海兵隊移転合意 米軍基地返還を着実に進めよ

2012-04-30 05:37:15 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 29, 2012)
Ensure steady progress on return of Okinawa bases
海兵隊移転合意 米軍基地返還を着実に進めよ(4月28日付・読売社説)

An agreement has been reached between Japan and the United States that has made it possible to balance the maintenance of deterrence capabilities with lessening Okinawa Prefecture's burden in hosting U.S. forces, while also mitigating Japan's share of the costs involved.

This is definitely a satisfactory accord for Japan.

It is highly important to ensure steady progress on the transfer overseas of U.S. Marine Corps forces from the prefecture and the return of land occupied by U.S. military installations there on the basis of the latest agreement.

The Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee, comprising the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries, on Friday announced a joint statement on a review of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

Under the agreement reached in the committee, also known as the "two-plus-two" meeting, about 9,000 marines will be moved from Okinawa Prefecture to locations outside Japan. About 4,000 will be transferred to Guam, and the rest to Hawaii, Australia and the U.S. mainland. As a result, the number of marines remaining in the prefecture will be reduced to approximately 10,000.


Effective drop in costs

Dispersing marine forces over a broad area of the Western Pacific region with the aim of developing Guam as a strategic hub: This is the primary aim of U.S. forces' new strategy to cope effectively with China's growing military power. It will be conducive to boosting peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Such marine forces as the Third Marine Expeditionary Headquarters and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Marine Corps' main fighting force, will remain in Okinawa. That the deterrence capabilities of U.S. forces in Japan will be maintained in this fashion is valuable from the viewpoint of beefing up Japan's defense of the Nansei Islands.

The accord reached in the consultative meeting to develop training areas in Guam and parts of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, such as Tinian, as shared facilities for U.S. forces and the Self-Defense Forces is highly significant for deepening defense cooperation between the two countries.

In a review of the costs Japan and the United States will share in implementing the realignment, Japan's fiscal disbursement has been set at 3.1 billion dollars (about 251 billion yen), equivalent to a figure established in a 2006 agreement on the matter, adjusted for inflation.
On the other hand, Japan's monetary contribution and loans in connection with the relocation of U.S. forces, which was initially planned to be about 3.3 billion dollars, has been reduced to zero. This means Japan's fiscal burden linked to the relocation has in effect been reduced.

It is truly a welcome development that the issue of sharing expenses related to having U.S. forces stationed in Japan and related matters have been settled in a way satisfactory to both countries. It was always a subject of fierce discussions in past Japan-U.S. negotiations.

The accord divides five U.S. facilities in the southern part of Okinawa Prefecture, including Camp Zukeran, into 13 areas. They are either "eligible for immediate return upon completion of necessary procedures"; "eligible for return once the replacement facilities in Okinawa are provided"; or "eligible for return as U.S. Marine Corps forces relocate from Okinawa to locations outside of Japan."


Henoko the only viable solution

The agreement to have U.S. facilities returned to Japan step by step, according to their degree of eligibility for return, can lead to tangible results in alleviating the burden on local areas where the facilities are located. We place a high value on this.

It is important to work out steps to effectively utilize the land after the return of the facilities to promote the economy of Okinawa Prefecture. Local entities concerned should actively devise plans to use the facilities' sites, and the central government should throw its support behind their initiatives.

What must not be forgotten in this connection is the issue of relocating the functions of the Futenma Air Station within the prefecture.

To avoid indefinite use of the Futenma facility by the marines, there can be no alternative to relocation to the Henoko district of Nago in the prefecture, which the joint statement has reconfirmed "remains the only viable solution that has been identified to date." The central government and the government of Okinawa Prefecture must consult more seriously about the issue of relocating Futenma to Henoko.

Regrettably, because of the U.S. government's insufficient groundwork, the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee made an objection, causing the announcement of the joint statement to be delayed two days. Both Japan and the United States have had problems on security matters.

Endeavors on both sides to overcome these problems one by one will fortify the bilateral alliance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 28, 2012)
(2012年4月28日01時02分  読売新聞)


香山リカのココロの万華鏡:演技でも感謝の一言を /東京

2012-04-29 05:23:40 | 英字新聞

April 22, 2012(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Give a word of thanks, even if it's not heartfelt
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:演技でも感謝の一言を /東京

A busy April has begun, and I feel that in my consultation room I am seeing more people complaining of being frustrated or unable to calm down.

Some people say they have become more likely to break out in anger at home or in the office.

They all think that things mustn't remain as they are, but they can't seem to calm down their feelings.

At those times, if someone close to them gave some kind words like "things are always tough, aren't they?" or "take it easy sometimes," they would surely feel better.

Their wound up feelings would loosen, and just from that they might feel like half their exhaustion was gone.

However, busy people are usually surrounded by people who are "busier," who can't stop to talk.

In my consultation room, one woman told me that when she returned from her busy workplace, she hurried to make dinner.

When her husband would get home at night, he would say things like, "What, today's another vegetable stirfry? Let me eat something more refreshing once in a while."

The woman would find herself snapping back with things like, "This morning you didn't throw out the garbage, did you!? Even though I asked several times."
すると女性も思わず、「今朝、ごみ出ししてくれなかったでしょ! あんなに頼んだのに」ととがめてしまう。

"Actually, I want to say, 'you must be tired from your late work,' and I want to have the same said to me.

But I can't say it.

Instead we criticize each other's mistakes," she told me.

When we're tired, instead of words like "thank you," we tend to want to say things like, "Why don't you do such-and-such?" or "Do more of such-and-such," complaining or demanding.

This is the same for anybody, no matter how high their position or how clever they are.

However, during these times, I expect that anyone can stop themselves and ask whether that is what the other person wants to hear.

As soon as we see each other, rather than criticizing or complaining, we should first smile and say something nice.

Some people may say, "I can't say something I don't feel," but isn't it OK even if it's an act?

When we give kind words, we start to feel true feelings of thanks.

If there is something we want to complain about, the other person will later listen to us.

First, we should look in the mirror and practice saying "thank you." It's OK to start by putting on an act.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2012年04月17日 地方版


観光推進計画 日本の魅力を世界に売り込め

2012-04-28 04:28:20 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 27, 2012)
Brainstorm to attract more tourists to Japan
観光推進計画 日本の魅力を世界に売り込め(4月26日付・読売社説)

We hope the government and the private sector will make concerted efforts to convey to the world the appeal of Japan as a tourist destination.

For the first time in five years, the government has developed a new master plan to boost the nation's tourism. The new Tourism Nation Promotion Basic Plan contains various policy targets to be achieved over five years from fiscal 2012.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan--both tourists and businesspeople--reached a record 8.61 million in 2010, but the number plummeted to 6.22 million in 2011 due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The numbers are alarming--the 2010 figure only ranked 30th in the world. In Asia, Japan lags far behind China, which recorded 55.66 million tourists in 2010, the third-largest number in the world. Japan also trails such countries as Singapore and South Korea.

We believe attracting more tourists from Asia and other developing areas would contribute to reinvigorating local cities, towns and villages and help the nation rebuild from the March 11, 2011, disaster.

The new plan sets a goal of increasing the number of foreign visitors to Japan to 18 million by 2016, more than twice the number seen in 2010. It also expects peoples' annual spending while traveling within the country--including Japanese travelers--to grow from 25 trillion yen to 30 trillion yen. However, both goals are not easy to achieve.


Tell the world Japan is safe to visit

First of all, the government and the public sector need to actively convey information to the world to dispel the false idea that travel to Japan is dangerous.

Last week, the World Travel & Tourism Council held a summit meeting of industry leaders for the first time in Japan. More than 1,000 people, including officials of major U.S. and European companies and media figures, participated in the event.

We urge the government to proactively campaign to hold more international meetings in Japan--which would bring together many foreigners with strong influence in their home countries--and thoroughly promote the safety of Japan at those gatherings.

A blog written by a Swiss man who reported on his recent walk across Japan has gained worldwide popularity. Such grassroots activities to introduce Japan have a major effect in publicizing the nation. It may be worthwhile for the government to encourage foreign students in Japan to convey the attractiveness and safety of the nation to people in their home countries.

About 3-1/2 years have passed since the Tourism Agency celebrated its inauguration. However, it is difficult to say that the agency has fulfilled its role as the leader of the nation's tourism policies due to budget constraints and human resource shortages. It needs to clarify the division of roles between itself and the Japan National Tourism Organization, an independent administrative institution whose tourism promotion operations overlap those of the agency.


Prepare unique tourism plans

Of course, tourist destinations also need to rack their brains to find ways to make themselves more appealing. Measures to boost local tourism led by prefectural and municipal governments often end up creating duplicate facilities or hosting events similar to those already available elsewhere in the nation.

If neighboring local governments could work hand in hand to create tourism areas that stretch beyond borders, it could increase the number of tourists who prefer to travel to a variety of tourism spots as well as increase the number of overnight tourists. Other efforts, such as selling special tickets allowing unlimited travel in certain areas and valid on different transportation systems, could also increase the number of tourists.

The Golden Week holiday period begins this weekend. We urge the tourism industry to make efforts to respond to the diversifying needs of tourists, such as developing the information infrastructure that would enable people to receive sightseeing information easily on their mobile phones and prepare experience-oriented tours combining various fields such as medical tourism, agriculture and sports.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 26, 2012)
(2012年4月26日01時45分  読売新聞)


仏大統領選 欧州危機の行方を占う決戦へ

2012-04-27 05:40:50 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 25, 2012)
French presidential race to decide European crisis
仏大統領選 欧州危機の行方を占う決戦へ(4月24日付・読売社説)

No winner was chosen in the first round of voting in the French presidential election. Incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, former first secretary of the French Socialist Party, will now battle it out in a runoff election on May 6.

In Sunday's election, 10 candidates ran for the presidency. Hollande led with about 29 percent of the vote, while conservative Sarkozy settled for second place with about 27 percent.

According to the latest opinion polls, Hollande will defeat his rival in the runoff by about 10 percentage points. Sarkozy's reelection is in danger.

The biggest campaign issue is economic policy. Since the jobless rate has reached 10 percent in France, voters are focusing their attention on an economic growth policy to expand job opportunities, rather than fiscal rehabilitation.

Results of the runoff election could strongly influence the future of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, which is still unresolved. The judgment French voters hand down will have a very grave import on whether the eurozone crisis can be contained.


Criticism against austerity

Member countries of the European Union last year agreed to support a new treaty that obliges them to balance their budgets.

Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel played central roles in securing the agreements.

However, Hollande wants the treaty to be renegotiated, reflecting growing criticism within the country over austerity measures.

In the first round of the French election, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, came in third place. Le Pen believes France should leave the eurozone. In the election campaign she expressed opposition to the EU treaty, which calls on member countries to enhance fiscal discipline.

Hollande will move closer to victory in the runoff if he succeeds in attracting the votes of people who supported Le Pen.

If he wins, Hollande will not be able to avoid friction with the German government, and the main pillars of the countermeasures taken against the fiscal crisis, which have been led by Germany and France, will be shaken.

The debt crisis in Greece has been contained for the time being, but uneasiness over Spain's credit is smoldering and business is experiencing a downturn in Europe. Austerity measures are unpopular in any country because they lead to a reduction of civil servants and an increase in the age of pension eligibility.


Future of nuclear power

We are concerned the fiscal crisis might reignite and the global economy may be negatively affected if France, the second-largest economy in the eurozone, changes course.

Japan also is interested in the future of France's energy policy.

Nuclear power was expected to be a campaign issue after Hollande initially pledged to reduce nuclear power generation, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of electricity production in France, to 50 percent by 2025.

However, after criticism that this policy would lead to a decrease in job opportunities, Hollande stopped voicing this pledge loudly.

We wonder if the basic policy of France, a country powered mainly by nuclear plants, will remain unchanged.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 24, 2012)
(2012年4月24日01時26分  読売新聞)


G20共同声明 IMF増強は前進だが課題も

2012-04-26 01:53:27 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 23, 2012)
Boost of IMF's lending power significant, but stay vigilant
G20共同声明 IMF増強は前進だが課題も(4月22日付・読売社説)

The world has moved a step closer to containing the European debt crisis, as the Group of 20 major economic powers worked harmoniously to reinforce the financial foundations of the International Monetary Fund.

The G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors has concluded in Washington after adopting a joint statement. Traditional economic powers such as Japan, the United States and Germany participated in the meeting along with China and other emerging countries.

The statement referred to global commitments to increase the IMF's lending resources--the meeting's focus of discussion--by over 430 billion dollars (about 35 trillion yen), achieved through international cooperation including efforts by Japan.

The increase will double the amount the IMF can loan to countries in financial crisis. The
G-20 economic powers have finally succeeded in forming a united front against the eurozone debt crisis after being urged by markets to do so for a long time.

Apart from the IMF, Europe also has prepared its own funds to provide loans to such countries. Altogether, the safety net to prevent the debt crisis from spreading will top 110 trillion yen. We hope the reinforcement of the safety net will help stabilize markets.


Japan took lead role

It is worthy to note that Japan led discussions at the G-20 meeting. At the beginning of this year, Europe announced it would provide 200 billion dollars to the IMF, but other nations had been reluctant to follow suit. However, just days ahead of the G-20 meeting, Japan announced it would provide 60 billion dollars to the IMF, ahead of other nations.

The announcement primed the pump and a number of nations, including Nordic countries and Britain, promised to provide money to the IMF. In the end, Brazil, China, India and Russia--nations that had taken a cautious stance--promised to cooperate, without disclosing the amounts they would provide.

It is regrettable that the United States, the IMF's largest contributor, declined to provide money to the institution, noting an increase in its budget deficit. However, it was significant for the IMF to increase its lending resources to 430 billion dollars, almost accomplishing the goal it set in January of securing 500 billion dollars.

However, the European debt crisis has yet to be resolved and is still a threat to the global economy.

The IMF statement said the possibility of the world economy plunging into a severe crisis has begun to recede after peaking a few months ago, but warned that "downside risks still persist." We share this concern.


Worries on Spain

Credit uncertainty is still smoldering in Spain, raising the nation's bond yields. If Spain's financial crisis worsens, it may reignite crises in Italy and Greece, and the whole region could flare up once again.

The French presidential election and Greek general election will soon take place. The results may endanger the framework of measures established to combat the region's debt crisis.

The European economy is expected to contract this year. If eurozone nations become keen to implement austerity measures, this could further slow down the economy. The economic slowdown would curb tax revenues, resulting in deterioration of fiscal conditions. Such a vicious cycle has become a real possibility.

The G-20 economies should warn eurozone economies not to lower their guard, and demand they steadily implement fiscal reforms and revive their economies.

In addition to the European debt crisis, the world economy also faces the difficult problem of surging oil prices. The G-20 economies should not forget they are being tested on whether they can unite further to contain the crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 22, 2012)
(2012年4月22日01時50分  読売新聞)