英字新聞 (読売、毎日、朝日、英字新聞の社説を学習研究 )


香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「敵」の健闘たたえる余裕 /東京

September 21, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Learning how to praise our 'enemies'
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「敵」の健闘たたえる余裕 /東京

I recently went to Tokyo Dome to watch a professional baseball game.

The Yomiuri Giants were not playing that evening, as this was one of the several games hosted there yearly by the Nippon Ham Fighters.

They were playing against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, who are presently at the top of the Pacific League.

The Fighters were on top of the game from start to finish. The climax occurred when Atsunori Inaba, who recently announced his retirement, went up to bat as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning -- likely the last time he would appear during a game hosted by his team at the Tokyo Dome.

When Inaba was called to the plate, a murmur could be heard rippling through the crowd.

Shortly afterward, the entire stadium audience rose to their feet.

Fighters' fans leaped into the air and broke out with a rendition of the famous "Inaba jump" -- but it soon became clear that they were not alone. On the left side of the stands, as well as behind third base, SoftBank supporters were jumping right along with them.

Inaba unfortunately did not manage to score a hit, but as he left the plate, he was accompanied by loud applause from all around the stands.

He waved to both sides of the crowd, wiping away tears several times. Fighters Manager Hideki Kuriyama later told him, "I was moved as well."

There is an expression in the Japanese language that may be loosely translated as "praising someone even though they may be an enemy."

The phrase is said to have originated in the act of military commanders lauding their opponents' brave fights -- a description that seems to describe the feelings on the part of the SoftBank fans at that moment.

This incident also called to mind the proverb that refers to "sending salt to one's enemy."

It goes without saying, but this refers to the conscious decision of offering support to one's enemies while not engaged in battle with them.

The origin of the phrase is an incident that occurred during the Sengoku ("Warring States") period, when Uesugi Kenshin refused to comply with the Imagawa clan's demand that he halt salt exports to his enemy Takeda Shingen -- instead providing him with the shipments of salt.

While the topic at hand is of course sports, which is a world unto itself, I must say that this incident I witnessed -- whereby an entire group of people naturally began congratulating someone else, without having been told to do so, and irrespective of whether that person was an associate or an opponent -- left a very strong impression upon me indeed.

We are constantly subjected to intense competition in our daily lives, and we often consume all of our energy trying to seek out our rivals' vulnerabilities while in turn concealing our own.

After we have cut down someone else whom we have identified as an "enemy," and gone on to declare our own victory, however, I wonder: Can we really feel good about ourselves?

I had many thoughts after I watched baseball fans passionately bidding farewell to Inaba that evening, including this one: Somewhere along the line, have many of us not forgotten the lesson from the Sengoku period to treat enemies and vanquished persons with respect, and to wish them well?

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2014年09月17日 地方版


社説:辺野古掘削調査 知事選まで作業中断を

September 20, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Put new base survey on hold till after Okinawa gubernatorial election
社説:辺野古掘削調査 知事選まで作業中断を

One month has passed since the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau began a boring survey on the seabed off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, in preparation to build a substitute facility for the U.S. military's Air Station Futenma.

We are concerned about the way in which the national government is pressing forward with the project as if it is overriding resistance from local residents and creating a fait accompli one after another.

To avoid further deepening the rift within Okinawa, the central government should suspend the boring survey to see how voters in the southernmost prefecture will react to the project through the Nov. 16 Okinawa gubernatorial election.
The national government initially planned to launch a boring survey in 2004 but its attempt was blocked by opponents. As such, the government is guarding the site by designating a larger area off Henoko as an off-limit zone, and has come under fire from opponents of the project and others for being on excessively high alert.

The government's tough stance is supported by the fact that Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima granted the government permission to reclaim offshore areas of Henoko.

However, Nakaima deserves criticism that he violated his campaign pledge that he would stick to his demand that Futenma base, situated in a densely populated area of the city of Ginowan, be moved out of the prefecture.

Numerous Okinawa residents reacted sharply to Nakaima's about-face. In January this year, Nago voters re-elected Mayor Susumu Inamine, who is opposed to the relocation of Futenma base to Henoko, while pro-mayor candidates won a majority in the municipal assembly in a recent election.

Furthermore, the prefectural assembly adopted a resolution on Sept. 3 protesting against the national government for going ahead with the boring survey and calling for an immediate halt to the work, with the support of not only four opposition parties but also New Komeito that supports Nakaima.

Such being the case, whether Nakaima's decision reflects local residents' views on the issue will be a key point of contention in the upcoming gubernatorial race.

However, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears unwilling to listen to local communities' opinions on the issue.

Rather, it appears that the stiffer local residents' opposition grows to the project, the further the Abe administration presses forward with the work on the substitute facility for Futenma base in a bid to prevent Nakaima's possible election loss from adversely affecting the project.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a recent news conference, "Primary attention had been focused on whether the Okinawa Prefectural Government would approve the reclamation, but it's already a past concern." However, the remark Suga made as if he dismissed opposition to the project can hardly convince local residents.

In an article he contributed to the U.S. news site The Huffington Post last month, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Nye pointed out that as China's ballistic missile technology advances, U.S. bases in Okinawa Prefecture become increasingly vulnerable. He also pointed to Okinawa residents' anger at the burden of U.S. bases on them, and called for reconsidering the structure of the Japan-U.S. alliance, such as the way U.S. forces should be deployed in the Japanese archipelago.

Why does the national government view the planned construction of a substitute facility for the Air Station Futenma off Henoko as the only way to settle the issue of relocating the base while even an expert in diplomacy and security like Nye has made such a proposal?

The government bears responsibility to provide a sufficient explanation to Okinawa residents. As such, the boring survey should be put on hold until after the gubernatorial election.

毎日新聞 2014年09月20日 02時30分


社説:IWC総会 守るべきは湾岸捕鯨だ

September 17, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Japan must give up Antarctic whaling, focus on preserving coastal hunt
社説:IWC総会 守るべきは湾岸捕鯨だ

The Japanese government will unveil plans to resume research whaling in the Antarctic Ocean at the International Whaling Commission meeting now in session in Slovenia.
It is an absolute certainty, however, that the move will be strongly opposed by a number of anti-whaling nations, while the International Court of Justice has already ordered Japan to cease research whaling. As such, Japan should switch strategies. It should abandon Antarctic whaling -- the necessity of which is doubtful in any case -- and emphasize instead coastal whaling around Japan, which has a foundation in traditional Japanese food culture.

The international court ordered Japan to halt its Antarctic whaling program in March this year, stating that the program did not meet international standards for what constitutes scientific research. The court also took issue with Japan's insistence that the take of 103 minke whales in the 2012-2013 season was scientifically useful, despite the country's assertion that a "sample size" of about 850 was necessary for its scientific objectives. The court said that this and other parts of Japan's case "cast doubt" on the "characterization of JARPA II (the research whaling project) as a programme for the purposes of scientific research."

Japan accepted the international court's decision and called off the whaling expedition for fiscal 2014.

The government apparently plans to consult experts in setting a vastly reduced annual whaling quota for missions in fiscal 2015 and beyond, and call on other nations for their understanding.

Anti-whaling leader New Zealand, however, has already submitted a motion to the IWC meeting calling for Japan's research whaling to be postponed. The motion has already received the apparent backing of a number of countries including Australia, and Japan's plan faces a hard road that's quickly getting even harder.

The Antarctic research whaling program was started to help establish a scientific basis for the resumption of commercial whaling, which has been suspended by the IWC since the 1985-1986 season. Whale meat consumption in Japan, however, has dropped significantly, with the amount of whale on the market now just around 2 percent of what it was at its peak in 1962. Japan furthermore imports whale meat from Iceland -- which has continued commercial whaling -- and there is now an oversupply. There is very little reason to restart commercial whaling in the Antarctic Ocean, which means there is no need to keep doing research whaling to that end.

Mind you, neither can Japan completely go over to the other side, joining nations completely opposed to whaling and eating whale meat. Coastal hunts for small whales continue in places such as Abashiri, Hokkaido, Ayukawa, Miyagi Prefecture, Wada, Chiba Prefecture, and Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, where they are an important part of traditional culture and where whale meat is still a part of the local diet. Japan may have no great reason to seek the resumption of the Antarctic whale hunt, but it does need to protect these local culinary traditions.

Japan's coastal whalers now take Baird's beaked whales, among other varieties, after the IWC banned the hunt for the previously most popular variety, the minke whale. The Japanese government has called on the IWC to set a limited minke catch for the northwestern Pacific, but has so far been denied. Japan has proposed the same measure again at the current IWC meeting, but support looks hard to obtain.

Japan's insistence on moving ahead with Antarctic whaling has invited the intense opposition of other IWC nations, which is then also extended to Japanese requests for a coastal whaling compromise. Japan must break the connection between Antarctic whaling and coastal hunts. To gain support from other countries, Japan must use the ecological data already collected to build a persuasive case. The government must make greater efforts to preserve the coastal whaling traditions of Japan.

毎日新聞 2014年09月17日 02時30分


iPS細胞移植 再生医療普及への試金石だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Clinical trial using iPS cells litmus test for promoting regenerative medicine
iPS細胞移植 再生医療普及への試金石だ

The latest clinical trial is the first step of epoch-making research that could evolve into regenerative medicine. After careful safety assessment, putting the latest result into practical use should be promoted.

A team led by RIKEN ophthalmologist Masayo Takahashi transplanted retina cells produced from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into the eyes of a woman suffering from age-related macular degeneration. The patient is said to be doing well.

It was the world’s first clinical trial of transplanting iPS cells, which can develop into the cells of various types of tissues, into a human body.

This clinical trial can be considered a litmus test for regenerative medicine using iPS cells, which could eventually be used widely.

About 700,000 people are estimated to be suffering from the age-related macular degeneration, the symptoms of which include distorted vision.

The current treatment is symptomatic therapy to prevent the patient’s condition from further deteriorating. With the transplant of retina cells, the patient could make a full recovery. Expectations among patients over the effectiveness of such a transplant are believed to be running high.

Over the past seven years, since Prof. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University successfully produced human iPS cells, the risk of the iPS cells becoming cancerous — a key issue to be tackled — has almost been resolved, while the efficiency of production has been enhanced.

The latest surgical procedure carries important implications as a clinical study to confirm the safety of medical technology using iPS cells. Is there an absolute guarantee the iPS cells will not turn cancerous? Are there any unknown risks? These issues will be examined over the next four years.

In an effort to have research results using iPS cells linked to regenerative medicine, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to spend \110 billion from fiscal 2012 to 2022.

Faster approval needed

Clinical research using iPS cells in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and serious cardiac failure are planned from next fiscal year.

Also under way is research to determine the mechanisms behind intractable diseases and develop new medicines for such diseases by producing iPS cells from patients with incurable diseases and transforming them into nerve and muscle cells.

It is hoped that with the successful retina cell operation, the transition from basic research to clinical research in regenerative medicine — in which Japan tends to lag behind other major countries — will advance smoothly.

Following the enforcement of the revised Pharmaceutical Affairs Law in November, the time needed to put cells and tissues for regenerative medicine into a practical use will be shortened from the current six years to about three years. If the safety of only a few trials is confirmed and their effectiveness deemed reliable, the ministry will give the go-ahead for practical use, although with conditions attached.

Takahashi has established her own venture firm for producing retina cells derived from iPS cells. Her firm plans to start clinical trials in 2016, with the aim of winning the ministry’s approval in 2018.

A faster approval system must function effectively so patients can receive treatment as quickly as possible.

The RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, where the clinical trial was conducted, is scheduled to undergo a drastic shakeup. This will include halving the number of research labs due to fraudulent research articles over the so-called stimulus-triggered acquisition pluripotency (STAP) cells.

We hope RIKEN proceeds with its research on regenerative medicine steadily and makes an effort to regain public trust.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 15, 2014)Speech


社説:読書の秋 若者よ、本を開こう

September 15, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Time to pick up a book
社説:読書の秋 若者よ、本を開こう

The autumn book-reading season is again upon us. Reading not only boosts our knowledge, hones our sensitivities and nurtures our ability to think, but it also helps to broaden our perspective and develop our imagination. It's been said people today are spending less time reading. Now is a good time to take a fresh look at the benefits of books and call upon the young to turn to reading.
The Japanese publishing industry has suffered recently from slumping sales. According to Shuppan Nenkan, an almanac published by Shuppan News Co., sales in the domestic publishing industry stood at some 1.77 trillion yen last year. Of that amount, books accounted for roughly 843 billion yen, and magazines 928.1 billion yen. Last year's sales stood at just two-thirds of the peak figure of 2.698 trillion yen recorded in 1996.

Declining sales are especially serious in the magazine industry. Most likely, this is largely due to the prevalence of smartphones and other devices. Sagging magazine sales lead to declining ad revenues for publishers, which adversely affects bookstores and eventually pushes their numbers down. Today's Internet-oriented society calls into question the roles magazines can play.

That said, Japanese people as a whole are not necessarily turning away from books. In fact, the number of books lent out at libraries across the country remains high. According to the Japan Library Association, there are at least 3,200 public libraries nationwide, which lent out a total of over 710 million books, CDs and DVDs to individuals in fiscal 2012. Compared to a decade earlier, the number of libraries in Japan has increased by at least 400. As a result, the number of books lent out has risen by more than 100 million.

According to a survey jointly conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun and the School Library Association (SLA), children today are not reading less. Rather, the average number of books read by children slightly increased over the past decade. At the same time, the ratio of children who don't read any books in the month of May -- a gauge for determining the level of book-reading -- has been on the decline. The next challenge, many say, is having children read higher quality books.

In the meantime, one particular trend requires serious attention. According to a survey by the National Federation of University Co-operative Associations, the number of university students who said they didn't read any books reached 40.5 percent last year, topping 40 percent for the first time since the survey was first conducted in 2004. The revealing survey sent shockwaves through society, as university students are expected to read piles of books.

At elementary and junior high schools, teachers' efforts to encourage reading have been producing results. Morning reading time in classes has played a part in this. However, high school and university students are apparently spending more time on games, the Internet, entrance exam preparations, part-time jobs and other activities, and less time on reading. It can be said that teachers' efforts at high schools and universities are insufficient in encouraging students to read. The trend among those in their late teens of not reading books apparently continues when they grow older.

It is no easy task to change the status quo, but SLA counselor Isao Kobayashi proposes expanding the drive to distribute book coupons at coming-of-age ceremonies, following in the footsteps of the so-called Bookstart movement that offers books to babies and infants. We embrace his idea.

Educational institutions, society and households are urged to exercise their ingenuity in providing younger generations with more opportunities to enjoy reading.

毎日新聞 2014年09月15日 02時30分