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Japan to host Afghan confab

Japan to host Afghan confab (懇談)

Japan plans to host a high-level meeting in November for countries eager to establish peace in Afghanistan, government and ruling bloc (与党連合) sources said Saturday.

The plan, which is in the final phase of planning, could lay the groundwork (土台を築く) for the Democratic Party of Japan-led government to end the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in January.

Participants, likely including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, the United States and the European Union, are expected to discuss security measures, economic support and humanitarian reconstruction support aimed at stabilizing the country, the sources said.

The chairman is likely to be former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize laureate (受賞者), "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts," they said.

The pillar of the DPJ's Afghan peace proposal is to urge both the Taliban and a group of countries including the United States to halt fighting, withdraw their forces and deploy a noncombat international ceasefire (休戦) monitoring mission made up of personnel from Japan and other countries.
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-20 17:09 | 英語関連
Beer aficionados (熱狂的なファン) will be able to taste more than 120 different craft beers at the annual Great Japan Beer Festival 2009 in Yokohama.

After paying the entrance fee, visitors can taste 50-ml beer samples brewed from both local and international brewers. Different styles such as English ale, German lager, wheat beer and American ale will attempt to satisfy your thirst. Visitors are able to taste as many kinds of beer as they are capable of drinking. To cut down on garbage, only one glass will be given to each visitor.

Founded and organized by the Japan Craft Beer Association, the festival was first held in 1998, and since then more than 170,000 beer lovers have attended the event.

The goal of the Japan Craft Beer Association is to popularize and promote craft beers in Japan and around the world. Craft beers are traditionally brewed with an emphasis on flavor rather than marketing preferences. Since the beer industry is attracting more and more fans, local breweries are constantly experimenting and will present their newest brews at the festival.

Next to the "International Beer Summit" held in Osaka, the event is the biggest beer festival in Japan, (along with its counterparts in Tokyo and Osaka.)

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-19 15:14 | 英語関連
Japan's first unmanned cargo vehicle was attached to the International Space Station on Friday, completing the first step needed to unload observation equipment and supplies.

Astronauts on the station secured the HTV, as the vehicle is called, using a robot arm after it came within 10 meters of the ISS. The successful acquisition of the vehicle gives new hope for manned spaceship development and its future role in transporting supplies to the space station after U.S. space shuttles are decommissioned (閉鎖する、退役させる) as early as in 2010.

The HTV was put into orbit (軌道) last week on an HII-B rocket launched from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Japan is scheduled to launch seven domestically made HTV single-use vehicles through 2015, at a pace of one a year.

This time, the HTV transported around 4.5 tons of supplies, including freeze-dried food, bread, clothing and shampoo, as well as SMILES stratospheric observation (成層圏観測) equipment for Japan's Kibo laboratory module on the ISS.

The HTV, which is 10 meters long and 4.4 meters in diameter (直径), has a wide 1.2-sq.-meter entrance that allows it to carry large cargo other vehicles cannot transport.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-19 13:11 | 英語関連
A DNA match linking Raymond J. Clark III to Yale student Annie Le led to his arrest on murder charges, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

On Thursday, New Haven Police Chief James Lewis described Le's killing an instance of "workplace violence," but he did not elaborate (念入りに練る).

Clark, 24, has been charged with Le's murder, and bail (保釈) has been set at $3 million, Lewis said.

Thursday morning, police arrested the Yale lab technician in the strangulation (絞殺) of Le, whose body was found in the wall of an off-campus research building.

Hours after his arrest, Clark appeared in court and did not enter a plea (罪状認否する). Standing with chains on his ankles and his palms on the table, he looked only at the judge and spoke only to acknowledge that his rights were read to him.

A court date of October 6 was set.

Le, a 24-year-old pharmacology (薬理学) graduate student, was last seen alive September 8, the day she appeared in a surveillance video as she entered the four-story lab at 10 Amistad St., about 10 blocks from Yale University's campus.

Her body was found inside the basement wall of the building Sunday, on what was to have been her wedding day. She had been strangled (絞殺される), the Connecticut medical examiner's office determined.

The night she was killed, a fire alarm in the building was pulled, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

When investigators reviewed security tapes from that night, the source said, they began to focus on Clark, who was seen looking distraught (取り乱した) and holding his head in his hands.

Clark's attorney (弁護士), David Dworski, said in an earlier statement, "We are committed to proceeding appropriately with the authorities with whom we are in regular contact."

Yale University President Richard Levin said that although the school's administration is "relieved" by the news of Clark's arrest, "we must resist the temptation to rush to judgment."

Clark, of Branford, Connecticut, is not a Yale student but has worked as a lab technician at the university since 2004 after graduating from high school. He lived with his girlfriend, who is also a Yale lab technician, according to police.

Clark had nothing in his employment history at the university that "gave an indication that his involvement in such a crime might be possible," Levin said in a statement issued Thursday.

A faculty member described Clark's job in the Animal Resources Center as maintaining colonies for animals used in research. The lab is in the basement of the building where Le's body was found.

我々は、Back to Basics(基本に戻る)事を様々な面で要求されている気がします。
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-19 12:47 | 英語関連

Disney Studios chairman resigns

Walt Disney Studios Chairman Richard Cook announced Friday he was resigning his post, effective immediately.

"I have loved every minute of my 38 years that I have worked at Disney...from the beginning as a ride operator on Disneyland's steam train and monorail to my position as chairman of The Walt Disney Studios," Cook said in a statement.

He said his decision came after lengthy contemplation, and quoted baseball great Yogi Berra, "'If you come to a fork in the road (分かれ道), take it.' "

Robert Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Co., said in a statement that Cook's work had "truly enriched this company and significantly impacted Disney's great legacy."

"We thank Dick for his tremendous passion for Disney, and his many accomplishments and contributions to The Walt Disney Studios, including a very promising upcoming film slate," Iger's statement said. "On behalf of everyone at Disney, we wish him the best with all the future has to offer."
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-19 12:32 | 英語関連
Acne (ニキビ) is a diabolically (悪魔のように、極悪非道に) cruel thing: somehow it strikes your most visible feature just at the age when you become most vulnerable to a gaze (凝視). Not surprisingly, acne is often accompanied by serious depression among teenagers. In fact a 1999 study found that kids with acne bad enough to prompt a trip to the dermatologist (皮膚科医) reported having emotional and social problems as severe as those reported by patients with disabling (無力にする) diabetes and epilepsy (てんかん).

Other studies have shown similar, if less extreme, reactions to bad cases of acne. And so an international team of researchers — including scientists from Harvard Medical School in Boston and University Medical College in Tibet — decided the acne-depression question needed further investigation. Their intriguing (興味をそそる) new paper, published this week in the open-access journal BMC Public Health, not only confirms that acne goes hand-in-hand with (~と連携して) depression and anxiety but further suggests that teens' mental distress may in fact be worsening the condition of their skin.

Led by Jon Halvorsen, a dermatologist at the University of Oslo in Norway, the researchers launched their study in 2004, inviting every 18- and 19-year-old who was finishing high school in Oslo to answer some questions about zits (にきび) and other things. Of the 3,659 students invited, 90% participated, along with another 467 18- and 19-year-olds who were not graduating. The teenagers completed questionnaires about the severity of their acne as well as how much anxiety and depression they were experiencing, what they usually ate and whether they smoked and drank. Separately, the researchers' collected socioeconomic data on the teens from the country's central information-gathering agency Statistics Norway.

The results show that the level of mental distress kids reported was strongly associated with how much acne they said they had, independent of other factors like diet or lifestyle. Roughly 19% of all kids who reported symptoms of anxiety and depression said they had acne, compared with only 12% of those who reported no mental distress. Among boys, those with depression and anxiety were 68% more likely to report acne than their happier peers; among girls, those with mental distress were twice as likely as those without to report acne.

The study found, for the first time, a linear relationship between mood and pimples: the worse the mental-illness symptoms, the worse the acne. It's possible that the association simply means that kids who feel depressed are more likely to report they have bad acne, even if they don't — but previous studies have shown that dermatologists independently agree with teens' self-reports of acne severity about 75% of the time. Some of the depressed and anxious kids in the Norwegian study may have exaggerated their acne, but in a sample as large as this one, it's unlikely that most did.

So, how could mental-health problems actually exacerbate (悪化させる) acne? One theory is that people with mental distress eat more junk food. Dearly held teen lore says that overindulging in chocolate and potato chips — which can make greasy fingers and, consequently, greasy faces — spawns (引き起こす、発生させる) pimples. This is mostly myth, according to the study's findings, although they offered a bit of support for the notion that diet plays a role. Girls in the study who consumed few vegetables tended to have more zits than girls who ate lots of greens. But diet was entirely irrelevant for boys.

The authors also discount (考慮に入れない、信用できないと思う) other lifestyle factors. The Norwegian adolescents who said they regularly use alcohol and cigarettes were no more likely to report acne than those who were abstemious (つつましい、禁欲的な). Only mental distress was strongly correlated with acne in both boys and girls.

But that still doesn't answer the question of what mechanism might be at work. The authors offer a few hypotheses (仮説). For instance, stress may somehow stimulate the growth of nerve fibers near sebaceous glands (皮脂腺), which in turn contributes to the increased production of sebum (皮脂) — the fatty substance that combines with cell debris and dead skins cells to form those familiar blackheads (毛穴の黒ずみ) and pustules (吹き出物). (All together now: Eww.) That theory is unproved, but previous research on the effects of depression and acne drugs suggests the authors may be onto something (良い所に気付く): we know, for example, that antidepressants (抗うつ剤) can improve acne. We also know that a widely used drug that treats acne, Accutane (isotretinoin), has been associated with an increase in depression, although no causal link has been established.

The new study has some obvious shortcomings (欠点), particularly that it relies entirely on self-reports from a self-selected group of respondents. Much more rigorous research needs to be conducted to understand the relationship between mental illness and pimples — as well as the root cause of bad cases of acne. But in the meantime, drug companies might want to start working on a Clearasil-Prozac miracle cream.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-18 12:47 | 英語関連
To envision how Katsuya Okada will approach his new job as foreign minister, one need look no further than his grilling (厳しい尋問) of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during budget deliberations (予算案審議) at the Diet on June 2, 2005.

For the duration of the standoff, Okada, who was then president of the Democratic Party of Japan, put Koizumi through the ringer for visiting contentious (議論の多い) Yasukuni Shrine.

"I have serious concern that this issue will influence ties between Japan and China, and if ties between Japan and China are ruined, it could affect the rest of Asia," Okada told Koizumi.

Touching on the enshrinement of 14 Class-A war criminals at the Shinto shrine, Okada attacked the prime minister's pilgrimage (巡礼) as damaging Japan's shot at becoming a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council (国連常任理事国) and sabotaging (妨害する) its attempts to collaborate (協力する) with its neighbors in resolving tensions with North Korea.

In his 2008 book "Seiken Koutai" (roughly translated as "Change of Regime"), Okada wrote that picking up the pieces from Koizumi's diplomatic maneuvers will be one of the first tasks the DPJ administration will address.

Japan has turned a blind eye toward Washington's unilateralism (一方的主義) while making light of its Asian neighbors, ultimately narrowing Tokyo's overall diplomatic capabilities, he wrote.

Analysts say such views epitomize (典型となる) how the DPJ will handle foreign affairs, including shifting diplomacy toward forming stronger ties with Asia while maintaining its basic alliance with the United States, Japan's only military ally.

"The DPJ will likely take a different approach than the Liberal Democratic Party on its relations with Asia, and Okada is one figure who is well aware that Tokyo's ties with its neighbors are damaged," said Aiko Utsumi, a visiting professor at Waseda University in Tokyo.

The expert on Japan's postwar ties with Asia said the launch of the DPJ administration is a chance for Tokyo to break with the bureaucrat-oriented diplomacy (外交) that prevailed under the LDP.

"I hope Okada has the potential to lead and correct what has been done incorrectly, to resolve any antagonism (敵対) with South Korea or China," Utsumi added.

While showing strong interest in building a partnership with Asia, what remains relatively unknown is that Okada also enjoys close ties with U.S. politicians and was heavily influenced by his experience at Harvard in the 1980s.

Compared with the Social Democratic Party, one of its two coalition partners, the DPJ and Okada are considered more pro-U.S., and many experts hope Okada and his party will handle issues related to Japan-U.S. military alliance more realistically than they did during the campaign for the general election.

As a bureaucrat in the trade ministry, Okada spent a year at Harvard and was taught by some of the brightest American minds, including Ezra Vogel (author of "Japan as Number One"), economist Jeffery Sachs and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.

The newly appointed foreign minister said he visits the U.S. at least once a year to share opinions with government officials and local think tanks. At a recent news conference, Okada called Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell "an old friend" and revealed the two have frequently exchanged opinions over the years.

His experience living in the U.S. also persuaded Okada to undergo a career change. In "Seiken Koutai," Okada says a speech by President Ronald Reagan after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger deeply moved him and focused his interest in politics.

"President Reagan made a sincere four-minute speech. He mourned the victims from his heart, but firmly assured that the space programs will continue," Okada wrote.

"In America, I came to understand the role an administration and a politician can play, and the huge possibility that a government can embody (具体化する)."

With his expertise in policy and rich background, many say Okada's success as foreign minister could depend on how flexible he is on the job, particularly in handling issues related to Japan's military alliance with the United States.

The SDP has adamantly called for strictly maintaining war-renouncing (戦争放棄の)Article 9 of the Constitution and scaling down U.S. forces in Japan.

Analysts say clashes over contentious (議論の多い) issues in the coalition are a probability.

Okada, known as a hard worker who likes to stick to his principles, is often dubbed "RoboCop" by the media for his inflexibility. It was once rumored he gets home by 9 p.m. every day to study policies and improve his logic, while others have criticized him as too serious in comparison with Koizumi, whose use of catchy words and theatrics (演出、演劇) gave birth to "one-phrase politics" in Japan.

Okada takes no offense at being called RoboCop and has already demonstrated his audacity (大胆さ) in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador John Roos in which he actively brought up the DPJ's pitch for withdrawing the Maritime Self-Defense Force from its refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

"I have often been criticized for being too serious and stubborn," but such characteristics should not be cause for criticism, especially in the world of politics, he wrote in his book.

"As a true RoboCop, I have tried to make logical arguments against any objections (意義、異論), never being vague and always seeking a clear conclusion," he wrote.

In an bid to unite in time for Wednesday's special Diet session, the three parties turned a blind eye to their differences on diplomacy and security.

Okada said he believes the three parties reached a satisfactory accord, but the final agreement did not go into specifics, including on the issues of the refueling mission and the antipiracy patrols off Somalia.

The SDP may try to revise those policies, at which point Okada will have to start juggling the coalition, the DPJ's policies and his beliefs.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-17 22:43 | 英語関連

Hatoyama becomes prime minister

New leader launches tripartite (3党が参加した) Cabinet, vows 'drastic change'

Japan saw the beginning of a new political era Wednesday as Democratic Party of Japan President Yukio Hatoyama became prime minister, putting an end to five decades of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party.

The nation's 93rd prime minister inaugurated (開始する) his Cabinet, kicking off a tripartite coalition with the Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party).

"Today is the beginning of a new turning point in history, a day to start a drastic change in the framework (枠組) of politics and the government," Hatoyama said at a DPJ meeting. "Let's actively work together to make sure that future historians will say that today was a wonderful day."

This could be the start of a two-party political system in Japan after nearly half a century of virtual one-party rule.

Hatoyama said the road from this point forward will not be easy and asked his fellow party members to maintain unity (団結) through the rough times ahead.

"We are about to enter an unknown world, and I think it will be a repeat of the process of trial and error (試行錯誤)," Hatoyama said.

Hatoyama appointed (任命する) former DPJ President Naoto Kan as state strategy minister and vice prime minister, making the veteran lawmaker a cornerstone (礎) of his new government.

Kan will head the National Strategy Bureau, a policymaking organization that will be designed to help the DPJ rein in civil servants (公務員). Kan and Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii will be the key players in bringing about change in the way policies are implemented and budgets compiled, observers said.

With the launch of the strategy bureau, "the Cabinet will now be able to prioritize policies without having to consider the vested interests (既得権益) of the ministries and its bureaucrats," said Hidekazu Kawai, a professor emeritus of comparative politics at Gakushuin University in Tokyo.

"Power may now return to the hands of politicians from bureaucrats," he said.

Former DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada was appointed foreign minister, and Hirofumi Hirano, a close Hatoyama aide (助手), became chief Cabinet secretary (官房長官) — the government's top spokesman and the prime minister's right-hand man.

Akira Nagatsuma, one of the most popular DPJ members, who revealed that the government had lost millions of pension records, was tapped as (~に選ばれる) health minister. Upper House lawmaker and former DPJ member Keiko Chiba got the justice minister's slot.

Kawai pointed out that Hatoyama has drawn on a wide range of members from within the DPJ, including Yoshito Sengoku as government reform minister and Seiji Maehara as infrastructure minister, who have distanced themselves from newly appointed DPJ Secretary General (幹事長) Ichiro Ozawa.

"This isn't a team that will only be known for a single star player, like Ichiro Suzuki," Kawai said. "It's rather a well-balanced team, with all the players asked to play their best."

SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima is now a minister in charge of consumer affairs, the birthrate problem, food safety and gender equality.

The position of defense minister (防衛大臣) went to DPJ Upper House lawmaker Toshimi Kitazawa, who is now tasked to coordinate defense policies the SDP, a pacifist (平和主義の) party.

The SDP is against all overseas dispatch of the Self-Defense Force and Kitazawa and the DPJ will have to find other ways to contribute as a member of the international society.

Kokumin Shinto chief Shizuka Kamei, a former heavyweight (大物政治家) in the LDP, was concurrently (兼任して) appointed to serve as the postal and financial affairs ministers.

Kamei and his small party oppose postal privatization, and he was looking to acquire the internal affairs and communications portfolio so postal services would fall under his jurisdiction (管轄区内の).

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Taro Aso and his Cabinet resigned en masse (総辞職する) in the morning, marking the end of their 358-day rule.

Throughout his term, Aso struggled with a plunging support rate largely triggered by his verbal gaffes (失言) and policy flip-flops (政策のブレ). Under his leadership, the LDP was crushed in the Aug. 30 election to nearly one-third its Lower House strength.

"Nearly a year has passed since the inauguration last September, and I would like to, once again, express my gratitude to the people for their support," Aso said at his final news conference.

"I promised the people that I would create a strong and cheerful Japan. Although one year was a very short period of time, I believe I did my best for Japan."

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-16 23:16 | 英語関連
Incoming, outgoing leaders touch on North Korea issues

Two days ahead of the launch of his Cabinet, Yukio Hatoyama met with departing Prime Minister Taro Aso to seek his cooperation to ensure a smooth handover of power, while Aso offered encouragement to the prime minister in waiting.

Hatoyama and Aso met in the Diet, along with Chief Cabinet Secretary (官房長官) Takeo Kawamura and his successor, Hirofumi Hirano, ahead of Wednesday's launch of the new administration.

"I would like you to give me guidance and advice as a former prime minister," Hatoyama was quoted by Hirano as asking Aso during the 20-minute meeting.

Hatoyama also asked Aso for advice on diplomacy ahead of his scheduled trip to attend the U.N. General Assembly (国連総会) in New York and the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh.

Aso responded, "I hope you will work hard and will not take the wrong direction" in foreign policy, international finance and national security, according to Hirano.

Hatoyama asked about the North Korean nuclear and abduction (拉致) issues. Aso said the Pyongyang Declaration issued by the two countries in 2002 "is still alive and that the incoming government should stick to it."

They did not go into further details about foreign and national security issues, according to Hirano.

The Democratic Party of Japan won 308 seats in the 480-seat Lower House in the Aug. 30 election, ousting the Liberal Democratic Party from power for only the second time in the LDP's 54-year history.

Hatoyama was scheduled to hold talks with DPJ deputy leader Ichiro Ozawa later Monday concerning Cabinet appointments.
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-16 03:49 | 英語関連
A 47-year-old man pleaded innocent (無罪を主張する) Monday to charges of arson and murder at a video parlor in Osaka last year that killed 16 people and injured four others.

"I did not commit arson," Kazuhiro Ogawa said in the first session of his Osaka District Court trial over the predawn (夜明け前の) fire at the Shishashitsu Cats Nanba shop in Naniwa Ward last Oct. 1.

Ogawa, who is unemployed and hails from (~の出身である) Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture, initially admitted to the allegations, saying he wanted to kill himself because of his hardships, investigative sources said.

The indictment (起訴状) says Ogawa, who was using one of the parlor's private viewing rooms, set fire to tissue paper on a bag containing newspapers and other items, starting a conflagration (火災、火事) that spread through the establishment.

Police sources have said Ogawa gambled away his retirement allowance and was suffering under numerous debts.

He retired from an electric parts factory a few years ago. After gambling away his money, his wife divorced him and his debts snowballed, the sources said.

Ogawa was arrested outside the video parlor after being questioned by a police officer. Most of the fatalities (災害、災難) occurred in the parlor's small private rooms. Such shops are often stocked with porn but are also used by people who need a cheap place to spend the night.
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-16 03:43 | 英語関連