Japan-America Society of Hawaii
Volume 22, Number 1 - Winter 2004
"Current Issues in Japan" with Yukio Matsuyama
Former Reporter and retired Chairman of the Board for Asahi Shimbun, Graduate Professor at Kyoritsu Women's University in Tokyo, and the author of several publications in both Japanese and English, Yukio Matsuyama focused on the Japanese government and economy and Japan's Self-Defense Forces deployment to Iraq at a breakfast meeting on Wednesday, February 18th at the Plaza Club.
Mr. Matsuyama explained that the terrorist attacks changed the U.S.-Japan relationship. This was the first time Japan had been directly affected by an American President's decision to wage war against a foreign country. Prime Minister Koizumi understood that Japan would have to take immediate action to support the United States, if in turn, Japan expected aid with North Korea.
Mr. Matsuyama also touched upon Japan's current economy, stating that the Japanese government "has repeatedly insisted that there will be a sustained, modest recovery・but very few, if any, Japanese at large feel that Japan's economy will get out of the woods so soon." He emphasized that this economic recovery would be determined by the situation in Iraq.
Mr. Matsuyama then explained that many Japanese felt that Prime Minister Koizumi failed to change the fundamental structure of the LDP and entire Japanese political system, referring to it as "feudalistic democracy." He ended with the question, "Nevertheless, why does Prime Minister Koizumi continue to enjoy a high popularity rate-usually over 50% and even sometimes over 70%?"Mr. Matsuyama left the audience with one answer-"Junichiro the Lucky."
We brake for news
Further research reveals that the Japanese word closest to presumptive GOP nominee John McCain's name is Makeinu. It is pronounced almost like "McCain" is in English, but with a little twist at the end.
Unfortunately, this means "Loser Dog" in Japan. This is a disparaging, sexist term used to describe women who choose not to get married and raise children.
(56) Anglers missing after Pacific boat crash
20th February 2008 thewest.com
A Japanese navy destroyer equipped with advanced radar has collided with a fishing boat off the Pacific coast, splitting the boat in two and plunging two fishermen into the chilly waters.
The men remained missing.
The Coastguard and navy deployed 10 ships, including the destroyer, and six helicopters to search off the coast of Chiba, near Tokyo, for the two men, said Keiji Oba, a regional Coastguard official.
The collision, the cause of which was not immediately known, drew high profile attention in Japan, where many people harbour pacifist sentiments and remain sensitive to anything related to the military.
"An accident like this should never happen," Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told parliament. "We have to take measures to prevent a recurrence."
Policy Speech by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the 168th Session of the Diet
September 10, 2007
At the opening of the 168th session of the Diet, I would like to pray for the souls of all the people who have passed away and express my heartfelt sympathy to all the people who suffered damage due to the disasters caused by the earthquake off the coast of central Niigata prefecture and recent typhoons. I will do my utmost for the recovery and reconstruction, putting removal of the anxieties of the affected people as the first and foremost goal.
The results of the recent ordinary elections for the House of Councillors turned out to be extremely severe for the ruling parties. I am resolved to continue to take the helm of the government, based on a deep remorse for not having been able to fully respond to the thoughts and indignations of the people which were expressed in the elections, and for having invited distrust toward the politics and the administration.
I am well aware of the opinion that I should step down because the people have expressed such a harsh judgment.
However, our country is facing great changes of the times, such as decreasing population, intensifying competition on global scale, deteriorating education in schools and families, and changes in the national security environment surrounding Japan. In order to obtain a high quality of life and a bright future, not only do we need to advance structural reforms in economic, administrative, and fiscal areas, but also it is absolutely crucial to mark a departure from the post-war regimes, that is to say, to advance the reform of conducting bold reviews going all the way back to the origins of various systems which have been in place for so long after the war, including the rebuilding of education and the restructuring of the national security system. "We must not stop this reform -- for the future of our country and for our children." It was out of this sole determination that I decided to stay on. I would like to fulfill my responsibilities to the people by further advancing reforms with renewed determination, with the remorse based on the harsh election results and the resolve to fight for the people.・・・・・
Unpopularity and sudden resignation
After Agricultural Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka committed suicide, Abe's approval rating remained below 30% for months according to opinion polls of Jiji Press. Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party suffered great losses in the upper house election. Another agricultural minister, Norihiko Akagi, who was involved in a political funding scandal, resigned after the election.
In an attempt to revive his administration, Abe announced a new cabinet on August 27, 2007. However, the new agricultural minister Takehiko Endo, involved in a finance scandal, resigned only 7 days later.
On September 12, 2007, only three days after a new parliamentary session had begun, Abe announced his intention to resign his position as prime minister at an unscheduled press conference. Abe said his unpopularity was hindering the passage of an anti-terrorism law, involving among other things Japan's continued military presence in Afghanistan. Party officials also said the embattled prime minister was suffering from poor health, with Abe blaming crippling diarrhea. On September 26, 2007 Abe officially ended his term as Yasuo Fukuda became the new Prime Minister of Japan.
In September 1985, Miura was arrested in Japan in connection with the assault on his wife at the L.A. hotel, which took place three months before she was gunned down, also allegedly in a bid to obtain an insurance payout. A former actress and acquaintance of Miura confessed that she attacked Kazumi on his instructions.
On 11th September 1985, Mr. Miura was eventually arrested by the police on suspicion of another murder case and is still detained in November 1985.
Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008
Miura held again over '81 hit on wife in L.A.
Kazuyoshi Miura, 60, the man who was acquitted by Japan's supreme court in 2003 for the alleged murder of his wife in Los Angeles in 1981, was arrested again by U.S. authorities in Saipan on Saturday for the same charge, local police said.
The arrest, first reported by the online version of the Los Angeles Times, was later confirmed by Saipan police. They said Miura was arrested upon arrival from Narita airport.
POINT OF VIEW
Choosing the best U.S. president for the world
SPECIAL TO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
The American presidential election is fundamentally undemocratic. The franchise is limited to U.S. citizens, but the unique combination of American power and the willingness to use it makes the U.S. commander-in-chief the closest thing the planet has to a global leader.
In Japan's case, the entire architecture of its security policy depends on the United States. In some ways, the U.S. president is still Japan's commander-in-chief. Beyond Northeast Asia, American actions throughout the world shape the world in which the Japanese people exist.
Given these facts, what should Japan want from the next U.S. president?
Issues that pertain directly to Japan are not salient in this election. All the three top candidates, namely Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama show no indication that they would deviate from the policies of the (Bill) Clinton and Bush administrations of strengthening the alliance and upholding the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. They would also seek to avoid conflict with China while hedging against possible Chinese threats.
Therefore, the question is which candidate would best improve the global environment in which Japan operates.
The George W. Bush administration, backed by many Democrats in Congress, has severely undermined American primacy. The combination of the attack against Iraq, the mishandled response to al-Qaida, the legalization of torture and a Leninist "you are either with us or against us" posture has undermined the capacity of the United States to uphold and develop a world order that serves its interests and those of its allies.
The next president will first have to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. Liquidating the Iraqi enterprise will require courage. The president will be accused of "giving in to terrorists." It would be politically more expedient, though worse for everybody, to follow Richard Nixon's course in Vietnam, that is, to continue the war for years until defeat appears even more inevitable.
Second, he or she will have to rethink the strategy to confront al-Qaida and its offshoots, and more broadly U.S. policy toward Southwest Asia. This will also be difficult. In particular, opening a dialogue with Iran and pushing Israelis and Palestinians toward a compromise will generate strong opposition within the United States without a guarantee of success.
Third, the United States derives its strength partly from the power of its ideals. The future U.S. president will have to rebuild America's image in the world, especially in Europe and Southwest Asia, after years of self-inflicted damage.
Fourth, the U.S. president will have to foster world trade liberalization while fighting protectionist pressures at home.
Therefore, how do the three contenders for the White House rate in their ability perform as president? The American system allows individuals with no federal executive branch experience to assume office, making it particularly hard to guess how they will perform after they take the oath of office. Nevertheless, we can make a few educated guesses.
John McCain is by far the most experienced of the three, especially in foreign and defense policy. He deserves respect as one of the few major U.S. politicians of either party to vigorously oppose the administration's use of torture.
Unfortunately, his passionate support for the war in Iraq raises questions about his capacity to lead America out of this catastrophic adventure. It is possible that, upon assuming the presidency, he would alter his views, but there is no indication that this will be the case.
On the Democratic side, despite attempts by both camps to highlight the differences between Clinton and Obama, both senators are, in political terms, fairly similar, which makes it hard to predict how their policies would diverge were they elected.
Obama does have, however, a few advantages. First and foremost, he showed better judgment than Clinton by opposing the Iraq invasion from the start. Having grown up in Indonesia and then in Hawaii, he has a more personal connection to the world outside the continental United States than Clinton. Finally, his being African-American would have an enormous symbolic impact overseas on America's image.
Though Japanese cannot vote, the Japanese government can take actions that would help steer the next president on the right path. The most important ones relate to trade. Democratic candidates, pandering to misconceptions about international economics, are sounding protectionist.
Obama is calling for renegotiating NAFTA and opposes the free trade agreement with South Korea, while Clinton laments "jobs lost to China." Though it is possible that if elected they would abandon of their campaign rhetoric, this is not certain. Japan itself is not immune to protectionism.
If the Japanese government made a major push to dismantle trade barriers, especially in agriculture, and to foster a better climate for foreign investment, it could help start a virtuous circle of trade liberalization and avoid the real risk of a vicious circle of protectionism.
A low-level penetration seeding experiment of liquid carbon dioxide in a convective cloud
1 April 2002
In order to bring large amounts of precipitation, the new seeding method using liquid carbon dioxide (LC) was suggested by Fukuta (1996a). The method was applied to the supercooled convective cloud in a post-frontal weather condition in northern Kyushu, Japan, on October 27 1999. In the seeding experiment, LC seeding and the subsequent observation by aircraft were carried out and the features of a seeded echo were observed by radar.
Consequently, the aircraft observation confirmed the further development of the seeded cumulus together with a fuzzy aspect of the cloud surface, which indicates the feature consisting of ice particles. Furthermore, the observed cloud top was quite consistent with the cloud top estimated by the thermodynamic analysis following parcel theory.
Therefore, the observed results indicate the artificial effects by LC seeding. On the other hand, the radar observation confirmed an artificially induced echo, which showed spreading of the echo area and took a unique mushroom shape in the RHI pictures. The maximum width of the echo reached 24 km and the total amount of estimated radar precipitation of the seeded cumulus was approximately 2.4 million ton, traversing a distance of 60 km in 1 h 40 min.
The observed and estimated results are consistent with the hypothesis of the new seeding method, which induces the dynamic and microphysical processes consisting of two fundamental processes. In addition, it was found that dynamical interaction between the seeded and the adjacent natural cumuli was an important factor in the formation of the secondary cumulus. The observational fact will give new viewpoint into the future seeding study.
Weather control is not a dream. Typhoon is controllable.
Nikkei Science November 2004 R. N. Hofman
(I translated the last sentence of the original Japanese article. This web site is offered by a Japanese prestigious company.)
In the future, the temperature of the hurricane will be changed by heating the air with the microwave transmitted from the satellite.
It will be possible to reduce the evaporation from the surface of the sea by covering the surface with biodegradable oil and to control the development of the hurricane.
Thus the technology to manipulate the development of hurricane will save our lives and property.
Lawyers awarded millions in suit over Michael Jackson taping on plane
International Herald Tribune March 4, 2008
LOS ANGELES: The owner of a air charter service was ordered to pay attorney Mark Geragos and an associate several million dollars for ordering the secret videotaping of Michael Jackson and the lawyers as they flew with the pop star to his surrender on molestation charges in 2003.
According to court papers obtained Monday, Superior Court Judge Soussan G. Bruguera ordered XtraJet owner Jeffrey Borer and his company to pay Geragos at least $10 million (€6.6 million) and possibly up to $18 million (€11.8 million) in compensatory and punitive damages. Geragos' colleague Pat Harris was awarded between $1.25 million and $2.25 million in damages.
The amount of damages is dependent on whether both the company and Borer are separately responsible for punitive damages, or just Borer. Geragos' legal team claims the former, while Borer's claims the latter.
A court spokeswoman was not immediately able to clarify the discrepancy.
"Defendant Borer was the mastermind behind a scheme to desecrate and exploit sacred attorney-client communications for personal profit," Brugera wrote in the 21-page judgment filed Friday.
Geragos' and Harris' attorney Brian J. Kabateck said he was pleased with the decision.
"This is an important day for lawyers who generally represent celebrities and high profile people," he said.
Borer's lawyer, Lloyd Kirschbaum, said his client will appeal. He contended the attorney-client relationship could not have been breached because the video recording did not have sound.
"There was not any sound," he said. "You can't intercept a communication without sound."
Borer and co-defendant Arvel Jett Reeves pleaded guilty last year to felony counts of conspiracy. They acknowledged they installed two digital video recorders in a Gulfstream jet that flew Jackson from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara. XtraJet, which was based in Santa Monica, California, has since gone bankrupt, according to Kirschbaum.
Reeves was sentenced to eight months in prison.
Borer was sentenced to six months home detention rather than prison because he said he was the caregiver for his wife, who had chronic health problems. He spent part of that confinement at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey, California, saying his house had a mold problem and his wife was allergic.
The damages resulted from an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit filed by Geragos and Harris. Jackson, who was initially a plaintiff in the civil lawsuit, later dropped out of the case.
The pop singer was acquitted of the molestation charges in 2005
Ishihara eyes bank purchase
Metro government in talks to buy Paribas International unit
Japantimes Saturday, Nov. 15, 2003
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is in talks with Paribas International SA over the purchase of the French financial group's Japanese trust bank, Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced Friday.
Ishihara told a regular news conference that the metro government is trying to purchase BNP Paribas Private Bank (Japan) Ltd.
By purchasing the unit, the metro government could realize its goal of creating a bank specifically to finance small and midsize companies without obtaining a new bank license, Ishihara stressed.
"BNP Paribas Bank is suitable for creating a new bank due to size, expected purchasing price and the business," Ishihara said.
Ishihara added that the bank's financial situation is more transparent than that of many Japanese banks, which means the metro government would face fewer risks in terms of inheriting hidden bad assets.
"We would establish a new type of bank featuring a small number of workers and branches by using the latest IT technology," he said.
The metro government plans to reach a basic agreement with the financial group by the end of the year, after the plan is endorsed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly on Dec. 2.
The trust bank, which was established by the BNP Paribas International financial group in April 1999, is capitalized at 5.3 billion yen.
The metro government is planning to invest 100 billion yen in the bank bank, which is expected to be capitalized at 200 billion yen. The remainder of the capital is expected to come from private sector investment.
Tokyo would become the first local government to establish a bank.
Ishihara promised to establish a bank while campaigning before his re-election in April. He announced the outline of the bank in May.
Realite Press Releases
As Iran Holds British Hostages It is Business As Usual for EU Nations
As the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to hold British hostages many companies from the European Union member states continue to do business with the rogue regime.
“While Britain has cut virtually all ties with Iran a large number of EU nations including Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Spain continue to carry on business as usual,” says Simon Barrett, the Director of IMIA, International Media Intelligence Analysis.
“Iran’s clerical rulers not only oppress their own people, they sponsor international terrorist organisations, have threatened to wipe another country off the map while building a nuclear weapons and are now defying the will of the international community as they continue to hold 15 British troops under false pretenses,” continued Mr. Barrett.
European goods make up 44% of the Iran’s total imports which last year amounted to more than $16 billion. During that time the EU imported over $10 billion in merchandise from Iran. In addition European invests billions of dollars in Iranian oil, gas, mining, automotive, transportation and communications companies.
Some European businesses work with Iranian banks inside the EU that are directly involved in financing Iran’s missile programme and its funding of Islamic terror groups. Two of these banks, Bank Saderat and Bank Sepah have branches in almost every European capital. 
Hundreds of businesses in Europe work in or with Iran, some of the major companies include:
Alcatel SA: French based Alcatel earned over $300 million dollars revenue in deals with Iran as well as Sudan and Libya over the past five years. The company directly assists the Iranian regime by providing it with most of its telecommunications infrastructure, advanced technology and training. 
Total SA: French energy giant Total is one of the main investors in Iran. It owns and runs oil development projects in Iran that amount to tens of millions of dollars in annual profit. Total has recently invested $1.6 billion on four oil exploitations in Iran. 
Technip Coflexip: Technip Coflexip is one of the biggest engineering and companies in France and supports Iran by building much of its petrochemical plants and other related infrastructure. Technip Coflexip does business with Iran to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. 
BNP Paribas: The French bank, BNP Paribas, is the only foreign bank active in Iran and supports the terror sponsoring regime by funding its infrastructure and export projects. BNP Paribas has bankrolled Iranian schemes worth over $2 billion so far. 
Royal Dutch Shell: The Dutch/British energy and petrochemical company has a long history of investment in Iran. In January 2007, Shell along with Spanish energy company Repsol signed a gas deal with Iran worth over $10.2 billion dollars. 
Stolt-Nielsen SA: British holding and transportation company Stolt-Nielsen SA, conducts roaring trade with the terror sponsoring regime in Iran. Stolt-Nielsen deals with Iran via its subsidiary Stolt-Offshore, which imports much of the regime’s petrochemicals, fats and oils supply. The company has been caught falsifying cargo documents and using an elaborate code system to conceal their business with Iran. 
Siemens AG: Germany’s Siemens AG is a world leader in telecommunications. Siemens AG has a long history of conducting lucrative business with countries that nourish and promote terrorism including Iran, Sudan and Syria. Siemens AG has profited hundreds of millions of dollars from dealing with these rogue states. 
Statoil ASA: Statoil ASA invests heavily in oil projects that fund the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism, Iran. The Norwegian company holds massive stakes in Iranian development projects that brings revenue of hundreds of millions of dollars to Tehran’s clerical regime. Statoil’s most recent Iranian deal alone is worth $2.6 billion. 
ENI Spa: Italy’s leading energy company ENI Spa, is one of the biggest investors in Iran worldwide. ENI Spa and its subsidiaries, Agip and Snamprogetti Spa have contracts with Iran worth billions of dollars which provides enormous revenue to Iran and the terror groups it supports. 
Other well known companies that do big business with Iran include: Daimler-Chrysler, Renault, Lurgi AG, Krupp-Uhde, BASF, Lundin Petroleum and HSBC.
“The European Union member’s states have the power and the means to prevent Iran from completing their controversial nuclear weapons programme, if they took the necessary measures of ensuring that Europe acts as one by pursuing a policy of tougher economic sanctions. This can force European business to reconsider trading with Iran as a means of ending the hostage crisis and stopping Iran for requiring nuclear weapons,” concludes Mr. Barrett.
IMIA, a European-based organisation with global reach, provides facts, insights and analysis on key developments and trends in the Middle East. IMIA exposes the threats from state sponsors of terrorist organisations, extremist leaders and groups, financing of terrorism, proliferation of nuclear weapons, human rights violations as well as counter terrorist organisations' initiatives. IMIA is affiliated with REALITE-EU a new e-publication for journalists, leaders and key analysts that focus on developments in and around the Middle East which pose a threat to Europe and beyond.
Ishihara frees up ¥300 billion in taxes
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara on Tuesday changed his stance and agreed to let the central government redistribute about 300 billion yen in the metropolitan government's tax revenue to financially weak local governments.
Although the agreement was touted as an effort to narrow widening gaps in tax revenues among local governments, Ishihara, who had initially opposed the plan, did not come away empty. He apparently won Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's promise to cooperate on Tokyo's policies, including the capital's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
Fukuda also promised that the tax-allocation plan would be temporary.
The conditional agreement, reached Tuesday morning, drew outrage from other local governments.
The tax revenue allocation plan is one of the proposed tax reforms for fiscal 2008.
The central government and the ruling coalition plan to redistribute local government revenue from two local taxes--corporate residential tax and corporate income tax.
The plan would convert part of the local corporate income tax into a new national tax tentatively called "a special local corporate tax."
The expected revenue of 2.6 trillion from the new national tax would be redistributed to local governments depending on the size of their population and area.
The Tokyo metropolitan government currently collects about 1.3 trillion yen in annual revenue from the local corporate income tax. Under the plan agreed to by Ishihara, about 300 billion yen of that amount will go to the new national tax for redistribution.
After his meeting with Fukuda, Ishihara told reporters that he complied with the central government's strong request.
"It is a wild plan. The prime minister himself knows that it is an unreasonable measure," Ishihara said.
So why did the Tokyo governor agree?
Fukuda told reporters, "A forum will be set up for discussions between the national and Tokyo governments about important issues."
The prime minister's remark suggests he accepted Ishihara's request to set up an organization to discuss cooperation on projects in Tokyo, such as construction of the Tokyo Gaikan expressway, increasing the number of international flights at Haneda Airport--and bringing the Olympics to Tokyo.
The central government and the ruling coalition expect Tokyo and the Aichi, Kanagawa and Osaka prefectural governments to contribute about 400 billion yen in total for the planned allocation.
The four local governments had opposed the plan, arguing that the central government was attempting to rob them of their revenue sources.
On Dec. 6, the four governors submitted a signed letter voicing their opposition to the plan.
Shigefumi Matsuzawa, governor of Kanagawa Prefecture, on Tuesday criticized the central government's move to one-sidedly push the tax revenue allocation plan.
"The plan is not in line with the trend for decentralization," Matsuzawa said.
A senior official of the Osaka prefectural government said he was disappointed that the Tokyo metropolitan government had abandoned its opposition to the plan.
The expected tax revenue of 2.6 trillion yen for redistribution will be the equivalent of 1-percentage point of revenues from the 5-percent consumption tax.
The government and the ruling coalition came up with the tax revenue allocation plan following the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's defeat in the rural single-seat constituencies in the July Upper House election.(IHT/Asahi: December 12,2007)
Japantimes Sunday, Sept. 5, 2004
FSA mulls slap for Citibank unit over inappropriate sales
The Financial Services Agency is considering punishing Citibank N.A.'s Japanese unit over suspected inappropriate sales of financial products to high-income customers, sources familiar with the situation said Saturday.
The financial watchdog suspects the Japanese unit may have sold products whose sales are not allowed under the Banking Law, the sources said.
The FSA may order Citibank to suspend some of its Japanese operations, including private banking services for wealthy customers, the sources said.
The agency will likely decide on specific administrative measures by the end of the month, they said.
In June, the agency ordered the Japanese branch to strengthen its control over customer data following revelations it lost backup data on transactions.
Citibank was the first bank to offer American-style private banking services to Japanese clients. Mainly tapping individual customers in the upper-income group, it is now widely seen as the most successful foreign-affiliated bank in the private banking business in Japan.
Decentralization will finish road to democracy in Japan
Japantimes Monday, Sept. 22, 2003
Some independent or reformist prefectural governors have come out with their own plans to revitalize local politics and economies. Their ultimate goal is to end the centralization of administrative power that dates back to the Meiji Restoration and establish real local autonomy. To achieve the goal, fiscal systems equivalent to the national fiscal system and financed by local taxes must be established, governors say.
Responding to these moves, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet has announced a trinity of reform programs, including an overhaul of the state subsidy system. But the central bureaucracy is strongly resisting the plan, favoring ministry interest over national interest. It is unclear to what extent the fiscal 2004 government budget will reflect the proposed reforms.
After the Pacific War ended, the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces introduced a public election system for prefectural governors to replace the previous system in which the central government designating them. The idea was to break the centralization of power. The central government and prefectural governments were designated as separate entities.
Interior Ministry bureaucrats accepted the public-election system for governors, but came up with a proposal -- which the GHQ approved -- to help retain centralized administrative power. Under this plan, prefectural governors, heads of municipalities, boards of education, agricultural committees and other local administrative committees were designated as part of the national government. Details of local administrative services involved were stipulated in ministry directives.
The government's Decentralization Promotion Committee, or DPC, established in 1995, recommended that the above-mentioned system be scrapped. When the recommendations were implemented, services were divided into those of local autonomies and those legally entrusted by the national government to local governments. In 1999, a package of decentralization-related legislation was enacted by the Diet, making the national government and local autonomies equal. Previously, the former had sat above the latter.
The Decentralization Reform Promotion Council, or DRPC, which succeeded the DPC, examined ways to reform the fiscal systems of the central government and local autonomies. As sources of total revenue, national taxes account for 60 percent and local taxes, 40 percent. However, in expenditures, local governments' portion exceeds that of the national government, 60 percent to 40 percent. This discrepancy has been filled by state subsidies and tax allocations to local governments.
The central government has financially intervened in local autonomies and affected their independent operations. For example, compulsory education-related expenditures are determined according to national standards for teacher staffing, thus preventing the formation of flexible, smaller classes of, say, 30 pupils. Furthermore, cost-cutting attempts to build forest roads narrower than stipulated by central government standards could make them ineligible for subsidies.
In a 2002 basic program for economic and fiscal management and structural reform, the government announced a "trinity" of plans to overhaul state subsidies, tax allocations to local governments and transfers of tax-revenue sources with a view toward drafting official reform plans in a year.
Last June the Cabinet adopted a 2003 basic policy regarding economic and fiscal reform based on DRPC recommendations and announced schedules for implementing the trinity of reforms. Under the plan, local governments will depend less on state subsidies, more on revenues from local taxes, and less on tax allocations from the central government as a result of tax-revenue source transfers. Local governments' power to levy taxes will expand.
As a specific target, the plan called for a 4 trillion yen cut in state subsidies by fiscal 2006. Reformist governors of six prefectures, including Iwate and Chiba, expressed dissatisfaction with that level. They said 8.92 trillion yen in subsidies to prefectural governments (based on the initial fiscal 2003 budget) -- 80 percent of the total -- should be abolished with most of the tax-revenue sources transferred to local governments. They also urged the government to do more than just cut state subsidies and to refrain from delaying transfers of tax-revenue sources. Gov. Yasuo Tanaka of Nagano Prefecture, acting alone, made a similar proposal in June.
Central government bureaucrats reportedly threatened retaliatory moves against the governors in compiling the fiscal 2004 government budget. This is highly regrettable.
The Economic and Fiscal Advisory Council, meeting in July, compiled guidelines for the fiscal 2004 budget. Initial guidelines called for a one-third reduction in the proposed cut of 4 trillion yen in three years. The removal of this target demonstrates strong resistance among central bureaucrats to the trinity of measures, worrying reformist governors.
The economic malaise that has affected Japan for the past decade since the bursting of the economic bubble shows that relations between the central government and local autonomies are no longer functioning effectively. Decentralization would reactivate local autonomies, improve the quality of life in outlying regions, encourage moves to protect the environment and help boost the national economy. This is a task that the GHQ failed to finish for democratizing Japan.
I hope the government will work hard to implement the trinity of reform programs, defying the resistance by central bureaucrats and politicians representing their own interests.
Local governments scramble under impact of budget-allocation reform
Japantimes Friday, Sept. 15, 2006
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's decision to reduce subsidies and budget allocations to local governments has local officials frantically crunching the numbers to balance their budgets.
The city of Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, with a population of about 500,000, was denied money from the national budget for the first time in 10 years in fiscal 2006 because its tax revenue rose. But city officials says they still needed the money.
"Tax revenue may slightly increase also in the future, but our financial condition is never satisfactory," said Junichi Hashiguchi, head of the city's finance section.
"There are many schools requiring quake-resistance work, but how should we secure the financial resources? As the man in charge of the finances, it's a headache."
The Kawaguchi Municipal Government has worked out what it calls "a concentrated reform plan." One problem it expects is an increase in social security expenses as the birthrate declines and life spans increase.
Estimating a revenue shortfall of more than 15 billion yen by fiscal 2009, the plan, which started this fiscal year, cuts civil servants' salaries and expenses in all projects, including road and school construction. The government also has decided to sell some of its land.
From fiscal 2004 to 2006, the central government has funneled a total of 3 trillion yen in tax revenue to prefectural and municipal governments, but reduced subsidies by 4.7 trillion yen and budget allocations by more than 5 trillion yen.
"If the budget-allocation reform continues at this rate, local government finances will be battered," one budget expert said.
The Fiscal System Council, which advises the finance minister, said in a June report local fiscal reform, including the reduction of the distribution rate, was necessary. It said the central government would likely pass on the pressure to cut the national deficit to the local governments.
Koizumi implemented fiscal reform under the premise of locals taking action at the local level, saying change would give local governments more control over their budgets.
"But what has actually happened is far from the original purpose of decentralizing," said Kochi Gov. Daijiro Hashimoto at a meeting of prefectural leaders in Tokyo in early August.
The main topic at the meeting was future budget-allocation reform. The leaders discussed the problems of Tokyo securing a sufficient tax-revenue supply for the transfers to local governments and the way in which the transfer amounts are calculated.
"It is unclear what the state and local governments should each do. It is not appropriate to discuss the distribution rate without considering the division of roles," Iwate Gov. Hiroya Masuda said.
Fiscal analysts say that the next administration will have to make drastic changes in how the state and local governments will share the limited financial resources.
WITH FSA KEPT AT BAY, BAILOUT DOUBTS MOUNT
Ishihara brainchild Shinginko said doomed from the get-go
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
When Rikkyo University professor Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi first heard about Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara's plan to set up a new bank in 2003, one thought immediately leaped to mind: This is doomed to fail.
Yamaguchi's doubts appear to have been borne out by Ishihara's recent proposal that Tokyo's 12 million tax-paying residents provide ¥40 billion to bail out financially troubled Shinginko Tokyo, which was launched in April 2004.
Few experts believe the rescue plan will solve the problems of the money-losing bank. As Yamaguchi points out, many expect that even with the emergency capital injection, the bank, which is owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, will soon fall into financial straits again and impose further burdens on the taxpayers of the capital.
During the 2003 gubernatorial election campaign, Ishihara promised the Tokyo Metropolitan Government would set up its own bank to extend loans to struggling small firms based in Tokyo.
But as professor Yamaguchi noted in a recent interview with The Japan Times, by that time statistics showed that the credit crunch stemming from the domestic financial crisis of the late 1990s had already subsided.
"The concept of a new bank was totally meaningless because the credit crunch had already ended when the idea of the bank was proposed," said Yamaguchi, an expert on finance and a noted commentator on the Shinginko Tokyo issue.
According to a survey of business sentiment conducted by Chudokyo, a national association of small and midsize firms, the majority of companies were finding it easier to secure short-term loans from banks by the fourth quarter of 1999.
This trend continued, and conditions for borrowing were vastly improved by the time Shinginko Tokyo opened its doors in April 2005.
"The situation had totally changed but Ishihara ignored it and forcibly carried out his plan," Yamaguchi said. "His responsibility is grave."
He added that "the governor should resign to take responsibility" for wasting billions of yen in taxpayer money.
Yamaguchi further alleges that Ishihara's campaign promise was calculated to tap into voter frustration aimed at unpopular major financial institutions.
Regarded as in league with the affluent, the major banks fell further out of favor with the average citizen when they showed themselves extremely reluctant to extend loans to small businesses during the financial crisis of the 1990s.
"Ishihara won over the masses by making (major banks) a scapegoat," the professor said.
Ishihara's politically motivated populism, however, did not mesh with economic realities.
Setting up a new bank requires a huge investment in branch offices, automatic teller machines and other expensive computer systems. In addition, a new bank faces competition from existing major financial institutions, Yamaguchi pointed out.
It is far cheaper and more efficient for a local government to give direct financial support, such as subsidizing loan interest payments or providing credit guarantees on loans from existing banks, instead of launching a new bank, Yamaguchi argued.
Yamaguchi and other experts maintain that liquidating the bank now will cost far less in the long run than keeping the arguably ill-fated bank temporarily afloat by injecting ¥40 billion in fresh capital.
Ishihara has resisted the liquidation option, pointing out that no banks are willing to take over Shinginko Tokyo's assets and liabilities.
But according to Yamaguchi, this unwillingness is because the Financial Services Agency has yet to inspect the details of the bank's financial condition, particularly the nonperforming loans extended to troubled small companies.
Without an FSA evaluation, other banks cannot rule out the possibility that Shinginko Tokyo's bad loans could turn out to be far larger than the metro government now claims.
Allowing the agency to determine the value of the nonperforming loans is a precondition for any rescue or liquidation plan for Shinginko Tokyo, Yamaguchi said.
But Ishihara and the bank are unwilling to accept inspections by the agency. They probably fear such scrutiny will reveal that the bank's financial condition is far worse than currently claimed by the bank and the metro government, Yamaguchi said.
The metro assembly is now expected to give the final green light to the ¥40 billion bailout plan at a plenary session Friday, with the blessing of the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc.
"It would be extremely irresponsible for the LDP and New Komeito to have ¥40 billion in assistance approved by the assembly. Voters won't forget it so easily," Yamaguchi warned.
Woman who fled to North Korea was government mole in Aum
Japantimes Thursday, Nov. 6, 2003
The saga of a woman believed to be an ex-Aum Shinrikyo member who entered North Korea in August seeking asylum has taken another turn: she at one time spied on the cult for the government.
The woman, who reportedly entered North Korea via China, was identified by North Korean media last week as Kazumi Kitagawa, 29. The Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, while confirming the report, has refused to disclose the woman's name, age or other details, citing privacy concerns.
Kitagawa sold information to the Public Security Investigation Agency between 2000 and 2001,
former agency official Hironari Noda
told The Japan Times on Wednesday.
Aum Shinrikyo officials have said they once had a member with the same name and birth date. They said Kitagawa admitted to them that she had sold information about Aum to the agency. Aum now calls itself Aleph.
Noda left the agency in 1998 and is now a freelance journalist covering agency-related scandals. He said Kitagawa contacted him several times between 2001 and 2002.
Kitagawa, a resident of Osaka, told Noda she wanted to sever ties with the agency by possibly going public about her role as a mole or by taking legal action. She was worried, however, that the agency would retaliate.
During an interview in September 2001, Kitagawa told Noda that the agency approached her in fall 2000 and offered her money in return for information on the cult.
Kitagawa said she wanted to stop spying on the cult after being forced to have sex with an agency agent about 20 times between May and July 2001, Noda said.
Kitagawa was agonized by the turn of events, according to Noda, and said she was intimidated by the agent after consulting local police about the relationship.
Later that year, Kitagawa told Noda that she had decided against going public about being paid to spy on Aum, he said. She formally quit Aum in October 2001, a senior cult member said.
In October 2002, Aum officials filed a formal complaint with the Public Security Investigation Agency over its alleged recruitment of Kitagawa as a spy.
A spokesman for the agency declined comment on the case, except to note that speaking about its spying activities or divulging the names of its agents could adversely affect its future activities.
In the interview and e-mails to Noda, Kitagawa repeatedly expressed her fascination with North Korea. Noda said he believes Kitagawa's fear of retaliation by the agency may have driven her to defect to the reclusive state.
The agent who allegedly raped Kitagawa was transferred to another bureau in the Tohoku region in January 2002, Noda said. Being sent to the countryside could be considered a demotion for his actions, he said.
A senior Aum member said Wednesday that Kitagawa had told senior cultists that she had been paid by public security officials to spy on the cult, and sought advice on how she could cut her ties with the agency. Kitagawa joined the cult in Osaka in March 1995 after Aum's sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.
While a member of the cult, Kitagawa often told other followers about her fascination with North Korea and Kim Jong Il's regime and said she hoped to move there someday, he said.
Have your say
Readers respond to last month's SOFA article
Japantimes Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The Community Page received a number of responses to Michael Hassett's article "U.S. military crime: SOFA so good?" which appeared in the Zeit Gist spot on Feb. 26 (Feb. 27 in some areas). Following are some examples.
I just left Okinawa after three years of working at the U.S. Naval Hospital. While I was there I had the opportunity to lecture at Okinawa International University for their Social Welfare program on the topics of domestic violence and child abuse trends in the US and Japan.
From the research, there seems to be no difference in rates of child abuse or domestic violence between our two countries, which is counter to the "perceptions" out there. The difference is in the area of reporting. This makes me think that the rates Michael Hassett quoted are even more skewed considering the failure to report these crimes and instead "take care of it within the family."
Lt. Jim Condon
Regional Clinical Social Worker, Commander Navy Region Europe (CNRE) Fleet & Family Support Program,
Military crime wave myth
I was pleased to read Michael Hassett's recent article on the U.S. military and crime in Japan. Crime is a concern for everyone and statistics can sometimes blur the fact that real people are victims of violent acts. Living in Japan for nearly three years in the 1980s, I was always impressed with the overall lack of crime.
In 2006, Japan had about 1,948 rapes. If Japan had the same incidence rate as the U.S., this number would be nearly 40,000. From the data I have seen, in Okinawa between 1996 and 2006 the incidence rate for U.S. military forces was nearly four times less than the expected rate for the general male population on Okinawa.
There is a danger in working with very small numbers in statistics and this is the case in this example. As I mention above, one rape is too many. But the notion that there is a U.S. military crime wave on Okinawa is not supported by the data.
Dr. Ron McNinch-Su, Chair of Public Administration and Legal Studies, University of Guam
Offering a rewrite
I would just like to make a couple of points about Michael Hassett's article.
First, the amount of time that soldiers spend on base, and the amount of time they spend in Japanese cities, should be considered. If, for example, they spend half their time on base then your case is only half as compelling. The writer does allow for this towards the end of the article, mentioning crimes on base, but perhaps time spent on base is more knowable and thus more useful to consider.
Also, it's a little unfair to compare free citizens with soldiers who live with many restrictions and pressures. With the stakes as high as they are for the U.S. and soldiers, one could logically predict the rate would be lower for soldiers.
Finally, I'd guess for most Japanese who protest the stats don't matter: They want the bases closed regardless of the circumstances. The last paragraph could as fairly be rewritten:
"Many believe the Japanese government has the right to force citizens in Okinawa to bear the brunt of their focus on militarism whether they like it or not, but as long as locals feel they should have a voice about who they host to live in their communities, voices of protest will be raised against violent crimes committed by soldiers regardless of statistics.
"Which all raises the question: Is it hypocritical of governments to force communities — especially communities that suffered so profoundly during World War II — to host military bases without giving them a choice?"
John Spiri, Tokyo
Parallels with Cyprus case
As a non-American, I can very much appreciate the U.S. military's resentment at being the scapegoat in the media. I can also understand Japanese society's broad, if relatively mild, antipathy towards U.S. Forces Japan (I live under the occasional U.S. Navy jet flight path).
I also find it interesting, as an ex-British armed forces member, that there was a recent case in Cyprus which received a similar degree of attention (as the alleged rape in Okinawa). Seven British soldiers were involved in a bar brawl, and the bar was damaged. This is hardly unusual in Cyprus or any Mediterranean resort area where young British (and German, Dutch, etc.) men go to drink and frolic in the sun, but the matter was blown up as indicating some special problem or pattern, simply because the men involved were soldiers.
Under British law, military personnel are liable to double punishment: civil court action followed by military disciplinary measures. Thus British personnel are far less likely to get caught in the the act of committing a crime than those in practically any other occupation.
Garren Mulloy, Fujisawa, Kanagawa Pref.
SDF not ready for U.S. exit
For once, someone has injected some calm, unemotional sanity into this otherwise nonissue. With all the persistent misreporting by the mainstream Japanese media, who would've ever guessed that the U.S. military only commit crimes at a rate about half that of other Okinawans and the Japanese populace in general?
And now we hear that the teenage Okinawan girl has dropped charges against the marine sergeant. Why? Because there was no rape. Duh.
As a longtime resident of Japan, which I love dearly, it always amazes me to see how quickly many Japanese people get all worked up after these temporary strains in Japan-U.S. relations, and yet suddenly become noticeably silent whenever there is some legitimate security breach, like North Korea firing a missile over the Japanese archipelago, Chinese warships purposely encroaching on sovereign Japanese waters or Russian fighter jets violating Japanese airspace.
I personally would love to see Japan defend herself, as it would save U.S. taxpayers a hell of a lot of money to deal with more pressing social issues, but if the recent fiasco regarding the Aegis-equipped Atago destroyer is any indicator, the Self-Defense Forces are obviously not ready for prime time.
Gary J. Wolff, Ichikawa, Chiba Pref.
Ambassadors of integrity
From a U.S. Navy officer, who spent about nine years in Sasebo, Nagasaki Pref., thank you for your honest reporting.
While I find the behavior of a very small number of my fellow service members abhorrent, your statistics show that approximately 99.76 percent of them (compared to 99.63 percent of the total population of Japan) are at least law-abiding.
I believe the majority of them to be the ambassadors of integrity and honor that we in the military spend so much time and effort training them to be. You have my appreciation and respect.
Joe M. Emmert, Lt. Cmdr., U.S. Navy
“Seika Shugi,”performance-based system in Japanese companies
1. In the mid-1990s, some Japanese companies, particularly major ones, began to introduce annual salary systems as the “seikashugi,”performance-based system.
2. The main purpose of introducing them was to suppress the otherwise sharply increasing wages of middle-aged and older employees.
3. The characteristics of “seikashugi”
(1) institutionalizing an employee’s demotion
4. The performance-based pay system presents the problems from an economic standpoint.
(2) evaluation on the basis of competency as well as divisional performance and individual performance
(3) a tendency of periodic salary increase to disappear
(4) an increase of differentiation in wages through the personnel evaluation
(1) possibility to objectively measure each employee’s performance, especially for tasks that require teamwork
(2) employees become inclined to prioritize tasks or aspects of a job for which they are more likely to receive an objective evaluation
(3) employees are motivated to set their goals low, whereas employers try to impose higher goals on them.
Sony plans to introduce merit-based pay system
Japantimes Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003
Sony Corp. plans to shift to a completely performance-based pay system in April by abolishing family, housing and other salary-linked allowances, company sources said Saturday.
The move, on which management and the labor union have agreed, will affect about 12,000 domestic nonmanagerial employees, including section chiefs, they said.
Under the current system, salaries for Sony employees consist of basic pay that reflects a traditional seniority-based scale and a range of allowances that account for about 5 percent of the total.
The company introduced a performance-based system for some 6,000 managerial employees in 2000.
Sony is the first major Japanese electronics company to abolish all salary-linked allowances.
Hitachi Ltd. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. have already decided to move to a performance-based pay system in the next business year, beginning in April, but they will not abolish family, housing and other allowances.
The sources said Sony's new pay system grades employees on a three-point scale every year in accordance with their performance. The highest grade is 1 and the lowest is 3.
The system will allow employees to develop their careers more quickly, Sony sources said.
If an employee hired straight after graduation performs particularly well, he or she could receive the highest grade in a few years, compared with the nearly 10 years that it takes under the existing system, they said.
Ogi to pitch rail system in China
Japantimes Wednesday, July 9, 2003
Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Chikage Ogi said Tuesday she intends to visit China early next month to pitch Japan's high-speed rail system for a new Beijing-Shanghai route being planned.
Ogi will be accompanied by East Japan Railway Co. President Mutsutake Otsuka on her visit, which has been delayed in the aftermath of the outbreak of SARS, according to ministry sources.
Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), is considering a separate visit in August to push Japanese rail technology.
Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) President Yoshiyuki Kasai, however, is opposed to providing advanced Japanese technology to China on the grounds that it would not benefit Japanese companies.
JR Tokai operates the Tokaido Shinkansen Line between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations.
However, Ogi said success in exporting Japanese technology "will enhance Japan's national prestige."
In their talks in St. Petersburg, Russia, in late May, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi asked Chinese President Hu Jintao to choose Japan's bullet-train system for the Beijing-Shanghai line.
Hu told Koizumi that China was considering either the Japanese system or German maglev technology.
Japanese minister touts Shinkansen in Beijing
By Cao Desheng (China Daily) 2005-01-19
A Japanese cabinet minister's Beijing trip has again drawn people's attention to the nation's express railway project.
Kitagawa Kazuo, Japan's land, infrastructure and transport minister, started a four-day visit on Tuesday at the invitation of China's tourism authority.
The topic of the express railway Shinkansen became a hot one at his press conference on Tuesday.
"Shinkansen is among the first-class high-speed railway technologies in the world," he said.
Since it was opened in 1964, there had never been an accident involving casualties in Japan, Kazuo said.
"China's robust economic growth has prompted infrastructure construction in roads, railways and harbours and we hope Japan's Shinkansen can play its role in the nation's endeavours," the minister said.
The planned Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway is more than 1,300 kilometres in length, involving a 100 billion-yuan (US$ 12 billion) investment.
Initiated in 1994, the high-speed railway is considered as the second largest project after the Three Gorges Project in terms of investment scale.
Competition for the huge project is becoming increasingly intensified among Japan's Shinkansen, France's TGV and Germany's ICE -- considered the most advanced high-speed rail technology available in the world -- as the project is still awaiting approval from the State Council.
"We hope Shinkansen can play its role in the project but I don't mean to promote the technology here," Kazuo said.
Kazuo met with senior Chinese officials including Vice-Premier Wu Yi and Railways Minister Liu Zhijun and exchanged views on railway technology.
The Ministry of Railways refused to comment about the talks between the two ministers.
According to Kyodo News Agency, Liu spoke highly of Japan's technology during the talk with his Japanese counterpart yesterday, saying China might adopt Shinkansen technology in its high-speed railway project if there were no "obstacles" between the two countries. He did not elaborate on the "obstacles".
Despite the rumoured competitions for the project among France, Japan and Germany, the central government will not make a snap decision about the introduction of the railway technology, said Zhou Wenlong, a senior railway engineer from Shanghai-based CASCO Signal Ltd.
"It might need three to five years before the project was put into operation considering the nation's macro-regulation policies," Zhou said.
Meantime, express railway construction should take into account the safety and economy of the project, so feasibility studies will still need to be scrutinized, he said.
No new sex slave apology: Abe
Japantimes March 6, 2007
U.S. resolution won't spur statement; '93 declaration stands
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday there is no need for Japan to make a fresh apology for forcing women from other parts of Asia into sexual servitude for the Japanese military during the war, even if the U.S. Congress passes a resolution calling on him to do so.
"We will not apologize because of a resolution," Abe told the House of Councilors Budget Committee, referring to the draft resolution on the table at the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"The draft resolution is not based on objective facts nor does it reflect the Japanese government's responses so far," he said.
Abe reiterated he will stand by the government's 1993 statement acknowledging and apologizing for the forced recruitment of what Japan euphemistically referred to as "comfort women" in Japanese-occupied territories, including the Korean Peninsula and China. He was responding to a question from a Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker.
Abe made the remarks after drawing a strong protest from South Korea by saying last week there is no evidence to back claims that the Japanese military used coercion to force the women into frontline brothels.
Tokyo, in the 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, acknowledged the Imperial Japanese Army was involved in forcing women in Asia into sexual servitude for its soldiers at frontline brothels.
Abe told Monday's committee session that there was no evidence showing that Japanese military officials took the women by force -- such as by kidnapping -- to the brothels -- again denying there was coercion by the military in a strict sense.
But he acknowledged that private-sector businesses that acted as agents for the military sometimes used force on the women.
Separately, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a news conference that overseas criticism of Abe's comments last week "are not based on correct interpretation of the prime minister's remarks."
"There may have been coercion in a broad sense in recruiting the women, but we do not believe that the women were physically taken by force" by the military to the frontline brothels, Shiozaki said, noting that Abe was referring to the more "narrow definition" of coercion.
He also said the government has "no plans to withdraw or change" the 1993 government statement.
In the 1993 statement, Kono, now speaker of the Lower House, said the comfort women were mainly recruited by businesses that worked on the behest of the military, which was directly and indirectly involved in establishing and running the frontline brothels as well as in the transfer of the women.
In many cases the women were recruited against their will -- either by coercion or deception -- and the military was directly and indirectly involved in such operations, according to the statement.
Some historians estimate that up to 200,000 women from the Korean Peninsula, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, the present-day Indonesia and elsewhere were forced into sexual servitude by the wartime Japanese military in the 1930s and '40s, but others dispute this view.
In Washington, Democratic Rep. Mike Honda of California and some powerful Republicans submitted the resolution on Jan. 31 urging Japan's prime minister to "formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" for the former sex slaves.
Japan has protested the resolution, saying prime ministers have repeatedly offered apologies, but prospects are high it will clear the Democrat-controlled Congress. Four similar bills failed to reach a full House vote in past years under the previous Republican majority.
A House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee heard testimony in mid-February from three women who said they were forced to provide sex for the Japanese military during the war.
Lawmakers in the Liberal Democratic Party, which Abe heads, had planned to urge the prime minister to "review" the 1993 statement, but deferred the plan last week after Abe said he would abide by it. The LDP lawmakers decided instead to call on the government to look into the matter and try to win a "correct understanding" from the U.S.
Abe is planning to visit the U.S. this spring.
Dalai Lama reiterates support for games, urges nonviolence
Japantimes April 11, 2008
NARITA, Chiba Pref. — The Dalai Lama on Thursday again voiced support for China's hosting of the Olympic Games and called on protesters to stick to nonviolent activities during the chaotic round-the-world torch relay.
"From the beginning, we support the Olympic Games," the Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters packed into a small hall at a hotel near Narita International Airport during a brief stopover on the way to the U.S.
He said he is opposed to violent protests of any kind because they hurt the freedom of speech — which he said Tibet badly needs but is not allowed under Chinese control.
The Dalai Lama also emphasized that the purpose of his two-week stay in the U.S. is to meet with supporters and promote human compassion and harmony among different religions. The trip, including his short transit in Japan, is not politically motivated in any way, he said.
"I have no particular thing to say here," he humorously added, prompting reporters to burst into laughter.
But the Dalai Lama responded passionately when he was asked to give a message to the Chinese people about the recent riots in Tibet.
He reiterated that his government in exile and the Tibetan people have sought no independence from China, but only maintenance of their culture, religion and language as well as "realistic autonomy" except for diplomacy and defense. He said the only autonomy that exists now is on paper.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of masterminding the rioting that started March 10 in Lhasa, which he categorically denies.
Olympic Torch Relay Chaotic in San Francisco
NPR.org, April 9, 2008
The Olympic torch relay got off to a chaotic start in San Francisco on Wednesday, when the torchbearer was routed away from thousands who turned out to cheer and protest the flame's journey to Beijing.
The flame disappeared from view for about 30 minutes when the first torchbearer ran into a warehouse near the waterfront after the opening ceremony. It reappeared about a mile from its expected location.
Before the opening ceremony, San Francisco police had announced the relay's six-mile route would be cut in half. They did not offer an immediate explanation, but city officials had warned they might shorten the route for security reasons.
Crowds began to gather early in the day at San Francisco's McCovey Cove, where the Olympic torch was scheduled to make its North American debut.
The torch's circuitous travel around the globe has already has been marked by demonstrations against China's policies toward Tibet and Sudan, and more demonstrations are expected worldwide before it reaches the Summer Games.
San Francisco officials said police officers were backed up by other Bay Area police departments, the California Highway Patrol and the FBI in an effort to keep Olympic runners and bystanders safe, while protecting the protesters' right to free speech.
Nearly 80 torchbearers had prepared to carry the Olympic flame along the route past hordes of protesters and counterprotesters.
Ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, who was to be one of the torch runners, said the city had taken the proper precautions to protect runners.
Karnazes said city officials reassured participants that law enforcement would work with the State Department and international authorities to avoid a repeat of the chaotic demonstrations in Paris and London. He said the actual relay route would be kept secret as long as possible.
Protesters, Supporters Turn Out
Violent protests in Paris and London prompted several San Francisco torchbearers to drop out.
San Francisco is the only stop for the torch in North America. The city was chosen to host the relay, in part, because of its large Chinese-American population.
Many San Francisco residents have asked for calm and expressed their pride that China was chosen to host the Olympics.
Chinese officials have dismissed previous demonstrations as the actions of a few who are trying to hijack a historical event for their own purposes.
The International Olympic Committee is considering whether to cancel the rest of the torch's world tour.
From NPR and wire reports
Japan's Conspiracy ＞
Global Warming to Decrease Hurricanes, Study Says
National Geographic News May 19, 2008
Global warming may reduce the number of hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Basin by 2060, a new study says. But it adds that the storms that do form may be slightly stronger and wetter.
The study, conducted by scientists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is the latest development in a contentious debate about whether global warming is influencing hurricanes.
The new research suggests that the number of hurricanes each summer could decrease by about 18 percent.
Major hurricanes—those with winds in excess of 110 miles (177 kilometers) an hour—could decline by about 8 percent.
Currently about ten Atlantic hurricanes form—two to three of them major—during an average season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
One of the ways that global warming could reduce hurricanes is by increasing upper-level winds—known as wind shear—that can inhibit hurricane formation, said lead author Thomas Knutson.
The study also suggests that hurricane winds could increase by about 2 percent, and rainfall within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of a hurricane's center could increase by 37 percent.
The study, which appears this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, focuses on the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
Knutson said the new study was based on a computer simulation that used hurricane data dating back to 1980.
Detailed data covering a longer period is not available, he added.
"It would be nice if we could run tests based on data all the way back to 1900," Knutson said. "But we don't have adequate large-scale atmospheric data going back that far."
※ This story is inconsistent with the past conventional global warming theory. The global warming theory has turned out to be false. And the current subsequent theory seems to be a mere cover story.