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2009年1月30日 (金)

代表質問 「消費税」論戦をじっくりと

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 30, 2009)

Diet needs to give time to sales tax discussion

代表質問 「消費税」論戦をじっくりと(130日付・読売社説)

It is imperative that the Diet now deepen discussions about a suitable consumption tax rate for the nation, even though the task is thought of as a medium-term challenge.

 中期的課題とはいえ、消費税率のあり方に関する国会の論議を今から深める意味は大きい。

The consumption tax issue was one of the focuses of attention Thursday during questioning from party representatives at the House of Representatives in response to a policy speech delivered Wednesday by Prime Minister Taro Aso.

 麻生首相の施政方針演説に対する代表質問は、消費税が一つの焦点となった。

Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, lashed out at Aso's pledge to raise the consumption tax rate, saying the tax raise would not win public sympathy "unless amakudari [the practice of bureaucrats landing cushy jobs in the private and public sectors] is eradicated and pork-barreling is completely terminated."

 民主党の鳩山幹事長は、消費税率引き上げについて、「天下りの根絶とばらまき排除を徹底しない限り、国民の理解を得られない」と強く批判した。

In his counterargument, Aso said, "All revenues from the consumption tax will be used for social security benefits and policies to address the declining birthrate, thereby returning it to the people." The prime minister, however, stopped short of clarifying the timing and margin of the consumption tax hike by saying the government will study these issues from now on.

 麻生首相は「消費税の全税収は社会保障給付と少子化対策に充て国民に還元する」と反論した。税率引き上げの時期や幅は「今後検討する」と述べるにとどめた。

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Welcome all proposals

It is appropriate to consider raising the consumption tax rate to secure a stable financial source to cover snowballing social security costs.

 増大し続ける社会保障費の安定財源として、消費税率を引き上げるという考え方は、妥当なものだ。

Of course, with the economy currently deteriorating, it is difficult to work out details, such as the timing and margin of the tax raise, which will be made on the condition that the economy makes a turnaround.

無論、景気が悪化している現時点で、経済の好転を前提とした税率引き上げの時期や幅など細部を詰めるのは無理がある。

Even so, it is vital for the government to dedicate time to considering the direction in which the nation is heading--toward a hike in the consumption tax rate--and steadily make efforts to win public support.

 それでも、税率引き上げという大きな方向性について、じっくりと議論し、国民の理解を得る努力を着実に続けることが重要だ。

In this regard, a proposal by Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda can be seen as forward-looking. He proposed, among other things, managing revenues from the consumption tax by putting them into an account separate from the general account and that a mechanism be instituted to prevent wasteful spending.

 その意味で、自民党の細田幹事長が「消費税収を区分管理し、無駄遣いさせない仕組みを講じる」などと提言したのは、前向きな姿勢と言えるのではないか。

If the DPJ is so opposed to a consumption tax hike, it should present other ways to secure financial sources. Putting options on the table can only deepen discussions on this issue.

 民主党も、消費税率引き上げに反対するなら、それに代わる財源確保策を明示すべきだ。選択肢を示してこそ、議論は深まる。

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DPJ dropping ball on piracy

Meanwhile, regarding the government's plan to dispatch Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels to fight piracy off Somalia, Hatoyama asked why the task could not be undertaken by the Japan Coast Guard.

 ソマリア沖の海賊対策に海上自衛隊を派遣することについて、鳩山幹事長は「なぜ海上保安庁で対応できないのか」と質問した。

In principle, maritime policing activities fall within the JCG's jurisdiction. But the pirate-infested area is far removed from Japan, and the pirates are armed with heavy weaponry.

 海上での警察活動は一義的に海上保安庁の所管だ。だが、現場は日本から遠く離れた海域で、海賊は重火器で武装している。

It is in line with accepted international practice to send MSDF with trained members and more powerful equipment now that the mission has been deemed difficult for the JCG. Other countries involved antipiracy missions are sending their navies' ships, not those of coast guards.

 海保による対処が困難である以上、より強力な装備と、訓練された隊員を擁する海自を活用するのは、国際的な常識である。他国が派遣しているのも海軍の艦船で、沿岸警備隊ではない。

Hatoyama argued from the perspective of civilian control that it would be problematic for the Defense Ministry to formulate guidelines on the use of weapons for antipiracy missions, which will not be made public.

This argument is unreasonable. Disclosing guidelines would be tantamount to exposing MSDF's cards to the pirates and could hamper MSDF efforts to carry out missions.

 鳩山幹事長は、防衛省が非公開の武器使用基準を作成するのは文民統制上、問題だと主張したが、これはおかしい。基準を公開すれば、海賊に手の内を知らせ、海自の任務に支障が生じかねない。

What the DPJ needs to do is compile as soon as possible its own policy on fighting piracy.

 民主党が今、早期に取り組むべきなのは、海賊対策に関する党の方針をまとめることだ。

There are arguments within the DPJ both for and against the dispatch of MSDF vessels. One of the reasons for DPJ opposition is its need to act in concert with the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party.

 党内では、海自派遣に賛否両論がある。派遣に反対する理由の一つは、社民、国民新の両党と足並みをそろえることだという。

If the DPJ believes it is more important to put on a united front with those two opposition parties at the expense of leaving unaddressed the threat of piracy against about 2,000 Japanese-related vessels that pass through those waters each year, it can hardly be said to be a responsible action.

 だが、野党共闘を優先し、年約2000隻の日本関係船舶に対する海賊の脅威を放置するのでは、責任ある対応とは言えまい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 30, 2009)

20091300210  読売新聞)

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