Dearth of Candor From Japan’s Leadership
( New York Times )

With all the euphemistic language on display from officials handling
Japan’s nuclear crisis, one commodity has been in short supply:

When an explosion shook one of many stricken reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Saturday, power company officials
initially offered a typically opaque, and understated, explanation.

“A big sound and white smoke” were recorded near Reactor No. 1, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, announced in a curt memo. The matter “was under investigation,” it added.

● 今回も長めですが、続きを読む?



Japan Plans Military Shift to Focus More on China
( New York Times )

In what would be a sweeping overhaul of its cold war-era defense strategy, Japan is about to release new military guidelines that would reduce its heavy armored and artillery forces pointed north toward Russia in favor of creating more mobile units that could respond to China’s growing presence near its southernmost islands, Japanese newspapers reported Sunday.

The realignment comes as the United States is making new calls for Japan to increase its military role in eastern Asia in response to recent
provocations by North Korea as well as China’s more assertive stance in the region.

The new defense strategy, likely to be released this week, will call for greater integration of Japan’s armed forces with the United States
military, the reports said. The reports did not give a source, but the fact that major newspapers carried the same information suggested they were based on a background briefing by government officials.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・reduce 減らす、下げる
・armor よろいかぶと(を着せる)
・artillery 砲、大砲
・briefing 簡潔な報告・発表(brief:短い)

● 解説ザブ〜ン!



Japan Minister of Justice Quits Over Remarks
( New York Times )

Japan’s justice minister resigned on Monday over verbal gaffes that had stirred outrage in Parliament, dealing another blow to the increasingly unpopular government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

The minister, Minoru Yanagida, faced threats of a censure motion from
opposition parties after he made comments last week that appeared to make fun of his duty to answer questions in Parliament. In a hastily called news conference on Monday, Mr. Yanagida apologized for the remarks, which had appeared to further undermine public confidence in the Kan
government’s leadership abilities.

Recent polls show Mr. Kan’s approval ratings dropping below 30 percent following widespread criticism that his government had appeared
intimidated in handling a standoff with China over an arrested Chinese trawler captain near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Mr. Kan suffered an additional embarrassment early this month when a
disgruntled coast guard employee leaked a video that appeared to show the Chinese trawler ramming Japanese patrol vessels.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・verbal 動詞(verb)の、言葉の
・gaffe しくじり、へま
・outrage 憤慨、激怒
・threat 脅迫、恐れ
・censure 非難、とがめ
・intimidate 怖がらせる、脅す
・disgruntle 不満を抱かせる
・ram 激しくぶつかる・ぶつける

● 解説ザブ〜ン!



Japan Goes From Dynamic to Disheartened
( New York Times )

Now, as the United States and other Western nations struggle to recover from a debt and property bubble of their own, a growing number of economists are pointing to Japan as a dark vision of the future. Even as the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, prepares a fresh round of unconventional measures to stimulate the economy, there are growing fears that the United States and many European economies could face a prolonged period of slow growth or even, in the worst case, deflation, something not seen on a sustained basis outside Japan since the Great Depression.

Many economists remain confident that the United States will avoid the stagnation of Japan, largely because of the greater responsiveness of the American political system and Americans’ greater tolerance for capitalism’s creative destruction. Japanese leaders at first denied the severity of their nation’s problems and then spent heavily on job-creating public works projects that only postponed painful but necessary structural changes, economists say.

“We’re not Japan,” said Robert E. Hall, a professor of economics at Stanford. “In America, the bet is still that we will somehow find ways to get people spending and investing again.”

Still, as political pressure builds to reduce federal spending and budget deficits, other economists are now warning of “Japanification” ― of falling into the same deflationary trap of collapsed demand that occurs when consumers refuse to consume, corporations hold back on investments and banks sit on cash. It becomes a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle: as prices fall further and jobs disappear, consumers tighten their purse strings even more and companies cut back on spending and delay expansion plans.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・property 財産、所有地
・stimulate 刺激する、活気づける
・prolong 長くする、延長する
・tolerance 我慢、寛容
・deficit 不足、赤字

● 解説ザブ〜ン!



Japan’s Premier Survives Challenge
( New York Times )

Prime Minister Naoto Kan won a hard-fought vote within Japan’s governing party on Tuesday to stay on as prime minister, surviving a challenge by the party’s power broker, Ichiro Ozawa.

The result spared the nation yet another change in leadership as it
grapples with a soaring yen, which has contributed lately to its now
two-decade-long economic decline, and a simmering diplomatic standoff over a Chinese boat seized near disputed islands in the East China Sea, among other problems. If Mr. Ozawa had won, he would have been the seventh prime minister in four years.

Political experts called the contest a battle of political style rather than policy substance. Mr. Ozawa, a skilled strategist who engineered the Democrats’ historic election victory last year, vowed to be a stronger and more assertive prime minister, echoing the public perception that Mr. Kan had failed to show decisive leadership.

Japanese news outlets have said that one of the biggest challenges Mr. Kan may face after Tuesday’s vote could be keeping his party together, especially if Mr. Ozawa and allies decide to break away. However, most political experts dismissed that notion, saying that the lure of power would keep the inexperienced party together.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・grapple 取っ組み合う、(問題に)取り組む
・substance 物質、物、実質、中身
・perception 知覚、認識(動詞:perceive)

● 解説ザブ〜ン!