終戦の日 確かな「平和と繁栄」を築こう [英字新聞]

The Yomiuri Shimbun
War-end anniversary start for constructive peace, prosperity
終戦の日 確かな「平和と繁栄」を築こう


Today marks the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II. This day offers an opportunity to mourn the 3.1 million people who died in the war and renew our vow for peace.

A government-sponsored memorial service for the war dead will be held at the Nippon Budokan hall in Tokyo’s Kitanomaru Park.

Aug. 15 has long been established as the anniversary of the war’s end, marking the same day in 1945 when Emperor Showa told the people of the war’s termination.

Strictly speaking, however, the end of all combative activities was formalized on Sept. 2 that year. Aboard the USS Missouri, which was anchored in Tokyo Bay, representatives of Japan and the Allied Powers signed an instrument of surrender on that day.

Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima

The Battleship Missouri, preserved at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, is open for public viewing. Located at the bottom of the sea nearby, the USS Arizona, the battleship that was sunk during the Japanese surprise attack on the harbor, is the resting place of more than 1,100 officers and sailors.

The cry of “No more Hiroshimas” can be answered with “Remember Pearl Harbor!” The atomic bombings and the Pearl Harbor attack are thorns in an unfortunate piece of Japan-U.S. history.

During a visit to Pearl Harbor in 1997, then Chinese President Jiang Zemin made a speech in which he said the Chinese and the Americans had “stood side by side in the fight against the fascist invasion.” His speech was intended to emphasize cooperation between the United States and China, and thereby drive a wedge into the Japan-U.S. alliance.

However, both Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima are being transformed into a theater of reconciliation.

Since 2013, a tiny folded paper crane has been displayed in a corner of the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. The origami crane, produced by the late Sadako Sasaki, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, was donated by her bereaved family to the memorial. The Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is modeled on Sasaki.

The city government in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture — birthplace of Isoroku Yamamoto, commander in chief of the prewar Combined Fleet, who led the Pearl Harbor raid — has conducted exchange activities with Honolulu since the two cities established a sister-city relationship in 2012.

In a memorial ceremony held in August 2015, the 70th year of the postwar period, fireworks from Nagaoka were set off in Pearl Harbor’s night sky, accompanied by a prayer for peace.

A visit to Hiroshima by U.S. President Barack Obama in May was the result of a wise decision made despite persistent opinion in the United States that the atomic bombings were justified. His 17-minute remarks went right to the hearts of many people. Although the Japanese side has not accepted this inhumane action, it has not demanded an apology from the United States.

Obama’s historic visit symbolized the mature nature of Japan-U.S. relations. This has been founded on a relationship of trust built over the years by the two allies, which share such values as freedom, democracy and human rights.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statement last August expressing anew “remorse and apology” for Japan’s wartime actions has been taken positively by the United States and many other countries.

The current stable bilateral relations between Japan and the United States should be developed further.

In contrast to the United States, China continues to use the historical perception issue as a diplomatic card. When Obama visited Hiroshima, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said bluntly that “Nanjing should not be forgotten and deserves even more attention.”

China against intl order

China has unilaterally asserted that 300,000 people were killed during the Nanjing Incident and has had “Documents of the Nanjing Massacre” added to the UNESCO’s Memory of the World list.

On the anniversary of the country’s “victory” in the “War of Resistance Against Japan” last September, China held a military parade in front of about 30 heads of state and leaders of the world, emphasizing China as a “victorious nation” in World War II.

Yet China’s foreign policies as a “victor country,” in which it proclaims that it backed the international order, while trying to change the international maritime order in the East and South China seas through force, has not won empathy from the international community.

South Korea, which had attempted to join hands with China in addressing issues related to historical perception, has shifted its stance to improve its relationship with Japan, following the bilateral deal Japan and South Korea reached late last year on the issue of the so-called comfort women. Japan will contribute ¥1 billion to a foundation set up by South Korea to support former comfort women as early as this month.

Yet a support group for former comfort women and others have not relaxed their stance of opposing the foundation. Also, a comfort woman statue was unveiled at a ceremony in Australia early this month, following similar ceremonies in the United States. The misperception that these women were forcibly taken by the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army prevails in the world even today.

Refute distortions

The Japanese government must continue to appropriately refute distortions of various historical facts related to the war. It is also important to urge China and other countries to abide by the rules of the international community.

Efforts must also be made to resolve the issue of the northern territories with Russia.

A more strategic approach is required for Japan to resolve pending postwar issues with Russia, which remain unsettled even after the passage of 71 years since the end of the war, and conclude a peace treaty.

After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, European countries and the United States continue to impose sanctions against that country. In the meantime, Abe has been exploring ways to resolve the territorial issues through repeated talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Abe will visit Russia’s Far East early next month at the soonest.

By pursuing constructive relations with other countries, the peace and prosperity that Japan has been building since the end of the war should be made more solid. Such efforts will also contribute to responding to hopes of those who lost their lives during the war.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 15, 2016)

小池新都知事 都民本位の改革実行を [英字新聞]

--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 1
EDITORIAL: Koike must keep promise, push policies that help Tokyo citizens
(社説)小池新都知事 都民本位の改革実行を

Former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike was elected Tokyo’s new governor on July 31, becoming the first female chief of the capital’s government. We hope Koike will capitalize on her trademark ability to send out effective messages in her role as the public face of Japan’s capital.

Koike won a landslide victory in the gubernatorial election despite failing to receive the endorsement of her Liberal Democratic Party, which fielded another candidate. The ruling party’s decision, based primarily on its partisan interests, probably provoked a backlash among voters in Tokyo.

The process in which opposition parties led by the Democratic Party chose a unified candidate also confused many voters.

During her campaign, Koike pledged to put priority on the interests of individual citizens. She should be true to her words and push through reforms to shift the focus of Tokyo’s policymaking from the interests of specific organizations to those of the entire population of the capital.

Koike needs to provide leadership to resolve a wide range of tough policy challenges, from the rapidly aging population to disaster preparedness for a huge earthquake that many experts warn could occur directly under Tokyo.

In particular, she must immediately review the financing plan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, focusing on the capital’s contribution. The total cost for the event, initially estimated at 700 billion yen ($6.8 billion), is now expected to balloon to 2 trillion yen or even 3 trillion yen. The challenge for Koike is to figure out ways to reduce the cost and decide on an appropriate burden for Tokyo.

Both the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the LDP members of the metropolitan assembly are calling for an increase in the capital’s share of the cost burden, emphasizing Tokyo’s responsibility due to its bid to host the event.

Discussing the issue, Koike criticized the Tokyo government’s opaque policymaking process as a “black box” and called for greater transparency. The issue of financing the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will test her commitment to addressing the issue.

In an Asahi Shimbun survey of voters in Tokyo, “education and child-care support” was cited by the largest number of respondents as the policy area that they wanted the new governor to prioritize.

Tokyo’s child-care support for its citizens has national implications. Many young people who moved from rural areas to Tokyo are giving up having children because of an unfavorable environment for rearing children. This problem is accelerating Japan’s demographic decline.

During her campaign, Koike proposed various ideas to solve the problem of the estimated 8,500 children on waiting lists for day-care centers. Her ideas included the use of land owned by the metropolitan government and higher pay for child-care workers. Koike needs to make steady efforts to deal with this challenge.

On the other hand, Koike talked little about education.

She once argued that tragic incidents involving children, such as murders of family members, were a result of Japan’s “self-deprecating education” in the postwar period.

The Japan Society for History Textbook Reform, an organization devoted to helping the nation “overcome masochistic historical views,” backed Koike in the election, saying she was the only major candidate who supported its activities.

The law on regional educational administration was revised in 2014 to enhance the power of local government chiefs over education policy decisions. Instead of using her power as the governor to promote education based on specific values, Koike should serve as a champion of “diversity,” which she pledged to promote, in education.

In announcing her candidacy, Koike emphasized she was ready to confront the LDP in the metropolitan assembly. We welcome her stance if that means true competition for better, citizen-focused policies through serious debate at the assembly.

But we have had enough of the petty political fights over parochial interests.

After the resignation of two Tokyo governors--Naoki Inose and Yoichi Masuzoe--amid scandals, there is no room for further stagnation in the capital’s efforts to tackle its key policy challenges.