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2008年5月31日 (土)


05/31/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, May 30(IHT/Asahi: May 31,2008)

EDITORIAL: Reform of bureaucracy


Though Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda issued clear instructions, the government parties appeared to lack the will to act.


Yet on Thursday, a basic bill to reform the national civil servant system passed the Lower House against all expectations that it would not clear the Diet during the current session.


Following deliberations in the Upper House, the bill is expected to become law in early June.


In keeping with Fukuda's wishes, the ruling coalition swallowed most of the ideas proposed by the main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan).


Minshuto also conceded by tentatively lifting its demand for a ban on the practice of amakudari. With that, an agreement was suddenly struck to amend the bill.



The government and opposition camps compromised because neither side wants to be seen as a reform killer by voters.


reform killer=改革をつぶすもの)

Within the divided Diet, the majority of bills on which the ruling and opposition parties fiercely clashed have either been resubmitted and approved by the two-thirds majority held by the ruling coalition in the Lower House or shelved.



While this particular draft amendment contains some vagueness and puts certain issues on the back burner, we commend the two sides for hammering out a consensus.


back burner=棚上げ、後回し)(commend=ほめる、賞賛する)

The pillar of the revised bill consists of a plan to newly establish a "Cabinet personnel bureau" for integrated management of executive appointments.


The chief Cabinet secretary would prepare original personnel selection drafts, making it possible to reshuffle senior officials across the borders of individual government offices.


The government proposal was to locate a "personnel agency" in the Cabinet, with the initial drafts drawn up by each ministry. Compared to that idea, which drained much of the clout from the original concept, the revised bill could breathe fresh air into the current closed personnel systems at each ministry, giving leeway to break out of the conventional compartmentalized approach.



Besides this, the draft amendment deletes the limits on contacts between politicians and bureaucrats contained in the government proposal.


With regard to granting non-managerial civil servants the right to conclude agreements on labor conditions determined by negotiation, the amended version takes a more positive stance than its government counterpart.


We feel that discussions of the evils of the current civil servant system have already largely run their course.


The cozy ties among politicians, bureaucrats and businesses under the long-running Liberal Democratic Party-led regime have badly distorted the administrative process.


A classic example of this mess is the hoarding of revenue sources earmarked for roads, followed by the discretional milking of the national budget by highway construction special interest Diet members and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.



On the other hand, sectionalism of ministries and ministry’s interest first policy prevent the necessary measure against globalization of economy and less-children plus aging society from being taken.)(この部分は英字新聞の原文に含まれていなかったので、スラチャイが英語に翻訳しました。)


Some aspects of these abuses may be revamped through repeated changes in the government. However, they will never be fully overcome without a coordinated push for thorough institutional reform.



This current basic bill for civil servant reform only outlines the direction. Whether the changes proceed as envisioned depends upon the forthcoming system design.


system design=制度設計)

There is also a need to rethink last year's legal revision that cleared the way to establish a so-called public-private personnel exchange center--an institution that would effectively help broker retiring bureaucrats into private industry posts.


As a key piece of a major restructuring in how the nation should be governed, civil servant system reform ranks right up with decentralization of government authority and revenue sources to local autonomies.



Yet, the agreement is but the first step in the right direction. The real battle between the ruling and opposition parties lies in how they bring their respective wisdom and savvy to the fore from here on.




--The Asahi Shimbun, May 30(IHT/Asahi: May 31,2008)

朝日新聞 5月30日号 (英語版 2008年5月31日発行)


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