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2009年1月 5日 (月)

急変する世界 「トヨタショック」克服の道は、不況のツナミに襲われた日本

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 5, 2009)

Fundamental change needed to lift economy

急変する世界 「トヨタショック」克服の道は、不況のツナミに襲われた日本(15日付・読売社説)

The traces of sunlight that only a short while ago greeted Japan's economy have disappeared behind dark clouds that have gathered in little more than the blink of an eye, and which are now battering the nation's economy with stormy conditions as it sets sail in the turbulent seas of 2009.

 少し前まで薄日が差していた空に、あっという間に真っ黒な暗雲がたれ込め、横なぐりの雨と大波が荒れ狂う……。

 2009年の日本経済は、激しい時化(しけ)の海への船出となった。

If Japan is to reach the port of recovery, it will need a well-devised map to help it navigate this once-in-a-century tempest.

 「100年に1度」とも言われる嵐の海をどのように乗り越え、「経済再生」の港に到着するか。しっかりとした航海計画を立てねばならない。

First, the government must establish what the weaknesses are in the nation's economy and consider countermeasures.

 まずは、日本経済の弱点を探り、対策を練る必要がある。

A major problem is that domestic and foreign demand, the two engines powering Japan's economic growth, are out of kilter.

 第一に、成長を引っ張る「外需」と「内需」という、二つのエンジンのバランスが悪い。

Through processing trade, in which imported raw materials are manufactured into goods that are then sold to foreign countries, Japan realized rapid economic growth after World War II.

 日本は、原材料を輸入して製品に仕上げ、それを海外に売る「加工貿易」で、戦後の高度成長を実現した。

This model depends heavily on foreign demand, especially from the United States and advanced nations in Europe. But although efforts have been made to expand the operations of Japanese firms through overseas factories, there have been no substantial changes in the fundamental reliance on overseas markets.

このため、今も外需への依存度が高く、それも欧米の先進国に偏りがちだ。

 工場の海外展開など工夫もしたが、海外に販路を求める構造に大きな変化は見られない。

===

Finding new markets

The financial crisis has been growing in the United States and European markets--the main drivers of foreign demand--which has caused a dramatic slowing in one of the two engines of demand.

 主力の欧米市場で金融危機が拡大し、外需のエンジンが急激にスローダウンしてしまった。

Toyota Motor Corp., which enjoyed an operating profit of more than 2 trillion yen in the last business year, is struggling this year, forecasting operating profits will fall into the red by 150 billion yen.

 前年度に2兆円を超える営業利益を誇ったトヨタ自動車は今年度、一転して1500億円の赤字に落ち込む見通しだ。

This "Toyota shock" highlights the unprecedented woes facing Japan's export industry as it is engulfed by the global economic downturn.

 「トヨタショック」は、日本経済を引っ張ってきた輸出産業が、ツナミのような世界同時不況にのみ込まれ、かつてない苦境にあえいでいる象徴といえる。

 ◆新たな市場の開拓を◆

And although they had enjoyed high growth, emerging markets in Asia, particularly China and India, are seeing their growth prospects cloud over, too. Japanese companies must now actively seek major new markets in an effort to secure more balanced foreign demand.

 中国やインドをはじめとしたアジアの新興市場も、高成長にかげりが出てきた。さらに幅広く新規市場を求め、外需の地域バランスを取る必要がある。

However, it is a tall order selling high-end, expensive Japanese products on a large scale to developing countries. A new business model should therefore be developed that allows the country to profit from passing on the benefits and know-how of its production technology.

 ただ、高性能で価格の高い日本製品を、途上国で大量に売るのは難しい。生産技術などの「知恵」を供与し、その成果を配当などの形で受け取るなど、新たな事業モデルも育てたい。

Because Japanese firms depend so heavily on foreign demand, the nation's economy is vulnerable to foreign exchange fluctuations. The yen has, for example, risen to about 90 yen per U.S. dollar, slashing the profits of export-dependent companies.

 外需依存の結果、為替相場の影響を受けやすいことも弱みとなっている。1ドル=90円台前後まで円高が進み、輸出産業の利益は大幅に圧縮された。

===

New opportunities

However, the yen's rising value could open up new strategies for Japanese firms, such as making it possible to acquire healthy foreign companies. The strengthening yen should therefore be seen not as a jam, but as an opportunity to take advantage of the current turmoil.

 一方で、円の価値が高まれば、優良な海外企業の買収など経営戦略の幅は広がる。円高をピンチと考えるだけでなく、メリットを活用する視点もあっていい。

From a medium- to long-term perspective, the country's aging society, with its declining birthrate and falling population, also will make it difficult to chart an effective economic course.

 中長期的には、日本の針路の先にある少子高齢化と人口減社会の到来という潮流も、航海を一段と難しくしている。

 ◆デフレの深刻化防げ◆

A shift to domestic demand-led economic growth has long been called for. But in the long run, the size of the domestic economy is tending to shrink.

 内需主導への転換が叫ばれて久しいが、長い目で見れば、国内の経済規模は縮小の方向にある。

Under these circumstances, the key to activating domestic demand lays in Japan's savings ratio--one of the highest in the world, and a point of pride for the country.

An estimated 1.5 yen quadrillion is effectively kept under mattresses. Boosting domestic demand and preparing for future generations can both be realized if this huge supply of money is utilized for investment in social infrastructure.

 こうした中で、内需を活性化するカギは、約1500兆円という、世界的にも高水準な貯蓄が握っている。タンスなどに眠る巨額の資金を社会基盤投資などに活用すれば、内需拡大と将来への備えを同時に実現できよう。

===

Beating negative growth

The government downgraded its forecast for the nation's real gross domestic product in fiscal 2008 to minus territory--the first negative growth in seven years.

 政府は、08年度の実質国内総生産(GDP)が7年ぶりのマイナス成長になると見込む。

The government is aiming for zero growth in real GDP in fiscal 2009, a goal it has set in order to try and prevent negative growth. But many analysts in the private sector expect the economy to register negative growth for two straight years.

The government also has predicted that consumer prices will drop by 0.4 points in the next fiscal year, sparking concerns of deflation.

 09年度の政府経済見通しは「ゼロ成長」としたが、マイナスだけは回避したいという「努力目標」の意味合いが強い。民間は2年連続でマイナス成長の予想が大勢だ。消費者物価も09年度は下落する見通しで、日本は「デフレ」に逆戻りする。

With it becoming increasingly difficult to secure loans, even some companies turning a profit have gone bankrupt because of cash flow problems. To avoid deflation being exacerbated by tighter constraints on credit as happened 10 years ago, the government should implement policies that will be effective in preventing such aggravated deflation.

 融資が絞られ、黒字の会社も資金繰り難で倒産している。金融収縮によるデフレの悪化は10年前に経験済みである。政策で先手を打って、深刻化を防がねばならない。

The government will implement economic stimulus measures worth 75 trillion yen through two supplementary budgets and the fiscal 2009 budget. The Bank of Japan, meanwhile, lowered its key interest rate by 0.2 percentage points to 0.1 percent.

 政府は、2回の補正予算と来年度予算で総額75兆円規模の景気対策を実施する。日銀も政策金利を「ほぼゼロ」に下げた。

===

Stimulus might not suffice

This may not be enough. The state's finances now face a further crisis as tax revenues fall due to the recession. But this is not the time to hesitate in increasing public spending on necessary measures to boost the economy.

 しかし、これで十分とは限らない。不況で税収が減り、財政は一段と危機的になったが、景気下支えに必要な財政出動をためらう時ではない。

Without first restructuring the economy, the conditions necessary for a hike in the consumption tax rate, which is aimed at securing the stable financial resources for social security, will remain elusive.

 経済を立て直さないと、安定した社会保障財源を確保するための、消費税率引き上げへの道筋も見えてこない。

However, a boost in public spending should not merely be an excuse for pork-barrel spending.

 ただし、財政投入が単なる「ばらまき」では効果が乏しい。

What is initially necessary are measures to ease the pain caused by the economic downturn, such as properly addressing unemployment. Also, the government should be quick to plug damaging holes left by social security expenditure cuts, such as to emergency medical services.

 まず必要なのは、失業対策の充実など景気悪化の痛みを和らげる措置だ。救急医療など、社会保障予算削減の弊害が出てきたところへの手当ても急ぎたい。

The number of public works projects, meanwhile, should be narrowed to areas linked to public safety and improving the quality of the nation's infrastructure, such as increasing earthquake resistance.

 公共事業も、耐震化など国民の安全や社会資本の質向上につながる分野に絞るべきだ。

Toward the end of last year, automakers and other major companies decided one after another to reduce production. As a result, many people have lost their jobs and accommodation simultaneously, and have been left homeless.

 昨年末にかけ、自動車など大手企業の減産が加速した。このあおりを受け、年の瀬に「職」と「住」を同時に失い、ホームレスになった人も少なくない。

Yet measures to boost employment submitted separately by the ruling and opposition blocs were uncoordinated, meaning they could not be realized before the new year.

 ところが、与野党はバラバラに雇用対策を出して、実現を越年させてしまった。

If the ruling and opposition parties want to nail their colors to the mast of prioritizing the economy they should cooperate in an effort to speed up the realization of appropriate policies.

 「経済最優先」をともに掲げるのなら、与野党は政策実現のスピードアップで協力すべきだ。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 5, 2009)

2009150131  読売新聞)

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