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2008年11月 6日 (木)

地域再生

2008/11/6--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 5(IHT/Asahi: November 6,2008)

EDITORIAL: Reviving communities

地域再生―まずは肩寄せ合い自立を

To make life easier in places with aging populations and stem population drain, the central government will start next fiscal year an ambitious initiative to create teiju jiritsu-ken-- self-supporting zones that will encourage residents to stay put through collaborative efforts by municipalities.

 高齢化と過疎化で町や村はますます住みづらくなり、人口減に拍車がかかるばかり。そんな状況になんとか歯止めをかけようという「定住自立圏構想」が来年度から具体化する。 

It is not easy for small towns and villages, or even cities for that matter, to provide all necessary public services on their own. The central government initiative recognizes this fact and seeks solutions by creating "zones" around cities with a population of 50,000 or more so that smaller neighboring cities, towns and villages within these zones will work together to share roles and responsibilities.

 小さな町や村、あるいは市でも、自前であらゆる行政サービスを提供するのは難しい。それなら人口5万人以上の市を「中心」にして周辺の市町村と協定を結んでひとつの圏域とし、その内で役割分担しようという構想だ。 

This experiment will begin next fiscal year in 18 selected zones. The responsibilities to be shared will be decided by the communities involved, while the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will provide fiscal and administrative support, including transfer of necessary authority.

 まず18の圏域で来年度から先行的に取り組む。役割分担の中身は自治体側のアイデアに任せ、総務省が財政面や権限の移譲などで支援する。 

The idea is to concentrate urban functions in each core city for all zone residents to share, so that all living within the zone can enjoy more modern urban amenities. And this, the government believes, should prevent further population drain to major cities.

 中心市に都市機能を集約し、周辺の住民が共同利用することで生活の利便性を高めていく。それによって大都市圏へのこれ以上の人口流出を食い止めようというわけだ。 

A study panel appointed by the internal affairs ministry stressed the gravity of problems confronting genkai shuraku (severely depopulated communities) and other outlying areas around the nation.

"It has now become practically impossible for each municipality or village to guarantee its residents a full array of resident services," the panel admitted, and called for a change in thinking from "uniform development for all" to collective sharing of responsibilities and benefits.

 この構想を提唱した総務省の研究会は、限界集落をはじめ地方で進行する疲弊の深刻さを強調し、「もはや、すべての市町村にフルセットの生活機能を整備することは困難だ」と認めた。横並びから役割の分担し合いへ、発想の転換が必要だと求めた。 

More than 30 local administrative entities applied to participate in the government experiment and presented plans. A few of the plans that have been adopted to date are described below:

 総務省の公募に応じた30以上の自治体の中から実施が決まったのは、例えばこんなプランだ。 

The city of Iida in Nagano Prefecture, among others, aims to improve medical services. Specifically, the city will bring all the functions of an advanced general hospital to a medical facility in the city center; clinics will be built in surrounding municipalities and medical personnel will be dispatched to them. Beds in the city's advanced medical facility will be reserved for the benefit of residents of outlying communities. Plans also include improving bus services to make downtown shopping areas and hospitals more accessible to people living outside the city.

 長野県飯田市などでは、中心市の病院に総合病院の機能を集約し、圏域内の町村には診療所を整備して医師を派遣したり、総合病院には圏域内の住民のための病床を確保したりする医療連携に取り組む。周辺のお年寄りらが中心市に通院や買い物に行きやすいよう、バス路線を整備する。 

The Okayama Prefecture city of Bizen and the Hyogo Prefecture city of Ako will transcend their prefectural boundary to create a shared zone in an attempt to better meet the needs of residents.

 岡山県備前市と兵庫県赤穂市のように県境をまたぐ圏域もあり、生活実態に合わせることを優先しているという。

In Shiga Prefecture, Hikone is planning to create a school lunch center in the city. The center will use local produce to prepare lunches and distribute them to schools within the zone.

滋賀県彦根市では、地域の農産品などを使う学校給食センターを中心市につくり、圏域内の学校に提供するという計画もある。 

What is common to all these plans is that they aim to give people a sense of security by taking into consideration their current lifestyles.

 いずれも今、町村に残っている住民の安心や暮らしを考えたものだ。 

However, creating jobs is still the surest way to stop or reverse population drain. Most core cities have 50,000 to 100,000 residents, and it will be an extremely tough challenge to create enough new jobs to go around for everyone needing work. This is the self-supporting zone concept's biggest weakness.

 だが、人口流出を食い止め、さらには逆転させる最大の手だては何といっても雇用、働き場の確保だ。中心市の多くは人口5万~10万人だが、その規模で新たな雇用を生み出すにはよほど知恵を絞らねば苦しいだろう。

Still, continuing to do nothing would only accelerate the decline of already depopulated and graying regions. There is no small significance in laying the foundations to halt the decline.

 この構想の限界ではあるけれど、かといって手をこまぬいていれば地域はさらに衰えてしまう。まずは踏みとどまるための足場をつくることの意味は小さくない。

And another merit of this plan is that it will advance decentralization, by transferring administrative authority even to small towns and villages that have not yet merged, despite the central government's policy of encouraging mergers.

合併しなかった小さな町村も地方分権の権限移譲の受け皿になれるという効用もある。 

The daunting problems that confront the nation's outlying communities--depopulation, fiscal hardships, shortages of doctors and caregivers and so many more--cannot be resolved overnight.

 人口減に財政難、医師や介護の担い手不足など、地方の厳しい現状は一朝一夕に解決できるものではない。

The revival of these struggling communities can begin only if they work hard to meet their challenges and keep riding the current wave of decentralization and reform.

分権改革と同時に、自治体の側もそれにあわせて工夫し、変身する。地域の再生はそれなしに進まない。

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