TV & Radio
Putin signals support for Luzhkov's gay parade ban-1
15:02 | 01/ 02/ 2007
(Adds paragraphs 3-4)
MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president, asked Thursday about the Moscow mayor's controversial branding of gay parades as 'Satanic', avoided a direct answer, but signaled his support for Yury Luzhkov.
Vladimir Putin told a Kremlin news conference he respects human freedoms, but joked that issue of sexual minorities is linked to the demographic problem in the country.
Last year, Putin highlighted the demographic crisis afflicting Russia in his May state of the nation address, proposing radical new measures to deal with the falling birthrate and a population decline of some 700,000 a year.
On December 31, 2006, he signed into law additional measures in support of families with children, by which they will receive 250,000 rubles (some $9,400) for the birth of every additional child after the first.
"I link this issue to the performance of my duties and one of the main problems in the country - demography," Putin told a news conference in the Kremlin, in reply to a question on whether he agreed with Mayor Luzhkov that gay parades are "Satanic."
The conservative 70-year-old mayor, who has been in office since 1992, had said on Monday he would never allow a gay parade to take place in Moscow despite pressure from the West.
Luzhkov said, "Last year, Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the gay parade, which can be described in no other way than as Satanic. We did not let the parade take place then, and we are not going to allow it in the future."
This is the second time Moscow authorities have banned a gay parade in Moscow. On May 26, 2006, a Moscow district court upheld a Moscow government resolution prohibiting a gay march, which was scheduled for the next day, as opposition to the planned event was strong in Russia, especially from the Russian Orthodox Church and other religious leaders.
Despite the ban, about 200 people took to the streets May 27 in an unsanctioned demonstration to mark the 13th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia.
The attempt resulted in violent clashes between sexual minorities and their opponents - representatives of a number of political parties, religious and radical movements - and the detention of some 120 people from both sides, most of whom were later released.
「日本軍従軍慰安婦の希望は大きなものでない。 日本政府が犯罪事実を認め、謝罪し、歴史的責任を取ることを望んでいるだけだ。 和解するためには過去を忘れてはならない」。
ホンダ議員は、昨年パーキンソン病で引退した同党のエバンズ元下院議員の意志を引き継いで今回、決議案を出した。 エバンズ氏が昨年提出した同じ趣旨の決議案は下院国際関係委員会を通過したが、親日派である当時のハスタート下院議長（共和）が全体会議上程を拒否したことで採択されなかった。 エバンズ氏の決議案を積極的に支持したホンダ議員は今回、ワッソン議員（民主）、ロイス議員（共和）ら下院議員６人とともに再び決議案を提出した。
ホンダ議員は「日本では９３年に従軍慰安婦に対する責任を認めた河野洋平当時官房長官の声明を撤回しようという動きがあり、日本のいくつかの教科書は戦争犯罪を縮小しようとしている」とし「日本政府は、日本国内で出ている『慰安婦の性奴隷化と人身売買はなかった』というの主張に対して公開的に反論すべきだ」と要求した。 「日本政府は現在と未来の世代にこの犯罪について知らせ、国際社会の勧告に従うべきだ」とも述べた。 今回の決議案は、「日本政府は歴史的責任をはっきりと認めるべきだ」というエバンズ決議案に比べ、要求の程度がはるかに強い。
日本は下院の決議案採択を阻止するため民主党の大物であるフォーリー元下院議長をロビイストとして雇用した。 しかし同じ党所属のペロシ下院議長は決議案を支持しており、全体会議を通過する可能性も高い。 ホンダ議員は決議案を出しながら、ペロシ議長に「元慰安婦の生存者らが心の平和を得られるよう、われわれが助けるべきだ」と述べ、「決議案は、正義を要求する元慰安婦らの声を米国が聞いていることを示すものだ」と強調した。
US Congress Calls for Japan to Apologize for Comfort Women
By Park Song-wu
U.S. Rep. Michael M. Honda introduced a bipartisan resolution to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, calling for Japan to formally acknowledge and accept responsibility for sexually enslaving women during World War II.
A similar resolution, drafted by Rep. Lane Evans, passed the committee last September. But it failed to go to the House's plenary voting session due to Japan's strong lobbying.
More than 200,000 ``comfort women'' suffered gang rape, forced abortions and other humiliations under Japan's colonial and wartime occupation of Asia from the 1930s through the duration of World War II, a statement posted on Honda's Web site said.
``These women's hope is a modest one: That the government of Japan acknowledges, apologizes and accepts full historical responsibility for this crime,'' Honda said.
The Japanese-American lawmaker said the purpose of this resolution is not to bash or humiliate Japan.
``This legislation, rather, seeks to achieve justice for the few remaining women who survived these atrocities, and to shed light on a grave human rights violation that has remained unknown for so many years,'' he said.
Daniel Kohns, Honda's spokesman, said a hearing will be held in the next couple of weeks.
The resolution is cosponsored by Reps. Edward R. Royce, Christopher H. Smith, Diane E. Watson, David Wu, Phil Hare and Delegate Madaleine Bordallo. It does not have the force of law but can place the Japanese government on the defensive.
Honda received the baton from Evans, who recently retired due to Parkinson's disease, to restart the legislative action.
The new resolution has a stronger tone than the previous version, pressing for Japan's formal apology as well as acknowledgment and responsibility for the sexual slavery and admitting that there was ``coercion.''
It also calls for an apology by the Japanese prime minister himself in his official capacity.
Last October, Prime Minister Shinjo Abe briefly told the Japanese parliament that he accepted a 1993 statement, under which Yohei Kono, then chief cabinet secretary, officially acknowledged and apologized for the enslavement of comfort women.
Japan established the Asian Women Fund in 1995 to help the victims of enslavement. But the fund is private and not a government fund.
Tokyo argues that the fund was established with cooperation from the government and the Japanese people, and that the government contributed funds for the organization's operating costs as well as its medical welfare support projects, according to a wire news report.
Historians say at least 200,000 young women, mostly Koreans but also from Taiwan, China, the Philippines and Indonesia, were forced to serve as sex slaves in Japanese army brothels.
2007/02/01 08:13 KST
(LEAD) Comfort women resolution submitted again to House committee
By Lee Dong-min
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. congressman submitted a resolution Wednesday that in stronger words holds Japan responsible for sexual enslavement of women during its colonial occupation of Asia in the past century and demands its apology.
The resolution presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee revives the bill passed in the last Congress in what was the first congressional action to press Japan to acknowledge and accept responsibility for "comfort women." Two previous resolutions, submitted in 2001 and 2005, were both shelved due to strong Japanese lobbying.
Rep. Michael Honda (D-California) sponsored the resolution with six other Congressmen, including Republicans Chris Smith and Ed Royce. Rep. Honda is of Japanese descent.
Daniel Kohns, spokesman for Rep. Honda, said a hearing is scheduled in the next couple of weeks.
"It will be sooner (rather) than later," he said.
Former Congressman Lane Evans, sponsor of the previous resolution, retired, and Honda had promised to pick up the baton.
Comfort women is an euphemism for hundreds of thousands of women Japan abducted or lured into frontline brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during the war years. Most of the victims were Korean women, whose country was colonized by Japan from 1910-1945.
Japan admits that such women existed, but denies its imperial government was involved in mobilizing them or in running the brothels, a stance that continues to irritate its neighbors.
Wednesday's resolution has a stronger tone than the previous version, pressing for Japan's formal apology as well as acknowledgment and responsibility for the sexual slavery and admitting that there was "coercion" of the victims.
It also calls for an apology by the Japanese prime minister himself in his official capacity.
"I rise today in strong support of the over 200,000 'comfort women' in Asia who suffered unimaginable dehumanization by the Japanese Imperial Army," Honda said in his statement.
The victims' experiences were "unprecedented in cruelty and were officially commissioned by the government of Japan," he said. And yet, "Japan has equivocated in its stance on this issue, which is made clear in their recent attempts to alter previous public statements and their school textbooks."
"The purpose of this resolution is not to bash or humiliate Japan," said Honda. "This is about achieving justice for the few remaining women who survived this atrocity."
But he criticized recent movement within Japan to rescind the apology expressed by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993.
The House committee last time passed the comfort women resolution in a consensus vote, but was unable to put it to a full floor ballot before its term ended in December.
Advocates of the resolution are hopeful that it will reach the House floor this time, backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has indicated support for a vote.
For Immediate Release
January 31, 2007 Contact: Daniel Kohns: 202.225.3327
REP. HONDA CALLS ON JAPAN TO APOLOGIZE FOR WWII EXPLOITATION OF ‘COMFORT WOMEN’
Introduces Bipartisan Measure Seeking Justice for
Victims of Wartime Sexual Slavery
US House of Representatives
Lesbians register Mexico's 1st gay union
By JUAN MONTANO, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jan 31, 10:54 PM ET
A lesbian couple registered what officials called Mexico's first gay civil union on Wednesday in the northern city of Saltillo.
The couple, Karina Almaguer and Karla Lopez, traveled to Saltillo from their home state of Tamaulipas to register as a "civil solidarity union" under a newly passed law that made Coahuila the first of Mexico's 31 states to grant recognition to such unions.
Television footage showed the couple smiling broadly and shaking hands with officials after the simple ceremony at a registrar's office.
Coahuila State Assemblywoman Julieta Lopez Fuentes, who served as an official witness, said the law passed earlier this month allows people from other states to register such unions in Coahuila.
"The object of this law is that unions of people of the same sex be legally regulated and recognized, so that they can have some security in their future," she said.
Lopez Fuentes said it was the first gay civil union in Mexico.
In November, Mexico City — which as a semi-independent capital zone has some of the same powers as states — passed a similar measure, the first in the nation's history, but that law will not go into effect until mid-March.
Such laws, which provide gay couples with numerous social benefits similar to those of married couples, have been sharply criticized by the Roman Catholic Church and the conservative National Action Party of President Felipe Calderon.
While homosexuality is still taboo in many rural parts of Latin America, the region's urban areas are becoming more socially liberal. Mexico City and Coahuila join the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires and the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul in legalizing same-sex civil unions.
At the national level, lawmakers in Costa Rica and Colombia have debated, but not passed, similar measures.
Viewpoint: Abe is no Reagan
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
By William Pesek
Shinzo Abe seems to be channeling the spirit of Ronald Reagan. Japan's prime minister is championing Reagan-like policies such as restoring national pride and deregulating a rigid economy.
Given Abe's focus in his first four months, it's not surprising that pundits are buzzing about "Morning in Japan." It's a not-so-subtle reference to the U.S. president's 1984 re-election campaign. Reagan ran on a platform of the United States being "prouder, stronger, better" after his first four years.
Many credit Reagan, who died in 2004, with restoring U.S. power and prosperity after a period of economic hardship and national soul- searching.
It's not unlike what many of Japan's 127 million people have entrusted Abe to do.
They are likely to be disappointed.
Abe's predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, unleashed a bit of Reaganomics on Asia's biggest economy in his five years in power. He worked to push through spending cuts, tax reductions for the wealthy, privatization and deregulation.
Koizumi had to move gingerly, given Japan's preference for consensus over conflict. Yet his direction was clear enough.
The idea always was for Koizumi's successor to build on his achievements, no matter how incomplete. Abe's charge was to bring Japan's recovery to the next level, encouraging companies and households to spend more and making an over-regulated economy more efficient.
Abe is also focused on "building a beautiful country," something that seems quite Reaganesque. It's not about planting trees or cleaning up the streets — it's about boosting national pride, instilling patriotism in youngsters and, ultimately, creating a bigger global role for the nation.
Yet Abe is unlikely to succeed on the economy. Nor is he likely to bolster Japan's confidence, at least not with the strategies he's currently employing.
One can argue whether Reaganomics is best for Japan. Reagan's "trickle-down economics" and cuts in welfare spending favored the wealthy, widening the gap between rich and poor. He built up a massive public debt and his deregulation efforts arguably contributed to the U.S. savings and loan crisis.
In fact, looking at Japan right now, it seems Reaganomics is gaining some traction. Stocks are up, the yen is at four- year lows, corporations are enjoying record profits, production is booming, and yet middle-class households have concerns about the future and aren't increasing spending.
Even so, few will quibble with the idea that Japan is ripe for economic streamlining, whether it be along the lines of a Reagan or a Margaret Thatcher.
As a conservative, Abe isn't likely to deviate from Koizumi's free-market philosophies. The trouble comes in the area of implementation. Koizumi was always a big-picture, macroeconomic guy; his plans were a broad blueprint for how Japan needs to change, and he put the issue on the front burner.
What Japan needs now is an economics wonk to get under the hood and engineer a major tuneup.
Other than choosing Koji Omi, a tax-policy expert, as his finance minister, Abe has dropped few hints he's the micro- economy man that Japan needs. In fact, the question doesn't seem to be whether Abe will accelerate Japan's economic upgrade, but if he can keep the ruling Liberal Democratic Party from returning to its sclerotic tendencies.
Japan, it's often forgotten, is a one-party state. Sure, there are opposition parties, yet Japan's elections are rarely more exciting than Singapore's. Even Koizumi rode to power in April 2001 with the slogan "Change the LDP, Change Japan."
In other words, the man perceived to be Japan's biggest reformer in decades put his political party before the nation.
Abe can only do as much as his party allows him, and his support is sliding. A Sankei newspaper survey this week showed Abe's approval rating (39.1 percent) fell below his disapproval rating (40.9 percent). Two members of his Cabinet have already resigned in separate scandals. Another, the health minister, Hakuo Yanagisawa, has come under criticism for calling women "baby-making machines" in a speech on Saturday.
Abe's growing unpopularity appears to be sharpening his attention on noneconomic issues — like his "beautiful country" campaign.
While Reagan was dubbed "The Great Communicator," Abe is struggling to explain what exactly he means with all this talk about tweaking the education system to boost patriotism. The fact he's articulated it in a book called "Toward a Beautiful Country" hasn't clarified things.
As his country's first prime minister born after World War II, the 52-year- old Abe wants to rid Japan of historical baggage. Hence his early efforts to improve relations with China and South Korea. Koizumi damaged ties with annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 convicted war criminals are honored among the dead.
Yet national pride can't be taught in the schools of an open society any more than Abe's reminder that the economy is growing again will get households to spend more.
If Abe can heal old wounds in Asia and restore Japan's economic power globally, the respect he desires for his country may follow.
Giving Japanese more hope for the future is key. China's 10 percent-plus growth has drawn attention away from Japan, and cheap Chinese labor is holding back wage gains in Japan.
Politicians in Tokyo need to raise optimism among young Japanese and improve the nation's outlook.
We can debate whether applying full-blown Reaganomics is best for Japan. Either way, Abe doesn't seem the person to do it.