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2009年1月 1日 (木)

急変する世界 危機に欠かせぬ機動的対応、政治の態勢立て直しを

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 1, 2009)

Global crisis requires flexible response

急変する世界 危機に欠かせぬ機動的対応、政治の態勢立て直しを(11日付・読売社説)

 ◆新自由主義の崩落◆

The world is being jolted by the collapse of U.S.-style financial business models that have symbolized neoliberalism and market fundamentalism.

 新自由主義・市場原理主義の象徴だった米国型金融ビジネスモデルの崩落が、世界を揺るがせている。

The sudden credit crunch has dealt a blow to the real economy as signs grow stronger that the whole world is plunging into a recession.

 急激な信用収縮は、実体経済にも打撃を与え、世界は同時不況の様相を深めつつある。

The ongoing business slump has even been dubbed a once-in-a-century crisis, raising the specter of a global downturn comparable to the Great Depression that started in 1929.

 「100年に1度の危機」とさえ言われ、1929年に始まった「世界大恐慌」が想起されたりもしている。

Needless to say, there is a huge difference between the current global situation and the world as we knew it 80 years ago.

 だが、もちろん、現在の世界は、80年前とは大きく異なる。

Taking to heart the bitter lessons learned from previous economic crises, major industrial nations have adopted various steps to ease the current plight. For instance, coordinated interest rate cuts were introduced immediately after the outbreak of the crisis. To complement this joint action, certain measures have been taken, such as further interest rate reductions, quantitative monetary relaxation to increase the money supply, the injection of public funds and increased public spending.

 先進諸国は、歴史的教訓を踏まえて、さまざまな政策手法を積み重ねてきた。危機発生後、直ちに協調利下げを実施したのを始め、その後もさらなる金利の引き下げや、通貨供給量を増やすための量的緩和および公的資金の注入、財政出動などを進めている。

The Japanese government intends to offer assistance to newly emerging and developing countries by donating 10 trillion yen to the International Monetary Fund from its foreign currency reserves--the world's second-largest. We believe the government should step up diplomatic efforts to shore up the IMF's role, for example, by urging China--holder of the world's largest foreign exchange reserves--to cooperate in this respect.

 日本は世界第2位の外貨準備から国際通貨基金(IMF)に10兆円を拠出し、新興・途上国支援に充てる方針だ。外貨準備高世界一の中国などにも協調を促して、IMFの機能拡充への外交努力を強めるべきだろう。

===

Japan also hit by crisis

It should be noted, however, that Japan's own economy is faltering. The outbreak of the global financial crisis was initially viewed with an optimistic--or even self-assured--sentiment with some observers predicting the crisis would hurt Japan the least.

 ただし、足元の日本経済自体も、揺らいでいる。

 世界金融危機の発生当初は、日本の傷は世界で最も浅いとの、楽観論、強気論もあった。

However, this was followed by the sudden emergence of dark clouds on the horizon of the nation's foreign demand and exports, both of which have been driving forces behind the nation's recent phase of economic expansion--the longest boom of the postwar period.

 ところが、戦後最長とされる景気拡大を牽引(けんいん)してきた外需・輸出が、にわかに変調を来した。

The effect on the domestic economy was made clear by a sharp decline in the business performance of export-related businesses, including the car industry. This was symbolized by Toyota Motor Corp.'s projected operating loss in fiscal 2008--the so-called Toyota Shock.

The news about the rapid drop in the business performance of export-related industries has been followed by reports of sharp declines in such economic indicators as the unemployment rate, the number of corporate bankruptcies and consumer spending.

 「トヨタショック」といわれた自動車業界を始め、輸出関連業界の急速な業績悪化を引き金に、雇用、企業倒産、消費動向など、様々な経済指標が、日々、急速に悪化している。

 ◆内需拡大に知恵絞れ◆

Many observers believe the world's economic turmoil will last several years. Export-heavy corporations must reconsider their business strategies as soon as possible. Plausible measures include the development of new products and the cultivation of new markets.

 世界経済の混迷は、数年間は続くという見方が多い。早急に、新たな商品の開発、新市場開拓などによる輸出戦略の立て直しに取り組まなくてはならない。

To prevent the economy from sinking even deeper, the government should hurry to expand domestic demand. It is important to recognize, however, that there will be a limit to what can be achieved through conventional pump-priming measures--mainly public works projects--amid a continued decline in the nation's birthrate and a consequent graying and shrinking population. This nation is also in dire financial straits.

 景気の底割れを防ぐため、内需拡大を急ぐ必要がある。ただ、少子高齢化、人口減少が進行する中で、従来通りの公共事業を中心とする手法では限界がある。財政事情も厳しい。

===

Can resources take strain?

The advantage this country enjoys in dealing with the situation is the size of the financial assets of its households--still worth a massive 1.47 yen quadrillion despite a decrease in the total over recent years.

 日本の強みは、減少したとはいえ、まだ1467兆円もの個人金融資産があることだ。

According to an estimate by the National Institute for Research Advancement, 150 trillion yen to 170 trillion yen of household financial assets from the total can be considered as "surplus savings," given the life cycle of the average Japanese individual.

 このうち、150兆円から170兆円が平均的な個人のライフサイクルから見て「余剰貯蓄」といえるとの、総合研究開発機構(NIRA)による試算もある。

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan believes the Japanese possess about 30 trillion yen in so-called drawer savings, a close equivalent of sugar-bowl savings in the United States and European countries. The central bank also presumes the figure can be combined with 120 trillion yen kept in the form of current and ordinary deposits, which are favored by some people as safe moneykeeping tools over investment and other moneymaking instruments.

 また日銀は、いわゆるタンス預金だけでも30兆円、投資や利殖より安全を志向する当座・普通預貯金としてほぼ眠っている資金が、120兆円あると見ている。

It is an important policy task for the government to tap into these dormant funds and use part of this money for its pump-priming objectives. Provided the government makes use of money exclusively to cover snowballing social security costs, create jobs and implement other economy-boosting measures that increase domestic demand, the public is certain to find it acceptable.

 こうした“眠れる資金”を掘り起こして活用することは、重要な政策課題だ。

 内需拡大に向け、社会保障や、雇用対策などを中心とする景気振興に使途を限定すれば、国民も納得するに違いない。

Preferably, this task should be tackled by drawing on wisdom that goes beyond political affiliation to devise suitable measures.

 できれば超党派で知恵を絞るべき課題である。

 ◆日米同盟の維持が重要◆

We believe this nation should continue to reconsider what kind of role it plays in the international community and how it should cooperate with other nations, even though the world is experiencing great economic uncertainty at this time.

 世界経済が混迷する中でも、日本の国際社会への関与、協力の在り方は、引き続き、見直しを迫られよう。

A question of immediate importance to be explored by the government is how it should respond to the next U.S. administration if it asks Japan to send Self-Defense Forces personnel to Afghanistan and engage the SDF in the task of restoring public order and security in that country. President-elect Barack Obama has said Afghanistan will become a linchpin of his country's engagement with other nations.

 当面は、対外関与の軸足をアフガニスタンに置くとするオバマ米次期政権が、日本にもアフガン本土の治安回復活動への自衛隊参加を求めてきた場合にどう応えるか、という問題がある。

===

Nation must live up to intl role

If the government declines a U.S. request for such cooperation, as in the past, by citing restrictions imposed by the Constitution and other political reasons at home, this nation will see itself relegated to a lower priority status among U.S. allies.

 これに対し、過去の惰性で、憲法問題など国内政治事情を名目に協力を断れば、米国にとっての日米同盟の優先順位が低下していくことになるだろう。

It should be realized, for example, that without its alliance with the United States, Japan cannot by itself resolve the dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

 日本は、たとえば、北朝鮮の核開発問題にしても、日米同盟関係抜きに、単独で解決することはできない。

This is also true with respect to Japan's relations with China, which has been rapidly strengthening its military capabilities. Efforts to maintain Tokyo's close relationship with Washington must be taken as a given when it comes to how this country should deal with China.

However, it should be recognized that the United States places increasing significance on how it should promote ties with such a newly emerging military and economic power as China.

 急速に軍備増強を進める中国との関係を考える場合にも、緊密な日米同盟の継続が前提となる。だが、米国にとっても、軍事大国化、経済大国化する中国との関係は、ますます重要になっている。

This issue may well be addressed from the standpoint of international efforts to combat pirates in waters off Somalia, a task the United Nations has asked member states to take on. China has dispatched warships for that mission, while Japan remains unable to come up with a clear plan for how it will help despite the large number of Japanese vessels that cross the waters in question. How does the United States view this attitude of Japan's?

 国連が各国に求めているソマリア沖の海賊対策に中国も軍艦を派遣するのに、日本関係船舶が多数通航するにもかかわらず明確な方針を打ち出せないでいる日本を、米国はどう見るか。

To maintain high-priority status among U.S. allies, Tokyo must live up to Washington's expectations by devising diplomatic and security strategies good enough to convince U.S. leaders that they can trust Japan as an ally.

 米国にとっての日米同盟の優先度を、高い水準に維持するためには、日本が信頼できる同盟国だと思わせるだけの能動的な外交・安全保障戦略で応えていかなくてはならない。

===

End domestic political vacuum

The fact remains, however, that we are witnessing what is tantamount to a political vacuum today, with the House of Representatives dominated by the ruling camp and the House of Councillors controlled by the opposition bloc.

 しかし、現実には、その責任を担うはずの政治は、事実上、“空白”状態に近い。

The leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan has been taking advantage of the unusual distribution of power in the divided Diet as it engages primarily in political maneuvering. By doing so, the largest opposition party is seeking to upset the Aso administration and twist the political situation in a way that could eventually remove the ruling coalition from power.

All this has left the government incapable of adopting and implementing domestic and foreign policies of vital importance.

 衆参ねじれ国会の下、麻生政権は、民主党の政局至上主義的な駆け引きに揺さぶられ、緊要な内外政策の決定・実行ができなくなっている。

A second supplementary budget needed to finance already announced economy-boosting measures has also fallen prey to this unusual predicament. There is no telling when a set of bills related to the supplementary budget will pass the Diet. This means the government cannot expect to quickly carry out its additional pump-priming measures.

 景気対策に必要な第2次補正予算案も、関連法案の成立がいつになるか不明で、早急には実施できそうにない。

Even more disturbingly, it is extremely difficult to know when the government will be able to have the fiscal 2009 budget approved with the legislature divided as it is, and carry out the policies and programs stipulated in it.

 まして、2009年度予算案をいつ実行に移せるようになるかは、見通しがつかない状況だ。

An endless struggle between the ruling and opposition parties for leadership in domestic politics means Japan could fall behind in global competitiveness.

 与野党が国内政局次元の争いに明け暮れていては、日本は国際競争から落伍(らくご)しかねない。

 ◆「党益より国益」を◆

Whatever happens to the government, a lower house election will have to take place by the time the tenure of the current members of the chamber comes to an end in September. The ruling and opposition camps must work to fill the current political void as early as possible, by emphasizing national interests over party interests and pursuing important policies instead of seeking to turn the political situation in their own favor. Doing so is essential to ensure this nation's political system can function in a flexible manner.

 9月の衆院議員任期切れまでには確実に総選挙があるが、党益より国益、政局より政策を優先し、できるだけ早く“政治空白”を解消して、政治の機動性を回復しなくてはならない。

According to analysts, it will be difficult either for the Liberal Democratic Party or for the DPJ to gain an outright majority in the lower house in the next general election. With such an election result in mind, some groups of lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition camps have already started moves that could lead to yet another round of political realignment and a reshuffling of ruling coalition partners.

 しかし、次回総選挙では、自民党、民主党とも、単独過半数を獲得するのは難しいとみられている。すでに、与野党を通じ、そうした選挙結果を想定した政界再編、連立絡みの動きもある。

Whatever shape the next government takes after the next general election, it is essential that this nation's politics should be capable of swiftly and authoritatively promoting policies that can look to the future of the world from a medium- and long-term perspective.

 結果として、それがいかなる形の政権になるにせよ、肝要なのは、世界の先行きについての中長期的展望を踏まえた政策を、迅速かつ強力に推進できる政治態勢であることだ。

We hope both members of the public and political leaders will keep in mind at all times that the international community--including Japan--is approaching a steep and treacherous point on the path ahead.

 政治家も、国民も、世界と日本が険しい難所に差し掛かっているのだということを、常に心しておきたい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 1, 2009)

2009110027  読売新聞)

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