- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Kristeligt Dagblad

WTO talks

COPENHAGEN — There was no lack of reciprocal accusations between the European Union and the United States [this week] after the WTO talks among the United States, the European Union, India, Brazil, Australia and Japan about a new global free-trade agreement collapsed. …

The accusations show exactly the two partners’ lack of format.

Everyone knows that it is decisive that both the United States and the European Union give way in the so-called Doha Round that was started in 2001, if the national subsidies should be phased out and the tax barriers in 146 WTO member states should be reduced.

Nevertheless the governments don’t dare to do it because they do not want to risk offending some voters.

Instead the Doha Round has been suspended without any prospects to a global free-trade agreement and thereby better trade conditions for the world’s poor countries.

Asahi Shimbun

War shrine visit

TOKYO — A shift has become evident in the public’s perception of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine where 14 Class A war criminals from World War II are honored along with the nation’s war dead. The latest figures indicate that public opinion has clearly swung from approval to disapproval.

There may be any number of reasons for this change, but one major factor must be the recent disclosure of a memo, kept by a former grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, which revealed that Emperor Hirohito, posthumously called Emperor Showa, was offended by the enshrinement of Class A war criminals at Yasukuni Shrine in 1978.

Hirohito stopped visiting Yasukuni after 1978. Now we know why.

Is it appropriate for the prime minister, the nation’s top elected representative, to visit such a shrine? The memo’s significance is irrefutable, in that it most likely prompted people to ask themselves this question without being sidetracked by “nationalistic” arguments to the effect that Japan should not bow to pressure from China and South Korea on this issue.

There is simply no way the [Liberal Democratic Party] can sidestep the Yasukuni issue in the [party’s] presidential election. Whether for or against, each candidate must state his position on the prime minister’s visits to Yasukuni.

Daily Telegraph

France’s heat wave

LONDON — Europe is broiling under the July sun, and nowhere is that causing more concern than in France.

The temperature in Paris may be akin to that in Berlin, Madrid, Rome or London, but the French are haunted by what happened in August 2003. Then, a heat wave in which the mercury rose to over [104 degrees Fahrenheit] is estimated to have killed 15,000 elderly people. …

President Jacques Chirac was criticized for not emulating his prime minister by cutting short his holiday. The head of the emergency doctors’ association said the elderly were “dropping like flies.” The country’s senior health official resigned. And the government requisitioned a refrigerated warehouse in the wholesale food market at Rungis as a temporary morgue. The shockingly high toll caused political tremors. But it also led to a more general questioning of the values of a society in which families abandoned grandparents to go on holiday.

Since then, nervous ministers have approved a series of measures aimed at identifying the vulnerable and ensuring that they are properly cared for. In French statist fashion, it is all very top-down. The most absurd manifestation has been the government’s attempt to persuade people to give up a public holiday and work for nothing in a “day of solidarity” for the elderly and handicapped, towards whom the saved wages would go. The main responsibility for prevention should rest with the families of those who live on their own, not with politicians and bureaucrats.

The current heat wave has to date killed about 40 people, a minute fraction of the total three years ago. But what is normally the hottest month is yet to come.

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