サミット開幕 安定成長促す協調が問われる

2016-05-28 07:01:49 | 英字新聞

The Yomiuri Shimbun
G-7 cooperation key to spurring stable growth of global economy
サミット開幕 安定成長促す協調が問われる

To ensure sustainable global economic growth, it is essential for the Group of Seven major countries to join hands and lead the way.
In a session of discussions about the world economy, regarded as the focal point of the G-7 Ise-Shima summit meeting, which opened Thursday, participating leaders shared the view that there are major risks due to such factors as a slowdown in emerging economies.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as chair of the summit, said the current situation resembles the circumstances before the 2008 global financial crisis caused by the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers. Abe cited concrete data indicating a slackening of investment and gross domestic product in emerging economies.

He noted, “There are risks that, if we make an error in policy response, the situation will go beyond an ordinary business cycle and enter a crisis.”

Some of the G-7 leaders raised doubts about using the term “crisis” but agreed to “push resolutely for a flexible fiscal strategy and structural reform policy” in accordance with the conditions in G-7 nations.

Abe might have gone so far as referring to the global financial shock in the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy because he wanted to lay the foundation for postponing the hike in the consumption tax rate to 10 percent that is scheduled for next April.

Abe defined financial policy, fiscal stimulus and structural reform as a G-7 version of his “three arrows” policy package. His proposal to implement all possible policy measures was approved by other G-7 leaders.

It is an accomplishment that the G-7 leaders have agreed to implement policies according to circumstances as preemptive steps to deal with any emerging crisis.

Boosting growth potential

The G-7 nations face the common plight of a lack of demand, which stems from individuals and businesses refraining from consumption and investment amid concern over potentially prolonged stagnation.

It is essential to boost growth potential through deregulation and other measures, thereby encouraging private-sector investment.

However, it will take a certain period of time before private demand rises on its own. It would be meaningful if governments flexibly and swiftly implement fiscal stimulus policy in their efforts to create demand.

Participating leaders pointed out, one after another, that slackening growth and the expanding income gap are factors behind the emergence of populism in the political world.

During the first-day session, the leaders agreed that establishing a society in which the middle class can have hopes for the future will require investments in “high-quality infrastructure” and fields such as education, science and technology. Steady policy implementation is called for.

Regarding the promotion of free trade, the leaders confirmed anew the need for early effectuation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, in which Japan, the United States, Canada and nine other countries are participants, and steady negotiations between Japan and the European Union over an economic partnership agreement.

With a presidential election set for autumn in the United States, voices in favor of protecting domestic industries have been gathering strength in that country. As this could threaten free trade, it cannot be brushed aside.

We want the G-7 leaders to display leadership in moving ahead with domestic procedures, including approval of the TPP by relevant legislatures.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 27, 2016) Speech


持続する世界 G7の決意が問われる

2016-05-27 08:29:29 | 英字新聞

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 26
EDITORIAL: Are G-7 leaders still up to task of making world a better place?
(社説)持続する世界 G7の決意が問われる

Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations gathering for the Ise-Shima Summit have a broad range of topics on their agenda that are not limited to short-term questions like how to respond to the weakening of the global economy.

The ultimate question confronting them is devising ways to overcome widespread famine and poverty in the world to create a global community where people everywhere can live in peace and quiet and pass this legacy to future generations.

The United Nations has adopted a set of goals to end poverty and ensure a sustainable future for the human race by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were unanimously adopted by the member countries during a U.N. summit last September. This marks the first year to start trying to achieve those goals.

This will require economic growth, technological innovation and infrastructure development. It is also crucial to redress economic disparities, realize gender equality, promote public health and welfare, expand and upgrade education and respond to climate change. The SDGs include 169 specific targets in 17 areas.

Given the wide scope of the goals involved, this ambitious initiative could simply fizzle out.

It requires united efforts among all countries, from major economic powers to developing countries and poorest nations. The agenda will test the international community’s commitment and ability to take the necessary actions.

In particular, the G-7 nations, which led international development with their economic might, will have to play the central role in the quest.

Solving serious global problems created by market capitalism, such as inequality and decay, will help ensure stable economic growth.

The G-7 leaders are expected to address these development goals, focusing on targets related to public health and women. Japan, which is hosting the summit, has set up a government task force to support the efforts to accomplish these goals and decided to provide funds for measures to promote stability in the Middle East and public health in the world.

It is vital to make steady, long-term efforts to achieve the targets under specific plans.

The G-7 nations should announce their solid commitment to the agenda, develop plausible plans to raise the necessary funds and take actions according to the plans.

It would be desirable if the G-7 nations steadily increased their official development assistance. But all these nations are facing a fiscal crunch.

Germany and France have long proposed the introduction of a financial transaction tax, a low-rate levy imposed on a wide range of financial transactions like share sales. But the proposal has been put on ice due partly to economic stagnation in Europe.

The efforts to raise funds for the U.N. initiative should first be focused on cracking down on tax avoidance by multinationals and rich people around the world.

This approach would help narrow income gaps and at the same time secure money needed to achieve the development goals.

From this point of view, the G-7 needs to tackle the problem of tax havens used by people and companies all over the world to evade or reduce their tax payments in response to revelations in the Panama Papers.

Even if the development of specific measures to deal with this problem may be left to entities like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the G-7 should still take the leadership in establishing an effective global network for monitoring and preventing tax avoidance while securing cooperation from major emerging countries like China, Russia and India.


香山リカのココロの万華鏡 : 親の相談機関も足りない /東京

2016-05-26 09:00:42 | 英字新聞

April 3, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope: Parents need a refuge, too
香山リカのココロの万華鏡 : 親の相談機関も足りない /東京

According to the National Police Agency (NPA), police nationwide reported 37,020 children as suspected of being abused to child consultation centers last year. It was the worst figure on record.

What's striking about the data is that the types of abuse on the rise are different from those that were common in the past. There was a 41 percent increase in verbal abuse and other forms of emotional abuse -- the most noteworthy of which were cases in which children witnessed parents and other family members being violent toward each other.

Some may argue that it's not such a big problem if children are just seeing the violence and are not being targeted by it, but that's hardly the case. Children suffer deep emotional wounds when they see their father hit their mother, or their parents hit a sibling. Not only do they wonder if they might be next, they blame themselves for not being able to help the ones who are being abused.

One person I know told me that as a child, they had watched their younger sister always being hit by their father. When I said, "You're lucky you were never hit," the person shook their head. "I should've been the one to be hit. My sister did nothing wrong. I'm a really cruel person for having pretended to see nothing."

The person managed to graduate from school and find work, but even when they found someone they liked, they couldn't think about dating or marriage. The person was convinced that someone who could not save their sister did not deserve to be happy.

"You did nothing wrong. You were still a young child, so it's no surprise that you weren't able to protect your sister from the violence," I said. It took a long time for that person's sense of guilt to subside.

Getting food on the table and bringing up children is difficult nowadays, and no matter how much love you have for your children, it's not hard to suddenly get the urge to hit them or blurt out that you wish they'd never been born. What, then, can be done to prevent parents from having such emotional outbursts?

Blaming them for their violence is actually counterproductive. First, we as a society must create refuges where parents can escape to for help. Sure, there is a huge lack of daycare centers. But we also lack places where parents who are barely keeping their head above the water making a living and raising children can seek help. It is important to get insurance to cover fertility treatments. But just as pressing is the creation of a societal framework in which both parents and their children can live happily.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)


日米地位協定 今度こそ抜本見直しを

2016-05-25 09:02:23 | 英字新聞

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 24
EDITORIAL: Okinawa leader Onaga is right: SOFA needs a sweeping review
(社説)日米地位協定 今度こそ抜本見直しを

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga on May 23 urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to initiate a fundamental review of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a symbol of deep resentment about the heavy U.S. military presence in Okinawa Prefecture.
“We will be told that Japan’s independence is a myth if the current Status of Forces Agreement remains unchanged,” Onaga said in his meeting with Abe over the recent slaying of a Japanese woman in Okinawa Prefecture.

Onaga referred to the famous remark made in a 1963 speech by then American High Commissioner Paul Caraway, who said the idea of self-government in Okinawa under U.S. military rule was nothing more than a “myth.”

The governor met with Abe at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo following the arrest of an American civilian worker at a U.S. base in Okinawa Prefecture on May 19 on suspicion of abandoning the body of the victim.
The incident has sparked outbursts of anger among people in Okinawa, and a growing chorus there is calling for the removal of all U.S. bases from the prefecture.

To prevent additional crimes or accidents involving U.S. military personnel and related workers, U.S. bases in the prefecture should be consolidated and curtailed quickly.

Onaga’s demand for a revision to SOFA reflects the fact that this agreement, which grants U.S. forces stationed in Japan various privileges, has been a major factor behind the failure to stop crimes involving American soldiers and members of the “civilian component.”

Every time a base-related crime or accident took place, provisions of SOFA that restrict Japan’s criminal investigations and jurisdiction concerning such cases were roundly criticized.

In the latest case, the suspect, a former U.S. serviceman, was arrested by prefectural police on suspicion of committing a crime while off-duty, so no SOFA-related issue has arisen.

If the U.S. military had detained the suspect first, however, the transfer of his custody to Japanese authorities could have been delayed or even refused.

In the 1995 rape of a Japanese schoolgirl by three off-duty U.S. servicemen in Okinawa, the United States detained the suspects and initially refused Okinawa prefectural police’s request for their handover.

In response to the huge wave of anger among Okinawan people triggered by the incident, Washington later agreed to an improvement in the implementation of SOFA, requiring the United States to “give sympathetic consideration” to Japanese requests for the handover of suspects before indictment in cases of vicious crimes.

This rule has since been applied to all types of crimes. But Japanese investigations into crimes involving U.S. military personnel could still be affected by discretionary decisions by the United States.

Despite the improvement, SOFA still needs a sweeping review. While the prefectural government has been demanding reform for many years, the Japanese government has refused to propose a fundamental review of the agreement for a possible revision to the United States.

Onaga also asked Abe to arrange a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Japan.

But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga voiced a dim view of Onaga’s request, saying, “As a matter of course, issues in the fields of diplomacy and security will be discussed between national governments.”

Onaga is seeking an opportunity to hold direct talks with Obama because the central government has done nothing to solve this problem.

Both South Korea and Germany have achieved revisions to their own status of forces agreements with the United States. Why is the Japanese government unwilling to even ask the United States to consider a revision to the unfair agreement?

Later this week, Obama will come to Japan to attend this year’s summit of the Group of Seven industrial nations in Mie Prefecture.

Abe should, of course, call on Obama to take steps to prevent a recurrence and strengthen discipline on U.S. personnel and related workers. But Abe should also make specific proposals concerning a reduction in the U.S. bases in Okinawa and a revision to the agreement.


もんじゅ やはり廃炉にすべきだ

2016-05-24 08:33:47 | 英字新聞

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 22
EDITORIAL: There is simply no reason to continue Monju reactor program
(社説)もんじゅ やはり廃炉にすべきだ
An expert council on the Monju fast-breeder reactor program started debate last week on a draft report it will submit to the science and technology ministry.

The panel’s work is a response to the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s recommendation last year that the operator of the troubled experimental reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, should be replaced.
After a series of revelations about omitted safety inspections and other problems, the NRA in November urged science and technology minister Hiroshi Hase to find a new entity to replace the government-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency as the reactor’s operator.

But the council’s draft report, released on May 20, doesn’t name a candidate for the mission. It only mentions a set of conditions the new operator should fulfill, which are nothing new and all part of conventional wisdom.
It says, for instance, the new operator should have “the ability to develop and implement operation and maintenance plans based on the characteristics of the reactor that is still in the experimental stage.” It also says the new operator should be able to respond appropriately to the interests and needs of society.

The draft report also points to the failure of a series of reforms that have been carried out to save the trouble-plagued program. It offers no reason to believe this time is different and the proposed replacement of the operator will bring about sufficient improvements in the management of the Monju.

The fast-breeder reactor requires as much as 20 billion yen ($182 million) in annual maintenance costs. In addition, there is not even an estimate of the certainly huge costs for necessary safety measures.
All these facts make a compelling case for decommissioning the reactor.

The biggest problem, as some members of the ministry panel have noted, is the lack of serious debate on the cost-effectiveness of the Monju program.

Who needs this program and how strong is the need? How much more money is the government ready to spend to develop and operate the reactor? These and other key questions about whether the program makes economic sense have been left unaddressed.

The Monju is now in a precarious position even in the government’s nuclear energy policy.

The reactor was once touted as the core facility for the government’s plan to establish a nuclear fuel recycling system in which plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel is burned in a fast-breeder reactor.

For more than two decades since a sodium coolant leak accident in 1995, however, the Monju has remained mostly idle.
Over the period, the need for a nuclear fuel recycling system has kept diminishing. There are now few people in the private sector calling for the development of a fast-breeder reactor.

When it drew up a research plan using the Monju three years ago, the science and technology ministry had to focus on the topic of nuclear waste disposal rather than fast-breeder reactor technology itself.

Still, the government has refused to pull the plug on the Monju program because it is concerned about possible repercussions on its nuclear fuel recycling policy as a whole.

But this vision is now almost a fantasy. If the government admits this fact, however, the issue of how to dispose of the large amounts of spent nuclear fuel stored at nuclear power plants across the nation will no doubt come under the spotlight.

Continuing the Monju program simply to gloss over this grim reality would be too foolish.

A small experimental reactor is enough and more efficient for use in research in nuclear waste disposal, which is still in a rudimentary stage. The need for such research offers no rationale for keeping the Monju program alive.