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2009年1月 1日 (木)

社説:08年を振り返る 国家のきしみが聞こえる 内向き姿勢、薄れた日本の存在感

(Mainichi Japan) December 31, 2008

Is Japan undergoing a downhill slide like ancient Rome?

社説:08年を振り返る 国家のきしみが聞こえる 内向き姿勢、薄れた日本の存在感


Invisible wild waves appear to be hitting Japan. An economic tsunami emanating from the United States is making the furious inland sea even rougher. As 2008 nears an end, one cannot help but wonder whether Japan can ride out the rough waves that hit the country one after another.

 見えない荒波が押し寄せているようだ。内海の時化(しけ)に米国発の津波が重なる。次々に襲う山のような波を「日本丸」は乗り切れるか、それとも激しい風雨にもまれて黒い波の谷間に落ち込んでいくのか--。

The financial crisis that started in the United States has struck Japan, and is complicating the already serious economic situation here. Numerous people are obviously feeling uneasy as if they were aboard a ship in rough seas and hear the vessel creaking.

 そんな不安を覚える年の瀬だ。米国の金融危機は日本を巻き込み、国内事情と絡んで危機が深まる。多くの国民は、荒海の真っただ中で船体のきしみを聞くような心細さを味わっているに違いない。

The Nobel prizes awarded to four Japanese researchers was encouraging news, but some people point out that they were awarded for their past research achievements and that it is highly doubtful if more Japanese scientists will win Nobel prizes in the future. The four laureates' feats highlight the dismal situation in Japan's academic circles.

 明るい材料は4氏へのノーベル賞だが、「昔の研究が認められただけ。日本は将来ノーベル賞学者を出せるか」と危ぶむ声もあり、快挙は「知の現場」のお寒い現状を意識させた。

Japan's system as a state is showing signs of cracks. Replacing parts and fresh paint is not enough. We must consider a drastic overhaul of the entire ship and replacing its skipper.

 日本という国のシステムがあちこちできしんでいる。ネジの締め直しや部品交換では済まず、船体の大幅改修やかじ取りらの交代も検討せざるを得まい。

 ◇静かな「一揆」

In September, then Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda suddenly stepped down, and the approval rating for his successor, Taro Aso, remains low. The dismissal of administrations by Fukuda and his predecessor Shinzo Abe has heightened the public's distrust in politics, particularly the ruling coalition.

 まずは政治である。福田康夫前首相が9月に突然辞任し、後を受けた麻生太郎首相も低支持率にあえぐ。安倍晋三元首相に加えて2代続けての政権投げ出しは、政治への、とりわけ与党への信頼を失墜させた。

Moreover, Aso, who was expected to dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap general election shortly after taking office, has been unable to do so because the ruling coalition remains unpopular. He is barely staying afloat, like a boat without a rudder, hoping to increase his popularity by implementing economic stimulus measures.

 しかも、早期に衆院を解散するはずだった麻生首相は、与党が不人気をかこつ折、伝家の宝刀を抜くに抜けない。経済対策などを通じた人気浮揚に希望をつなぎ、海図を失った船のようにとにかく浮かんでいる格好だろう。庶民から見れば漂流とも迷走とも映る。

What has gone wrong with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)? Novelist Nanami Shiono has pointed out that Japan, in which the LDP picks the nation's prime minister, is similar to ancient Rome, in which its consul was named by the Roman Senate. Such a system in which a small number of people are involved in the leadership functions may work if a country is growing, but if the environment changes, its mechanism of utilizing human resources goes out of order. Shiono's comment in her book, "Roma kara Nihon ga Mieru" ("Japan viewed from Rome") that "even though the leader believes he is doing well, he is only impeding governance" is noteworthy. Is Japan undergoing a downhill slide like ancient Rome?

 自民党は何がおかしくなったのか。作家の塩野七生氏によると、もっぱら自民党が首相を決めてきた日本と「執政官は元老院が決める」とした共和政全盛期の古代ローマはよく似ている。こうした少数指導体制は成長期には機能するが、環境が変わると人材活用のメカニズムが狂う。「自分ではうまくやっているつもりなのに、それがかえって足を引っ張る結果になってしまう」(「ローマから日本が見える」)という指摘は興味深い。日本は、古代ローマのような衰退を経験しているのだろうか。

The scandal-tainted Social Insurance Agency has come under fire for falsifying numerous pension premium payment records as an entity, and the corrosion of Japan's function as a state is unbearable to watch.

 数々の不祥事を抱える社会保険庁では年金記録の組織的改ざんが発覚し、国家機能の「腐食」は目を覆わんばかりになった。

The new medical system has also angered people. Senior citizens' protest at the phrase, "late-stage elderly people," is their quiet uprising, so to speak.

庶民感情を逆なでした点では、新しい医療制度もそうだ。「後期高齢者」という言葉などに対するお年寄りの反発は、静かな「一揆」ともいえるものだった。

A "grass-root uprising" also occurred in the labor field. The number of temporary workers dispatched by employment agencies to various firms hit a record high this year. In the face of the economic downturn, many employers unilaterally terminated their employment contracts with such workers or cancelled their job offers to those who are expected to graduate this coming spring. Strikes staged by temporary workers and others who are trapped in an insecure employment situation are a major expression of resistance in Japan, where labor movements are not generally active.

 草の根的な「一揆」は他の分野でも起きた。派遣労働者は過去最多となり、「派遣切り」や新卒者の「内定取り消し」も横行した。頻発する非正規雇用労働者らのデモは、労働運動が低調な日本にあって、精いっぱいの抵抗ともいえよう。

Problems involving the employment and social security situations have become serious as the social divide into "winners" and "losers" is expanding. This year saw a spate of heinous crimes, such as a stabbing rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara district that left seven people dead and 10 others injured and attacks on the homes of two retired top bureaucrats in the Health and Welfare Ministry.

 「勝ち組」「負け組」といわれた階層分化が拡大し、日本が実質二つの「くに」に分かれつつある。そう思えるほど雇用や福祉をめぐる問題が深刻化した。秋葉原17人殺傷や元厚生事務次官宅連続殺傷に見るように凶悪事件も続発した。

Japan's national security system also appears to have become fragile. Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Toshio Tamogami was forced to step down after he released a controversial essay that denied Japan was an aggressor in World War II, raising serious questions about Japan's civilian control on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). Even if he exercised the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution, his freedom of thought and his responsibility relating his official duties are completely different matters, as National Defense Academy President Makoto Iokibe points out. Japan is in a bind as a top-ranking uniformed SDF officer, who is in a position to control SDF personnel and equipment, publicly disagrees with the government's official position.

 安全保障のシステムもきしんだ。田母神(たもがみ)俊雄航空幕僚長(更迭・定年退職)の論文問題は、日本の文民統制(シビリアンコントロール)に重大な懸念を抱かせた。田母神氏がいくら「表現の自由」を主張しようと、五百旗頭真・防衛大学校長が言うように個人の思想信条の自由と、職責に伴う義務とは別問題だ。国家の意思として兵員・装備を最終的に動かす制服組幹部が、政府方針に公然と異を唱えるようでは国が危うい。

Japan's actual security situation has also worsened. Even though the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush cannot solve problems involving North Korea's nuclear program, it removed Pyongyang from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Nuclear weapons and missiles that pose a direct threat to Japan remain intact, and there has been no progress on the issue of abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents. Many Japanese people do not appear fully aware of the danger.

 現実の日本の安全保障も悪化した。米ブッシュ政権は北朝鮮の核問題を解決できない上、北朝鮮へのテロ支援国家指定も解除した。日本への直接的な脅威(核兵器とミサイル)は手つかずで残り、拉致問題も進展しない。そんな危うい現状を多くの日本人が十分認識しているとは言い難い。

There have not been in-depth discussions on Japan's role in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Japan has not adopted a specific response to the Palestinian issue, where bloodshed continues. Even though Japan was busy responding to numerous domestic issues, Japan apparently stuck to its inward-looking stance and refused to look at what it didn't want to see.

 イラクやアフガニスタンをめぐる論議も低調だった。流血が続くパレスチナへの対応策も見えない。山積する国内問題への対処に忙しかったとしても、特に国際分野について「考えたくないものは考えない」という内向きの姿勢が強まった1年ではなかったか。

 ◇日本ミッシング

While China increased its presence by hosting the Beijing Olympics, Japan's global presence is becoming less visible. Japan-U.S. relations continued without any major conspicuous events. Nowadays, phrases like, "Japan nothing" and "Japan missing" are frequently heard in the United States and other countries. Japan seldom mentions the phrase, "the Japan-U.S. alliance in the world," which was frequently heard during the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

 中国が五輪開催などで存在感を増したのに対し、日本の存在感が薄れたことは否めない。日米関係も比較的クールに推移した。米国を中心に「ジャパン・ナッシング(無視)」や「ミッシング(行方不明)」などの言葉が飛び交い、日本側も小泉政権時の「世界の中の日米同盟」といった言葉をとんと使わなくなった。

Japanese officials are apparently preferring to hold dialogue with President-elect Barack Obama rather than unpopular and outgoing President Bush. Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr., who served as an aide to the late President John F. Kennedy, said the United States has never been more unpopular, distrusted, feared and hated than under the Bush administration.

 不人気で任期切れが近いブッシュ大統領よりオバマ次期大統領と話したい、という計算が日本側に働いたのは確かだろう。ケネディ大統領の特別補佐官を務めたアーサー・シュレジンジャー氏はブッシュ時代について「アメリカが海外でこれほど不評であったことはかつてなかったし(中略)これほど信頼を欠き、恐れられ、憎まれたこともなかった」(「アメリカ大統領と戦争」)と酷評する。

However, we must bear in mind that Japan is one of the countries that promptly expressed support for the U.S. war against Iraq. If Japan fails to evaluate its relations with the Bush administration, which is now nearing an end, it should be called a moral hazard as a state.

 だが、日本がイラク戦争をいち早く支持したことを忘れてはならない。ブッシュ時代の終わりに日本が何の総括もしないなら、それこそ国家的なモラルハザードと言うべきである。

毎日新聞 20081231日 東京朝刊

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