2005-09-14 12:39:11 | Telegraph (UK)

7. Lacklustre car sector takes the shine off Schroder
By Kate Connolly in Frankfurt
The Telegraph: September 14, 2005

He was once known as the "Auto Kanzler" - the car chancellor - for his close and proud links to his nation's mightiest industry.

Yesterday the German leader Gerhard Schroder struggled to bask in the limelight of what was once the ultimate symbol of Germany's economic prowess, efficiency and innovation.

The opening of the biennial Frankfurt Motor Show should have been the pinnacle of Mr Schroder's election campaign which has four days left to run.

But it was overshadowed by news that the £188 billion industry is faltering, beset by problems epitomising those of the economy generally.

They highlight some of the many challenges the new chancellor - most probably the Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel - will face.

Mr Schroder was taken on a tour among the 70 new German cars exhibited. They had new curves, better warning systems, more sophisticated seat configurations and ever greater horse power.

Yet the innovations failed to hide huge problems.

The industry, called Germany's "job machine" because of the five million jobs depending on it, is to shed tens of thousands of workers. The average car on German roads is eight years old, the oldest ever.

Sales are down, reliability is in doubt and only the rising price of oil is encouraging Americans to buy the more fuel-efficient German models.

Commentators say the industry needs to be more innovative, flexible and transparent, the same challenges facing the nation as a whole.

Volkswagen, the biggest automobile manufacturer in Europe, is close to cutting between 10,000 and 30,000 jobs, Opel 10,000, and Mercedes-Benz around 5,000.

The news has shocked a sector whose workers for years had the highest wages and best conditions, with a 29-hour week and six weeks' paid annual holiday.

Now workers are being pushed to work longer hours for less pay with bonuses cut. Trade unions and workers are battling it out with managers.

Headlines in recent months have been obsessed with the industry's predicaments - corruption scandals, slush funds, leadership crises and now thousands of dismissals.

Mr Schroder tried to divert attention yesterday, promoting the label "Made in Germany", despite most cars being made abroad and only assembled in Germany. He concentrated on the necessity of controlling oil prices, which were damaging the car industry.

"We have to synchronise our actions internationally so that oil prices in the global markets do not increase through pure speculation," he said.

コメント   トラックバック (1)


2005-09-13 12:06:07 | Telegraph (UK)

5. Koizumi returns to work, but how long has he got?
By Colin Joyce in Tokyo
The Telegraph: September 13, 2005

Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, returned to work yesterday after his stunning election victory to be greeted by calls to stay in office for more than the year allowed by his party's rules.

Running on a promise of continuing reform, Mr Koizumi's party won 296 seats out of 480 in Sunday's vote, the first time the Liberal Democratic Party has won an overall majority since 1990.

But analysts are already asking whether Mr Koizumi can do much with this mandate given the short time left as leader. The LDP decrees that its leaders are allowed to serve only two terms. In September next year, Mr Koizumi's time would be up and by convention he would have to relinquish the premiership.

Takenori Kanzaki, the leader of the LDP's coalition partner, the Komeito Party, yesterday led calls for him to consider staying on. "I think the prime minister needs to meet the people's expectations since so many people supported the Koizumi government," Mr Kanzaki said.

The LDP is well aware of the "Koizumi effect" in winning voters and at least one powerbroker has said publicly that party rules can be changed.

The LDP's rule against its leaders seeking a third term was intended to prevent the over-concentration of power.

Mr Koizumi has been accused by enemies of being just the kind of charismatic, dictatorial leader the rules were intended to constrain.



2005-09-12 13:07:22 | Telegraph (UK)

3. Koizumi wins his gamble with a landslide
By Colin Joyce in Tokyo
The Telegraph: September 12, 2005

Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, gained an overwhelming mandate for his reforms last night after gambling his political life on a snap election.

His Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was returned to power with a landslide, winning at least 296 of the 480 seats in parliament's lower house, nearly 30 more than previously.

Together with a coalition partner, the LDP could have more than 300 seats, a crushing majority.

Katsuya Okada, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) which lost more than 60 seats, told reporters he would resign.

"It's a harsh result," he said. "The DPJ has suffered a great setback. We couldn't get our message across properly. Mr Koizumi was easier to understand. A new leader should be selected as soon as possible."

A relaxed Mr Koizumi celebrated by appearing at his headquarters without a necktie, pinning red roses to the names of successful LDP candidates as the results rolled in. Across Japan, ecstatic LDP candidates led their supporters in the traditional rallying cry of banzai.

Mr Koizumi is now free to push ahead with structural reforms intended to secure smaller government and an economic recovery.

First, he will revive his pet project of privatisation of the post office, a financial services giant with £1.6 trillion in assets.

Parliament's rejection of his proposals last month caused him to dissolve the lower house and take the issue to the nation. "The parliament said it was an absurd argument. The people have said it was the right thing," he said yesterday.

The world's second largest economy has been in the doldrums for 15 years and needs to grow to face the looming crises of an ageing society and huge public debt.

Mr Koizumi, who has been in power since April 2001, is already the longest-serving prime minister in two decades. But many Japanese are frustrated by the slow pace of change, with conservatives in his party blocking, delaying and watering down his reforms.

Yesterday's victory was not only a huge vote of confidence in Mr Koizumi but also saw the purging of LDP obstructionists.

The landslide was achieved even as 37 of his own MPs were effectively expelled from the LDP for voting against his post privatisation plans. Most of them fought to retain their seats but only a handful were successful after Mr Koizumi deployed "assassins", glamorous celebrity candidates, to challenge them with their own party's backing.

The 63-year-old party leader has proved again that he is the country's most popular politician, known for his love of rock music and opera, his flamboyant hairstyle and eccentricity.

When Richard Gere, whom Mr Koizumi is said to resemble, visited Japan to promote his film Shall We Dance?, the prime minister shocked onlookers by inviting Mr Gere for a twirl.
小泉氏が似ていると言われているリチャード・ギアが彼の映画「Shall We Dance?」のプロモーションで訪日した際、首相はギア氏を踊りに誘って見物人を仰天させた。

Under LDP rules, Mr Koizumi is obliged to stand down next September but his formidable electoral success may lead to calls for him to stay on.

His victory will please Washington where he is seen as a staunch friend for his backing of the war in Iraq, and it will gladden investors.

But there will be little cheering in China and South Korea. Relations with two of the victims of Japan's past militarism have chilled since he took office because of perceptions of rising Japanese nationalism and regional rivalry.



2005-09-07 10:16:54 | Telegraph (UK)

2. Move to democracy unstoppable in China, says Blair
By Andrew Sparrow and Richard Spencer in Beijing
The Telegraph: September 6, 2005

China is showing signs of an "unstoppable momentum" propelling it towards democracy, Tony Blair said yesterday.

At the end of a two-day stay in Beijing, the Prime Minister said he had been assured by his hosts that "political development" would follow China's emergence as an economic superpower.

Mr Blair also said that China's leaders had been much more willing to discuss democracy and human rights than on his two previous visits in 1998 and 2003.

Human rights groups have regularly criticised the Government for its reluctance to confront the Chinese over issues such as Tibet and the treatment of dissidents.

But Mr Blair, who took part in a football photo call in the interests of British-Chinese relations, said there was much to be gained from maintaining dialogue with Beijing.

He told a news conference that he had tried to explain to Wen Jaibao, the Chinese prime minister, why people were so worried about China becoming the second biggest economy in the world within 10 years.

"His answer to me was that China faces enormous challenges because you have got a relatively wealthy part of the country but many, many poor people. Their economic development has a long way to go.

"But he recognises that political development should accompany that. We will have to see how that goes." Mr Blair's spokesman was unable to say whether he had raised the question of Tibet, as regularly demanded by Free Tibet campaigners, or the case of the imprisoned journalist Ching Cheong.
ブレア氏の報道官は、彼がチベット(フリー・チベット活動家達によって常に要求されているように)質問したのかどうか、もしくは、拘留中のジャーナリストChing Cheongの裁判についての質問をしたのかどうかについては、コメントできなかった

Mr Ching, a British passport holder who is a Hong Kong correspondent for the Singapore Straits Times, was arrested while visiting China in April.

He has been accused of selling state secrets to Taiwan. Supporters say the real reason he was arrested is that he was trying to obtain copies of interviews given by Zhao Ziyang, the Chinese leader, purged for being too sympathetic to the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989 and who died in January.

Mr Blair spent eight hours in talks with Mr Wen, the most reformist member of the Chinese leadership, and said that they had had a genuine conversation about progress towards freedom. In previous talks, Chinese leaders had read out what was on their brief and moved to another subject, said Mr Blair, but this time there was a "real sense of engagement".

Beijing understood that the fast development of the country was accompanied by "an unstoppable momentum aiming towards greater political freedom and progress towards human rights". But he added: "Whether it does happen or not, time will tell."

For the last 18 months the Chinese authorities have been staging a crackdown on political dissent.



2005-09-05 11:54:47 | Telegraph (UK)

4. Philippines kamikaze statue lures the tourists
By Sebastien Berger in Mabalacat
The Telegraph: September 5, 2005

The statue of a kamikaze pilot looking towards the horizon, his expression evocative of duty, sacrifice and death, is not - surprisingly - sited on the Japanese coast, gazing at the Pacific where the suicide attackers met their end.

Instead it has been erected at Mabalacat airfield in the Philippines, from where the first kamikaze raid took off, in an attempt to draw Japanese tourists to a land where more than a million people died under wartime occupation.

With the Philippines stuck in poverty, 40 per cent of the population live on less than £1.10 a day. More than half the Philippines' overseas aid comes from Japan, which last year overtook the US as its biggest trading partner, with imports and exports totalling more than $15 billion.

The sculpture was cast and paid for in Japan, and a Japanese firm is the lead contractor building a highway alongside the site.

Tino Arceo, 69, its caretaker, was only a child during the occupation but he remembers it well. "The majority of them were really rude and ill-mannered. Some Japanese, when they saw a beautiful-looking girl, tried to snatch her and rape her, even if she was with her husband and children.
管理人のTino Arceo69歳は、占領時代子供だったが、彼は良く覚えている。

"I'm angry with the Japanese for what happened but I leave it up to the Lord to make the punishment for them. As far as I'm concerned this is just a job. I'm working to earn money to make a living to provide for the family."

Others are less sanguine. The vast majority of visitors in the months since the statue was installed have been Japanese. Mr Arceo described them as "proud and happy", but one Filipino visitor wrote in the visitors' book: "This memorial is an outrage and insults the memory of Filipino veterans. It glorifies war, contrary to its stated intentions. It is revolting."

The panel describes Lt Yukio Seki, the leader of the first kamikaze raid in October 1944, as The World's First Official Human Bomb!

The area's economy was devastated when US forces left, at Manila's behest, in the early 1990s. But local officials behind the project insist it is driven by a desire for peace.

The 60th anniversary of the formal Japanese surrender in the Philippines was marked at the weekend. Guy Hilbero, Mabalacat's tourism officer, said: "We are using our history to promote goodwill and closer relationships between the nations."
週末、フィリピンで日本正式降服60周年が記念された。Mabalacatの観光局職員のGuy Hilberoはこう語った。

コメント (2)