2009-02-21 20:13:54 | アドセンス




自民党混迷 「郵政」で争う時ではない

2009-02-14 22:42:15 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 14, 2009)
LDP shouldn't waste time on internal strife
自民党混迷 「郵政」で争う時ではない(2月14日付・読売社説)

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been shaken by the careless remarks of Prime Minister Taro Aso in which he indicated his willingness to review the privatization of postal services.

Even former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who spearheaded the drive for postal privatization and already has announced his intention to retire from politics, openly criticized Aso's remarks.

But the LDP should not rekindle the internal strife that was so recently triggered by consumption tax rate hike debates. First of all, the LDP should make every possible effort to ensure the early passage into law of related bills for the second supplementary budget for fiscal 2008, and for the fiscal 2009 budget.

It is Aso himself who caused this trouble in the party.


Aso's remarks confuse voters

At the House of Representatives Budget Committee, Aso said the review of the current four-company setup under Japan Post Holdings Co. launched in 2007 as part of the postal privatization process should be discussed. Aso added that he was not in favor of the plan when he was a Cabinet member under Koizumi.

As long as the Postal Services Privatization Law stipulates that the progress of privatization must be reviewed every three years, Aso is entitled to mention such a review.

However, the LDP's landslide victory in the last lower house election had postal privatization as its core campaign issue. Now, the incumbent LDP president has clearly said he opposed postal privatization. This will serve to bewilder voters.

Before Aso makes such remarks, he should present a revised plan based on careful examination. But even for the cabinet secretariat, his remarks probably struck like a bolt out of the blue. The remarks by the prime minister were unsubstantiated and careless.

After his comments, Aso offered explanations and excuses for his remarks. But this also stirred confusion. Koizumi criticized him, saying, "We cannot fight an election if there is no trust in the prime minister's words." This criticism is valid.


Rebellion a possibility

Also, concerning the distribution of cash benefits in the second supplementary budget, Aso has repeated remarks that appear to be an attempt to retract what he said.

For the first time, the approval rating of Aso's Cabinet has fallen below 20 percent, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted this month. Aso's careless words and actions over the cash handout scheme and postal privatization can be seen as contributing significantly to this low approval rating.

If its approval rating drops further, the Aso Cabinet will have little hope of implementing its policies. The prime minister needs to be more prudent in future to avoid remarks that will make the voters question his qualifications and wisdom.

Koizumi expressed reservations over having bills related to the second supplementary budget cleared through the Diet using the ruling parties' two-thirds majority in the lower house in a second vote. "I don't think the bills are such that they need to be passed using the two-thirds majority," he said.

Koizumi, however, voted for the related bills for the supplementary budget at the lower house. His remarks, which could embolden younger LDP lawmakers and others to rise in rebellion, only invite confusion in the Diet.

It is necessary to swiftly implement economic pump-priming and employment measures. The LDP cannot afford to waste time on internal strife over the postal privatization issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 14, 2009)
(2009年2月14日01時30分 読売新聞)

人工衛星衝突 宇宙ごみ対策を強化せねば

2009-02-14 22:11:55 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 13, 2009)
Space debris measures must be strengthened
人工衛星衝突 宇宙ごみ対策を強化せねば(2月13日付・読売社説)

Our planet is surrounded by space debris, a matter that is becoming of increasing concern.

The collision of a U.S. satellite weighing about half a ton with a Russian satellite about twice that size, about 800 kilometers above the Earth's surface, reportedly produced a huge amount of debris. We wonder if the collision could have been avoided if their orbits had been adjusted.

Since the world's first satellite was launched in 1957, thousands of satellite launches have taken place, meaning there are a large number of objects drifting around the Earth.

Among the space debris in orbit around our planet are satellites that are no longer functioning, either because they have outlived their usefulness or have malfunctioned. Space debris also includes rocket booster parts, the remains of collisions among space vehicles and equipment dropped by astronauts. It is estimated that there are between 30 million and 40 million items of space debris currently adrift, weighing a total of about several thousand tons.

In 2007, China's destruction of one of its weather satellites produced a huge amount of debris.

If nothing is done to address the problem, mankind faces serious problems in its use of space as space debris has massive destructive potential.

Such debris can travel at speeds of about 5 kilometers per second, while the energy generated from a collision of debris even just 1 centimeter across can be equivalent to that of a car crash on a highway. The smashing of satellites into one another is clearly disastrous.


An international problem

Previously, a French satellite was seriously damaged after colliding with space debris. In the United States, a rocket launch was postponed to prevent a collision with space debris.

What is of particular concern this time is the threat to the International Space Station, which has been under construction with the participation of Japan and other nations. The ISS orbits about 400 kilometers beneath where the latest collision took place, and it is unlikely that debris will hit the ISS. But it is still possible that debris could pass over the ISS.

An extended stay at the ISS by Koichi Wakata, the first of its kind for a Japanese astronaut, is expected to begin soon, and it is of some concern that the space shuttle flying to the ISS could be affected by the debris.

The ISS is equipped with protective walls designed to absorb shocks from small debris and the station would alter its orbit to avoid large pieces of debris, which are tracked by radar from the ground by the U.S. military when a shuttle is to be launched.


Breaking the cycle

But if the amount of debris continues to increase, it will become more difficult to take all possible preventive measures. Greater precautions must therefore be taken to try and prevent troubles that could affect the ISS.

A further concern is the apparent vicious circle of increased space debris from collisions, which in turn creates more potential for destruction, as can be seen in the latest collision. The growing amount of debris means the probability of more collisions is set to explode in about a decade or so.

International guidelines state that large satellites should be brought back to Earth. But is this enough? Is there no way that space debris can be collected? Japan needs to call on other nations that have space development programs to address the issue and play a more active role in strengthening measures to tackle the problem.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 13, 2009)
(2009年2月13日01時45分 読売新聞)


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