Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Korean Peninsula Crisis Demands Our Utmost Attention

We must make our best efforts to avoid war; a bipartisan deal is needed

"An unjust peace is better than a just war." - Cicero

We must quell the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. We should make every effort to do so.

When the crisis erupted on Nov. 23, I was traveling. While I was in Shingu, Wakayama, I got a call from Tokyo Shimbun's breaking news department (I'd like to thank that reporter for calling me). My comments were included as part of a special report that ran on page 22 of the Nov. 24 morning edition (the article was accurate, which was why I want to thank the reporter). Here is an excerpt:

Political commentator Minoru Morita said, "The South and North are in a very precarious position that should not be thought of lightly. Japan, a geographic neighbor, needs to show some leadership on this issue. Japan should work with the six-member commission, which includes China, the U.S. and Russia, to bring about a solution to North Korea's nuclear problem."

But Prime Minister Kan seems to have disregarded diplomacy. The problem lies first with the Foreign Ministry. The Democratic Party of Japan's stance "has left the diplomats with no motivation. It's all wait and see. They aren't working at all," Morita says. "The official residence doesn't function, and the Cabinet creaks as if it's hollow. They have no administrative ability. It's a state of emergency and all they do is look serious."

So what needs to happen to change this situation? "We have a chance to unite under a bipartisan system," Morita says. Former foreign ministers should be added to the government's diplomatic team. "First assemble a meeting of party leaders. Prime Minister Kan must request the cooperation of members of the Liberal Democratic Party and other parties. Then they should work to get the Foreign Ministry moving. If the crisis on the Korean Peninsula escalates, Japan would be greatly affected. We can't just be spectators. We must have correspondence that breaks out of past frameworks."

The crisis on the Korean Peninsula should not be minimized. Japan should make every effort to preserve the peace. We should mobilize all our networks, get all the affected countries moving and return Northeast Asia to peace. Having a domestic meeting of all political party leaders is a good start. But the way they are doing things now is not good. Kan needs to sit down one-on-one with LDP chief Tanigaki and have a heartfelt conversation. Peace must be brought about by bipartisanship.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DPJ's 'Sorting Out' Process is Incoherent

The so-called "sorting out" is nothing more than a political performance to gain favor with voters; the major media needs to critically assess this program they've been promoting, and the politicians, academics and celebrities pushing this misguided policy need to do some soul-searching.

"Pride must have a fall." — William Shakespeare

The conceit and arrogance of the camp backing the sorting-out process is flagrant. Their egos have been inflated by Tokyo's major media outlets. This whole plan to sort out the waste from the budget has come from the combined efforts of the Finance Ministry and the media. But the overwhelming arrogance of the politicians, academics and celebrities backing the idea has made the public lose trust in the plan.

Lately, the talk has been incoherent. The Kan administration sets fires just to put them out.

The major media outlets are responsible for the reckless promotion of this idea. The media should look critically at this incoherent policy they've been trumpeting. The newsroom executives who bowed down to this policy ought to apologize to the people and resign. The media is becoming increasingly arrogant. It must stop playing politics.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ozawa Can't Run from Congressional Testimony

This political leader has a responsibility both politically and morally; the Diet is the nation's ultimate authority, so avoiding testimony there would strip Ozawa of any right to continue as a representative; he should resign!

Ichiro Ozawa should not be allowed to escape from testifying in the Diet. He bears great responsibility as a long-serving political representative. A political leader such as Ozawa has more than a legal responsibility to do the right thing -- he can't shirk his political and moral responsibilities either.

Ozawa should go to the Diet and testify about the problems he faces. If he runs, he abdicates his responsibilities as a Diet representative. Ozawa is a leading politician. He needs to set an example. If he can't do this, he should end his political career and resign from the Diet.

For more on this story, click here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Major Crimes against the State

It's a major crime against the state to use the power of the prosecutor's office to inflict human rights violations; the public prosecutors who did this need to be severely punished.

Many defendants have come forward to say that the public prosecutor's office used a secret interrogation room to threaten and inflict mock-executions and torture on the defendants until they signed on to the stories made up by the prosecutors. This is a major state crime. But the prosecutors who presided over these inhuman acts go largely unaccused of any misdeeds. We can't overlook this.

While the Osaka District Public Prosecutor's Office was shaken to the core when word of the evidence-tampering scandal involving Tsunehiko Maeda of the special investigation unit surfaced, the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office has practically succeeded in making it a case for the Osaka office alone to work out. The mass media has helped by circling the wagons.

But the whole country knows that Maeda is just the tip of the iceberg. An overhaul of the whole prosecutor's system is necessary. At the very least, we need to take a scalpel to the current status quo, where the special investigations division of the public prosecutor's office has the right of arrest and the right of prosecution at the same time. In fact, the office's power is untethered.

The Diet should enact laws that make investigations transparent. The Diet should pass a resolution that to overcome human rights violations, transparency laws should govern investigations. The Maeda incident will not be resolved if it is framed as an Osaka prosecutor's problem. A complete overhaul of the Public Prosecutor's Office is needed.