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防衛有識者会議 大胆な提言を新大綱に生かせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 5, 2009)
New defense guidelines should reflect bold ideas
防衛有識者会議 大胆な提言を新大綱に生かせ(8月5日付・読売社説)

A report was presented to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday by a group of experts studying the revision of the National Defense Program Guidelines, which define how to maintain Japan's defense capabilities. The panel's report contains a number of daring and important proposals.
 防衛力整備の指針である「防衛計画の大綱」の改定を検討してきた有識者会議が、報告書を麻生首相に提出した。大胆かつ重要な提言が多数含まれている。

To ensure the nation's peace and security amid the changes taking place in the international security environment, it is imperative that traditional taboos be cast aside and that a review takes place of defense policy and the organization of Self-Defense Forces units and the defense equipment available to them.
 国際的な安全保障環境が変化する中、日本の平和と安全を確保し続けるには、従来のタブーを排し、防衛政策や自衛隊の部隊編成・装備を見直すことが肝要だ。

Whichever party takes office after the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election, efforts should be made to reflect the group's proposals as much as possible in the new defense guidelines that are due to be formulated by the end of this year.
 衆院選後の政権をどの政党が担うにせよ、年末に策定する予定の新防衛大綱に、この提言を極力反映させるよう努めるべきだ。

In the report, the experts said that the ability of the United States to be the driving force of "a free and open global system" has weakened in relative terms. Therefore, Japan and European countries need to make up for the United States' declining influence and try to solve international security problems with a joint approach, according to the panel.
 報告書は、「自由で開かれた国際システム」を牽引(けんいん)してきた米国の力が相対的に低下したとの現状認識を示した。そのため、日本や欧州諸国が共同で米国を補完し、国際的な安全保障問題の解決を目指す必要性を主張する。

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Review PKO participation rules

In concrete terms, the report proposed a review of the nation's five principles for participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations (PKOs) and a revision of the U.N. Peacekeeping Activities Cooperation Law so that SDF troops can more actively participate in peace cooperation activities.
 具体的には、自衛隊が国際平和協力活動に、より積極的に参加するよう、国連平和維持活動(PKO)の参加5原則の見直しやPKO協力法の改正を提唱した。

The threats of international terrorism and piracy in the waters off Somalia symbolize the reality that Japan's security is tied to world peace. The nation has a responsibility to play a part in peace-building efforts by the international community. However, only 39 Japanese were participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations as of June 30, a figure that places Japan only 82nd in the world.
 国際テロや海賊の脅威に象徴されるように、日本の安全は世界の平和と連動している。日本は国際社会による平和構築活動の一翼を担う責任がある。だが、日本の6月末のPKO参加人数は39人で、世界82位にすぎない。

To increase the number of SDF members participating in PKOs, it is important to develop a system enabling the dispatch of troops flexibly in line with the actual circumstances of such missions. It is also necessary to relax existing rules on the use of weapons and develop permanent legislation on the dispatch of SDF members abroad.
 自衛隊の参加を増やすには、PKOの実態に即して、柔軟に部隊を派遣する体制を整えることが大切だ。武器使用権限の拡大と、自衛隊の海外派遣に関する恒久法の整備にも取り組む必要がある。

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How to interpret Constitution?

In the report, the panel also urged the government to change its interpretation of the Constitution to enable the nation to exercise its right to collective self-defense so that the SDF can intercept ballistic missiles heading toward the United States and protect U.S. Navy ships monitoring missile launches.
 報告書は、集団的自衛権について、米国に向かう弾道ミサイルの迎撃や、ミサイルを警戒する米軍艦船の防護を可能にするよう、政府の憲法解釈の変更を求めた。

When North Korea fired a ballistic missile in April, the SDF and U.S. forces worked together to deal with the situation. To further strengthen confidence in the Japan-U.S. alliance, the government should change its constitutional interpretation as soon as possible.
 4月の北朝鮮のミサイル発射時に自衛隊と米軍は共同対処した。日米同盟の信頼性を高めるには政府解釈の変更を急ぐべきだ。

On the question of whether the nation should possess the capability of attacking bases in enemy territory, the panel stressed in the report that Japan should study the suitability and cost-effectiveness of equipment and operational procedures to this end on the condition that should such contingencies arise Tokyo and Washington would work together to deal with them.
 報告書は、敵基地攻撃能力の保有についても、日米共同対処を前提に、日本として適切な装備体系や運用方法、費用対効果を検討する必要性を強調している。

Calmly discussing what responsibilities Tokyo can share with Washington to help supplement the offensive capabilities of U.S. forces has huge significance.
 米国の攻撃力を補完する形で、どんな役割分担が可能かを冷静に議論する意味は大きい。

The report said the nation's three principles for banning arms exports were preventing Japan from participating in international research projects for developing and producing weapons and that these should be made exceptions to the rules. They also proposed that the ban on the export of weapons to support efforts against terrorism and piracy should also be lifted.
 武器輸出3原則について、報告書は、日本が装備品の国際的な共同開発・生産に参加できない問題を指摘し、3原則の例外化を求めた。テロ・海賊対策支援目的の輸出の解禁も提唱した。

In addition to Japan not being left behind when it comes to state-of-the-art military technology, it should also be a matter of course that Japan allows the export of weapons when this can serve as a contribution to global peace.
 日本が最新の軍事技術から取り残される事態は避けるべきだし、国際平和に寄与する武器輸出は容認するのが当然だろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 5, 2009)
(2009年8月5日02時09分 読売新聞)

私大定員割れ 特色作りで活路を見いだせ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 4, 2009)
Specialty key to survival of private universities
私大定員割れ 特色作りで活路を見いだせ(8月4日付・読売社説)

With the shakeout of private universities having finally begun, these institutions must seriously take to heart the fact that those among their number that cannot demonstrate a specialty will no longer be able to survive.
 大学の淘汰(とうた)がいよいよ始まったということだろう。特色を打ち出せない大学は、生き残れない時代だということを肝に銘じなければなるまい。

A survey released Thursday by the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan found that 46.5 percent of four-year private universities were underenrolled at the start of this academic year, almost the same level as last academic year, while 69.1 percent of two-year private junior colleges were in such a situation, a slight increase from last academic year.
 日本私立学校振興・共済事業団が、今年度の大学・短大への入学者数などを発表した。定員割れは昨年度と比べ、4年制大学はほぼ横ばいの46・5%、短大は微増の69・1%に上っている。

Since the beginning of this year, five private universities, including those run by joint-stock companies, have said they will stop accepting new students from next academic year.
 今年に入り、来年度からの学生募集停止を表明した大学は、株式会社立を含め既に5校ある。

Despite the fact that the population of 18-year-olds has been declining due to the low birthrate since academic year 1993, when it fell below 2 million, the number of universities and junior colleges has continued to rise, with the number of four-year private, and state-run and other public universities totaling as many as about 770. It is natural that universities that cannot demonstrate a specialty will be forced to close.
 18歳人口は、200万人を切った1993年度以降、少子化で減り続けているのに、大学数は増え続け、国公立を含めると、4年制大学だけで約770校ある。特色を出せない大学が退場を余儀なくされるのは、当然だろう。

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Students' needs paramount

Stable university management will not be ensured merely by contriving to continuously recruit students through recommendation-based admission and interview- and essay-based tests, known as "admission office exams." It is very important that private universities offer attractive courses of study and clearly present their education policy and method of developing human resources so young people will be able to envision their future after they are educated there.
 推薦入試やAO入試で安易な学生集めを続けるだけでは、経営の安定は図れない。進学したいと思わせる教育課程を用意し、その教育を受ければどんな将来像が描けるのか、教育方針と人材育成の方法を明確に示すことが肝要だ。

At some private universities, people who have had careers in corporate management serve as president, and faculty and companies in their local community discuss and decide on study goals, textbooks and other educational materials. Other universities have established unique departments, including one specializing in manga.
 企業経営に携わった経験者を学長に据え、教員と地元の企業が協議して授業の目標や教材を決めたり、マンガ学部など独自の学部を設けたりする大学もある。

To increase the number of mature students holding down full-time jobs, which accounts for only about 2 percent of the total, private universities must also provide education that meets such students' various needs.
 2%程度しかいない社会人学生が増えるよう、需要に合った教育内容の提供も必要だろう。

The government's Central Education Council is currently discussing future university education from a mid- and long-term perspective. We hope the council will thoroughly discuss the appropriate number of universities and students.
 中央教育審議会は、中長期的な大学教育のあり方について審議中だ。大学数や学生数の適正規模もしっかり議論してもらいたい。

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Safety net needed

It is noteworthy that the council's first report, compiled in June, emphasizes that the desirable size and nature of universities should be discussed from the perspective of different targets. The report lists seven such targets, including "nurturing professionals in a wide range of fields" and "social contribution."
 6月にまとめた第1次報告で注目されるのは、大学の規模や質のあり方を分野別に考えるよう強調していることだ。この中で、「幅広い職業人の養成」「社会貢献」など7分野を例示している。

In their respective proposals on human resources development, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai) and the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) also are calling on universities to increase specialization in their areas of expertise.
 大学が得意分野に重点化していくことは、経済同友会や日本経団連がまとめた人材育成に関する提言でも求めている。

However, the Central Education Council should spell out in greater detail the targets it believes an ideal university should meet. We hope the council will work out this point before compiling its final report.
 ただ、分野別の例は、もっと具体的に示すべきではないか。最終報告までに練り上げてほしい。

The council has also proposed discussions on the establishment of a new higher educational body, specializing in vocational education, other than existing universities and junior colleges. The raison d'etre of junior colleges, whose main objectives include vocational education, therefore comes into question.
 中教審は、大学や短大とは別に職業教育に特化した新高等教育機関の検討も打ち出しており、職業教育を目的の一つとする短大は存在意義が問われている。

Cultivating a specialty is necessary, but it may also be a wise option for junior colleges to actively discuss transforming themselves into four-year universities as well as realigning and integrating.
 特色作りも必要だが、4年制大学への転換や再編・統合をもっと積極的に検討してもよい。

The population of 18-year-olds is expected to hover around 1.2 million for the next decade. Should private universities remain underenrolled, their management will face an increased danger of collapse. The Education, Science and Technology Ministry should prepare measures to deal with a possible collapse of universities, including a system to protect students enrolled in universities that fail.
 18歳人口は、今後も10年間程度は120万人前後で推移する。定員割れが続けば、経営破綻(はたん)の危機は高まる。文部科学省は、在学生が保護される仕組みなど破綻処理策を考えておく必要があろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 4, 2009)
(2009年8月4日00時43分 読売新聞)

最低賃金 まだ残る生活保護との逆転

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 3, 2009)
Minimum wage should always exceed welfare
最低賃金 まだ残る生活保護との逆転(8月3日付・読売社説)

The Central Minimum Wages Council, an advisory panel to the health, labor and welfare minister, has proposed to the minister reference increases for the minimum wage in fiscal 2009 that differ from prefecture to prefecture.
 厚生労働省の中央最低賃金審議会が、地域別最低賃金の今年度の引き上げの目安を示した。

The proposals are to leave unchanged the minimum wage in the 35 prefectures in which the minimum wage exceeds welfare benefit, and to raise the minimum wage in the remaining 12, including Tokyo, by 2 yen to 30 yen an hour.
 最低賃金が生活保護水準を上回る35県は据え置き、それ以外の12都道府県は、時給で2円から30円の引き上げを求める、という内容である。

If the panel's recommendation is adopted, the national average minimum wage would rise by between 7 yen and 9 yen to 710-712 yen an hour, which translates to a net monthly income of about 106,000 yen. Considering current economic conditions, such a hike would be a drastic one.
 この結果、最低賃金は全国平均で7~9円引き上げられ、時給で710~712円、月収換算すると、税などを控除して約10万6000円となる。経済状況からすれば、踏み込んだ決着となった。

A year-on-year comparison of the national average minimum wage shows that increases of 14 yen and 16 yen occurred in fiscal 2007 and 2008, respectively, representing double-digit growth for two consecutive years. But the rate of wage increases for small companies nationwide, which the advisory panel studies when working out the minimum wage reference increases, fell into negative territory in 2009.
 ここ2年は平均14円、16円と2ケタ増が続いたが、目安を審議する際に参考にしている全国の小規模企業の賃上げ率は、今年はマイナスに転じていた。

Panel members selected from labor circles sought an increase of 50 yen an hour in the minimum wage last year, but failed to demand a specific figure this year, no doubt in consideration of the severe business environment.
 昨年は時給50円増を求めた労働側委員も、今回は具体的な上げ幅を示さなかった。経営環境の厳しさを承知していたからだろう。

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Panel's proposal no panacea

The Minimum Wages Law, which was revised in July 2008, calls for setting the minimum wage by factoring in employers' ability to pay wages and "harmonization of the minimum wage and welfare benefit."
 最低賃金法が昨年7月に改正され、事業主側の賃金支払い能力などに加え、新たに「生活保護との整合性」にも配慮して最低賃金を定めることが盛り込まれた。

Even in the current economic climate, if the panel had abandoned the goal of pursuing "harmonization of the minimum wage and welfare benefit" only two years after the law revision, its raison d'etre would have been called into question.
 景気が悪くても施行2年目でこれを放棄しては、審議会の存在が問われるところでもあった。

The problem of the minimum wage being below welfare benefit in the 12 prefectures will not be solved merely through the implementation of the panel's recommendation. In the case of Tokyo, if the minimum wage is raised in line with the panel's proposal, the amount would be increased from the current 766 yen an hour to a maximum 796 yen. But 796 yen an hour is 30 yen less than the amount of welfare benefit paid in the capital, in hourly terms.
 生活保護と逆転している12都道府県は、今回でそれが解消されるわけではない。東京都の場合、目安どおりアップすれば現状の時給766円から最大796円になるが、まだ時給で30円足りない。

The amount of welfare benefit is categorized in six ranks according to municipality (cities, towns and villages). The national average minimum wage is compared with the average amount of welfare benefit received by young, single people in each prefecture. In most of the 35 prefectures whose minimum wage the panel proposes be left as is, the amount of welfare benefit paid out in the capitals of those prefectures likely will exceed the minimum wage paid in those cities.
 生活保護は市町村ごとに6ランクに分けて決められている。最低賃金は若年単身者の都道府県別の平均額と比較するが、最低賃金が据え置かれた35県の多くも、県庁所在地で比べると、生活保護の方が上回るとみられている。

The advisory panels responsible for setting the minimum wage in each prefecture will decide how much to raise it based on the reference increases proposed by the central government panel, and the raises will be introduced from October. We hope the minimum wage will exceed welfare benefit in all the areas of each prefecture.
 今後、中央審が示した目安を参考に、都道府県ごとに地方審議会が引き上げ額を決定し、10月から改定される予定だ。都道府県内のどの地域でも生活保護を上回ることを目標にしてもらいたい。

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Deeper discussions needed

If welfare benefit exceeds the minimum wage, workers who receive little more than that amount will lose the motivation to work, while people on welfare will have no incentive to find a job. "Harmonization of the minimum wage and welfare benefit" is an issue that should be seriously discussed next year and after, too.
 生活保護の方が高ければ、最低賃金ぎりぎりで働く人の就労意欲は失われ、生活保護者は職を探す気にならないだろう。「生活保護との整合性」は、来年以降もしっかりと追求していくべきだ。

With the increase in the number of nonregular workers, including part-time workers, the importance of the role of the minimum wage system as a social safety net is growing.
 パートなどの非正規労働者が増加し、安全網としての最低賃金制度の役割は増している。

The manifestos of each opposition party and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's coalition partner, New Komeito, for the next House of Representatives election propose a minimum wage of 1,000 yen an hour. But it is problematic to treat student part-timers on an equal footing with fatherless families when it comes to setting the minimum wage.
 野党各党や公明党は衆院選の公約で「時給1000円」の最低賃金を掲げているが、学生アルバイトと母子家庭では同一に論じられないという側面もある。

More intensive discussions on a fair minimum wage level and how to set such a level should be held, taking into account how this issue affects corporate management.
 企業経営への影響を含め、最低賃金のあり方や決定方法の議論を深めることが重要だろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 3, 2009)
(2009年8月3日01時21分 読売新聞)

ラグビー W杯をスポーツ界の活力に

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 2, 2009)
2019 Rugby World Cup could give sports fillip
ラグビー W杯をスポーツ界の活力に(8月2日付・読売社説)

Japan has won the right to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
 ラグビーの2019年ワールドカップ(W杯)が、日本で開催されることになった。

We hope that hosting the event will invigorate not only rugby, but sport more generally in the nation, which has been suffering during the severe economic downturn.
 W杯開催を、ラグビー界だけでなく、不況の影響で逆風を受けているスポーツ界全体の活性化につなげたい。

The Rugby World Cup is said to be the third-biggest sporting event in the world after soccer's World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games. Since it was launched in 1987, the Rugby World Cup has been held every four years. But Japan will be the first Asian nation to host the tournament.
 ラグビーのW杯は、サッカーのW杯、夏季五輪に次ぐ規模の国際大会と言われている。1987年の第1回大会以来、4年に1度、開かれてきたが、アジアでの開催は初めてである。

Japan was likely picked in light of the praise it earned for its hosting in June of the Junior World Championship (for players aged 20 or under) among other factors. Also, the International Rugby Board apparently is intent on expanding the rugby business through greater internationalization of the sport.
 日本が選ばれたのは、6月に20歳以下の世界選手権を開催した実績などが評価された結果だろう。ラグビーの国際化で市場拡大を目指す国際ラグビーボード(IRB)の思惑も働いたといえる。

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Long way to go

But the reality is that Japan still has many obstacles to overcome ahead of the tournament.
 だが、現実には、大会までの道のりは平坦(へいたん)ではないだろう。

First and foremost, it is imperative to raise the standard of the national team--a strong team would likely lead to greater public excitement over the tournament.
まず必要なのは、日本チームのレベルアップだ。日本代表が強ければこそ、大会は盛り上がる。

Japan has participated in all six rugby World Cups, but has each time failed to progress beyond the group stage--the national team struggles to compete with the world's top teams.
 日本は過去6回のW杯のすべてに出場しているが、いずれも1次リーグで敗退している。世界のトップクラスの国と比べると、大きな力の差があるのが現状だ。

The Japan Rugby Football Union must therefore work hard to come up with effective measures to improve standards with an eye on the next decade.
 日本ラグビー協会は、10年後を見据え、しっかりとした強化策を練らなければならない。

One way to strengthen the national team would be the fielding of foreign players. Foreign rugby players would be eligible to play for Japan as long as they have not played for any other national team and have played in Japan for at least three years consecutively.
 外国人選手によって日本代表をさらに補強するのも一つの方法であろう。ラグビーの場合、他国での代表経験がなく、日本で3年以上プレーすれば、外国人でも日本代表になれるからだ。

However, if there are too many foreign players in the national team, people may feel the thrill of cheering on their country's own players at the World Cup is diminished.
 しかし、他国の選手があまりに多くては、国旗を背負って戦うというW杯の醍醐(だいご)味が薄れてしまうと感じる人も少なくあるまい。

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Investing in success

It is difficult to argue that rugby is particularly popular in Japan, with many members of the public likely to say they only watch the latter stages of the national university championship early in the New Year on TV.
 国内のラグビー人気は、決して高いとはいえない。テレビで見るのは、年始の大学選手権だけという人も多いのではないか。

To broaden the sport's fan base, it is essential that the nation's players improve their skill levels and battle hard in games.
ファン層を拡大するためにも、選手がレベルアップして、迫力ある試合を見せることは欠かせない。

The Japan Rugby Football Union is due to make an about 15 billion yen host guarantee payment to the International Rugby Board. Meanwhile, the construction and upgrading of venue facilities will require huge investment.
 W杯開催により、協会は約150億円の開催保証金をIRBに支払わねばならない。会場の整備にも巨額の資金が必要となる。

A further issue is how attractive rugby will appear to businesses and other groups whose support is being sought.
 ラグビーがビジネスとしても魅力ある競技であると認知されるかどうかが、経済界などからの支援獲得のカギとなるだろう。

The nation also has been bidding to host the 2016 Olympic Games and a soccer World Cup. If Tokyo is chosen to host the Games in 2016, a new stadium with a capacity of 100,000 is expected to be built in the city's Harumi district. Using the same stadium for the Rugby World Cup would save on costs.
 日本は、16年の東京五輪、さらにサッカーのW杯招致にも取り組んでいる。東京五輪が実現すれば、東京・晴海に10万人収容の新スタジアムが建設される予定だ。ここをラグビーW杯でも使えば、施設整備費の節約につながる。

The host city of the 2016 Games will be announced in October. We hope that Tokyo will win, helped on by the successful bid to host the Rugby World Cup.
 16年の五輪開催地は10月に決まる。ラグビーW杯を追い風に、東京五輪も実現にこぎ着けたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 2, 2009)
(2009年8月2日01時46分 読売新聞)

自民党政権公約 「責任力」に見合う具体策示せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Aug. 1, 2009)
Responsible party needs responsible policies
自民党政権公約 「責任力」に見合う具体策示せ(8月1日付・読売社説)

The Liberal Democratic Party unveiled its campaign platform for the upcoming House of Representatives election on Friday.
 自民党が衆院選の政権公約を発表した。

Although the manifesto contained an unusual phrase lauding the party's "ability to govern responsibly," the LDP was at pains to trumpet that it is a responsible political party and spelled out where it differed from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.
 「責任力」という聞き慣れない造語を使ってまで、自民党は責任政党ぶりを強調し、政権交代を訴える民主党への対抗意識を前面に打ち出した。

However, sections on how the LDP will carry out its policies are riddled with vague explanation. We think the LDP should describe its policies in far more detail during political debates from now on.
 だが、個々の政策を実現させる道筋には曖昧(あいまい)な部分が目立つ。今後の論戦を通じて、さらに具体的な説明に努める必要がある。

The LDP picks up social security system reform and tax system reform from the opening of its manifesto. It says, "We will implement necessary legislative measures by fiscal 2011 in regard to fundamental taxation reform, including a consumption tax rate increase."
 公約の冒頭に社会保障制度改革と税制改革を掲げ、「消費税を含む税制抜本改革について、2011年度までに必要な法制上の措置を講じる」としている。

The platform then goes on to say the party "will construct a social security system of medium welfare levels and medium burden." The LDP spells out in black and white that it wants the public to bear a fair share of the cost of providing a social security safety net, including through a rise in the consumption tax rate in the future.
 その上で、「『中福祉・中負担』の社会保障制度を構築する」とも記し、将来の消費税率引き上げを含め、国民に応分の負担を求める姿勢を明確にした。

===

Finding the funding

The LDP tried to pick apart the DPJ platform and cast doubt on whether the DPJ can actually find the resources to bankroll its policies. The LDP should be given some credit for having found the courage to mention a consumption tax increase and prodding the public to shoulder a "medium burden" of social security costs. However, the LDP failed to specify crucial details of these policies.
 財源の裏付けがあやふやな民主党との違いを際立たせよう、という狙いからだろうが、及び腰ながら、消費税や「中負担」に踏み込んだことは一応、評価できる。

The centerpiece of the LDP manifesto is a policy to phase out preschool fees for children aged 3 to 5, with these fees eventually being waived in fiscal 2012. The policy is a direct counterproposal to the DPJ pledge to offer a monthly allowance of 26,000 yen per child to households with children of middle school age or younger.
 目玉政策は、幼児教育の負担を段階的に軽減し、2012年度に完全無償化することだという。中学生まで1人月額2万6000円を支給するとした民主党の「子ども手当」に対抗して掲げた。

However, the LDP will need to wring an additional about 790 billion yen from somewhere to cover the costs of this policy. Although this is a fraction of the 5.5 trillion yen the DPJ will need for its monthly allowance policy, it is still a hefty price tag. The party manifesto offered no clear answers on how it would finance this plan.
 だが、完全無償化には新たに約7900億円を捻出(ねんしゅつ)しなければならない。「子ども手当」実現に必要な5・5兆円とは桁(けた)が違うとはいえ、かなりの額だ。財源はどう手当てするのか。その答えは示されていない。

If the LDP is serious about extolling its ability to govern responsibly, it should not crank up a skirmish based on pork-barrel spending as it seeks to woo voters.
 「責任力」を強調するのなら、票目当てのばらまき合戦をエスカレートさせるべきではない。

===

Security issues

In the diplomatic and national security fields, the platform says that, to counter North Korea's ballistic missile threat, the LDP will implement necessary security measures that will enable the interception of ballistic missiles fired toward the United States as well as protect U.S. vessels operating in cooperation with Japan on the ballistic missile defense shield.
 一方、外交・安全保障分野では、北朝鮮の弾道ミサイルの脅威に対し、「米国に向かう弾道ミサイルの迎撃」「弾道ミサイル防衛で連携する米国艦艇の防護」が可能となるよう、「必要な安全保障上の手当てを行う」としている。

If the LDP suggests there could be a change from the current government interpretation on the right to collective self-defense--in which the nation possesses this right but cannot exercise it--we think the party should have come right out and said so.
 集団的自衛権の「権利はあるが、行使できない」とする現行の政府解釈の変更を意味しているのなら、もっと明確に書くべきだったのではないか。

The DPJ said in its collection of policies unveiled at the same time as its manifesto that it will not stick to conceptual discussions on whether self-defense is individual or collective. The DPJ's stance can be interpreted as accepting the exercise of the right to collective self-defense, but this lack of clarity makes the party's stance difficult to understand. We think the DPJ needs to flesh out its explanation.
 集団的自衛権について、民主党は公約と一緒に発表した政策集で「個別的・集団的といった概念上の議論に拘泥せず」としている。行使の容認とも読めるが、分かりにくい。補足の説明が必要だ。

All the major parties have presented their campaign platforms, so now the cut-and-thrust of a full-fledged election campaign can begin in earnest. We hope each party focuses on spreading their messages and policies on pending domestic and international issues.
 主要政党の政権公約が出揃(そろ)い、論戦はいよいよ本格化する。各党には、内外の懸案に対する具体的な処方箋(せん)を競うことに主眼を置いてもらいたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 1, 2009)
(2009年8月1日01時18分 読売新聞)

外交・安保 民主党は「給油」の代案を示せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 31, 2009)
DPJ's troubling stand on refueling mission
外交・安保 民主党は「給油」の代案を示せ(7月31日付・読売社説)

How should the nation deal with the threats posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles as well as acts of international terrorism? How can Japan's national interests be protected while this nation works in tandem with international society?
 北朝鮮の核・ミサイルや国際テロの脅威にどう備えるのか。国際社会と協調しながら、日本の国益をいかに守るか。

We hope political parties will hold animated discussions on what course Japan's diplomatic and security policies should take, during their campaigns for the upcoming House of Representatives election.
 各政党は衆院選を通じて、外交・安全保障政策の方向性を大いに論じてもらいたい。

At the moment, the topic on many observers' lips is the Self-Defense Forces' refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.
 目下の焦点は、インド洋での海上自衛隊の給油活動だ。

In a recent moderation of its foreign and security policy, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan announced a plan to continue, for the time being, the refueling mission, which the party once decried as violating the Constitution.
 民主党は、かつて「憲法違反」とまで批判していた給油活動を当面継続する新方針を打ち出した。

However, DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama said Wednesday his party would not extend the mission once the new Antiterrorism Law expires in January. We find the party's fickle response to this important mission hard to fathom.
ところが、鳩山代表は、来年1月の新テロ対策特別措置法の期限切れ後は活動の延長はしないと表明した。分かりにくい対応だ。

Why did the DPJ decide to continue the operation for the time being if it believes it violates the Constitution? If the party withdraws the Maritime Self-Defense Force from the Indian Ocean, just what does it plan to contribute to the international fight against terrorism? Does it plan to do nothing at all?
 「憲法違反」の活動を、なぜ当面は継続するのか。仮に海自を撤収させる場合、「テロとの戦い」のために、代わりに何をするのか。それとも何もしないのか。

The DPJ has a responsibility to provide clear answers to these questions.
 民主党は衆院選前に、これらの点を明確にする責任がある。

===

Afghanistan proposal weak

In 2007, the party submitted to the Diet a counterproposal to the ruling bloc's antiterrorism bill. The DPJ's alternative plan called for providing humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan after a formal ceasefire has been reached in the war-torn country. The grim reality, however, is that there is absolutely no prospect of such an accord being signed. The upshot is that the DPJ proposal practically means that Japan would sit on its hands and offer nothing to the international fight against terrorism.
 一昨年、民主党が国会に提出した新テロ特措法の対案は、アフガニスタンでの武力抗争停止の合意後に人道復興支援を行う内容だった。そんな合意の見通しはなく、事実上は何もしない案だ。

Given that, the proposal is unlikely to be warmly supported in foreign capitals.
 同じ案では、国際社会の理解は到底得られまい。

The DPJ proposed in its manifesto that Japan will share roles with the United States and proactively fulfill its responsibilities to build an "equal Japan-U.S. relationship."
 民主党の政権公約は、「対等な日米関係」を構築するため、「米国と役割を分担しながら日本の責任を積極的に果たす」と明記した。

The expression "equal relationship" suggests the DPJ intends to back away from the path trodden by the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, which it claims have been content to follow the lead of the United States.
「対等な関係」とは、自公政権は米国に追従してきたが、民主党政権は違う、という趣旨だろう。

The DPJ manifesto says the party plans to propose to the United States that the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement be revised and the realignment of U.S. forces stationed in Japan be reviewed.
 公約によれば、日米地位協定や米軍再編の見直しを米側に提起するという。

But if the DPJ is serious about bringing these pledges to fruition, it must explain what international responsibilities it plans to fulfill. Failure to do so will sink any hopes the party has of building an "equal relationship" with the United States.
だが、その実現には、まず、どんな国際的な「責任」を果たすのかを示すことが不可欠だろう。それなしに、「対等な関係」を築けるはずがない。

===

Adapting to the real world

On the other hand, the party offered forward-looking pledges on the antipiracy mission off Somalia and cargo inspections that form part of the international sanctions imposed on North Korea. These steps indicate the DPJ is open to taking a more realistic approach to foreign and security policy matters.
 一方で、ソマリア沖の海賊対策や、北朝鮮制裁目的の貨物検査に前向きな政策を示したことは現実路線化の表れと評価できる。

But we have some niggling doubts, not least the party's plan to form a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party, which opposes the dispatch of SDF personnel on overseas missions. Will the DPJ be able to continue the MSDF antipiracy mission despite the SDP's objections?
 ただ、懸念もある。自衛隊の海外派遣に反対する社民党との連立政権を目指していることだ。社民党の反対を押し切って海自の海賊対処活動を継続できるのか。

The right to collective self-defense is another key issue. The LDP plans to incorporate this subject in its election pledges. We welcome this move.
 集団的自衛権の問題も重要な論点である。自民党は政権公約に盛り込む方針だ。歓迎したい。

The LDP's election pledge will be based on a proposal by a panel of experts led by former Ambassador to the United States Shunji Yanai. The pledge is expected to state that the government will review its interpretation of the right to collective self-defense, which, according to the government, the nation possesses but is prohibited from exercising under the Constitution.
柳井俊二・元駐米大使が座長を務めた有識者懇談会の提言を基に、集団的自衛権の行使を禁じる政府の憲法解釈の変更を想定している。

The threats posed by North Korea amplify the need to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance. Exercising the nation's right to collective self-defense will be an important step to achieving this goal.
 北朝鮮の脅威を踏まえれば、日米同盟を強化する必要性は高まっている。集団的自衛権の行使は、その重要な一歩となろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 31, 2009)
(2009年7月31日01時21分 読売新聞)

米中戦略対話 どう進む新しい時代の「G2」

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 30, 2009)
U.S.-China dialogue exposes responsibilities
米中戦略対話 どう進む新しい時代の「G2」(7月30日付・読売社説)

The first round of the ministerial-level U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue ended in Washington on Tuesday with the issuing of a joint statement.
 米中の閣僚級による初めての戦略・経済対話がワシントンで開かれ、共同文書が発表された。

The dialogue was a revamp of the talks between the financial chiefs of the two nations that were initiated by the former administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. President Barack Obama's administration has regularized and broadened these discussions to include diplomatic and security dimensions.
 ブッシュ前政権時代に始まった経済対話を、外交・安保なども協議する場に格上げし、定例化する。

Obama said in his opening speech Monday, "The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century." There is weighty meaning behind these words.
 オバマ米大統領が「米中が21世紀を作る」と述べた意味は重い。

With the United States and China now being called the "G-2," Obama's remark expresses the determination of the two countries to play an important role for peace and stability in the international community, in addition to the world economy.
 2大主要国「G2」と呼ばれ始めた米中が、世界経済だけでなく、国際社会の平和と安定に重要な役割を果たしていく決意を表明したものだ。

By placing priority on China, which is getting economically stronger, the United States aims to have China share responsibility within the international community.
 米国は、経済力をつけた中国を重視し、責任を共有させることを狙っている。

Meanwhile, China seems to be exercising influence on the United States by trumpeting the fact that it has become the largest holder of U.S. Treasury securities.
中国も、米国債の最大の保有国になったことを背景に、米国への影響力を行使しようというのだろう。

===

Doing business together

It is true that many tasks cannot be solved unless the United States and China--which are strengthening their economic interdependence--act together. However, there is still much diplomatic and military friction between the two. It will be worth watching how the future U.S.-China relationship will unfold against the backdrop of both cooperation and tension.
 経済的に相互依存関係を強める米中が協調しなければ、解決できない課題が多いのも事実だ。しかし、外交・軍事面で、両国は依然、緊張の火種を抱えている。協調と対立の中で、今後の米中関係がどう進むのか注目される。

The joint statement said, at first in the economic field, that corrections should be made to the trade imbalance, which sees U.S. deficits against China continuing to balloon, and that cooperation should be aimed at achieving steady growth.
 共同文書はまず、経済分野で、中国に対する米国の赤字が膨らむ貿易不均衡を是正し、着実な成長を図るための協調をうたった。

In light of the issues besetting the two countries, it is not surprising that among key tasks for future scrutiny are the United States' overconsumption and China's domestic-demand expansion policies that are being spurred by its own increased consumption.
 米国は過剰消費の見直し、中国が消費拡大による内需拡大策を課題に掲げたのは、両国の抱える問題に照らせば当然のことだ。

Also included was the issue of U.S. budget deficit reduction, as China would like to see a restoration of fiscal soundness and a stable U.S. dollar. If the United States reduces its budget deficit, this will help the world economy, including Japan, as it attempts to overcome the financial crisis.
 米国の財政赤字削減も盛り込まれた。中国が財政健全化とドルの安定を求めたためだ。米国が財政赤字を削減することは、金融危機克服を目指す日本など世界経済にも寄与する。

===

Other issues on table

Regarding global warming, the two nations--the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases--agreed to create a framework of dialogue. It is impossible to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gases unless these two nations work to tackle the issue.
 地球温暖化問題では、温室効果ガスの2大排出国である両国が対話の枠組み創設で合意した。両国が真剣に取り組まねば、温室効果ガスの削減は実現できない。

Regarding the suspended six-party talks on North Korea's denuclearization, the two nations affirmed that it is important to see a resumption of the talks and agreed to continue working toward denuclearization.
 中断している北朝鮮の核問題をめぐる6か国協議については、再開の重要性を確認し、非核化に向けた努力の継続で一致した。

The United States and China emphasized the importance of implementing the U.N. sanctions resolution against North Korea, which aggressively conducted a nuclear test. The United States appeared to be urging the Chinese side to again implement sanctions on North Korea.
 核実験を強行した北朝鮮に対する国連制裁決議については、「履行の有効性」を強調した。米側は改めて中国側に制裁の実行を促したものと見られる。

The two nations also discussed how to handle antiterrorism measures and strengthen cooperation toward nuclear disarmament.
 反テロへの取り組みや核軍縮に向けた連携強化も協議した。

Although the issue of human rights was taken up, the statement failed to refer to China's ethnic minority issue, including the bloody violence in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, or issues surrounding Taiwan.
人権問題も取り上げられたが、共同文書はウイグル暴動など少数民族問題に言及せず、「台湾問題」も触れなかった。

Such issues as the financial crisis, global warming and North Korea are important tasks directly linked to Japan's national interests. In addition to cooperating closely with the United States, Japan also needs to continuously call on China to play a responsible role.
 金融危機や地球温暖化、北朝鮮問題などは、日本の国益に直結する重要課題だ。日本は米国と緊密に連携するとともに、中国にも責任ある役割を果たすよう、引き続き求めていく必要がある。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 30, 2009)
(2009年7月30日01時16分 読売新聞)

財政再建 先進国最悪の赤字をどうする

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 29, 2009)
Parties must show how to deal with deficit
財政再建 先進国最悪の赤字をどうする(7月29日付・読売社説)

How can Japan, which has the largest deficit among developed countries, rebuild its finances? This is a vital issue to be contested during the House of Representatives election campaign and a theme neither the ruling nor the opposition parties can avoid.
 先進国で最悪の赤字を抱える財政をどう立て直すか――。衆院選の大きな争点の一つであり、与野党とも避けて通れないテーマである。

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito is already armed with a passable proposed solution. The proposal comprises two fiscal reconstruction goals that were incorporated in the fiscal policy guidelines for 2009 approved by the government in June.
 自民、公明の与党側には一応の答えが用意されている。6月に閣議決定された「骨太の方針2009」に盛り込まれた、財政再建に関する二つの目標だ。

The first goal is for the central and local governments to achieve a surplus in their primary balances by fiscal 2019, which indicates a degree of fiscal soundness. The second is to lower the ratio of outstanding debts owed by central and local governments to the gross domestic product by the early 2020s.
 財政の健全度を示す国と地方の基礎的財政収支を19年度までに黒字化する、というのがまず一点。さらに、国内総生産(GDP)に対する国と地方の債務残高の比率を20年代初めまでに引き下げる、というものだ。

In the past, the government had planned to achieve a surplus in the primary balance by fiscal 2011, but decided to postpone the target year substantially after the initial plan became impossible due to the recent economic downturn.
 以前は、基礎的財政収支の黒字化を11年度までに実現するとしていたが、景気悪化で不可能になり、目標年次を大幅に先送りした。

===

Govt sticks to goals

However, the government still deserves praise for not abandoning its goal of fiscal reconstruction. The central and local governments' combined outstanding debts are estimated to exceed 800 trillion yen by the end of fiscal 2009. They have already reached 170 percent of GDP. If the debts are left unattended, the nation is likely to face fiscal catastrophe.
 それでも、財政再建の旗を降ろさなかったことは評価できよう。国と地方の債務残高は、09年度末に800兆円を超える見通しだ。GDP比は約170%に達しており、放置すれば、財政破綻(はたん)国家への道をたどりかねない。

One measure to help achieve the two goals is to raise the consumption tax rate. The fiscal policy guidelines informally propose an option of increasing the consumption tax rate by 1 percentage point a year starting from fiscal 2011 until it has been raised by 7 points to 12 percent.
 目標達成の手段の一つが消費税率の引き上げだ。骨太の方針09は、参考資料としながらも、11年度から毎年1%ずつ、合計7%引き上げる道筋を描いている。

The consumption tax is significant also as a stable resource to finance social security expenses that are ballooning as the nation's population is aging and the declining birthrate indicates the funding from pension contributions will drop. It is reasonable to start preparations now so that the consumption tax rate can be raised as soon as the economy stabilizes.
 消費税は、少子高齢化で膨れあがる社会保障費を安定的に賄う財源としても重要である。景気が安定し次第、素早く引き上げられるよう、今から準備しておくのは当然であろう。

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party of Japan has not discussed fiscal reconstruction in concrete terms in its manifesto for the lower house election. On the contrary, the opposition party has listed in it a set of policy measures that would require large expenditures.
 一方、民主党の政権公約(マニフェスト)には、財政再建についての具体的な記述はない。それどころか、多額の歳出が必要な政策が並んでいる。

===

Expensive promises

They include a child allowance, free public high school education, income guarantees for farming families and elimination of highway tolls. These measures may look like they would lead to a reduction of the public financial burden, but they do not--taxpayers will eventually have to bear the costs.
 子ども手当支給、公立高校教育の無償化、農家への戸別所得補償、高速道路無料化などだ。これらの施策は、国民生活の負担軽減につながるように見えるが、そうではない。いずれ税金で負担せねばならないものばかりだ。

The DPJ says that the party would be able to secure financial resources totaling nearly 17 trillion yen by trimming the fat in the budget and using the "buried treasure" that includes investment returns in the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program Special Account and the Foreign Exchange Fund Special Account, but we do not think it possible to find such a huge amount of money through such measures.
 民主党は、予算の無駄を見直したり、いわゆる“埋蔵金”を活用したりして、17兆円近い財源を確保するという。だが、それほどの額が見いだせるとは思えない。

The DPJ said that it would not raise the consumption tax rate for the next four years if the party takes office. DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama once said that his party would not even discuss the issue, but he has lifted such a ban--apparently due to pressure from DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada.
 民主党は消費税率について、今後4年間は引き上げない、としている。鳩山代表は、議論すらしないとの考えを示していたが、岡田幹事長に押される形で、その封印を解いた。

If he really means it, as DPJ leader, Hatoyama has a responsibility to thoroughly discuss the possibility of a consumption tax hike during the election campaign and to show voters how his party would handle the consumption tax in the future.
 そうであるなら、選挙戦で大いに議論し、消費税の将来像を示すのが指導者としての責任だ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 29, 2009)
(2009年7月29日01時19分 読売新聞)

民主党政権公約 現実路線化がまだ不十分だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 28, 2009)
DPJ's newfound realism fails to convince
民主党政権公約 現実路線化がまだ不十分だ(7月28日付・読売社説)

The Democratic Party of Japan on Monday announced its manifesto for the Aug. 30 House of Representatives election. Though it is commendable that the DPJ has adopted a pragmatic stance in its domestic and foreign policies--obviously with an eye to taking over the reins of government--the policy platform it has unveiled is flawed.
 民主党が衆院選の政権公約を発表した。政権交代を意識し、内政、外交両面で現実路線に踏み出したことは歓迎するが、十分とは言えない。

As domestic pledges, the manifesto sets out an array of direct-benefit policies closely connected with people's daily lives, including a child allowance, free high school education and the abolition of the provisional higher gasoline tax rate.
 政権公約は内政面で、子ども手当、高校の無償化、ガソリンの暫定税率の廃止など、国民生活に深くかかわる直接給付型の政策を、ずらりと並べている。

But it is impossible to weigh the merits of a policy, no matter how attractive it is, unless its costs and concrete measures to fund it are discussed as part and parcel of the policy in question.
 ただ、どんな魅力的な政策も、必要な費用や具体的な財源措置を一体のものとして検討しなければ、その是非は判断できない。

The manifesto presents a time line that has the DPJ implementing the policies in stages over the four years after it comes to power and calculates the total cost necessary to carry out these measures at 16.8 trillion yen annually.
 民主党は、政策を4年間で段階的に実施する工程表を示し、最終的費用を年16・8兆円と試算した。

To fund these policies, the DPJ says it would secure 9.1 trillion yen by cutting public works projects, personnel expenses and government subsidies; 5 trillion yen by using surplus funds in special accounts, dubbed "buried treasure"; and 2.7 trillion yen by reviewing special taxation measures such as the spousal tax deduction.
 財源は、公共事業や人件費、補助金の削減で9・1兆円、埋蔵金の活用などで5兆円、配偶者控除の廃止など税制見直しで2・7兆円を工面し、賄うという。

===

Manifesto sums don't add up

The latest DPJ manifesto is an improvement on the last one, which was prepared for the 2007 House of Councillors election, as the party has fixed the schedule for the implementation of its stated policies and describes in more detail how it will fund them. Nevertheless, it is questionable whether it is really possible to secure the massive sums required to carry out the DPJ's policies simply by streamlining the overall national budget, which currently stands at about 207 trillion yen, as the DPJ asserts.
 一昨年の参院選公約と比べれば政策の実施時期を特定し、財源も具体的になった点では前進だ。だが、国の総予算207兆円の組み替えで巨額の財源を本当に確保できるか、との疑念が依然残る。

For example, the manifesto says 1.1 trillion yen will be secured by curtailing about 20 percent of the 5.3 trillion yen in personnel expenses for central government employees. As one method to cut personnel expenses, the DPJ says it will transfer central government employees to local governments as part of decentralization.
 例えば、国家公務員の人件費5・3兆円を約2割削減し、1・1兆円の財源を確保するという。その手法として、地方分権による職員の地方移管などを挙げる。

But if central government employees are transferred to local governments, it is only logical that the central government transfers the financial resources to pay their salaries. The DPJ's envisaged method can never be considered cost-saving. After all, the party must achieve a net reduction of 20 percent in the number of central government employees and in their payrolls and allowances. Can the DPJ push this through in defiance of assumed resistance from the labor unions that support the party?
 だが、職員を自治体に移せば、財源は一緒に移すのが筋で、節約にはならない。結局、国家公務員の数と給与・手当の計2割分の純減が必要だが、民主党支持労組の抵抗を排し、断行できるのか。

Furthermore, there is a great risk in making permanent use of the "buried treasure," currently totaling 4.3 trillion yen, which includes investment returns in the Fiscal Investment and Loan Program Special Account and the Foreign Exchange Fund Special Account. This is because the investment returns are affected by government bond rates and exchange rate fluctuations.
 国債の金利や為替の変動に左右される財政投融資、外国為替資金の両特別会計の運用益など、埋蔵金4・3兆円の恒久財源化にも、大きなリスクが伴う。

===

No mention of MSDF mission

As for foreign and national security policies, the manifesto makes no mention of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean, which the DPJ opposed. The party has in fact said it would allow the mission to continue for the time being. Also, the language in the latest manifesto is milder with regard to revising the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement and reviewing the cost of hosting U.S. bases in the country.
 外交・安全保障政策では、反対していたインド洋での海上自衛隊の給油活動に言及しなかった。当面は継続する方針という。日米地位協定の改定や在日米軍駐留経費の見直しも表現を緩めた。

The DPJ is right to attach importance to the continuity of Japan's foreign policy and the Japan-U.S. relationship, but its policy shift is too abrupt.
 外交の継続性や日米関係を重視する姿勢は間違っていないが、その路線転換は唐突すぎる。

Former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa insisted that the MSDF's refueling mission--an issue that throws the DPJ's policy about-face into relief--is "unconstitutional" and waged an all-out battle against the government and ruling parties over the matter, forcing the suspension of the mission for nearly four months. Given this, the DPJ's new stance on the matter can only be regarded as expedient.
 政策変更の象徴である給油活動について、小沢一郎・前代表は「憲法違反」と決めつけ、政府・与党と全面対決の末、4か月近くも中断に追い込んだ。それを思い起こせば、今回の対応がご都合主義と言われても仕方がない。

The DPJ should fully explain to the public its position--whether it opposes the refueling mission or conditionally approves it. An equivocal attitude regarding such a fundamental foreign policy issue is unacceptable.
 民主党は、給油活動に反対なのか、条件付き容認なのか、その立場を明確にし、きちんと国民に説明すべきだ。外交の基本部分で、あいまいな態度は許されない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 28, 2009)
(2009年7月28日01時19分 読売新聞)

社会保障 与野党は「負担」を率直に説け

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 27, 2009)
Frank talks over burdens needed to sustain welfare
社会保障 与野党は「負担」を率直に説け(7月27日付・読売社説)

The nation's social security system surely cannot be sustained if things remain as they are. Such a sense of crisis likely is shared by many voters.
 日本の社会保障は、このままでは必ず立ちゆかなくなる。そんな危機意識を持つ有権者が多いのではないか。

The number of elderly people, who form the top layer of the demographic pyramid, is expected to grow rapidly, while the layer comprising the working generations that support elderly people will get steadily thinner due to the declining birthrate. Although social security spending continues to grow at a pace of 1 trillion yen per year, it appears that it will be difficult to secure the fiscal resources necessary to meet this cost. This is the situation we are facing.
 人口ピラミッドの上部にある高齢者層が急速に膨らみ、一方で、支える現役層は少子化によってますます細っていく。社会保障費は年に1兆円ペースで増え続けるのに、必要な財源のめどがつかないのが現状だ。

Whichever party takes power after the upcoming House of Representatives election, the population "body" that is growing increasingly obese will cause the social security "outfit" to rip apart unless the system is fixed as soon as possible.
 政権の形がどうなろうとも、社会保障制度という衣を急いで仕立て直さなくては、膨らむ体に耐えきれず、裂けてしまうだろう。

===

Parties must cooperate

Among a number of related issues to be tackled, a particularly urgent task is securing adequate medical services. As medicine is directly linked to people's lives and health, this issue has been a source of anxiety felt by people in connection with the nation's social security system as a whole.
 山積する課題の中でも、緊急に手を打つべきは医療である。命と健康に直結するだけに、社会保障全体の不安の源になっている。

To solve the problem of the shortage of doctors, both the ruling and opposition parties have proposed that the number of medical school students enrolled be increased. But increasing the number alone will not solve the problem.
 医師不足を解消するために、与野党とも医学部定員の増加策を打ち出しているが、人数を増やすだけでは解決しない。

The Yomiuri Shimbun last year put forward a comprehensive reform blueprint that includes a systematic allocation of doctors in a carefully planned manner. Using this proposal as a basis for discussion, we hope that parties will compete to hammer out their own medical reform plans--not mere lists of measures, but comprehensive programs.
 読売新聞は昨年、医師を計画的に配置することなど包括的な改革プランを提言した。これもたたき台の一つとして、各党は個別対策の羅列にとどまらない総合的な医療改革案を競ってほしい。

The nation cannot afford any further delay in pension system reform, either. The government and ruling parties have proposed that the current systems be improved with an enhanced minimum safeguard function.
 年金改革も先送りできない。政府・与党は現行の社会保険方式を改良して、最低保障機能を強化する方針を打ち出している。

The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan also has offered a reform plan to allow, under a unified basic system, pensioners to receive benefits in proportion to their income levels during their working years, with minimum guarantee pension benefits added on.
 民主党も国民共通の所得比例年金をベースとして、最低保障年金を上乗せする改革案を示した。

The ruling and opposition parties differ on this issue, but it is still possible for them to search for common ground for discussions.
隔たりはあるが、これならば、議論の接点を探ることも十分に可能ではないか。

Rather than merely finding fault with each other's policies, both sides should try to find basic points of agreement on social security policy that they can build on in a suprapartisan manner.
 互いの政策を批判し合うだけでなく、社会保障で一致できる基本線を見いだし、超党派で取り組む素地を作ることも重要だろう。

===

Sales tax hike inevitable

For policies to be implemented, it is indispensable to have a revenue source. The ruling and opposition parties have mounted different arguments to try to persuade the public of the need to shoulder more burdens.
 政策には財源の裏付けが不可欠である。だが、負担増を説くことには与野党で濃淡がある。

The DPJ has said it will not raise the consumption tax rate for four years while suggesting that revenues equivalent to those raised from the current 5 percent consumption tax, irrespective of any future increase in the rate, be used for pension system reform at some stage in the future. Regarding revenue sources for other welfare measures, the DPJ said it would manage to raise the necessary funds by cutting wasteful budget spending and other means.
 民主党は年金改革にいずれ消費税5%分を投入するとしつつも、税率は4年間、引き上げない方針だ。ほかの福祉施策の財源については、予算の無駄の見直しなどで捻出(ねんしゅつ)するという。

The Liberal Democratic Party, meanwhile, indicated that it will consider raising the consumption tax rate in three years if the economy recovers. But this proposal has been deemphasized ahead of the general election.
 自民党は、景気回復を前提に3年後の消費税率引き上げを検討するとはしているが、総選挙を前に声が小さくなっている。

If lawmakers avoid discussions on the consumption tax, which is the only stable source to finance the social security system, all policy pledges on this issue--no matter how appealing they may sound--likely will be end up being mere slogans.
 安定した社会保障財源として他に選択肢のない消費税の議論から逃げていては、いくら耳に心地よい公約を並べても結局、お題目に終わる可能性が大きい。

The extent to which they can honestly and frankly explain to voters the need to assume increased burdens will be a barometer for judging which party or which candidate is responsible.
 有権者に向かって負担増の必要性をどれだけ正直に、率直に説くか。それが責任ある政党、候補者を見極める尺度になるだろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 27, 2009)
(2009年7月27日01時37分 読売新聞)
プロフィール

srachai

自己紹介・リンク

■近況

2009年の9月15日に脳梗塞を発症、右手が少し不自由になりました。
MRAで脳梗塞の部位を特定でき、素早い処置をとれたので大事に至りませんでした。
快復にむけてリハビリ中です。
(2011/01/01更新)

■自己紹介・リンク

[ はじめに ]
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