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2008年6月10日 (火)

居酒屋タクシー

2008/6/10 --The Asahi Shimbun, June 7(IHT/Asahi: June 10,2008)

EDITORIAL: Greedy bureaucrats

居酒屋タクシー―これで負担増を言えるか

The deep-rooted culture of sleaze in Japan's officialdom shows no signs of abating. We recently learned that hundreds of bureaucrats have accepted cash and other gifts from the drivers of taxis they used for returning home late at night. Many of them were officials at the Finance Ministry and the National Tax Agency, guardians of the nation's fiscal rectitude who are responsible for collecting taxes and making sure that the money is allocated to use wisely without waste.

なんともあきれた役人の実態が、またしても明るみに出てきた。 

国民から税金を集め、それを無駄なく使うよう配分してチェックする。財政の番人である財務省や国税庁の役人たちが、深夜の帰宅用タクシーから様々な金品を得ていたのだ。 

(sleaze=低俗なもの、下品さ) (officialdom=役人の地位、官界) (abating=衰える、減少する、減る、少なくなる) (rectitude=公正、厳正)

One official at the Finance Ministry received cash and gift certificates on hundreds of occasions worth at least 1.5 million yen in total over five years. Eighteen officials accepted gift coupons, while 364 others were given cans of beer, tea and other refreshments.

運転手から少なくとも150万円の現金をもらっていた者が1人、金券が18人、ビールなどの物品は364人にのぼっていた。 

(新聞社のプロ翻訳家の翻訳でも翻訳ミスはある、上が好例で日本語の意味と少しだけ食い違っている by srachai)

But the Finance Ministry is not alone. The questionable practice of accepting money and gifts from taxi drivers has been uncovered at 12 other ministries and agencies. The government is now investigating the practice. It seems likely that the number of organizations and people involved in the scandal will grow. The inquiry must be conducted rigorously, and the results must be fully published.

財務省以外でも12の省庁などで金品をもらっていたという。調査の途中なのでもっと増えるだろう。厳格に調査して公表しなくてはならない。 

(rigorously=きわめて、厳密な、厳しく)

These facts came to light because Akira Nagatsuma, a Lower House member of Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), asked all the ministries and agencies to investigate the suspected practice.

これは、民主党の長妻昭衆院議員が全省庁に調査を求め発覚した。

Nagatsuma also helped shed light on the slipshod method of keeping pension records and wasteful spending of tax revenues earmarked for road construction. A decade ago, it would have been unimaginable for government organizations to respond seriously to an opposition lawmaker's request that they look into a potential scandal of their own and report on the findings.

長妻氏らはこれまで、年金管理のずさんさや道路財源のムダづかいを暴いてきた。野党議員の求めで省庁が自らの不始末を調べて報告するとは、一昔前なら考えられなかったろう。

shed=問題を解明する、明かりで照らす) (slipshod=だらしない、みだれた)

This clearly demonstrates the beneficial effects of the current divided control of the Diet, which has greatly bolstered the opposition camp's political power. Minshuto and other opposition parties are in a perfect position to hold the government accountable.

「ねじれ国会」で野党の発言力が飛躍的に増した成果だ。これからも政府をしっかりとチェックしてほしい。

bolster=強める、元気づける) (accountable=責任がある、釈明の義務がある)

It is hard to imagine that these bureaucrats had no qualms about receiving kickbacks of cash and gifts from cabbies for so many years. It seems that many bureaucrats have become regular customers of specific cab drivers and would call them by cellphone to make use of their services. They received favors in return for their patronage. This is a really distressing story. The government must carry out an exhaustive probe to find out whether some bureaucrats, in egregious misconduct, entered larger amounts than the actual fare in taxi tickets and received kickbacks.それにしても、長年にわたりタクシーから金品やキックバックを得ていた神経はどうかしている。多くの者がなじみの運転手をつくり、携帯で呼び出して見返りを得ていたのではないか。なんとも情けない。料金以上の金額をタクシー券に記入して見返りを受ける悪質な例がないかについても、厳しく調べなければならない。

(qualms=良心の呵責) (distressing=苦しめる、悩ます) (exhaustive=完全な、徹底的な) (egregious=とてもひどい、とてつもな)

misconduct=違法行為、職権乱用)

There is nothing wrong with taxi drivers trying to outdo their rivals in offering better services to customers. Many readers must have been pleasantly surprised to be offered wet hand towels or pocket tissues when taking a taxi.

タクシーが乗客へのサービスを競うのは結構なことだ。おしぼりやポケットティッシュなどをもらって気分がよかった読者も多かろう。 

outdo=負かす、しのぐ)

But taxi tickets used by government employees are funded with taxpayer money, not by their own money. Thus, officials should show more sensitivity to the fact that they can contribute to cuts in government spending by asking for fare discounts when they are offered cash and gifts. The government bodies should have negotiated discount contracts with the operators of taxi services, instead of allowing their employees to enjoy the perks. By accepting money and gifts instead of asking for fare discounts, these officials have crossed the line of bureaucratic ethics. They cannot evade accusations of effectively pocketing taxpayer money.

しかし、役所のタクシー券は税金で払われる。私費ではない。金品のサービスを料金の割引へ回せば、経費を節約できる。そう考え、役所としてタクシー側と割引契約を結ぶのが筋ではないか。それをせずに個人が金品を受け取ってきたのは、明らかに一線を越えている。税金を懐へ入れていたといわれても仕方がない。 

perks=役人の立場を利用した役得) (cross the line=一線を超える) (ethics=倫理、道徳) (evade=免れる、逃れる、避ける、よける)

One of the biggest challenges facing the government is to regain fiscal health amid growing calls in recent years for spending cuts. Meantime, the culture of corruption within the Japanese bureaucracy remains unchanged. Given many similar sordid stories and the profligate way in which ministries and agencies spend their recreational budgets, bureaucrats appear to regard taxpayer money as their own. These episodes only subject all bureaucrats, including honest and hard-working ones, to public suspicion.

財政再建が政府最大の課題になり経費節減が叫ばれてきたのに、役所の体質は一向に改まらない。各省庁での娯楽費の野放図な使い方をみても、役人は税金を自分のお金だと勘違いしているのではないか。これでは、真っ当に仕事をしている人まで国民から疑いの目で見られるようになる。 

(sordid=きたない、みすぼらしい、むさくるしい) (profligate=不品行な、不道徳な、放蕩な)

How can swelling welfare costs due to the aging population be financed? It will become necessary to cut expenditures in other areas and place an additional tax burden on the public to cover growing social security costs. With the newly introduced health care insurance system for elderly people harshly criticized, time for action is running out.

高齢化により増える福祉費用の財源をどうやって確保するか。他の削れる予算を福祉へ回したうえで、国民にも新たな負担を求めなければならなくなるだろう。お年寄りの医療保険制度が問題になっており、時間はない。 

A social welfare program is unsustainable unless there is public trust in the government. Is this government and its employees up to the challenge? This is a question that has been raised by the taxi scandal.

そもそも社会福祉の制度は、政府への信頼が基本になければ成り立たない。そうした仕事をこの政府と官僚は担っていけるのか。「居酒屋タクシー」はそのことを突き付けている。 

unsustainable=容認できない、非常識な)

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 7(IHT/Asahi: June 10,2008)

朝日新聞 6月07日号 (英語版 2008年6月10日発行)

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