パレスチナ和平 米国の仲介努力は奏功するか

2013-07-31 05:36:00 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 30, 2013
Israeli-Palestinian talks resumption 1st step in U.S. Mideast peace effort
パレスチナ和平 米国の仲介努力は奏功するか(7月29日付・読売社説)

It is imperative to ensure that emerging positive signs in the Middle East result in a resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians after a hiatus of about three years.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has pressured Israel and the Palestinian Authority since March, announced on July 19 that both sides “have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Ministerial-level officials from both parties are to meet in the near future to work out the terms and preconditions for the negotiations, according to U.S. government officials.

The Palestinian Authority has set the goal of establishing a Palestinian state, and Japan, the United States and European nations as well as Arab states have thrown their support behind this goal.

Kerry’s endeavors pay off

The long-envisaged establishment of a Palestinian state, however, will not be possible without Israel’s agreement. We strongly hope the Israelis and Palestinians hold direct talks to begin the process of having the two sides live side by side in peace and security.

The broad agreement is the fruit of mediation efforts by Kerry, who, after assuming the post of secretary of state in February, traveled many times to the Middle East.

With upheavals continuing in the wake of the Arab Spring, U.S. policies have been put to the test. While the civil war in Syria has bogged down with no clear end in sight, Egypt, a major power in the Middle East, has been unable to resolve its political problems.

It appears the United States hopes to play a role conducive to stabilizing the Middle East situation by using its diplomatic leverage to bring about peace between Israel and Palestinians.

The basic accord to hold preliminary talks appears partly due to Israel’s adopting more moderate policies after realizing its inflexible hard-line stance in dealing with the Palestinians left it internationally isolated.

In a U.N. General Assembly session last year, a resolution in favor of giving the Palestinian Authority the status of a “nonmember observer state” was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote despite intense opposition from the United States and Israel.

Israel’s sense of crisis increased when the international community, particularly Israel’s biggest trade partner, Europe, intensified criticism of Israel’s continuing construction of settlements in the West Bank.

A freeze in settlement construction would help pave the way for realizing a resumption of dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, must resolve the current situation in which its authority is limited only to the West Bank, with the Gaza Strip remaining under the control of the Islamist organization Hamas. This is essential for the Palestinian Authority if it wants to show that it is the proper party to negotiate with the Israelis.

Japan must help out

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida toured the Middle East region last week. In separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he pressed them to resume peace talks.

In addition, Kishida conferred with ministers from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan over ways to utilize an agricultural park to process farm produce. The park is under construction in the West Bank city of Jericho with the support of Japan.

The agreement among Kishida and the others on the project should be rated highly.

Japan must continue to make such diplomatic efforts by extending a helping hand to encourage peace moves by the Israelis and Palestinians.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 29, 2013)
(2013年7月29日01時19分  読売新聞)


朝鮮休戦60年 平和妨げる北朝鮮の核武装化

2013-07-30 05:35:55 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 29, 2013
Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions continue to be impediment to peace
朝鮮休戦60年 平和妨げる北朝鮮の核武装化(7月28日付・読売社説)

The 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice in the Korean War comes as North Korea continues to push ahead with its nuclear programs.

The Korean War began with the North’s invasion of the South in 1950, and claimed the lives of more than 3 million people before the armistice was signed three years later.

Fierce fighting between U.S.-led U.N. Command forces backing South Korea and China, which deployed Chinese People’s Volunteer Army troops because it feared North Korea would collapse, ended with a divided Korean Peninsula in the absence of a peace treaty.

China’s change of mind

The North and South are continuing their military confrontation across the Demilitarized Zone, and there is a danger the situation could explode into an armed conflict.

North Korea, which falsely claims the armistice was a “victory,” celebrated the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice on Saturday with a massive military parade in Pyongyang.

The scale of the parade was aimed apparently at flaunting the power of Pyongyang’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, the first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, while diverting the people’s increasing discontent over the country’s wrecked economy.

The biggest concern for Japan and other countries is the beefing up of North Korea’s nuclear programs, which Kim has been promoting. Massive throngs of armed soldiers marched in the Pyongyang parade as if trying to impress the rest of the world with the strength of the North’s ability to wage war with missiles and nuclear weapons.

As a matter of course, North Korea has been forced to pay the piper. The U.N. Security Council has imposed economic sanctions on Pyongyang for repeatedly carrying out nuclear tests and test-launching long-range ballistic missiles.

China’s recent change from its conventional stance of fully defending North Korea appears to have made the international coalition against the North more solid.

During the military parade, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao stood alongside Kim on the podium overlooking Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square. Li reportedly told Kim that Beijing was determined to maintain its policy of pursuing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, working to ensure peace and security on the peninsula and resolving tensions through dialogue and consultations.

This can be taken as a message to Pyongyang to return to the six-nation talks, as Beijing is resolved not to allow North Korea to possess nuclear weapons or engage in military provocations.

China, as the largest donor country and trade partner of North Korea, has a life-or-death influence over the North. Beijing’s stance on seeking North Korea’s denuclearization will now be put to the test.

In regard to North Korea’s call for a direct dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington, the United States has made such a dialogue contingent on the North abandoning its nuclear ambitions. This condition is quite reasonable.

North must heed others

Pyongyang, for its part, must heed the voices of Japan, the United States and South Korea, which are calling on the North to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula has changed dramatically since the signing of the armistice.

For one thing, South Korea has established diplomatic relations with China, and the value of its trade with Beijing has expanded to such an extent that it has surpassed its combined trade with Japan and the United States.

North Korea has made the choice of becoming a nuclear power, with the result that it cannot normalize diplomatic relations with Japan or the United States. As it has been driven into a corner, Pyongyang has even declared it is ready to “pull out of the deal” concerning the armistice agreement.

Japan, the United States, China and South Korea must remain vigilant to prevent North Korea from conducting new nuclear tests, missile launches or military provocations by firmly maintaining stringent sanctions to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programs.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 28, 2013)
(2013年7月28日01時09分  読売新聞)


首相アジア演説 ASEAN重視戦略の表明だ

2013-07-29 05:04:09 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 28, 2013
Abe’s increased focus on ASEAN partnership a strategic move
首相アジア演説 ASEAN重視戦略の表明だ(7月27日付・読売社説)

A speech made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday served as a strong message to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a key economic and security partner of Japan.

During his visit to Southeast Asia, Abe delivered the speech on the Japan-ASEAN relationship in Singapore.

Using an airplane to describe relations between Japan and the rapidly growing region, Abe said, “Japan and ASEAN are like twin engines on the right and left wings.”

The prime minister also said his Abenomics economic measures would benefit ASEAN countries as both Japan’s imports from and exports to ASEAN members have doubled over the past decade. Abe is apparently determined to further bolster Japan-ASEAN ties.

Both Malaysia and Singapore, which Abe visited this week, are participants in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. Japan will likely seek ways to partner with them when the TPP talks enter the final stage.

Beyond economic alliance

Abe stressed that the nation’s relationship with ASEAN encompasses more than economic matters, saying the ties are “meaningful in ensuring regional security, particularly freedom of navigation at sea.” This year marks the 40th anniversary of Japan-ASEAN friendship and cooperation.

He made such remarks apparently with China in mind, as Beijing has attempted to assume control of the East and South China seas. Especially now, when Japan’s ties with China and South Korea have become strained, it is strategically significant for the government to deepen its partnership with ASEAN.

On Friday, Abe also met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who has been touring Asia. This meeting was seemingly effective in highlighting the Japan-U.S. alliance, which could be conducive to ensuring peace and prosperity in Southeast Asia.

Abe was to meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino in Manila on Saturday. During the meeting, Abe was expected to express his intention to provide the Philippines with patrol ships through the Official Development Assistance program.

The Philippines has been at loggerheads with China over the sovereignty of the Scarborough Shoal and other territories in the South China Sea. In light of this, helping the Philippines boost its maritime capability could serve as a symbolic aid gesture to benefit the whole ASEAN community.

Look to China allies

This is already Abe’s third visit to Southeast Asia since returning to power. Of the 10 ASEAN member countries, he has visited seven.

Cambodia and Laos, both nations that have close ties to China, are among the ASEAN members. With due consideration for local circumstances in both countries, the prime minister should also visit these nations in a bid to increase their understanding of Japan.

China has apparently attempted to undermine Japan-ASEAN relations due to its alarm over Abe’s aggressive diplomacy in the region.

To prevent military tensions with China from escalating, it is vital for Japan to seek regional stability in line with international regulations and the spirit of the rule of law by working together with the United States and other countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2013)
(2013年7月27日01時26分  読売新聞)


TPP交渉参加 攻守両にらみ戦略で挽回せよ

2013-07-28 05:49:54 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 27, 2013
Hammer out effective strategy to redeem lost time in TPP talks
TPP交渉参加 攻守両にらみ戦略で挽回せよ(7月26日付・読売社説)

At last Japan has entered talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade agreement, which have so far been conducted by 11 countries, including the United States.

Regarding Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed, “We will make full use of our negotiating power to protect what needs protecting and push for what we want, to seek the best way to serve national interests.”

To ensure that this country can make up for the time lost due to its late entry into the TPP talks, the government must beef up its defensive and offensive strategies.

The latest round of TPP negotiations took place in Malaysia from July 15, and Japan joined the talks as the 12th member for only two and a half days in the final phase of the round that ended Thursday.

By taking part in the talks, Japan received for the first time a pile of texts on the TPP negotiations comprising 29 chapters on such subjects as abolition of tariffs, intellectual property rights and investment.

Talks may be prolonged

It is of great significance that Japan can now grasp the entire picture of issues that have been discussed among TPP members.

The next TPP gathering is scheduled for late August in Brunei, while consultations on the TPP between Japan and the United States will be conducted in parallel with the Brunei round from August on.

The government must waste no time working out how to deal with the increasingly accelerating pace of the TPP talks by making a detailed analysis of the assertions of each participant country.

The United States and some other TPP participants have set a goal of finalizing a basic agreement in the negotiations by October and concluding the talks by the end of the year. The TPP representative of Malaysia said in a news conference on Thursday that his country will energetically engage in discussions to complete them as scheduled.

However, the TPP countries are still at loggerheads regarding the abolition of tariffs, the main point of contention, which has apparently caused the negotiations to stall.

Given the current pace of the talks, it is unlikely they will be concluded by the end of the year. Indications are that the negotiations may continue into next year.

Although Japan, as a late starter, remains in a difficult position in the negotiations, prolonged talks may give Japan more room to make up for lost time.

In its platform for the recent House of Councillors election, the Liberal Democratic Party pledged to “give top priority to securing exemption of five agricultural products,” including rice and wheat, from tariff abolition.

In the upper chamber election, Toshio Yamada of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA Zenchu) secured his reelection as one of the highest-ranking winners in the proportional representation contest. Yamada has pledged to press the government to protect national interests without fail in the TPP talks.

Another upper house member, Hidehisa Otsuji, who ran in the Kagoshima prefectural constituency on a platform of opposing the TPP, won an upper house seat for the fifth time.

‘Going on the offensive’

While some LDP legislators remain firmly opposed to the TPP, the government and the LDP must buckle down to swiftly push ahead with concrete measures for improving the competitiveness of the nation’s agriculture, in preparation for further opening of the domestic farm market to foreign competition.

Given that the TPP is aimed at a high degree of trade liberalization, protecting rice and other farm products as exemptions from tariff abolition will not necessarily secure Japan’s national interests.

A well-balanced strategy must be hammered out in this respect.

Of higher importance for Japan is to “go on the offensive” by increasing exports of motor vehicles and electronics through tariff abolition, as well as establishing an environment conducive to business activity through such steps as lifting restrictions on capital investment from abroad.

The envisaged TPP pact will constitute a huge free trade zone accounting for about 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

Japan must utilize the TPP to tap the vigor of other economies in Asia, to spur the nation’s economic growth.

How can Japan play a leading role in crafting trade and investment rules in Asia? How to address this challenge is of crucial significance, and could determine the fate of the growth strategy on which the Abe administration has placed such importance.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 26, 2013)
(2013年7月26日01時18分  読売新聞)


憲法改正 実現への布石を周到に打て

2013-07-27 06:22:21 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun July 26, 2013
Prepare carefully for long, winding road of amending the Constitution
憲法改正 実現への布石を周到に打て(7月25日付・読売社説)

Debate on amending the Constitution has taken concrete form since the recent House of Councillors election. It is imperative that discussions on the issue be developed further.

We urge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his administration to carefully and throughly take steps to gather momentum to realize the goal of amending the Constitution.

A point of contention during the upper house campaign was whether to change Article 96, which stipulates procedures for constitutional revision. Parties have argued over whether to relax the requirements for amending the Constitution.

Currently, the approval of at least two-thirds of the legislators in both chambers of the Diet is necessary to initiate amendments to the top law. After the upper house election, the parties that actively support amending the Constitution--the Liberal Democratic Party, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party--still did not have a two-thirds majority in the chamber. Hurdles remain high for amending the top law.

However, if the seats held by New Komeito--which favors adding new philosophies and provisions to the Constitution without changing the existing ones--are factored in, that would achieve the two-thirds requirement. Komeito’s actions hold the key to constitutional revision.

Komeito should present ideas

According to the party’s pledges for the upper house election, it seeks to discuss a number of issues regarding “adding new elements” to the Constitution: environmental rights, expanding the scope of local autonomy, stipulating the existence of the Self-Defense Forces in the top law and how the nation should contribute to the international community.

We urge New Komeito to hold thorough discussions on the issues and specify its ideas in a draft proposal. That would help clarify the similarities and differences between New Komeito and other parties, such as its coalition partner, the LDP, on the issues. It would also help expand discussions on amending the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Your Party has said there are other things to be accomplished before amending the Constitution, including civil service reform. The party has proposed radical ideas for civil service reform, such as eliminating the jobs of 100,000 national government officials and allowing government officials to be laid off as easily as employees at private companies, in exchange for giving them the right to strike.

We can never agree to making such reforms a precondition for amending the Constitution, as the two issues can be dealt with simultaneously.

Start from pending issues

Abe has said he will deal with constitutional revision “without haste, and move forward on the issue with persistence.” The prime minister stressed he will first deal with unresolved issues involving the National Referendum Law, which was enacted during the first Abe administration. We believe Abe’s decision is appropriate, as those issues will lay the basic groundwork for amending the Constitution.

The National Referendum Law stipulates procedures for a national referendum for constitutional amendments. It allows those aged 18 and older to participate in such referendums.

To be consistent, the law’s supplementary provisions require lawmakers to discuss lowering the minimum voting age for elections, which is stipulated in the Public Offices Election Law, and the age of adulthood stipulated in the Civil Code, from the current 20 to 18. The provisions also call for the review of the National Civil Service Law, which limits the political activities of government officials.

All the issues are long overdue. Lawmakers were expected to reach conclusions on the issues before the National Referendum Law was put into force in May 2010.

We urge both the ruling and opposition parties to start discussions on the unresolved issues as soon as possible.

Even if the Diet succeeds in initiating constitutional amendments, it is the public that makes the final decision on revising the Constitution via referendums. A majority of all votes cast in a referendum is needed to amend the Constitution--it would never be an easy task.

LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba has revealed the idea of hosting meetings across the nation aimed at explaining to the public the necessity of amending the Constitution. The meetings would be carried out as easy-to-understand dialogues, according to Ishiba.

To amend the Constitution, efforts to nurture public awareness of the necessity of constitutional amendments are essential. There are three years left, at most, before the next national election. The time should be used strategically for the goal of amending the Constitution.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 25, 2013)
(2013年7月25日02時15分  読売新聞)