ギリシャ支援 危機回避へ延長が不可欠だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Extension of bailout program for Greece essential to avoid European debt crisis
ギリシャ支援 危機回避へ延長が不可欠だ

Can a possible flare-up of the European sovereign debt crisis be prevented? Tensions are building over the current situation.

A meeting of the 19 finance ministers of the eurozone on how Greece can meet its debt commitments ended without an accord.

European creditors asserted that Greece would apply to extend the current bailout program for six months on condition that it would maintain tight budgetary discipline.

But Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis rejected this, saying the current bailout program had failed to stabilize the Greek economy.

Eurozone creditors plan to hold more talks with Greece, possibly on Friday, to reach an agreement, but the views of Greece and other eurozone nations remain far apart.

At this point, it is uncertain whether the current bailout program, which ends on Feb. 28, can be maintained.

Should the bailout be discontinued, Greece will face a lack of funds, raising the risk of the country defaulting on its debts.

If the sovereign debt crisis worsens, not only would the Greek economy go bankrupt but the economy of the entire eurozone would eventually plunge into a financial quagmire. Extending the bailout program is essential to avoid seriously affecting the world economy.

Greece must endure the pain of tightening its budgetary belt in return for financing from other eurozone countries, which helped Greece pay the price of its own loose fiscal discipline over many years.

The Coalition of the Radical Left, led by Alexis Tsipras — now prime minister — won the general election last month and came to power after adopting an anti-austerity position.

By honoring its campaign pledge, the ruling coalition may have no other recourse but to reject the austerity program presented by creditor countries.

Lack of strong industries

Except for tourism and agriculture, the Greek economy has had no strong industries for many years, while the ratio of public service workers to the total working population is high.

As a result of the Greek government’s handling of the economy, which relies heavily on fiscal spending, its society lost much of its vigor, with its debts mounting due to increasing expenditures and sluggish tax revenues.

To revitalize Greece, there is no other way but to restructure the nation’s fiscal discipline in accordance with the bailout program of the European Union and other entities, while drastically reforming its inefficient economic structure.

In some other eurozone countries, political parties advocating “anti-austerity” stances are gaining public support, as was seen in Greece.

Worried that loose fiscal discipline may spread to countries in southern Europe and elsewhere, the EU is strongly pressing Greece to toe the austerity line.

Should the bailout talks collapse completely, Greece’s departure from the eurozone will become a real possibility. As this would undermine confidence in the euro system, such a situation must be avoided.

The EU should explore compromises such as easing the terms for repayment, while maintaining, in principle, the current bailout framework.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 18, 2015)


社説:旅券返納命令 前例にしてはならない

February 10, 2015(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Exercise prudence in restricting overseas travel
社説:旅券返納命令 前例にしてはならない

Passports serve as the most effective official identification cards for their bearers when they travel overseas. The Foreign Ministry describes passports on its website as the second most important things for their bearers next only to their lives. Therefore, the ministry's confiscation of the passport of a freelance photographer who had planned to visit Syria in late February to gather news should not be regarded as a precedent.
The ministry took the action under Article 19 of the Passport Act, which allows authorities to order individuals to return their passports if it is necessary to force them to call off their planned overseas trips to protect their lives or assets. This is the first time that the clause has been invoked to confiscate a passport since the law came into force in 1951.

Article 22 of the Constitution guarantees citizens the freedom to travel overseas along with the freedom to change their residence and choose their occupation as their inherent rights. Moreover, freedom of the press is inevitable in a democratic society, which is guaranteed by journalists' news-gathering activities.

On the other hand, the ruthless Islamic State (IS) militant group now rules some areas of Syria. The photographer had intended to go to northern Syria in a bid to cover refugee camps and other places that are not under the rule of the militants. However, it would be almost impossible to completely eliminate risks of being targeted by the militants.
 他方でシリアは、イスラム過激派組織「イスラム国」(IS=Islamic State)がまだら状に支配している。カメラマンはシリア北部に入り、ISの支配下にない難民キャンプなどを取材するつもりだったというが、リスクを完全に遮断できるとは思えない。

The IS has released the painful images of two Japanese hostages, whom the group claims it has murdered, and threatened to target any Japanese national wherever they are. Should the photographer be confined by the Islamic State group, it would not only endanger his life but also adversely affect Japan's diplomatic policies. In the latest hostage crisis, the Jordanian government got involved in the case, demonstrating that the adverse effects of terrorism could spread to the international community.

The photographer's plan to visit Syria was reported by some media outlets after the hostage crisis came to a tragic end. It was only natural that the Foreign Ministry urged the photographer to call off his trip, considering that the timing of his planned visit to Syria was so close to the time of the recent hostage crisis and that if he were to be attacked by terrorists, it would have a serious political impact on Japan.

What is regrettable is how the ministry forced the photographer to cancel his trip.

The fact that the Foreign Ministry had never ordered anyone to return their passports under Article 19 of the Passport Act highlights the seriousness of the impact of such an order. Without a passport, it is impossible for anyone to travel overseas. As such, the ministry should have sought other methods to avoid forcibly imposing restrictions on the freedom to travel overseas guaranteed by the Constitution, though there was little time to act.

The Foreign Ministry has so far urged members of the public to refrain from visiting certain countries or evacuate depending on the countries' levels of danger. There are calls within the ruling coalition for more effective measures to force members of the public to refrain from visiting dangerous countries or areas. However, such measures would allow the government to intervene more deeply in people's daily lives under the pretext of protecting Japanese nationals. It could also lead to indirect media regulations.

The government should exercise prudence in restricting Japanese nationals' overseas travel and treat the latest measure as an exception.

毎日新聞 2015年02月10日 02時30分




February 08, 2015(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the heart: News-induced trauma
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:ニュースからのトラウマ /東京

The abduction of Japanese nationals by the so-called "Islamic State" militant group ended in the worst way possible. Moreover, people who watched the videos or listened to the recorded messages associated with this incident likely experienced an enormous amount of fear.

An increasing number of my clients have told me that they became afraid after watching the news regarding these recent events. In terms of figures, this is in fact the highest number of patients who have reported such feelings to me since the time period following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Parents with children have also asked me, "Is it okay to let our kids watch the news about these types of incidents that involve hostage-taking and killing?"

My response in such cases has been, "Don't let your children watch the videos -- but it is probably a good idea if you do show them the newspaper articles and explain to them what occurred."

I also commented via Internet channels that "children should be protected from the trauma of such shocking videos." This statement was met with numerous objections, however, from people saying things like, "Don't look away from reality," or "Don't prevent children from finding out information that they wish to know about," or "Hiding these televised images from children is counterproductive, since they will just go and try to find them on the Internet."

I agree that it is never good to overly conceal or distort the truth -- even when we are talking about children. It is also clear that we must not attempt to shield our children from media or news reports that we find shocking. To the contrary, the recent incident could provide an opportunity for a very meaningful experience in terms of parents and children sitting down together in front of an atlas and discussing together what happened.

At the same time, however, recent research has revealed cases whereby people -- particularly children -- have experienced trauma from seeing images from disasters and incidents that occurred in far-away places, after they were broadcast on sources including television.

I have additionally heard compelling comments from university students who told me, "I suffered an enormous shock 10 years ago when a young Japanese man was taken hostage and killed in Iraq -- and all of that fear just came flooding back to me again on the occasion of the recent hostage-taking incident."

At the time, those students would have been elementary school and junior high school-aged students.

Images of the Japanese youth being kidnapped and killed have a different impact upon young minds than upon adults -- and some of these young students likely did indeed experience lingering trauma as a result.

The question of how much shocking news should be shown to children is one that should be considered carefully in each individual household.

This does not mean, however, simply showing children such images in a point-blank manner.

Rather, we must know that we have the choice to avoid such images in order to protect our own mental stability. This goes for adults, moreover, just as much as children.

In my view, praying for the souls of the dead -- while also protecting the feelings of oneself and one's family -- is another way through which we can work against terrorism.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2015年02月03日 地方版


対「イスラム国」 国際社会は包括的戦略を探れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
International community must explore comprehensive strategies against ISIL
対「イスラム国」 国際社会は包括的戦略を探れ

To contain the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group, which has repeatedly carried out atrocious criminal acts, the international community must devise and implement a comprehensive strategy.

ISIL, which is believed to have brutally murdered two Japanese hostages in Syria in recent days, released an online video showing its slaying of a captured Jordanian Air Force pilot.

Through the barbaric method of burning the captive alive in a cage, the group expressed its vengeance against Jordan, which is participating in the U.S.-led bombing raids against ISIL. Designed to instill terror in the hearts of those who watch it, the footage serves as part of the militant group’s heartless propaganda campaign.

The video also appears to show photos of other Jordanian pilots, and calls on them not to join the U.S-led airstrikes against ISIL, shaking the Jordanian side.

In retaliation, the Jordanian government executed Sajida al-Rishawi, a death-row convict who was taken into custody by Jordanian authorities as a failed suicide bomber in the 2005 Amman attacks. The militants had allegedly demanded Jordan release Rishawi.

The Jordanian government also said it will take additional measures militarily.

ISIL seeks to bring down the existing international order, and has called for overthrowing the Jordanian monarchy. Tension between ISIL and Jordan is certain to grow through a chain of hatred. It is feared that the situation in the Middle East may be destabilized.

The international community must unite to support Jordan, a country that stands at the forefront of the war against terrorism.

U.S. President Barack Obama and King Abdullah II of Jordan held talks at the White House on Tuesday and vowed to strengthen cooperation between their two countries to eradicate ISIL.

Rally for global action

British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande strongly condemned ISIL’s actions. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also expressed solidarity with the people of Jordan.

The U.S.-led international “coalition of the willing” of more than 60 countries against ISIL needs to cooperate and take concrete action to thwart the extremist group.

At an international ministerial meeting on counterterrorism to be held in Washington on Feb. 19, ministers must affirm the need to strengthen the coalition’s military campaign, to cut off the flow of funds to terrorists, stop would-be militants from joining ISIL, and expand assistance to Jordan and other moderate Arab nations.

During his talks with the Jordanian king, Obama emphasized that the United States and its allies “are determined to see the extremist group and their hateful ideology banished to the recesses of history.” We will watch how the U.S.-led coalition follows through with its determination.

The U.S. Defense Department has requested $5.3 billion for its fiscal 2016 budget, up about 4 percent from fiscal 2015, to finance operations against ISIL. To eliminate the militant group, it is essential to train Iraq’s military and Kurdish fighters as well as provide military assistance to bolster their equipment and conduct airstrikes.

The leadership of the United States is greatly needed.

Deep-rooted problems in the Middle East, such as poverty, social disparity and political corruption, are behind the fact that many combatants have flocked to join ISIL. Therefore, it is also important to promote mid- and long-term strategies, such as extending support to Middle Eastern countries to help reform their governance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 5, 2015)Speech