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2008年5月10日 (土)

スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう!

05/10/2008

EDITORIAL: Stubborn bureaucrats

地方分権―官僚になめられるな

It is really distressing to see how bureaucrats are stonewalling the various policy efforts to decentralize the government.

あまりのやる気のなさに、ため息が出る。地方分権改革に対する官僚の態度のことである。

The committee to promote decentralization, set up last year in the Cabinet Office, is working hard to publish its first set of recommendations shortly, hopefully by the end of this month. As part of its efforts to put together proposals, the panel is holding open debates with senior officials of the ministries and agencies involved. At the same time, Hiroya Masuda, the minister of internal affairs and communications, who is also responsible for decentralization, is holding talks with other ministers over various ideas to distribute more administrative powers and functions to local governments.

内閣府地方分権改革推進委員会は、分権の具体策を盛り込んだ第1次勧告を月内にも出すべく、中央省庁の局長らと公開討論をするなど準備を進めている。並行して、地方分権改革担当相を兼ねる増田総務相が、閣僚との個別折衝にあたっている。

The proposals that have been floated by the committee include the following: allowing prefectural governments to manage some national highways and class-A rivers and grant permission to convert farmland to other uses; transferring the right of personnel management over public school teachers and clerical workers from the prefectural to municipal governments; and relaxing the unified standards for welfare facilities and allowing local governments to set their own standards.

一部の国道や1級河川の管理、農地転用の許可は、都道府県ができるようにする。教職員の人事権は、都道府県から市町村に移す。福祉施設の全国一律の基準を緩め、地域ごとに基準を設けられるようにする。

The ministries and agencies, however, are doing their best to block most of these proposals, flatly rejecting some and sidetracking others.

分権委が勧告しようとしているのは、例えばこんな内容だ。ところが、分権委のこうした要求に省庁側が示しているのは、ほとんどが拒否や先送りなどの「ゼロ回答」だ。

Last month, alarmed by the situation, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda chided bureaucrats for their uncooperative attitude. "The responses of ministries and agencies have been insufficient. I hope ministers will make their decisions on how to deal with this challenge as politicians," he said. The disturbing bureaucratic stonewalling has prodded Masuda into early negotiations with the other ministers concerned over the committee proposals before they are made public.

非協力的な態度に、福田首相は先月、「各府省の対応は不十分。閣僚は政治家としての判断で取り組んでほしい」と苦言を呈した。勧告が出る前から担当相が閣僚折衝に乗り出すのは、こんな背景があってのことだ。

The committee is trying to overhaul the administrative structure to allow local governments to pursue plans for more balanced regional development and make welfare and education programs better tailored to regional realities. That's not all. Another important aim of the reform is to bring the policymaking process closer to people to make it easier to check policy decisions and eliminate bureaucratic overlapping, which wastes taxpayers' money.

分権委には、自治体が地域全体のバランスを考えて街づくりをしたり、地域の実情にあった福祉や教育を進めたりできるようにする狙いがある。

それだけではない。意思決定を住民の身近ですることでチェックしやすくしたり、二重行政の無駄をなくしたりするのも大きな目的だ。

With tax revenue expected to keep dwindling amid the aging and shrinking of the population, the need to promote such changes is vital. Yet, bureaucrats are standing in the way of the reforms, brandishing flimsy claims that sound quite familiar. Officials opposing the proposal to transfer the power to permit the conversion of farmland to prefectures say it is necessary for the central government to secure sufficient farmland from the viewpoint of stable food supply for the entire nation. The bureaucratic argument against regionalized standards for welfare facilities is that it is necessary to ensure certain standards for the treatment of users and their quality of life.

少子高齢化で税収が先細りする中で、こうした改革は不可欠なのに、役所側は相も変わらず次のような理由を持ち出して、分権を拒んでいる。

農地転用許可に対しては、「食料の安定供給のため、国が全国的視野で農地確保を図ることが必要だ」。福祉施設については「一定水準の処遇と生活の質を確保する必要がある」。

These claims are anything but convincing. The bureaucrats, it seems, are only fighting to protect their own powers, even at the expense of national interests. It is the job of political leaders to make hidebound members of the officialdom accept necessary changes. This blatant sabotage of crucial reforms by bureaucrats, who are apparently betting that the current government doesn't have the necessary political muscle, must not be allowed.

こんな理屈が説得力を持つとは、とても思えない。たとえ国益に反しても自分たちの権限は手放したくないというのが、官僚の本音ではないか。

そんな官僚を動かすことこそ、政治の役割である。政権の求心力の低下を見透かしたかのような官僚のサボタージュを許してはならない。

Without being daunted by the formidable resistance from the bureaucracy, the committee should make bold proposals and press Fukuda to carry them out. To make sure that the panel's recommendations will be implemented without dilution, Masuda needs to win support for the ideas from the

ministers in advance.

分権委は抵抗にひるまず大胆な勧告を打ち出して、首相に実行を迫るべきだ。勧告の内容をきちんと実行するためにも、増田氏は各閣僚を説得しておく必要がある。

While he was serving as governor of Iwate Prefecture, Masuda, previously a bureaucrat at the former Construction Ministry, earned a reputation as a champion of administrative reform by transferring certain powers to municipal governments. It is because of his track record as a reformist governor that Masuda was recruited as the minister in charge of decentralization.

増田氏は、旧建設官僚から岩手県知事に転じ、市町村への権限移譲を進めた「改革派」だ。入閣は、こうした経歴を買われてのことだ。

It is not clear how long Fukuda will be able to remain in office. And the fact that Masuda is not a Diet member may work against his efforts. Still, we hope that he will be able to capitalize on his impressive administrative record as a prefectural governor to persuade ministers, who tend to speak for the parochial interests of their ministries, to support the reforms this nation badly needs.

福田内閣がいつまで続くかは定かでないし、議員バッジもない増田氏だ。だが、ここは地方自治での実績を武器に、役所の利益を代弁しがちな閣僚たちをねじ伏せる迫力を見せてほしい。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 9(IHT/Asahi: May 10,2008)

朝日新聞 5月9日号 (英語版 2008年5月10日発行)

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