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2008年12月11日 (木)

分権勧告―実現させる政治はどこに

2008/12/11

--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 10(IHT/Asahi: December 11,2008)

EDITORIAL: Administrative reform

分権勧告―実現させる政治はどこに
 

The decentralization reform committee headed by Itochu Corp. Chairman Uichiro Niwa has been working on ways to revamp the centralized system of decision-making. In a second set of proposals it submitted to Prime Minister Taro Aso on Monday, the panel recommended shifting many powers to local governments to give them a greater say in issues affecting the lives of residents in their areas.

 何でも政府が決めてきた中央集権体制を改め、住民に身近な行政はできるだけ自治体が決め、実行する。そのための権限移譲などを検討してきた地方分権改革推進委員会(委員長、丹羽宇一郎・伊藤忠商事会長)が、麻生首相に第2次勧告を提出した。 

Its proposals are essentially two-fold: The first is to reduce requirements and standards that bind local governments by uniform nationwide regulations for facilities built by municipalities as well as the proviso that the central government gives its consent for each decision. The panel has identified more than 10,000 standards for such action, of which it recommends discontinuing or easing about half of them.

 柱は二つある。まず、自治体がつくる施設の基準を全国一律に定めたり、何かを決める時に中央省庁の同意を求めたりする「義務づけ」の削減だ。分権委は1万項目以上を洗い出し、およそ半数の廃止や緩和を求めた。 

The second key point concerns the consolidation of the central government's regional offices. The panel advises revising the work and authority of 15 agencies under eight ministries that deploy local offices around the country, and halting or transferring to local governments just under 40 percent of the operations currently in the hands of the central government.

Under this recommendation, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Tourism's regional development bureaus and five other agencies would be integrated into two new organizations.

 もう一つが政府の出先機関の統廃合だ。全国に出先を持つ8府省15機関の仕事や権限を見直し、項目数でざっと4割弱をやめたり自治体に移したりしたうえで、国交省の地方整備局はじめ6機関を「地方振興局」と「地方工務局」の二つの新設組織に統合する。 

This shift would entail reassigning 10,000 of the 96,000 public servants currently employed at the 15 agencies to municipalities. Over the years to come, this approach would be used to either transfer or eliminate a total of 35,000 government jobs.

 こうして、15機関で働く9万6千人の国家公務員のうち1万人を自治体に移す。将来的には3万5千人の移管、削減をめざすとの目標を掲げた。 

We understand the aim of rooting out waste due to duplicated administrative activities. However, this is a clear retreat from the panel's initial vision of scrapping all such regional offices.

 政府と自治体が同じような仕事をする二重行政の無駄や弊害に切り込もうとした意図は分かる。だが、「出先機関は原則廃止」という当初の意気込みからすると、後退の印象は否めない。 

There is also the risk that regional operations would not be slimmed down, with reforms instead producing massive integrated agencies. Addressing such fears so late in the day, the panel inserted ambitious numerical cutback targets. It has not, however, outlined specific measures for slashing actual workloads. This also came as a total surprise to central government bureaucrats, who quickly expressed fierce opposition to the proposal.
 これでは出先機関がスリムにならないまま、巨大な統合機関をつくるだけに終わる恐れすらある。そうした懸念に応えようと、最終局面で野心的な削減目標の数字を盛り込んだが、どのようにして仕事を減らすのか具体策は描かれていない。寝耳に水の中央官僚たちはさっそく猛反発だ。 

Drafting a plan acceptable to the bureaucracy will bring about no drastic change. Then again, it would also be difficult to push ahead if groundbreaking reforms were dismissed with a perfunctory thumbs-down. This is the dilemma plaguing the panel.

 霞が関が受け入れられる中身にこだわれば、抜本的な改革はできない。かといって、革命的な中身をつくってもそっぽを向かれれば実現は難しい。分権委が抱えてきたジレンマだ。 

Committee chairman Niwa may have opted to set high numerical targets to encourage their implementation by Aso, who is on record as saying: "I make the final decision." But given the woes currently facing the Aso government, such a scenario seems unlikely.

 丹羽委員長はあえて高めの数字を示すことで、「最後は私が決断する」と言った首相に実行を促したのかも知れない。だが、いまの政権の迷走ぶりを見れば、それは難しそうだ。 

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has largely steered the nation's postwar political scene based on a relationship of give-and-take with bureaucrats. But can an LDP-led administration really wield the scalpel of reform to deeply entrenched officialdom? Considering the fate of decentralization efforts to date, we have serious doubts.

 そもそも、官僚と持ちつ持たれつの関係で戦後政治を仕切ってきた自民党政権のもとで、霞が関の機構に根本的なメスを入れる改革ができるのかどうか。これまでの分権改革の歴史を振り返ると、そんな疑問が募る。 

The main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) is also eager to promote local autonomy. Under its reform draft, Minshuto says it would abolish the subsidies that are the sources of the central government's power, overhauling that system into lump-sum grants for use at the discretion of each local government. Regional offices would be eliminated in principle. Although there are parts of the Minshuto plan that we question, there is a sense that if it takes power the party would embark on a bold program of reform in the current power structure.

 地方分権には、民主党も熱心だ。中央省庁の権力の源泉である補助金を廃止し、自治体が自由に使える一括交付金に改める。出先機関は原則廃止。こんな素案をまとめている。首をかしげたくなる部分もあるが、政権をとれば大胆な分権改革を実行するとの意気込みは伝わってくる。 

Certainly, it would amount to reform on a major scale that is bent on dislodging massive ingrained power and personnel. This could not be accomplished overnight. We urge voters to listen closely to debates on the details of proposed changes, and decide for themselves what caliber of government is needed to carry out such a tall order.

 これだけの権限や人を動かそうという大改革だ。息の長い仕事になる。中身の議論もさることながら、やり抜くにはどんな政治が必要なのかも、有権者は考える必要がある。

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