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2008年7月14日 (月)


2008/7/12 --The Asahi Shimbun, July 11(IHT/Asahi: July 12,2008)

EDITORIAL: The Bottom Billion


"The Bottom Billion" is a term gaining currency in the international aid community. It refers to the 1 billion people at the bottom of the pyramid. They are the poorest of the poor in developing countries living on less than $1 (107 yen) a day. They constitute one-sixth of the world's population.


The ripple effects of skyrocketing oil and food prices are spreading worldwide. Costlier energy and food pose a grave, immediate threat to the survival of the Bottom Billion, who live in farming villages and urban slums in developing countries.


(ripple=さざなみをたてる) (costlier=costly=値段の高いの比較級)

In a news conference at the closing of this year's Group of Eight summit, held in the Lake Toyako resort in Hokkaido, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said, "Challenges of global scale are affecting people's lives in dire ways." He was talking about the seriousness of such problems as soaring crude oil and food prices, inflation and global warming.



During the three-day summit, leaders of major economic powers spent hours discussing these problems and produced masses of declaration documents. But how much did these discussions and documents do to hearten the Bottom Billion? How much relief did they give to them?


(mass=集まり、集積、集合) (hearten=励ます、元気付ける、励ます)

Of course, even the leaders of the eight most powerful nations cannot find solutions to all these intractable problems. But that doesn't lessen the urgency of asking these questions.

In response to rising food prices, G-8 pledged more than 1 trillion yen in emergency aid. But wheat, corn and other crop prices will rise further before the aid reaches the people who urgently need it. That means the money will supply even less food. Efforts to increase local food production are hurt by surging fertilizer and seed prices.



The summit did even less for rising oil prices. The G-8 responses to the oil woes included urging oil-producing countries to ramp up output and proposing a dialogue between oil consuming and producing nations. But these are unlikely to have immediate effects.


woe=悲痛、苦悩、悲哀) (ramp up output=生産を拡大する、増産する)

It is hardly surprising aid organizations and experts inside and outside Japan harshly criticized the G-8's approach. And there is no peak in sight for oil and food prices.



The economic gap among developing countries is widening. The economies of emerging countries like China, India and Brazil are on a sharp upward growth trajectory. Most of the Bottom Billion live in countries that have fallen behind in the wave of economic globalization. The economies of these countries are stagnating, or even deteriorating. Many of the countries at the bottom are in Africa, parts of Asia and Central Asia.


(trajectory=軌道) (stagnate=よどむ、活気がなくなる) (deteriorate=悪化する、退廃化する)

World Bank President Robert Zoellick has called these multiple economic crises a "man-made catastrophe." Likely he was thinking of the rush to use grain for biofuels and restrictions on food exports by food-producing countries, which have both driven up food prices.

Speculative bets on higher oil and food prices are also contributing to the crises. For the world's poorest, though, these crises are no different from a natural disaster.


NGOs and researchers, who view the crises as consequences of "casino capitalism," called for restrictions on speculative investments and a ban on producing biofuels with grains. But these ideas got no serious response at the summit.


That is not to say the industrial nations have not been eager to tackle poverty. They have proposed forgiving the poorest countries' massive debts and increasing aid. In recent years, they have stepped up their efforts to help struggling countries in Africa.


Rising food and oil prices are causing more and more people to join the ranks of the poor and needy. Deepening anger and resentment among people at the bottom of society could threaten stability in developing countries.


(resentment=憤慨、憤り、恨み、敵意  発音注意:リントメントと濁った音で発音させる)

Industrial nations must keep working to figure out effective ways to solve the problems facing those who fall behind the rest of mankind because of globalization.


--The Asahi Shimbun, July 11(IHT/Asahi: July 12,2008)


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