to ensure safety in disposing of contaminated rubble and gain the understanding of local residents.

毎日新聞 2011年8月23日 東京朝刊


リニア新幹線 最先端技術を国益に生かせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 23, 2011)
Maglev train project must serve national interests
リニア新幹線 最先端技術を国益に生かせ(8月22日付・読売社説)

Central Japan Railway Co.'s ongoing project to build a maglev train system linking Tokyo and Osaka is finally in full swing.

Early this month, JR Tokai released a list of probable locations for intermediate stations in four prefectures--Aichi excluded--through which its envisaged magnetically levitated train would run on the Tokyo-Nagoya section of its route.
The proposed sites include one on the border between Takamorimachi and Iida in Nagano Prefecture.

Aiming to begin construction of its Chuo Shinkansen system in fiscal 2014, the railway firm is set to start an environmental impact study covering areas along the planned route as early as the end of this year.

JR Tokai plans to start service along a portion of the envisaged route in 2027, extending its maglev train services to Osaka in 2045. The megaproject, which would link Tokyo and Osaka through a 67-minute ride, would cost a staggering 9 trillion yen.

The safety of buildings and facilities is under increasing public scrutiny due to the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear crisis.

Therefore, JR Tokai's first priority should be to ensure the new train system will operate safely.

The ultrahigh-speed train line would also serve as a bypass for the current Tokaido Shinkansen line.

Given this, thorough safety measures must be taken so the new system will be able to serve as Japan's main transportation artery if a major natural disaster strikes.


Hitting the brakes at 500 kph

The new Shinkansen--in which magnetic force is used to levitate a train about 10 centimeters above the ground--runs at 500 kph.

A focus of particular attention is how the system would respond to such emergencies as a powerful earthquake and power outage.

According to JR Tokai, the system would apply multiple types of brakes if it detected seismic waves, thus safely halting trains at a deceleration speed double that of the current Shinkansen system.

This is also true with a safety mechanism that would be triggered in the event of an electric power failure. The new bullet train would maintain levitation on the strength of magnetic force, supported by side walls along a railway track to prevent a derailment.

After studying the earthquake resistance of the maglev train, an advisory body to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has confirmed that the system's safeguards will serve their intended purposes.

However, a major disaster could hit facilities to an extent beyond the expectations of the operators, as illustrated by the series of accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

With this in mind, we hope JR Tokai will continue to make technological improvements in the safety of the new Shinkansen system.

The proposed route runs through the Southern Japanese Alps. About 70 percent of the line would be in underground tunnels.

This makes it necessary to implement measures aimed at guiding passengers to safety in the event that the maglev train comes to a sudden stop.


Stations will be expensive

Another task for JR Tokai is to achieve a consensus with local governments affected by the project over the construction costs for the intermediate stations.

JR Tokai plans to pay for the construction of three key facilities: one terminal in Tokyo, another in Osaka and another major station in Nagoya. However, the railway firm has asked the four prefectural governments--each of which would host one intermediate station along the route--to pay the full cost of constructing those stations.

It would cost an estimated 35 billion yen to build an aboveground intermediate station.
The bill for the construction of an underground station would amount to a hefty 220 billion yen.

The local governments have demanded a reduction in their financial burdens, citing their own fiscal straits.

The maglev Shinkansen system is expected to provide a great economic boon, contributing to the economic and other development of areas along its route.

It is important for JR Tokai and the local governments to fully discuss every aspect the project and build cooperative relations.

It is also necessary to pay full consideration to the environmental impact of the project.

Areas along the proposed route are dotted with rich natural surroundings.

We hope every effort will be made to minimize the impact of construction work on the ecosystem, water sources and all other environmental assets.

The maglev train system is a remarkable feature of Japan's state-of-the-art technology.
The system's technological excellence is bound to boost the nation's infrastructure export drive.

It is essential to obtain support and trust from the public for the Chuo Shinkansen project if the maglev train--which many regard as "a superexpress of the 21st century"--is to benefit the whole nation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 22, 2011)
(2011年8月22日01時03分 読売新聞)



(Mainichi Japan) August 22, 2011
Race to replace Kan as prime minister an opportunity to display national will, vision

Denuclearization," or the idea of reducing and eliminating Japan's dependence on nuclear energy, is becoming increasingly hazy.

As the countdown for Prime Minister Naoto Kan's resignation begins, many potential candidates for the next president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) -- and hence the next prime minister -- are expressing their willingness to either maintain the current nuclear policy or to further promote nuclear power.

What I believe matters in the next DPJ presidential election is not so much whether Kan's successor is or is not a charismatic leader, but what his or her views are on the nuclear issue.

In an essay titled "Gimon darake no Kan oroshi" (Calls for Kan to step down that leave a trail of doubts) that well-respected literary critic Norihiro Kato contributed to the Mainichi in the Aug. 11 Tokyo evening edition, Kato slams the lacking rhetoric of those who criticize the now anti-nuclear Kan.

According to Kato, the most important political challenge we now face is the issue of nuclear power.

Kan has explicitly put forth the new goal of denuclearization, but his detractors have not contributed any clear proposals short of maintaining the status quo, i.e. the promotion of nuclear power.

How to deal with a lack of electricity is a problem of economics.

Kan's critics have dodged the real work of much-needed political debate, working merely to undermine Kan's political efforts, Kato writes.

Indeed, successor candidates have shown acceptance toward the preservation of nuclear power plants.  実際、後継候補たちは原発の維持に理解を示している。

Frontrunners in the race for DPJ presidency including Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, former Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Sumio Mabuchi and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda have respectively said: "It is realistic to amass nuclear power technology," "We will adopt the world's most stringent safety standards," and "It is dangerous to allow a simplistic notion of denuclearization to take a life of its own."

Some DPJ presidential hopefuls are in fact for denuclearization. But there's a sense that they're not as invested in it as Kan is.

"Corruptio" (corruption), a novel written by Jin Mayama and published in July, is set in the not-so-distant future in which a political realignment takes place in a post-quake Japan, resulting in a pro-nuclear coalition government.

Under current circumstances, such a plot is not entirely unthinkable.

Kan doesn't seem to think that will happen, however. "I think we've come to a point of no return," he told an acquaintance. "But (denuclearization) is a major policy that affects the entire social structure. So in that sense, there's still a long ways to go."

Asked whether he had any lingering regret about leaving his post, Kan responded, "If I waited until I had no more regrets, I'd have to continue (to be prime minister) for another 10 years.

" Kan is said to have read through Kato's essay, and said, "Somewhere out there, there are those who understand."

It is not that post-Kan candidates are outright against denuclearization.

It's that their campaign strategies involve refraining from making any concrete pro- or anti-nuclear power statements.

Only with votes can they win the post of DPJ chief and prime minister.

One can imagine how one of these candidates-turned-prime minister will fare when he or she comes head-to-head with the pro-nuclear government-industrial complex.

Pro-nuclear advocates argue that the promotion of nuclear energy is a major trend around the world, with an unsophisticated Japan the only one left wavering.

However, domestic distrust toward nuclear power has been smoldering respectively in the U.S., Russia, Britain and France.

After all, one of the world's largest nuclear power plants -- with three times the output of Chernobyl -- in the world's third largest economic superpower had collapsed.

The world has watched as some 100,000 people have fled their homes because of government-sanctioned or voluntary evacuations.

There's no reason for Japan to speak about its future in hushed tones out of regard for those who are a part of some "major trend around the world."

I also have a problem with the know-it-alls who remark the decision for denuclearization has already been made, and that all that remains is "just" a schedule for its implementation.

Sure, but who's actually going to do the scheduling?

Setting a deadline for five years from now or 50 years from now is as different as denuclearization and the promotion of nuclear power.

It is worrisome that we do not know where Ichiro Ozawa, who leads the biggest faction within the DPJ and has the power to make or break the election for party president, stands on nuclear energy policy.

Let us hope that he comes clean with his views.

The DPJ presidential race is not an election in which to select a leader "with common sense" to counteract Kan, who has been characterized as lacking in that area.

Nor is the election one in which to select a puppet leader that can be manipulated by a former DPJ head.

Rather, the election is a chance to choose a leader who will challenge the pro-nuclear government-industrial complex, possessing both the will and ability to implement reforms.

The election must be seen and used as an opportunity to display Japan's national resolve to the world.

(By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年8月22日 東京朝刊



(Mainichi Japan) August 20, 2011
Saga over using firewood from tsunami-hit area in Kyoto bonfire shows cultural gap

When I was living in Kyoto as a student decades ago, I often climbed Mount Daimonji, one of the sites for Gozan no Okuribi, a traditional bonfire festival in this ancient capital.

It is hard labor, but a significant event to bring a large quantity of firewood up to the mountain and set it alight in the shape of the kanji character, "dai" ("big").

When I heard that firewood from a pine tree from the tsunami-hit city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture would be used for the bonfire I was impressed as it is a good ceremony to express condolences to disaster victims. 今年は岩手県陸前高田市の松を燃やすと聞いた時は、鎮魂の儀式としていい考えだと感心した。

Gozan no Okuribi is a ceremony to send off the spirits of the dead, who Buddhists believe come home to stay with their relatives during the Obon holiday period in mid-August before returning to heaven.
(祇園の送り火はお盆に天国より戻った祖先たちの魂をなぐさめるための儀式なのだ。 ・・・スラチャイ訳)

However, the plan was cancelled after the organizer of the event as well as the local government wavered over whether to go ahead with it due to radiation concerns.

In the end, small amounts of radioactive cesium were detected in the surface of the firewood, and the organizer and the local government had no choice but to bow to some local residents' arguments that burning Rikuzentakata firewood could spread radiation in the city and that it could taint water in Lake Biwa, which is used for drinking.

It is highly questionable whether such criticism has any scientific basis, but Gozan no Okuribi is a religious festival.

Scraping the surface of the firewood to remove cesium would never convince local residents who long for "pure" fire.

It is difficult to coordinate views between the festival organizer and worried local residents.

Takeo Kuwahara, a French literature expert who lived in Kyoto for many years, wrote in his book, "Gakumon no Sekai" ("The World of Academics") that Kyoto residents are often described as "wicked," "individualistic," "cold" and "calm," just like the French.

But let's put aside comparisons between Kyoto residents and French people now.

Some people have criticized the Kyoto Municipal Government and the organizer as being "narrow minded" over the latest case, while others have appreciated their decision as "calm judgment not being overwhelmed by emotion."

Others may call the decision a typical response by Kyoto.

Personally, I think the decision is regrettable because I wonder whether they should have been so afraid of such small levels of radiation.

At the same time, however, I have no intention of making light of the ancient capital's sensitiveness and culture.

As a former resident, I have the impression that Kyoto, which is situated in a basin, forms a unique space both topographically and culturally, and that various things -- both tangible and intangible and good and evil -- gather and accumulate there, just like a satellite dish facing the sky.

Therefore, careful behind-the-scenes efforts to persuade relevant parties to accept the burning of Rikuzentakata firewood in the festival should have been made in advance.

But rather than blame the relevant parties, I would like to think the latest case has called into question how the entire nation should wisely handle radiation.

I prayed to the Kyoto bonfire on Aug. 16 that firewood from quake- and tsunami-hit areas can be burned in the Gozan no Okuribi festival next year and that the ongoing nuclear crisis, which continues to release radiation into the air, will be settled at an early date.

(By Hiroshi Fuse, Expert Senior Writer)

毎日新聞 2011年8月18日 東京朝刊




遺族年金受給手順.txt 平成23年7月27日(水)

How to get the survivor’s pension for my loving wife.

Read carefully the following items and understand them all.

วิธีทำทีจะต้องทำหลังจากผมตายแล้ว (คำพูลสอนสะอาดต้องตามคำที่จะกล่าวต่อไปนี้)
Things to do after my death are the followings.
(My wife, Khumpoon Sonsaard shall follow the following instruction.)

คุณต้องได้รับใบรับรองแพทย์ตายที่โรงพยาบาล แล้วก็จะไปที่ว่าการอำเภอเพื่อได้รับมรณะบัตร
ในมรณะบัตรต้องเขียนเบอร์พาสปอร์ของผม (คุณพ่อสุรชัย kiyoshi matsui) ด้วย
As soon as after my death, you have to get a death certificate from the doctor.
Then you have to go to the county office to obtain the death registration certificate.
Passport number of myself must be written on the same document.

ไปสถานทูตญี่ปุ่นกับซองจดหมาย (a) และซองจดหมาย (b) ให้เจ้าหน้าที่สถานทูตญี่ปุ่น
ซองจดหมาย (a) คือใบแจ้งตาย (ประมาณ1เดือนครึ่ง จะผ่าน แล้วก็ คุณจะสามารถได้รับเอกสารทะเบียนบ้าน จากญี่ปุ่น)
ซองจดหมาย (b) คือเอกสารเพื่อได้บำนาญครอบครัวของผู้ตาย
封筒 (a) 、封筒 (b)を持って、バンコクの日本大使館に出かけ、二つの封筒を大使館の職員に渡してください。
封筒 (a) は死亡届です。(日本の戸籍に死亡の事実が記載されるまで一ヵ月半かかります)
封筒 (b) は遺族年金を受け取るための書類です。
You shall visit the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok, with envelope (a) and envelope (b) respectively to hand them to the personnel in charge with the Embassy.
Envelope (a) encloses the notification of my death to the city in Japan. (It’ll take about one and half month for the documentation process.)
Envelope (b) encloses the application form for survivors’ pension.

ไปที่ว่าการอำเภอเอาแบบฟอร์ม ท.ร.14/1เขียนให้แล้วก็ได้รับเอกสารดังนี้ (เอกสารทะเบียนประชา)
You shall visit the county office to get T.R.14/1 certificate. ( the certificate for residence)

ไปธนาคารกสิกรไทยสาขาย่อยบิ๊กซีขอนแก่น ได้รับเอกสารบัญชีของคุณแม่ เพื่อได้รับบำนาญครอบครัวของผู้ตายจากญี่ปุ่น
ธนาคาร bank: ธนาคารกสิกรไทยสาขาย่อยบิ๊กซีขอนแก่น kasikornbank big-c branch office
ชื่อ name: นางคำพูล สองสะาด khumpoon sonsaard
แลกที่บัญชี:A/C No. ●●●-●-●●●●●-●
タイ農民銀行コンケンビクシー支店にでかけ、貴女の普通預金(Saving Account)口座の証明を取得してください。
You shall visit Kasikorn Bank, Khonkaen big-c branch office to get the bank deposit certificate from the same bank.
(English certificate is better, if possible.)
Name of Bank:
Name of the account:
Number of the account:

ส่งซองจดหมาย (b)โดยอีเอ็มเอส
ก่อนส้นซองจดหมาย (b) ทำให้เจ้าหน้าที่สถานทูตญี่ปุ่นตรวจเอกสารดังนี้
封筒 (b)をEMS郵便にて日本に郵送してください。
封筒 (b)を日本に送る前に書類のチェックを受けてください。
Envelope (b) shall be sent to Japan by EMS.
Before sending it to Japan, you'd better ask the personnel in charge with the Japanese Embassy chek the document.

บำนาญครอบครัวของผู้ตาย จ่ายให้เริ่มแล้ว ก็จะ ได้รับเอกสารที่จะถามคุณเกี่ยวกับเหตุการขณะนี้
เอกสารดังนี้จะมาจากญี่ปุ่นทุกปี ครั้งหนึ่ง ปลายเดือนพฤศจิกายนนะครับ
คุณต้องเซ็นชื่อเอกสาร แล้วก็จะ ส่งให้ญี่ปุ่นทางไปรษณีย์โดยแอร์เมล์
เอกสารดังนี้ต้องถึงญี่ปุ่น เร็วกว่าปลายเดือนธันวาคม
เอกสารดังนี้ต้องส่งทางไปรษณีย์ กับ ท.ร. 14/1 (เอกสารไทยเกี่ยวกับทะเบียนประชาชน) ด้วยนะครับ
Just after commencement of payment for survivors’ pension, you will get the certificate for present status of the survivors.
This certificate form will be sent to you once a year, presumably the end of November.
After signing on the certificate, you shall send it to Japan as soon as possible by airmail.
This certificate must arrive in Japan by the end of December.
This certificate must be sent to Japan with T.R.14/1. (certificate for residence)

เขียนโดยคุณพ่อ จากสวรรค์
Made by papa from the heaven.
To my loving mama.

コメ放射能検査 二段構えで日本の主食を守れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 20, 2011)
2-step test to protect Japan's staple food
コメ放射能検査 二段構えで日本の主食を守れ(8月19日付・読売社説)

The green ears of rice glitter in rays of summer sunlight in paddies around the country.

However, this year's harvest season is likely to be a worrying time for rice farmers as well as consumers.

Under the government's instructions, Tokyo and 16 prefectures, including Fukushima and Miyagi, are to examine whether rice harvested in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant contains radioactive substances.

Chiba Prefecture, which harvests rice ahead of the other 16 areas, has already begun inspections.

Anxieties about food safety spread among consumers after beef contaminated with radioactive cesium was marketed.

The central government and concerned local governments must conduct thorough inspections so consumers can eat rice without fear.
If contaminated rice is discovered, the governments must make every possible effort to prevent it from being marketed.

Rice inspections comprise two steps.

First, preharvest rice is sampled and tested in villages, towns and cities where high levels of radioactive cesium are reported in the soil and air.

Second, in municipalities where high levels of radioactive cesium are detected in rice, much more stringent inspections are carried out on harvested rice sampled in more locations.


Careful inspections essential

If radioactive cesium exceeding the government-set safety limit is found, the rice is banned from shipping and disposed of.
Compensation for this rice will be claimed from Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled nuclear power plant.

The total production of rice in Tokyo and the 16 prefectures is 4.6 million tons, half of the national production.

If the safety of Japan's staple food is threatened, the effect will be immeasurable.

In the beef case, authorities were slow in taking countermeasures.
The beef was found to be contaminated only after the meat had already been shipped.

Unlike cattle, rice does not have individual identification numbers.
If it is marketed, there is no way to trace contaminated rice.

This means that rice must be inspected much more carefully.

However, prefectural inspection institutes already have enough on their hands, as they have to deal with contaminated beef and rice straw.

If inspections take time, a significant delay in rice shipments could result.

Regardless, priority must be placed on safety.


Easy explanations needed

The rice distribution system in Japan is very complicated, and due consideration should be paid to the management system if contaminated rice is found.

Three years ago there was a case in which imported rice containing the residue of an agricultural chemical exceeding the safety limit and toxic mold was sold illegally to third parties as edible rice.

Authorities must never make such a mistake again.

Some consumers voiced concern that they would not feel safe even if the rice contains radioactive substances below the government-set limit.

Due to these fears, consumers want to purchase rice harvested last year, before the nuclear accident.

In a report by an international organization on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in the former Soviet Union in 1986, radioactive cesium was detected in the soil, but this did not cause any health problems.

The government must explain to consumers in layman's terms the safety of rice based on scientific grounds to prevent them from overreacting to radioactive contamination.

We expect consumers also to respond calmly to the situation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 19, 2011)
(2011年8月19日01時14分 読売新聞)


天国より届いた手紙 (家族を本当に愛するならば)

改訂版01 平成23年7月27日(水)
天国より届いた手紙 (家族を本当に愛するならば)









●日本語オリジナル、Japanese original draft, ภาษาญี่ปุ่น

●英語翻訳: English translation ภาษาไทย
Letter from the Heaven
To whom it may concern:
It is nice to see you again.
This letter is a kind of letter from the heaven, because I’ve already passed away.
Myself have created this letter when I’m still alive.
I’ve requested my wife, Khumpoon Sonsaard to send this letter to you immediately after my death.
I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to you and your kind assistance when I’m alive.
Thank you very much indeed.
Here enclosed is an attachment of this letter for your further assistance to the bereaved.
I’ve made every effort in creating this document but if there may be any mistake, please send it back to my wife, Khumpoon Sonsaard for necessary correction.
Then, my wife will visit the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok for appropriate advice and assistance.
I’ve already made for an arrangement in this regard with the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok.
It’s almost impossible for my wife to understand Japanese words, so staff of the Japanese Embassy is a must to carry out the deal, as they can contact my wife with Thai language.
I hope my family is able to spend a happy life, even after my death.
I never forget your thoughtful mind and kindness given to my family and myself.
Thank you so much.
Kiyoshi Matsui, from the Heaven.

●タイ語翻訳: Thai translation ภาษาไทย
ผมเขียนแล้วจดหมายนี้เมื่อผมยังไม่ตาย แล้วก็ ผมทำให้ภรรยาผม (คำพูล สอนสะอาด) ส่งจดหมายนี้ให้คุณโดยไปรษณีย์ นะครับ
ผมขอร้องขอบคุณมากมายให้แก่พวกคุณทุกคน เพราะพวกคุณช่วยครอบครัวผมเลยนะครับ ขอบคุณมากนะครับ
ผมทำเอกสารนี้เขียนให้คุณกับระมัดระวัง แต่ว่าถ้ามีเขียนผิด คุณต้องส่งให้ภรรยาผม (คำพูล สอนสะอาด) ครับมาเอกสารนะครับ
ภรรยาผมไม่เข้าใจภาษาญี่ปุ่นเลย ดังนั้นทำเองไม่ได้ เอาช่วยมาจากสถานทูตญี่ปุ่นนะครับ
เจ้าหน้าที่สถานทูตญี่ปุ่นสามารถช่วยภรรยาผมก็ได้ เพราะพวกเขาพูดภาษาไทยก็ได้นะครับ
ผมมีความปรารถนา คือ ครอบครัวผมมีความสุขนานเลยนะครับ
ผมไม่ลืมความใจดีคุณ หลังจากผมไปถึงสวรรค์ก็เหมือนกันนะครับ
ขอบคุณ มาก ๆ
kiyoshi matsui (สุรชัย)จากสวรรค์






--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 18
EDITORIAL: Noda should watch his mouth

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda should think more carefully about the implications of his words when talking about sensitive topics if he wants to become prime minister.

Noda recently said the Class-A war criminals interred at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo--wartime leaders of Japan who were convicted by the postwar Tokyo tribunal--are no longer war criminals.

During the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Noda rebutted Koizumi's argument that they were war criminals. In an Aug. 15 news conference, Noda said his position on the issue had basically not changed since that time.

Noda put his view on the issue in a written question to the Koizumi Cabinet.

The war criminals were pardoned, released or executed under agreements between the countries running the postwar judicial process, he argued.
A basic tenet of modern law is that a person's criminal guilt disappears when the sentence has been carried out.

In short, Noda believes the war criminals are no longer criminals because they paid their debt to society.

He went on to ask what was wrong with the prime minister's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine if the people enshrined there were not criminals.

The question here is not whether the sentences given to the wartime leaders were carried out. It is a historical issue about whether their acts were in fact war crimes.

Noda is off the mark.

What he says does nothing but unnecessarily hurt the feelings of many people, both Japanese and foreign, whose relatives were killed in the war.

Noda is a member of the Cabinet and intends to run in the Democratic Party of Japan's upcoming election to choose its president.

If he becomes prime minister, he will have to speak about Japan's past as the representative of our nation.

He needs to exercise discretion in both action and words.

Noda did not visit the Yasukuni Shrine on Aug. 15, the anniversary of the end of the war.

When he ran for the party leadership race in 2002, he said he would not make an official visit to the shrine on the anniversary if he became prime minister, saying such an act would cause a diplomatic row.

But, if he puts importance on Japan's diplomacy, Noda should explain his views about this and other war-related issues.

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has criticized Noda's remarks as an attempt to deny the facts about Japan's invasions of its neighbors.

Noda's stance on the war criminal issue would have unwanted effects on Japan's relations with China and South Korea but also the United States, which led the Tokyo tribunal.

Noda will face questions about this issue during the party leadership contest.

He needs to offer convincing and responsible answers to these questions and talk about his ideas about the war if he wants to be recognized as someone qualified to head the party and become Japan's prime minister.

In an article on the agenda he would pursue as the nation's leader, published in the September issue of the Bungei Shunju monthly magazine, Noda expressed his determination to tackle three crises: the decline of domestic industry, energy shortages and Japan's fiscal ills.

These certainly should be the top policy priorities at the moment and Noda should try to create a political environment that will allow for effective efforts to grapple with these formidable challenges.

Japan has been making serious, long-term efforts to come to terms with war-related issues.

Japan's leader should not do or say anything that could undermine the progress that has been made or create a situation that makes it difficult for the nation to tackle the real problems it faces today.



--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 17
EDITORIAL: China's new flattop is a 'paper tiger'

China's first aircraft carrier departed from the country's northeastern port of Dalian for sea trials on Aug. 10. The launch was cheered not only at the dockside but around China.

The Chinese have not forgotten invasions of their country in the 19th and 20th centuries by the great powers and appear to see this aircraft carrier as a symbol of their national strength.

However, the new vessel is an unsettling development for China's neighbors.

Some countries, including Vietnam, which have territorial disputes with China over islands in the South China Sea, are understandably alarmed.

In fact, the ship in question is an old tub that had its keel laid in the 1980s in the Soviet Union. It was dumped after the Soviet system collapsed.

The Chinese have reportedly refitted it completely, but it has no aircraft on board yet.

The purpose of the sea trial is just to check the vessel's engine and radar performance and other functions.

Mao Tse-tung once described the U.S. nuclear bomb as a "paper tiger."

As things stand now, we can probably borrow the former Chinese leader's words with reference to the Chinese aircraft carrier.

It doesn't even have a name yet.

The real question is how China intends to develop its naval capability in the future.

China, buoyed by its rapid economic rise, has begun to assert its national interests around the globe and has already done a phenomenal job of beefing up its navy to secure sea lanes and resources.

Although no official announcement has been made, China is understood to be building its first completely domestically produced aircraft carrier in Shanghai.

The project will rely on data from the Soviet-built flattop's sea trial.

The country is also in the process of developing anti-ship ballistic missiles that could target U.S. aircraft carriers.

Southeast Asian nations that are concerned about China's new assertiveness are stepping up their joint military exercises with the United States and increasing defense spending.

They are hurrying to acquire submarines and battleships offering more advanced capabilities.

India, which already has aircraft carriers, is now building a new flattop and is in the process of upgrading its submarine fleet.

In the meantime, the economic ties between these nations and China are growing stronger.

Asian economies including China's are developing rapidly, but income gaps are widening.

We find it unfortunate that these countries are pouring their financial resources into military expansion when that money should be spent on social security and infrastructure development.

We believe each country should focus on fostering mutual trust through patient diplomacy.

We would like to re-emphasize the gravity of China's responsibilities as a major power.

That said, Japan is at odds with China in the East China Sea.

The situation in the South China Sea is not something we can dismiss as none of our business.

Japan's defense policy is based on its alliance with the United States, and, in the context of that alliance, it is collaborating with other Asian countries to deal with China.

While maintaining this basic stance, Japan also needs to make a greater effort than ever to improve direct relations with China.










私が日本年金機構 業務渉外部 渉外グループに出した手紙、


to: 日本年金機構業務渉外部 渉外グループ
attn: 現況届担当者殿
address: 〒168-8505東京都杉並区高井戸西3丁目5番24号

cc to:日本年金機構中央年金事務所
attn: お客様相談室 ----様
address: 〒104-8175東京都中央区銀座7-13-8 第2丸高ビル 1f・2f





Kiyoshi Matsui (松井清)
99/16 Moo.13, T. Silaa, A. Muang, Khonkaen 40000, Thailand
Tel: 043-331-160

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社説:再生エネ法 着実に取り組む体制を

(Mainichi Japan) August 17, 2011
Renewable energy expansion proposed in bill an unavoidable step for Japan
社説:再生エネ法 着実に取り組む体制を

A bill requiring utilities to purchase renewable energy at fixed prices is now expected to pass in the Diet.

While many challenges still lie ahead, the establishment of a sustainable energy system is something that Japan cannot avoid, and we throw our support behind the development.

According to the proposed bill, utilities will buy electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal power, the cost of which utilities can then add to consumers' electricity bills.

Utilities heretofore have bought only surplus energy from home solar systems, but passage of the bill will require utilities to purchase electricity generated by outside providers solely for sales purposes as well.

The original goal of the bill was to curb the emission of greenhouse gases.

However, after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, the bill took on a whole new meaning.

As circumstances today differ drastically from when the bill was first drawn up, it's only natural that the bill has been revised.

The prices at which utilities will purchase electricity will be based on deliberations conducted by a third-party commission, whose members must be endorsed by the Diet.

A new proviso has also been added to the bill ensuring the implementation of measures to aid industries that consume large quantities of electricity.

Both maintaining transparency in the process by which electricity prices are set and offering special considerations for industries that will be greatly affected by the developments are crucial.

Prices must be set high enough to provide an incentive for private corporations and other parties to break into the business of energy generation.

If set too high, however, the new electricity surcharges could pose too much of a burden on large-scale energy consumers, which may then result in the hollowing out of industry and increased unemployment.

As such, prices must strike the right balance.

The unstable supply and the varied voltages and frequencies of solar- and wind-based energy are an additional concern.

Furthermore, as the power distribution networks currently used by individual utilities will not be sufficient to accommodate the new energy system, arrangements such as the widespread use of various power distribution networks must be made.

The strategy of initially storing generated electricity in batteries set up by households and businesses before stabilizing the energy is another way to expand the use of renewable energy.

Although one of the original motivations behind the increased use of renewable energy sources had been the reduction of greenhouse gases, in light of the nuclear disaster and the nuclear power plants that are currently not in operation as a result, we have no choice but to increase our use of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal for the time being.

This means we have a huge task ahead of us: reducing our dependence on nuclear power while also aiming to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

Realizing the widespread use of electricity generated from renewable sources is something we cannot postpone.  ただ、持続可能なエネルギー供給の実現は不可避の課題だ。

And we must not forget that adopting the new energy system will promote the growth of new business opportunities, including the creation of a smart grid -- the digitization of electrical grids through collaboration with the communications industry.

We hope to continue promoting the expansion of renewable energy, along with energy conservation and related policies.

毎日新聞 2011年8月17日 東京朝刊



--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 14
EDITORIAL: Thinking about the end of the war; for a better democracy.

A young officer murmurs: "There is never any victory for those who do not progress. The best thing that could happen to us is to be defeated now and thus wake up. When will we be saved if we don't wake up now?"

In the spring of 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato received orders to embark on a suicide mission.

The young officer's words were written down by a shipmate, Mitsuru Yoshida, in his "Senkan Yamato no Saigo" (Requiem for Battleship Yamato).

His country had effectively forced him to meaningless end, but it seems the young officer still clung to hope.

Yet, did we really achieve progress? Did we wake up? Have we really been saved? Aug. 15 marks the 66th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.

--When will we wake up, if not now?--

In August, shortly before Japan's defeat, a young trainee officer who was drafted as a student found himself on the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture.

He was in command of troops preparing for a final showdown with U.S. forces.

They were defending an area they called "Ichikoro Jinchi" (easily defeated trench).

They had four cannons and only 72 rounds.

In a shooting match, their ammunition would not last even a few minutes.

When he asked his superior officer, "How are we going to fight with this?", the major replied on the spur of the moment, "When it comes to the push, there will be loads and loads of shells."

After the war, the young trainee officer joined the Ministry of Finance and became a so-called elite bureaucrat.  若者は戦後、旧大蔵省に入りエリートと呼ばれる身となる。

Ritsuo Isobe, now 89, once headed the National Tax Agency.

His view of the wartime elite, mainly professional soldiers, is that "they were interested in nothing but their own promotion, and spared no thought about how they should conduct themselves for the sake of their country and the people."

In those days, the country sought additional enemies despite already being caught up in the quagmire of the Sino-Japanese war.

As the United States was Japan's supplier of oil and other resources, it was unthinkable that Japan would dive headlong into the Pacific War against that country.

Yet, it was the military professionals who twisted the narrative, self-servingly calling it a war of survival and a matter of self-defense.

They rallied the country around those slogans. The citizens, whipped up into a frenzy by the early victories, answered the call and rallied around the military men.

Why did they choose the path of self-destruction?

In December, the movie "Isoroku Yamamoto" will be released.

The actor playing the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet is Koji Yakusho.

When we asked him his views after having played Yamamoto, Yakusho answered, "This country has a history of the elite running things as they see fit, and thinking that's all right. The same thing is happening now.

And on the other hand, the public is always serious about making money, but tends to forget things that are important."

--A negative structure repeated--

The same pattern was repeated after the war.

In the case of the bubble economy, the responsibility lay with the bureaucrats who left the excessive money supply as it was, and also with the public.
That is because they capitalized on the booming assets by snatching up real estate and stocks, thereby inflating their prices far beyond their actual worth.

As a result, the prices of these assets went into a nosedive, creating a huge amount of bad loans. But the bureaucrats procrastinated about releasing information, which in turn delayed the solution.

"The country was defeated, but there are roads."

Spending on public works projects spun out of control.

Wasteful investments were made one after another, turning farm roads into airstrips, erecting opulent public buildings, and so on.

After the spending spree, we were left with an enormous fiscal deficit.

And now the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Was that not a story caused by overconfidence in the "nuclear village" comprising electric power companies, pro-nuclear bureaucrats and scholars?

Despite being one of the most quake-prone countries on Earth, Japan built 54 nuclear reactors, apparently ignoring the fact that massive tsunami are known to strike.

There were even plans to build at least 14 additional reactors by 2030, and raise our reliance on nuclear energy for electricity generation to 50 percent or higher.

Our excessive reliance on nuclear power was left unchecked and tolerated.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, along with the power companies, closed their eyes to the realities of this quake-prone country.

They released convenient and palatable information, but they hid inconvenient data.

They also staged fake Q&A sessions to manipulate public opinion.

This is just as bad as the wartime "daihonei happyo," or the military wartime propaganda that issued lie after lie about the war situation.

But is this just the nuclear village's fault?

Tatsuhiro Kamisato, a project associate professor at the University of Tokyo, is a member of the Nippon Mae e Iinkai (Japan forward committee) set up by The Asahi Shimbun. He says the true cause of the nuclear crisis lies in the fact that "we failed to carry out a full-fledged democratic debate about nuclear energy," and that both "the closed system of experts" and "the lack of interest among most of the public" were complicit in allowing the accident to happen.

National defense and securing stable energy supplies are vital functions of government.

But the public went so far as to entrust their lives and properties to the bureaucrats and experts, sometimes standing by and just watching, while at other times making frantic efforts to obtain profits.

Perhaps this national habit of dependency and irresponsibility lies at the root of the repetitive failures that our country has experienced.

-- Our intent to protect --

Each and every individual citizen should have the intent to protect their life and property; it is then that citizens can choose the people who will take those intentions and turn them into reality, make them our politicians and have them work for us.

We have no choice but to create a system whereby the public and politicians can check the value and risks of a given issue.

This essentially amounts to reconstructing a better, more decent democracy. We have no other choice.

Information is desperately important.

Alex Kerr, a scholar on East Asian culture, says that bureaucrats and a handful of experts have dominated information, and it was up to them to make the decisions.

By rights, that should be the politicians' and citizens' job, but they have been neglected, he says.

As early as 2002, Kerr already wrote in his book, "Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Modern Japan," how Japan's pork-barrel, bureaucrat-led politics and information manipulation by the nuclear village constituted the dark side of Japan.

He says that this structure has not changed since the war, all the way down to Fukushima. In order to change this, there is no other way but to tear down their monopoly of information, he says.

Healthy, independent journalism bears a heavy responsibility and has a major role to play.

Our role is to prevent the bureaucrats from monopolizing or manipulating information, and make sure that everyone whose lives and assets might be at risk get to share that information.

We seek to fulfill our role without forgetting the history of failures.

Only after having done so can we finally reply to the young officer on the Yamato. "Finally, we will take one step forward so that we can wake up and be saved."