徳田議員辞職 政界去っても説明責任は残る

2014-02-28 05:11:17 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 26, 2014
Resignation is a start, but Tokuda is still accountable for an explanation
徳田議員辞職 政界去っても説明責任は残る(2月26日付・読売社説)

It is only reasonable that lawmaker Takeshi Tokuda has chosen to resign from the Diet, given the seriousness of the recent scandal concerning his relatives’ alleged involvement in massive election irregularities. We feel that his decision comes too late.

On Monday, House of Representatives member Tokuda submitted a letter of resignation in connection with the scandal over violations of the Public Offices Election Law by people tied to the Tokushukai hospital group. His move comes after he left the Liberal Democratic Party in November.

Since the scandal came to light last autumn, Tokuda has been frequently absent from plenary sessions of the lower house and committee meetings of the chamber. In this respect, he should be criticized as an extremely irresponsible Diet member.

Shortly after tendering his resignation as a lawmaker, Tokuda gave a press conference in which he issued an apology for the first time in the ongoing scandal. However, he should have sought accountability when investigators first delved into suspicions surrounding individuals involved in his election campaign.

The Tokushukai group is believed to have put more than ¥200 million to use bribing election campaigners and in efforts aimed at securing Tokuda’s win in the December 2012 lower house election.

Prosecutors arrested and indicted his mother, two of his sisters and some other figures in connection with the case, though his father, Tokushukai founder Torao Tokuda, has not yet been charged due to his suffering from an intractable illness. The elder Tokuda formerly served as a lower house member as well.

The sentencing session in the trial of one of Takeshi Tokuda’s sisters is scheduled for Wednesday. During the prosecution’s probe into the case, the sister, the family’s second daughter, acknowledged her involvement in the alleged electoral irregularities.

Tokuda’s resignation comes just as he was set to be stripped of his seat on the basis of the election law’s guilt-by-association provisions. It is believed that the legislator timed his resignation announcement in consideration of the hearing of his sister’s trial.

Tokuda’s selfish hopes

During Monday’s press conference, Tokuda said, “I’d appreciate it if [the judicial authorities] acted with leniency [in passing judgment on the case].” The remark apparently reflected a desire on Tokuda’s part that his voluntary resignation from the Diet would encourage authorities to consider extenuating circumstances surrounding his relatives and other indicted figures in their sentencing decisions. We find this an extremely self-serving attitude.

The special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is investigating the case of the questionable transfer of ¥50 million in cash from Tokuda to former Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose. The focus of the probe, led by the prosecution’s special investigation squad, is whether the cash was intended to help finance Inose’s campaign for the Tokyo governorship in late 2012.

If the money was offered to Inose to fund his election campaign, he and his election staff could be accused of neglecting to write the fund into a report on income and expenditures incurred through his electoral bid.

At the press conference, Tokuda declined to comment on the purpose for which the cash was intended, despite having admitted that he and Inose discussed the gubernatorial election when they dined together. “I cannot talk [about the nature of the money],” he said.

Tokuda also declined to speak about the details of his conversation with Inose. He defended his refusal to comment, saying the scandal is under investigation. However, Inose’s acceptance of ¥50 million in cash from Tokuda is already known to the public. Given this, Tokuda, as a key figure in the case, should provide an appropriate explanation of the nature of the money transfer.

The press conference also brought to light discrepancies in the explanations given by Tokuda and Inose about the funds. When asked whether Inose had asked him for the loan, Tokuda said, “I think so.”

However, Inose has asserted that Tokuda himself made the offer to loan the money.

Once again, we want Tokuda to explain his position on issues relevant to the scandal, including the Tokushukai group’s failed attempt to buy a hospital owned by the struggling Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Tokuda’s resignation will mandate a by-election for his lower house seat in Kagoshima Constituency No. 2 in April. We hope the lessons learned from this scandal will be put into practice in how the election is conducted.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 26, 2014)
(2014年2月26日01時31分  読売新聞)


ウクライナ政変 安定回復へ欧露の責任は重い

2014-02-27 04:07:59 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 25, 2014
EU, Russia have grave responsibility to help Ukraine regain stability
ウクライナ政変 安定回復へ欧露の責任は重い(2月25日付・読売社説)

International cooperation is needed to help Ukraine regain its stability, a country beset by the rival influences of the European Union and Russia.

The administration of President Viktor Yanukovych has effectively collapsed, and Yanukovych was forced to leave Kiev in the face of fierce antigovernment protests.

The parliament has approved opposition leader Oleksandr Turchinov as acting head of state and decided to hold a presidential election in May. Yet, how the current chaotic situation will unfold remains uncertain.

Yanukovych’s downfall was triggered when he reneged on plans to sign an agreement with the EU in November, centering on a free-trade pact.

Wary of seeing Ukraine move closer to the EU, Russia is believed to have made blatant approaches to the country by promising large-scale economic assistance in return for postponing conclusion of the EU accord.

The opposition and its supporters strongly protested and launched antigovernment demonstrations. Fighting between the opposition and security forces, which left more than 80 people dead this month, doomed the administration.

Historically, Ukraine’s western region has been strongly influenced by the West, while the eastern region looks toward Moscow. Ever since its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, pro-Russian groups have attached great importance to the country’s ties with Russia, while pro-EU factions have been trying to bring the country closer to the EU. The rivalry between the two groups resulted in repeated changes in administration.

Shift to West likely

Yanukovych, seen as pro-Russian, was forced from power by pro-EU groups, and these groups, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who had been imprisoned, seized power. Ukraine is likely to shift further toward the EU.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who hopes to use the success of the Sochi Olympics to move forward with the economic reintegration of the former Soviet bloc, probably feels as if he has been doused with cold water.

If Putin, in an attempt to influence Ukraine, takes such hard-line measures as restricting supplies of natural gas to Ukraine, as Russia has in the past, the current turmoil will only worsen. We hope Russia will be prudent.

The EU should coordinate its views with Russia to prevent the situation in Ukraine from deteriorating. We highly appreciate German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s telephone conversation with Putin in which they agreed that Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be upheld. They also concurred that splitting Ukraine into eastern and western regions should be avoided.

With its massive external debt, Ukraine is said to be in danger of default. Assistance from the international community, including the EU, is the key to the country regaining stability.

Ukraine, which experienced the devastating Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, has inked an accord with Japan on nuclear issues, exchanging information and experts. We should keep a keen eye on how developments will turn out in the days ahead.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 25, 2014)
(2014年2月25日01時24分  読売新聞)


G20共同声明 世界成長2%底上げへ結束を

2014-02-26 05:31:39 | 英字新聞


The Yomiuri Shimbun February 24, 2014
G-20 economies must stand together to attain 2% global growth target
G20共同声明 世界成長2%底上げへ結束を(2月24日付・読売社説)

Amid such concerns as the declining values of currencies of emerging economies, Japan, the United States and Europe should strengthen their cooperation with such emerging economies as China and Brazil to help accelerate the growth of the global economy.

With both industrially advanced nations and emerging market economies taking part, the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors adopted a joint communique at the close of a two-day meeting in Sydney on Sunday.

The communique said, “Despite these recent improvements [in such countries as the United States, Britain and Japan], the global economy remains far from achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth.”

It went on to declare a new target for raising global growth “with the aim to lift our collective GDP by more than 2 percent...over the coming five years,” a potent message for the future of the world economy.

The G-20 meeting confirmed that each of its member economies will work out an action plan in time for a G-20 summit scheduled to be held in Brisbane, Australia, in November.

This is the first time the G-20 has set a numerical target for global growth.

The establishment of this target comes as not all is well with the global economy, although there are some bright signs. It seems the participants in the meeting agreed on the need to demonstrate their resolve to work together for sustainable growth by laying down a numerical goal.

The International Monetary Fund has released its global economic outlook, forecasting a year-on-year global growth of 3.7 percent in real terms for 2014 and 3.9 percent for 2015.

Fears over ‘Fragile Five’

The U.S. economy is clearly on its way to recovery, while business activities in the eurozone have become positive at last. Japan’s economy, too, is continuing to gradually recover.

What is worrying is that the slowdown of emerging economies, which replaced the industrial economies in propping up the global economy after the 2008 world financial crisis, has become increasingly conspicuous.

With the U.S. Federal Reserve Board having launched its “exit strategy” by tapering its quantitative monetary easing, the value of the currencies of the so-called Fragile Five emerging economies, including Turkey and India, are under increasing downward pressure.

The depreciation of these currencies has been caused by the fact that the massive amounts of cash, which flowed into from abroad while the Fed’s extraordinary monetary easing policy was in place, are now flowing out of them. It is essential to stem the vicious cycle of the global market being pummeled by erratic situations in emerging economies and slides in their currencies.

Apparently focusing on emerging economies affected by the weakening of their currencies, the G-20 communique this time has rightly noted the need to “further strengthen...macroeconomic, structural and financial policy frameworks.” We hope to see them step up efforts to address such challenges as swelling current account deficits and runaway inflation.

Also incorporated in the communique is a passage to the effect that the United States should consider the effects of the handling of its financial policy on the global economy.

In tapering its monetary easing policy, the Fed should exercise ingenuity in its “dialogue with the market” by noting changes in emerging economies.

High expectations are placed on Japan’s role in accelerating the pace of global growth.

No time should be wasted in beefing up the third pillar of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy—growth strategy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 24, 2014)
(2014年2月24日01時27分  読売新聞)


竹島の日 内外に訴えよ韓国の不法占拠

2014-02-25 05:42:57 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 23, 2014
Japan should present case abroad, at home on Takeshima occupation
竹島の日 内外に訴えよ韓国の不法占拠(2月23日付・読売社説)

The Takeshima islands in Shimane Prefecture are an inherent part of Japanese territory, but South Korea has been illegally occupying them. It is important that many more Japanese people share this understanding.

The Shimane prefectural government has held its ninth “Takeshima Day” ceremony. Yoshitami Kameoka, parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office, represented the government at the ceremony and said in a speech, “The government will do its best to solve the Takeshima issue rationally and peacefully.”

Feb. 22 is the day that Japan incorporated the Takeshima islands into Shimane Prefecture in 1905. The prefecture enacted the “Takeshima Day” ordinance in 2005 and has been organizing the ceremony on the day every year since 2006. It is highly praiseworthy that the prefecture has steadily continued its Takeshima awareness campaign.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government last year sent the parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office to the ceremony for the first time. Of course, resolving the territorial dispute is not easy and will take a long time, but the persistence of such awareness activities is important.

In the past, Japan used Takeshima as a transit point of maritime traffic and a fishing base, and established sovereignty over the islands in the mid-17th century. After the end of World War II, South Korea demanded the United States include Takeshima among territories Japan should give up, but Washington refused.

However, Seoul unilaterally established the “Syngman Rhee Line” in 1952 to demarcate the limits of its waters, including the Takeshima islands within its extended territory. It then illegally occupied the islands. South Korea has refused Tokyo’s proposal to settle the dispute at the International Court of Justice.

Raise awareness on islands

Results of a Cabinet Office survey released in August showed that 63 percent of Japanese polled knew that South Korea has illegally occupied the islands, and 61 percent realized they were an inherent part of Japanese territory. It is regrettable to say that these figures are not necessarily high. The government must make a greater effort to spread the correct understanding of the issue among the public.

In January, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry revised instruction manuals for its course of study for middle and high schools to stipulate for the first time that the Takeshima and Senkaku islands are inherent territories of Japan. This should help improve the public’s awareness of the government’s views on the Takeshima and Senkaku islands.

It is also important to disseminate Japan’s views on the territorial issues among other countries in the world. The Foreign Ministry last year uploaded to its website video footage explaining the government views on the territories in 12 languages, which attracted more than 1 million hits.

South Korea objected to the observance of “Takeshima Day” and demanded Tokyo stop sending a parliamentary secretary to the ceremony. However, its claim lacks legitimacy and is nothing but intervention in internal affairs.

Tokyo decided not to organize a government ceremony to mark the day as the Liberal Democratic Party had stipulated in its policy pledges for the last House of Representatives elections. It also did not send the prime minister or other ministers to the ceremony, though Shimane Prefecture invited them. We think these are appropriate diplomatic considerations made with the South Korean government in mind.

There are many other issues Japan and South Korea should work on together, such as North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade accord. The foreign ministries of both countries should carefully handle the dispute over the Takeshima islands so it does not become a major factor to hinder improvement of their bilateral relations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 23, 2014)
(2014年2月23日01時41分  読売新聞)


河野談話 慰安婦証言を検証・公開せよ

2014-02-24 04:42:51 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 22, 2014
Govt should publicize comfort women testimony cited in Kono statement
河野談話 慰安婦証言を検証・公開せよ(2月22日付・読売社説)

The government should thoroughly get to the bottom of the manner in which a 1993 statement by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on so-called comfort women came to be.

At a Thursday meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, current Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he would study whether a government team should be established to examine the process of preparing the Kono statement.

The Kono statement expressed “apologies and remorse” to former comfort women. However, it has become clear that testimony by 16 former comfort women from South Korea—on which the statement was based—was not backed up by documents or other evidence.

Suga also said it was desirable to study the issue from academic points of view. It would thus be necessary to make public the transcripts of the former comfort women’s testimony—which are now classified—so historians and other experts can examine their contents.

Thursday’s meeting was also attended by Nobuo Ishihara, deputy chief cabinet secretary when the statement was issued in 1993.

Ishihara, serving as an unsworn witness, said the government conducted interviews with the former comfort women at the urging of South Korea. “The atmosphere would not allow us to demand investigations to back up their testimony,” Ishihara told the committee.

As the statement was issued without solid evidence, the Imperial Japanese Army has been viewed by the world as having forced young women to serve as comfort women.

Statement spawns problems

It is undeniable that the Kono statement has spawned many problems.

For example, a group of Americans with South Korean roots spearheaded a campaign to erect a statute of a girl symbolizing comfort women last year in Glendale, Calif.
An inscription beside the statue says, “In memory of more than 200,000 Asian and Dutch women who were removed from their homes...to be coerced into sexual slavery...” Such a campaign has started spreading across the United States.

Japan has been unable to wage effective counterarguments against South Korean campaigns, as the Kono statement included expressions that can be construed as acknowledgment by Japan of the forcible recruitment of women.

As a questioner at the committee meeting, Hiroshi Yamada, a lawmaker from Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restration Party), asked Ishihara to clarify whether the government at that time coordinated the wording of the statement with South Korea while preparing it.

“It can naturally be assumed that the wording was coordinated,” Ishihara said, though he said he did not personally confirm it. It is extremely problematic if the core part of the statement—saying that “at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments”—reflected the wishes of the South Korean side.

The South Korean government, which had not raised comfort women issues for a while after the Kono statement was released, has brought them up again and again in recent years. South Korean President Park Geun-hye is seeking new solutions from the Japanese government.

The government issued the Kono statement to show “good will” toward South Korea in the interest of building a forward-looking relationship between Japan and South Korea. However, it became clear that its intention was never understood. The government must expedite work to examine the Kono statement and correct errors as soon as possible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 22, 2014)
(2014年2月22日01時22分  読売新聞)