学習指導解説書 「尖閣」「竹島」の明記を起点に

2014-01-31 05:10:11 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 29, 2014
Manuals should help educate students about Senkakus, Takeshima
学習指導解説書 「尖閣」「竹島」の明記を起点に(1月29日付・読売社説)

It is essential for children in this country to be encouraged to acquire an accurate knowledge about Japanese territory, given that they will become a pillar of our future.

The education ministry has revised instruction manuals for its course of study for middle and high schools to state that the Senkaku Islands and Takeshima islets constitute “inherent parts of our nation’s territory.” The reference is the first of its kind to be included in the teaching manuals devised by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

The new manuals also reiterate our nation’s stance on the Senkaku Islands, which this country has placed, in effect, under state control. Students “need to understand there exists no territorial issue to be resolved,” the manuals say.

Despite an increasing number of school textbooks that refer to the Senkakus and Takeshima, some textbooks still do not mention these islands.

Though the ministry’s instruction manuals are not legally binding unlike its course of study, the former serves as a guide for publishing houses as they edit textbooks, as well as for teachers when they give lessons. We hope the latest revision of the manuals will ensure all textbooks include appropriate references to the Senkakus and Takeshima.

The education ministry has every reason to improve the quality of teaching programs on the nation’s territorial integrity, based on the government’s official views on relevant issues. Doing so is also significant for producing people capable of presenting our nation’s position in the international community.

The previous instruction manuals stated that the group of Takeshima islets should be included as part of geographic learning in middle school social studies classes. In doing so, however, the manuals avoided using such a direct phrase as “inherent [part of our] territory.” Such an evasive approach was also evident in the manuals for high school geography.

The latter manuals only stated that the study of Takeshima should “be based on middle school studies.”

Neither the previous manuals for middle school studies nor those for high schools included any reference to the Senkakus.

Misleading notion

There is no denying that the manuals gave schoolteachers and administrators a misleading notion about territorial issues facing this country, prompting them to think that such problems should not necessarily be given importance.

Our nation established its claim over Takeshima no later than the mid-17th century—during the early Edo period (1603-1867). In 1905, Takeshima was annexed to Shimane Prefecture, based on a decision made to that effect by the Cabinet.

However, a turnaround came in 1952, when South Korea unilaterally drew the so-called Syngman Rhee Line, which contained the Takeshima islets. That country has since unlawfully occupied the islets.

In January 1895, Japan incorporated the Senkaku Islands into its territory after establishing that areas under China’s control did not include them. The event preceded the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95.

In the 1970s and later, China laid claim to the Senkakus. The Chinese assertion came after it had been found that there were oil deposits in waters around the islands.

Japanese students need to be properly taught that their government’s views on the Senkakus and Takeshima have legitimate grounds reflecting these historical developments, seen from the standpoint of international law.

The South Korean government has issued a statement demanding the Japanese government to “immediately retract” the latest revisions to the instruction manuals. The Chinese government has also become more strongly antagonistic by the Japanese action.

What kind of education should a nation give its children with regard to its territory, which is part and parcel of its sovereignty? That is an internal matter of that country. No other nation should interfere over such an issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 29, 2014)
(2014年1月29日01時50分  読売新聞)


日本史必修化 自国の軌跡を深く学びたい

2014-01-30 04:34:47 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 28, 2014
High school students should receive better education in Japanese history
日本史必修化 自国の軌跡を深く学びたい(1月28日付・読売社説)

To cultivate their identity as Japanese, students should receive an adequate education in Japanese history.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura announced that his ministry will study the possibility of making Japanese history a compulsory subject at high schools. By referring the idea to the Central Council for Education for deliberation, the minister hopes to realize the idea in five or six years’ time.

For mapping out the future of Japan, it is essential for young people to study Japanese history. It is also important for them to be able to exhibit pride in the history of their own country. Making Japanese history compulsory at high schools is reasonable.

As globalization advances, there will be more opportunities for Japanese to talk about their country’s culture and other things abroad.

The idea of making the subject compulsory at high schools indicates a sense of crisis over the lack of education required to produce internationally minded people.

When school teaching guidelines were revised in 1989, social studies at high schools were divided into “geography and history” and “civics.” When studying “geography and history,” world history is compulsory. In addition, a student has to choose either Japanese history or geography as an elective subject.

As a result, 30 percent to 40 percent of high school students in Japan are believed to graduate from high school without a sufficient grounding in Japanese history.

Although students are supposed to have studied the basics of Japanese history in primary and middle schools, it is problematic that many students have no opportunity to deepen their knowledge of Japanese history in high school.

Many problems remain

Making Japanese history a compulsory high school subject has been urged by local governments and other entities. The Tokyo metropolitan government and Kanagawa prefectural government have prepared textbooks, so that students have to learn Japanese history at the high schools they operate.

However, many issues need to be discussed.

By making Japanese history a compulsory subject in place of world history, students may have few opportunities to learn about the history of foreign countries at primary, middle and high schools.

It may be necessary to review the curriculum, including compulsory education subjects, by adopting elements of world history at middle schools, for instance.

If both world history and Japanese history became required subjects, more high school students would not study geography. Some people have suggested the establishment of a general course of geography and history that would be made compulsory.

There is also room to review the conventional way history is taught, which gives too much weight to memorization. It is natural for high school students to dislike studying history if they are forced to memorize a vast amount of terms.

It is desirable for educators and schools to tax their ingenuity to come up with educational content that stimulates the intellectual curiosity of students, for instance, by having them delve more deeply into historical events.

It is also necessary to improve education in regard to modern and contemporary history. Such efforts will certainly cultivate students’ understanding of the current complex international situation, by correctly understanding the history between Japan and other Asian countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 28, 2014)
(2014年1月28日01時11分  読売新聞)


農薬混入事件 「食の安全」揺るがす内部犯行

2014-01-29 04:58:23 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 27, 2014
Sense of food safety badly shaken by in-company poisoning of food
農薬混入事件 「食の安全」揺るがす内部犯行(1月27日付・読売社説)

The latest food poisoning case has shaken Japan’s sense of food safety and increased people’s distrust of food makers. Investigators must expedite their efforts to elucidate the facts in this case.

A 49-year-old contract worker at the plant where frozen food was laced with the agricultural chemical malathion has been arrested by the Gunma prefectural police on suspicion of obstructing business. The suspect worked at the Gunma plant of Aqli Foods Corp., a subsidiary of leading food maker Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc.

The man is suspected of lacing frozen food produced at the plant with malathion on four occasions in October.

About 2,800 people across the country have complained of feeling ill after eating pizza and other frozen food produced at the plant.

During questioning, the man reportedly told police, “I don’t remember,” and his motive remains unclear.

We hope the Gunma prefectural police will probe the matter thoroughly to find out how the food was laced with the chemical and clarify the context of the inside job.

The presidents of Maruha Nichiro Holdings and Aqli Foods have announced they will resign at the end of March to take responsibility for the latest incident.

The companies failed to respond promptly, taking 1½ months to launch a self-imposed recall of products after receiving a complaint in November of an odd odor from pizza manufactured at the plant. As both companies have lost their credibility with consumers, their resignation is natural.

85% of frozen food recalled

The recall rate of frozen food produced since October at the Gunma plant remains at about 85 percent. Maruha Nichiro must continue calling on consumers to return the products in question.

A mindset of “food defense” to prevent food from being contaminated intentionally with foreign substances has prevailed in the food industry since pesticide-laced gyoza produced at a Chinese plant was imported into Japan in 2008.

At the Gunma plant, workers are required to wear uniforms without pockets, while monitors to keep an eye on other workers have been placed on production lines.

Yet there is no inspection of workers’ belongings when they enter the plant. Some workers said chemicals could be brought into the plant if they were hidden inside the lower sleeve of the uniform.

The present state of quality control, including the system for food safety control, of the entire Maruha group needs to be examined for possible defects, as does the system for educating employees.

The latest incident has also sounded an alarm bell for the entire food industry.

Although it can be difficult for companies to take the view that human nature is inherently bad, it is essential to prevent workers with ill intentions from doing bad things. Companies must improve their in-house systems, including boosting monitoring of employees to make such illicit acts difficult.

Maruha Nichiro has revised downward its earnings forecast for the business term ending this March, primarily due to suspended production at the Gunma plant and its sluggish sales.

Companies in the food industry must understand it is difficult for a company that has lost consumers’ trust to recover it.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 27, 2014)
(2014年1月27日01時32分  読売新聞)


日本版NIH 医療の競争力強化の司令塔に

2014-01-28 05:04:40 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 26, 2014
Japanese NIH expected to enhance nation’s medical competitiveness
日本版NIH 医療の競争力強化の司令塔に(1月26日付・読売社説)

Excellent results in medical research must lead to the development of new drugs and remedies. A “headquarters for medicine” to be established soon is expected to play a significant role in enhancing Japan’s competitiveness in this field.

The government has decided to create an independent administrative entity tentatively called the Japan medical research and development agency to promote research and development in the medical field. With creation of the agency, the government aims to unify various systems at different ministries and agencies to support the research and development of medicine.

The agency is called the Japanese version of the U.S. National Institutes of Health because it is being modeled on the U.S. organization, which leads the world in medical research and the creation of new drugs. The government plans to submit related bills to the current ordinary Diet session and to launch the new agency in April 2015.

The medical field is expected to be a pillar of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy. The government must not let the agency become an empty letter but make it a viable organization with power to drive the nation’s growth.

The new agency is tasked with managing research and development funds from various ministries and agencies in an integrated fashion, and with distributing them to universities and other research institutes. The agency will give priority to promising fields and provide constant support to them, from basic research to commercialization of products.

As the development of induced pluripotent stem cells by Kyoto University Prof. Shinya Yamanaka shows, the level of basic research in the medical field is very high in Japan.

End sectionalism

Nonetheless, Japan lags behind the United States and European countries in the practical application of medical technology. For instance, imports of medicine and medical equipment exceed exports by about ¥3 trillion. It is problematic that a gap between basic research and clinical application has prevented companies from converting research results at universities and elsewhere into commercial realities.

Government support for research and development is sometimes not well coordinated.

For example, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is in charge of supporting basic research; the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is in charge of clinical application; and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is in charge of industrialization. The ministries often compete with each other to win budget appropriations for similar research.

To help the new agency function appropriately, it is essential to end sectionalism among ministries and agencies, and to make their support for research and development more efficient.

The new agency will be staffed by medical and pharmaceutical experts from the private sector, but it will not be easy to secure such people.

They will have to exercise good judgment in selecting research subjects with potential, and in connecting research institutes and companies to realize their product development.

There is a mountain of issues to be tackled jointly by the industrial, government and academic sectors. The creation of the Japanese version of the NIH is just a start.

While seeking to change the mindset of university researchers, who tend to overemphasize basic research, the government also should help accelerate the nurturing of start-ups that tackle the development of innovative technology with a high risk of failure.

We expect the government to build a system together with all the related sectors in Japan to increase the nation’s international competitiveness in the medical field by developing the Japanese version of NIH into a major, solid organization.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 26, 2014)
(2014年1月26日01時11分  読売新聞)


東京五輪組織委 オールジャパンで祭典準備を

2014-01-27 04:58:18 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun January 26, 2014
Efforts of entire nation necessary to prepare for successful 2020 Games
東京五輪組織委 オールジャパンで祭典準備を(1月25日付・読売社説)

The organizing committee for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which was launched Friday, will promote preparations in coordination with the International Olympic Committee.

The efforts of the entire nation will be needed to make the Games successful, involving the government, the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Japanese Olympic Committee and business circles.

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori was named head of the organizing committee. Mori, who also serves as head of the Japan Sports Association and Japan Rugby Football Union, has a wide range of personal connections in the sports world. He must take full advantage of these connections to facilitate communication within the organizing committee.

The committee will be tasked with working out basic organizing plans by February next year and will take the lead in implementing those plans. It will also undertake public relations activities.

To secure the ¥300 billion in management funds needed to pay for the Olympics and Paralympics up through their conclusion six years from now, it is necessary to seek sponsorship fees and donations from as many companies as possible. Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda, who has been informally appointed as vice head of the organizing committee, will have to display his ability in this regard.

Toshiro Muto, a former administrative vice finance minister, has assumed the post of secretary general in charge of supervising the practical business aspects of the Games. It will be vital for him to keep in mind the need to use the limited fiscal resources effectively.

Effective use of funds vital

The construction costs for the new National Stadium, which will be built with an injection of funds from state coffers, were initially estimated at ¥130 billion. But it was later found that the cost would balloon to ¥300 billion if the stadium was constructed based on the chosen design. Faced with criticism that this was excessive, the amount was reduced to ¥170 billion by adopting such measures as downsizing the total floor space.

If such over-optimistic estimations occur again, people may come to distrust the entire organizing plan.

In line with a contract signed with the IOC, it was decided to launch the organizing committee by early February.

The committee’s inauguration came just days before the deadline. It was delayed until Friday due to the scandal involving former Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose. The governor was supposed to participate in discussions on selecting the organizing committee’s chief, but the choice was made without him as a result of his unexpected resignation.

A Tokyo governor bears a heavy responsibility in the organizing committee. The new governor to be elected in voting on Feb. 9 will serve as a member of the coordination conference along with Mori, Olympic minister Hakubun Shimomura and JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda, among others, to coordinate important matters.

The new governor also needs to take responsibility over the use of ¥400 billion in funds held by the metropolitan government for construction of athletic facilities. In preparation for the Paralympics, it will also be necessary to build more barrier-free facilities in central Tokyo.

To ensure the smooth management of events, seeking to secure a stable supply of cheap electric power is also a major task for the governor as head of the host city.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 25, 2014)
(2014年1月25日01時45分  読売新聞)