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Bush Hits Hard at Gay Marriage
Tuesday October 31, 2006 12:46 AM
AP Photo GAPM101
By JENNIFER LOVEN
Associated Press Writer
STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) - President Bush has for months cast the midterm elections as a choice about just two issues: taxes and terrorism. Now, with polls predicting bleak results for Republicans, he is trying to fire up his party by decrying gay marriage.
``For decades, activist judges have tried to redefine America by court order,'' Bush said Monday. ``Just this last week in New Jersey, another activist court issued a ruling that raises doubt about the institution of marriage. We believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and should be defended.''
The line earned Bush by far his most sustained applause at a rally of 5,000 people aimed at boosting former GOP Rep. Max Burns' effort to unseat a Democratic incumbent. In this conservative rural corner of eastern Georgia, even children jumped to their feet alongside their parents to cheer and clap for nearly 30 seconds - a near-eternity in political speechmaking.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be given all the benefits of married couples, leaving it up to the state Legislature to decide whether to extend those rights under the structure of marriage or something else.
One alternative, civil unions, is an idea Bush supports. But he ignored that on the way to portraying the New Jersey decision as the kind of thing America should do without.
``I believe I should continue to appoint judges who strictly interpret the law and not legislate from the bench,'' the president said, earning more applause in the sweltering basketball arena at Georgia Southern University. He pointed to his nominations to the Supreme Court of Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
The gay-marriage theme became a staple in Bush's political remarks last Thursday, the day after the New Jersey ruling on a touchstone issue for religious conservatives who are crucial to Republican electoral calculations. White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said it was added merely to respond to the ruling - not because his other messages were failing to connect.
But the lines, repeated to great enthusiasm at a second rally later Monday in Texas, mark one of the only substantive changes in the president's stump speech as he turns from raising money for Republican candidates to encouraging the GOP faithful to vote Nov. 7.
To that end, he was focusing on the South.
After campaigning for Burns, trying to win back the seat conservative Democrat John Barrow took from him in 2004, Bush flew to the district vacated by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. DeLay resigned in June amid a series of investigations of his fundraising activities.
Organizers said Bush's appearance in a partially filled airport hangar in Sugar Land, Texas, drew over 6,000 to support Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs' write-in campaign to replace DeLay. The former Republican party star and Bush ally on Capitol Hill was nowhere to be seen, and the president never mentioned DeLay's name.
The rally finale was Texas-style dramatic, with Bush posing with Sekula-Gibbs with his Marine One helicopter and a multi-color fireworks show in the background.
The election in the reliably conservative district outside Houston is complicated. Republicans were legally barred from replacing DeLay's name on the ballot. So supporters must choose Sekula-Gibbs twice - once for the special election filling out DeLay's term and again for the general election for the next Congress.
She faces former congressman Nick Lampson, who has outraised and outspent her, giving Democrats a chance at a seat long in the GOP's hands. A Lampson victory would also be sweet revenge for an opposition party that DeLay fought at every turn while in office.
On Tuesday, Bush is heading back to Georgia, a state he twice won comfortably. Tuesday's rally, about 130 miles west of Statesboro, is aimed at helping another former GOP congressman, Mac Collins, oust Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall.
After Thursday, the president's schedule remains fluid, as his political advisers balance the need for help in tight races against the president's unpopularity.
Bush pleaded with Republicans not to give up keeping control of Congress - and mocked Democrats.
``You might remember that about this time in 2004, some of them were picking out their new offices in the West Wing,'' he said. ``The movers never got the call.''
Democrats ridiculed him back, for an itinerary that took him to once-solid GOP areas.
``Clearly President Bush is more of a liability than an asset as he's forced to stump for candidates in districts that were once considered safe for Republicans,'' said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Stacie Paxton.
The president played down the idea that next Tuesday's vote is a referendum on his embattled presidency. ``This is different from a presidential campaign because it's not necessarily a national election, in that each congressional race really depends upon the candidates and how they carry the message,'' he said in an interview on Fox News Channel's ``Hannity & Colmes.''
Bush also rejected the idea he'll become a lame duck after the elections. ``I promise you I'm going to be president up until the very last day, and I've got a lot to do,'' he said.
毎日新聞 2006年10月30日 18時16分
毎日新聞 2006年10月30日 18時16分
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State spurns federal sex ed money
Objecting to abstinence mandates, Jersey forgoes $800,000
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
BY CAROL ANN CAMPBELL
The Corzine administration said "thanks, but no thanks" to federal abstinence education money yesterday, saying new rules will not let teachers talk about contraception. Teachers also must say sex within marriage is the "expected standard of human sexual activity."
A letter yesterday by state health and education officials to the federal government says the strings attached to the money contradict the state's own sex education and AIDS education programs.
The state has taken the money, about $800,000 each year, since 1997. But state officials said new federal rules give them far less flexibility in creating such programs than in past years.
"Some of the elements required are inconsistent and violate our own educational standards," said Health Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs.
New Jersey is the fourth state so far to reject the abstinence education money, after California, Pennsylvania and Maine.
Education Commissioner Lucille Davy also signed the letter, which was sent to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Levitt. The letter says the state will not apply for abstinence money for the 2006-2007 school year.
The state had distributed the money to nine community organizations, such as the Camden County chapter of the American Red Cross and Catholic Community Services, which serves Newark, Irvington and South Orange. The groups run programs, some in schools, for about 11,000 children age 10 through 14.
In the past, Jacobs said the state adhered to several, but not all, of the elements in the Title V federal abstinence education program. For instance, the state adhered to section C, which teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It supported section G, which teaches young people how to reject sexual advances, and section H, which teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.
But Jacobs said new guidelines require the organizations to follow all sections, including one that teaches that monogamous in marriage is the only expected standard and that sex outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.
"Monogamy is not a bad idea, but having the government of New Jersey dictate these things for families is not something we wish to do," Jacobs said. "It isn't the function of state government to create standards (for sexual activity)."
Also, the state's AIDS Prevention Act permits schools to discuss contraception.
The state's rejection of the money could have political implications two weeks before Election Day.
"The state's stand draws attention to the Bush administration's very conservative and traditional positions on sex education, which are probably deemed unrealistic at the least and inappropriate by many residents of New Jersey," said David Rebovich, managing director of the Rider University Institute for New Jersey Politics.
Some health educators welcomed the move.
"I personally feel that withholding medically accurate information to young people only does damage in the long run," said Janet Lamonico, a health teacher at JP Stevens High School in Edison.
Danene Sorace, director of Answer, a Rutgers-based office that promotes comprehensive sex education, agreed.
"It is a small pot of money, but it is still significant as far as we're concerned because that $800,000 is going to programs that are really ill-conceived," she said.
Conservatives, however, said the state was foolish to forgo the money.
"We should take a step back and try a new approach," said Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life.
"What we have now is not working, as reflected by the rates of abortions and high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases."
Carol Ann Campbell covers medicine. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (973) 392-4148. John Mooney contributed to this report.
© 2006 The Star Ledger
© 2006 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.
The New York Times
October 25, 2006
Federal Rules Back Single-Sex Public Education
By DIANA JEAN SCHEMO
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24— The Bush administration is giving public school districts broad new latitude to expand the number of single-sex classes, and even schools, in what is widely considered the most significant policy change on the issue since a landmark federal law barring sex discrimination in education more than 30 years ago.
Two years in the making, the new rules, announced Tuesday by the Education Department, will allow districts to create single-sex schools and classes as long as enrollment is voluntary. School districts that go that route must also make coeducational schools and classes of “substantially equal” quality available for members of the excluded sex.
The federal action is likely to accelerate efforts by public school systems to experiment with single-sex education, particularly among charter schools. Across the nation, the number of public schools exclusively for boys or girls has risen from 3 in 1995 to 241 today, said Leonard Sax, executive director of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. That is a tiny fraction of the approximately 93,000 public schools across the country.
“You’re going to see a proliferation of these,” said Paul Vallas, chief of schools in Philadelphia, where there are four single-sex schools and plans to open two more. “There’s a lot of support for this type of school model in Philadelphia.”
Until now, Mr. Vallas said, there had been a threat of legal challenge that had delayed, for example, a boys charter school from opening in Philadelphia this September. New York City has nine single-sex public schools, most of which opened in the past four years.
While the move was sought by some conservatives and urban educators, and had backing from both sides of the political aisle, a number of civil rights and women’s rights groups condemned the change.
“It really is a serious green light from the Department of Education to re-instituting official discrimination in schools around the country,” said Marcia Greenberger, a co-president of the National Women’s Law Center.
Under Title IX, the 1972 law that banned sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funds, single-sex classes and extracurricular activities are largely limited to physical education classes that include contact sports and to sex education.
To open schools exclusively for boys or girls, a district has until now had to show a “compelling reason,” for example, that it was acting to remedy past discrimination.
But a new attitude began to take hold with the passage of the No Child Left Behind law in 2002 when women senators from both parties came out in support of same-sex education and asked the Education Department to draft guidelines to permit their growth.
The new rules, first proposed by the Education Department in 2004, are designed to bring Title IX into conformity with a section of the No Child Left Behind law that called on the department to promote single-sex schools.
The interest in separating boys from girls in the classroom is part of a movement to allow more experimentation in public schools.
Although the research is mixed, some studies suggest low-income children in urban schools learn better when separated from the opposite sex. Concerns about boys’ performance in secondary education has also driven some of the interest same-sex education.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings described the changes as part of a greater effort to expand educational options in the public sector. “Every child should receive a high quality education in America, and every school district deserves the tools to provide it,” Ms. Spellings said.
She said that research supported offering single-sex education, and that the changes would not water down the protections of Title IX.
But Stephanie Monroe, who heads the Education Department’s office of civil rights, acknowledged the equivocal nature of the department’s own research on the issue.
“Educational research, though it’s ongoing and shows some mixed results, does suggest that single-sex education can provide some benefits to some students, under certain circumstances,” she said.
Although the changes announced Tuesday will not officially take effect until Nov. 24, school districts, including in New York City, had anticipated the new rules and some opened single-sex schools on the presumption of today’s changes.
Kelly Devers, a spokeswoman for the New York City schools, said the system’s lawyers planned to examine the rules to see how they expanded options for principals. Until now, public school districts that offered a school to one sex generally had to provide a comparable school for students of the other sex. The new rules, however, say districts can simply offer such students the option to attend comparable coeducational schools.
Critics argue that the changes contradicted the intent of Title IX and would not withstand a legal challenge — a point Education Department officials disputed.
Nancy Zirkin, vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, an umbrella organization representing about 200 civil rights groups, said the new regulations “violate both Title IX and the equal protection clause of the Constitution.”
“Segregation is totally unacceptable in the context of race,” she said. “Why in the world in the context of gender would it be acceptable?”
The American Civil Liberties Union signaled it might consider going to court. “We are certainly in many states looking at schools that are segregating students by sex and considering whether any of them are ripe for a challenge,” said Emily Martin, deputy director of the Women’s Rights Project at the A.C.L.U..
Tom Carroll, chairman and founder of the Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys and the Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls in Albany, said the new regulations gave greater legal protections to single-sex schools that had, until now, operated under the threat of lawsuits by such groups. “The A.C.L.U. now has a dramatically steeper hill to climb to upset the apple cart on single-sex schools,” Mr. Carroll said.
He said his schools’ research showed boys were stronger in math and girls were stronger in literacy. But in recently released test scores, he said, his schools did better than any other public schools in Albany. “Paradoxically, by educating them separately,” he said, “we were able to do much to reverse the gender gaps that typically leave girls behind in math and boys behind in literacy.”
Correction: Oct. 26, 2006
A front-page article yesterday about changes in federal rules that give public school districts new latitude to expand the number of single-sex schools referred incorrectly in some copies to an organization whose director spoke about the expansion of such schools in recent years. It is the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, not the National Association for Single Sex Schools.
Single-sex school restrictions ease
Updated 10/25/2006 11:26 AM ET
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY
School districts across the nation this fall will have unprecedented freedom to open up all-girls' or all-boys' schools and classes under sweeping new regulations announced on Tuesday by U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.
The shift is the biggest in 31 years and for the first time allows schools to separate students by gender if they believe it helps — a standard that is under debate in the existing research.
Participation in such programs would be voluntary, but schools choosing to separate a class for one sex wouldn't have to provide an equivalent class for the other sex. They'd simply have to offer a "substantially equal" coed class in the same subject.
The rules, which take effect Nov. 24, also clarify rules on creating entire single-sex public schools.
Since the current rules went into effect in 1975, single-sex classes have been allowed only on a limited basis, such as in charter schools, sex education courses or gym classes involving contact sports. The Bush administration, supported by both Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Democratic New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, has favored loosening the rules.
About 240 public schools offer same-sex coursework, up from just three in 1995, says Leonard Sax of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. He thinks about 1 in 10 of the nation's 90,000 public schools could decide to become single-sex.
Critics, such as the American Association of University Women and the American Civil Liberties Union, call the changes troublesome.
Emily Martin of the ACLU Women's Rights Project said the new regulations "represent a through-the-looking-glass interpretation" of the federal Title IX law, which prohibits excluding students from school programs on the basis of sex. She noted that schools could now "separate girls and boys for virtually any reason they can dream up — including outdated and dangerous gender stereotypes."
Spellings said research shows that "some students may learn better" in single-sex environments, but other administration officials on Tuesday admitted that the best research offers only tepid support. A 2005 analysis of current research, cited on the department's website, noted that "any positive effects" of single-sex schooling on long-term academic achievement "are not readily apparent."
The analysis found no differences on college test scores, graduation rates or graduate school attendance and bemoaned "the lack of high-quality research on these important criteria." And it found no research on how single-sex schooling affects critical factors such as teen pregnancy rates, differential treatment by teachers, parental satisfaction and school bullying.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Stephanie Monroe, who heads the department's civil rights office, minimized the research, saying that as a parent she'd want all options available to her child.
"The department believes that this is an option that should be made available," she said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Posted 10/24/2006 8:28 PM ET
Updated 10/25/2006 11:26 AM ET
Secretary Spellings Announces More Choices in Single Sex Education Amended Regulations Give Communities
More Flexibility to Offer Single Sex Schools and Classes
Last Updated: Saturday, 28 October 2006, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Transgender MP in toilet fracas
An Italian opposition MP and former showgirl has expressed outrage after meeting a transgender colleague in the parliament's ladies' toilets.
Elisabetta Gardini, spokeswoman for former PM Silvio Berlusconi's party, said she felt ill after the encounter during a break in Friday's session.
The incident led to heated debate about which toilet the transgender MP, known as Vladimir Luxuria, could use.
Ms Luxuria says she has been using ladies' toilets for years.
Using the men's would have created even bigger problems, she said.
The matter has now been passed to parliamentary procedural officials to resolve.
Ms Gardini said she had been horrified to find Ms Luxuria in the toilets.
"It never entered my mind that I'd find him in there", she said. "It felt like sexual violence - I really felt ill."
Centre-right MPs backed her call for the creation of a third "transgender" toilet, Reuters news agency said.
But ruling coalition deputies accused Ms Gardini of discrimination tantamount to racism.
Ms Luxuria said she had not expected such aggression in the parliament.
Born Wladimiro Guadagno, Ms Luxuria wears women's clothes but has not had sex-change surgery.
A 40-year-old former drag queen and prominent gay rights activist, she was elected MP for the Communist Refoundation, a member of Prime Minister Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition, in April.
Shinzo Abe Pressures Public Broadcaster
[Opinion] Prime minister will order NHK to 'pay attention' to the North Korean Abductions issue
Christopher Salzberg (gyaku)
In a move that immediately sparked protests, Japan's new prime minister Abe Shinzo, less than a month after taking office, has declared that his government will direct "special orders" to the influential public broadcaster NHK demanding that it "pay attention" to the North Korea abductions issue. [1,2]
Associated Press reports that "the Ministry of Internal Affairs will ask a regulatory council to approve ordering state-owned Japan Broadcasting Corp., or NHK, to boost coverage of abductions in its overseas shortwave radio broadcasts," in order to, among other things, "raise international awareness of the abductees' plight," according to ministry official Osumi Yutaka. Abe told reporters that the government must take "appropriate action as we think about what can be done for the sake of the victims who are waiting in North Korea for us to rescue them." In response, NHK stated that it already gives enough attention to the abductions issue and that it aimed to continue to do so under "independent editorship." 
The move met with widespread hostility, drawing criticism even from within Abe's own Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Internal Affairs Minister Katayama Toranosuke, who has himself previously issued orders to NHK, drew a distinction, noting that his orders had been "in general and abstract terms," and that he had "to a large extent left it to NHK's independent judgment" to make changes.  Indeed, the ministry has in the past restricted its orders to requests for increased public-interest programs related to government policies and views.  Katayama argued that "it's sufficient for the government to convey its position in other ways," and wondered if directly interfering in NHK's affairs will be "a good thing and if it will be acceptable [to the public]."  The leader of the main opposition Democratic Party Ozawa Ichiro was less diplomatic, stating that he "question[s] the government using its authority to unilaterally push national policy."  Hattori Takaaki, a professor of broadcasting systems at Rikkyo University, attacked the move as going "against the principles of Article 1 of the Broadcast Law, which stipulates political neutrality and freedom of expression." 
The abductions issue centers on a series of kidnappings of Japanese civilians by North Korean agents in the period between 1977 and 1983, involving (according to Japan) 16 abductees and (according to North Korea) eight deaths.
Abe's predecessor, Koizumi Junichiro, had managed in 2002 to extract an oral apology from Korean leader Kim Jong Il and to secure temporary release of five of the victims, who returned to Japan on Oct. 15 of the same year. Yet the Japanese government, before the five had even set foot on Japanese soil, made a decision to renege on its promise, refusing to return the abductees and effectively putting an end to chances for a possible reconciliation. Relations between the two countries have since considerably worsened, as Japan -- under pressure from groups representing the victims' families, championed by Abe and his supporters -- has cynically used the threat of sanctions and freezing of humanitarian aid to precipitate "regime change,"  much to the approval of Japan's U.S. allies. 
The abduction tragedy has been a boon for Abe, whose "hardline" stance against Pyongyang, repeatedly praised by the Japanese media, has elevated a little-known politician with a lackluster career to the status of national hero. Much of this "meteoric rise" -- the term used by Mainichi Shimbun, a faithful supporter  -- is thanks to a crassly opportunistic strategy of capitalizing on small-scale, politically-convenient misery to cover up for massive state and corporate misdeeds.
As McNeill observes: "Day after day for five years, every tiny development in the abduction drama has been obsessively played out here in the media," at the expense of "more deadly issues affecting Japan that have yet to receive anywhere near the same lavish media attention." Domestically, such issues include, for example, the link between smoking and cancer, covered roughly 20 times less than the story of Yokota Megumi -- the most famous of the abductee cases -- alone. While killing 100,000 people annually in Japan, the cancer connection, were it to be extensively covered, would certainly cut into the profits of Japan Tobacco, the third largest tobacco manufacturer in the world, who understandably prefers these victims not be granted "appropriate action." 
At an international level, the hypocrisy is significantly more acute. The Japanese government's continued refusal to address its war crimes stands in stark contrast to its international reputation as a "peace-loving nation" -- a reputation due in no small part to its pacifist constitution, the preamble of which Abe refers to as "degrading."  In contrast to the Japanese abductees, who number at most 80 in total, over one million Koreans were forcefully taken to Japan to service the military industry, mainly working in mines under miserable conditions. Former slaves, moreover, include not only Koreans, but also Chinese, Filipino, Taiwanese, Thai, Australian, British, and Dutch, to name a few. As Christopher Reed writes:
"A major argument of those seeking redress from a shamefully reluctant Japan, is that while it has made numerous 'apologies' of varying sincerity, none amounts to proper atonement. And atonement includes financial compensation of which, it is estimated, Japan has paid one percent of Germany's disbursements." 
Arguments that critics are "hung up" on history and should "move on"  -- wake up, in other words, and welcome the "brave new Japan" of Abe Shinzo  -- fail to acknowledge, or simply willfully ignore, the pre-war and post-war inter-generational continuity that lines the pockets of leading LDP politicians and increasingly subverts the democratic process.
Abe's admiration of his "statesman" grandfather Kishi Nobusuke, a class-A war criminal directly involved in the forcible abduction of thousands of Chinese workers to Japan in the midst of the war,  stands as one striking example of this legacy; Foreign Minister Aso Taro's steadfast refusal to acknowledge (let alone pay compensation for) the crimes of his family business, Aso Group (formerly Aso Mining Co.), a company that profited handsomely from the forced labor of 12,000 Koreans "compelled to work under grotesque conditions,"  is another.
And there are many more. According to William Underwood, a researcher investigating Japan's wartime forced labour, most of the profits from these wartime exploits are "probably still sitting in Japan's Postal Savings accounts ... including unpaid money for the much larger contingent of Asian slave workers forcibly taken to Japan ... worth today about $2 billion." 
Considering this record, it is not surprising that leading members of the LDP wish to focus attention away from less savory aspects of Japan's wartime past. Current pressure on NHK to "pay attention" to Japanese victims recalls equally direct -- if less overt -- attempts five years earlier by Abe and his associate Nakagawa Shoichi, both prominent members of the "Association to Consider the Future Path for Japan and History Education," to censor the contents of a film about Korean wartime sex-slaves ("comfort women").
As Gavan McCormack recounts, the film, scheduled to be broadcast in January 2001 and featuring proceedings of a civil tribunal convened in Tokyo one month earlier, was subjected to a series of last-minute changes "in a state of semi-siege, as rightists mobilized and sound trucks circled the NHK building blaring hostile messages and employees were jostled and abused as they entered or left the premises."  Days before the film was to go on air, Abe and Nakagawa met with senior executives of NHK, demanding major alterations that included insertion of "an interview with Hata Ikuhiko, a nationalist historian who denied that there had ever been a system of sexual slavery, and some gratuitously irrelevant footage of U.S. bombers in action over Vietnam." Henry Laurence writes that the tone of the film "changed from one basically sympathetic to the goals of Tribunal to one that was broadly negative and much closer in line to the government policy on the reparations issue."  Despite having openly violated both the Japanese Constitution and the Broadcast Law, when confronted and forced to admit his meddling, Abe was remarkably frank, declaring: "I found out that the contents were clearly biased and told [NHK] that it should be broadcast from a fair and neutral viewpoint, as it is expected to."  Needless to say, the media did not pursue the issue, leaving Abe to go on with his career, unscathed.
NHK censorship is unfortunately symptomatic of a transformation ongoing in Japanese society that threatens to completely sanitize or otherwise eliminate the few remaining public forums available for open and critical discussion. Only two months ago, one such forum, an online journal run by the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), was forced to issue an apology after featuring a number of pieces critical of government policies. Particularly fiercely targeted was an article by the journal's editor Tamamoto Masaru, described in attacks as "a radical left scholar," expressing concern for Japan's new "hawkish nationalism." As McNeill noted at the time:
"Many foreign academics and journalists found the JIIA articles, which began to appear in April 2006, to be thoughtful, at times independent or even critical attempts to engage Japan's undigested history, growing diplomatic assertiveness and increasingly troubled relations with China, Korea and much of East Asia. They were widely read, quoted, and discussed."
The articles received a somewhat less positive response from correspondent Komori Yoshihisa of the nationalist Sankei Shimbun, who decried the use of public money to attack "the thinking of the government and ruling camp." A public relations onslaught followed, prompting JIIA to shut the site, only to later re-open with all copies of the texts removed. 
Komori's attacks represent the diplomatic front for a violent undercurrent in modern Japanese politics. Around the same time as the JIIA incident, an official from an ultra-right wing organization set fire to the countryside home of Kato Koichi, an LDP member who had openly voiced criticisms of Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni shrine.
Numerous prominent public figures have in recent years faced similar retaliation for publicly opposing a xenophobic and historically myopic vision, currently gaining popularity thanks to generous corporate backing, of Japan as moving "toward a beautiful nation." As Steven Clemens explains, promoted by Abe and enforced by "an increasingly militant group of extreme right-wing activists," supporters of this vision "yearn for a return to 1930s-style militarism, emperor-worship and 'thought control'." Having found "mutualism in the media," this group has "begun to move into more mainstream circles -- and to attack those who don't see things their way," notably on questions of "Japan's national identity, war responsibility [and its] imperial system."
At least as reprehensible as any one of the North Korean kidnappings, incidents of intimidation are given implicit backing by leading politicians, who fail to publicly denounce them and even occasionally voice support. When Deputy Foreign Minister Tanaka Hitoshi discovered a time bomb in his home in 2003, allegedly for being soft on North Korea, Tokyo mayor Ishihara Shintaro famously declared that Tanaka "had it coming."  An editorial in The Hankyoreh noted the double-standard:
"It is a bad omen when the same politicians who have taken the lead in defining North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese citizens as 'state terror,' and have used the issue to promote a hardline stance towards Pyongyang, become mere onlookers when the Japanese right commits political terrorism." 
Pressure on NHK to fall in line with the narrow views of the LDP leadership -- in other words, adopt this double-standard -- is part of a larger strategy to cover-up complicity in a historical legacy of corruption and war crimes. In its eagerness to target an easy scapegoat in the form of a bankrupt and dysfunctional dictatorship, the Abe government has descended to a level of moral hypocrisy roughly on par with the vision of "pride" trumpeted and enforced by its yakuza and ultra-nationalist supporters. If this is an indication of the "freedom of expression" that must be honored "at all times," terms given generous lip service in defense of the new policy , then one might reasonably expect more of the same tactics to come.
 "State pushes abductions show on NHK," Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 14, 2006.
 "Japan to order more public media coverage of North Korea abductees," International Herald Tribune, Oct. 24, 2006.
 "Gov't to order NHK to air abductions, triggers press freedom concern," Kyodo News, Oct. 24, 2006.
 Wada Haruki, "Recovering a Lost Opportunity: Japan-North Korea Negotiations in the Wake of the Iraqi War," Sekai (translated by Mark Caprio for Japan Focus), May 3, 2003.
 Jim Lobe, "U.S. Neo-Conservatives Call for Japanese Nukes, Regime Change in North Korea," Japan Focus, Oct. 19, 2006.
 "Abe was born to become a prime minister," Mainichi Daily News, Sept. 21, 2006.
 "Japan media focus blurred on big issues," The Japan Times, Aug. 8, 2006.
 "Mr. Abe's worrisome plan for Japan," Japan Times, Sept. 21, 2006.
 Christopher Reed, "Japan Howls About 70 North Korea Abductions, Not Sorry About its One Million Korean Slaves," Counterpunch, Feb. 2, 2006.
 Bruce Wallace and Mark Magnier, "Abe's Visits Signal Neighbors' Desire to Mend Fences," Los Angeles Times, Oct. 6, 2006.
 Anthony Faiola, "Japan's Abe, Poised to Lead, Offers Nation Vision of Pride," The Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2006.
 William Underwood, "The Japanese Court, Mitsubishi and Corporate Resistance to Chinese Forced Labor Redress," Japan Focus, Mar. 29, 2006.
 Christopher Reed, "Japan Nixes Payments to Wartime Slaves," Counterpunch, June 20, 2006.
 Gavan McCormack, "War and Japan's Memory Wars," ZNet, Jan. 29, 2005.
 Henry Laurence, "Censorship at NHK and PBS," Japan Policy Research Institute Critique 7(3), April 2005.
 "NHK censored TV show due to 'political pressure'," The Japan Times, Jan. 14, 2005.
 David McNeill, "The Struggle for the Japanese Soul: Komori Yoshihisa, Sankei Shimbun, and the JIIA controversy," ZNet, Sept. 6, 2006.
 Steven Clemens, "The Rise of Japan's Thought Police," Washington Post, Aug. 27, 2006.
 "Japan's difficult drive to be a 'beautiful country'," The Hankyoreh, Sept. 2, 2006.
2006/10/28 오후 12:24
© 2006 Ohmynews
Revisionists damaging Japan
By HUGH CORTAZZI
LONDON -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has the reputation of being a tough nationalist. So far, however, he has shown himself to be a pragmatist in foreign-policy issues. His early visits to China and South Korea demonstrated that he wants to improve bilateral relations, which have soured in recent years. He has wisely eschewed mention of the Yasukuni issue. He realizes the vital importance of the U.S. relationship and understandably takes a tough line on North Korea.
But there have recently been some developments, apparently reflecting a recrudescence of rightwing nationalism, that are potentially damaging to Japan's world image. I was disturbed to see recently a report of a discussion between Sophia University professor emeritus Shoichi Watanabe and Foreign Minister Taro Aso in which the foreign minister and his conservative interlocutor made remarks that suggest that they take a revisionist view of Japanese history.
Watanabe once again attempted to deny known facts about the Nanjing Massacre and urged the foreign minister to promote his revisionist theories of history. The foreign minister's failure to reject Watanabe's proposals and his general line in the interview suggests that he is also a historical revisionist. The emphasis on Japanese uniqueness and on the Shinto view of life and death read very oddly.
The publication of this interview and its republication in Japan Echo, a Japanese government publication, in English is unhelpful to Japan's international image. Unfortunately the attitudes displayed in this interview have been echoed in other developments that indicate a growing sensitivity in Japanese official circles about any criticism, Japanese or foreign, of Japanese policies and increasing signs that elements in the Japanese government favor the revisionists' view of history.
A Washington correspondent for Sankei Shimbun, Yoshihisa Komori, who also denies the Nanjing Massacre and is renowned for his nationalist if not rightist views, recently criticized the Japanese Institute of International Affairs (JIIA) for publishing on its Web site articles critical of aspects of Japanese foreign policy and of politicians visiting Yasukuni Shrine. He was especially scathing about anything being published that suggested that the deterioration in relations between Japan and China might in part be due to actions taken by Japanese politicians.
JIIA President Ambassador Yukio Sato, presumably under pressure from his paymasters in the Foreign Ministry, wrote an article for Sankei in which he apologized for publishing such articles and said that he had deleted critical articles from his association's Web site.
I have great respect for Sato and know him to be an honorable man. I cannot believe that he would have allowed material on his Web site that was critical of Japan unless he felt that the issues raised in these articles deserved to be openly discussed. If serious issues cannot be debated in a reasonable way and if critical opinions are suppressed, the organization responsible for censoring such opinions will inevitably be seen as another Japanese government mouthpiece and its articles are likely to be disregarded as mere propaganda.
In an Aug. 27 Washington Post article titled "The Rise of Japan's Thought Police," writer Steven Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and cofounder of the Japan Policy Research Institute, referred to "an increasingly militant group of rightwing activists who yearn for a return to 1930s style militarism, emperor-worship and 'thought-control.' "
My immediate reaction when I read this sentence was that Clemons was surely exaggerating the dangers, but I began to wonder whether my reaction was correct when I read further about actions, allegedly taken by Japanese rightists, against Japanese critics of Koizumi's visits to Yasukuni Shrine. Clemons mentioned, in particular, attacks on Koichi Kato, a senior member of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, and Yotaro Kobayashi, chairman of Fuji Xerox and a leading internationalist businessman. Both apparently received death threats from rightists and had been targeted by arsonists and fire bombs. I was also concerned to learn that Sumiko Iwao, a leading Japanese feminist, had been threatened by Japanese rightists for suggesting sensibly that it was time for Japan to endorse female succession in the Imperial line.
I don't think that Japan will revert to what prewar British journalist Hugh Byas termed "government by assassination," but the Japanese authorities if only to demonstrate that they believe firmly in free speech and human rights should crack down hard on such threats and ensure that they allow and encourage a proper debate on serious issues. The right way to deal with historical controversies is to carry out objective studies of history such as those promoted by former Prime Minister Tomoichi Murayama.
Japanese politicians and journalists make a mistake if they think that the Yasukuni issue only concerns China and Korea. There are many friends of Japan in both Britain and the United States who are deeply troubled by the way Japanese politicians have paid official visits to this shrine. In Article 11 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed at San Francisco in 1951, Japan accepted the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. This means that the Japanese government accepted that the leaders who were condemned by the court had committed serious crimes.
Official visits to Yasukuni, where these criminals are enshrined, suggest that the Japanese government no longer upholds this provision in the Treaty of Peace and implicitly condones the actions for which they were condemned. In the view of many observers such visits are also contrary to Article 20 of the Constitution on the separation of state and religion.
More important is the existence of Yasukuni Shrine's Yushukan Museum, which seems to glorify war and ignores the sufferings caused by war to Japanese and foreign peoples alike, contrary to the spirit of Article 9 of the Constitution and to Japan's aspirations for world peace.
I write as a friend of Japan and an admirer of Japanese culture. I do not want to see Japan dominated by extremists or old-fashioned nationalists. I hope that this will not happen, but Japanese need to be on their guard.
Hugh Cortazzi, a former British career diplomat, served as ambassador to Japan from 1980 to 1984.
The Japan Times: Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006
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The New York Times
A Ruling for Equality in New Jersey
Published: October 26, 2006
The New Jersey Supreme Court brought the United States a little closer to the ideal of equality yesterday when it ruled that the state’s Constitution requires that committed same-sex couples be accorded the same rights as married heterosexual couples. It stopped short, however, of ruling that same-sex couples have a right to “marry,” leaving the question of what to call same-sex unions up to the State Legislature.
That omission will disappoint some gay-rights advocates, but there is no reason for lawmakers not to apply the term marriage to these committed relationships, and they should do so swiftly. Meanwhile, the court decision is an important step forward.
New Jersey already has a civil-unions law, but it gives same-sex couples fewer rights than married couples. Same-sex couples are penalized financially, in areas like employer-provided health benefits and inheritance taxes. They are also disadvantaged socially and in practical, day-to-day ways. One of the plaintiffs in the case had trouble getting her partner into a hospital emergency room with her when she was sick.
The court required the Legislature to level the playing field in every respect but one. It said lawmakers can call relationships between partners of the same sex marriage, or something else. This page supports gay marriage, but we also know it will not be recognized instantly. New Jersey’s delay is unfortunate, but at least it makes it hard for anti-gay forces in the state to mobilize against the decision. The court ruling secures important rights, and paves the way for the full equality that will no doubt come.
The Japan Times: Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006
ON THE 'RIGHT' TRACK
Abe's hold on women stumps feminists
Reactionary views, appointments obscured by his 'gentle' exterior?
By JUN HONGO
Second of three parts
Depite an approach to gender equality issues that his critics consider hopelessly old-fashioned, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has managed to win strong support among female voters, a fact that leaves feminist thinkers like University of Tokyo professor Chizuko Ueno scratching their heads.
"It's incomprehensible why Prime Minister Abe is so popular among females," Ueno said.
"It's eerie," the women's studies professor said, considering the conservatism apparent in both Abe's Cabinet appointments and his stance on gender equality issues, as well as his vocal support of "traditional family values."
Upon taking office last month, Abe gave the gender equality portfolio to arch conservative Sanae Takaichi, who opposes a draft bill to allow women to retain their surnames when they marry.
Another high-level female appointee, Eriko Yamatani, is a vocal opponent of "gender-neutral" education who has said that approach, which seeks to instill in both sexes a sense that they can play equal roles in society, ignores differences between males and females. She was chosen as special adviser in charge of educational reform.
Abe, who previously headed a Liberal Democratic Party project team that has called for a re-examination of the gender-neutral approach in education, is known as a strong supporter of traditional family values.
He has, for example, opposed sex education that shows students condoms and uses anatomically correct dolls to teach the subject, denouncing it as "gender-free fascism," without defining his terms.
This opposition wins points with those who believe Japan's traditional family values are under threat.
Despite his holding views that seem at odds with the increasingly prominent role women are playing in business and politics, and with their own modern self-image, many women seem charmed by Abe. He has been the subject of glowing coverage in popular women's magazines.
Poll statistics appear to bear out Abe's favorable press. Public approval of the Cabinet stood at 65 percent support, according to a September survey of 1,035 people by Kyodo News.
But Ueno of the University of Tokyo believes there is less to Abe's popularity than meets the eye, arguing that many feminists oppose his policies, but are not being heard by the media.
One problematic aspect the media did cover pertaining to Abe was his reported pressure, along with LDP bigwig Shoichi Nakagawa, to get NHK in 2001 to censor a documentary on a mock tribunal in Japan that found the late Emperor Hirohito guilty of institutionalizing the sexual slavery of thousands of women across wartime Japanese-occupied territories for the sake of Imperial army soldiers.
"Because I was told that the mock trial was going to be reported in a way that the organizers wanted it to be, I looked into the matter," Abe said in a statement reported on Jan. 13, 2005, when he was LDP deputy secretary general. "As a result, I found out that the contents were clearly biased, and told (NHK) that it should broadcast from a fair and neutral viewpoint, as it is expected to."
Four days later, he denied pushing for the censorship and refused to testify about the incident before the Diet.
Ueno criticizes Abe's ideas on gender roles as being out of step, adding that social changes, rather than feminists and gender-neutral education, are responsible for the changes to family life in Japan that Abe decries.
Ueno is stumped by why women are backing a politician possessed of such backward views. She disputes the idea that Abe's popularity is an indication women are becoming more traditional, citing surveys that show a steady rise in the number of women opposed to playing traditional roles based on their sex over the last 30 years.
She speculates that Abe's appeal to women is superficial: He looks gentle. The group Japan Men's Fashion Unity named him the "best-dressed personality" in 2002, and he and his wife, Akie, were in the top 10 list of ideal couples, according to a 2003 Internet poll of 58,782 people by groups that promote Good Partnership Day every Nov. 22.
"It may be the influence of TV politics," Ueno said.
Political pedigree may also be a factor. Abe is the grandson of the late Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi and the son of the late Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe. He has charmed the public and been at the center of media attention from the moment he stepped into the political arena.
On his trip to China and South Korea earlier this month, he was seen frequently holding his wife's hand, a rare sight among middle-aged Japanese, and this may have contributed to Abe's popularity with middle-aged women.
One news editor at the major weekly Josei Jishin said Abe began winning over women as chief Cabinet secretary under his predecessor as prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, with his approach toward China and South Korea as well as his being the point man on the North Korea abduction issue. But his good looks have also played a big role. Josei Jishin recently published three favorable articles about Abe.
"Media polls reveal that he has received a high percentage of support from women, but I feel that his young age and looks helped a lot," said the editor, who asked not to be named.
Although Abe's popularity has not reached the heights Koizumi enjoyed at his peak, Abe benefited from a high degree of exposure even before the LDP presidential race began. The other candidates, Taro Aso and Sadakazu Tanigaki, had much less.
"The main age group of our readers are married women in their 30s and 40s. They judge politicians not by their policy plans, but what they can actually do. They are realistic.
"That being said, I cannot tell if the Cabinet will continue to receive favorable opinions by our readers in the future," the editor said.
Kazuko Furuta of the New Japan Women's Association, a feminist organization with 200,000 members formed in 1962, reckoned Abe's pitch to revive traditional family values is an attempt to encourage women to quit their jobs and stay home to focus on raising children.
"I don't know why so many women are supporting Prime Minister Abe's conservative policies. I really don't know," the 59-year-old director of NJWA's gender equality and female advancement division said.
Furuta believes there are some conservative women's groups who back the Cabinet's position, but most women have been fooled by Abe's use of such simplistic phrases as "beautiful Japan" and such promises as providing employment opportunities for people without jobs.
"For me, everything about Abe is scary -- especially his plans to revise the Fundamental Law of Education. I am hoping that Abe's popularity with women will cool down rapidly once his polices come into force and his intentions are revealed," Furuta said.
ON THE 'RIGHT' TRACK Abe to play hardball with soft education system