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2009年4月14日 (火)

安心社会の実現 経済危機後の展望が重要だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Apr. 14, 2009)
Govt must rebuild as it puts out economic fire
安心社会の実現 経済危機後の展望が重要だ(4月14日付・読売社説)

The security of people's livelihoods cannot be assured by the implementation of short-term economic stimulus measures alone, because the source of anxiety is deeply rooted.

With Prime Minister Taro Aso in attendance, the government on Monday launched a new panel to discuss the realization of a society in which people can live with peace of mind.

The purpose of the panel is to discuss the future direction of the state and the shape of its basic policies. With its members drawn from a wide variety of fields, we can expect the panel's discussions to take a broad perspective.

Types of families and career paths are becoming diverse amid the effects of the rapidly declining birthrate and graying society as well as structural changes in the nation's economy. Although the political world is required to quickly deal with social and economic changes at home and abroad, it remains in turmoil and is unable to hammer out suitable policies.

After the economic bubble burst in the early 1990s, Japanese society was subjected to the radical remedies of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's structural reform efforts.


Reforms not always beneficial

Although the series of reforms yielded some successful results, including the disposal of bad loans held by financial institutions, it went too far and should rather be called market fundamentalism in some cases. The country's various institutions, including the social security system, have begun to fray around the edges.

Such market fundamentalism was responsible for bringing about the global economic crisis that has seen a great deterioration in the Japanese economy.

With the ongoing graying of society and increasing number of single-person households, the social safety net, which has been built on people's family and community connections as well as corporate welfare programs, is in urgent need of review.

What should the government do? What kinds of roles should local governments, regional communities, companies, families and individuals play? In answering these questions, the new panel must start its discussions from scratch.

The panel also needs to discuss in concrete terms how to rebuild each of the various social security systems such as medicare, nursing care and pensions as well as employment measures and welfare benefits, and measures to cope with the declining birthrate. Needless to say, discussions on how to secure financial resources for reconstructing social security, which have been lacking so far, will be vital.


Major undertaking

The panel likely will be led by Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, who is concurrently serving as state minister in charge of financial services and economic and fiscal policy.

In parallel with discussions at the new panel, the government's Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, which is supervised by Yosano, also is working on formulating a road map for solving economic disparities and carrying out social security reform. It is important for the two panels to work in tandem and work out ideas and policies.

Last week, the government and ruling parties compiled the country's largest-ever economic stimulus package that centers on a fiscal outlay of more than 15 trillion yen.

If we look at this economic stimulus package as a measure to hold back the conflagration in front of us, what the new panel will tackle is a new urban plan that will keep the burden to be shouldered by future generations to a bare minimum.

All preparations must be made so that the reconstruction of public welfare systems can be started as soon as it is certain the fire has been contained.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 14, 2009)
(2009年4月14日01時53分  読売新聞)


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