- The Washington Times - Friday, September 3, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Daily Yomiuri

Japan’s U.N. role

TOKYO — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi intends to reiterate Japan’s determination to gain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council when he addresses a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly at the end of this month.

But questions can be raised over the prime minister’s attitude on this issue. He recently said: “The P5 [five permanent U.N. Security Council members] are all nuclear powers. These nations are all ready to engage in combat overseas if an international dispute arises.”

He has also said: “Japan can’t always do what the P5 does. I’ll tell [the United Nations] that Japan wants to be heard as a country that will act differently from the P5.”

For years, the prime minister has maintained a passive stance on Japan’s bid to become a permanent Security Council member, citing restrictions the [Japanese] Constitution’s Article 9 imposes on this country with respect to its conduct overseas. Mr. Koizumi’s latest statement apparently reflects his adherence to these restrictions.

Japan’s desire to become a permanent Security Council member does not mean that this nation must possess nuclear weapons if it eventually joins the … [council]. The P5’s readiness to participate in combat overseas if an international conflict erupts constitutes an important obligation to be fulfilled by these nations. … Sending Self-Defense Force troops overseas to create and maintain peace under a Security Council resolution does not mean waging war or using force.

Morning Herald

Mixing work and family

SYDNEY, Australia — The stereotype of the home mum and the office dad is in steady — and irreversible — decline.

Nearly 60 percent of young Australian families have both parents in the paid work force. Only 28 per cent of families have a sole, male breadwinner. Almost as many have both parents working full time. The rest juggle in between. Employers no longer can expect workers to leave family life at home.

The test case on flexible working arrangements, which opened in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission this week, has been attacked by the federal government and by business as unfair because it seeks to shift to employers the burden of social change. The union council wants unpaid maternity leave doubled to two years, the right of mothers to return to work part-time after maternity leave, and parents to be offered the chance to “buy” — through salary sacrificing — up to six weeks extra annual leave. It is potentially the most important test case for working parents since women won maternity leave in 1979.

Certainly, it is a hallmark of the “third wave” of industrial agitation. The first was rooted in jousting over conditions and rewards at work; the second in arrangements for life after work, as typified by trade-offs for compulsory superannuation. Now the battlefield is defined by the mix of work and family life. Here, the workplace has shown itself ahead of the political game.


The law’s not an ass

JOHANNESBURG — The law, despite the considered opinion of Mr. Bumble [in “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens], is not always an ass, an idiot. And this has just been proven by a review judgment handed down by two judges of the Cape High Court.

They were dealing with the case of a woman who had been sent to jail for a year for selling a single bottle of beer. There was the small technical issue of whether it actually contained the designated beverage. More significantly, however, it was concluded that when imposing a sentence for this type of offense, regard should be taken of the social context in which informal taverns operate.

The woman was set free. Let’s drink to that sensible decision.

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