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2008年9月20日 (土)

農水省首脳辞任

(Sep. 20, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Culture at farm ministry sowed seeds of scandals

農水2首脳辞任 不祥事が続く体質が問題だ(920日付・読売社説)

Friday's turn of events showed that Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Ota and Toshiro Shirasu, the ministry's top bureaucrat, finally came to realize how heavy their responsibility has been in allowing public distrust in food safety to spread so widely.

 食への不信を拡大した責任の重さに気がついたということだろう。

Ota and Shirasu, administrative vice agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister, resigned Friday to take responsibility for the scandal in which imported rice contaminated with pesticide and mold was illicitly resold for purposes other than industrial use. Shirasu was effectively sacked from his post.

 太田誠一農相と農林水産省の白須敏朗次官が、農薬などに汚染されたコメの不正転売問題の責任を取って辞任した。次官は事実上の更迭である。

It is only natural that the ministry's two top officials were replaced, but these personnel changes alone will not be enough to change the organizational climate in the ministry, which has induced one scandal after another. A sweeping structural reform should be carried out to resuscitate the ministry.

 トップ2人の交代は当然だが、それだけでは、不祥事が続く体質は改まるまい。抜本的な改革で再生させる必要があろう。

Against the backdrop of widespread distribution of tainted rice is the ministry's industry-friendly stance, exemplified by its aggressive selling of contaminated rice to companies and its overlooking of the illicit sale of such rice as food by conducting lackadaisical inspections.

 汚染米の流通が拡大した背景には、業者に積極的に汚染米を売り込み、甘い検査で転売を見逃し続けていた農水省の業界寄りの姿勢があった。

===

Succession of missteps

The ministry badly mishandled the situation after the illicit distribution of tainted rice came to light earlier this month.

The ministry's section chief in charge of selling tainted imported rice refused to disclose the names of companies that bought the rice, saying the ministry "does not have the authority to do so."

 不正発覚後の対応も、極めて問題だった。担当課長は、「農水省には権限がない」などとして流通先の公表を拒んだ。

At the instruction of the Prime Minister's Office, the ministry revealed the list of those companies this week, but the list contained many errors, such as the inclusion of companies that have not dealt in tainted rice.

 官邸の指示で、公表に踏み切った際には、汚染米を扱っていない業者まで流通先に含めるなど、ミスが相次いだ。

The ministry's Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau in charge of food safety issues initially was excluded from the ministry's response to the scandal because "no health damage" was reported. It took a whole week after the ministry revealed the illicit distribution for it to enlist all its bureaus to deal with the spiraling problem.

 「健康被害はない」という理由で、本来、食の安全を担当するはずの消費・安全局は当初、外されていた。その後、問題の拡大を受けて省をあげての体制をとったのは、最初に問題を公表してから1週間もたってからだった。


Ota and Shirasu, both of whom were supposed to display leadership in dealing with the scandal, made comments that exposed the ministry's irresponsibility. "I'm not overly fazed by the scandal," Ota, said, while Shirasu opined, "I don't think [we were] directly responsible for the scandal."

 さらに、陣頭指揮すべき大臣と次官は、「ジタバタ騒いでいない」「責任があるとは思わない」などと発言し、無責任体質を露呈する有り様だった。

The ministry has repeatedly mishandled food safety issues. For example, it made light of information on bovine spongiform encephalopathy from the European Union, and, as a result, it allowed the infiltration of BSE into Japan.

 農水省はこれまでも、欧州連合(EU)からの情報を軽視し、BSE(牛海綿状脳症)の国内への侵入を許すなど、食の安全を巡って失政を重ねている。

Based on lessons learned from such errors, the Food Safety Commission of the Cabinet Office and the ministry's Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau were established five years ago, tasked with revamping the administration of food safety so policies would be implemented from the viewpoints of consumers.

 5年前に食品安全委員会が生まれ、省内に消費・安全局を設けたのも、この反省から、消費者の目線に立つ役所に生まれ変わるのが狙いだった。

But none of these lessons were heeded.

 だが、こうした教訓は全く生かされなかった。

===

Problems systemic

In response to the scandal, the ministry has mapped out a package of measures designed to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. According to its plans, rice inspection and sales will be handled by different sections of the ministry, and a new system will be put in place to make country-of-origin labeling mandatory for tainted rice.

 今回の事態を受け、農水省は、コメの検査と販売を別の部局に担当させ、原産地表示を制度化するなどの再発防止策をまとめた。

Of course, these measures are not enough. A thorough rethink is required if the government wants to change the organizational nature of the ministry.

 これだけでは、到底不十分だ。どうすれば農水省の体質を変えられるか、一から考え直さなければならない。

For example, the ministry would be well advised to recruit an outsider to assume the key oversight function at its secretariat and take other steps to beef up its supervisory functions.

 例えば、官房の中枢に、お目付け役として外部の人材を登用するなど、監視機能の一段の強化を図ってはどうか。

On Friday, the Cabinet Office established a panel of experts who will identify problems in the ministry's handling of tainted rice and supervision of companies buying such rice. Problem-prevention measures will also be studied by the panel.

 19日には内閣府で、農水省の対応の問題点を検証し、再発防止策などを検討する有識者会議が始動した。

We hope the panel will work out specific reform measures that also go as far as rectifying the structural problems of the ministry.

農水省の組織の在り方まで踏み込んで、改革の具体案を打ち出してほしい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 20, 2008)

20089200157  読売新聞)

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