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2008年10月31日 (金)

衆院解散先送り

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Oct. 31, 2008)

Aso faces tough battle with choices he made

衆院解散先送り 一段と厳しさを増す政権運営(1031日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Taro Aso has chosen financial and economic stimulus measures over a dissolution of the House of Representatives. To deal with the global financial crisis, which Aso described as a one that happens only once in a century, the government must implement measures quickly.

 麻生首相は、「衆院解散よりも、金融・景気対策」を選びとった。首相の言う「百年に一度」の世界的な金融危機に対応するためには、スピード感をもって対策を実行していかねばならない。

With the lower house dissolution and a general election, which is now almost certain to be delayed from the generally expected date of Nov. 30, the Democratic Party of Japan will inevitably intensify its confrontational strategy toward the government and the ruling parties become in the Diet. Aso's handling of the government will increasingly tough. The question is if he can survive this.

 しかし、衆院解散・総選挙の見送りにより、民主党が国会での抵抗戦術を強めるのは必至だ。首相の政権運営は一段と厳しさを増すが、首相はこれを乗り切ることができるのか。

 ◆危機の克服に全力で◆

At a press conference Thursday, Aso said he does not, for now, intend to dissolve the lower house to call a general election.

 首相は30日の記者会見で、「11月30日投開票」が想定されていた衆院解散について、当面、見送る意向を表明した。

===

Aid a distressed economy

The U.S.-triggered financial crisis is rocking the global financial system. The Tokyo stock market has been volatile, with the 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average earlier this week plummeting below its lowest close since the burst of the economic bubble. The yen, meanwhile, has been appreciating against the dollar.

 米国発の金融危機が、世界の金融システムに動揺をもたらしている。東京市場も、株価が急落し、バブル後の最安値を一時更新するなど、乱高下を繰り返している。円高傾向も続いている。

Some regional financial institutions have grown reluctant to extend loans, which is hurting the real economy.

 地方金融機関の中には「貸し渋り」の動きもあらわれ、実体経済にも悪影響を与えている。

According to The Yomiuri Shimbun's and other opinion surveys, more and more people favor a delay in a dissolution of the lower house, feeling that the top priority should be economic measures to boost the economy. Aso's decision apparently took into consideration these public views.

 読売新聞などの世論調査では、景気政策を優先する立場からの解散先送り論が強まっている。首相の判断は、これらを総合的に勘案した結果といえよう。

It is reasonable that Aso unveiled at Thursday's press conference a large additional economic stimulus package to stop the economy from stalling.

 首相が記者会見で、大型の追加景気対策を打ち出したのは、日本経済の失速に歯止めをかけるために、当然のことだ。

The additional stimulus package incorporates a provision of 2 trillion yen in fixed-sum benefits to all households, a substantial reduction of expressway tolls, expansion of housing loan tax cuts and the allocation of 1 trillion yen to local governments from the government's road-related tax revenues, which currently are earmarked for road-related projects and scheduled to be freed for general purposes from fiscal 2009.

 追加対策には、総額で2兆円に上る定額給付金を全世帯に支給することや、高速道路料金の大幅な引き下げ、住宅ローン減税の拡充、一般財源化する道路特定財源から地方へ1兆円を交付することなどが盛り込まれている。

The government must incorporate, among the measures in the package, those that need urgent implementation in the second supplementary draft budget for fiscal 2008, and have them passed together with relevant bills in the Diet at an early date.

 政府は、対策の中で実施を急ぐべき項目を第2次補正予算案に反映させ、関連法案とともに早期成立を図らねばならない。

On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board slashed its key federal funds rate by half a percentage point to a record low of 1 percent.

 米連邦準備制度理事会(FRB)は29日、短期金利の指標となるフェデラル・ファンド(FF)金利を0・5%引き下げて、史上最低の年1%とした。

Each country is doing its utmost to staunch the financial crisis and avoid a worldwide recession. A series of international conferences to address the issue will be held in November, including an emergency meeting of leaders of the Group of Eight major nations and emerging countries, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit meeting.

 各国とも、金融危機を抑制し、世界の同時不況を回避しようと懸命になっている。11月には、G8(主要8か国)と新興国による緊急首脳会議や、アジア太平洋経済協力会議(APEC)首脳会議などが相次いで開かれる。

At Thursday's press conference, Aso indicated he would talk with these leaders on issues such as international cooperation in strengthening supervision and regulations on financial institutions.

 麻生首相は記者会見で、金融機関の監督・規制の強化などに関する国際連携のあり方について各国首脳と協議する考えを示した。

===

Timing a tricky gamble

 ◆難しい総選挙の時期◆

Postponing the lower house dissolution, however, is a big gamble for the prime minister.

 ただ、衆院解散先送りは、首相にとって大きな賭けである。

Shortly after his election as Liberal Democratic Party president, Aso suggested at the outset of the extraordinary Diet session the possibility of dissolving the lower house, saying he intended to fight it out in an election with the Democratic Party of Japan, led by Ichiro Ozawa.

 首相は、自民党総裁に選ばれた直後、小沢代表が率いる民主党との間で雌雄を決するとして、今国会の冒頭解散を示唆していた。

But the financial crisis spread further than anticipated as Aso hesitated on such a dissolution due to unsatisfactory Cabinet approval ratings and disappointing results for the LDP in surveys on the prospects of the party weathering a general election.

 だが、内閣支持率の動向や自民党の選挙情勢調査の結果などから解散をためらううち、予測以上に金融危機が拡大した。

Aso decided not to dissolve the lower house largely because the financial crisis, as seen in plummeting stock prices, made it difficult for him to choose any other course of action.

 今回の「解散せず」の判断は、株価急落など金融危機に手足を縛られた側面も大きい。

With an eye to an early dissolution of the lower house, the DPJ has so far cooperated with the ruling bloc in Diet deliberations, helping to pass the first supplementary budget.

 これまで民主党は、早期解散を期待して、第1次補正予算に賛成するなど審議に協力してきた。

However, the opposition party then suddenly made an about-face, trying to delay voting on a bill to revise the new Antiterrorism Law designed to extend the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling activities in the Indian Ocean.

It is regrettable to see the party adopting such extremely opportunistic tactics.

 だが、インド洋での海上自衛隊による給油活動延長のための新テロ対策特別措置法改正案の採決は、一転して先延ばしした。ご都合主義きわまる対応だ。

As to the bill to revise the Law on Special Measures for Strengthening Financial Functions, which aims at stabilizing regional financial institutions with public fund injections, the DPJ seems set on delaying the vote through "careful deliberations."

Given these circumstances, the government and the ruling parties are expected to face tough times managing the Diet from here on.

 地方金融機関に公的資金を注入できるようにする金融機能強化法改正案についても、「慎重審議」の構えで、今後の国会運営は、難航が予想される。

The prime minister is believed to be closely watching how the DPJ reacts to the second supplementary budget as he seeks the best timing for dissolving the lower house.

 首相は、第2次補正予算案に対する民主党の出方を見極めたうえで、衆院解散・総選挙の時期を探る考えのようだ。

If the prime minister gives up on dissolving the lower house by the end of the year and instead dissolves it at the outset of the next ordinary Diet session early next year, it will be impossible to pass the fiscal 2009 budget by the end of March, when the current fiscal year ends. If this happens, the government will be forced to compile a provisional budget.

This would ruin the reputation of the Aso Cabinet, which has put its top priority on improving the economy.

 仮に首相が年内解散をせずに、通常国会の冒頭解散に打って出たとしても、来年度予算の今年度中の成立は不可能になり、暫定予算の編成に追い込まれてしまう。これでは「景気」を第一とする麻生内閣の看板が問われる。

Meanwhile, the ruling bloc as a whole is split over delaying the lower house dissolution.

 一方、与党内にも、解散先送りに反発が出ている。

New Komeito, which has been calling for an early dissolution, reportedly fought against any delay in the dissolution schedule until the last minute.

 早期解散を主張してきた公明党は、先送りに最後まで抵抗したとされる。

If relations between the LDP and New Komeito begin to sour because of the postponement, it may affect the two parties' cooperation in the upcoming lower house election.

自民、公明両党間にすきま風が吹けば衆院選での選挙協力にも影響しかねない。

===

Strong decision on tax hike

 ◆消費税引き上げの勇断◆

The ordinary Diet session this year saw a series of political battles in the divided Diet, under which the opposition bloc controls the House of Councillors and the ruling parties hold a majority in the lower house.

 今年の通常国会では、衆参ねじれの下、政争が繰り返された。

However, such a political breakdown must not be repeated amid the current economic turmoil.

現在の金融危機で、政治の機能不全を再現させる訳にはいかない。

Partisanship has no place in this financial crisis. It is important for the parties to join hands in order to urgently put together necessary policies and measures.

 金融危機対応では、与党も野党もあるまい。必要な施策を迅速に具体化するため、各党は力を合わせることが大事だ。

In his press conference, Aso made clear his intention to raise the consumption tax.

"After carrying out drastic administrative reform and taking into account the economic situation, I'd like to ask [the public for its understanding for the need] to raise the consumption tax in three year's time," he said.

 首相は記者会見で「大胆な行政改革を行った後、経済状況をみたうえで3年後に消費税の引き上げをお願いしたい」と明言した。

In order to overcome the current turmoil in the Japanese economy, which Aso previously described as "requiring three years for full recovery," and to carry out such responsible policies as those he announced in the press conference, we need a stable political framework.

 「日本経済は全治3年」という状況を脱し、こうした責任ある政策を実行していくためには、やはり安定した政治の枠組みづくりが肝要だ。

The prime minister should call an election as early as possible to seek a voter mandate.

 首相は、できるだけ早期に国民の信を問う必要があるだろう。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 31, 2008)

200810310145  読売新聞)

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