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2009年1月 1日 (木)

混迷の中で考える―人間主役に大きな絵を

2009/1/1

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 1(IHT/Asahi: January 1,2009)

EDITORIAL: A stormy start for 2009

混迷の中で考える―人間主役に大きな絵を

What a gloomy start to the new year.

 何という年明けだろう。 

The financial earthquake that first rocked Wall Street, the glittering symbol of American prosperity, 100 days ago continues to shake the world. The effects of the financial crisis could be greater than even the Sept. 11 terror attacks, which felled the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the same city in 2001.

 100日余り前に米国の繁栄の象徴ウォール街を襲った激震は、同じニューヨークの世界貿易センタービルを崩落させた9・11テロをしのぐ破壊力で、地球を揺さぶり続ける。 

With credit tightening in the global financial system, consumer spending, investment and trade are all shrinking around the world. The world economy is sinking at an unprecedented speed. Stock prices in most major countries have been sliced in half.

 お金の流れが滞って、消費も投資も貿易も縮む。経験したことのない経済の急降下。主要国の株は半値になった。

■市場の失敗の大きさ 

Anxiety about the future is crushing consumer and business confidence. The bottom is nowhere in sight, which makes the situation even more frightening. The world is now shuddering at what appears to be shaping up as a deflationary spiral.

先行きへの心配が企業や消費者の心理を凍らせ、デフレ不況へのおののきが世界に広がる。 

But we must not be too upset. To help us weather this economic downturn, we should take a deep breath, ponder the meaning of the crisis and learn the lessons it offers for ushering in a new era.

 だが、ここはあわてずに深呼吸してみよう。この危機の意味を考え、それを次の時代への手がかりにできれば、不況を乗り越える力ともなる。 

Free markets that are supposed to make people wealthier can, at times, cause economic disasters. This risk inherent in the capitalist economic system exploded accidentally in the U.S. market under the administration of President George W. Bush, who brought financial deregulation to extremes. The resultant crisis has quickly engulfed the globalized world. That's the long and short of this crisis. Market failures

 人々を豊かにするはずの自由な市場が、ときにひどい災禍をもたらす。資本主義が本来もっているそうした不安定性が、金融規制を極限まで緩めたブッシュ政権の米国で暴発し、グローバル化した世界を瞬く間に巻き込んだ。それがこの危機だ。 

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which graphically symbolized the collapse of the world order during the Cold War era of East-West rivalry. Since that time, the world has been turned into a huge integrated market. A liberalized flow of capital and goods as well as information, which was accelerated by progress in information technology, has greatly increased wealth and convenience.

 今年は、ベルリンの壁とともに東西の冷戦秩序が消滅してから20年になる。地球は一つの市場となり、お金、モノ、そしてITによる情報の流れが豊かさと便利さをもたらした。 

The United States has been the principal driving force of this globalization. Its economic creed has placed the highest importance on the interests of shareholders and investors. It views the ability to generate profits efficiently as more important than workers' well-being and corporate social responsibility.

 このグローバル化を牽引(けんいん)したのが米国だ。株主や投資家の利益を何より重視する。働く人の暮らしや企業の責任よりも、お金を生み出す効率を優先する。

The market-oriented system has been supported by neo-liberalism, which started in the 1970s and was the guiding principle for former President Ronald Reagan's economic revolution in the 1980s. The system has now spread all over the world.

1970年代からレーガン革命を貫いて今日に至る「新自由主義」の考え方に支えられた市場のあり方は、世界にも広がった。 

But this doctrine--the free market can act as an infallible guide for economic activity--created the excesses that have resulted in this catastrophe.

 それが行き着くところまで行っての大破局だ。

The dramatic economic downturn has caused tremendous numbers of Americans to lose their jobs or homes, widened the economic gap in society and devastated the country's key manufacturing industries, especially the auto industry, which was once the icon of America's economic might.

気づいてみれば膨大な数の米国民が仕事や家を失い、社会の格差は広がり、国の象徴だった自動車をはじめ、製造業は見る影もない。 

The situation in the United States is a natural consequence of an economic system that puts more importance on the profit-generating market itself than on individuals and social harmony. Gap widens between rich and poor

 人間や社会の調和よりも、利益をかせぎ出す市場そのものを大事にするシステムの一つの帰結である。

■格差と貧困の広がり 

What has happened in Japan in the meantime?

 この間、日本では何が起きたか。 

About 10 years ago, the nation started a sweeping deregulation campaign based on U.S.-style market principles as part of efforts to pull the economy out of the prolonged slump following the collapse of speculative bubbles. The structural reform driven by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi accelerated the process.

 バブル崩壊後の不況脱出をめざし、米国流の市場原理を重視した規制緩和が本格化してほぼ10年。小泉構造改革がそれを加速した。

The reform enhanced the efficiency of the old Japanese-style economic structure to some extent, leading to the longest economic expansion in the postwar era and record corporate profits.

その結果、古い日本型の経済社会の構造がそれなりに効率化され、戦後最長の好景気と史上最高水準の企業収益が実現した。 

At the same time, the decade of reforms has produced some totally unexpected disastrous social effects. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened markedly amid the loud chorus of calls for self-responsibility. The ranks of the "working poor," or low-wage workers who can barely make a living, have grown rapidly.

 だが、同時に現れたのは思いもしなかった現実だ。声高な自己責任論にあおられるように貧富の差が拡大し、働いてもまともな暮らしができないワーキングプアが急速に広がった。

Temporary, part-time and other nonregular workers now account for 30 percent of the nation's work force, a consequence of labor market deregulation. More than 10 million workers are earning less than 2 million yen a year.

労働市場の規制緩和で、非正規労働者が働く人の実に3割にまで膨れ上がり、年収200万円に満たない人が1千万人を超えてしまった。 

The middle class that was once the backbone of stable society has all but disappeared.

 かつて日本社会の安定を支えた分厚い中間層はもはやない。 

Broad spending cuts made under the banner of fiscal rehabilitation have significantly weakened the social safety net, including such vital social security services as unemployment insurance benefits, health care and public financial aid.

 しかも、財政再建の下で雇用保険をはじめ、医療や公的扶助といった「安全網」は細るばかり。

People who become stuck in the trap of poverty cannot easily escape the hole. This grim reality has become a familiar part of life in this nation. The economic crisis has hit Japan just as it is struggling to deal with these problems.

いったん貧困の罠(わな)にはまると抜け出せない。それがありふれた現実になった。そこを今度の危機が直撃した。 

We have to look squarely at the reality and no optimism is warranted under the current circumstances. However, excessive pessimism would cloud our vision for the future.

 こうした現実はしっかりと直視しなければならない。楽観は禁物である。しかし、いたずらに悲観論に陥ることも未来を見る目を曇らせる。 

Former U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan described the current financial crisis as a "once-in-a-century credit tsunami." Many people now quote that phrase.

 「100年に1度の津波」。グリーンスパン前米連邦準備制度理事会議長の言葉を多くの人が引用する。

But we must not shrink back. Japan successfully rode two other serious crises during the past nearly 150 years that could have ruined the nation.

だが、たじろぐ必要はない。なぜなら、私たちの国は過去1世紀半近い間に、それこそ国がひっくり返る危機に2度も直面し、克服してきたからだ。 

Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901), an author and political theorist, said he felt as if he had lived two different lives, referring to the turbulence he experienced when the feudal reign of the Tokugawa Shogunate ended to usher in the cultural enlightenment in the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

 「一身にして二生を経るが如(ごと)し」と言ったのは、封建の徳川の世と、明治の文明開化とを生きた福沢諭吉だった。

The nation overcame another crisis only 60 years ago when its defeat in World War II brought an end to militarist Japan and paved the way for a restart as a democratic nation.

軍国主義の帝国日本が滅び、民主主義の新生日本を築いたのは、わずか60年余り前のことである。

In both crises, the nation survived by achieving fundamental reforms. Drastic overhaul needed

いずれの場合も、私たちは大規模な変革を通して危機を乗り越えた。 

■たくましい政治が要る 

The situation now facing the nation is a multiple crisis caused by a mixture of the global-scale credit crunch and the stalling domestic economic and fiscal system, which is plagued with problems.

 いま直面しているのは、世界的な金融システムの行き詰まりと、様々な矛盾を抱えて立ち往生している国内の経済財政システムの行き詰まりとが重なった、複合的な危機だ。

Overcoming the current crisis will be a formidable challenge, requiring huge efforts to drastically overhaul the nation. In addition, Japan must fulfill the task with its own wisdom and abilities, instead of caving in to outside pressure for the nation to introduce Western technologies and democracy in the two previous crises.

その克服は、もういちど日本を作り直すくらいの大仕事になる。しかも、黒船や敗戦といった外からの力によることなく、みずから知恵と力で、この荷を背負わなければならない。 

Japanese people long for a bold policy vision that transcends simple short-term measures to stimulate job creation and economic growth. They also want strong political leadership that will realize the vision.

 国民が望んでいるのは、小手先の雇用や景気対策を超えた大胆なビジョンと、それを実行する政治の力だ。 

The age when economic growth was the top priority has ended. Japan should be rebuilt in line with a drastic change to our sense of values.

 ひたすら成長優先できた時代がとうに終わり、価値観が大きく変化するなかで、どんな国をつくっていくか。

Such a grand vision could focus on the environment, education or welfare. It should be designed to concentrate resources on crafting a decent future for the nation and job creation. Again, strong political leadership is essential to realize this grand vision.

それは「環境大国」でも「教育大国」でも「福祉大国」でもありうるだろう。将来を見すえた国づくりに集中して資源を投下し、雇用も創出する。そうしたたくましい政治が要るのだ。 

The unipolar world dominated by the United States is now being replaced by a multipolar world where countries like China and India are gaining increasing clout. Given the growing importance of international cooperation to overcome the crisis and protect the environment of the planet, political leadership has a crucial role to play.

 世界の秩序も、これまでの米国一極支配が終わり、中国やインドを含む「多頭世界」が現れつつある。経済危機に対処し、地球環境を守るための国際連携がますます重要になる。政治はおちおちとしていられない。 

American people have entrusted President-elect Barack Obama with the task of correcting the imbalances created by market fundamentalism and financial bubbles. They are trying to ride out the crisis under a new leadership.

 米国民は、市場原理主義と金融バブルで生じたゆがみを是正する役目をオバマ次期大統領に託し、彼と肩を組んで危機を乗り越えようとしている。 

Will the upcoming Lower House election in Japan, which must be held this year, shape up as a similar sea change for the nation? The 20 years since the end of the Cold War have led the nation from the heyday of the bubble economy to this glum new year, a period of constant turmoil.

 日本でも、今年の総選挙がそうした場になるだろうか。冷戦後の20年間、バブルの絶頂からこの不穏な年明けまで翻弄(ほんろう)され続けた日本。


Voters must now be more critical of the nation's politics than ever before.

有権者の視線はかつてなく厳しいはずだ。

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