- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

Death, the commuter

TOKYO — Following the disastrous April 25 accident on the Takarazuka Line, West Japan Railway Co. put together a five-point policy on securing safety for its passengers.

The first item on the list is to “build a corporate culture that gives priority to safety.”

As one of its urgent tasks, the company will install the latest automatic train stop systems on all major lines in the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe area. It will also consider reducing train service to avoid overly tight train schedules.

Those steps should have been taken long ago. If they had been in place, the tragedy could have been averted. Information surrounding the disaster, including the heavy pressure put on train drivers to meet timetables … only gradually came to light.

The death toll when the commuter train derailed and crashed into a nine-story apartment building was 105, with 460 injured. …

JR-West must undergo the difficult task of changing its own culture that has leaned toward a single-minded obsession with money-making.

London Daily Telegraph

Remembering WWII

LONDON — Thomas Matussek, the German ambassador to Britain who has been complaining about the British obsession with the Nazi period … had a difficult week … Yesterday came the unveiling of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial and the revelation that Albert Speer, the supposedly “Good Nazi,” did know about Auschwitz, despite his denials. …

That said, it is better to overdose on the war than forget about it, which many are in danger of doing. …

Knowledge of the Second World War is not just good for moral instruction; it is vital, too, for understanding the modern world. The war’s modern legacy is substantial: The founding of the United Nations and the early incarnation of the EU, the creation of Israel, the pacific nature of Japan and Germany … and dissolution of communist Eastern Europe are direct results of a war that it would be both ignorant and heartless to forget. …

The Age

Hostage Douglas Wood

MELBOURNE, Australia — In an interview before he was taken hostage in Iraq at the weekend, Australian engineer Douglas Wood appeared to take the dangers of working as a foreigner there somewhat lightly. “I’ve heard the sounds of mortars dropping nearby, rifle fire in the streets, but this is like occasional background music,” he said.

“The reality is that it’s not all that difficult. There are probably scarier places in downtown [Washington] D.C.” But then kidnappers took Mr. Wood, 63, and gave him a different perspective on the perils of his chosen life. In a two-minute video, he called for U.S., Australian and British authorities to withdraw their troops from Iraq.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has predictably — and rightly — said he will not bow to terrorist demands, but in the meantime the government is doing what it can to secure Mr. Wood’s freedom.

Corriere della Sera

EU constitutional treaty

MILAN, Italy — Currently the most arduous obstacle is the approval of the constitutional treaty, in certain cases submitted to simple parliamentary ratification and in others, to referendum. The difficulty with forming a common European identity has many different reasons. Europe, unlike the United States, has a history of modern nationalism. … More than 450 million multinational citizens speaking 20 different languages will have to get ready to live under the same law.

The referendum will be voted first by the French on May 29. The potential threat of France’s ambiguous position or … Britain’s insular tendency impeding this next step could lead to a general shock, but then possibly also to a deeper reflection. It is only reasonable that the EU, as the other major world powers, should have the political authority and representation that its global economical and commercial position imply.

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