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2009年5月30日 (土)

厚労省分割―またしても政権の迷走

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 29(IHT/Asahi: May 30,2009)
EDITORIAL: Welfare ministry split
厚労省分割―またしても政権の迷走

A proposal by the Aso administration to divide and reorganize the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has taken a dark turn.
 麻生政権が次の総選挙の目玉にと意気込んでいた厚生労働省の「分割・再編」の雲行きが怪しくなってきた。

The idea, first raised by Tsuneo Watanabe, chairman of The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, was intended to be a draw card for the next Lower House election, which must be called by September.
Watanabe made the proposal at a meeting of Anshin Shakai Jitsugen Kaigi, a government panel set up by the prime minister to carve out a vision for creating a society which can assure people's livelihood.
 発端は、首相が将来の国家ビジョンを話し合うためにと作った安心社会実現会議で、渡辺恒雄・読売新聞グループ会長が分割論を提唱したことだった。

In response, last week, the prime minister instructed the government to study the idea. He even went so far as to present his own thoughts on the matter, suggesting that the ministry be split into two entities. One would be a social security ministry to deal with pensions, medicine and nursing and the other would be a national life ministry that handles employment affairs and measures to fight the declining birthrate.
これを受けて首相は先週、年金と医療、介護を担う社会保障省と雇用、少子化を担当する国民生活省の二つに分ける持論まで披露して、政府内での検討を指示した。

Aso apparently wanted to show his willingness to promote reform by putting a knife to the ministry, which invoked public wrath and distrust over its sloppy management of pension records and its reform of the medical system for people aged 75 and older.
 年金記録の問題や後期高齢者医療制度などをめぐって、国民の怒りや不信をかった厚労省にメスを入れ、改革姿勢をアピールしようという思惑もあったろう。

However, when the various ministers concerned met to discuss the idea, one after another they called for caution. Some members of the ruling coalition criticized the move as premature. Initial plans to come up with a preliminary draft before the end of the week have been upset and it has even become uncertain whether a full-fledged proposal is still in the offing.
 しかし、関係閣僚の話し合いでは慎重論が続出し、与党内からも「拙速だ」という批判が噴き出した。週内にもまとめるとしていた素案づくりのめどは吹き飛んでしまい、そもそも案をつくれるのかどうかさえ分からなくなってきた。

On Thursday night, the prime minister told reporters that he only gave instructions to "examine the way (the organization ought to be) based on the standpoint of security and safety of the people." On the proposed division, he also flatly said, "I don't plan to stick to it at all."
 いいだしっぺの首相は昨夜、記者団に「国民の安心安全の側に立って、(組織のあり方を)一回精査したらどうか」と指示しただけだと述べ、分割についても「全然こだわらない」とあっさり語った。

The ministry is currently confronted by a raft of problems. They include public anxiety over pensions and employment and the outbreak of a new strain of swine flu. They are all problems that directly affect the everyday life of citizens. We wonder if the ministry can properly deal with them under its current setup.
 年金や雇用不安、新型インフルエンザなど、厚労省には次々と課題が押し寄せている。どれも国民生活に直結する問題ばかりだ。果たして今の役所の態勢できちんと対応できるのだろうか。この問題意識は正しい。

It is a matter of course to swiftly and flexibly re-examine administrative organizations to meet changing times.
 時代の変化に応じて機敏に、柔軟に行政組織を見直すというのは、あって当然のことである。

As far as the administration of health and labor issues is concerned, a panel of intellectuals formed under the Cabinet of Yasuo Fukuda pointed out in March that even though problems to be dealt by the health and labor ministry are growing year by year, it does not have enough personnel and budget commensurate with its responsibilities.
 実際、厚労行政をめぐっては今年3月、福田前内閣の時にできた有識者懇談会が、厚労省の取り組む課題が年々増えているのにそれに見合った人員や予算配分がされていないといった問題点を指摘していた。

Be that as it may, it is too simplistic to say the ministry should be broken up so that it can overcome those problems. The way the argument abruptly took off was haphazard. A proposal to attach the soon-to-be-inaugurated consumer affairs agency to a national life ministry was made even before legislation to establish the agency passed.
 しかし、「だから分割を」という論議がいきなり走り出した今回の進め方は、あまりに短絡的、場当たり的だった。新しくできる消費者庁を国民生活省にくっつけたらどうかという話が、まだ消費者庁設置法案が成立しないのに飛び出すありさまだ。

The problem does not only concern the health and labor ministry. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology oversees medical education while public hospitals fall under the jurisdictions of both the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and local governments.
 話は厚労省だけの問題にとどまるまい。たとえば医療であれば、医学教育は文部科学省の担当だし、公立病院は総務省や地方自治体の所管にもまたがっている。

These functions should be reorganized and incorporated into a system that will enable smooth and efficient administration.  これらを再編し、行政がスムーズに無駄なく動くような体制を整えてもらいたいとは思う。

A Lower House election will be held within the next few months. Under the circumstances, it is questionable whether a reasonable conclusion can be reached by advancing a makeshift argument.
だが、数カ月以内に確実に総選挙があるというこの時期に泥縄式の議論を進めて、まともな結論が生まれるのだろうか。疑問である。

What the public wants is for government offices to properly do their jobs regardless of how they are organized. This point should not be overlooked.
 国民が望むのは、役所の姿はどうあれ、しっかり仕事をしてもらうことだ。そこを見誤らないでほしい。

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