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2008年10月12日 (日)

追加経済対策

2008/10/11 --The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 10(IHT/Asahi: October 11,2008)

EDITORIAL: More stimulus measures

追加経済対策―「安全網」の再構築こそ


'Restoring fiscal health is extremely important, but for Japan at present, economic recovery is the top priority." This is a passage from an economic policy speech delivered by then Economic Planning Agency chief Taichi Sakaiya at the Diet eight years ago, when the administration of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi was struggling with Japan's home-grown economic crisis. Strikingly similar refrains have been coming recently from the mouths of top government and ruling coalition officials, including Prime Minister Taro Aso.

 「財政の健全化はきわめて重要だ。しかし、現在の日本には、景気回復が最優先課題だ」 

 8年前、「経済国難」といわれた小渕内閣の時代に、堺屋太一経済企画庁長官が国会の経済演説で述べた言葉だ。最近そっくりな言い回しを、麻生首相をはじめ政府・与党から聞く。 

On Thursday, the day after the Lower House passed a supplementary budget to finance an emergency spending package, Aso ordered an additional shot in the arm for the faltering economy.

 補正予算案が衆院を通過したばかりだが、麻生首相は追加の経済対策をまとめるよう指示を出した。 

The precise scope of the global financial tempest that started in the United States still remains unclear. It is, however, certain that the crisis will seriously affect the U.S. and other economies around the world. The global economy is still in the early stages of a major downturn. It should be assumed that it will be years before the current crisis comes to an end and global economic conditions start improving.

 米国発の世界的な金融危機は、まだ全体像を計りがたい。米国をはじめとして世界の景気は、これから深刻な打撃を受けるだろう。経済の悪化はまだ入り口の段階にある。危機を脱出し、経済を立ち直らせるには、何年もかかると考えておいた方がいい。 

The nation's economy, which had been on an upward trajectory for several years in its longest postwar expansion, due mainly to strong export growth, is bound to suffer badly from the cascading effects of the financial sector's implosion. We need to steel ourselves to deal with relentless downward pressures on the domestic economy.

 輸出主導で戦後最長の景気回復を保ってきた日本経済も、手痛い影響を受けざるを得ない。私たちはそれくらいの覚悟をもって、この負の圧力に立ち向かっていかねばならない。 

It is the job of politicians to plan and implement policy measures to calm public anxiety under such circumstances. What is troubling is that the Aso administration appears to be inclined toward old-school fiscal actions, such as tax cuts and public works spending, to pump up the economy. The administration has indicated a willingness to issue new government bonds to finance these measures if necessary.

 こうした状況で、国民の不安を抑えるための政策を検討し実行するのは政治の役目である。しかし、麻生政権の考え方は、まず減税や公共事業など財政出動による旧来型の景気対策ありきと見受けられる。その財源には、国債の増発も「場合によってはやむを得ない」とされている。 

All this sounds like a return to the days of the Obuchi administration, which spent huge amounts on public works projects and tax reductions. It is hard to resist the temptation to lampoon Aso's response to the situation as a reflexive resort to the old cure for economic ills. A series of fiscal stimulus packages to steer the economy out of the doldrums following the early 1990s collapse of stock and land speculation bubbles have saddled the central government alone with 550 trillion yen of debt. This pyramid of public debt places a tight constraint on state finances.

 公共事業や減税を大盤振る舞いした小渕内閣の路線へ、まるで逆戻りしたようだ。「困った時の常備薬」。そんな皮肉を言いたくもなる。バブル不況から脱出するために景気対策を連発した結果、国だけで550兆円もの国債残高が積み上がり、財政が身動きできなくなってしまった。 

A new spending drive could be conceivable if there were more fiscal leeway. But the fiscal resources available are very limited. The economic downturn has just begun and is likely to shape up as a lengthy and deep recession. The precious little money available to deal with the slump must be used in the most effective way possible at the most effective time.

 財政に余裕があるならまだ分かるが、使える財源はごく限られている。今回の不況はまだ始まったばかりで、先が長く底も深そうだ。なけなしの財源は、いちばん効果的なときに有効な方法で使わねば意味がない。 

Given the aging and shrinking population, what the government should do now is push through an overhaul of the social security system for its long-term sustainability. It will be impossible to restore public confidence without rebuilding the social safety net. This may sound like a roundabout way to re-energize the floundering economy, but this approach will eventually start stoking domestic demand.

 いま取り組むべきなのは、少子高齢化が本格化していくのに備えて、社会保障を組み替え、維持していくことではないか。「安全網」の再構築なしに国民の安心は得られない。遠回りのように見えるが、それが結局は内需を充実させることにつながるに違いない。 

At a recent session of the Lower House Budget Committee, Seiji Maehara, former chief of main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), urged the government to reallocate a considerable portion of tax revenues earmarked for road-related projects to social security programs. People's concerns about job security and post-retirement life are issues that should be tackled now.

 民主党の前原誠司前代表は衆院予算委で、道路財源を社会保障へ大胆に振り分けるよう求めた。雇用や老後など不安が高まりそうな分野の「安全網」を強めるこうした手だてこそ重要だ。 

The government should offer loan guarantees to ensure continued flows of money into small and medium-sized companies that are facing a cash squeeze due to the financial crisis. It may also be effective to provide policy support to companies trying to protect the jobs of their employees and change their business models for growth driven more by domestic demand.

 金融危機のあおりで資金繰りが厳しくなってきた中小企業へ、信用保証で資金を回す。雇用確保や内需型への転換に努力する企業に対し、応援する政策も有効かもしれない。 

Instead of public spending and tax cuts that are spread thin across the economy, the government should focus on providing carefully planned policy support to areas where it will be really effective. We hope the Aso administration will adopt this strategy in putting together a new package of measures to save the sinking economy.

 薄く広く予算や減税をばらまくのではなく、効果があがりそうな分野へきめ細かく対策を打つ。そうした対策づくりを求めたい。

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