TV & Radio
Web posted at: 19:53 JST
Pressure mounting for Japan's health minister to quit
www.chinaview.cn 2007-02-02 13:58:58
TOKYO, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Japan's opposition parties continued to boycott the Budget Committee meeting for the third day on Friday, seeking the resignation of the health minister Hakuo Yanagisawa over his remarks comparing women to "birth machines".
The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and three other opposition parties refused to attend the House of Representatives Budget Committee debates over a supplementary budge on Friday morning, following their absence in the past two days.
Yoshiaki Takaki, DPJ's parliament affairs chief, confirmed the major opposition's stance on boycotting the deliberations and again demanded Yanagisawa's resignation, saying that debating with a minister like that would "smirch the Diet."
The issue started when Yanagisawa delivered a speech on Saturday to a local assembly on how the low birth rate will affect the future of Japan's pension, welfare and medical systems.
"We cannot change the number of women aged 15 to 50. Since this means we have only a fixed number of birth-giving machines, we can only ask every woman to do their best per head," he said.
Though Yanagisawa immediately apologized for the gaffe, criticism came from all sides. A group of 16 female lawmakers urged on Monday in a protest letter that Yanagisawa resign, saying that his remarks treaded on women's human rights and were totally unacceptable.
Opposition parties also acted out. The DPJ, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party) submitted a statement to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, demanding he sack Yanagisawa. The Japanese Communist Party made the same demand Wednesday in a separate statement to Abe. The boycott also came along.
Under mounting pressure, Yanagisawa has repeated apology. "I made a very inappropriate remark and deeply hurt the public and the most important part of womanhood," Yanagisawa told the budget committee on Thursday, "I would like to take a moment to apologize again from the bottom of my heart."
Abe has also offered his apologies several times for the minister's remarks but continued to say that he would not remove the 71-year-old minister as he had apologized and was deeply sorry.
With a gubernatorial election in Aichi prefecture and a mayoral election in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka prefecture to be held Sunday, the resignation issue has turned somewhat to a wrangling between the ruling and opposition parties.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki on Friday morning repeated the request that the opposition parties attend the budget committee debates. "No matter what the reason is (behind the boycott), I believe that for a legislature, the budget is an extremely important issue for deliberation," he said.
Even without the attendance of the opposition, the governing coalition is expected to push the budget plan through the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Friday afternoon, Kyodo News said. The Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner New Komeito party together hold a lower house majority.
LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma, Finance Minster Koji Omi, and other Cabinet members have voiced their criticism on Friday over opposition parties' refusal to discuss matters of national importance simply to stage a performance aiming at elections.
On Friday afternoon, some opposition lawmakers are scheduled to hold a news conference to present their views on Yanagisawa's remarks. A number of female lawmakers will also give street speeches to challenge the ruling parties.
"Birth-giving machine" gaffe hits nerve in Japan
Fri Feb 2, 2007 1:16 AM ET
By Linda Sieg
TOKYO (Reuters) - Even his wife was angry.
When Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa called women "birth-giving machines", he outraged the many Japanese who have shed traditional gender stereotypes, confirming their suspicions that Japan's leaders are out of step with the times.
The gaffe -- which coincides with a slump in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's popularity -- has prompted opposition party calls for Yanagisawa to step down and has given the ruling camp another headache as it gears up for an upper house election in July.
"My wife scolded me," Yanagisawa told Japanese reporters this week after having told local party faithful on Saturday: "Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head."
Yanagisawa altered his remarks almost as soon as spoke them, but critics say the fact he said them at all reflects deep-seated views that permeate Japan's male-dominated corridors of power.
"What women are angry about is that Mr. Yanagisawa's remarks are evidence that this is the view of men who have power," said Sumiko Iwao, a professor emeritus at Keio University who until last month headed a government advisory panel on gender equality.
It wasn't the first time conservatives in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) seemed out of sync with ordinary Japanese on gender matters.
Last year, a proposal to give women equal rights to ascend the throne was scrapped after the birth of Japan's first royal prince in four decades, despite surveys showing the vast majority of the public would be happy to see a reigning empress.
"We have seen this time and again, and women are now convinced that this is a sort of shared attitude among many men in power," Iwao said.
Japanese women still lag their counterparts in many advanced countries in terms of political clout and earning power, but faced with a sagging birth rate, companies have stepped up efforts to mobilize female workers and managers more fully.
"Women have become equal and many are working, so what was he thinking of in describing them that way?" said 26-year-old part-timer Keiko Otsuki, as she headed for work on Friday.
"As a woman, I find it offensive to be treated like an object."
Preliminary estimates show Japan's fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- may have edged up last year after hitting a record low of 1.26 in 2005, but the rate is expected to start falling again this year.
Japan's population has already begun shrinking, raising worries about future economic growth, and just two days after Yanagisawa's comment, Abe set up a new panel to design steps to address the problems of Japan's declining population.
The shortage of babies has been linked to a variety of factors, including a trend toward late marriages and the difficulty women have balancing family and work, in part because of the long hours their husbands spend on the job.
"His remarks effectively gave away his thinking -- that if women tried harder, there would be more babies," said an editorial in the liberal Asahi newspaper.
"But things are hardly that simple," the paper added.
"A number of Liberal Democratic Party politicians believe that the nation's birthrate will right itself if women stay at home."
The gaffe has reinvigorated opposition parties, who now scent blood after a spate of ruling party missteps including the resignation of a cabinet minister over a political funds scandal.
The uproar could affect the local elections on Sunday for the governor of Aichi in central Japan and the mayor of Kitakyushu City on the southern island of Kyushu. The results of those polls in turn could influence whether Yanagisawa stays or goes.
But the main opposition Democratic Party and its smaller allies are also coming under fire for boycotting parliamentary debate on the budget as a way to force Yanagisawa to step down.
"I think Yanagisawa should quit. He isn't looking at people, whether men or women, as human beings. He's looking at them as tax-paying machines," said Yukie Horikoshi, a 38-year-old nurse.
"But I don't think other parties are any better. They make promises but they aren't listening to the voice of the people."
San Francisco abuzz over mayor's affair
By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
1:06 PM PST, February 1, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO -- Mayor Gavin Newsom today confirmed reports that he had an affair with his reelection campaign manager's wife — a subordinate at the time — and apologized for his actions.
In a packed news conference, Newsom emerged to offer a brief, yet somber apology, taking no questions. "I want to make it clear that everything you've heard and read is true, and I'm deeply sorry about that," Newsom said. "I've hurt someone I care deeply about — Alex Tourk and his friends and family. And that is something I have to live with."
Saying he is recommitted to the business of governing, Newsom went on to apologize to City Hall and the residents of San Francisco. "My personal lapse of judgment aside, I am committed to restoring their trust and confidence…We will now be working aggressively to advance our agenda in the city."
He issued his apology after Tourk, his reelection campaign manager and former deputy chief of staff, abruptly submitted his resignation late Wednesday, citing "personal" reasons.
Tourk had been one of the mayor's closest advisors, designing one of the Newsom administration's signature accomplishments: massive bimonthly gatherings — known as Project Homeless Connect and emulated nationwide — where the homeless are directed to services.
The revelations of the reason for Tourk's departure, reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, clearly startled voters and tarnished a mayor who has enjoyed a 70% approval rating and was widely thought to be eyeing an eventual competition with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for a shot at the governor's seat.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano said Newsom's apology "rang true. But the real proof of the pudding is going to be behavior and performance in the future."
"You're allowed to stumble," Ammiano said. "But I don't think he has too many more stumbles in his future. There was a lapse of judgment. We need to expect more from our electeds."
Some residents in this city famous for its sexual liberalism rolled their eyes at the news.
"Sooooooo what ????" wrote one poster late Wednesday on the Chronicle's website.
But many others looked beyond the facts of the reportedly short-lived dalliance and saw more: "'Sooo what?'" responded another poster. "If it were a matter of Newsom having an affair with a single woman, that would be one thing, but to go behind a trusted aide's back and have an affair with that person's spouse, certainly makes Newsom seem unprincipled. It's not a matter of sexual prudishness; it's a matter of trustworthiness. Newsom failed this one badly. I supported him until now, but he's lost a lot of my respect."
The revelation came on the same day that the mayor's aggressive and seasoned spokesman, Peter Ragone, was fighting his own battles: A local investigative television team had reported that Ragone was posting hostile comments about Newsom's critics on a local blog under different names.
When confronted with the fact that the missives had been traced to his home computer, Ragone initially insisted that the poster, "John Nelson," was his best friend and often stayed at his home. He admitted later in the day that he, in fact, had posted the comments. But they, in part, reflected the views of his friend, Nelson.
Ragone also posted under the name "Bjorn", a person who doesn't exist. "Stupid, yes," Ragone said. "There are going to be guidelines established. I'm going to help put them together. The political blogosphere is a place where many people express their opinions in different ways. As a rule, I shouldn't be on the blogosphere and it was a mistake."
Aaron Peskin, supervisor of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who have clashed increasingly with Newsom in recent months over perceived arrogance, was crafting a "code of conduct" resolution for the city's press staffers when the more startling news of Newsom's indiscretion broke.
Still, the head of Newsom's 2007 reelection campaign team anticipated that it would all blow over soon.
In January 2005, Newsom and his then wife, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was then a Court TV legal analyst before moving to Fox News, announced that they had filed for divorce after three years of marriage. The couple cited the strain posed by their high-profile, bicoastal careers as the reason for the split.
Times staff writer Jesus Sanchez contributed to this report.
The New York Times
San Francisco Mayor Admits He Had Affair With Aide’s Wife
By JESSE McKINLEY
Published: February 2, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 1 — In a fast-unfolding scandal with all the sex and betrayal of a tawdry novel, Mayor Gavin Newsom admitted Thursday that he had an affair with his campaign manager’s wife.
Mr. Newsom said he had a short-term sexual relationship with Ruby Rippey-Tourk, the wife of Alex Tourk, who until Wednesday was running his re-election campaign.
The affair, first reported Thursday by The San Francisco Chronicle, apparently took place in late 2005 while Ms. Rippey-Tourk, 34, worked as Mr. Newsom’s appointments secretary, and while Mr. Newsom, 39, was in the throes of a divorce.
“Everything you’ve heard and read is true,” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, told reporters who crammed into his office for a news conference. “And I am deeply sorry about that.”
Mr. Tourk, Mr. Newsom’s former deputy chief of staff and a close friend, resigned Wednesday afternoon, apparently after his wife, as part of rehabilitation for a substance-abuse problem, confessed to having had a relationship with Mr. Newsom. In a statement on Wednesday announcing Mr. Tourk’s resignation that did not hint at the underlying cause, Mr. Newsom praised his aide and wished him success in “all of his future endeavors.”
But the mayor’s sentiment was more contrite on Thursday. “I’ve hurt someone I care deeply about, Alex Tourk,” the mayor said. “And that is something I have to live with.”
Mr. Newsom, a popular figure who is seeking a second term in November, did not take questions. Sam Singer, a spokesman for the Tourks, said the couple was dealing with the fallout from Ms. Rippey-Tourk’s admission and wanted to safeguard their privacy.
The affair was not Mr. Newsom’s only public relations problem. On Wednesday, Mr. Newsom’s chief spokesman, Peter Ragone, admitted that he had been posting attacks on some of the mayor’s critics on a local political Web site under a friend’s name. On Thursday, Mr. Ragone added that he had also posted under his own name, and that the opinions were those of himself and his friend.
Corey Cook, a political science professor at the University of San Francisco, said both Mr. Newsom’s affair and Mr. Ragone’s actions online might make some voters question the mayor’s judgment. “Part of the appeal of this administration is that they were young and active,” he said. “But there was a concern about their maturity level.”
But even some of Mr. Newsom’s political rivals said the affair was not likely to be a fatal blow to his re-election plans.
“His ratings are so high he could fall and still have a comfortable cushion,” said Tom Ammiano, a member of the Board of Supervisors who ran against Mr. Newsom in 2003.
San Francisco Chronicle
City and County of San Francisco
米下院、慰安婦決議案を再提出 安倍首相訪問前の採択狙う (産経 2007/02/02)
FEBRUARY 02, 2007 06:47
The Japan Times
Friday, Feb. 2, 2007
U.S. bipartisan group submits resolution on 'comfort women'
WASHINGTON (Kyodo) A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers submitted a resolution Wednesday to the House of Representatives that denounces Japan for enslaving foreign women in the 1930s and 1940s to provide sex for the Imperial Japanese Army.
The resolution, prepared by Democratic Rep. Mike Honda of California and several powerful Republicans, is similar to four previous resolutions submitted to the House.
However, this one includes several new clauses, including a request that the Japanese prime minister make an official apology for the suffering Japan caused what it euphemistically referred to as the "comfort women."
The resolution says the government "should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" for its acts.
Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers who want Tokyo to change its official statement on the comfort women issue will send people to the United States around early May to try to stop the resolution from passing.
The group claims the army did not force women to provide sex and wants the 1993 apology delivered by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that acknowledges that the army forced women into sexual servitude for its soldiers in Korea, China and elsewhere in Asia, to be amended.
The last of the four resolutions was the first one to get beyond the House International Relations Committee, which passed it in September, but it failed in the House, voted down by Republicans who held a majority in the chamber at the time.
However, the new resolution will likely clear the now Democrat-controlled House because Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat who wields enormous influence during House deliberations, has been supportive of the past resolutions, according to congressional sources.
(C) All rights reserved
Chosun.com English 2007/02/02
"Comfort Women" Resolution Likely to Pass U.S. Congress
A new resolution on "comfort women" was submitted to the U.S. Congress Wednesday, denouncing Japan's sexual enslavement of women during World War II and demanding an apology from the Japanese government. It is considered very likely that resolution will pass the U.S. Congress, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, actively support the resolution.
Pelosi and Lantos, both from San Francisco, have previously urged Japan to correct its past wrongs. A similar resolution passed the House International Relations Committee unanimously last September, but was shelved because then House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican), considered a pro-Japan legislator, delayed the presentation of the resolution to a plenary session.
The latest resolution was submitted by six congressmen, including Japanese-American Rep. Michael Honda (D, California), Rep. Diane Watson (D, California), Rep. David Wu (D, Oregon), Rep. Ed Royce (R, California) and Rep. Chris Smith (R, New Jersey).
Honda said, "The purpose of this resolution is not to bash or humiliate Japan," and he that took the initiative in the belief that his act would help Japan genuinely reflect on its conduct.
Honda lived in a concentration camp in California with his family during World War II when the U.S. government relocated Japanese-Americans. Honda attributes that experience as driving his efforts as a human rights activist. He plans to hold a hearing at a House subcommittee next week with former sex slaves taking the witness stand.
The expression in the resolution is much stronger than that of the previous one. The resolution reads, "The Japanese government should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as 'comfort women,' during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II." The resolution states that more than 200,000 such women suffered gang rape, forced abortions, and other humiliations during that time. It also urges the Japanese government to emphasize human and women's rights so as not to engage in human trafficking as their ancestors did.
Japan is now making aggressive efforts to prevent this resolution from passing Congress, employing former House Speaker Tom Foley and others as lobbyists. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan will send a delegation to the U.S. on a diplomacy mission.