巨大地震防災 強化地域の対策推進が急務だ

2014-03-31 05:55:57 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 29, 2014
Designated quake areas must implement safety precautions immediately
巨大地震防災 強化地域の対策推進が急務だ(3月29日付・読売社説)

Countermeasures to deal with possible gigantic earthquakes and tsunami must be implemented without delay. It is hoped that the government’s designation of municipalities for boosting preparations for huge earthquakes will serve as an earnest step toward the local adoption of antiquake measures.

The government’s Central Disaster Management Council on Friday designated a total of 1,017 cities, towns and villages in Tokyo and 31 other prefectures for boosting measures against projected huge earthquakes with focuses in the Nankai Trough or the surface of Tokyo.

A Nankai Trough earthquake is projected to result in more than 300,000 fatalities and more than ¥200 trillion in damage. A massive temblor with a focus directly under Tokyo, meanwhile, is projected to leave more than 20,000 people dead and put the city at risk of losing its functions as the capital. Thus, countermeasures to prepare for disasters and reduce damage are extremely important tasks of fundamental concern to the nation.

Designated municipalities will each compile and implement a disaster management plan based on the special measures law for dealing with the two projected earthquakes, which was enforced late last year.

But municipalities with weak financial foundations will find limitations in pursuing countermeasures on their own. It is necessary for the government to effectively provide support by putting priority on their projects.

Under the terms of the special measures law, the government will shoulder two-thirds of the costs when municipalities designated for a Nankai Trough earthquake establish shelters to escape tsunami. It will also pay three-fourths of the cost for purchasing land to relocate primary and middle schools.

In the heart of Tokyo, where a major earthquake is expected to cause major damage, the procedures to approve work to widen roads and to construct or improve parks have been simplified.

It is hoped that such means of government support will be used effectively.

Local govts unprepared

Those municipalities must tackle a mountain of challenges. For example, only slightly more than 10 percent of cities, towns and villages required to take measures against tsunami have created hazard maps. Nearly 20 percent of the designated municipalities do not have a disaster management radio system for the local government to use.

A serious concern is that a number of areas are reluctant to take countermeasures, saying that they cannot possibly take steps when the projected damage is too great to handle.

In Nagoya, where vast areas are expected to be inundated by tsunami, work to make houses earthquake-resistant has not progressed as hoped. Many residents say they cannot bear the expenses of renovating their houses when they know their homes will be washed away by tsunami.

In parts of Shikoku, where tsunami measuring as high as 30 meters would hit as early as four minutes after the quake, some residents have given up all hope of escaping.

Whether residents can survive a disaster hinges upon the steady implementation of countermeasures. The central and local governments should explain the basic principles of disaster management to residents to win their cooperation in this regard.

The Central Disaster Management Council also compiled outlines for taking action against all possible huge earthquakes that could hit various areas across Japan, including the Nankai Trough region and Tokyo.

The outlines call for, among others, precautions in the event that the transportation network is paralyzed, dealing with people facing difficulties returning home, and making facilities to be used for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games earthquake-resistant.

The central and local governments should act in concert to fully meet such requirements.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 29, 2014)
(2014年3月29日01時35分  読売新聞)


渡辺代表借入金 「もろもろ」で8億円が通るか

2014-03-30 05:46:12 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 28, 2014
Watanabe must give solid, believable account of how ¥800 million was used
渡辺代表借入金 「もろもろ」で8億円が通るか(3月28日付・読売社説)

What on earth did an opposition party leader use the ¥800 million he borrowed for? Providing an answer to this question is his duty as the leader of a political party.

It has come to light that Yoshiaki Yoshida, chairman of the cosmetics company DHC Corp. and a supporter of Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe, loaned the politician ¥300 million about two weeks before the 2010 House of Councillors election and another ¥500 million a month before the 2012 vote for the House of Representatives.

Yoshida said he loaned ¥800 million to Watanabe as “election funds.” But neither reports on Watanabe’s campaign finances nor income and expenditure statements for his political funds mention the loans. It is possible Watanabe will be suspected of violating the Public Offices Election Law and the Political Funds Control Law.

In a news conference Thursday, Watanabe claimed the money he borrowed was “purely intended for my personal support.”

Asked what he used the money for, Watanabe said it had been spent “for various purposes deemed necessary for a politician” and said some of the money had been used to finance conference and travel expenses. He spoke with no apparent awareness of the possible illegality of his behavior, even pointing out that he had repaid part of the loans.

It seems that Watanabe hopes to ride out the scandal by insisting that the loans were for his personal use.

Parallel with Inose case

But there are parallels between the Watanabe loans and the money scandal surrounding former Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, in that both received a huge sum of money in the immediate run-up to an election. If Watanabe argues that the money was not for use in election campaigns, then it falls to him to explain in specific terms just how he spent it.

Even if the money was strictly a personal loan, many factors remain that cannot be overlooked.

The loans from Yoshida are not included in the outstanding loans detailed in a mandatory report of his personal assets. He said it was “a clerical error” and that he “wants to correct it,” but it is unlikely the public will accept it if he shrugs off the transfer of such an enormous sum as a simple clerical mistake.

It is hard to accept that Watanabe did not prepare documents acknowledging a loan of ¥500 million.

Watanabe said he would have the chairman of the party’s ethics committee probe any potential illegality in association with the borrowed money. But it is questionable whether suspicions can be eliminated solely through an in-house investigation.

Your Party has faced criticism for some time that its management is not democratic, with the party strongly characterized as a “private shop” that defers to Watanabe for all decisions on party matters.

Kenji Eda, who broke with Your Party due to a feud with Watanabe and formed the Yui no To party, said that Watanabe managed state subsidies paid to the party and legislation expenses alone, without consulting other party executives.

By taking advantage of personal ties with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Watanabe has promoted a stance of serving as a “responsible opposition party” by cooperating with the Abe administration on a policy-by-policy basis. Watanabe actively promotes changes to the interpretation of the Constitution that would make it possible to exercise the right to collective self-defense, a move backed by Abe.

Whether Watanabe will be able to maintain his political leadership is a matter of concern to Abe as well.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 28, 2014)
(2014年3月28日01時26分  読売新聞)


核安全サミット テロ防止に問われる管理強化

2014-03-29 05:24:03 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 27, 2014
Reinforced management of nuclear materials needed to prevent terrorism
核安全サミット テロ防止に問われる管理強化(3月27日付・読売社説)

In confronting the threat of nuclear terrorism, it is essential for countries to cooperate to thoroughly manage nuclear materials.

The Nuclear Security Summit, attended by leaders of over 50 countries, including major industrial nations and emerging economies, was held in The Hague, and the leaders adopted a joint communique.

The joint communique places the highest priority on preventing nuclear materials from being acquired by terrorists. It urges countries to accept the guidance mapped out by the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning the protection of their nuclear materials and facilities.

According to the IAEA, in 2013 alone there were 146 cases in which nuclear materials or other radioactive materials were traded illegally, stolen or lost. As we cannot deny the possibility of nuclear terrorism, countries concerned must take effective measures in line with the IAEA guidance.

It is also important that the communique encourages countries to minimize their stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and of separated plutonium, both of which can be used in nuclear weapons. This call is aimed at getting countries to hold down their stockpile of such materials and prevent nuclear materials from going into the hands of terrorists.

Any excess nuclear materials should be transported out of those countries and placed under the control of such nations as the United States, which is capable of disposing of such material responsibly.

In line with the purport of the communique, Italy, Belgium, South Korea and other countries have expressed their willingness to remove unnecessary plutonium and HEU from their countries.

Abe demonstrates resolve

Japan, for its part, has announced a bilateral agreement with the United States under which it will remove several hundred kilograms of HEU and plutonium used for the fast critical assembly at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and hand them over to the United States.

Such measures can be said to be in accord with the principles of the government, which has said the country “will not own plutonium for which no purpose has been set.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown his determination at the summit, saying “Japan has a responsibility to lead efforts to strengthen nuclear security” in light of its experience with the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

As Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic bombings in wartime and is also one with advanced technology in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, our country should take a proactive role in this field, too.

The Nuclear Security Summit started four years ago when U.S. President Barack Obama advocated a goal of realizing a nuclear-free world. Since then, the summit has borne definite fruit, for instance, in the prevention of nuclear terrorism. Yet it is problematic that there has been little progress in the reduction of nuclear arms themselves.

It is worrisome that among the five countries allowed to possess nuclear arms under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia—only China is believed to be increasing its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

China must stop its military buildup with nuclear arms, which has been a destabilizing factor for the world’s nuclear security environment, and reduce its nuclear arms together with other nuclear powers.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 27, 2014)
(2014年3月27日01時29分  読売新聞)


G7VSロシア クリミア編入を前例にするな

2014-03-28 06:36:01 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 27, 2014
Crimea must not become a precedent for stealing land from another country
G7VSロシア クリミア編入を前例にするな(3月26日付・読売社説)

Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula must not become a precedent for one nation stealing another nation’s land by force. The international community should reinforce its united front against Moscow.

Leaders of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations—Japan, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada—recently met in The Hague over the upheaval in Ukraine, denouncing Russia’s annexation as a “clear violation of international law.” The leaders decided to suspend their participation in the Group of Eight summit meeting to be held in Sochi until Moscow changes course.

The G-7 leaders also warned they will impose tough economic sanctions on Russia if the nation further escalates its actions, on top of penalties they have already imposed.

The success of the G-7 nations in building a united front and showing their resolve against Russia will undeniably strengthen the pressure they have put on the country.

At the meeting, Japan pledged up to ¥150 billion in aid to Ukraine, which now faces the risk of default. It is essential for Japan to join hands with the United States and European countries to support Ukraine, to stabilize the situation.

In reaction to the decisions of the G-7, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is not clinging to the G-8 format. He suggested putting more focus on the U.N. Security Council and the summit meetings of the Group of 20 nations.

‘Russianization’ progressing

The reason behind Lavrov maintaining his assertive stance is the overwhelming public support in Russia for the annexation of Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently concluded that his strategy to annex the Crimean Peninsula was successful. It is unlikely that receiving some condemnation from the international community will be an incentive for Putin to give up Crimea. Ukraine has decided to withdraw its troops from Crimea, and the “Russianization” of the region, such as the circulation of the ruble, has begun.

There is one worrying move from Russia—the nation is now concentrating its troops on the southern and eastern borders of Ukraine.

If Russia begins a military intervention against Ukraine in regions other than Crimea, there is no doubt the United States and other G-7 nations will impose full-scale economic sanctions on Russia. The sanctions will not only hit the Russian economy, but they will also cause enormous repercussions to the global economy.

It is crucial that the international observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe enter Ukraine as soon as possible, and begin monitoring the security situation there to prevent tensions with Ukrainian citizens of Russian descent, which would give Russia the pretext for directly intervening in Ukraine.

The Crimea issue has massive implications for Japan, which faces China’s repeated intrusions into Japanese territorial waters in areas near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

During the G-7 meeting, Abe told other leaders that Japan will not tolerate any attempt to change the status quo by force. He then went on to say that the Ukranian issue is a problem for the entire international community, including Asia, and multiple nations reportedly agreed with his remarks.

It will be important for Japan to assert the legitimacy of its position on the Senkaku issue to the international community, and obtain the understanding of other nations over the issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 26, 2014)
(2014年3月26日01時47分  読売新聞)


中韓首脳会談 鮮明になった「反日共闘」路線

2014-03-27 06:34:56 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun March 25, 2014
China-South Korea summit clearly shows ‘united front against Japan’
中韓首脳会談 鮮明になった「反日共闘」路線(3月25日付・読売社説)

It seems fair to say that China and South Korea have demonstrated clearly their “united front against Japan” on history-related issues.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Park Geun-hye met for talks in a suburb of The Hague where they highlighted the significance of a memorial hall dedicated to Korean independence activist Ahn Jung Geun in a train station in Harbin, China.

According to South Korean officials, Xi told Park he had given “direct instructions” for building the hall, while Park responded that the hall would strengthen ties between the two peoples.

We believe that what Xi offered Park was a united front in taking a hard-line policy against Japan, a policy that has support of the South Korean people, in a bid to draw the attention of the Seoul government.

Ahn Jung Geun assassinated Hirobumi Ito, Japan’s first prime minister. For Japan, the two nations’ praise for the opening of a hall dedicated to such a person is unacceptable.

Xi appears to have sought to drive a wedge in cooperative ties among Japan, South Korea and the United States ahead of their tripartite summit scheduled for Tuesday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit. The Xi-Park talks threw cold water on the much-anticipated summit, which comes against a backdrop of deteriorating Japan-South Korea relations—a summit made possible through U.S. mediation efforts.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described the exchanges between Xi and Park and the praise Beijing and Seoul have expressed for Ahn as “founded on one-sided assessment” of history. He also pointed out quite reasonably that such public statements do not help to build peace and cooperation in the region.

A new anti-Japan symbol

During their talks, Xi also told Park of a “memorial stone” that China is constructing in Xian in Shaanxi Province, the city where a Korean anti-Japanese resistance force known as the “Korean Liberation Army” was based during the period of Japanese colonial rule. Park reportedly asked Xi to erect the memorial. Although there are few details about the resistance force, the memorial is certain to become a new symbol for anti-Japan sentiment.

There is also cause for concern that Park has been keeping step with China. Although she has not yet held talks with Japanese leaders, Park has met with Xi four times since her inauguration. She probably thinks stronger relations with China are important for her country’s North Korea policy and economic cooperation.

In contrast, she has effectively rejected Japan-South Korea summit meetings by imposing conditions concerning so-called comfort women and other areas of contention.

It is quite clear that neither the Japan-U.S. alliance nor the U.S.-South Korean alliance—both partnerships in which United States is the keystone—will function effectively without good Japan-South Korean relations.

The prospect of further strengthening Seoul-Beijing ties over history issues is worrisome.

Late last month, a Chinese court for the first time accepted a lawsuit in which former Chinese workers who were forcibly brought to Japan to work in Japanese companies during World War II are demanding apologies and compensation from the companies. Similar lawsuits have been filed in South Korea by former forced laborers.

This type of suit threatens to undermine the foundation of pledges made by Japan and by the two nations upon the normalization of diplomatic relations, and cannot be accepted.

It is important for Japan to make its case and demonstrate the legitimacy of its legal stance, not only to China and South Korea, but to the international community as a whole.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 25, 2014)
(2014年3月25日01時45分  読売新聞)