民主党大会 新党も選択肢

2016-01-31 07:20:20 | 英字新聞


January 30, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Main opposition DPJ holds convention, may merge to form new party
民主党大会 新党も選択肢

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan may seek to form a new party through a proposed merger with a smaller opposition party ahead of a parliamentary election this summer, DPJ President Katsuya Okada said Saturday at a party convention in Tokyo.

Okada expressed his intention to begin negotiations with Japan Innovation Party leader Yorihisa Matsuno over the idea of merging their parties in an effort to confront the ruling bloc in the upcoming House of Councillors election.

The two parties formed a joint parliamentary group in the House of Representatives in December. Differing opinions remain, however, among the members of the two opposition parties about the proposed merger.

"The formation of a new party is not being ruled out as an option. What is important is whether we would be able to share policies and philosophies in common and whether we would be able to pursue political cooperation to earnestly try to take over the reins of the government," Okada said.

"I hope to hold substantive talks with Mr. Matsuno, leader of the Innovation Party. The outcome we would agree on would be presented to party organizations," he said.

Matsuno and Rikio Kozu, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, were among the guests at the DPJ convention held at a Tokyo hotel.

The DPJ adopted a fiscal 2016 action plan stressing the importance of opposition forces getting together to fight the ruling bloc led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party in the upper house election, citing the possibility of a lower house election being held at the same time.

The DPJ was in power for three years through December 2012.


民主党大会 岡田氏「新党も選択肢」 維新と直接交渉へ







岡田代表の発言 骨子


日銀 2%目標へ強い意志…マイナス金利導入

2016-01-30 04:43:43 | 英字新聞

January 29, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
BOJ shows strong will to achieve 2% inflation target
日銀 2%目標へ強い意志…マイナス金利導入

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Jan. 29 announced plans to introduce a negative interest rate to demonstrate its strong commitment to achieving a 2 percent inflation target.

The central bank took the initiative after concluding that it would be difficult to attain its objective at an early date by simply focusing on monetary volume through massive purchases of government bonds.

The BOJ maintains that its ''qualitative and quantitative monetary easing'' policy has produced results. Its decision to add interest rates to that policy reflects the central bank's plan to implement a flexible monetary policy.

In its new outlook report, the BOJ aims to achieve its inflation target in more than four years, instead of an initial objective of around two years. It says it is difficult to attribute the difficulty in achieving the 2 percent target to oil price declines. The BOJ was under pressure to further strengthen its monetary policy.

Financial markets have experienced confusion due to the Chinese economic slowdown and falling crude oil prices since the start of this year. If the BOJ had failed to take additional monetary easing measures, its resolve to achieve its 2 percent inflation target would have been questioned, and it would have faced the disappointment of its monetary policy having reached its limits.

The BOJ thus was under pressure to implement a new set of monetary easing steps to surprise markets and renew its strong will to achieve a 2 percent inflation target.


18歳選挙権 参院選の投票機会を広げたい

2016-01-29 09:51:18 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Expand voting opportunities for youths in upper house election this summer
18歳選挙権 参院選の投票機会を広げたい

The central and local governments, as well as political parties, must cooperate to create an environment in which young people who become newly eligible voters can use that right properly.

A lawmaker-initiated bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law was approved unanimously at a special committee of the House of Councillors. The bill is designed to eliminate cases in which young people who are expected to change their residence this spring cannot vote in the House of Councillors election slated for this summer. The committee’s approval makes it certain that the bill will be passed into law shortly.

Under the current law, only eligible voters who have lived at their present residence for more than three months are listed on the voting register of municipal governments — villages, towns, wards or cities — and are able to cast ballots.

Should the upper house election be officially announced on June 23, with voting to be held and the ballots counted on July 10, that would prevent from voting young people aged 18 or 19 who may change residences in order to enter the next stage of education or start working on March 23 or later.

This would have affected about 70,000 of the about 2.4 million youths who are expected to become newly eligible voters. With the legal revision, they will be able to cast their votes in the municipality where they lived before their move.

The lowering of the minimum voting age to 18 will encourage the young generation to participate in the political process, and may be an important turning point in expanding the base for democracy. Settling the legal deficiency and securing their opportunity to vote are appropriate measures.

The election administration commission of each municipality must expedite such efforts as making systems modifications to voter registration to ensure smooth implementation.

More voting venues

The central government plans to submit a bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law, designed to enhance voters’ convenience, and have it passed into law.

Presently, voting on election day is limited to one polling place designated for each voter. With the government-initiated revision, voters will also be able to submit their ballots at a “common voting place,” to be newly set up at such venues as commercial facilities and stations. Voting hours will also be extended on days prior to the election day.

The revision is also intended to expand the range of minors allowed to accompany a voter into a polling station from infants, as stipulated in the present law, to people under 18. This is expected to help future voters feel familiar with casting ballots.

We hope the central and local governments will proactively work on building an environment in which voters are able to cast their votes with ease, while adopting all possible measures to prevent such dishonest acts as double voting and avoid errors.

The turnout rate in various elections has been declining over many years, and the low interest in politics among young people is also a cause for concern. It is necessary to proactively enlighten young people about the importance of elections, which are the basis of democracy.

With an eye on the upper house election, political parties are throwing their energy into holding discussion meetings to be attended by legislators and students, and into transmitting information. We hope the parties utilize their exchanges with young people in their policy making.

Schools have already started such activities as inviting people including officials from local election administration commissions to help students learn about the Public Offices Election Law and the voting process and hold mock elections with fictitious candidates. With cooperation from such entities as local assemblies, opportunities should also be increased for students to talk with assembly members.

It is important to promote more pragmatic learning aimed at enhancing young people’s awareness as voters, while securing political impartiality.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 28, 2016)


代表質問 不平等克服へ政策競え

2016-01-28 09:26:08 | 英字新聞

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 27
EDITORIAL: Parties should focus on correcting social disparities, not election
(社説)代表質問 不平等克服へ政策競え

How can we overcome social disparities that have become too commonplace today?

This was one of the urgent questions posed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Diet on Jan. 26, the first day of this year’s questioning session by lawmakers representing their parties.

The Diet has a host of other crucial issues to address, such as the economy, diplomacy and national security, as well as the money scandal embroiling Akira Amari, the minister in charge of economic revitalization.

But the growing disparities around the nation between regular and part-time employees, men and women, the big cities and the provinces and so on, are in special need of prompt attention.

Democratic Party of Japan leader Katsuya Okada said, “We would like to propose specific measures for correcting the disparities and ensuring a fair distribution of benefits.”

One of the initiatives he proposed was to increase the per-child amount of child-care benefits, and to raise the upper age limit for eligible children. To secure funding, Okada suggested increasing tax on financial incomes and reinforcing the progressivity of income and inheritance taxes.

Prime Minister Abe promised in his policy speech to take further steps to realize his “equal pay for equal work” concept. Okada asked if Abe’s objective matches the DPJ’s demand for “equal treatment” of regular and part-time employees.

Japan Innovation Party leader Yorihisa Matsuno referred to the number of people who are not paying into the national pension program and demanded swift action.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the relative poverty rate in Japan was 16.1 percent in 2012, which represented a gradual year-on-year growth. Limited to younger households consisting of members under 30 years old, the rate was 27.8 percent, and a much higher 54.6 percent for single-parent households.

Acknowledging this reality, Abe replied, “We will continue to review and improve matters related to employment and social security to prevent the disparities from becoming permanent.”

But the prime minister’s response to Okada’s proposals was somewhat too abstract to be satisfactory.

In his policy speech on Jan. 22, Abe attacked opposition parties and said, “An attitude of spending all one’s time simply criticizing, without putting forward any counterproposals, and expecting that everything will ‘all work out somehow’ is truly irresponsible towards the public.”
Abe then addressed the opposition camp, saying, “Instead, shall we not pit concrete policies against each other and hold constructive discussions?”

When he said that, he must have been thinking of the attitude of the DPJ and other parties toward the national security legislation and constitutional amendment. But surely, it is anything but “irresponsible” to resist any policy that goes against the Constitution. And it is only natural to be alarmed by the prime minister’s resolve to change the Constitution at all costs.

In fact, it is the prime minister himself who needs to live up to his responsibility of responding “concretely and constructively” to questions and proposals put forth by the opposition camp.

With the Upper House election coming up this summer, the current Diet session is expected to be a “short-term battle.” But there are numerous issues that need to be discussed, and the money scandal must be probed to everyone’s satisfaction.

The session must not be allowed to become an ugly sparring contest, fought only with the upcoming election in mind.


中国の人権弾圧 身勝手な力の統治が目に余る

2016-01-27 10:50:15 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China must desist from its hardline moves to suppress human rights
中国の人権弾圧 身勝手な力の統治が目に余る

Chinese President Xi Jinping has apparently been further escalating his rule with force.

The Xi administration put in force an “antiterrorism law” this month. The law makes it obligatory for Internet service providers and others to provide technical support to Chinese authorities to help decrypt information to prevent terrorist activities. The law also prohibits media from reporting terrorist activities in detail on the grounds that it might inspire copycat attacks.

Concerns are only rising in the international community that restrictions on activities of foreign companies operating in China and controls on the freedom of speech and news reporting will be tightened further in the country.

The antiterrorism law defines terrorism as “propositions and actions that generate social panic by such means as violence so as to achieve their political objectives.”

It is problematic that there is a possibility that by merely making propositions that are not accepted by the Chinese authorities, one can be punished. The definition of terrorist activities is also vague, leaving plenty of room for discretion.

There is a serious possibility of the authorities’ using the law arbitrarily to suppress the Uighur minority group under the guise of taking measures to fight against terrorism committed by Islamist extremists.

Late last year, prior to the enforcement of the new law, a Beijing-based reporter for a French news magazine who wrote articles critical of China’s policy on the Uighur minority was effectively expelled from the country.

China, under the one-party rule of the Communist Party, touts “the rule of law.” But there is no judicial independence in the country. The law is a means to carry out the rule of the party thoroughly.

Ominous disappearances

Neither can it be overlooked that the authorities, in an arbitrary crackdown, have detained a large number of lawyers and activists who were striving to defend human rights.

Earlier this month, a Swedish man working on human rights issues in China was taken into custody. He was detained for allegedly “posing a threat to national security,” by extending support to human rights lawyers with financial aid from foreign nongovernmental organizations and other entities.

Xi has been solidifying his power base by removing his political enemies through the exposure of their corruption. Despite that, however, he may still harbor a strong sense of crisis over the possibility that public discontent, rooted in factors such as the country’s economic slowdown, may swell because such values as democracy and human rights may spread in society.

Also, it cannot be tolerated that China has been bringing its high-handed methods to Hong Kong, where the “one country, two systems” applies.

In Hong Kong, five people related to a local bookstore — its shareholders, the store manager and others — reportedly disappeared. The store was selling “banned books” that are critical of China, and their publication or sale is prohibited in mainland China.

The Chinese authorities admitted that two of the five are indeed in mainland China, but emphasized that they went there of their own volition.

The authorities are trying to fend off criticism that, with no investigative authority, they have allegedly taken people related to the case from Hong Kong to the mainland and put them into custody.

Should the hauling of those people before the Chinese authorities be a fact, it is a grave situation that would overturn Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy.” It is the responsibility of the Xi administration to give a thorough explanation of the matter not only to the residents of Hong Kong but also to the world.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 26, 2016)