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2008年12月 8日 (月)

国庫負担発言―首相があおる年金不信

2008/12/8 --The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 6(IHT/Asahi: December 8,2008)

EDITORIAL: Stop pension waffling

国庫負担発言―首相があおる年金不信

Prime Minister Taro Aso has kept changing his tune about a scheduled hike in April in the ratio of state financing of basic pension benefits, leaving the public confused as to his real intentions.

 麻生首相はいったい、どうするつもりなのか。来年4月に予定されている基礎年金への国庫負担割合の引き上げをめぐって、首相の発言がコロコロと変わっている。 

At a news conference immediately after he took office in September, Aso said the change in pension funding would take place in April, calling it "a promise" by the government.

But on Dec. 4, he indicated his intention to delay the step to after the start of the fiscal year in April. "There will be no problem if we do it by the end of next fiscal year," he said. "We have to think about how to finance the step."

 就任直後の記者会見では「約束事ですから」と4月実施を明言していたのに、今週になって「来年度中に対応できればいい。財源との関係もある」と年度途中へ遅らせる姿勢をみせた。

When he was questioned about the issue at the Diet the next day, however, Aso declared, "I have never said (the hike) will not be made in April."

ところが、翌日国会で追及されると「4月にやらないと言ったことはない」。またも前言をひっくり返した。 

The government is legally mandated to raise the ratio of state financing of basic pension payouts to one-half from the current one-third. An estimated 2.3 trillion to 2.5 trillion yen will be needed to finance the hike to implement the measure in April.

 国庫負担は3分の1から2分の1へ増やすことが法律で決まっている。4月から実施するには2.3兆~2.5兆円の財源が必要になる。 

The question is how to raise the money. The government now has to take special measures to resuscitate the sagging economy amid rapidly dwindling tax revenue. In addition, it is under strong political pressure to increase spending from the ruling parties, which are concerned about their prospects in the looming Lower House election.

 問題は財源だ。税収が落ちる中で景気対策を打たねばならないうえに、総選挙を意識して予算要求圧力が強い。

Behind Aso's flip-flopping is the fact that the government can reduce its financial burden by delaying the expansion of state funding for the public pension program, even by a few months.

引き上げを数カ月でも遅らせれば、それだけ負担を減らせる。先送り論の背景には、そんな事情がある。 

But this measure is the core component of the pension overhaul the government decided on in 2004. The pension funding system was redesigned on the assumption that half of the money for basic benefits will come from state coffers no later than in April 2009.

 しかし、基礎年金の国庫負担引き上げは、04年の年金制度改革で決めた根幹部分だ。年金財政は、遅くとも来年4月から国庫負担を2分の1にすることを前提に設計されている。 

Postponing this change with the result that the government contributions are less than promised, if only for several months, would leave a financing hole in the pension program.

If that hole is left unplugged, the pension system will eventually face the prospect of financial exhaustion, forcing the government to raise premiums more than planned or reduce benefits received by pensioners. Either way, the public will suffer.

 これを先送りして国庫からの負担金が計画より少なくなれば、年金財政にはそれだけ穴があく。それを放置するとやがては年金財源が足りなくなり、計画より保険料を引き上げたり、受け取る年金の額を引き下げたりせざるを得ない要因になる。しわ寄せを受けるのは国民である。 

The decision in 2004 was that the ratio of state financing must be raised "by fiscal 2009." The step should be taken before the beginning of fiscal 2009 in April.

 そもそも、国庫負担の引き上げは、「09年度までに」と決められている。本来は09年度より前にやるべきものだ。

It must not be forgotten that implementation has already been delayed to the last possible moment.

ぎりぎりまで先延ばししてきたことを、忘れてもらっては困る。 

Past pension reforms were almost invariably marked by contribution increases and benefit cuts. As a result, the pension system has been compared to a "mirage."

 年金制度は、改正のたびに負担増や給付抑制が繰り返され、「逃げ水」にたとえられてきた。

This has fostered public distrust of the system. Many Japanese, especially young people, now suspect that they will not receive the promised pension benefits in full even if they pay the premiums as required.

このため、若い世代を中心に「保険料を納めても、将来ちゃんともらえないのではないか」という不信感が根強くある。 

The public's confidence in the pension system has hit rock bottom due to a string of scandals at the Social Insurance Agency, which is in charge of the program, including revelations about the falsifications of pension records.

 加えて、年金記録の改ざんなど社会保険庁の不祥事により、信頼は地に落ちている。

If the government fails to honor its promise on funding of the program, what would the public reaction be? Is Aso clueless about how serious the situation is?

このうえ、国庫負担引き上げの約束も守らないとなった時に、国民はどう思うか。事態の深刻さが首相には分からないのだろうか。

Increased public anxiety about the future would depress already weak consumer spending. Postponement of pension funding reform would only undermine the government's efforts to revive the economy, which Aso has described as his policy priority.

 将来への不安が高まれば、消費が冷え込む。首相が最優先とする景気面からも、先送りは逆効果ではないか。 

The administration's proposal to hand out 2 trillion yen in cash to households as part of a fiscal stimulus package has met with strong public criticism, with over 60 percent of people saying they don't want the money, according to media polls.

 2兆円の定額給付金にはばらまき批判が強く、世論調査で6割以上の人が「不要」としている。

If it is difficult to find new money, the government should drop this unpopular proposal and use the savings to finance the promised change in pension funding.

財源がないというなら、これをやめて基礎年金の国庫負担引き上げにあてたらどうか。 

Sacrificing an important reform of the social security system that is important to the public for a giveaway of taxpayer money would be an act of supreme political folly.

 目先のばらまきのために、国民が最も求めている社会保障を犠牲にするのでは、本末転倒も甚だしい。 

The government must not play politics with the all-important pension system.

 大事な年金制度をもてあそばないでもらいたい。

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