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2008年5月22日 (木)


05/22/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, May 21(IHT/Asahi: May 22,2008)

EDITORIAL: Reform of bureaucracy


Even though they are both bills submitted by the government, we wonder why the ruling coalition is so eager about the ones concerning road specific taxes and passive about proposed legislation on reforming the national government employee system?



Defying objections by the opposition camp, the coalition used its two-thirds majority in the Lower House to ram the road-related bills through the chamber. On the other hand, even though Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is keen to win Diet passage of the bill to reform the civil service system, the ruling coalition parties appear lackadaisical in passing it.


Defying=平然と無視する)(ram=無理やり法案を議会で可決させる)(through the chamber=議会で)(lackadaisical=気乗りのしない、興味にかける)

Maintaining the higher temporary gasoline tax rate and securing tax revenues for road construction lead to protecting the vested interests of politicians and related industries. Meanwhile, civil service reform is aimed at changing the way bureaucrats have been traditionally sharing such interests with politicians and industry officials.


vested interests=既得権)(interests=権益)

Because of this sense of fellowship, some members of the Liberal Democratic Party were less than enthusiastic about the bill from the start. However, taking measures to rectify the harmful effects of sectionalism and a bureaucracy-led administration so as to advance reform and make the best use of the abilities of government employees can no longer be avoided in this era of declining birthrates and aging of society. The future interest of the entire nation is at stake.


sence of fellowship=身内意識)(stake=利害関係、関与、投資、掛け金) (be at stake=・・・に賭けられている)

The mainstay of the government bill currently under deliberation in the Lower House is the establishment of a "Cabinet personnel agency" to examine appointments of senior government officials.


mainstay=頼みの綱、大黒柱、大きな支え)(Cabinet personnel agency=内閣人事庁)

Originally, the idea was to crack open the closed personnel system, which was criticized as benefiting only ministries and neglecting national interests, by transferring authority over personnel affairs from individual ministries to the personnel agency. But actually, the bill submitted to the Diet was a watered-down version to have individual ministries draft their own plans.



individual ministries=各省庁)(the personnel agency=人事庁)(watered-down=水で薄められた、骨抜きの)

Meanwhile, the counterproposal put together by the opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) calls for the establishment of a "Cabinet personnel bureau," similar to the "personnel agency," and to have it manage senior personnel appointments in a unified way. It is close to the original government bill.


counterproposal=対案)(Cabinet personnel bureau=内閣人事局)

A center to promote personnel exchanges between the public and private sectors will start by the end of the year. But Minshuto also opposes the proposed system for the center to find jobs for retiring government officials and is calling for the abolition of amakudari, the practice of outgoing high-ranking government officials landing lucrative posts in the private sector. It also insists on a phased extension of the mandatory retirement age to 65.


lucrative=有利な、金儲けになる)(phased extension of the mandatory retirement age=段階的な定年延長)

While most Minshuto members are opposed to the government plan, some members say it is better to pass the government bill than do nothing. Their reasoning is this: If both the government- and Minshuto-proposed bills were scrapped, it would only benefit bureaucrats who are intent on maintaining the status quo.


Intent=熱心な、熱意のある)(status quo=現状)

It is clear what must be done. Before anything else, the two sides should initiate consultations to hold earnest discussions on their differences.

Although the LDP tends to side with bureaucrats, some members are pushing for the reform in the hope of giving the administration buoyancy. If they are serious about it, they should use the Minshuto plan as leverage to add punch to the watered-down government bill, thereby making it more effective.



tend to side with bureaucrats=官僚寄りの傾向がある)(buoyancy=浮力、元気を回復する、元気になる)(thereby=そうすることにより、それによって)

The Diet is due to close in less than four weeks. Although there is little time left, isn't there a way to separate portions of the bill that are acceptable to both sides, such as having the Cabinet manage personnel appointments in a unified fashion, and make them into law?

After that, the ruling and opposition parties should each list points on which they disagree on their manifestoes and put them before voters when the Lower House election is held.



having the Cabinet manage personnel appointments in a unified fashion=内閣による人事の一元化)

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 21(IHT/Asahi: May 22,2008)

朝日新聞 5月21日号 (英語版 2008年5月22日発行)


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