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2008年7月23日 (水)


(Jul. 23, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Economy white paper sidesteps key issues

経済財政白書 リスクにどう立ち向かう(7月23日付・読売社説)

The approach the annual government white paper on the nation's economy and public finances proposes as a prescription for warding off a looming crisis facing the economy raises certain questions about its efficacy.


(ward off=危険攻撃などを避ける) (looming=不気味に現れる) (efficacy=ききめ、効果)

The Cabinet Office's Annual Report on the Japanese Economy and Public Finances 2008, which was released Tuesday and whose subtitle is "Japan's Economy: Tackling Risks," analyzes the risks the economy faces from short-, medium- and long-term viewpoints, and proposes strategies and measures to sustain current growth.


On the whole, the white paper's appraisal of the nation's economy is on the right track. However, the economy has entered a lull at the start of a period when it is encountering many growing risks, such as the U.S. subprime mortgage fiasco.

The white paper lacks a hard-nosed appraisal of the current situation based on this understanding of world markets. As such, it fails to be entirely convincing.


(appraisal=評価、見積もり) (lull=なぎ、静まっている状態) (hard-nosed=感情に左右されない、冷静な、客観的な)

Regarding short-term risks, the white paper cites a decline in the U.S. economy; a sharp rise in the prices of crude oil and raw and processed materials; and fluctuations on financial and capital markets. It warns that the economy is vulnerable to impacts from overseas and faces the risk it might shift to a downswing. This finding is not surprising.




Picture too rosy?


On the future outlook for the economy, the white paper says, "Japan's economy will recover slowly after experiencing these issues." However, we think this claim is too optimistic. The government should set out specific reasons for coming to this conclusion and demonstrate why it remains relatively upbeat.


The U.S. subprime mortgage crisis is not showing any sign of ending, and U.S. and European financial institutions are reporting increasing losses.

China, which is fast becoming one of the leading players in the world economy, appears to be facing a decelerating economy as inflationary concerns grow due to rising prices for raw and processed materials.



The business environment is getting tougher and financial and stock markets face a rocky ride ahead. Corporate and individual investors are trying to nut out how to reduce risks.


(nut out=気が狂う、そればかりが気がかりである)

However, regarding medium-term risk, the white paper says Japanese corporations and individuals are reluctant to take risks and therefore are missing opportunities to reap profits.


On that basis, the white paper says that, to increase economic vitality, "it is necessary for companies and ordinary households to remain active in taking risks."



Unreasonable demands


We do not deny that this view has some advocates. However, it is a tough call to press ordinary households whose incomes certainly are not rising and companies that already are doing it tough to take further risks.

Amid rising economic uncertainty due to falling prices of financial products triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis, it is unreasonable to call for active investment.



Meanwhile, regarding long-term risks, the white paper says the nation's finances, burdened by rising social security costs, will further suffer, and vitality in the private sector will be dampened by the nation's aging society and declining birthrate.


(vitality=活力、体力) (dampen=鈍らせる)

The white paper did not say it is necessary to raise consumption tax--the most effective way to provide stable financial resources to address the financial squeeze--and instead simply says somewhat euphemistically "the role of [the consumption tax] is becoming more important in industrialized nations."



We understand that the nation's current economic situation is opaque and the current political situation is fractious, but restoring the nation's finances is a vital task.


opaque=不透明な) (fractious=不機嫌な、怒りっぽい)

The white paper should therefore have stressed the risks inherent in not raising the consumption tax rate.



(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 23, 2008)

20087230156  読売新聞)


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