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2009年1月13日 (火)

定額給付金―君子は豹変ためらわぬ

2009/1/8

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 7(IHT/Asahi: January 8,2009)

EDITORIAL: Fixed amount handouts

定額給付金―君子は豹変ためらわぬ

Prime Minister Taro Aso described the government's 2-trillion-yen cash handout plan, which has been incorporated into the second supplementary budget bill, as "the best plan we've ever conceived."

In reality, however, it is one of the least favored government plans.

 麻生首相は「われわれのベストの案」と胸を張って見せる。だが、これほど評判の悪い「ベスト」も珍しい。第2次補正予算案に盛り込まれた2兆円の定額給付金のことである。 

"This is about the most foolish stopgap policy ever," thundered Yukio Hatoyama, secretary-general of opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), during Tuesday's Diet interpellations by party representatives. "The (2 trillion yen spending) plan shouldn't be part of the second supplementary budget bill.

"The people's wishes will be best served if local governments are allowed to spend the money on health care, education, social welfare or whatever they see fit," Hatoyama said.

Minshuto and two other opposition parties promptly submitted an amendment bill to delete the 2 trillion yen spending plan from the supplementary budget.

 「その場限りの究極の大愚策。2次補正から切り離し、自治体が自由に使えれば、病院や学校、社会福祉など住民の声が生かされる」。きのうの衆院代表質問で、民主党の鳩山由紀夫幹事長がそう提案した。民主党など野党3党は、2次補正から定額給付金部分を削除する修正案を提出した。 

But Aso stood his ground. "Some people are eagerly waiting for the handouts," he asserted. "I have no intention of removing the plan from the supplementary budget bill."

 だが、首相はかたくなだ。「国民からは給付を待っているとの声もある。切り離しは考えていない」 

The prime minister is obviously aware that even if the opposition-controlled Upper House rejects the related bills needed to activate the cash handout plan, he can still take advantage of the so-called 60-day rule to later railroad the bills through the Lower House.

 給付のために必要な関連法案の成立に参院で野党側が抵抗したとしても、60日ルールを使って衆院再議決で押し通そうという構えらしい。 

The economy is in dismal shape indeed, and, as Aso said, many people must be glad to receive a little extra cash--12,000 yen per person.

 確かにこの不況だ。首相が言うように、ひとり1万2千円の給付金をもらえばありがたいと思う人は多かろう。 

But 63 percent of respondents in an Asahi Shimbun poll said they thought this policy was unnecessary. A Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) survey found that 81 percent of respondents did not think the handouts would help the economy recover.

 だが、朝日新聞の世論調査では63%が「必要な政策と思わない」と答え、NHKの調査では81%もの人が「景気回復に効果はない」と答えている。 

The handouts were initially meant as an election ploy to benefit the ruling coalition. But as things stand now, the plan may actually backfire.

 もともと与党の総選挙対策として考え出されたのに、これでは逆に不利にはたらきかねないではないか。 

Yoshimi Watanabe, a former minister in charge of administrative reform and a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, recently rebelled against the party. "If we are going to spend 2 trillion yen anyway, there are much better ways of using the money," Watanabe said, adding that he is prepared to resign from the LDP unless the prime minister kills the plan.

Watanabe's is not the only voice of dissent within the LDP.

 最近、元行革相の渡辺喜美氏が「同じ2兆円を使うならもっとましな使い方がある」と反対の声をあげた。首相が撤回しないなら、自民党を離党するつもりだという。党内には同じような反対論がくすぶっている。 

Two trillion yen is roughly 10 times the Environment Ministry's annual budget and about the same as Aichi Prefecture's budget.

 2兆円と言えば、環境省の年間予算のざっと10倍である。愛知県の予算にも匹敵しようという巨額だ。 

With the current economic crisis exacerbating the nation's fiscal problems, no amount of money is ever enough.

 財政難の中で経済危機が降りかかり、お金はいくらあっても足りない。

We suggest the government could perhaps distribute the 2 trillion yen among local governments and let them use the money to help jobless and other needy people tide over the situation or find employment.

たとえば2兆円を各自治体に配り、失業者ら困っている人々の生活や再就職の支援に使ってはどうか。

Frankly, we cannot understand why the government is not spending the money to address the urgent needs of society, such as correcting the shortage of obstetricians, improving emergency medical services, and shoring up social welfare, particularly the nursing-care system.

産科医不足や救急医療の整備、介護など社会福祉へのてこ入れといった、本当に必要とされている分野になぜ投入しようとしないのだろう。 

For the government to spend this colossal amount of taxpayer money, the plan must definitely be in the interests of the people, not the prime minister.

 巨額の税金を使うなら「首相のベスト」ではなく、「国民にとってベスト」の使い方をしてもらわねば困る。 

We also must question New Komeito's position. The junior coalition partner pushed for the cash handout plan last summer, when household budgets were being hit hard by soaring prices of gasoline and food. But since the global financial crisis broke out, the situation has changed considerably.

 給付金を主導した公明党も、これでいいのか。そもそもガソリンや食料品が高騰していた昨夏、家計への支援策として考えた構想だった。その後、金融危機で状況は一変している。 

Reinforcing society's safety net is the most urgent task now. As a party that has always focused on welfare, New Komeito must not hesitate to change its course now.

 いま急ぐべきは社会の安全網の強化である。とりわけ福祉を重視してきた公明党なのだから、ここは方針転換をためらうべきではあるまい。 

A leader in a time of crisis is required to react swiftly to the changing circumstances and make bold decisions. Aso should consider the opposition's proposal and eliminate the handout plan from the second supplementary budget bill. This will speed up passage of the bill.

 状況の変化に機敏に対応し、大胆にかじを切る。危機の時代の指導者に求められる資質だ。首相は野党の提案に歩み寄り、定額給付金を削除すべきだ。2次補正の成立も早まる。

After all, there is this old adage: "A wise man changes his mind, a fool never."

君子は豹変(ひょうへん)す、と言うではないか。

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