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AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.
Are There Employment Opportunities For Youth In The Greater Bay Area?
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Are There Employment Opportunities For Youth In The Greater Bay Area?

Shih Wing-ching, Chief Executive, Centaline Group, in am730 (December 1, 2020) 

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region)

Are There Employment Opportunities For Youth In The Greater Bay Area?

In her policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor proposed an employment scheme in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area for newly graduated Hong Kong youths. The scheme has a total of 2,000 places, 80 percent in general roles and 20 percent in innovation and technology. The monthly salary will be at least HK$18,000 (US$2,308) and HK$26,000 ($3,333), respectively. Participating companies will be able to receive salary subsidies from the SAR government amounting to HK$10,000 (US$1,282) and HKD18,000, respectively.

The chief executive’s scheme appears to be a practical arrangement, designed to attract young people to go to the mainland and broaden their work experience. After all, the mainland market is both larger and more competitive than Hong Kong. As such, Hong Kong employees should be able to develop their skills faster. These opportunities can only be provided under an environment of rapid economic growth. 

In recent years, however, Hong Kong has been affected by the Western trend of resistance to China. Many young people are reluctant to consider the mainland in their career plans. This may explain why the government is willing to provide salary subsidies as an incentive for Hong Kong youths. 

The salary subsidies will mean that a starting salary could be 50 percent higher than the average starting salary in Hong Kong and twice the average starting salary in the mainland. This may sound like a good incentive but may not be sustainable in the long run. Unlike a few decades ago, today’s young mainland generation now outperform their Hong Kong counterparts in terms both knowledge and practical problem-solving ability. It is uncertain how many companies would be genuinely interested in hiring young Hong Kong people without receiving any government subsidies. 

Instead of subsidizing the employees, the Hong Kong government should subsidize employers to open positions up to youth while offering them the same wage as their mainland counterparts. Ultimately, if you work in the mainland, as long as you work hard, the pay will not be significantly worse than in Hong Kong. In addition, the mainland market is large so corporate profits may ultimately be much greater than that of Hong Kong.


Lessons From the Japanese Economy
Monday, November 23, 2020
Lessons From the Japanese Economy

Lee Kang-kook, Professor at the College of Economics of Ritsumeikan University in Japan, in SisaIN (November 21, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: Richard Schneider)

Lessons From the Japanese Economy

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), developed economies are expected to record on average a 14.4 percent fiscal deficit and a 20.2 percent surge in public debt. Few doubt the importance of expansionary fiscal policy but the big question mark lingers over the sustainability of high government debt. 

One country stands out in any analysis of government debt. In Japan, public debt began growing significantly in the 1990s because of numerous public-works projects and then through the 2000s with spending relating to the country’s aging society. In 2019, it reached 238 percent of GDP. During all this time, tax revenue continued to decline due to economic recession. Many refer to this time as the “lost decades” as the government was unable to take control of the economy and wage stagnation triggered deflation. 

This negative trend was finally reversed by the policies of Shinzo Abe, who recently stepped down as prime minister. From 2013, the nominal economy started to grow and tax revenue started to increase. This was not accompanied by any significant increase in public spending. An increase in the value-added tax (VAT) led to a positive balance. The interest rate on a 10-year government bond has fallen to near zero and the government has recently been buying back its bonds and now hold about 48 percent of national debt.

The Japanese experience shows the importance of maintaining a growth rate above the interest rate by making use of expansionary fiscal policy and monetary policy. Those who worry about high public debt now may see Japan today as an example and overcome any fear of taking on too much.


How Will the President Provide the People with a Vaccine?
Thursday, November 19, 2020
How Will the President Provide the People with a Vaccine?

Antonio T Carpio, retired associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, in his Crosscurrents column in Philippine Daily Inquirer (November 19, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Jeon Han/Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea)

How Will the President Provide the People with a Vaccine?

President Rodrigo Duterte has criticized pharmaceutical companies in Western countries for asking advance payment for their Covid-19 vaccines. The president complained: “There is still no vaccine, there is nothing with finality, and you want us to make a reservation by depositing money; you must be crazy.” The president also stated that “the procurement law of the Philippines does not allow you to buy something which is non-existent or to-be-produced as yet.”

The president vowed to prioritize buying Covid-19 vaccines from China and Russia because of their “generosity” in not demanding advance payment. “If the vaccines of Russia and China are equally good and effective just like any other vaccine invented by any country, I will buy first,” he declared.

The president is sadly mistaken in his pronouncements. First, Philippine law expressly authorizes the president to approve advance payment in any amount for the purchase of goods, particularly in case of calamities like a pandemic. Second, China and Russia will prioritize their own citizens since their state-owned companies are developing their vaccines.

The US and EU member states will have priority in the distribution of any successful vaccine since they have invested in the research, development, and manufacture of the vaccine. The US and the EU have calculated that gaining six to 12 months’ head start in deploying any successful vaccine will be worth the risk considering the damage the lockdowns and work suspensions have inflicted on their economies.

The president now realizes that the West, China, and Russia will prioritize their own citizens in the distribution of vaccines and that Filipinos may be among the last in the long queue. So how will President Duterte provide the Filipino people with a vaccine?


Why Invoking the “Ruling Right” Will Not Work in a Cover-Up
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Why Invoking the “Ruling Right” Will Not Work in a Cover-Up

Chang Young-soo, Professor of Constitutional Law at Korea University, in Munhwa Ilbo (November 13, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: IAEA Imagebank)

Why Invoking the “Ruling Right” Will Not Work in a Cover-Up

Although the terrible nuclear incident at Fukushima, Japan, turned public opinion strongly against nuclear power, there was also criticism against throwing out years of research and investment to perfect the technology.

The real turning point, however, came with the release of an audit report on early retirement of Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant I, which found that the economic forecast for the power plant were set too low and that some unfavorable documents had been discarded. These findings cast doubt on the quality of due diligence leading up to the early retirement of the plant and on the integrity of the government.

What has been worse was the administration’s reaction to these findings. Some members of the president’s party accused the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of being “politically motivated” and labeled the decision regarding the plant’s early retirement to be the “ruling right” of the president. It truly is surprising coming from a party that strongly criticized its predecessor for overstepping its power.

In reality, the executive invokes right to rule only in exceptional cases where due to a critical political situation, legal matters are sidelined in the policy decision-making process. Historically, this right has been executed rarely and with great caution, mostly in national crises involving urgent diplomatic issues. The issue of the power plant is not that grave. Furthermore, citing the ruling right in no way serves as a barrier that fends off investigation. Citizens are left to wonder what the political party is hiding behind its outrageous logic. In any case, once the truth is revealed, those responsible will be held accountable.


Exploring Ways to Cooperate with ASEAN in the fight against Covid-19
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Exploring Ways to Cooperate with ASEAN in the fight against Covid-19

Peng Nian, Deputy Director and Associate Fellow at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, in Global Times (November 14, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: ASEAN Secretariat)

Exploring Ways to Cooperate with ASEAN in the fight against Covid-19

Even during the pandemic, China’s commitment to strengthening economic and trade cooperation with ASEAN countries remains strong. In the first half of 2020, ASEAN surpassed the EU to become China's largest trading partner. This boom reflects not only the huge potential of economic cooperation between the two sides but also the strong foundation of mutual cooperation maintained through the pandemic despite shrinking global market demand and increasing protectionism. Nevertheless, the United States still seeks to disrupt China-ASEAN cooperation. China should address the following issues to reduce the impact of such interference.

First, due to Covid-19, ASEAN countries have experienced a decline in economic growth and reduced market demand. China should seek to meet the needs of ASEAN countries while recognizing the needs created by the epidemic, especially through cooperation in the digital economy. China should also promote the establishment of a regional China-ASEAN public-health cooperation mechanism based on the joint fight against Covid-19 and use this as an opportunity to implement the "Health Silk Road" initiative.

Second, to strengthen the foundations of cooperation, both sides should jointly resolve problems, especially those created by the pandemic. While China should continue to encourage domestic companies to invest in ASEAN countries, they should also fulfill their social responsibilities and ensure that investment supports the development of the local economy and society.

Third, China and ASEAN should avoid maritime crises through regular dialogue and collectively oppose any forms of foreign interference. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19, the US has attempted to turn ASEAN countries against China by stirring up the South China Sea issue. China and ASEAN should accelerate the negotiation of the code of conduct in the area and steadily carry out pragmatic maritime cooperation. This will create a peaceful environment for China-ASEAN to deepen economic cooperation and trade.


May Diwali Bring Hope This Vile Year
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
May Diwali Bring Hope This Vile Year

Tavleen Singh, columnist, in The Indian Express (November 15, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Khokarahman)

May Diwali Bring Hope This Vile Year

This has been a vile year not just for India but for the whole world. Except perhaps for our old foe China from whence came the worst pandemic in more than a century. As someone who thinks of China as an evil country, it galls me that it seems somehow to be doing just fine. So we must hope that on this Diwali festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil, the gods hear our prayers and help us to banish Chinese soldiers from our territory. May the gods punish China by doing as much harm to its economy as has been done to ours and to the economies of some of the richest countries in the world.

Having got my bile against China off my chest, I feel good. Since it is Diwali, I am going to try to talk about things that may help us all get into a festive mood. What has cheered me up in these long months of lockdowns was the announcement of the New Education Policy. It will be a long while before Indian children in government schools get access to an education and not just literacy, but this policy is a step in the right direction. It is my hope that it will be the first step towards decolonizing a public education system that was created by our colonial masters. It should have been decolonized years ago and, if it happens now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be remembered in history for this.

Now it is time for Modi to concentrate on reviving the economy. His economic failures, that began with demonetization, should reduce any satisfaction he gets from his political successes. When I light the diyas this evening, I shall pray that we will not need masks this time next year.


RCEP is in Southeast Asia’s Interests
Monday, November 16, 2020
RCEP is in Southeast Asia’s Interests

Chu Kar Kin, Hong Kong commentator, in Oriental Daily (November 13, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

RCEP is in Southeast Asia’s Interests

The members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – 10 ASEAN member countries, as well as South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand – will reach a free trade agreement. Together, they account for about a third of the world’s total population and 30 percent of global GDP. Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, all have great development potential. In terms of economic and trade cooperation, they have many years of experience in dealing with each other.

The RCEP members will sign advanced free trade agreements on goods, services and investment and trade, involving economic and technological cooperation, Fields such as intellectual property rights are becoming more important for countries to reboot their economies, stabilize employment, and stimulate domestic demand. China is also an important export market for Malaysia’s produce such as palm oil, rubber and fruit. Through the RCEP, the two countries can deepen cooperation and trade. 

As such, Malaysia and other ASEAN countries should be optimistic about the future of RCEP. As an important engine for the economic recovery of various industries in the post-pandemic era, the agreement will deepen the integration of global industrial chains. Certain products and services will have lower tariffs, while member states can set up free-trade zones and establish preferential policies for private enterprises with partner countries. RCEP could even become a mini version of the Belt and Road Initiative within the Asia-Pacific region.

In the 21st century, countries need to abandon zero-sum thinking, unilateralism and protectionism, and actively embrace multilateral cooperation. RCEP is a turning point, boosting the economic confidence of Asia-Pacific countries while laying a foundation for future trade in both Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia, supporting economic growth and creating new opportunities. Together, members will construct a global trading system that promotes cooperation through win-win relationships.


Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations

Chao Chun-shan, Honorary Professor at the Graduate Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University, in My Formosa (November 9, 2020)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Victoria Pickering)

Biden’s Win Was a Response to Trends in Sino-US Relations

While US President-elect Joe Biden's first priority on taking office will be to address the divisions in American society, he will also need to make changes in foreign policy. 

It is unrealistic to expect Biden to return to Barack Obama’s policy of engagement with China. Biden’s key diplomatic strategist and nominee to be secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has openly acknowledged that China presents new challenges and that the status quo is unsustainable. Nevertheless, Biden's China advisers generally oppose the so-called "new Cold War" and "decoupling" from China. While Biden’s team will need to focus immediately on Covid-19 and emerging economic problems, both tasks will require contact and potentially cooperation with China.

Biden's past statements offer some clues on what his cross-strait policy could look like. After the severance of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the United States in 1979, the then-senator was one of the initiators of the Taiwan Relations Act. But in 1999, he strongly opposed the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act on the grounds that formal military communications would risk provoking China. As such, Biden’s policy may not differ significantly from Trump’s. Furthermore, while Sino-US relations are likely to become more predictable after Biden takes office, the Chinese Communist Party’s objective of achieving reunification is unlikely to change.  

Some people in Taiwan had been choosing sides in the US election. This is futile and the government should refrain from doing this. Diplomacy is about forging good relations so it is natural to focus diplomatic work on the ruling party. The existence of opposition parties, however, should be considered in relations with other democracies. Both the ruling and opposition parties in Taiwan must put Taiwan’s interests first rather than using elections elsewhere as a reason to argue.


US Behind Protests? Try Convincing Conspiracy Theorists Otherwise
Monday, November 9, 2020
US Behind Protests? Try Convincing Conspiracy Theorists Otherwise

Pravit Rojanaphruk, Senior Staff Writer, in Khaosod (November 7, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Xiengyod)

US Behind Protests? Try Convincing Conspiracy Theorists Otherwise

The American Embassy in Bangkok may be insisting that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has not been aiding any protest leaders to seek political asylum in the US, but it will probably not convince believers in conspiracy theories. That is because of three factors – deep distrust of superpowers, history, and a belief that the young anti-government protesters calling for reform of the monarchy cannot possibly think and act for themselves.

Conspiracy theorists could easily discount the denial made by the embassy by saying no one who meddled into another state’s political affairs would admit it. This is because the United States is a superpower, with a real history of interfering in Thai politics in the past. During the Cold War, Thai military dictators were basically America’s boys.

It was America, during the height of the Cold War, which supported not only dictator Sarit Thanarat but also the Thai king, Rama IX, to play a greater role in society. Given the history, it is hard if not impossible to convince die-hard ultra-royalists that the US is not behind the protests. Some also believe in a different conspiracy theory – that China is fully behind the Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-Cha regime and Thailand is becoming a de facto province of China. Again, China is also a superpower and has a history of supporting the now defunct Communist Party of Thailand.

Conspiracy theorists do not believe in ordinary people’s human agency. They do not believe that people can think for themselves and act independently. They believe people must have a master, be it America or China. This is part of Thailand’s deep distrust and while it is almost impossible to convince the believers in conspiracy theories otherwise, others would do well to understand why some continue to cling on to such theories.


Lesson From the Death of a Delivery Man
Monday, November 9, 2020
Lesson From the Death of a Delivery Man

Chang Sok-chu, poet and literary critic, in Segye Ilbo (November 6, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong (Photo credit: lamoix)

Lesson From the Death of a Delivery Man

Another delivery man was found dead in his apartment. The cause of the death was overwork and the incident cast yet another spotlight on the brutal reality of the delivery industry where employees work day and night to meet the daily quota of 400 parcels. Although the surge in deliveries is inevitable due to the pandemic, the harsh reality where already 13 workers have lost their lives this year due to overwork is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Labor exists in many forms. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Great Wall in China, and the Taj Mahal in India are all products of labor. Put simply, labor is an act of offering one’s time and energy to bring change. In a modern society, most people offer their labor in return for a fixed salary. In such cases, the laborers are “in servitude” to their employers. In a post-modern society, more and more work takes the form of “performance” where laborers voluntarily choose to push themselves to the limit for achievement. Good as it seems in theory, this shift has created the society of perpetual exhaustion that we know today.

Fatigue is a normal by-product of labor. Extreme accumulation of exhaustion, however, is not and should not be regarded as a normal side-effect of one’s achievements. In many societies, avoiding labor for no reason is not well regarded as is written in the Bible: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” A society must reconsider how it defines and values labor when its members are pushed to the brink every day. Labor must always result in a net benefit for both the laborers and the society. One death from a burnout is one too many to continue our business as usual.


What if There is No V-Shaped Recovery?
Monday, November 9, 2020
What if There is No V-Shaped Recovery?

Hu Min, electronics industry employee, in Lianhe Zaobao (November 7, 2020)  

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: foam)

What if There is No V-Shaped Recovery?

After 162 years, Robinsons has announced that it will close its last two department stores, representing yet another notable retail-sector victim of the pandemic. Many are questioning when the situation will begin to improve. From constant mask wearing to restricted movement, it is not yet clear when this “new normal” will end.

The term “new normal” was originally used to in to describe the US economy failing to experience a rapid V-shaped recovery after the global financial crisis. Instead, there would be a prolonged period of weak growth and stagflation. Today’s global growth outlook is also struggling to recover due to Covid-19 which not only continues to challenge public health systems but also inflict serious damage to the global trading system.

It is therefore vital to respond to this crisis in accordance with both local conditions and national conditions. China successfully controlled the virus within eight months by taking this approach. While Singapore made some early mistakes, the situation is also now improving. It has been important for businesses to proactively adjust their operations – for example, by introducing flexible working to all staff and finding innovative solutions to new problems. A good example would be companies in the troubled tourism and aviation industry launching novelty services, such as Singapore Airlines offering inflight meal experiences on the tarmac.

In this new normal, and perhaps without a V-shaped recovery to look forward to, it will be essential to develop new skills and be ready to adapt to changes. Only through continually adapting and adjusting, can Singapore and Singaporeans hope to make the most of opportunities when the situation improves.


Is Corruption the Only Legacy of Mongolian Boomers
Friday, November 6, 2020
Is Corruption the Only Legacy of Mongolian Boomers

Myagmardorj Buyanjargal, writer and translator, in The UB Post (November 4, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: munkhzaya0/Pixabay)

Is Corruption the Only Legacy of Mongolian Boomers

Reports have been made public that the general director of a state-owned mining corporation had used company funds to pay his daughter’s tuition fees at the University of Toronto in Canada. While many considered this a clear example of abuse of power, some also raised the question of whether such a benefit for the director was covered under his contract. 

I believe that it was theft from the state budget. It may very well be true that offering such advantages or benefits to the director could be allowed under a contract to bring good management to state-owned enterprises. However, it does not look like this was the case. There are absolutely reasonable legal grounds to open a criminal case and investigate the issue further unless there is some important information yet unknown to the public. 

People are questioning why it is taking this long for the relevant authorities, such as Independent Authority Against Corruption, to take necessary measures on this case. If we are to believe that Mongolia is a country with a rule of law, rather than a rule of men, the people deserve to know why no follow-up action was taken immediately upon the release of such an allegation of obvious corruption.


Re-entry Restrictions Fuel Distrust Among Foreign Residents
Monday, November 2, 2020
Re-entry Restrictions Fuel Distrust Among Foreign Residents

Kanako Ida, editorial writer, in Asahi Shimbun (October 30, 2020)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: Steven-L-Johnson)

Re-entry Restrictions Fuel Distrust Among Foreign Residents

The pandemic made many foreigners residing in Japan realize just how precarious their situation was. With the spread of infections from the spring, the government implemented the measure to not allow permanent and long-term foreign residents to re-enter if they left Japan. It was difficult for foreigners whose residential base was Japan to leave the nation if they had no assurance of being allowed to return.

Many gave up on important tasks, such as visiting relatives who are ill back in their native land. Others were kept separated from their family and jobs in Japan for extended periods because they simply had to leave. While foreign residents were allowed to re-enter Japan from September, that came on the condition that they could show they had tested negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of departing for Japan. No such restrictions were placed on Japanese returning from abroad.

The major disparity that arose left an emotional wound in many foreign residents who prided themselves on having engaged deeply with their local community and fulfilled such obligations as paying taxes. I was at a loss for words when a European acquaintance asked me, “Does the government of Japan consider foreign residents to be second-class citizens?”

Eight years ago, the foreign registration system was abolished, and a resident document is issued to anyone who remains in Japan for more than three months just like a Japanese. While a related change also made it easier for foreigners to re-enter Japan, the thinking about control is still in the forefront so there has been little progress in revising the system to make it easier for foreigners to live in Japan.

Can Japan become a nation trusted in the international community if it is unable to obtain the trust of foreigners who reside here?


Water Management in a Time of Climate Change
Friday, October 30, 2020
Water Management in a Time of Climate Change

Kim Sung-soo Kim, professor of law at Yonsei University, in The Seoul Shinmun Daily (October 27, 2020)

Summary by Soomi Hong

Water Management in a Time of Climate Change

We live in a time of climate abnormality. But this is the new normal. According to the United Nations, water management will account for as much as 90 percent of successful adaption to climate change. The International Water Association (ISA) also found that as much as 20 percent of carbon emissions would depend on water management policies. Korean policymakers must pay urgent attention to this.

First, the government must promptly put together a unified water management body. Currently, flood control is separately managed by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, depending on the body of water and the function. This is not an effective structure to address a crisis such as rapid flooding.

Second, there must be proactive investment made in water management. The latest budget for 2020 shows a stark contrast between 14 trillion won (US$12.4 billion) allocated for road and railway and the 1 trillion (US$887 million) for water management. Also, although 98.4 percent of flooding occurs in the countryside, smaller counties have difficulty securing funds. The central government must step up and provide support.

Third, there needs to be legal and financial support to establish a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions policy.  The European Union has been a leader in this. Meanwhile, the Korean government has started talks on a ‘”Korean New Deal” of economic, environmental and social reforms.

There is an old saying that the “water is the greatest good because it helps everyone”. The times call for immediate action and collaboration between countries, states and generations. Pursuing a water-management strategy would be a critical first step in the right direction.


Consent to restart nuclear plant will not sweep away concerns
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Consent to restart nuclear plant will not sweep away concerns

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit: IAEA)

Consent to restart nuclear plant will not sweep away concerns

The Miyagi Prefectural Assembly has approved reactivation of the No. 2 unit of the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant. The governor of the prefecture is set to make a final decision on the restart after hearing the opinions of the heads of local bodies involved. The plant's operator, Tohoku Electric Power Co., will accelerate moves to restart the reactor in two years. If it is reactivated, the Onagawa plant will be the first nuclear plant in a prefecture heavily damaged by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami to reboot one of its reactors.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority completed a safety inspection of the reactor in February. The municipal assemblies in Ishinomaki and Onagawa, which the plant straddles, have indicated that they will approve the restart.

But many issues remain unsolved. The government has asked local bodies within a 30-kilometer radius of nuclear power plants to formulate wide-area evacuation plans. In the case of the Onagawa plant, seven municipalities have mapped out such plans, but there are misgivings about their viability. Furthermore, among the five local municipalities excluding those which house the nuclear power plant, some are opposed to reactivation. In spite of this, consent of such local bodies has not been made a prerequisite to resume operations.

Lingering safety concerns cannot be swept away. The governor says that the plant adopted "the toughest regulations and standards in the world, and safety has increased". But Japan learned from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that such disasters can exceed people's expectations.

Nuclear power plants are not 100 percent safe. Tohoku Electric and the prefectural government have a responsibility to listen to the concerns of residents and search for common ground. Rushing ahead to restart the reactor with consent as a mere formality while ignoring this responsibility is impermissible.