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2008年9月16日 (火)

敬老の日

(Sep. 15, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

LDP candidates must justify voters' burdens

敬老の日 総裁候補は負担を率直に説け(915日付・読売社説)

Respect-for-the-Aged Day falls on Monday, amid the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election campaign.

自民党総裁選のまっただ中で、きょう敬老の日を迎えた。

This is a fitting occasion for us to take a good look at which of the five candidates in the election is best suited to become leader of the LDP and the next prime minister. We should closely examine how each of the candidates would handle the pension, medical and nursing care systems that support the lives of elderly people. We also should study how each candidate intends to secure the fiscal resources to maintain these systems.

高齢者の生活を支える年金、医療、介護をどう維持していくのか。その財源をどう確保するのか。次の政権を担おうとする人物の考えを、見定める日でもあるだろう。

The speed at which society is graying accelerates year after year.

社会の高齢化は、年々スピードを増しつつ進行している。

In 1966, when Respect-for-the-Aged Day became a national holiday, the average life span of Japanese males was 68.35 and that for females 73.61. Currently, men live an average 79.19 years and women 85.99 years. Average life spans are bound to continue to rise. Of course, this is a cause for celebration.

敬老の日が祝日となった1966年、日本人の平均寿命は男68・35歳、女73・61歳だった。それが現在では男79・19歳、女85・99歳である。平均寿命は今後さらに延びるだろう。無論、それ自体は喜ばしいことだ。

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Awkward debate skirted

But the problem is whether we can live our sunset years happily.

問題は長くなる老後を憂いなく暮らせるかどうか、であろう。

To create a society in which old people can live without anxiety, a stable social security system is indispensable.

安心できる長寿社会とするためには、安定した社会保障制度が不可欠である。

The five LDP presidential candidates call for improvements in the social security system in their policy pledges. But this is clearly not a main theme of their debates since they have failed to propose concrete arguments concerning social security reform.

5人の総裁候補は政権構想でいずれも、社会保障の充実を謳(うた)ってはいる。しかし、具体論が乏しいため、論戦の主要テーマになっていない。

Why are they yet to hold substantive discussions on the best way to reform the pension system? The issue of whether the system should be financed by tax revenues alone or whether it should be a social insurance-type system is, after all, a focus of attention across society.

例えば、全額税方式か社会保険方式かで、各界から多くの提案が出ている年金制度改革に関して、明確な主張が示されないのはどうしたことか。

Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba says the current social insurance-type system should be modified by bolstering the guaranteed minimum pension amount. But his proposal is short on detail.

石破茂・前防衛相が「最低保障機能を強化するなど現行の社会保険方式を修正する」としているが、細部は明らかでない。

LDP Secretary General Taro Aso has stopped calling for the consumption tax rate to be increased by five percentage points and the basic pension transformed into a purely tax-financed system. Other candidates stopped short of advancing drastic policies, merely saying they would seek to develop a suprapartisan consensus on the pension issue.

麻生幹事長は「消費税率を5%引き上げ、基礎年金を全額税方式にする」との持論を封印した。他の候補も、超党派で合意を図るとの姿勢にとどまっている。

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Only one option on the table

Discussing reform of the pension system reform concretely is directly connected to debates over the consumption tax rate. But all the candidates seem hesitant to acknowledge a link between the issues.

年金制度改革を具体的に語ることは、消費税率の議論にも直結する。そうなることに各候補が及び腰なのではないか。

At present those aged 65 and older account for more than 20 percent of the population. By 2020, the rate will have reached nearly 30 percent.

今や、65歳以上の高齢者が人口に占める割合は20%を超えた。2020年には30%に近づく。

Under the current system, which depends largely on the working generation shouldering the burden to maintain it, it is clear that the social security system cannot be maintained.

現役世代の負担に大きく頼る現行の仕組みでは、社会保障制度を維持できないことは明らかだ。

The only remaining option is to fund social security through the consumption tax, with all generations sharing a burden that is spread widely and thinly.

全世代が広く薄く負担し合う消費税に財源を求めるしかない。

In the LDP presidential election, however, most of the candidates have not progressed much further from arguments such as "Current economic conditions don't allow for an increase in the consumption tax rate" or "First, we have to think about reining in wasteful government spending."

ところが、総裁選では多くの候補者が、「今は消費税率を引き上げる経済状況にない」「まず歳出の無駄をなくす」との主張からあまり踏み出さない。

Even if the candidates do get down to discussing raising the consumption tax immediately, it will take at least one or two years before it is hiked, including a period for advertising the raise so the public is well informed of the change.

ただちに消費税の議論を始めても、実際に税率を引き上げるには周知期間を含め、1~2年は要する。

The consumption tax debate should continue at the same time as the government seeks ways to get the economy back on track.

景気回復を図りつつ、消費税の論議を同時に進めるべきだ。

Realizing a society in which people can live long lives without anxiety means increasing the burden assumed to maintain the social security system. We wonder if that point will be discussed honestly and in detail.

安心できる長寿社会には負担の増加が伴う。その点がどれだけ率直かつ具体的に語られるのか。

We would like to see how the candidates discuss this matter in the latter half of the LDP presidential campaign.

総裁選後半の議論を見極めたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 15, 2008)

20089150146  読売新聞)

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