« スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう! | トップページ | スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう! »

2008年5月12日 (月)



EDITORIAL: Battle over road funding


After raging for four long months, the bitter partisan battle over the gasoline and other vehicle-related taxes earmarked for road construction is now reaching its final stage.



During an Upper House committee session Friday, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda grumbled about the way main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) has responded to his proposal to scrap the long-standing road-funding system. "Since I proposed at the end of March to transfer the earmarked road funds to the general revenue account, I have eagerly waited for one and a half months for Minshuto to agree to talks over the idea and propose amendments," he said in connection with government plans to extend the program for 10 more years.


きのうの参院委員会で、福田首相はこんな恨み節を民主党にぶつけた。特定財源をあと10年間維持する特例法改正案が、野党の反対で否決される直前の答弁だ。 (grumble=不平を言う

His remarks came just before the bill was voted down by the committee, which was controlled by lawmakers from the opposition camp. The bill is expected to be rejected by the chamber's plenary session May 12. The ruling coalition led by Fukuda's Liberal Democratic Party intends to enact the bill by using its two-thirds majority in the Lower House to override the Upper House veto. With his querulous words, Fukuda may have been indicating that he is actually uncomfortable about ramming the legislation through. The bill clearly contradicts Fukuda's promise. While he has vowed to do away with the system to wall off these road tax revenues at the end of the current fiscal year and mingle the money with general revenue in the next fiscal year, the bill aims to keep the program alive for another decade.




override=~に勝る、~に優先する veto=拒否権 querulous=不満を示す、おこりっぽい ram~though=~(法案)を強引に押し通す

mingle=混ぜ合わせる wall off=壁で仕切る、騒音をシャットアウトする

The easiest and most logical way to make the bill consistent with Fukuda's plan would have been a revision to ensure that the measure will expire in one year. Some lawmakers in the LDP and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, had sought this change.



The government and the ruling coalition are solely responsible for the politically awkward act of bulldozing the bill through the Diet without such an amendment. Fukuda's attempt to put the blame on Minshuto is unacceptable. The ruling camp could have proposed a revision to the bill. At the committee session, Fukuda stressed that prefectures and municipalities would be in trouble if central government spending on roads is blocked. Indeed, state subsidies amounting to some 700 billion yen for local road projects financed by the earmarked tax receipts would be stalled unless the bill is passed. That would put local governments in a bind.



subsidy=補助金)(the earmarked tax receipt=予定された税収(stall=行き詰まる)

If so, the ruling camp should have made serious overtures of compromise to the opposition bloc. It could have separated the road subsidies from the bill to secure funds for them through independent legislation, for instance, or offered other measures to transfer a portion of the central government revenues to local treasuries. It is true that Minshuto is currently not keen to make political compromises because of its confrontational stance toward the government under its strategy focused on forcing a dissolution of the Lower House for a snap election. But Fukuda should have trotted out a succession of shots at persuading the opposition party into talks for a deal. But he stuck to an inflexible strategy aimed at keeping the bill intact.

ならば、臨時交付金の部分だけ切り離して成立させたり、税収を地方に回す別の方法を講じたりして、野党の歩み寄りを促す手もありえたはずだ。 いまの民主党が早期の衆院解散・総選挙を目指して対決路線に傾き、妥協の機運に乏しいのは事実だ。それをどう引き込むか、首相の方から二の矢、三の矢を繰り出して当然だったのに、法案死守に凝り固まってしまった。

overtures=提案 trot=小走りする stick to=こだわる、固執する intact=完全な、損なわれていない、傷ついていない

He had good reasons for avoiding any step that could tick off the so-called "road tribe," those LDP politicians serving the interests of the road-building industry. And he probably didn't want to break with a legislative tradition: the government usually doesn't amend a bill after submitting it to the Diet.


tick off=憤慨させる、怒らせる)

Instead of making serious efforts to strike a deal with Minshuto, the Fukuda government opted to wait for 60 days after the bill was sent to the Upper House so that it could use the ruling coalition's supermajority in the Lower House to enact it under a constitutional provision.


(strike=衝突する、議論で衝突する) (opt to = ~のほうを選ぶ、選択する

According to a recent Asahi Shimbun poll, the government's tactics doesn't go down well with voters, who apparently regard them as an arrogant abuse of the ruling camp's strength in the Lower House. The poll found 54 percent of the respondents critical of the ruling coalition's move to restore the gasoline tax surcharges that expired at the end of March by using a two-thirds majority in the Lower House. Only 29 percent supported the action. As for the planned railroading of the bill to extend the road-funding system, 59 percent voiced opposition, while 28 percent showed support.


The poll findings indicate the public is not sold on Fukuda's argument for the move. The government has promised a formal Cabinet endorsement of Fukuda's pledge. But it is doubtful whether that will help win public support for this legislative action.


sell on = 納得させる)(win public support = 民衆の理解を得る

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 10(IHT/Asahi: May 12,2008)

朝日新聞 5月10日号 (英語版 2008年5月12日発行)


« スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう! | トップページ | スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう! »

16-My family (私の家族)」カテゴリの記事




« スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう! | トップページ | スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう! »