2009年 09月 06日 ( 2 )

How Hatoyama Will Lead


Dispelling (追い払う、払拭する) fear of Japan's new leader.

Rarely has so huge a victory been followed by so short a honeymoon. Even before the Democratic Party of Japan trounced (完全に負かす) the Liberal Democrats on Aug. 30, pundits (評論家、博識者) were warning that the DPJ didn't have what it takes to govern well. Experts argue that the Democrats lack experience, are internally divided, have no ideological coherence (一貫性), and favor policies that may worsen Japan's crisis. There is something to the charges—but they overstate the case.

During the campaign, the LDP tried to paint its opponents as novices unfamiliar with real-world policymaking. Many commentators also noted that key Democrats were former LDP members, suggesting the new party wouldn't be able to govern effectively. It's true that many DPJ leaders, including Yukio Hatoyama, the prime-minister-to-be, and Ichiro Ozawa, Hatoyama's predecessor, began their careers in the ruling party. But this could prove to be a source of strength, not weakness. For one thing, it undermines the charge that DPJ members are all inexperienced. Leadership is in Hatoyama's blood; his grandfather was a key advocate (提唱者) of liberal democracy in Japan's early postwar years. Naoto Kan, meanwhile—the DPJ's cofounder—proved his chops in 1996 as health minister, when he championed (擁護する) the needs of Japan's HIV/AIDS patients. And while opinions are divided about Ozawa, no one can dispute (意義を唱える、疑う) the fact that he's a political veteran.

The bigger question is how the DPJ will use its experience. With a third of Japan's citizens heading into retirement in the next decade, the country desperately needs a better social-insurance and health-care system. Japanese are also worried about their economy, and rightly so. To address these concerns, the DPJ's short-term plan is to put more money into consumers' pockets by cutting taxes, reducing government spending, and providing greater support for education and health.

In the long term, the DPJ has also promised to modify (修正する) ex–prime minister Juni-chiro Koizumi's reform agenda—which, with the exception of (~を除いて) reducing bad debt (不良債権) and otherwise restoring credibility (信用を取り戻す) to Japan's banking system, no longer makes sense. Voters bemoan (嘆く、不満を言う) the way Koizumi's changes have increased Japan's rich-poor and urban-rural divides, and are convinced that their country now needs a more humane (思いやりのある、人間味のある) version of capitalism. The DPJ has promised to address these issues by shifting the economy's focus to the consumer instead of the producer, using consumer spending to drive growth rather than an export strategy that's let big business pocket the bulk of Japan's profits.

The DPJ also plans to revamp (改革する、改造する) the country's top-heavy (頭でっかちな)government to grant more local entities (地方団体) more autonomy (自治権), which should inject competition and creativity into a society long dominated by Tokyo, and to rein in (抑える、抑制する) the all-powerful civil service (公務). And Hatoyama has pledged to continue trimming the fat (余分な脂肪を削ぎ落とす) off Japan's public sector, eliminating many of the amorphous (不定形の) semigovernmental agencies (準政府機関) that seem irrelevant (意味の無い) to most citizens.

Contrary to Washington's fears, meanwhile, the DPJ is unlikely to make revolutionary changes to Japan's foreign policy. In the run-up to the vote, the opposition often spoke about rebalancing the U.S.-Japan relationship and investing more energy in Asia. But there is little evidence that the DPJ is anti-American or interested in undermining Tokyo's alliance with Washington. After the election, Hatoyama quickly met with the new U.S. ambassador (大使), John Roos, and then phoned President Barack Obama to start building trust in his new government.

And the idea of bringing greater balance to Japan's foreign policy is hardly radical (急進的な). For some time, Washington has been worried about Tokyo's isolation and periodic confrontations with Seoul and Beijing. The region needs to collaborate to address (対処する、取り組む) common threats like North Korea's nuclear program and to promote better economic integration. A Japan more willing to cooperate with its neighbors is thus in everyone's interests, and needn't threaten the U.S.-Japan partnership.

Perhaps the biggest reason to be optimistic about the DPJ, however, lies not in the party itself but in the voters who handed it an enormous victory. The DPJ's huge majority means it will likely be able to serve a full term, unlike the last non-LDP government, which quickly collapsed. This means the DPJ should have enough time to actually implement its bold (大胆な) agenda. If anything, this election proved that Japan's long--frustrated and apathetic citizens are finally ready for change. Having taken the plunge (思い切って~する) on an untested party, they know there will be bumps along the way. The DPJ must now use the skill and energy that got it elected to govern well. But it is also up to the Japanese people—including wary bureaucrats and cynical (冷笑的な) pundits—to help it meet this goal.
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-06 14:26 | 英語関連

When it comes to weight gain, the timing of your meals may be just as important as what or how much you eat. According to a study of lab animals published online by the journal Obesity, eating during the hours that the body would naturally be sleeping may lead to excess weight gain.

In the first study to associate meal timing with degree of weight gain, sleep scientists at Northwestern University compared two groups of mice, each placed on opposite feeding schedules for a six-week period. Both groups were fed the same high-fat food, and both had the same amount of daily physical activity. The only difference: one group was fed during its normal 12-hour waking period, while the other rodents were fed while they should have been asleep. By the end of the study period, the latter group had gained more than twice as much weight as the mice that ate during active hours: 10.4 g, a 48% increase in body weight, versus 4.4 g, or a 20% gain in baseline weight.

"For a long time we questioned whether or not eating patterns had anything to do with gaining weight," says obesity expert Dr. Louis Aronne of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He points to previous observational research suggesting that people who skip breakfast in favor of massive meals in the evening hours tend to be overweight. "We had no proof that it's a real problem," says Aronne, who was not involved in the study. "If an experiment like this is replicated (複製する) in humans, it might clarify for us just how much time of day matters when it comes to obesity."

The salient (顕著な、際立った) issue, says study co-author Fred Turek, may be the disruption of the body's internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm (24時間周期のリズム). Eating at inappropriate times may disturb the body's natural rhythm, setting off a string of metabolic reactions (代謝反応) that ultimately lead to weight gain. "Because our bodies are naturally cued (合図を送る) to eat at certain times of the day, dining at the wrong time might affect the body's ability to maintain its energy balance," he explains, meaning that our body starts to use its calories differently than it normally would. That in turn could cause fluctuations (変動) in numerous hormones, including an increase in ghrelin (グレリン) and a decrease in leptin (レプチン) — the two key hormones that govern appetite and satiety (満腹). The hunger hormone ghrelin, which is produced by the stomach, sends a "feed me" message to the brain; leptin, the satiety hormone, signals the brain to stop eating.

But while these hormones have been successfully manipulated in lab mice to prompt weight gain or loss, the same has not been true in humans. Experiments in which obese human patients were injected with leptin have failed, because the metabolic pathways (代謝経路) that control hunger and fullness in people are far more complex than they are in mice. Knocking out one of, say, 50 such pathways through drug treatment just means the other 49 will eventually pick up the slack (足りない部分を補う), says Dr. George Fielding, a bariatric (肥満学の) surgeon (外科医) at the NYU Program for Surgical Weight Loss.

Although the new findings in Obesity cannot yet be applied outside the lab, other research supports the idea that the disruption of sleep (that includes standing in front of the fridge eating chicken at 2 a.m.) may have something to do with weight gain in humans. Studies of night-shift workers like nurses and factory workers indicate they are at higher risk for being overweight than their daylight counterparts, partly due to poor sleep routines and partly because of their tendency to eat heavy meals late at night, says Aronne. Other studies show that people who get a full eight hours of sleep at night tend to be thinner than those who get less, while numerous epidemiological (疫学の) studies have established a link between short or poor sleeping patterns with overweight-related conditions including diabetes (糖尿病) and cardiovascular (心臓血管の) disease.

Until future studies in humans bear out (確証する、証明する) Turek's preliminary (予備の、導入部の) findings, Aronne suggests that avoiding post-dinner (夕食後の) snacking is probably still a good strategy, regardless of size. Not only could it help prevent extra weight gain, it can also lower the risk of gastroesophageal reflux (胃食道逆流) and other digestive problems that may compound sleep problems. Aronne further recommends taking well-balanced and evenly spread meals throughout the day, rather than consuming 50% or more of your daily calories at dinner or afterward, since that may also lead to unwanted pounds.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-06 13:17 | 英語関連