Japan in retrospect: 2015 a mixture of delightful and worrisome news
Japan News
The following editorial appears in Sunday's Yomiuri Shimbun:

The year 2015, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, is drawing to a close.

The list of "Japan's top 10 domestic news stories" chosen by readers of The Yomiuri Shimbun for 2015 makes us feel that this year is a mixture of delight and anxiety.

Chosen as the biggest domestic news story of the year was the awarding of Nobel Prizes to Satoshi Omura and Takaaki Kajita.

Omura, distinguished professor emeritus at Kitasato University, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, has contributed greatly to the development of a special cure for a parasitic disease, saving the lives of a large number of people in Africa and elsewhere. Kajita, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, who heads the University of Tokyo's Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, ascertained that the neutrino, the elementary particle, has mass.

We would once again like to applaud the two scientists' accomplishments, which have been recognized around the world.

The second biggest news story was also wonderful: Japan's historic feat of winning three victories in the Rugby World Cup. The way the Japanese national team fought against world-class competition strongly inspired many people and increased the popularity of rugby significantly. We now are looking forward to the 2019 World Cup, which will take place in Japan.

In the political and economic fields, two stories garnered many readers' votes - the legislation of security-related laws, which was No. 6, and the broad agreement reached among 12 countries, including Japan and the United States, on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement talks, which was No. 9.

The roles Japan should play in the international community are increasing. Based on the security-related legislation, this country must contribute to the world's peace and stability. It also is important for Japan to make sure the TPP accord helps boost the country's economic growth.

However, this year's characteristics are a host of events that caused anxiety to spread widely among the public. In particular, the news of two Japanese captured by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and videos of their murders at the hands of the militants, which came in at No. 3, showed that Japan was not immune from the menace of extremist groups.

The launch of the My Number identification system, No. 4 on the top 10 list, was notable because of serious delays in sending notification cards of identification numbers to residents across the country, while wrongdoings such as fraud in relation to the identity system have been taking place.

The My Number identification system is prerequisite for realizing fair and effective taxation and social security programs. The government, for that matter, must be vigilant to ensure reliability in its information management.

No. 5 was the deaths of a total of eight people in downpours in the Kanto-Tohoku region as well as Ibaraki Prefecture, which brought to light the urgent need to improve evacuation systems in preparation for calamities.

The tilting of a Yokohama condominium and data falsification on the building's piling work ranked at No. 8, with news stories on this causing the public a great deal of concern. Companies responsible for the scandal bear great responsibility as they betrayed the trust of condominium residents.

The spate of problems related to preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was also extremely disappointing. A string of decisions by various organizations that lacked transparency gave rise to the withdrawal of the design of the emblem for the Games and the soliciting of new ideas, No. 10, and the withdrawal of the construction design of the new National Stadium, No. 11.

The Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympics are a great opportunity to enhance Japan's presence in the world. The government and the organizing entities of the Games must do their utmost to regain public confidence.

Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune

Looking back at 2015, intl community shocked by terrorism, corruption
8:48 pm, December 27, 2015
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The list of top 10 foreign news events chosen by Yomiuri Shimbun readers for 2015 clearly illustrates that the turmoil in the Middle East has spread out of the region and extended to Europe.

This year’s list of the 10 major news events from abroad was led by the series of terrorist attacks in Paris. The international community was greatly shaken by the outrage committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a militant group that maintains its influence over areas that bestride Iraq and Syria.

On Nov. 13, the terrorist attacks occurred in and around such facilities as a theater, restaurants and a stadium, resulting in the deaths of 130 people. The incident followed a terrorist attack on a weekly political magazine in the French capital in January, an event ranked ninth on the list.

French President Francois Hollande condemned the November terrorist incident as “an act of war” by ISIL and declared a state of emergency. The perpetrators of the crime were found to be young people of Arab descent who had been raised in Europe.

Ranked 15th was the crash of a Russian plane in eastern Egypt due to a terrorist explosion inside the aircraft in October. The incident was followed by increased efforts by the United States, France and other participants in a coalition of willing nations, as well as Russia, to carry out air bombings of ISIL-related facilities to uproot the militant group. The important effect is that it has gathered antiterrorism momentum across the international community.

Ranked fourth on the list was the rapid increase in the influx of refugees from Syria and elsewhere, which has posed a heavy burden on Europe. Eastern European nations have shown reluctance to accept such refugees, a move that could cause a rift within the European Union.

A factor behind the sharp increase in refugees is the protracted civil war in Syria. The United States, Russia, Middle Eastern countries and other pertinent nations must unite their efforts to end the civil war as soon as possible.

Unprecedented scandals

The revelation of two large-scale scandals shocked the world.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that major German automaker Volkswagen had continued to install unlawful software on diesel-powered vehicles, a ploy aimed at clearing emission regulations. The incident was ranked sixth on the list.

The VW scandal has forced the automaker to carry out a massive recall and free repairs, discrediting one of Germany’s leading corporations.

Ranked eighth were the indictments brought by the U.S. judiciary authorities against many senior officials of FIFA, the world soccer governing body, in connection with a corruption case. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has also received a punishment imposed by the governing body’s Ethics Committee, which banned him from soccer for eight years over allegations of illegally giving and accepting money. FIFA will be tested over its ability to cleanse itself.

A massive earthquake that hit Nepal, killing about 9,000 people, was ranked second, indicating that since the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japanese have been highly keen on not only domestic quakes, but also those that occur overseas.

In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, the largest opposition party, won an overwhelming victory in the first general election since the transfer of power to civil administration in 2011, a news event ranked fifth on the list. A task for the country is to ensure a smooth change of government.

Ranked third was the restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba after a 54-year hiatus. The development is ending the antagonism between the two nations, burying what can be described as a relic from the Cold War between the East and the West. This will be considered a “legacy” left by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 27, 2015)

2015 top ten answers