台湾新総統 民意に沿う現状維持

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 21
EDITORIAL: Taiwan’s Tsai set right tone for endorsing status quo with China
(社説)台湾新総統 民意に沿う現状維持

The relationship between China and Taiwan is one of the primary factors for peace and stability in Asia.

Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, aired her thoughts about the island’s ties with China in her inaugural speech May 20.

Speaking in the subtropical sunlight in front of the Presidential Office building in Taipei, Tsai pledged to promote “stable and peaceful development” of Taiwan’s relations with China through diplomatic efforts based on “existing realities and political foundations.” This is effectively an endorsement of the status quo that has defined bilateral ties. We welcome her moderate stance toward the touchy issue.

The delicate and complicated cross-strait relationship requires careful and cautions handling.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must unify with the mainland eventually. This is what is known as the "One China" principle.

Of Taiwan’s two major political parties, the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, accepts the “One China” principle, but with China meaning the Republic of China, not the People’s Republic of China.

Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party, in contrast, rejects this principle and claims that Taiwan and China are different countries.

Alarmed by Tsai’s ascent to power, Beijing has urged the new Taiwanese president to endorse the so-called 92 consensus, or an agreement allegedly reached in 1992 between Chinese and Taiwanese negotiators that both sides would accept the “One China” principle while interpreting the term China independently according to their respective positions.

In her speech, Tsai didn’t mention the term “92 consensus,” but acknowledged, as a “historical fact,” that the two sides “arrived at various joint acknowledgements and understandings” in 1992.

The way Tsai referred to this topic may not be quite satisfactory for China. But she also refrained from mentioning her party’s position supporting Taiwan’s independence. China should appreciate her rhetoric on the issue as the strongest possible political gesture of compromise she could make.

A majority of people in Taiwan value their identity as Taiwanese while putting much importance on exchanges with China.

As a result, they believe that maintaining the status quo is the best realistic option for Taiwan, subscribing to the view that the choice of either unification or independence is best left to the distant future.

Tsai’s speech faithfully echoes the public’s well-balanced sensibility.

The maintenance of the status quo of the China-Taiwan relationship is also reassuring for other countries in the region.

Taiwan is located close to Okinawa and the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and maintains effective control over the largest natural island in the disputed Spratly island chain in the South China Sea.

Taiwan is a vital player in efforts to maintain stability in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and its related actions have direct bearings on Japan’s security.

Touching on the territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea in her address, Tsai called for a cool-headed attitude on the part of all the parties involved, proposing “setting aside disputes so as to enable joint development.”

China should take her call seriously. It is China that is seeking to change the status quo in the region by enhancing its naval power and reclaiming reefs in disputed areas.

During the previous Taiwanese administration of Ma Ying-jeou, Japan and Taiwan scored some notable diplomatic achievements, including bilateral agreements on investment, taxation and fishing.

Japan and Taiwan have highly complementary economic relations as well as various common policy challenges, such as the aging of society, frequent natural disasters and problems related to nuclear power generation.

Let us hope that cooperation between Tokyo and Taipei will make further progress under the Tsai administration.
posted by srachai at 08:56| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


五輪招致疑惑 厳正に実態の解明を

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 20
EDITORIAL: Rigorous probe needed to study Tokyo Olympics bid payments
(社説)五輪招致疑惑 厳正に実態の解明を

Dark clouds of suspicion are gathering over Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Allegations have emerged that Japan made dubious cash payments to win the right to hold the world’s largest sports event in its capital.

The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) has decided to form a special task force to investigate the allegations, which will include at least one independent lawyer.

As the host of the Summer Games in 2020, Japan is responsible for rigorously confronting and responding to the allegations.

The government, which strongly supported Tokyo’s bid, should actively cooperate in the investigation to help establish the truth.

The suspicion of bribery came to light when French prosecutors said earlier this month that they had launched a probe into dubious cash transfers from a bank in Japan to the account in Singapore of a company with an unsavory reputation. The focus of the inquiry is on the JOC’s payments of some 230 million yen ($2.09 million) to the consulting firm in the months immediately prior to and after Tokyo was awarded the Games in 2013.

The company, Black Tidings, is believed to have close ties with the son of Lamine Diack, the now disgraced former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations and member of the International Olympic Committee. Diack is suspected of having played a role in covering up a Russian doping case.

The company disappeared in 2014 after Tokyo was chosen in September 2013 as the 2020 host, beating Madrid and Istanbul in an IOC vote in Buenos Aires.

People involved in Tokyo’s winning bid have denied any wrongdoing in their campaign, claiming the funds were paid as legitimate consulting fees.

But no specifics about the services provided by the company have been offered.

The people involved say they cannot reveal the details because of a confidentiality agreement with the firm.
But the appropriateness of paying more than 200 million yen in consulting fees should be examined.

Serious efforts should also be made to determine how the company spent the money.

During a recent Diet session, Tsunekazu Takeda, one of the leaders of Tokyo’s Olympics bid, faced questions about whether the consulting firm had been selected in an aboveboard manner.

It has been reported that a person working for the company approached the JOC for a contract to provide consulting services for Tokyo’s bid. Before deciding to hire the company, the JOC sought input from Dentsu Inc., the leading ad agency contracted for the JOC’s marketing and advertising activities. Dentsu reportedly told the JOC that the individual merited receiving the consulting contract.

Dentsu should cooperate with the efforts to investigate the allegations. What were the grounds on which the ad agency judged the person to be worthy of the costly contract? Dentsu should assist in the investigation even if all it can disclose is information about the person’s business track record.

The influence of big money has grown over the years, not just in regard to the Olympics, but in the international sports community as a whole. Rumors of various forms of backdoor deals have haunted many powerful international sports organizations.

International consultants have been suspected to have played roles in some deals, but little is known about their actual operations.

The world sports community has been hit by a string of financial scandals in recent years. FIFA, the world’s soccer governing body, has been engulfed by claims of widespread corruption, while money has emerged as a major factor behind alleged state-sponsored doping by dozens of top Russian athletes.

The leaders of the Group of Seven major industrial nations are expected to discuss the issue of corruption in sports in their meeting in Mie Prefecture on May 26-27.

As the country hosting this year’s G-7 summit, Japan should demonstrate a firm commitment to leading international efforts to eliminate the rot in sporting events and organizations and restore public trust in them.
posted by srachai at 09:58| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


1億総活躍 具体化への道筋示せ

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 19
EDITORIAL: Abe’s plan to stoke economic growth still lacks vital specifics
(社説)1億総活躍 具体化への道筋示せ

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has cobbled together a package for its key policy of creating a “society where 100 million people play active roles.”

The package, announced on May 18, is designed to revive Japan’s economic growth by pumping up consumer spending. The government has pledged to achieve the policy goal by taking steps to heighten the livelihood security of people, mainly in the social security area, so that they will feel safe about spending. This is a recipe for “a virtuous cycle of growth and distribution,” the Abe administration says.

While the package contains a broad array of measures, its focus is on labor and child and nursing care.

The goals set for this policy agenda include: realizing the “same pay for same work” principle and a minimum wage of 1,000 yen ($9.20) per hour to improve the fortunes of nonregular workers; cutting long working hours; and raising the wages of child-care and nursing-care workers to ease labor shortages in these sectors.

These are all important policy issues the government has been tackling for many years without much success. Clearly, the government should accelerate its efforts to achieve these goals.
But none of them is easy to accomplish, and there is no clear and specific road map to the goals.

With an Upper House election drawing near, the policy package will certainly be criticized as a mere attempt to garner votes if the Abe administration fails to make serious efforts to achieve the ambitious goals it has announced.

The initiative will serve as an acid test of Abe’s commitment to the policy goals and ability to deliver on his promises.

The administration has pledged to revise the related laws to ensure “same pay for same work.” But it needs to first offer a clear definition for what constitutes unreasonable disparities in pay.

The “same pay” principle should not mean that the generally low wages of nonregular workers will become the standard. This creed should lead to a general rise in wage levels.

Long working hours have been cited as a stumbling block in Japanese people’s efforts to continue working while rearing children or caring for aged parents.
The administration says it will assign a labor ministry council to the task of deciding whether the related regulations should be changed.

But the administration, for its part, should first lay down basic principles for the reform, such as the introduction of ceilings on working hours.

Increasing the number of day-care centers and nursing-care homes would be meaningless unless they can attract workers.

The government has taken a step in the right direction by deciding on wage hikes for child-care and nursing-care workers in the next fiscal year.
But it has postponed the vital decision on how to finance the step, estimated to cost 200 billion yen, until the year-end season for formulating the budget for fiscal 2017.

As for the education area, the administration has stopped short of proposing a scholarship program that doesn’t require repayment, an idea that has been attracting much public attention. Again due to financing problems, the administration has only promised to consider the idea.

Some policymakers are calling for using the increase in tax revenue from the effects of Abe’s expansionary economic policy, known as Abenomics. But this is far from stable financial resources for vital policy measures.

It would also be wrongheaded to cut spending on other important policy programs to secure funds for these measures.

The government has long promised to expand child-care support as part of its “integrated tax and social security reform.”

But the initiative will face a fund shortfall of 300 billion yen even if the consumption tax rate is raised to 10 percent as planned. The government has yet to devise a plausible plan to fund measures to carry out its promises, such as increasing child-care workers.

The government should raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent as scheduled as the first step in tackling this challenge. It should also confront the reality that the tax hike will not be enough to secure necessary funds to expand child-care support.
If it is really committed to dealing with this policy challenge in a responsible manner, the government should steadily implement the proposed measures while showing taxpayers a convincing financing plan.
posted by srachai at 09:15| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


台湾政権交代 中国は大人の対応を

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 18
EDITORIAL: China needs to act maturely with new Taiwan administration
(社説)台湾政権交代 中国は大人の対応を

As an expression of China’s earnest hope for its unification with Taiwan, the Xi Jinping administration refers to Taiwanese citizens as “compatriots.”

However, the administration is treating them as anything but. Beijing is restricting the traffic of tourists to Taiwan and increasingly staying away from economic and academic conferences held in Taiwan.

With a change of government coming up in Taiwan on May 20 following the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) landslide election victory over the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Xi administration is putting the squeeze on Taiwan. A Beijing official in charge of China-Taiwan relations recently warned his Taiwanese counterpart to the effect that they could not talk candidly like “real brothers.”

Beijing’s overbearing attitude is hardly likely to help build a future-oriented China-Taiwan relationship. The people of Taiwan have voted for a new administration of their choice, and Beijing ought to humbly accept the results.

The KMT was in power for the last eight years. Originally a Chinese political party, the KMT deepened Taiwan’s ties with China in keeping with the “one China” concept.

On the other hand, the DPP’s stance is that Taiwan and China are separate sovereign states, even though the party attaches importance to ties with Beijing. But Beijing has been applying all sorts of pressure on the DPP to retract its basic principle.

There was also a development regarding Taiwan’s planned participation as an observer in this year’s World Health Assembly, which will be held next week in Switzerland.

Not only did Taiwan receive its invitation late this year, but the invitation also spelled out that it was being sent on the understanding that there is only “one China.” Taipei believes it is being “tested” by China through the WHO.

In Kenya, 45 Taiwanese were arrested on suspicion of remittance fraud. But the suspects were extradited to China, not to Taiwan. Taiwanese authorities are objecting vehemently to Beijing, claiming the latter interfered with the Kenyan government in the extradition procedure.

The Xi administration may well be thinking that letting Taiwan’s new DPP administration go unchecked is tantamount to accepting the split with Taiwan. But China’s high-handedness, which barely conceals its intent to pull rank on Taiwan, will only raise questions in the international community about China’s Taiwan policy.

Economic ties have certainly strengthened between China and Taiwan, but the Taiwanese people have become less interested in unification.

This is not only because it has been 67 years since the split. In Taiwan’s view, the problem is that China has not abandoned the option of using military force to realize the unification, nor has it shown any real signs of democratization.

It will be difficult for the Xi administration to win the hearts of the people of Taiwan by simply pressuring them into accepting the “one China” concept.

We urge Beijing to quietly watch the start of Taiwan’s democratically elected new administration, and then strive to start new dialogue in earnest. It is this sort of “maturity” that we expect of Beijing.
posted by srachai at 10:52| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


沖縄復帰44年 道遠い「本土」との平等

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 17
EDITORIAL: Okinawa has yet to gain equality in 44 years since return to Japan
(社説)沖縄復帰44年 道遠い「本土」との平等

May 15 marked the 44th anniversary of Okinawa’s return to Japan following nearly three decades under the control of the U.S. military, which seized the island prefecture in the closing days of World War II.

But we still have to question whether Okinawa has really been fully integrated into Japan.

A 42-year-old man from Osaka who took part for the first time in the annual “5.15 Peace March,” which brings together members of labor unions and citizen groups, went to see Camp Schwab the previous day. Camp Schwab is a U.S. Marine Corps base in the Henoko district of Nago, which has been designated as the site of a new military base to replace the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma currently located in the crowded city of Ginowan in the prefecture.

While he was on a boat inspecting areas that will be reclaimed for construction of the new base, he was warned against approaching off-limits areas by a patrol boat of the Okinawa Defense Bureau.

But the patrol boat said nothing to U.S. military personnel paddling canoes nearby. The man felt as if he were in an area that was not part of Japanese territory.

In the 1950s, U.S. Marines were stationed in Yamanashi and Gifu prefectures. As public opposition to the presence of U.S. bases on the mainland grew, the Marines were transferred to Okinawa, which was under U.S. administrative control. Camp Schwab is one of the bases built in Okinawa in those days.

Immediately after its reversion to Japan in 1972, Okinawa Prefecture, which comprises 0.6 percent of the nation’s land mass, was home to 59 percent of U.S. military facilities in Japan. The ratio is now nearly 75 percent.

While U.S. bases on the mainland have diminished sharply over the decades, the U.S. military presence is Okinawa remains heavy.

There have been some positive developments. The U.S. aerial refueling tankers stationed at the Futenma base, for instance, were moved to the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2014.
But no plan to relocate a U.S. base out of Okinawa has been implemented.

In 2010, the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan floated the idea of moving the Futenma air base to Tokunoshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture. In 2015, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed to transfer Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft stationed at the Futenma base to Saga airport on a provisional basis.
Both plans, however, were abandoned amid strong opposition from the local communities concerned.

There have also been signs of inequality between the mainland and Okinawa in the government’s policy responses to issues related to U.S. military bases.

When U.S. forces’ live-fire drills were transferred from Okinawa to five areas on the mainland in 1997, the former Defense Facilities Administration Agency (now the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency) created a program to subsidize the costs of noise insulation work at affected houses.

This program, however, had long remained unknown in Okinawa.

The city of Nago, home to Camp Schwab, is now distrustful of the government for failing to apply the program to Okinawa.

The government has shown no intention to reconsider its plan to relocate the Futenma base to Henoko despite strong opposition among the public in Okinawa.

The reclamation work in Henoko has been suspended since the central and prefectural governments reached a settlement in their court battle over the relocation plan.
A new legal battle will likely erupt between the two sides, however, unless the central government changes its stance toward the issue.

The Abe administration should liberate itself from the rigid idea that the only choices are to either maintain the Futenma base in Ginowan or move it to Henoko. It should start exploring other options, including relocation out of the prefecture.

People in Okinawa have long been yearning to see their island prefecture freed from the heavy burden of hosting so many U.S. military bases. But they see little hope of their wish being answered after more than four decades since Okinawa was reverted to Japan.

For many people in the prefecture, it is difficult to take a first step toward Okinawa’s true integration into Japan because they do not feel they are being treated equally with the rest of the nation by the government.

This is a situation that raises many serious questions also for local governments and people on the mainland.
posted by srachai at 10:59| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


ビキニ被曝提訴 国の情報開示があまりに遅い

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Govt too late in disclosing radiation data from H-bomb tests at Bikini Atoll
ビキニ被曝提訴 国の情報開示があまりに遅い

Can a recent lawsuit help uncover the damage caused by U.S. hydrogen bomb tests at the Bikini Atoll, which are still surrounded by so many mysteries?

The tests were conducted in the Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific in 1954. A group of 45 people − including former crew members of fishing boats that were operating in waters around the test site and members of the families of deceased former fishermen − have filed the suit with the Kochi District Court to seek compensation from the state.

There were more than 270 cases in which fishing boats from Kochi Prefecture alone were operating in waters near the site when they were exposed to radiation from the six hydrogen bomb tests conducted from March to May that year. The government conducted surveys of the damage but did not disclose the results.

The plaintiffs claim that the government’s reluctance to disclose these records deprived them of the opportunity to seek compensation, and are demanding \2 million per person.

It is widely known that 23 crew members of the Fukuryu Maru No. 5, a tuna fishing boat from Shizuoka Prefecture, were exposed to radiation through one of the hydrogen bomb tests at the Bikini Atoll. One of the crew died half a year later.

However, the actual damage to other Japanese fishing boats remains unclear.

Regarding the Fukuryu Maru No. 5, the Japanese and U.S. governments reached a political settlement in January 1955, in which the United States agreed to pay $2 million in compensation to Japan, regardless of Washington’s legal responsibility.

Explain convincingly

The plaintiffs accuse the Japanese government of releasing the U.S. government from legal liability through the settlement. However, Japan reached the agreement very soon after regaining independence and the deal certainly reflected a high level of political judgement. There are elements of this settlement that do not allow us to judge it casually.

The problem is that the government did not disclose the records of its investigations for decades. It only made them public in September 2014 following a request for disclosure from a support group for the plaintiffs and other parties concerned. We can only describe the disclosure as too late.

The government’s documents, which were used by the plaintiffs as evidence of the harm they suffered, detail the investigations into 556 cases of the radiation exposure of fishing boats and their crew members.

It cannot be overlooked that the government had long denied the existence of those documents, most notably when it said these records “cannot be found” in response to a question posed in the Diet in 1986.

Asked why their whereabouts were suddenly known, the government said it discovered them “at a repository following an exhaustive search.”

The government cannot help but be suspected to have intentionally concealed the documents. It is understandable that former fishermen and bereaved relatives of deceased former crew members feel that way, because they could not even know whether they were exposed to radiation.

Most of the former crew members who have joined the lawsuit are now over 80 years old, and many of them say their health is deteriorating. More people could claim they were harmed as more details are discovered about radiation exposure from the hydrogen bomb tests.

According to the government’s documents, the doses of radiation experienced by former crew members and others from the hydrogen bomb tests were much lower than the permissible level set for accidents by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Even so, the government has a responsibility to provide convincing explanations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 15, 2016)
posted by srachai at 11:18| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


香山リカのココロの万華鏡 : ふつうってすばらしい /東京

May 8, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Normal is wonderful
香山リカのココロの万華鏡 : ふつうってすばらしい /東京

Among the people who come to see me at my office, sometimes there are those who complain that their daily lives are too uneventful and boring. Of course, they come for some other reason, like insomnia or irritation, but the cause of those symptoms seems to be in their "uneventful" lives.

Once, a woman who was approaching her 50th birthday had this problem.

She told me, "Both my children are adults, and my husband is hard-working, but our conversations lack a little in excitement. After five years he will retire, but he apparently has no plans for after that. When I think that maybe my life is going to end like this, I feel suffocated. Every day is just a repeat."

I suggested she find hobbies or volunteer, but she turned those down, sighing and saying there wasn't anything in particular she wanted to do. To other people it would hardly look like the woman had something to complain about, but she was serious.

This "every day is the same" complaint, though, can easily disappear. People who were affected by the recent Kumamoto Earthquake are saying on social networking services how they wish they could return to "a normal life." I have seen an online comment that said, "I'm not asking for something special. I just want to wake up in my house, go to work, come home, eat and sleep. While living at an evacuation shelter that kind of lifestyle seems like a dream."

If the people writing things like that saw the complaint of the woman who came to see me, they would probably want to say to her, "What are you talking about? There is nothing as wonderful as regular everyday living."

However, people are troubled creatures, and while in times of disaster they may think "I would be thankful for a regular everyday life," once their situation settles back down, they quickly start wanting this and that again.

Of course, it can be said that it is because people strive so much that our society has come this far, but the problem is that we feel dissatisfied when our wants aren't met. The woman who complained that everyday life was boring thought that a life full of change was more valuable than what she had. Dissatisfied with her life, she was stressed.

I hope that, even if people desire more, they will be able to convince themselves that the regular life is wonderful and that there is satisfaction to be found there. This is obvious, but we are quick to forget it.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
posted by srachai at 11:46| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


米大統領・広島へ /下 被爆者、訪問の意義評価 謝罪なき「和解」に懸念も

May 14, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Hibakusha praise Obama Hiroshima visit, but fear history will go unquestioned
米大統領・広島へ /下 被爆者、訪問の意義評価 謝罪なき「和解」に懸念も

It was fall of 2009, about six months after U.S. President Barack Obama made his historic speech about seeking a world without nuclear weapons, that U.S. Ambassador John Roos, who had just been posted to Japan, visited Hiroshima with his family. The purpose of the visit was to meet with then Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, to sound out a possible visit to the city by President Obama.

"We want President Obama to come to Hiroshima," Akiba told Roos over lunch. "We are not seeking an apology. We will welcome him." On Aug. 6 the following year, Roos attended the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, marking the first such visit by a serving U.S. ambassador. There were no strong objections to the visit from American politicians or the American public.

The Japanese government has since sent out the message that it would not demand an apology if Obama were to visit Hiroshima, and both the governor of Hiroshima Prefecture and the mayor of the city of Hiroshima have told press conferences that they are not intent on getting one.

Has the White House's announcement that Obama will make a visit to Hiroshima later this month resolved the bad blood felt by those who lost their families to the A-bomb and continue to suffer the effects of the bombing?

Sunao Tsuboi, 91, co-chairman of Hiroshima Hidankyo, a confederation of groups of Hiroshima A-bomb survivors, admits that deep down, he still feels enmity toward the U.S. However, he adds, "I've started to realize that we must use the power of reason to overcome such loathing."

According to Kazumi Mizumoto, deputy chief of Hiroshima City University's Hiroshima Peace Institute, anger toward the atomic bombings was more visible 10 to 20 years ago compared to today. When the 9.11 terrorist attacks took place in the U.S. in 2001, one hibakusha -- or A-bomb survivor -- told a newspaper reporter, "I shouldn't say this, but I feel as though I've had a weight taken off my chest." Mizumoto says there were other hibakusha who felt the same way.

Meanwhile, an 85-year-old hibakusha who lost family members and friends to the A-bomb has a different take.

"Until Obama's visit was announced, I wanted an apology. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel anger toward the U.S., but I've come to think that the very fact that he is coming to Japan amid widespread public opinion (in the U.S.) that the atomic bombing was justifiable, already implies an apology," he said.

Japan took to the stand when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, held an inquiry in November 1995 on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. Then Hiroshima Mayor Takashi Hiraoka and then Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito declared that nuclear weapons were inhumane weapons of mass destruction that killed indiscriminately, and that their use violated international law.

However, a Japanese senior Foreign Ministry official who made a statement just before the two mayors did not address the legality of the use of such weapons, and said that anything that was subsequently expressed by the two mayors that were not factual were not necessarily views held by the Japanese government.

Hiroshi Harada, 76, a Hiroshima A-bomb survivor who was the director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum at the time of the ICJ hearings, said that efforts were made to coordinate testimony with the Foreign Ministry prior to the hearings.
"I stood my ground that as a city that experienced the atomic bombing, we should declare that the use of nuclear weapons was illegal, even if the government avoided saying so," he recalled.

In the years since then, Japan has failed to be a leader in discussions within the international community on the elimination of nuclear weapons. The paradox lies in the fact that at the same time Japan has advocated for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons, it has been protected by the U.S. "nuclear umbrella," relying on its deterrent power against North Korean nuclear armament and other threats.

At the U.N. General Assembly in December 2015, a Japanese-government-sponsored resolution encouraging world leaders and youth to visit the A-bombed cities was formally adopted. The Japanese government also, however, abstained from voting on a "humanitarian pledge" resolution that would strengthen legal frameworks for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, which passed with 139 votes. The abstention was a decision made out of consideration for the U.S., which opposed the resolution.

The Japanese government has repeatedly claimed that it wants to serve as a bridge between nuclear and non-nuclear states. However, its inconsistent behavior on the international stage has generated a sense of distrust toward it from both sides.

Former Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum director Harada is concerned by the emphasis on forging a "forward-looking" relationship between Japan and the U.S.
"I fear that the shaking of hands by President Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of the cenotaph for A-bomb victims in Hiroshima will be made into a symbol of reconciliation that ignores historical accountability," Harada said. "As long as people continue to justify the atomic bombings, the complete elimination of nuclear weapons will not become a reality."

Seventy-one years have passed since the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and a visit to Hiroshima by a sitting U.S. president is finally about to take place. The big question is whether or not the visit will spur bridge-building between the A-bombed cities and the Japanese government, as well as between nuclear and non-nuclear states.

毎日新聞2016年5月14日 東京朝刊
posted by srachai at 08:53| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


沖ノ鳥島EEZ 海洋権益の保護強化に努めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Take all possible steps to protect marine resources of Japan’s EEZ
沖ノ鳥島EEZ 海洋権益の保護強化に努めよ

Japan, as a maritime nation, faces the crucial challenge of how effectively to protect its interests in its vast exclusive economic zone. The government must make all-out efforts to come up with concrete steps to protect the zone.

Taiwan authorities have protested the seizure in late April of a Taiwan fishing boat by the Japan Coast Guard in the Japanese EEZ around Okinotorishima, the southernmost islands of Japan, and have sent three vessels, including patrol ships, to the area near the islets, which are part of the village of Ogasawara, Tokyo. The vessels are likely to remain inside the EEZ, for the time being, under the pretext of protecting Taiwan’s fishing boats.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida protested the dispatch of patrol ships, saying, “It’s extremely regrettable that Taiwan sent patrol ships into the Japanese EEZ despite our request that they remain outside.” It was quite natural for Kishida to call on Taipei to have the ships leave the EEZ.

Japan’s combined area of territorial waters and EEZ is the sixth largest in the world. Okinotorishima has an EEZ of about 400,000 square meters, which is slightly larger than Japan’s land area, and is blessed with abundant fishery and seabed resources. These are very important marine interests.

Japan takes this stand: “Okinotorishima has been recognized as isles under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Thus, an EEZ exists around them.” Japan has contended that two of the Okinotorishima islets remain above sea level even at high tide and therefore are not “rocks” around which an EEZ cannot be set.

Sudden change of stance

In the wake of the JCG’s seizure of the Taiwan fishing boat, the Taiwan administration of President Ma Ying-jeou suddenly began to claim that the Okinotorishima islets are nothing but “rocks.” We cannot accept this one-sided view.

Since around 2004, China has asserted that the Okinotorishima islets are “rocks.” So has South Korea. Taiwan, on the other hand, had not clarified its position on the matter.

Taiwan's abrupt move to change its position ahead of a change of administration on May 20 is questionable. We suspect that Ma is seeking to maintain his influence after leaving office by inciting Taiwan’s public opinion on the matter.

Japan must try to resolve the issue by holding talks with Taiwan’s incoming administration led by Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, which attaches importance to relations with Tokyo.

From the viewpoint of China, the Okinotorishima islets are located at a median point between what it calls the first island chain ranging from Japan’s Nansei Islands to the Philippines and the second island chain extending from the Ogasawara Islands to Guam. The Chinese Navy is trying in full scale to expand its maritime activities into the western Pacific. This has elevated Okinotorishima’s geopolitical value.

The Japanese government has installed concrete revetments for Okinotorishima to prevent erosion from ocean waves and storms. It should increase its efforts, such as building port facilities, to further safeguard the islets.

This will lead to the effective administration of Okinotorishima’s EEZ and serve as a check on China’s expansionist maritime advances.

Taking advantage of the characteristics of remote islets, Okinotorishima should be used as bases for weather observation, marine research and other purposes. This would help buttress their legal status. Government ministries and agencies concerned must join hands and work out measures from a strategic standpoint.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 13, 2016)
posted by srachai at 09:05| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする


パナマ文書公表 租税回避地の利用実態解明を

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Panama Papers underscore need for greater scrutiny of tax havens
パナマ文書公表 租税回避地の利用実態解明を

The publication of the Panama Papers can be used as a clue to clarifying the real situation regarding secretive tax havens.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has made public the names of more than 210,000 corporations using tax havens in various parts of the world, along with the names of related individuals. The electronic data was leaked from a law firm in Panama, and was arranged to be listed according to country.

In April, the ICIJ made it clear in the Panama Papers that political leaders from around the world, as well as their relatives, were using tax havens. This time, it proved that companies and wealthy people were widely making use of tax havens.

It is vital to use the disclosure of the lists as a stepping stone to strengthen international cooperation to prevent tax evasion.

With regard to Japan, the list contains the names of about 20 corporations, including general trading companies and telecommunications operators, and about 230 individuals, including the founders of major firms. In many cases, these individuals were listed as shareholders or board members of companies established in tax havens.

A number of companies denied that they were trying to avoid paying taxes. Some repelled the publication of their names was regrettable, as they could lose social credibility.

Indeed, use of a tax haven is not illegal per se.

However, it is a fact that many companies and individuals are trying to reduce their taxes by taking advantage of the nature of tax havens − extremely low tax rates and high anonymity.

International cooperation vital

Even though using tax havens is lawful, public confidence over tax impartiality would be seriously affected if there are loopholes that major companies and affluent people can easily use. Since the publication of the Panama Papers, a more discerning eye has been turned toward tax havens.

Transferring funds to the bank account of a dummy company to intentionally conceal profits could amount to constitute tax evasion. It is reasonable for Finance Minister Taro Aso to say that if there are problematic transactions, the nation’s tax authorities would carry out a tax investigation.

The tax authorities should minutely determine how tax havens are really used. They also must keep an eye out for criminal proceeds and money laundering.

It is difficult for a single country to cope with tax evasion beyond its national borders.

Japan has concluded treaties and agreements with about 100 countries and regions to exchange information on accounts. It is important to make these pacts function effectively and to bring wrongdoing to light.

Last year, the Group of 20 major economies and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development compiled international rules designed to prevent tax evasion via dubious transactions that are far from reality.

At the Ise-Shima summit meeting of the Group of Seven major powers this month, taxation measures are a major item on the agenda. We hope the summit will strengthen international cooperation to that end.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 11, 2016)
posted by srachai at 08:19| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ●英字新聞 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする