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2009年2月 3日 (火)

風知草:心が痛まない公共事業=専門編集委員・山田孝男

(Mainichi Japan) February 3, 2009

Public works projects must contribute to environmental conservation, social welfare

風知草:心が痛まない公共事業=専門編集委員・山田孝男

"We've come up with a bold and extraordinary economic stimulus package -- one of the largest in the world -- which includes a combined supplementary and primary budget of 75 trillion yen," Prime Minister Taro Aso boasted. But many renowned experts are critical of the proposed measures.

 「補正予算と本予算で総額75兆円、世界最大規模の、大胆で異例の経済対策」を出したと麻生太郎首相は言うけれども、名だたる専門家は口々に批判している。国際経済学の論客・竹森俊平(52)=慶応大経済学部教授=もそうだった。

It was on Jan. 28 that Economy and Fiscal Policy Minister Kaoru Yosano skipped over the phrase "under Prime Minister Aso's leadership," which had been written into the script for a speech he made in the Diet. The previous day, Shunpei Takemori, 52, an international economics expert and a professor of economics at Keio University, had been invited to speak at the Japan National Press Club: "The biggest problem is the fact that even though we should be focusing on a debate of what constitutes good public works projects, that's not the direction in which we're headed." He added that the government, lacking leadership, has been insufficient in its handling of the situation.

 与謝野馨・経済財政担当相が国会の経済演説で「麻生総理のリーダーシップ」というフレーズを読み飛ばしたのが1月28日。その前日、日本記者クラブに招かれた竹森は、「最大の問題は、良い公共事業とは何かの議論に集中すべきなのに、そこへ向かっていないこと」であり、指導力を欠く政府の対応は「なってない」と酷評した。

Still, we're talking 75 trillion yen. The odds are undoubtedly against the government's cash payout plan, but isn't everyone a bit too harsh on Aso? We've spoken with Takemori several times about the criticism. But he won't budge.

 そうは言っても75兆円だ。定額給付金は旗色が悪いが、麻生に厳し過ぎないか。話の続きを聞こうと先週末も慶応の三田キャンパスに乗り込んだが、竹森、全然譲らない。

"Not only are cash payouts meaningless, but so are corporate tax cuts. A major issue calling for great leadership has emerged at a time when the foundations of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have grown weak. The LDP is likely to deteriorate even further, and we can't expect any major improvements."

 「定額給付金はもちろん、企業減税も無意味。自民党の基盤が弱まったところで大きなリーダーシップが求められる問題が噴き出したが、自民党はますますグジュグジュになり、大きなものがまとまっていくという期待がもてない」

What is important, Takemori continues, is not the specific amount of money the government is willing to shell out, but a sense that the country is headed toward a focus on beneficial public projects. But the Aso Cabinet lacks that, he criticizes.

 大事なのは75兆円という数字ではなく、良い公共事業に集中していく感覚だが、麻生政権にはそれがないという。

Takemori came into the public limelight with his award-winning book, "Keizai ronsen wa yomigaeru" (Economic Debates Will Return), published by Toyokeizai Shimposha in 2002. In the book, he traced the worldwide depression of the early 20th century and the debates that various celebrated economists undertook, providing historical proof that countries that actively launched financial measures were quick to recover, while those who left things to nature were not.

 竹森は「経済論戦は甦(よみがえ)る」(02年東洋経済新報社、読売・吉野作造賞受賞)を書いて注目を浴びた。20世紀前半の世界不況と高名な経済学者たちの論争を整理した労作で、竹森は「積極的な財政金融政策を発動した国は早く不況を脱し、自然に任せた国は遅れる」という史実を浮き彫りにしてみせた。

"Let's say a relief pitcher suffers a walk-off loss in the bottom of the ninth. The next day, the manager sends out the same relief pitcher against the same team. Questioned about the prudence of such a decision, the manager says, 'It's not an issue, because he's got a different sequence of pitches today.' That's an example of brave, sophisticated judgment that the country needs right now."

 こんな例え話も出た。

 「九回裏、ホームランを打たれてサヨナラ負けしたリリーフピッチャーがいたとします。監督が、次の日も同じ相手に同じリリーフを立ててきた。大丈夫かって聞かれて、監督が『配球を変えているから大丈夫』だと答えたとすれば、それは勇気ある高度な判断です。今はそういうリーダーシップが求められていると思うのです」

The relief pitcher in the story represents public works in real life. And according to Takemori, there is no way out of this major recession without an expansion of public works projects. That's the only way Aso has a chance; but building unnecessary bridges and roads out of a desperation for votes is no longer an option.

 リリーフ投手とは公共事業のこと。竹森の見るところ、大不況から抜け出すための政策は公共事業拡大以外にない。首相はそれで勝負するしかないが、選挙の票欲しさでムダな橋、ムダな道路をつくるたぐいは、もはや通用しない。

So what are the options? What's needed is public works that contribute to environmental conservation and social security guarantees, and that secure energy, water, and food, says Takemori. In other words, he says, conscientious projects that, from a broad perspective, will undoubtedly prove useful.

 では、何なら通用するか。環境や社会保障、エネルギーや水、食糧の確保に資するもの、大局的に見て必ず役立つ投資であり、要は「心が痛まない(=やましいところがない)公共事業」だと竹森は言う。

This argument resembles the views expressed by political historian Junji Banno and economist Noriko Hama, who contributed to this column last year. Isn't it the role of politics to thrash issues out? But that's not what's happening. All the experts have formed a unanimous front, but cooperation between ruling and opposition parties has yet to gather momentum.

 この主張は、昨年、当コラムにご登場願った政治史家の坂野潤治やエコノミストの浜矩子(のりこ)に通じる。投資の中身の選別はこれからだが、議論を引っ張るのが政治だろう。が、そうなっていない。目利きの人々が同じ意見なのに、与野党協調の機運が盛り上がらない。

The reason for this is evident. First of all, the LDP is in shambles. The party is reeling because a general election appears to be on the horizon under unfavorable conditions. Because it looks like merely shaking things up will topple the LDP, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is concentrating its efforts on throwing the LDP off balance. The pre-election state of Japanese politics has diminished it more and more.

 理由は明快だ。第一に、自民党内がバラバラ。逆風のまま総選挙に突っ込みそうだから浮足立っている。揺さぶれば崩れそうなので民主党は揺さぶりに熱中する。選挙前という事情が日本の政治をいよいよ小さくしてしまっている。

We have no idea what 75 trillion yen is going to achieve. We have no sense of the direction in which the government is trying to take us. While there's no use comparing every step taken by the Japanese government with those of the new U.S. administration, we can't help but long for a sense that our government has been entrusted by the people after relentless scrutiny, forming a united effort in carrying out new policies. (By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer, Mainichi Shimbun)

 75兆円の対策と聞かされても何がどうなるのか分からない。どこへ向かうのかイメージできない。いちいちアメリカの新政権と比べたくはないが、有権者の厳しい吟味を経て信託され、新政策遂行へ結束するという感覚がほしい。(敬称略)(毎週月曜日掲載)

毎日新聞 200922日 東京朝刊

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