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2008年5月 5日 (月)

スラチャイと英語を勉強しましょう!

(May. 5, 2008)

EDITORIAL: The Constitution today

日本国憲法―現実を変える手段として

What a difference a year makes. Witness the dramatic shift in the political landscape surrounding the Constitution. Saturday was Constitution Day, marking the 61st anniversary of the day it took effect.

たった1年での、この変わりようはどうだろう。61回目の誕生日を迎えた日本国憲法をめぐる景色である。

Remember last year at this time? Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had made amending the Constitution a central issue in the campaign for the Upper House election that July. His government, in fact, enacted a law on the formal procedures for constitutional referendums as part of his strategy. Abe also set up an advisory panel to reexamine the government's long-held constitutional interpretation of the right to collective self-defense.

昨年の憲法記念日のころを思い出してみる。安倍首相は、夏の参院選に向けて憲法改正を争点に掲げ、そのための手続き法である国民投票法を成立させた。集団的自衛権の政府解釈を見直す方向で、諮問機関も発足させた。

Today, political momentum to amend the Constitution, which lay behind these initiatives, has completely disappeared. In clear contrast with Abe, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda shows little enthusiasm for revising the Constitution. Fukuda has also shelved the proposed review of the government's position on the issue of Japan's right to collective self-defense.

ところがいま、そうした前のめりとでも言うべき改憲気分は、すっかり鳴りを潜めている。福田首相は安倍時代の改憲路線とは一線を画し、集団的自衛権の見直しも棚上げにした。

Polls have shown the public is now less willing to embrace changes in the pacifist Constitution. A recent survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun, the leading newspaper championing the cause, found that respondents opposed to constitutional amendments outnumbered those in favor of them for the first time since 1993. An Asahi Shimbun poll showed 66 percent of respondents were opposed to altering the war-renouncing Article 9, compared with 23 percent who said they supported the idea.

世論も冷えている。改憲の旗振り役をつとめてきた読売新聞の調査では今年、93年以降の構図が逆転し、改憲反対が賛成を上回った。朝日新聞の調査でも、9条については改正賛成が23%に対して、反対は3倍近い66%だ。

The argument for revising the Constitution began to gain momentum in the 1990s, mainly because of pro-amendment campaigns by some voices in the media and politicians. But opinion polls consistently showed that pocketbook issues, such as business conditions and pensions, topped the list of voters' concerns. The issue of constitutional amendments consistently ranked lower in priority.

90年代から政治やメディアが主導する形で改憲論が盛り上がった。だが、そもそも政治が取り組むべき課題を世論調査で聞くと、景気や年金など暮らしに直結する問題が上位に並び、改憲の優先順位は高くはなかった。

It looks like the public's interest in revising the Constitution has declined in tandem with a lessening in politicians' zeal for revising the Constitution over the past year. The change was partly due to the U.S. fiasco in Iraq, which has doused public interest in the issue.

イラクでの米国の失敗なども背景に、政治の熱が冷めれば、自然と関心も下がるということなのだろう。

It is, of course, possible that a revision of Article 9 will reemerge as a big topic of policy debate in Tokyo amid a political realignment. But currently, the political mood clearly suggests that any uncompromising argument for changing the Constitution, especially the kind made by advocates who would like to see the Self-Defense Forces act as conventional military forces do, cuts little ice with the public.

むろん、政界再編などを通じて、9条改憲が再浮上する可能性は否定できない。ただ、今の世の中の流れをみる限りでは、一本調子の改憲論、とりわけ自衛隊を軍にすべきだといった主張が訴求力を失うのはあたり前なのかもしれない。

Growing poor amid such wealth

豊かさの中の新貧困

Last year, while fierce political debate raged over Article 9, more serious issues with constitutional implications emerged that escaped large public attention.

9条をめぐってかまびすしい議論が交わされる陰で、実は憲法をめぐってもっと深刻な事態が進行していたことは見過ごされがちだった。

Economic globalization, which has advanced at a heady pace, and the explosive spread of the Internet and cellphones have radically altered society. The new realities created by these changes pose serious policy challenges that went beyond the scope of the traditional debate on the Constitution.

For example, consider the growing ranks of a new underclass of society, the "working poor."

すさまじい勢いで進む経済のグローバル化や、インターネット、携帯電話の広がりは、日本の社会を大きく変容させた。従来の憲法論議が想像もしなかった新しい現実が、挑戦状を突きつけているのだ。

たとえば「ワーキングプア(働く貧困層)」という言葉に象徴される、新しい貧困の問題。

Intensifying cross-border competition has driven companies to make desperate efforts to cut labor costs. As a consequence, the number of nonregular, temporary workers, which includes both part-timers and dispatched workers, has grown sharply in recent years. Such workers now comprise a third of the working population.

国境を超えた競争の激化で、企業は人件費の削減に走る。パートや派遣の非正規労働者が飛躍的に増え、いまや働く人の3分の1を占める。

Such workers face higher job insecurity and low wages, which leaves an increasing number of them with no choice but to claim welfare benefits.

仕事があったりなかったりの不安定さと低賃金で、生活保護の対象になるような水準の収入しかない人たちが出てきた。

Admittedly, some workers have only themselves to blame for their miserable financial situations. In today's society, people have far weaker ties with others than in the past, and many individuals find themselves isolated. Once an isolated individual falls into poverty, it is usually very difficult to climb back out of that hole.

本人に問題があるケースもあろう。だが、人と人とのつながりが希薄になった現代社会では、個人は砂粒のようにバラバラになり、ふとしたはずみで貧困にすべり落ちると、はい上がるすべがない。

In the decades after the end of World War II, Japanese people worked very hard to build a wealthy society.

Just as that goal appeared to have been achieved, however, a huge hole opened in Japan's social safety net.

戦後の日本人は、豊かな社会をめざして懸命に働いてきた。ようやくその目標を達したかに思えたところで、実は袋の底に新しい穴が開いていた。そんな状況ではあるまいか。

This spring, an "anti-poverty festival" was held in Tokyo. The event featured a musical stage show that depicted the plight of the "new poor."

The play's opening scene was set in a cramped Internet cafe, filled with young people who were basically living there. Each spoke up about their anxieties and daily hardships as they were clicking away on keyboards.

東京でこの春、「反貧困フェスタ」という催しがあり、そこで貧困の実態を伝えるミュージカルが上演された。

狭苦しいインターネットカフェの場面から物語は始まる。カフェを寝場所にする若者たちが、かたかたとキーボードをたたきながらネットを通じて不安や体験を語り合う。

One of them had collapsed from overwork. Another lost his job when his employer went bankrupt--and never paid him all his wages. Another character, a young man, was struggling to escape from a life of temporary day jobs.

長時間労働で倒れた人、勤め先の倒産で給料未払いのまま職がなくなってしまった若者、日雇い派遣の暮らしから抜け出せない青年……。

At the end of the play, all the characters recited a passage from the Constitution: which states: "All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living." This sentence is the first in Article 25.

The characters thus strongly expressed the wide gap between what the Constitution promises and reality for the working poor.

最後に出演者たちが朗唱する。「すべて国民は、健康で文化的な最低限度の生活を営む権利を有する」。生存権をうたった憲法25条の条文だ。

憲法と現実との間にできてしまった深い溝を、彼らは体で感じているように見えた。

Freedom of speech under threat

「自由」は実現したか

In a democratic society, anyone should be able to speak out freely. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. Living in a country with a militarist past, all Japanese would agree that freedom of speech must be protected at all cost.

But recent events have raised concerns that this vital constitutional principle may be under threat.

民主主義の社会では、だれもが自分の思うことを言えなければならない。憲法はその自由を保障している。軍国主義の過去を持つ国として、ここはゆるがせにできないと、だれもが思っていることだろう。だが、この袋にも実は穴が開いているのではないか。そう感じさせる事件が続く。

In February, a luxury hotel in Tokyo's Minato Ward unilaterally canceled its contract to provide a venue for a meeting of the Japan Teachers Union. The hotel management, worried about protests from rightist groups, even refused to obey a court order to honor the contract, after its action had been judged illegal.

名門ホテルが右翼団体からの妨害を恐れ、教職員組合への会場貸し出しをキャンセルした。それを違法とする裁判所の命令にも従わない。

Last month, several movie theaters said they would not screen "Yasukuni," a documentary film on the war-linked shrine by a Tokyo-based Chinese director. They did so after a group of conservative lawmakers expressed doubts about a government-affiliated organization that partly funded the film.

中国人監督によるドキュメンタリー映画「靖国」は、政府が関与する団体が助成金を出したのを疑問視する国会議員の動きなどもあって、上映を取りやめる映画館が相次いだ。

The anonymity of the Internet makes it a double-edged sword. This medium gives people a powerful way of reaching global numbers of people. But it enables people to slander, harass and violate the privacy of others through irresponsible postings. Such actions seriously threaten freedom and human rights.

インターネット社会が持つ匿名性は「両刃の剣」だ。多数の人々に個人が自由に発信できる世界を広げる一方で、無責任な書き込みによる中傷いじめプライバシーの暴露が、逆に個人の自由と人権を抑圧する。

We have yet to find the wisdom and means of protecting freedoms and rights in this new reality.

こうした新しい現実の中で、私たちは自由と権利を守る知恵や手段をまだ見いだしていない。

Meanwhile, several scandals also raised doubts about whether government employees, which the Constitution calls "servants of the whole community," are performing their roles properly. The scandals that hit the Social Insurance Agency and the Defense Ministry suggest otherwise. The government employees in the scandals apparently acted in ways that went against the spirit of the Constitution.

憲法で「全体の奉仕者」と位置づけられている公務員が、その通りに仕事をしているか。社会保険庁防衛省で起きたことは何なのか。憲法の精神への裏切りではないのか。

The Constitution is the fundamental law of the nation. It lays down the basic rights of the people. Obviously, it is important for all Japanese to ponder afresh its grave importance in their lives.

憲法は国民の権利を定めた基本法だ。その重みをいま一度かみしめたい。

How should people's livelihoods be protected amid such circumstances? What should be done to ensure that no one is intimidated and prevented from expressing their opinions? We must not flinch from looking at the wide, deep gap between what the Constitution guarantees and reality today.

人々の暮らしをどう守るのか。みなが縮こまらない社会にするにはどうしたらいいか。現実と憲法の溝の深さにたじろいではいけない。

The Constitution points the way toward changing that unhappy reality and creating a better society for all. This perspective is essential for truly constructive debate on the Constitution.

憲法は現実を改革し、すみよい社会をつくる手段なのだ。その視点があってこそ、本物の憲法論議が生まれる。

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 3(IHT/Asahi: May 5,2008)

朝日新聞 5月3日 (英文翻訳 2008年5月5日)

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