Meltwater Lakes in Antarctica Show Signs of Trouble

October 01, 2016 from VOA  
Meltwater Lakes in Antarctica Show Signs of Trouble

Antarctica is home to the largest ice mass on Earth.

The continent sits on 14 million square kilometers of rock. About 98 percent of the land surface is covered by ice.

Beautiful lakes have begun to appear on the top of the ice. They look like islands of deep blue in an ocean of white. These lakes are called supraglacial or meltwater lakes.

Although the lakes can be beautiful, the ones scientists studied are a sign of trouble. Amber Leeson is a scientist with Lancaster University in England.

"We really weren't expecting to find lakes as far inland as 20 kilometers, which was the furthest inland lake we found during the study. And it was important that we found the link between the atmospheric temperature and the depth, number, and size of the lakes..."

Scientists say Antarctica has always had supraglacial lakes appearing on the ice during the summer months. But the more lakes there are, the more unstable they make the continent’s ice shelf.

Ice shelves are permanent, but floating pieces of ice that connect to the land. They form where a glacier or ice sheet reaches a coastline and into the sea.

Leeson says water from the lakes can drip down through the glacier, causing the huge river of ice and snow to weaken.

"If they form on the grounded ice, which is the bit of the ice sheet that sits on the bedrock, then the water they contain can drain away through the ice to the base, where it can lubricate the flow of the ice and make it flow a bit faster. If they form on the floating part of the ice, which is where the ice shelf extends over the ocean and begins to float on the sea, by repeatedly filling and draining they can actually weaken the ice shelf."

Leeson and other scientists believe that lakes are partly responsible for the collapse of the Antarctica ice sheets.

"...the Larsen B ice shelf collapsed in 2002 and we think that this is because it was covered in lakes in the years prior to collapse, and that by repeatedly filling and draining, they weaken the ice sheet, leading to its eventual disintegration..."

 And as temperatures rise, the team expects to see more and more lakes appearing in the continent. The scientists fear that all that meltwater could raise the world's sea levels.

I’m Marsha James.

Marsha James wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Her story includes information from an Associated Press report. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

ice mass - n. a large piece of ice

supraglacial lake – n. any pond of liquid water on the top of a glacier

ice sheet – n. a very large and thick area of ice that covers a region

ice shelf – n. a floating sheet of ice permanently attached to a land mass

glacier – n. an large areas of ice formed from falling snow and building up over the years

米大統領選 団結を求めたクリントン候補

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Democratic presidential candidate Clinton calls for national, global unity
米大統領選 団結を求めたクリントン候補

In the U.S. presidential election, the difference in outlook has become clear between Republican nominee Donald Trump, who advocates an “America first” policy, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who calls for international cooperation and national reconciliation.

Clinton, a former secretary of state, was nominated as a presidential candidate at the Democratic convention, kicking off the full-fledged election campaign.

In her acceptance speech, Clinton said, “We’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union,” emphasizing the significance of having been nominated as the first female presidential candidate of a major party.

The important thing is that Clinton spelled out her commitment to reinforce alliances, saying, “We are stronger when we work with our allies around the world.”

When Clinton was secretary of state, she promoted the policy of attaching importance to Asia. She was the first within the administration to make clear that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are covered by Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which stipulates that the United States is obliged to defend Japan.

It is also reassuring for Japan that there are more than a few people within the Clinton camp who are knowledgeable about Japan, including Kurt Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state.

While making no direct reference to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade accord, Clinton went only so far as to express her opposition to “unfair trade deals” in her speech. We can rate positively that she left some room for the U.S. ratification of the accord, while paying consideration to left-wingers within the party who oppose the TPP.

Japan must help U.S. ratify TPP

It is vital for Japan to move ahead swiftly with procedures for Diet approval so as to create an environment that will make it easier for the United States to ratify the pact.

Clinton criticized Trump, who advocates an exclusionary immigration policy, saying, “He wants to divide us — from the rest of the world, and from each other.” She said, “People are looking for steady leadership,” and promoted her feasible policies.

At the Democratic convention, U.S. President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had fiercely vied with Clinton for the Democratic presidential candidacy, and others made speeches in support of Clinton. It can be said that she succeeded in orchestrating a reconciliation within the party.

A challenge for Clinton is her record-low popularity as a presidential candidate, similar to Trump’s. During her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton used her private e-mail address for communication of classified information against the state department’s rules.

Judicial authorities did not bring charges against Clinton over the case but said she was “extremely careless.”

When the scandal was uncovered, she initially refused to explain her case in detail or to apologize. This may have led to a national sentiment that she cannot be trusted.

Clinton, who was a first lady and also served as a senator, has been regarded as “a symbol of the establishment” by young people and others who support Sanders.

During the presidential campaign, she needs not only to make her claim to be the “anti-Trump,” but also to win support of those who are discontented about the present state of things. Otherwise, she may not even be able to unite the whole nation.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 31, 2016)

ロ事件40年 浄化の道なお遠く

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 27
(社説)ロ事件40年 浄化の道なお遠く
EDITORIAL: Corrupt politics linger 4 decades after Lockheed bribery scandal

July 27 marked the 40th anniversary of the arrest of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka over the Lockheed bribery scandal.

Even after he was indicted on criminal charges, Tanaka (1918-1993) led a massive faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and wielded huge political clout by playing kingmaker. Since then, the landscape in Nagatacho, the political power center in Tokyo, has changed dramatically. Factions within the LDP have sunk into political irrelevance. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has acquired so much political power that many pundits are lamenting the lack of political forces that can pose a serious challenge to his leadership.
However, one thing remains unchanged in Japanese politics. It is the power of money that keeps breeding graft and corruption.

During the past four decades, a series of steps have been taken to tackle the problem. The electoral systems of both houses of the Diet have been reformed. The Political Fund Control Law has been revised to remove special-interest money from politics, while the guilt-by-association rule concerning elections has been enhanced.
But the politicians who created the new rules have installed convenient loopholes. The current situation is nowhere close to the elimination of doubt and the restoration of public trust in politics.

Just recently, Akira Amari resigned as economy minister over his dubious relations with a construction company. And a month ago Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe stepped down after he failed to offer convincing explanations about his seemingly inappropriate use of political funds.

Despite all these and other money scandals involving politicians, lawmakers, especially those of the LDP, remain reluctant to make any vigorous response to the deep-seated problem.

During their campaigns for the July 10 Upper House election, most parties other than the LDP, including the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, the main opposition Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and the Initiatives from Osaka, promised to take measures to clean up the rot in politics, although their proposals differed in content and strength.
The promised measures included imposing stronger responsibility on politicians to oversee the acts of their secretaries, injecting greater transparency into the expenditures of political funds and state-financed expenses for political activities, and banning political donations by companies and other organizations.

But the LDP, which has Amari among its members and supported Masuzoe in the previous Tokyo gubernatorial election, made no reference to this problem in its campaign platform.

This kind of attitude only widens the distance between citizens and politics and deepens public cynicism.

Although the LDP won a major victory in the Upper House election, the ruling party will be long remembered for its failure to make a serious response to scandals involving its members and allies.

We urge the other parties, including Komeito, to make nonpartisan efforts to find common ground on this issue and create a situation that prods the reluctant LDP into action.

What they should do first is to make all flows of money into politics completely transparent and establish a system in which citizens can always check and evaluate the flows.

Tanaka left another big blot in the history of Japanese politics.

One and a half years before he was arrested, Tanaka was forced to resign as prime minister amid allegations about his shady financial connections. At that time, he pledged to “clarify the truth someday to win people’s understanding.”

But he died without carrying out his promise. Now, both Amari and Masuzoe remain silent about the allegations against them, apparently waiting for the storm of criticism to pass.

Nowadays, there is a growing wave of positive reviews about Tanaka’s political record, probably due in part to nostalgic feelings about his era, when the Japanese economy was growing rapidly.

But the dark role of big money in politics and politicians’ inability to be honest and straightforward with the public about money are both negative legacies from the era that still haunt Japanese politics 40 years after the downfall of the powerful, but corrupt politician.

英国がEU離脱へ 内向き志向の連鎖を防げ

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 25
EDITORIAL: ‘Brexit’ vote must not trigger wave of global nationalism
(社説)英国がEU離脱へ 内向き志向の連鎖を防げ

The British people’s decision to pull their country out of the European Union has sent shock waves across the world.

The stunning decision could turn out to be the biggest tectonic shift in the world order since the end of the Cold War.

A majority of votes cast in the June 23 referendum on whether to leave the EU or remain in the bloc were for “Brexit.” Britons have decided that their country should not be part of an integrated Europe.

Since the end of World War II, Europe has moved steadily toward integration. Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will be a historic development that runs counter to this movement, launched with a pledge of no more war in Europe.

Britain is the second largest economy in Europe and has unique global influence, a legacy of the British Empire. Its secession from the EU will have immeasurable effects on the entire world.

The outcome of the referendum is also a sign of the British people's will to resist globalization, which has accelerated since the end of the Cold War. They have run out of patience with the trend of many countries sharing rules on important issues such as immigration and trade.

This anti-globalization sentiment is, however, not unique to Britain. In the United States and in other parts of Europe, groups trying to take advantage of growing public resentment toward globalization to promote their political agenda for closing the doors of their nations are gaining ground.

At a time when countries should make united efforts to counter burgeoning narrow-minded nationalism, Britain has opted to take the path of expanding the scope of its unilateral actions. In mapping out its future course, Britain will have to navigate through uncharted waters.

No matter how the country’s negotiations with the EU over its withdrawal pan out, the two sides should not lose sight of the importance of maintaining close cooperation.

Britain and the EU can secure mutual benefits and contribute to stability in the world only when they work closely together to tackle challenges.

We strongly hope that the two sides will figure out a way to build a new constructive relationship without undermining the movement toward European integration.


The outcome of this referendum should not be allowed to serve as a starting point for a new, dark chapter of world history in which citizens around the world become estranged from one another.

The first thing is to heal the rift in British society. The bitterly fought referendum left the nation sharply divided.

Campaign debates were often dominated by remarks designed to emphasize the threats of an economic crisis or immigrants.

Amid heightened tensions due to a heated confrontation between the two camps, a member of parliament in the Remain camp was shot to death.

British society is now gripped by a dangerously charged atmosphere.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who passionately called for votes to remain in the EU, has announced he will step down by autumn.

It is, to be sure, natural for the country to have a new leader to draw up a road map for the future.

But his own Conservative Party has been divided between the Leave and the Remain camps. Scotland, which has a strong sense of belonging to the EU, could make a fresh attempt to become independent.

Britain seems to be in for a prolonged period of political turmoil.

Both Cameron and his successor will have to act swiftly to heal the rift within the country and create a conductive environment for cool-headed discussions on the country’s relations with the EU and its position in the world.


Britain, which had a mighty empire in the 19th century, entered a period of serious stagnation in the late 20th century. It was able to shed stagnation and attain new prosperity because it opened its door to the world and rode the wave of globalization to enhance its competitiveness, especially in the financial services industry.

But British citizens who have not benefited from their country’s economic growth have become increasingly disgruntled with the system and worried about their future. As a result, British society as a whole has developed an inward-looking attitude.

Besides people drawn to the reactionary argument that Britain should regain “sovereignty,” many other Britons voted for leaving the EU because of their economic discontent.

Despite the fact that their country has achieved economic growth due to the lowered barriers of national borders, British people have made clear their wish to see high border walls built up again.

This twisted public psychology has also been behind the Trump Phenomenon in the United States and the recent rise of rightist political forces in many other European countries.

Britain’s decision could trigger a wave of movements toward secession from the EU in other member countries.

If in such a political climate Trump is elected U.S. president and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the rightist National Front of France, is elected French president next year, the world will be filled with policies of intolerance.

The situation where the world is dominated by this inward-looking trend must be prevented.

The spread of narrow-minded and self-centered unilateralism among countries will make it impossible for the world to grapple with challenges such as global warming, the proliferation of terrorism and loopholes in taxation.

It is difficult for any industrial nation to maintain its political health.

Low economic growth, declining welfare standards due to fiscal strains and widening income gaps are formidable problems common to industrial nations. Politicians everywhere are struggling to find effective solutions to these problems.

That’s why expanding international cooperation is the only option for countries in tackling these tough challenges.

All nations should reflect afresh on the fact that the only way to deal with problems transcending national borders is through cooperative actions based on collective experiences and wisdom.

We hope Europe will not lose its solid status as a strong, consistent voice for freedom and democratic values.


The impact of Britain’s decision to leave the EU has roiled stock and currency markets. Leading nations should first focus on responding to confusion in financial markets.

In addition to Britain and the EU, the Group of Seven major industrial nations, which also includes Japan and the United States, should play the leading role in securing emergency policy coordination to calm the unnerved markets.

The central banks of the major countries, including the Bank of Japan, are apparently prepared to cooperate in providing cash-strapped financial institutions with dollars.

If an unpredictable situation or the necessity of emergency responses arises, they should take flexible and powerful actions in solid cooperation to prevent a full-blown financial crisis.

慰霊の日 沖縄戦の記憶、共有を

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 24
EDITORIAL: The meaning behind June 23 should be shared beyond Okinawa
(社説)慰霊の日 沖縄戦の記憶、共有を

Okinawa recalled its horrifying experiences in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and consoled the spirits of the victims on June 23, the 71st anniversary of the end of the bloody warfare. June 23 is a prefecture-designated holiday marking the end of organized fighting by Japanese troops deployed to the southern island prefecture.

More than seven decades since the end of the devastating battle in the final days of the Pacific War, many scars are left unhealed in Okinawa.

U.S. military bases, for instance, occupy 10 percent of the prefecture’s land. Unexploded shells are still discovered frequently in various parts of the prefecture. The remains of the war dead are found in road construction sites.

More than 100 sets of remains are uncovered every year. In the last fiscal year, which ended in March, the remains of 103 bodies were discovered. The numbers for the preceding two years were 194 and 263, respectively.

More than 200,000 people died in the Battle of Okinawa. By March this year, 185,224 sets of remains of Japanese war dead had been laid to rest at the national cemetery for people who died in the Battle of Okinawa in the Mabuni district of Itoman, the site of the last major fighting in the warfare, according to the prefectural government.

The remains of nearly 3,000 Japanese victims have yet to be found.

In the Battle of Okinawa, 66,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians in the military services from other parts of Japan died along with 28,000 from Okinawa Prefecture. In addition, an estimated 94,000 non-military residents of the prefecture, or a quarter of the prefectural population, were killed.

Although many remains are still waiting to be discovered, the task of gathering them has been left to private-sector volunteers. As a result, the work has been proceeding at a glacial pace.

A law mandating the government to collect all remains of the war dead finally came into force in April.
In response, the government has decided to make intensive efforts to collect the remains over the next nine years. The government should take this opportunity to make up for lost time.

The June 23 official memorial ceremony, sponsored by the prefectural government, was held at the Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni. But a spirit-consoling service was also held in front of the gate of Camp Schwab, a U.S. military base in the Henoko district of Nago.

Immediately after the Battle of Okinawa ended, the U.S. military established an internment camp for Japanese civilians. Many residents of the prefecture, ranging from an estimated 20,000 to 40,000, spent several months in the camp. A number of civilian prisoners of war died in the camp from malaria, malnutrition and other reasons.

The construction of Camp Schwab started around 1956. But a citizens group opposed to the proposed relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan in central Okinawa Prefecture to Henoko started holding the spirit-consoling service last year, believing there are still unfound remains within the camp.

With the law promoting the collection of war dead remains taking effect, the government has pledged to carry out such work in U.S. bases as well.

The U.S. military should cooperate with efforts to ensure an early completion of the project.

People in Okinawa are still suffering from the excessive burden of hosting so many U.S. military bases within their prefecture. The central government has stuck stubbornly to the Futenma relocation plan despite strong opposition among people in Okinawa.
The prefecture was recently shocked by the arrest of a former U.S. Marine working as a civilian at the Kadena Air Base in the prefecture on suspicion of raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman. Her body was found in a wooded area after she went missing in late April.

The suffering of Okinawan people due to the heavy U.S. military presence in the prefecture is inseparable from their memories of the Battle of Okinawa.

The central government and Japanese living in the mainland need to understand the full meaning of June 23 and reflect afresh on the history of suffering experienced by people in Okinawa.

北ミサイル発射 安保環境の深刻化を直視せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
After DPRK launches, Japan must squarely face severe security situation
北ミサイル発射 安保環境の深刻化を直視せよ

The threat to the security of Japan and the United States has become more severe. We should step up our vigilance.

North Korea has launched two missiles thought to be Musudan midrange ballistic missiles. The first missile exploded in midair, but the second flew about 400 kilometers before it plunged into the Sea of Japan. The second missile reportedly reached an altitude of more than 1,000 kilometers.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said the launches “showed a certain degree of capability as midrange ballistic missiles.”

North Korea launched four missiles in April and May that all failed. It must be acknowledged that North Korea, by repeatedly conducting test launches, is steadily improving its technological competence and boosting the accuracy and capability of its missiles.

Musudan missiles use mobile launchers and are estimated to have a range of up to 4,000 kilometers. Its targets are assumed to be U.S. military bases in Guam and Japan.

U.N. Security Council sanction resolutions prohibit North Korea from launching ballistic missiles. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe criticized the launches as “clear violations” of the resolutions. “We can never condone it,” he said. This was a natural response.

Representatives and experts from the six nations involved in talks on the North Korean nuclear issue are holding an international conference in Beijing. Officials from North Korean authorities are also taking part. Firing missiles at this particular time appears to be a demonstration of Pyongyang’s continuing nuclear and missile development, and a show of defiance directly aimed at the international community.

DP, JCP ignore reality

China is also escalating its maritime advances. On June 9, a Chinese military vessel entered the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture for the first time. Another military ship also intruded into Japan’s territorial waters off Kagoshima Prefecture and the contiguous zone around Kita-Daitojima island.

Security-related bills that were passed in September 2015 permit a limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense, and make it possible for the Self-Defense Forces to defend U.S. military ships. To prepare for unforeseen situations, it is vital that the laws are appropriately implemented and continuous efforts are made to boost deterrence.

We have questions about the assertion by the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, which will collaborate in the House of Councillors election, that they still call for the abolition of the security legislation package.

DP leader Katsuya Okada emphasized the Japan-U.S. alliance must not be turned into “an alliance of blood.” While Okada made this comment during a street speech, was it not demagogy itself?

In connection with the abolition of the laws, Okada also explained that he “isn’t saying the DP will abolish” the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and that the alliance will not become “distorted.” His comments can be described only as opportunism.

Strengthening Japan-U.S. defense cooperation based on the laws will contribute to the stability of Asia, and has been highly evaluated by the international community. The alliance relationship must not be allowed to stray off course by abolishing the laws.

JCP leader Kazuo Shii even went so far as saying his party would gradually dissolve the SDF, which it considers “unconstitutional.” This is unrealistic in the extreme.

Arguments that ignore Japan’s security environment will not be able to win the support of the people.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 23, 2016)

参院選 きょう公示 戦略的投票でこたえよう

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 22
EDITORIAL: 'Strategic voting' is a must for pivotal Upper House election
(社説)参院選 きょう公示 戦略的投票でこたえよう
Campaigning for the July 10 Upper House election kicked off on June 22.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is making the economy the main issue. But there is no question that constitutional amendment will also be at stake, even though Abe says it is not necessary for it to become an election issue. His reasoning is that the Diet needs to debate this subject further.

Abe is more than eager to revise the Constitution. But with the prime minister giving no indication whatsoever of which parts of the Constitution he intends to rewrite and how, voters have no way of forming a judgment.

Abe is conducting politics the "wrong side up" or "back to front." Do we voters allow such an approach to escalate, or do we put the brakes on it? This Upper House election definitely carries far more weight than a mere "midterm evaluation" of the Abe administration.


This will be the second Upper House election since Abe began his second stint as prime minister in December 2012. In retrospect, Abe became the "sole winner" by bringing both chambers of the Diet under the control of the ruling coalition with the previous Upper House election in 2013, which was seven months after the change in government from the then Democratic Party of Japan.

Voters who voted for the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, now called Komeito, in that election were apparently disgusted by the inefficacy of the DPJ administration, and wanted the LDP-New Komeito coalition to stabilize politics and focus on improving the Japanese economy.

After that Upper House election three years ago, we wrote in our editorial that the government should not be "divorced from popular will."

We wondered if the wages would go up for small and midsize company workers and those working outside the big cities. We wondered if the Abe administration would be able to secure revenues needed to stabilize the health-care and social security systems. And the thrust of our argument was that should Abe ignore these concerns and proceed instead with his policy of "departure from the postwar regime," he would be betraying the wishes of the people.

We believe we have been proven right, given the continuing surge of popular protest against the Abe administration since the enactment of national security legislation last year.

In the upcoming election, Abe says the focal point is to seek the public's approval of his "new decision" of postponing the consumption tax hike. By stressing economic statistics such as increased tax revenues and employment, he is telling voters to decide whether they want "Abenomics" to advance or regress.

The proper thing for Abe is to take responsibility for reneging on his promise to raise the consumption tax rate “for certain." But in not doing so, he appears to be taking advantage of the honest feelings of many people who are reluctant to "swallow the bitter medicine" of paying a higher consumption tax.

Abe has said that the victory depends on "the ruling coalition winning a majority of contested seats." Setting the goal may demonstrate his resolve, but whether he will step down if he fails to achieve that goal is anyone's guess.


The ruling coalition of Abe's LDP and Komeito has won three national elections in a row since 2012. And one common factor among the three polls was low voter turnout.

The rates were at the 59 percent level for the 2012 Lower House election and at the 52 percent level for both the 2013 Upper House election and the 2014 Lower House election. Voter turnout in 2014 was the lowest in the postwar history of Lower House elections.

The difference is substantial from the nearly 70 percent voter turnout in the 2009 Lower House election that resulted in the historic change in government. In terms of the number of voters, 72.02 million people voted in the 2009 election, whereas only 54.74 million people did so in the 2014 election. To put this simply, about 17 million voters stopped going to the polls in the 2014 election.

Between 2009 and 2014, the LDP experienced both its fall from power and return to power, but there actually was no significant difference in the number of votes the party won. In the proportional representation portion, the LDP won less than one out of five votes in each election, when abstentions are taken into account.

In other words, the LDP under Abe has not really gained supporters. Under the current election system, which is prone to create wasted votes, the simple fact is that the drastic decrease in the number of DPJ supporters and the increased number of abstentions have given the LDP more seats than those in proportion to the votes it has actually won.

The Abe administration arbitrarily "reinterpreted" the Constitution to allow the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense, instituted the controversial state secrets protection law, and threatened freedom of the press and the public's right to know by hinting at invoking the Broadcast Law.

Not only has the Abe administration marginalized the constraints of the Constitution, but it is now trying to start debate on revising the Constitution without seeking the public's input in the upcoming election.
But what can we voters do about the dangers of the administration?


"Strategic voting" is one way to use each vote effectively.

This may be an unfamiliar term, but one example is to vote for candidates—even if they are not one’s best choices--who have a chance to defeat the party or candidate one definitely does not want.

Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901), whom Abe often quotes in his speeches, once observed to the effect, "Government is not 'good' by nature. What needs to be borne in mind is to acknowledge the reality of how bad it is."

Political scientist Masao Maruyama (1914-1996) commented on Fukuzawa's observation after World War II: "A political choice is made on the basis of how bad something is."

The failure of the DPJ administration is still fresh in many people's minds. The low voter turnout rates that have continued since the party's fall from power apparently reflect the people's disillusionment with politics and sense of helplessness.

But if nothing is done about this, not only will democracy deteriorate, but constitutionalism will also be in grave danger.

Even if we don't have any candidate or party we want to support, we must make up our minds to go to the polls to stop what we see as "bad" from winning the election.

And we have until July 10 to think through how effectively we can use our two ballots--one for the single-seat electorate and the other for the proportional representation portion.

With 2.4 million 18- and 19-year-olds voting for the first time, the older generation cannot just sit out this upcoming election.

中国艦侵入 法の適用も都合次第か

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 17
EDITORIAL: China interprets international law to suit its convenience
(社説)中国艦侵入 法の適用も都合次第か
A Chinese naval intelligence ship entered Japanese territorial waters off Kagoshima Prefecture on June 15, just six days after Tokyo filed a strong protest over the entry of a Chinese naval frigate into Japan's contiguous zone near the disputed Senkaku Islands.

Coincidence? We think not.
These incidents clearly signal China’s intention to achieve its aims while ignoring the security concerns of neighboring countries.

The Chinese government contends that passage of the warship through Japanese territorial waters was legal under freedom of navigation laws. China's Defense Ministry argues that the Tokara Strait south of Yakushima island in southern Japan is “a strait within territorial waters used for international navigation.”
“The Chinese warship’s passage was based on the principle of freedom of navigation that is stipulated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” a Chinese defense official said.

If the Tokara Strait is actually an international strait, as Beijing contends, it is, to be sure, open to the passage of foreign vessels, including warships, even though it lies in Japanese territorial waters.

But it is hard to believe that the Chinese spy ship was simply passing through the strait minding its own business. What was it actually doing?

The Chinese ship entered Japanese territorial waters shadowing Indian warships that were participating in an exercise involving Japan, the United States and India. The Chinese vessel may have been monitoring the Indian ships.
The Chinese government has not offered a clear or specific explanation for the warship's presence. It has only said the ship was engaged in “a drill in the open sea.”

It was the second time for a Chinese warship to enter Japanese territorial waters since a nuclear-powered submarine was sighted around the Sakishima islands in Okinawa Prefecture in November 2004.
The submarine violated international law by entering Japanese territorial waters submerged. At that time, the Chinese government admitted that the vessel had strayed into Japanese territory by mistake.

During the 12 years since then, China has aggressively beefed up its Navy and become increasingly assertive in expanding its naval presence.

China has used its naval muscle to stake out a position without holding any talks with the countries concerned, and then tried to justify its behavior by interpreting international law in a way that suits its purpose.

If Beijing continues acting this way, tensions in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea will keep growing.

If China really respects the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, how does it explain its moves to unilaterally draw up a demarcation line called the “nine-dash line” to claim the major part of the South China Sea and forcefully reclaim reefs in disputed areas?

How can it justify its refusal to respect the ruling that the international Permanent Court of Arbitration is expected to hand down soon over the validity of China’s claim based on the line in response to a case filed by the Philippines?

The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations expressed concern about the situation in the South China Sea during a June 14 meeting with their Chinese counterpart in China’s Yunnan Province.

China apparently wanted to highlight its close ties with ASEAN in the special foreign ministers’ meeting, but, not surprisingly, the outcome was the opposite of what was intended.

China is one of the world's leading countries, and it should take responsibility for peace in Asia.

But China has at times ignored the rules and norms of the global community and at other times used them to justify its dubious actions. The way China has been behaving has made it impossible for its neighbors to trust it.

China is not only disturbing the tranquility of the high seas, it is also treating principles of international law as if they were at its disposal. We are deeply concerned about China’s attitude.

香山リカのココロの万華鏡 : 必要とされる実感 /東京

June 19, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Everyone needs to be needed
香山リカのココロの万華鏡 : 必要とされる実感 /東京

This year's rainy season has started in most parts of Japan. There are patients coming to my clinic complaining that they usually don't feel well around this time of year. I don't think it's just in their heads; I believe humidity and changes in atmospheric pressure are affecting them both mentally and physically.

When the rainy season starts it reminds me of a patient I met when I was younger and working at another hospital. The patient had been hospitalized for a long time, and he was in charge of taking care of people's umbrellas when it rained. He would come to the entrance hall and take hospital visitors' umbrellas, hand them number cards and return their umbrellas in exchange for the cards when they left. The first time I went to the hospital after I was dispatched there by a university hospital, the patient came to me out of nowhere and said, "Where's your umbrella?" A bit dumbstruck, I handed him my umbrella.

After working at the hospital for a little while, I came to learn that there were a number of patients doing various jobs at the hospital, just like the umbrella man. It would make sense as part of a rehabilitation program if those people were scheduled to be released from the hospital, but there were no prospects of them leaving the hospital anytime soon. Then, I thought, the hospital was using them as free labor. The young hospital staff, myself included, argued that it was wrong that those people were given jobs without pay, and told them that they didn't have to work anymore. For those who kept doing their tasks despite our suggestion, we told them, rather forcibly, "Please stop doing this."

The umbrella guy was one of those patients. I myself had repeatedly told him not to continue working and thought, "I freed him from unfair labor practices."

One day, I found him sitting on his bed and chatted with him. "Are you feeling a little better now?" I asked. He then replied, "I don't like rainy days. I have nothing to do now since my job was taken away."

I was taken aback by his response. I realized that even if it looked like an unfair labor practice from my perspective, he took pride in it and it had motivated him to live. If we were going to ask him to stop working, we should have given him another role to fulfill.

Being "right" doesn't necessarily mean we get to know how patients feel. That was what I learned from him.

Everyone, from kids to the elderly alike, wants to have something only they can do, and to feel that people need them, even if they are hospitalized. Every time it rains, I remind myself of that.

(By Rika Kayama, Psychiatrist) (精神科医)

参院選 改憲の是非 正面から問わぬ不実

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 17
EDITORIAL: Abe’s silence on Constitution suggests another election trick
(社説)参院選 改憲の是非 正面から問わぬ不実
Parties have effectively started campaigning for the July 10 Upper House election, with their leaders delivering speeches on the streets and their platforms now available to the public.

Conspicuously missing from the ruling camp’s campaign is the argument for constitutional amendments.

It is widely known that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s biggest political goal is to revise the postwar Constitution.

During the latest Diet session, Abe repeatedly expressed his desire to pursue this goal. “I intend to seek public support during the campaign for the Upper House election,” he said. “I wish to achieve (the goal) while I’m in office.”

But Abe has not referred to the issue even once in his campaign speeches so far.

In sharp contrast, Katsuya Okada, president of the main opposition Democratic Party, has made the issue a top priority in his campaign strategy.
Okada has clearly expressed his party’s opposition to Abe’s bid to revise war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution as one of the party’s two central campaign promises and discussed the issue with great vigor in his speeches.

The proposal to amend the Constitution is a grave political issue the Japanese public has never faced as a real possibility in the postwar era.

If Abe wants to achieve this goal, he should cast the proposal as a principal campaign topic.

However, Abe has been oddly quiet about this issue, a radical change from his eloquence in arguing for the initiative.

If he is trying to prevent the touchy issue from becoming a major campaign topic, he should be accused of acting in an insincere manner.

In a 26-page booklet on its campaign platform, the LDP refers to constitutional amendments only in the last two items.

The party only discusses the issue in regard to the two new combined constituencies created by combining two prefecture-based electoral districts to narrow vote-value disparities. These constituencies will be introduced in the Upper House election.
The LDP pledges to reassess the appropriateness of the method and explore options to eliminate such cross-prefecture constituencies, including a constitutional amendment.
“We will promote debate on the issue at the Commissions on the Constitution at both (Diet) houses and seek cooperation with other parties while trying to build broad public consensus for constitutional amendments,” the party’s platform says.

These passages appear to suggest that the LDP plans to start its constitutional amendment initiative with changes to provisions related to combined constituencies.
But LDP policy chief Tomomi Inada has not endorsed this view, saying there are various opinions about the approach.

The LDP has thus left it unclear to voters which constitutional provisions it will try to change and in what ways.

The LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, doesn’t even touch on constitutional amendments in its campaign platform.
Komeito chief Natsuo Yamaguchi has said amendments will not be a key campaign topic for the Upper House election because “there has been no mature debate” on the issue.

Neither the LDP nor Komeito is willing to make a straightforward appeal to the public to support the proposal to rewrite the Constitution.

Under these circumstances, even if the two parties and their political allies win the two-thirds majority in the chamber needed to initiate the formal process of constitutional revision, they must not be allowed to start pursuing the initiative with sudden zeal after the election.

The Abe administration has a history of deliberately sidestepping debate on divisive policies during election campaigns. After the ruling camp wins a majority, however, the administration suddenly starts pushing through such policies by claiming it has won a public mandate to do so.
The state secrets protection law and new national security legislation, which were enacted in 2013 and 2015, respectively, are two examples of the administration’s sneaky way to achieve its policy goals.

The four kanji characters representing “constitutional amendments” are written in small print at the end of the LDP’s campaign platform. They may be a sign of the party’s intention to use such tactics again to push through its initiative to amend the Constitution. We should not allow the party to do so.






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01 あいさつ
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13 相手のことを尋ねるとき
14 頼みごとをするとき
15 申し出・依頼を断るとき
16 許可を求めるとき
17 説明してもらうとき
18 確認を求めるとき
19 状況を知りたいとき
20 値段の尋ね方と断り方
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